resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
April, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 04
Freeing the Heart Part IV: Reducing Resistance to the Heart's Expansion
By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD
Studying anatomy and reflecting upon what helps my clients to feel and function better are the foundation for what I am writing in this series. With that said, let's delve into the anatomy of the esophagus a bit further to set the stage for understanding the implications of its postulated tendency to re-set its resting length in response to physical injury or intense emotional experience.
The superior esophageal fascial mooring is anchored directly to the spheno-basilar junction to my perception through the buccopharyngeal fascia/pharyngeal raphe.1 This anatomical interpretation suggests that the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract (GI) is suspended downward and forward of the cranium. Consider this notion and its implications. My speculation is that a shortened esophagus with a superior strain being pulled on from below by any manner of GI disturbance will eventually contribute to the incompetence of the hiatal sphincter. It also makes sense to me that hiatal hernias might be the natural evolution in the progression of dysfunction to such opposing tensions over many decades. The maximal strain point of the esophagus is proposed to include the portion of the tube enfolded by the heart just before it pierces the diaphragm muscle.
The association of heart troubles and GI disturbance are considered a possibility by some2 yet, most often in the literature heart troubles and esophageal dysfunctions are described as if they are completely unrelated. This defies common sense to me. The intimacy of the anatomical enfolding of the heart around the esophageal tube is a related variable; structurally, if the esophageal fibers are contracted or go into spasm and, as a chemical irritant, when chronic gastric reflux is considered.3 Since no one pays attention to such variables, this might be one way that we may contribute to our clients' quality of life, as well as to possibly slowing the advance of cardiovascular disease.
Another implication of such strain along the length of the esophagus is that its tension can literally pull the head down upon the neck and is an influence contributing to the head being pulled forward which will inevitably activate the extensor reflexes of the spine.4 Might this be related to your clients chronic neck and upper back pain? Let's remember that the superior sympathetic ganglia and the vagus nerve have their most intimate communication between the occiput and the 1st cervical vertebra, the atlas.5 Compression of this autonomic interface can have far reaching influences on sympathetic and parasympathetic coordination of physiology, including that of the heart function to my sensibilities. Enhancing the ease within the space between the occiput and the atlas is one of my most reliable markers that a therapeutic effect has been achieved during a bodywork session.
With the head being pulled forward and the extensors of the upper back reflexively tightening, guess which segments of the spinal cord provide sympathetic supply to the heart, T1, T4 or 5? Could both of these compressions add to an over stimulation of the heart neurologically, a kind of structural squeeze play that begins with a functionally shortened esophagus. How many of your clients present to you with pain and muscle spasm between their shoulder blades? Loosening the tension of the pericardial sac is another contribution to "freeing the heart." My proposed definition of stress has been that in response to the intensity, repetition or duration of what is experienced by an individual as a stressor will result in the body sacs cringing and that the tubes within organs and between organs will shorten and narrow.6 This might happen either in response to a sudden occurrence or insidiously, over a long period of time which might include multiple events.
Many technique orientations might assist the pericardial sac to loosen. Those which I most commonly employ are unwinding and recoil techniques. The basics of unwinding were learned from Dr. John Upledger, developer of CranioSacral Therapy and the recoil techniques from Dr. Jean Pierre Barral the developer of Visceral Manipulation.7,8 Dr. Barral would want me to acknowledge the he learned recoil technique from, Dr. Paul Chauffour, the developer of the Mechanical Link approach to osteopathic manual therapy.9
A rather curious phenomena has occurred five times over the past 10 years where I actually felt the heart shift its position between my anterior-posterior placed palms when using a combination of unwinding and recoils techniques in a rhythmic fashion. The reason I mention it is the exceptionally positive response of the clients for whom this happened. All reported fewer somatic ailments and increased energy in their daily lives. Whether this was a shifting of position between the esophagus and the heart or a rotation, side shift or caudal or cranial slide of the heart as a whole, is unclear. Yet, it did happen and the clients felt much better. In this series, I am recounting what may be possible, not what can be predicted.
Another technique I have found to be helpful to lessening resistance within the thorax is the fascial stretching of the pleural sacs of the lungs. This is accomplished by softly anchoring the pleural dome of the lungs and caudally stretching the tissues adjacent to the sternum and just above and below the breast area. The intention here is to assist the sliding of the pleural sacs and to assist the ease of movement between the pericardial and pleural sacs.8 Reducing the resistance within the thoracic cage is the therapeutic goal. If the heart has less resistance to its expansion, it is my conjecture that it's coronary arteries are more likely to expand as well which may reduce the speed or quantity in the build-up of plaques within these crucial arteries. A river with a steady current has less sediment accumulation. Are our arteries really that different from other natural containers of moving fluid? To reprise, my clinical experience suggests that applying our palpation efforts to the structures "inside" the thoracic cavity is the most efficient way toward easing the tensions that the heart must overcome during its expansion phase. Such efforts positively contribute to "freeing the heart."
Click here for more information about Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD.
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