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Massage Today
October, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 10

The Missing Link: A New Paradigm for Soft Tissue Therapy


Are you looking for something really new and revolutionary that will make you a more effective therapist? Repeating the same techniques over and over doesn't always give you the results you would like for you and your clients.

Cranial/structural therapy is a new paradigm that is totally different from anything else you have been exposed to or studied. If your mind is open and you are willing to look at some amazing new concepts that will solve some of the oldest and most consistent problems, read on.

Cranial/structural therapy is focused on achieving long-term recovery for your clients and provides structure and support for other soft tissue treatments. It provides weight bearing support for the rehabilitation of 95 percent of musculoskeletal problems with one application. This can totally change the effectiveness and longevity of your clients' rehabilitation from pain and dysfunction.

There are so many variations of soft tissue treatments for painful conditions in the back, neck, knee, foot, arm, hand, all types of headaches, just to name a few areas, that will relieve the pain for a while, yet clients tend to return with the same symptoms over long periods of time. There is nothing wrong with your soft tissue treatments that release your client's pain short term, but what is missing is the component that will allow these changes to last long term. This is true even when high quality techniques such as myofascial restructuring like structural integration, Lomi Lomi, Heller, neuromuscular or other deep tissue treatments are successfully applied. The developers of these techniques recognize that to achieve long-term relief releasing structural distortions is a key component, yet even after numerous treatments their clients will, over time, collapse back into the old structural core distortion. Since approximately 95 percent of musculoskeletal pain is due to the body collapsing further into the core distortion pattern over time, it is unfortunate that none of the other techniques is able to effectively release this distortion.

Enter the Missing Link

The initial discovery of the relationship between the distortion in the cranium and the anterior/posterior rotation of the iliums and tipped sacrum in the 1980's by Dr. Dallas Hancock, D.C., opened the door to the reality of being able to bring the structure of the body into balance long term.

These cranial/structural techniques are very different from craniosacral in application and intent. As the name implies, cranial/structural addresses the structural aspects of the body in relationship to the cranium. The distortion found in the cranium relates directly to the anterior/posterior rotation of the iliums and tippage of the sacrum. Thus, as the soft tissue restrictions that hold the cranium in its distortion are released allowing the cranium to move freely into balance, the rotation of the iliums and tippage of the sacrum are also brought into balance and weight bearing support. In just one application of the specialized cranial/structural core distortion releases, the previously unbalanced ilium/sacrum relationship is able to provide a stable weight bearing support to the whole body. Once released in one application, that distortion doesn't return! The soft tissue restrictions of the cranium won't reform in the same way so the weight bearing collapse at the SI joint does not recur. The effects of unwinding the core distortion out of the structure with the cranial/structural techniques are far reaching.

Lower Extremities

The anterior/posterior rotation of the iliums in the core distortion results in a long leg-short leg discrepancy which creates imbalances, strains and weaknesses throughout the body in compensation. Each of the legs has a different distortion and compensation in the core distortion. The anteriorly rotated ilium creates a longer leg with a medial knee, laterally rotated foot, and either an inverted or everted arch. Many hip, knee, ankle and foot conditions are caused by this ilium rotation in the core distortion. The posteriorly rotated ilium creates a shorter leg with stress on the medial knee and the soft tissue of the posterior hip, a principle cause of sciatica. Another effect of the core distortion on the lower extremities is that the strain patterns in the soft tissue caused by the core distortion results in a loss of up to 50 percent of the muscle function in both strength and flexibility, and creates weaknesses in the knees, ankles and feet where sprains and strains and other injuries will most likely occur.

Imagine the possibilities of maximum healing and rehabilitation with the application of the cranial/structural core distortion releases. Bringing the iliums out of the rotation distortion into balance brings the legs into better alignment relieving the stress on the knees, hips and feet, reducing the resulting sciatic pain, releasing the strain patterns in the soft tissue which increases the strength and flexibility and greatly reduces the weaknesses where injuries can occur. Now you have a structure that is already moving into balance and the soft tissue is just waiting to be released into that balance.

Spine And Musculoskeletal System

Take a look at the spine and the effect of the tipped sacrum at the base of the spine in the core distortion. With the application of the cranial/structural techniques, the sacrum moves into a level position providing a level base for the spine. This creates a supporting base for the spine and dramatically reduces the amount and of spinal curvatures. This has a dramatic effect on unwinding scoliosis curvatures and lessening the curvatures responsible for degenerative disc conditions. Curvatures of the spine that are responsible for subluxations, disc degeneration, spurring, stenosis, sprains and strains, chronic tension and just about all other musculoskeletal spinal problems are greatly lessened with the weight bearing support and balance of the pelvis that is created with the application of the cranial/structural core distortion releases. It also takes pressure off damaged discs such as bulging and herniated discs allowing them to heal without surgery in most cases.

The distortions in the cervical spine from the core distortion that can cause neck tension and headaches are released with the cranial/structural core distortion releases. As the cervical spine is brought into balance, it is supported by the stability of the balance in the pelvis, which allows full rehabilitation of cervical sprain strain injuries (whiplash), disc problems and reverse curvatures. Thus, most major causes of headaches can be rehabilitated. Cranial/structural therapy also addresses the other causes of headaches from congestion in the cranium and compression of the cranial nerves.

TMJ symptoms and dysfunction are directly affected by the imbalances in the cranium. The application of the cranial/structural techniques restores balance in the cranium which brings the temporal mandibular joints into balance. After cranial/mandible balance has been achieved, additional soft tissue protocols are ten times more effective. This can resolve the majority of TMJ issues.

The unwinding of the thoracic spine with the cranial/structural core distortion releases results in raising the thoracic rib cage, reducing the medial rotation of the right shoulder and releasing tension in the diaphragmatic arch which expands breathing potentials. The reduction of tension in the diaphragmatic arch normalizes the tension on the esophageal hiatus resolving most acid reflux and hiatal hernia issues. The shoulders become more level which takes pressure off the brachial plexus relieving many nerve impingement symptoms in the arms and hands. It also releases the internal rotation of the arms which is responsible for strain patterns, significant weakening in the rotator cuff and muscles and tendons in the elbow, and nerve impingement and adhesions in the arm, wrist and hands causing carpal tunnel and trigger finger, returning strength and balance to the shoulders and arms. Thus, long-term rehabilitation of the arms and shoulders is possible with the application of cranial/structural therapy.

As you can see, applying the cranial/structural techniques to bring the pelvis into stable weight bearing support for the body facilitates long-term changes quickly and, when integrated into soft tissue treatment, long lasting rehabilitation that was previously unattainable can now become a reality. It is now possible to effectively release the old myofascial holding patterns that were previously locked into holding the old distortion patterns due to the lack of weight bearing pelvic stability. Now that the body is being supported into balance, soft tissue work to release the old myofascial holding patterns is more effective and easier for the client, as well as the massage therapist, since rigid holding in the soft tissue is now letting go.

Click here for more information about Don McCann, MA, LMT, LMHC, CSETT.


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