I recently have been reading a lot about fascia, stretching, exercise and trigger points… As a side job while I’m in school I’ve taken up personal training at a Kettle-Bell Gym here in Portland and Tigard Oregon. (It’s called Spinach if you want to check it out!) I figure training and athletics are as much a part of my life as Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine will be and why not integrate the two! As a practitioner, what better way to reach out to a certain population of people than to put yourself right in the mix and learn the facets of exercise, diet & nutrition as well as Acupuncture, body work and other training & treating modalities for healthy living.
It’s taught me a lot more about how the body works and has led me to start researching some pretty cool stuff. Lately I’ve been having some shoulder issues, to which I contribute structural misalignment, tense muscles, stress (liver qi stagnation), and sitting in a chair hunched over a notebook most hours of the day; not to mention throwing around heavy kettlebells almost every day. At the same time I’ve been really into this book one of my clients lent me, Stretch To Win by Ann & Chris Frederick. It’s a super awesome book about flexibility assessment and stretching techniques based on the fascial lines and your movement (i.e. the sport you play). As an acupuncturist, we treat the body as a whole system interconnected by meridians or channels, which correspond to different systems in the body, by using needles, moxa (mugwort) and other modalities. Part of this interconnectedness is seen in the way the muscles and the fascia is connected as a whole system, which is what this book is all about… and which led me to another book, Anatomy Trains, that is surely going to be one of my favorites… if I ever find the extra time in my schedule to read it. This book immediately drew me in as on the cover it conveys a body with the myofascial meridians drawn upon it… very similar to the Acupuncture meridians. Though I know I still have so much to learn, I love that these two have so much overlap. As far as I know this system of working with the fascia using manipulations and massage is what we term Structural Integration or Rolfing. Just today I had an appointment with a Neuromuscular LMT, which was a similar technique. The most useful treatments (which includes the one I had this morning) incorporate a wide array of different techniques intermixed into one treatment depending on the client, the problem and how the patient responds to different techniques. What works wonders for one person isn’t necessarily going to help everyone. If there is one thing I take away from school it’s that there is no one way to do anything, it’s always best to have a whole bag of tricks to draw from. To me this is what Integrative Medicine is all about, combining a plethora of treatment techniques and working together to do what’s best for the patient. Every body is different and therefore every treatment shoudl be different.
Back to the point I was getting at about mobility and in particular shoulder mobility. I just did a bunch of range of motion tests on my own shoulder mobility and failed close to all of them. For whole body health, our bodies need movement and more importantly, movement without pain. Mark’s Daily Apple has started a new series of articles on mobility of certain joints in the body and they are worth checking into. This is where I found my exercises; he has some great links on there for shoulder exercises and stretches for improving flexibility and mobility.
In addition to my realization that I have crappy alignment in my shoulder, upper back and neck, it helps me to realize that I have to be just as cognizant of my own body health, alignment, flexibility, mobility and strength as I “preach to my clients”. It also gets me to research more treatment protocols from all angles of health care, using Acupuncture, herbs (ointments & plasters), massage etc. to rehab a somewhat dysfunctional aspect of my body before it becomes a real problem down the road. The good thing is, is there is always something to learn more than you already know and usually we learn the most from our own idiosyncracies; and in this particular case I’m learning a whole lot about muscular interactions, sports injuries, shoulder mobility and stretching just to name a few.
In addition to my new stretching techniques I’m learning from the Stretch to Win system, I’ve also just been introduced to another form of stretching that’s working wonders on my shoulder, traps and neck. It’s called AIS; Active Isolated Stretching and works on actively lengthening the muscle and releasing the fascial tissues.
Well enough out of me… until next time… stay limber, be mobile, pain-free and well!