Archive for the ‘Structural Integration’ Category

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Staying Fit: Yoga, Rolfing and the Elusive Cinderella Tissues

Image result for fasciaHere’s a nice little blog article about fascia.  If you’ve worked with us, you’ve certainly heard about this fascinating structure!  Read on to learn more . . .

By Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.

What is the most plentiful tissue in the body — and the most ignored?

The answer is fascia — the gooey, gliding stuff that holds you together. Fascia is a broad term for the extracellular matrix of fibers, “glue” and water surrounding all your cells, and wrapping like plastic wrap around muscle fibers and muscles, organs, bones, blood vessels and nerves — and finally as a second skin around your entire body.

“Fascia is like the Cinderella tissues of the body,” says Tom Myers, a leading thinker in integrative anatomy and author of Anatomy Trains. “It has been the most ignored of all the tissues in the body — at least up until recently. Yet, fascia is critical to understanding the body and what it takes to keep your body functional and healthy all life long.”

In recent years, the interest in fascia has surged. In 2007, fascial researchers and practitioners banded together to initiate the biennial Fascia Research Congress, where researchers and health practitioners can share new discoveries. (The Fascia Research Congress 2012 will be held in Vancouver in March.)

Understanding the elusive Cinderella tissues offers an important glimpse into important, yet not widely known, aspects of bodily health and function. Here are four fascinating facts about fascia:

1. All You Learned About “Muscles” Is Wrong

A primary lesson emerging from new research into fascia is that all we learned about muscles is wrong.

“That illustration in your doctor’s office of the red-muscled human body is a body with its fascia cut away,” says Myers. “It’s not what you look like inside, but it’s a lot neater and easier to study. And, it’s the way doctors have been taught to look at you.”

We commonly speak about the musculoskeletal system, and the muscles attached to the bones of the body. But according to Myers, muscles in fact don’t attach to bones. Fascia does.

“Muscle is like hamburger; it can’t attach to a bone,” says Myers. “There’s fascia going around and through the muscle. And when the muscle runs out, that fascia from the outside and the middle of the muscle spins into a tendon, just like yarn.”

It may be useful for our thinking mind to dissect the body in to some 600 muscles and their tendon attachments to bones. However, the body doesn’t think in terms of 600 individual muscles.

“Your brain does not think in terms of biceps and deltoids,” says Myers. “There is one muscle that exists in 600 fascial pockets. Ultimately, the brain creates movement in terms of large fascial networks and individual motor units, not our named muscles.”

2. Much More Than a Wrapping Material

Fascia is not just a passive wrapping material, but a live, biological fabric, which directs the traffic of forces around the body, and responds and remodels itself as forces change.

Some researchers, like Helene Langevin of the University of Vermont, suggest that the connective tissue network may function as a whole body communications system, which influence the function of all other physiological systems.

How exactly such a whole body network would be communicating within itself is as yet unknown, and there may be several pathways. Langevin has developed evidence, for example, that the fascial network may correspond to the network of acupuncture pointsand meridians. In this framework, acupuncture needles produce cellular changes that propagate along connective tissue planes.

A similar effect is created by the stretching of the connective tissue created by yoga poses or externally applied stretch and pressure during bodywork and massage.

3. Redefining Chronic Pain

In its healthy state, the fascial network stretches and moves without restriction. However, age, injuries, repetitive stress, poor postural habits and even emotional trauma can cause fascia to lose its flexibility and become tight and restricted.

This helps stabilize the body in the short term, but unfortunately, it also locks you into a chronic strain pattern that can be hard to correct. Think of it like wearing a thin silk suit. If you pull on one part of the suit, the tension patterns will show up throughout.

Fascial strain patterns translate through the entire body, and affect the structural network of the entire body. They may lie at the root of chronic pain issues like migraine headaches, chronic back pain, or fibromyalgia, or other pesky pain problems that just won’t go away.

For this reason, bodywork techniques focusing directly on the fascia, such as Rolfing and myofasical release therapy, can sometimes stimulate tremendous physical and/or emotional release where other modalities come up short.

4. A New Understanding of Fitness

While we usually think in terms of fitness as strong muscles and cardiovascular endurance, we ignore fascia at our own peril. Having an integrated and well-trained fascial network is important not just for anyone engaged in sports, but for anyone wishing to retain a healthy and functional body throughout life.

When you train the body, the fascia is trained as well. However, it may not be the way you would want to train it. If your fitness routine involves mainly machines, you will not end up with a fascial network that is as strong, versatile and capable as you’d like, but rather a one-dimensional network that may respond less efficiently to challenges.

“Exercise machines are great for building individual muscles and terrible for training your fascia, because they train the fascia in one particular direction, one particular vector,” says Myers. “You end up training fascia, which is not prepared for life, because life doesn’t come at you right straight down the same vectors that the machines do.”

In terms of training, Myers says, favor movement forms that involve a lot of variety in direction and load, which builds versatile balance and stability into your body. Yoga asanas are particularly useful for stretching the long chains of fasica in numerous directions ways, offering the kind of system-wide engagement it needs. Training too hard or repeating the same routine without variation can lead to fascial adhesions or injury.

For more, see Tom Myers free report on YogaUOnline10 Tips for Fascial Fitness

See here for the full interview with Tom Myers: Fascia, Yoga and the Medicine of the Future

For more by Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D., click here.

For more on personal health, click here.


5 Ways to Counteract Wearing High Heels

Image result for blue high heels

We all know that wearing high heeled shoes can be detrimental to our physical health, even though they may help us to look glamorous!

Since we don’t want to take away your high heels if you really enjoy wearing them, we’d like to share what you can do to balance yourself out when you do.  You know, we’re all about giving you options for self-care!

Check out the original post by Greg Robins on Eric Cressey’s website:




1952 Video: “Posture Pals”

If you’re looking for a few laughs, here’s a classic Young America Films video on posture from 1952.  Not quite as useful as the 1953 Posture Video, but even more entertaining (thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffs). Look for a young Melissa Gilbert!



1953 Video on Posture

For your holiday amusement, here’s a classic Young America Films video on posture from 1953.  Rather cheesy, but there’s actually some good information in there.  Enjoy!



Five Reasons You Have Tight Hamstrings

On his blog, Eric Cressey writes:

“There might not be a more obnoxious and stubborn athletic injury than the hamstrings strain.  When it is really bad, it can bother you when you’re simply walking or sitting on it.  Then, when a hamstrings strain finally feels like it’s getting better, you build up to near your top speed with sprinting – and it starts barking at you again.  In other words, a pulled hamstrings is like a crazy, unpredictable mother-in-law; just when you think you’ve finally won her over, she brings you back down to Earth and reminds you how much more she liked your wife’s old boyfriend.

However, not all hamstrings pain cases are true strains; more commonly, they present as a feeling of “tight hamstrings.”  If one is going to effective prevent this discomfort, rehabilitate it, or train around it, it’s important to realize what is causing the hamstrings tightness in the first place.”

Why might we have tight hamstrings?

1. Protective Tension of the Hamstrings

2. Neural Tension

3. Truly Tight Hamstrings

4. Previous Hamstrings Strain

5. Acute Hamstrings Strain or Tendinosis

Learn about the five reasons on Cressey’s blog at


Heal Your Bunions

We’ve often worked with people to help decrease the torsion that occurs in feet creating bunions. However, the other half of the work is waking up the weakened muscles which stabilize and ground the big toe.

Check out the following video to learn two simple (though perhaps not easy) exercise to help with bunions!

Mary Bond shares more about bunions on her blog:


Minding Your Mitochondria

At TEDx Iowa City, Dr. Terry Wahls speaks of her own experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) and how she overcame this “incurable” disease.

We are reminded of the words of Hippocrates in 400BC, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Those words are just as true now as they were then . . . . perhaps even moreso.


Increasing Support for the Lightly Shod

An interesting blog article from the folks at Podiatry Today:

Do Running Shoes Still Need Heels?

by Nicholas A Campitelli DPM FACFAS

Has anyone ever pondered the fact that almost every shoe we put on our feet contains a “heel”? This is true whether it is a $200 motion control running shoe or simply a dress shoe that has the ¾-inch heel to accommodate our perfectly hemmed slacks. Let’s not leave out the eye catching high heels that we all tell our patients are biomechanically inappropriate.

Surprisingly, it’s not simply 1 ½-inch pumps that can be wreaking havoc for our patients’ feet. It may very well be the majority of shoes that most of us are wearing.

Is the heel still necessary, especially in a “running” shoe?

The running shoe has many origins but many agree that athletic shoes began with a canvas top and rubber soled shoe that became known as a sneaker when U.S. Rubber used the brand name Keds to sell the first sneakers in 1917.1 The next major milestone came in the 1970s when William Bowerman and Phil Knight created the Nike running shoe. These early shoes had little if any cushion and for the most part had a negligible heel.

Over the next 40 years, we have seen the height as well as the cushion gradually increase. These developments inadvertently made runners adopt a “heel to toe” gait or “heel strike” when running. Bowerman and W.E. Harris authored a primer entitled Jogging: A Physical Fitness Program for All Ages in 1967.2 In this very popular book, they noted the most efficient way to run should be landing or striking on the heel first. The authors specifically stated that forefoot striking is incorrect and not the proper way to land.

Bowerman and Harris had no scientific basis for this explanation. Several years later, they went on to create a running shoe that contained a cushioned heel. They speculated that in order to run faster, one should stride longer and that by striding longer, runners needed to land on their heels. This is one of the “primitive” reasons for the introduction of a cushioned heel. As far as increasing our speed or becoming an efficient runner, we now know from the work of Daniel and colleagues that longer strides are not as important as cadence.3

This heel height has been referred to as “drop,” the distance in height between the heel of the shoe and the forefoot. Today, traditional running shoes have an average drop of 12 mm with the heel being 24 mm and the forefoot being 12 mm. This design encourages an unnatural gait, resulting in the heel hitting the ground first and followed by a rapid “slapping” of the forefoot.

A literature search will yield numerous articles discussing running biomechanics but unfortunately, we have yet to see any hard evidence as to what is the proper way to run. The majority of Root’s theories about running biomechanics involved heel striking first.4 However, that is simply what they were — theories. I agree that his work and publications are magnificent, wonderful and have meant a lot for our profession. However, we cannot use this as evidence-based medicine to treat our patients’ disorders in every aspect.

This can be very difficult to swallow but pronation as described by Root becomes irrelevant when we describe forefoot striking as we see pronation occurring with the entire foot and then ending just as the heel touches the ground. His definition, although described as movement of the foot, focused on the motion of the subtalar joint.4 Pronation in this manner becomes an ideal shock absorber, utilizing the motion of the midtarsal joints as well as the subtalar joint.

Root’s evidence came from previous texts, examination of patients and cadavers to then create what he referred to as “normal values” for the given range of motions. Root never went on to produce any randomized trials or studies that could demonstrate that injury was more likely a result of not having the so-called “normal values.”

Ankle equinus is one specific pathology Root discussed that has become very important when discussing lower extremity injuries. Root described ankle equinus as the inability to obtain at least 10 degrees of dorsiflexion at the ankle joint.4 He also emphasized that when we assess the subtalar joint in a neutral position, the ankle joint should be at 0 degrees with respect to dorsiflexion and pronation. Root also noted that by having the ankle in a plantarflexed position, we see uncovering of the talar head and thus an increase in the propensity for the subtalar joint to become hypermobile.

Interestingly enough, what happens when we place our foot in a traditional running shoe? We plantarflex the ankle joint and function with our foot in ankle equinus. We spend so much time educating patients on the effects of ankle equinus and runners abandon it all within seconds by lacing up a traditional running shoe.

Editor’s note: Dr. Campitelli has disclosed that he is an unpaid Medical Advisor for Vibram USA.


1. Available at

2. Bowerman WJ, Harris WE. Jogging: a medically approved physical fitness program for all ages. Grossett and Dunlap, New York, 1967.

3. Daniels J.T. Daniels’ Running Formula, Second Edition. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 2005.

4. Root ML, Orien WP, Weed JH. Normal and Abnormal Function of the Foot, Volume 2. Clinical Biomechanics Corp., Los Angeles, CA, 1977.


Dangerous Bill in TN Legislature

Bill Would Change Administrative Oversight of Tennessee State Massage Board

Sections 11 and 12 of House Bill 2387 and Senate Bill 2249, if passed, would move the Massage Licensure Board from Tennessee Department of Health to the Tennessee Department of Commerce.  On page 5 of the bill, Sections 11 and 12 would relocate Title 63-18, which is the Massage Licensure Act of 1995, from the Department of Health Related Boards (DHRB) to the Department of Commerce and Insurance (DCI).

The Department of Health Related Boards currently oversees all health professions while the Department of Commerce and Insurance oversees other professional licensing programs such as: electricians, plumbers, and real estate agents.

Massage therapy is a health profession. The current administrative oversight of DHRB has worked since the state first began licensing massage therapists; there is no reason to change what is working. The massage licensure board is self-funded from license fees so the proposed move would not save tax dollars, streamline state government, or reduce duplication of efforts. In fact, a change in administrative oversight would require an application and process shift to conform to a new department. There has been no reason given as to why the sponsors of this bill feel an oversight change is even needed.

Therapeutic massage is a health profession—not a trade—and massage therapists are health care providers.  Since 1995, our profession has been striving continually—and successfully—for recognition within the medical community.  Many massage therapists now work in healthcare environments, i.e. offices of physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and dentists.  Many are employed in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.  Furthermore, the massage profession should continue to be regulated within the Health Department in order to best protect the public from unsafe massage therapists.

We, together with the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), Tennessee Massage Therapy Association (TMTA), massage therapists and healthcare professionals statewide, are opposed to this section of HB 2387.  We encourage other healthcare professionals, our clients and patients to contact the sponsor of the bill and their representatives to voice opposition to Sections 11 and 12 of HB 2387. Contact them by email or phone or both.

The sponsor of HB 2387 is Representative Gerald McCormick, he can be reached at 615-741-2548 or

The bill has been referred to the Government Operations committeeRep. Jim Cobb serves as chair, Rep. Barrett Rich is vice-chair, and Rep. Tony Shipley is committee secretary.  Committee members also include Representatives Barbara Cooper, Craig Fitzhugh, Steve Hall, Julia Hurley, Mike Kernell, Debra Maggart, Judd Matheny, Gerald McCormick, & Mike Turner.  The committee can be reached at 615-741-4866.

The same bill on the Senate side of the General Assembly is SB 2249, sponsored by Senator Norris and Senator Bell.

Senator Mark Norris, or 615-741-1967

Senator Mike Bell, or 615-741-1946

Find your state legislator by going to

Read the Senate bill here: or the House bill here:

To find your legislators contact info, go to: