Myofascial Release

Hey everyone. It’s Dr. Emily Hurley, like I was telling you all last week, I’m so excited that I just received my 100-hour certification in Dynamic Body Balancing. It’s a myofascial unwinding craniosacral therapy and an energy work that I’ve been learning with the Dr. Carol Phillips, so I wanted to share more about what I’ve learned, who I have been able to help through this, and who can benefit from Dynamic Body Balancing and what that looks like. As I told you last week, there is five levels. There were five different weekends that I was going to Dallas. I was training there.

Level one was focusing in on the myofascial release. What is myofascial release? Myofascial is a connective tissue that covers all of our muscles in our whole body. I tell people if you’ve ever skinned a deer, for my hunters out there, or if you remember dissecting in class, when you peel back the skin, you see a cobwebby white, very delicate connective tissue, and that is our fascia, and then when we peel that back, and when I was dissecting in school, in anatomy labs, that’s what we did, right. We tore right through that fascia so that we could get down to seeing the muscle groups, the veins, nerves, and arteries.

Scientists are learning more and more about the fascial network and that fascia, they are learning, is so significant, it’s almost like its own organ system. If you can imagine, covering all of our muscles right under the skin throughout our entire body, we have this connective tissue. That’s called the fascia, and this fascia, it can get dehydrated. It can get matted down, it can get twisted, it can get restricted, just like you can get tight muscle knots and joints in the spine that get restricted, that we work on as chiropractors.

The myofascial system can also have areas that get matted down, that can get twisted, that can get restricted, and so sometimes we are working and working, working in an area on somebody. We’re working and working on this area of their spine that’s always stuck and adjusting and adjusting. It just stays stuck, so we think maybe we need to help get the muscle spasms around to relax, so we’re doing muscle work, our massage therapists here do amazing therapeutic muscle work, and sometimes even that isn’t doing the trick. Well, this is a great opportunity when we can take a step back and say, “Well, what’s even covering the muscles, and is that…” It’s almost like your arm is in a sleeve. It’s almost like a really tight sweater. If that is constricting the muscle and the joint, then it can’t be healthy. It can’t move how it’s supposed to and it can’t respond to the treatments that we’re doing.

There’s lots of different ways to do myofascial release. Our massage therapists are also trained in certain types of myofascial release, but the cool thing about the Dynamic Body Balancing is it’s a very indirect way to do a myofascial release. It’s amazing for people that maybe don’t respond well to a really direct type of body work or really digging in and getting in there. Maybe their body needs a lighter touch.

The cool thing about Dynamic Body Balancing is as we are unwinding the fascia, we’re unwinding the body, we start with the legs, I start with testing the hips, the legs, is everything rotating the way it’s supposed to, are the legs balanced, are your muscles firing the same from side to side? And if no, we can know that there is a issue with that fascia. If the fascia is twisted, then everything else underneath the muscles and the bones are going to have a harder time to stay balanced as well.

We do this… it’s a really gentle unwinding of the legs. It’ll feel like a gentle stretch, but the difference is I’m following this person’s body. When I’m facilitating this myofascial release, I’m not saying, “This is tight and so I’m going to push it and stretch it,” and that’s what we do a lot of times in chiropractic, in massage, in physical therapy. A lot of things we’re doing here in the office, I’m analyzing as a chiropractor and saying, “This joint is stuck and I’m going to push through it and restore motion to the joint, and it’s a very specific angle that I’m going to do this, and I have the intention to restore motion in this way.”

Same thing we find tight hamstrings in physical therapy. All right, well, we’re going to push through that and we’re going to help stretch out those hamstrings. In massage we say, “Man, this muscle’s tight. We’re going to dig in there and get it loosened up,” and all of those therapies are, I think, critical. Every person’s body needs them at some point in time, and they all work really well.

But with the Dynamic Body Balancing, it’s a mindset shift. I am not being a doctor. I am not saying, “I have this intention for your body.” I get rid of my agenda and I tune in with, what does this body want, what does this body need, and I actually follow the body. This is all, I guess, hypothetical or difficult to envision, but if I am actually going to, as I’m unwinding a leg, let’s say, I am going to gently compress all the joints of the leg and then I’m going to follow the body as it starts to unwind. I think of it almost as if we pull the two ends of yarn that might be tangled up just in the right way, it will start to unravel on its own, rather than us trying to pick apart the knot from the inside.

It depends on where that person’s at, but I’ve been noticing that for people, if their adjustments don’t seem to be holding, if their muscles are staying really tight and they’re not necessarily responding to treatments how I think they would, sometimes I take a step back and say, “Maybe some unwinding will really be beneficial.”

I want to share some of the types of cases and some of the people that have really responded well with some of this full-body myofascial unwinding. The protocol begins, and I say the protocol because sometimes I go straight by the protocol and sometimes I use my intuition to really zero in on a certain area. If I was doing the full protocol, I would start with the legs. I’d unwind the legs then I would unwind the diaphragm. Our diaphragm is right here, lining our ribcage. It’s right underneath our lungs, and our diaphragm is what we use to breathe. When we’re taking a nice deep belly breath, our diaphragm is pushing down gently on all of our organs and allowing our lungs and ribcage to expand the way it should. A lot of us, almost everyone probably at some point, can get into a bad habit when we’re anxious, stressed, busy, or maybe we just aren’t even thinking about how we’re breathing. We can get into a bad pattern of really breathing from our chest and our shoulders.

For our lungs to expand, if the diaphragm’s not pressing down, we’re not belly breathing, our lungs have to expand up instead. This can be a huge cause of always tight shoulders and neck, feeling tight in the chest, and this can even cause anxiety. When we’re anxious, we’re more likely to breathe in our chest, but then if our body patterns get used to always chest breathing, it can actually trigger the opposite effect and cause more anxiety, because we’re used to breathing in this shallow chest breathing type of way. So unwinding the diaphragm has been really beautiful for people with anxiety, for people with rib pain, rib cage pain, and even with my… I found with babies, my babies that have acid reflux or if they’re spitting up a lot, that can be from the diaphragm being really tight. It’s restricting the stomach and the digestive system.

Those are the people that really benefit from the diaphragm release. I will unwind the arms and shoulders, and then I unwind the spinal cord. This is a really fun one to do. I actually do it with a… The patient will be sitting, I press down very gently on top of their head and their whole neck, back, and actually their whole body, their spinal cord will start to unwind.

I actually had a patient who told me one day, she was like, “I can’t describe this, but I almost feel like my spinal cord hurts. Not like I need adjusted.” She’d just been adjusted and her back pain was gone, “but my inner spinal cord hurts,” and when she said that, I thought, “Well, the only thing I know to do for the spinal cord would be to unwind the spinal cord,” and we did that. She had really great results.

Another population that I consider the spinal cord being… having tension in the spinal cord is our babies. It’s one of the things that I check in all of my babies when they come in, and it’s something you can do at home too. One of the ways I check does baby have tension in the spinal cord is, I know it sounds crazy, I hold babies upside down, okay. It’s safe and they usually love it, okay. You hold them by their ankles. Please don’t drop your babies. That is the only, only part of this, but I gently… I hold them by the ankles, slowly invert them and let the babies hang by their ankles and feet, okay.

If babies, ideally, if they are balanced, their arms should relax and hang directly over their head. Their head should maybe turn a little bit side to side, but mostly be balanced hanging straight ahead. If there is tension in the body, in the fascia or in the spinal cord, especially if there’s a lot of tension in the spinal cord, babies will arch back. They’ll arch their heads back. They’ll go really tense and they’ll arch backwards with their shoulders, their head and neck. That’s my first sign, “Oh wow, there’s a lot of tension in the spinal cord for this baby.”

Another thing that I see often is as soon as they go upside down, babies will turn their head one way and you’ll think, “Oh, maybe they’re looking at something over there,” so test it. Turn them slowly the other way, and if they keep their head in the same position, we know that this baby needs to be adjusted as well. There’s something stuck in their neck that makes it to where they always are favoring that one side. So those are some indicators that I do. It’s called the inversion test. You can do it at home to see does my baby have any tension or any imbalances that they might need adjusted, or they might need the Dynamic Body Balancing to unwind their system.

That’s the level one. Like I said, what I learned in that level one seminar, it was a lot. A lot of information, and next week I’m actually going to share my experience with receiving this work during that level one seminar. It was really life changing for me, the experiences I had that weekend. It was not what I was prepared for and I really… I felt that I was a different person when I left that weekend. I am going to get personal and vulnerable and share some really intimate things about my experience with that next week, but I wanted to really talk structurally about who benefits from the myofascial unwinding, that level one, beginning of the protocol, is that full body unwinding.

Like I said, if you feel just like head to toe, if you feel tension, if you’re getting adjusted, getting massage and feeling like the results just aren’t lasting as like it should, if you feel like you have difficulty or restriction with belly breathing or calming your breathing down, if you have hip pain, groin pain, SI joint pain that… the low back pain again that’s just not holding, the unwinding of the legs has been really powerful for these patients that are having this chronic hip SI joint low back pain that they’re not seeing improving or holding with the adjustments.

It’s a really cool full body release, like I said, and next week I’m going to share with you all a bit about my experience with receiving this work as well. All right. Thanks everybody.