“The source of your problem” A Functional Rehabilitative Approach

by admin on November 25, 2010

Registered Massage Therapists often talk about getting at the source of your problem but what does that really mean?  To understand that you first have to understand that the body is a ‘master compensator’  – a master at compensating for your dysfunctions to make them feel as if they’ve gone away…….temporarily.  Once your body gets sick of the pain in one place it effectively turns that pain off by shifting the load to a new area. What we end up with is layer upon layer of dysfunction which must be deconstructed in a logical and progressive way. A good massage therapist is not a “pain chaser”. Sure, it’s important to alleviate the pain, but it’s also important to assess the compensations and then work back through them to the “source of your problem”.

One common source can be found in the pelvic girdle at the Sacroiliac joint [see illustration 1]. This dysfunction is responsible for a great deal of back pain. The Sacrum and the hip bones (Iliums) on each side are bound together by strong cartilage and supported by ligaments. But they still have the capacity to shift and rotate which can cause dysfunctions by changing the biomechanics of your hips. This is then translated to the remainder of your body by way of compensations, and voila, a slew of problems from your neck to your toes. For example, a good fall off a curb where you catch yourself and jam your leg bone (femur) up into your hip (ilium) socket often causes what’s called an ‘upslip’ of the Ilium on the sacrum, effectively shortening one of your legs.

Another more passive example may involve a person who sits all day at work, follows up with a bike ride home, and wraps up the day with a nice evening sitting reading on the couch. Notice that the position you find yourself in, both sitting and riding a bike, is similar, in that your hips are flexed and your knees are bent. This causes a shortening of your hip flexor muscles [Illustration 2] and can force your hip bones to rotate forward on your sacrum.

The compensations that result from each of these dysfunctions are considerable – they lead to pain and a loss of full range of motion.
So.  Now we know what the problem is.  What’s the solution?  Well, part of it involves the assessment of your pelvic girdle through orthopedic and muscle testing to determine any imbalances. Releasing tight short muscles and stimulating long weak ones, accompanied by joint mobilizations and muscle energy techniques, returns the pelvic bones to their natural position.  That in turn, allows the body’s compensations to unwind and your body to return to a state of best possible function.

Sound logical?  That’s because it is.

Finally, postural muscles (the ones that hold you up) are affected by dysfunction first, followed by dynamic muscles (the ones you use to do things). When postural muscles become weak and contracted, dynamic muscles can’t function properly and therefore can’t be trained or strengthened effectively. This is why postural strength, alignment and function is an important component of any rehabilitation program. And, for athletes it’s critical for maximum performance.

Following massage therapy treatment, muscle balance and functional exercises maintain a healthy, balanced connection between your body parts.  They’re easy to do at home, don’t require expensive equipment, and can be performed in as little as 10-15 minutes, three to four times a week.

After an assessment and treatment at Bayswater, I’ll provide you with a short routine that will retrain your body to maintain alignment.   It takes a little effort but I am confident that you will see the value and feel the difference. Please call with any questions that you may have.

My best,

Heather Scheilbal, RMT

Heather at Bayswater

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