Body Sleuthing is the log of my prevention-based self-care happenings. Were it to be historically accurate, this log would have begun back around the time I was born (and yes, I have started such a log for my babe.). But the record begins here, so from time to time there will be some historical background offered. Which I suppose is appropriate since so much of what happens today in our bodies is the result of some long forgotten occurrence. Because our bodies don’t forget, they store away for another day….
And today I am suffering from yet another all too frequent upper back lock down. Which means that I cannot move too well from my mid-back up to my head. It’s a real bummer for me. When my upper back locks up like this it’s usually a result of something I did while sleeping through the night. As the day wears on and none of my efforts to alleviate the pain have the desired result, my morale sinks lower and lower. Luckily this usually doesn’t last too long. But the question is why does it happen at all?
Which leads me to explain this category’s title. Since my teenage years I’ve experienced all sorts of soft tissue ailments. Looking back I realize that this was probably the best assurance that I would follow a healing arts (further definition follows) path. Like many people, I suffered a tailbone injury as a teenager (pretty much everybody falls on their rump sometime in their youth, right?). When it happened, my mother dutifully took me to the doctor. They told me that it was most likely broken, but that an x-ray was pointless because there was nothing to be done about a broken tailbone save sitting on a donut and taking muscle relaxants. I already knew that I wasn’t interested in drugs of any kind and so I sat on a donut and waited for the pain to go away. But then I was doing an exercise video in our living room and gave myself my first muscle spasm. Which lasted a really long time because I didn’t have anybody with any real body sense with whom to consult. I lived with successive muscle spasms until I met my first chiropractor during my senior year of college. With regular visits, I finally experienced a break in the pain that I’d be having for six-odd years and I began what I believe will be a life-long journey of self-healing and full embodiment of my life. From the first injury, I learned that western doctors had little to offer me. From my first chiropractic experience I learned that pain did not have to be a constant in my life (boy, was I relieved!) and to hope for a complete elimination of pain. Slowly, I began to realize that while I could learn a tremendous amount from the healing hands of various practitioners, I was really the one doing the work. I was the healer. Anybody who was helping me was a facilitator and a teacher. I was the one integrating all the inputs toward an optimal end: normal health (further discussion of this term follows). To sort out what was happening in my body, I realized that I had to be a sleuth. I had to take information from a wide variety of sources to gain a full and complete understanding of what I was experiencing. While I don’t think that this process is necessary for every person -clearly I’m particularly interested in my body given my line of work- I have come to realize that normal health is won only by the person who fights for it. With the many compromises that we’ve made to live our contemporary lives -consciously or by default- normal health is the result of a carefully and regularly tended body.
Normal health is a term that Joe Pilates uses in his book Return To Life. He makes the point that we ought to define normal health as the condition that is free of all ailments. His point is important because most of us are living with at least one, if not many, ailments which are not necessary and which hinder our life experience. Since these ailments are not pathological, they are not treatable with western medicine. So we have come to consider them “normal”. But they are not normal. With simple and accessible treatments we can self heal and usher in normal health.
Healing arts describes a sort of work with the human body which utilizes any number of various modalities to facilitate a person’s self healing processes. The more skilled the practitioner, the more profound and lasting the results. Given my geographical location, I have many practitioners available to support me. I am an enthusiastic receiver of visceral manipulation, cranial sacral therapy, ortho-bionomy, BGI chiropractic, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and psychotherapy.
Returning to today’s question…I have been doing some sleuthing with respect to my upper back for a few years now. This sleuthing process has integrated information from a variety of practitioners and books. I demonstrate a bracing of the rib cage which I’ve come to recognize in many of my clients too. I believe that this bracing is linked to some form of breath restriction and inhibition of spinal articulation. The specifics of these factors and the order of occurrence varies from person to person. Likewise so do the deep internal pathways of tension patterns that underlie the condition. Last week in my session with my amazing body worker a connection between the liver through the umbilical ligament down to the bladder through the pelvis down my left leg became apparent to her. In our previous session, she uncovered a fascial connection between my bladder, my restricted rib cage, and my upper neck tension. While, I am suffering today, I feel confident that we are well on our way to freeing my body of the layers of tension that repeatedly pull me into this lock down state. And as I learned so many years ago, hope is the best beginning for the journey toward normal health.