After sessions One and Two, the body’s surrounding myofascial sleeve should feel freer to move independently from the front and back of the thorax, thus making it possible to shift the entire sleeve into a new position in Session Three. But the new position of this outer sleeve is likely not congruent with the position of the body’s deeper myofascial layers and its structural core. And, of course, the position of the body’s inner structural core may not be aligned and congruent with the body’s gravitational center.
So, to support alignment and congruence between the body’s outer sleeve and its inner core, and the alignment and congruence between the body’s vertical and gravitation centers, we attempt to mobilize and align the body’s inner core in Sessions Four through Seven.
After Sessions Six and Seven, the spine’s surrounding myofascial layers are significantly freer, which makes it possible for the spine to flex and extend more fully, and for the secondary spinal curves to elongate. But the shoulder and pelvic girdles may still not be radially or horizontally aligned with the spine, and the body’s vertical and gravitational centers may not be aligned and balanced.
And of course, the body’s inner core and outer myofascial sleeve may not be radially and vertically aligned to each other. So, we do sessions Eight, Nine and Ten to align the outer and inner layers to each other. And to horizontally and vertically align the shoulder and pelvic girdles and spine, as well as support the unobstructed transfer of motion through the core.
But how we go about creating greater balance between core and sleeve, between the girdles and spine, between the body’s vertical and gravitational centers and how we support the transfer of motion through the core will be a challenge for years to come. So, some general guidelines and observations may be helpful.
First, working with clients in gravity (seated and standing) helps us feel the alignment between their vertical and gravitational centers, and helps us align the two.
Second, seeing the body’s weight bearing segments as an interrelated system rather than separate is critical to being able to see what is necessary to align and balance those segments.
With that said, here are some basic observations about each weight-bearing segment that should help us to put the pieces together.
Shoulders: We have to do the arms first, before the shoulders will be free to extend. We have to release fascial adhesion at the attachments of the pectoral and latissimus dorsi to the humeral head, before being able to shift the position of the humeral head. We have to release tissue layers adhered to the clavicle and acromion process of the scapula and layers that have adhered the scapula to the posterior thorax, before the shoulder girdle will be mobile enough to shift its position on the thorax.
Arms: To ease rotation at the wrist, we ask clients to rotate their elbow. To ease rotation at the elbow, we ask them to rotate their wrist. And we have to work back and forth between these joints before being able to radially align them and to support the unobstructed transfer of motion through them. Also, arm work is often the key to radially aligning the shoulder girdle and spine at the C-T junction (C7-T2).
Pelvis: We need to release the muscle and the tissue layers adhered to the ischial tuberosities, ischial ramus and inferior lateral margins of the pubic bone, and adhesion between the quadratus lumborum and psoas layers, before being able to shift the pelvic girdle out of its anterior or posterior tipped position.
Legs: Leg work is key to radially aligning the pelvic girdle and spine, and to easing strain at the Lumbosacral (S1-L4,5) and lumbothoracic (L1-T12) junctions. And of course, to creating greater side-to-side balance between the SI joints. As a rule, move muscles and tissue layers within the leg anterior compartment forward, and muscle and tissue layers within the leg posterior compartment backward. And we have to work back and forth between the legs and pelvis before being able to ease rotation between the two.
Knees: We have to work back and forth between the ankles and knees, and between the knees and hips, before being able to radially align the femur and tibia. And of course, we have to release the myofascial sleeve from these bones before being able to shift their position.
Feet: We have to release all the tissue layers adhered to the lateral and medial sides of the ankle before rotation of the calcaneus can be eased. And we need to release adhesion between the metatarsals from both the dorsum of the foot and its plantar surface before we can ease strain and rotation of the foot.
Abdomen: To ease digestion strain and to support the transfer of motion through the abdomen, we may have to release fascial layers keeping the cardiac portion of the stomach and hiatal opening of the diaphragm from moving separately. We may also need to release fascial layers keeping the ileocecal valve adhered to the iliacus and pelvic basin. And we may have to release fascial layers keeping the large intestine from moving independently from the abdominal lining and visceral omentum.
The Respiratory Diaphragm: It’s necessary to release fascial layers adhered to the anterior surfaces of the quadratus lumborum, psoas and iliacus, and to release the rectus abdominis and abdominal wall from the thorax and costal margins before the diaphragm will be free to move properly.
The key to core-sleeve balance and clients’ ability to transfer motion between the pelvic floor and respiratory diaphragm is mobilization of the rectus abdominis and its continuum with the pectoral fascial layers. And the iliopsoas layers, and their fascial continuum to the two diaphragms.
Shoulder girdle: We need to release the muscle and tissue layers adhered to the anterior, lateral and posterior surfaces of the first three ribs, before the girdle can be freed to shift position on the thorax. And we have to release adhesion between the shoulders and arms and ease rotation between the wrists, elbows and shoulders, before the shoulders are free to extend fully.
The Plural Diaphragm (thoracic outlet): We need to ease torsion between the shoulder girdle and thorax, and mobilize the first and second ribs, before we can ease rotation of the plural diaphragm. And we have to release adhesion between the upper portion of the trapezius, levator scapulae and scalenes before being able to ease rotation of the first and second ribs, and torsion between the shoulder girdle and thorax.
Neck: It’s necessary to release adhesion between the upper portion of the trapezius, levator scapulae and scalene layers before the shoulders will be free to drop, and before fixed rotation between the shoulder girdle and neck can be eased. We need to release adhesion between the anterior scalenes and longus cervicis layers adhered to the anterior surfaces of the cervical spine before the cervical spine will be free to extend fully. And of course, we have to release adhesion between the intrinsic layers adhered to both the cervical and lumbar spine before being able to create balance between the lumbar and cervical curves.
Head: We need to release tissue layers that are adhered to the occiput and move them downward (towards the neck) and layers adhered to the mastoid processes of the temporals before being able to ease strain and rotation between the head and neck. And we have to release tissue layers adhered to the medial surfaces of the temporal bones and lesser wings of the sphenoid before being able to mobilize the cranial base and align the head and neck.
We work on the floor of the mouth until we can feel the tongue and throat settle back, and we work from the roof of the mouth towards the sides until we can feel it widen and soften. We also work behind the mandible until we can feel the cranial base retract and the head and neck align.
This post is of course, a work in process and strategies on how to put all these pieces together and integrate core and sleeve will be covered further in class.