I enrolled in my first Myofascial Release seminar with John F. Barnes in 1997, one year out of Physical Therapy school. By chance, I had observed Myofascial Release in action when I was just starting my first job as a staff PT, and was immediately taken by its results. I knew I had to learn more! Little did I know that doing so would change my health, my life, and the way I practice PT and bodywork to this day. Not only did this first experience dramatically reduce my chronic low back pain of 5+ years, it totally changed my perspective on the infinite self-healing capacity of the human body.
Along my own path of personal growth and healing, I can recall a handful of experiences that opened my eyes to totally new ways of thinking and being. Over the course of 21 years of MFR practice, I have developed what I call “Life Giving Principles” (LGP’s) that I use in both my MFR Practice and my Personal Development Coaching practice and that I teach in seminars across the US. The main purpose of these Principles is to reinforce the awareness of our body-mind’s self-restorative capacity.
These principles continue to positively impact my life on every level, and instill in me a burning desire to share them with you, and with the world.
Below I will discuss the First Life Giving Principle- LGP #1 and how it can support you in your authentic healing process. In later posts I will discuss Principles 2-5.
Body Wisdom Principle #1
Your body has inner wisdom and is a self-correcting system.
Every moment of every day, your body does everything in its power to keep you healthy and upright against gravity. Take a moment to appreciate that.
The following will further illustrate the body’s innate power and wisdom to correct itself:
1) According to the rules of physics, humans should not be able to stand upright given the size and weight of our noggins and the comparatively small surface area of our feet.
- The average adult human head weighs about 10-11 pounds (about the size of a bowling ball) and balances on top of your neck thanks to your sturdy spine and the fascial “guidewires” and muscles that hold it there. The surface area of the feet on an adult is about 35 inches. You do the math. Weight x Distance + Gravity = Phew! This symphony of systems, including the nervous system, circulatory system, musculo-skeletal system, and fascial system help us not only stand, but to walk, run, jump, and even do a back flip.
- If you have a fascial restriction in your hip or psoas muscle (like most of us do from sitting in chairs and driving cars), an equal and opposite tension will develop in your back to keep your body upright, lest you fall flat on your face. If the body did not channel its infinite wisdom to do this for you, a tightness in the front of your hip from sitting all day would cause you to flop forward, because there would be nothing to counteract the restriction’s pull.
Isn’t this amazing? Your body has instant awareness of what is happening and what it needs to do.
Where this creates an issue, however, is that if the restriction is prolonged (as in sitting at a desk looking at a computer, or looking down at your cell phone all day), then the body tries to support whatever you are trying to do. It sends proteins called fibroblasts to the restricted area and lays down collagen (basically your body’s superglue) to hold you in this posture.
It is true that the body does not judge. If you need to slump in front of the computer, it graciously and effectively invites the collagen to hold you there, no questions asked. Which is great until you need to stand up, or walk, or run, or look up to see the beautiful sky, and the fascial restriction is still holding you in the shape of your chair!
If stationed long enough, these restrictions may also lead to pain, nerve impingement, and loss of vital function all the way down to the cellular level. A similar situation in the body can occur as a result of a fall or accident, surgery and pregnancy.
Time and time again I witness how MFR eliminates these restrictions in the body, and the pain and dysfunction associated with them.
2. It takes 75-300% more energy to move and function when you have one or more fascial restrictions in your lower body. Imagine you have a 100 lb. child clinging to your leg… Now go ahead, walk! What about a 200 lb. monkey on your shoulders? You get the picture?
- A fascial restriction in the body exerts 2000 pounds of pressure per square inch! That is equal to the weight of 2 horses. In my early experience as an MFR patient, I felt as though 1000 pounds had been lifted from my shoulders that I hadn’t even known was there! I felt as though I could breathe easier, walk without pain, and that my energy was restored to levels even beyond my pre-pain experience.
- The most amazing part is that all of this wisdom is operating without your conscious participation. Your body wisdom takes over at the exact right time and in the exact right fashion to keep you upright! Fascia-nating, right?
- In this same way, you do not need to tell your kidneys how and when to filter fluids, and your intestines when to secrete digestive enzymes…they just do it. Body Wisdom is constantly balancing you, allowing you to live your best life. Your body is chock-full of information that is in precise alignment with your highest level of health and healing, and utilizes that information without you even knowing it.
Now I’m going to propose a radical notion—something that I have come to believe based on my 21 years watching Body Wisdom work its magic:
I believe that the body has ALL of the information it needs to heal itself.
Where else would the most precise and accurate information be located for your perfect health & wholeness, other than your own body? Yes, your body has the exact information that it needs to self correct and restore itself, just like it does to keep you upright in gravity.
Consider, for instance, what happens when we have taken every medical test and we are still in pain or exhausted to no avail. I believe that our medical advances in diagnostics and the technology we have developed are extremely helpful and necessary, especially in a crisis. They help us measure and observe how select systems in the body are functioning at a particular moment in time;
……however, when it comes to thriving, not just surviving, I believe we have a more comprehensive resource: our body.
Did you know that the human body contains more potential energy than a hydrogen bomb?
- As Einstein himself discovered, E=mc^2, meaning that Mass and Energy have equivalence. They are two forms of the same force: One is liberated, the other is waiting to happen. This is called Potential Energy. This Energy is stored in our tissues.
- According to Anshu Negi of Quora.com, “The average adult contains 7×10^18 (10 raise to power of 18) joules of Potential Energy. That’s enough to explode 30 large hydrogen bombs!” With this amount of potential energy, how could we not be powerful self-healing organisms? I believe we can learn to tap this potential energy for healing and well-being at its highest levels.
- When we look at this at a cellular level, this is even more interesting. Cellular health is vital to our capacity to thrive. The body contains 37 trillion cells (not million, not billion, but trillion).
There are 800 billion more cells in our body than there are galaxies in the known universe.
The cells are the building blocks of every living being and contain vast amounts information regarding the balance and function of ALL systems in our body.
Can you imagine how enlightening it might be to have access to this information and it’s potential to shine the light on the patterns that contribute to our pain and suffering?
If my hypothesis is true, then the awareness of body wisdom & using this awareness to tap into our internal resources gives us the ability to respond …..
(Ability to Respond = Response-ability)
…..in healthy and life-giving ways to what is happening in our body and in our lives.
Through Myofascial Release treatments we learn the practice of & the innate value of Body Awareness on a regular basis, we learn to tap our internal resources, our Body Wisdom, which guides us to inspired action and sustainable and healthful states of being. The treatment & the practice give us the opportunity to experience freedom from both pain & suffering on a regular basis.
To tap into your own Body Wisdom, try this easy MFR technique at home :
5 Minute Body Awareness Practice: Learning to Soften
1. Sit in a chair or on the floor; or lie down on a comfortable surface
2. Feel your back body and legs making contact with the chair or floor
3. Notice your breath: in and out
4. Do you feel any tension or holding anywhere in your body? Check in with hips, jaw, abdomen, hands, shoulders, eyes, etc…
5. Do you feel any pain in your body?
6. Choose one site of tension or pain and BREATHE toward this area with your INHALE
7. On your EXHALE say “soften” or “ease” quietly in your mind;
8. Allow any found tension to soften & unfold around the pain – notice the jaw, neck, belly, eyes, and entire body
9. Repeat & Rinse! Repeat for 10-15 breaths; keep softening….
10. Observe what happens
Look for the the next two Life Giving Principles in my upcoming blog posts:
LGP #2: If You Feel It You Can Heal It!
LGP #3: Awareness Is The Key
You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop.