An example of body work with IMBW concept.
Considering joint ailments, one of the factors besides injury is overload. Not always a big one. Also, those smaller ones which day by day accumulate tension stiffening us and, in consequence, leading to slight changes in joint planes. However, with regard to tiredness of the muscles, there are microinjuries, inappropriate diet, external factors, thermal changes, lack of harmony in antagonist muscles. We observe excess tension, stiffening, sometimes fibrosis, muscle contracture, swelling or further loss of elasticity.
Tensions of psychosomatic nature appear in similar planes. They do not attack specific points, but rather single muscles or a group of muscles performing certain ‘patterns of motion’. As a result of intense or prolonged stress there appears a momentary contracture of pectoral muscles, biceps, levator scapulae muscle, and further from the muscles in the area of the temporomandibular joint, or simultaneously (more frequently) of the sternocleidomastoid muscle.
The initial escape from tension and pain into a different position of the body is effective, it shows the body’s wisdom, the efficacy of the fascia system and adaptation. However, in the case of a strong and prolonged overload, both physical as well as psychological, with time we form habits which have little to do with the natural, you could say primary, function of the spine, which is to support and protect. Soft tissues, which we operate to a different extent consciously. Muscles, and in consequence tendons, are attacked not only in their most important parts. After a while, you no longer know which is the the cause and which is the effect of the tension. Moreover, we focus on the basic part of the muscles, belly when the problem appears on a larger plane.
Gravitation mostly attacks fascia. Here, it is crucial to shift the perspective of fascia. Similarly, the understanding of muscles, not only those most important ones, but also the small ones. It is critical to understand the role of soft tissue also as a path of information passage, nutrition, or preparation for the upcoming injury, starting with sport and ending with long labour. This is locally interaction and through the chains to distal parts of the body and at different layers.
Ironically, we use the very same power of gravitation consciously in the relaxation as a prophylactics. The simplest example from a body work session IMBW concept:
The patient is lying on his back, we stand behind his head gently yet firmly grabbing his/her right upper limb at the wrist. We lift it slowly, first pulling the arm to the armpit line. Then, we gently pull the hand in the direction of the opposite armpit line. As a result, the forearm is at the level of the diaphragm, while the patient’s right hand hangs loosely above the left armpit line. We pull the arm slightly more strongly and we then place our right hand under the scapula, so as to slide it as deep as the patient allows for! Sometimes, it may only be possible to put your hand under the shoulder. The basis of this movement is the synchronisation of all the elements. And now is very important moment, for a while, we do nothing, no movement, deceleration. Just we feel his/her body, the most subtle movements are our indications.
We pull the arm on the inhale phase of breathing, and flexibly slide our hand under the scapula. The patient breathes calmly, while we wait without making any movement, observing and simply being. When the moment of an exhale comes, we slowly take out our hand from under the scapula. This movement is like a wave. We make this movement by moving the dorsal part of our hand on the table and as if stroking the scapula with our palm. There is absolutely no space for shaking or vibration. It is not this amplitude, these are not these techniques!
At first, we make the movement completely horizontally. If it was difficult to get your hand under the shoulder, repeat the grip starting it from stroking the areas of the elbow joint, and smoothly go under the triceps, and only then towards the scapula. If you feel that the patient is guarding or straining him/herself, give up.
The whole multilevel movement must be performed very softly and deeply, but firmly. When a thumb we move further along a curve in the direction of supraspinatus muscle, then to the deltoid and we begin to slowly withdraw from under the shoulder. The patient’s falling arm pulls the forearm, which moves smoothly along the line of the diaphragm. Most stages of this multilevel technique are synchronised with breathing. When we slide our hand – on the indrawn breath – there is the effect of the arm falling slowly, millimetre by millimetre, to the ground. Don’t we use gravitation here? We do. But in this case it is our therapeutic “ally”.
The simplicity of this technique lies in showing it not as working against something, but on the contrary, as giving space about which the patient him/herself decides. There is no place for forceful conventional movement which goes against the idea of deep relaxation.
Sometimes at the beginning of the first session, we get almost no effects. With time, the patient is able to move his/her arm up and down for several seconds. He/she does not do much, though. patient merely breathes. Just like we do. We remain suspended in time for a moment.
Patients usually describe this state as falling of the arms with a simultaneous effect of getting wings. The essence of the treatment is to teach ourselves as well as the patient to experience what is subtle first. We then use the forces which in normal conditions work against us.
Those who know a little about the topic, begin to smile reading these words as they realise that this technique uses a mere illusion of the arms falling. In fact, it is a movement at the span of a few millimetres, which happens under the weight of the arms. Later, the effect is intensified by the movement of our hands to deltoids muscles, later to shoulder joints and reaching the upper part of the chest.
The above example is one of the several key elements of working within the framework of Integrative Body Work Massage. When I show this fragment on video during presentations and workshops, the participants say they understand the idea behind it. It turns out later that few of them have any idea of what they really have seen, simply because it is difficult to visualise it. In this article, I have attempted to describe the process verbally, yet the step-by-step description may not be precise.
Continuation in the next entry …