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Rolfing and neural compression

I found this part of a scholarly article concerning neurofascial restriction on a very reputable (foreign) website:

The author is D.Hazen, and the title is "The Neurology of Posture"

It can be found on the internet:

"The first surprise, as I mentioned,
was how hard and rigid even tiny nerves can become. In that state they are practically
impervious to stretch.
Another — more profound — surprise was to discover that joints are often restricted,
not from myofascial tension, but from neurofascial restriction. — from the fact that
nerves, when they become swollen and hard, have the consistency of tendons. And
many of the places where clients asked, “Is that a muscle knot”, and I said “yes”, are not
muscle after all, but swollen nerves. I’ve reached the point in my work that I check for
neural tension before I look at myofascial or skeletal relations.

What’s even more interesting, when I use [Dr.] Barral’s [D.O] techniques, these “tendons” lose their
tendon-like quality and go back to being more like neural tissue. When they do, the
joints they cross behave normally. (OK, Now do I have your attention?) We have a lot
of discussion to demonstrate this, but it looks like inflammation is created within the restricted
space of the nerve bundle, and what was the longitudinal elasticity of the nerve
became taken up by the transverse increase in diameter. This means that nerves may
have a mechanical (as well as an electrochemical) influence on skeletal relationships
and hence on the body’s ability to relate effectively to the gravity field. While a significant
part of the big picture, it is only a part."


[kiteflyer] If the above thoughts are coupled with one of the many thoughts within Ida Rolf's technique, well then, there are some conclusions that may make sense as to why someone stands the way they do, etc...
I [kiteflyer] personally find that lot of this structural integration may not take into consideration some of the underlying neural issues and structural problems that people cannot exactly change, by themselves. No matter what emotions are or are not involved. A person cannot change the structure of one's teeth (as in movement of cranial bones via, let's say, CST, although it is important work in adjunct with dental and structural work. That is why I see it is important for medical professionals and doctors to start connecting the points with how all of this works, and affects the persons involved.
Periodontal ligaments send signals which create holding patterns, yet not too many people seem to look at this when addressing the body. Also, if there is a problem with neurofascial tension or restriction, I'd say look at this, through the teeth, jaw, head. Then neck, and other bodily arrangement. (the fascia and skeletal arrangement).


There is also an article by a man named R.Schleip, titled:

Explorations of the Neuro-Myofascial Net (see below)

Article published in ROLF LINES March/April 1991:

He had some unanswered questions about all of the above, too.
________________________________________
Schleip:

About a year ago I wrote the following letter to all faculty members of the Rolf Institute:

"RE: THE IMPORTANCE OF FASCIA IN THE ALIGNMENT OF HUMAN BODIES
Dear Colleagues - Recently I had a challenging discussion with several leading Feldenkrais teachers and other bodyworkers in Australia. They questioned the importance of fascia and used a story by Milton Trager as an example that "everything is just in the brain". The story deals with an old man in an hospital whose body is very stiff and rigid. But under anesthesia his muscle tonus gets lowered and he is as limber and soft as a young baby. As soon as his consciousness returns he gets stiff and rigid again. So far the story by Milton Trager.

Since I tend to doubt the reliability of any kind of "stories" I looked for a chance to check this out myself. Recently I finally got an opportunity to do so. I participated at 3 arthroscopic knee operations involving general anesthesia in a modern hospital. I was allowed to do some passive joint range of motion testing with the 3 patients before and during anesthesia. With the patient in a supine position I elevated the arms superiorly above the head and noticed the freedom of movement in this direction. With one of the patients, the elbow dropped all the way to the table above the head before the anesthesia, and this was no different after he lost consciousness. However, with the other 2 patients I could not elevate their elbows all the way in their normal state, i.e. their elbows kept hanging somewhere in the air above the head. Five minutes later, when they had lost consciousness I again elevated their arms above the head and to my surprise, their elbows dropped all the way down to the table - no restrictions whatsoever, they just dropped!
Additionally I dorsiflexed the feet of all 3 patients. Here I could not detect any increased joint mobility during anesthesia. (I used my subjective comparison only, without any measuring devices).

I must say that I was quite shocked by the result of my tests. From my Rolfer's point of view I had expected that remaining fascial restrictions would prevent the arms dropping all the way under anesthesia. (I was not surprised by the unchanged mobility of the ankle joint, since none of the 3 patients seemed to have any limitations there that would concern me as a Rolfer). The question to ask now is: IS IT POSSIBLE THAT MOST OF THE STRUCTURALLY IMPORTANT RESTRICTIONS IN OUR CLIENT'S BODIES ARE JUST CAUSED BY A HIGH MUSCLE TONUS as determined by a high firing rate from the central nervous system? What about the clients who have chronically forward displaced shoulders (even when they lie relaxed on their back)? Or clients with a chronically anterior tilted pelvis? Would that change too as soon as their brain's influence is shut off? That would mean that fascial restrictions of normal body alignment would be rare and the Trager and Feldenkrais practitioner's opinion would be right, that "it's all in the brain".

I now have some serious questions on the importance of fascia in normal vs. random body structure. I decided to share those questions with the Faculty and the Anatomy Instructors in the form of this letter hoping that I can elicit some feedback and stimulations on this theme. ().

To be clearer, I am NOT yet convinced of Milton Trager's opinion that it's only the brain that makes most people stiff, rigid, and structurally unbalanced. But the findings of my experiment have made me less convinced now of our model of fascia as the most important limiting factor for normal body structure in our clients. I would like to get your input to the result of my experiment.

HERE ARE MY QUESTIONS:

1)Is my assumption true that the myofascial condition of the body under anesthesia can be seen as: usual state minus muscle tonus, with only fascial (plus ligamentous and osseous) restrictions being left? (I assume that there are no changes in the structure of collagen fibers or the ground substance of connective tissue under anesthesia).

2)Does anyone have more information about different bodies under anesthesia? How is the mobility of the hip joint in various directions (with straight knee and bent knee)? How about mobility of the spine? How soft or mobile is the ribcage? How is the arrangement of a vertically hanging arm that, for example, "normally" hangs with a slight flexion at the elbow and flexion within the hand? How are the arches of the foot when pressure is applied to the soles? How is the contact of the body in the supine position to the table behind the lumbars, or behind the knee, or behind the shoulders, or behind the neck?

IF it is the case that most of the structurally important restrictions are only determined by a high firing rate from the central nervous system to the motor end plates, this would have some important consequences for our work. Not only theoretically but also practically. As I pointed out in my article in Rolf Lines Winter '89 on "THE GOLGI TENDON REFLEX ARC AS A NEW EXPLANATION OF THE EFFECT OF ROLFING", applying pressure to fascial sheets would still be a most effective tool to lower high muscle tonus. But it would be most useful for us to learn more about the nervous system's role in body alignment and to include that in our thinking, our teaching, and out practice. For example: we Anatomy Instructors would have to go back to the books and study the neuromuscular system further, and then include that in our lead-in classes and pre-trainings. And the knowledge of our Movement teachers (which I assume they have) about how to change habitual neuromuscular patterns would have to be valued and expanded with a much higher priority.

But first we need to know more about some of the questions I raised here. If our theory is clear (and in congruence with experimental data) then we can be clearer about our practice. Please communicate any feedback or information you have on the above questions to me. - Sincerely yours"


So far my letter to all Rolfing teachers, Movement instructors and anatomy teachers as at April '90. The reply I received up to now consisted of a letter from Peter Melchior, indicating that it has been his conviction for some time that as Rolfers we primarily change people's "minds about their bodies", which then leads to physical body changes; and Stacey Mills' encouragement to continue researching this direction, including some special emphasis on the role of emotions in this.

Further elaborations with half a dozen anesthesiologists and other researchers have meanwhile strengthened my belief that it is time to replace our old model of fascial plasticity with more nervous system oriented models and descriptions. Clinical in vitro studies have shown that short term mechanical deformation of animal tissue results in elastic form changes only, whereas a long-term deformation of at least 10 minutes per spot would be necessary to cause any permanent `plastic' (viscous) changes. I am now fairly well convinced that what we experience as "fascial plasticity" during our very short term Rolfing strokes is, in fact due to the plasticity of the neuromuscular system. Skilful stimulation of various nerve receptors (specially Golgi organs) in fascial sheets can evoke changes in muscular holding patterns and furthermore in the brain's body image. So I suggest it is time we change our traditional self-image as `sculpturers' to one of `skilful communicators'.

I have used the last year to venture further into exploring the `Neuro-Myofascial Net' and the brain's influence on human structure. Let me share some of the discoveries, questions, troubles and insights that I have come across. My previous clear distinction between posture (muscular holding patterns) and structure (remaining connective tissue restrictions) had to be dropped in the light of my anesthesia examinations. Furthermore, I now tend to question the usefulness of our tradition of looking mainly (sometimes exclusively) at a very rare body position: the even balanced two legged stance. In most of my clients' lives, this position is very rare and does not always reflect their preferred habits in the majority of their body usage during the week. When client A tends to stand with a more anteriorly tilted pelvis than client B in the "Rolfing stance" this does not necessarily mean that this situation is similar in sitting, or in the majority of their daily body use.

So what is structure? As I see it now there is only movement (even standing is never without movement), and what we are looking at are movement patterns and habits. Those individual movement patterns that are most permanent in a person's behavior I call "structure". So structure consists of the most deeply ingrained habits of our motor nervous system. "Integration" then, for me means, to achieve more economy in one's movement habits in relation to gravity. In order to change structure it is necessary to seduce the brain to let go of some of its most rigid movement habits and/or to develop different habits.

It has been shown that our conscious awareness is limited to a maximum of 5 to 9 bits of information at any time. Muscular coordination of walking, standing, etc. includes hundreds of different elements and information. If our deep tissue manipulation (or Rolfing Movement Integration) wants to achieve any structural improvement it is therefore necessary to effect a change in the neural connections of the subconscious motor coordination. So what are the most effective ways to do that? The pursuit of this question will demand a closer cooperation between both work aspects of our school (Rolfing manipulation & Rolfing Movement). And we should not be afraid to "look over our fences" into some of the models, theories and research data that have come out of other educational or therapeutic methods in the last decade.
Explorations of the Neuro-Myofascial Net

by Robert Schleip

Article published in ROLF LINES March/April 1991:

________________________________________


About a year ago I wrote the following letter to all faculty members of the Rolf Institute:

"RE: THE IMPORTANCE OF FASCIA IN THE ALIGNMENT OF HUMAN BODIES
Dear Colleagues - Recently I had a challenging discussion with several leading Feldenkrais teachers and other bodyworkers in Australia. They questioned the importance of fascia and used a story by Milton Trager as an example that "everything is just in the brain". The story deals with an old man in an hospital whose body is very stiff and rigid. But under anesthesia his muscle tonus gets lowered and he is as limber and soft as a young baby. As soon as his consciousness returns he gets stiff and rigid again. So far the story by Milton Trager.

Since I tend to doubt the reliability of any kind of "stories" I looked for a chance to check this out myself. Recently I finally got an opportunity to do so. I participated at 3 arthroscopic knee operations involving general anesthesia in a modern hospital. I was allowed to do some passive joint range of motion testing with the 3 patients before and during anesthesia. With the patient in a supine position I elevated the arms superiorly above the head and noticed the freedom of movement in this direction. With one of the patients, the elbow dropped all the way to the table above the head before the anesthesia, and this was no different after he lost consciousness. However, with the other 2 patients I could not elevate their elbows all the way in their normal state, i.e. their elbows kept hanging somewhere in the air above the head. Five minutes later, when they had lost consciousness I again elevated their arms above the head and to my surprise, their elbows dropped all the way down to the table - no restrictions whatsoever, they just dropped!
Additionally I dorsiflexed the feet of all 3 patients. Here I could not detect any increased joint mobility during anesthesia. (I used my subjective comparison only, without any measuring devices).

I must say that I was quite shocked by the result of my tests. From my Rolfer's point of view I had expected that remaining fascial restrictions would prevent the arms dropping all the way under anesthesia. (I was not surprised by the unchanged mobility of the ankle joint, since none of the 3 patients seemed to have any limitations there that would concern me as a Rolfer). The question to ask now is: IS IT POSSIBLE THAT MOST OF THE STRUCTURALLY IMPORTANT RESTRICTIONS IN OUR CLIENT'S BODIES ARE JUST CAUSED BY A HIGH MUSCLE TONUS as determined by a high firing rate from the central nervous system? What about the clients who have chronically forward displaced shoulders (even when they lie relaxed on their back)? Or clients with a chronically anterior tilted pelvis? Would that change too as soon as their brain's influence is shut off? That would mean that fascial restrictions of normal body alignment would be rare and the Trager and Feldenkrais practitioner's opinion would be right, that "it's all in the brain".

I now have some serious questions on the importance of fascia in normal vs. random body structure. I decided to share those questions with the Faculty and the Anatomy Instructors in the form of this letter hoping that I can elicit some feedback and stimulations on this theme. ().

To be clearer, I am NOT yet convinced of Milton Trager's opinion that it's only the brain that makes most people stiff, rigid, and structurally unbalanced. But the findings of my experiment have made me less convinced now of our model of fascia as the most important limiting factor for normal body structure in our clients. I would like to get your input to the result of my experiment.

HERE ARE MY QUESTIONS:

1)Is my assumption true that the myofascial condition of the body under anesthesia can be seen as: usual state minus muscle tonus, with only fascial (plus ligamentous and osseous) restrictions being left? (I assume that there are no changes in the structure of collagen fibers or the ground substance of connective tissue under anesthesia).

2)Does anyone have more information about different bodies under anesthesia? How is the mobility of the hip joint in various directions (with straight knee and bent knee)? How about mobility of the spine? How soft or mobile is the ribcage? How is the arrangement of a vertically hanging arm that, for example, "normally" hangs with a slight flexion at the elbow and flexion within the hand? How are the arches of the foot when pressure is applied to the soles? How is the contact of the body in the supine position to the table behind the lumbars, or behind the knee, or behind the shoulders, or behind the neck?

IF it is the case that most of the structurally important restrictions are only determined by a high firing rate from the central nervous system to the motor end plates, this would have some important consequences for our work. Not only theoretically but also practically. As I pointed out in my article in Rolf Lines Winter '89 on "THE GOLGI TENDON REFLEX ARC AS A NEW EXPLANATION OF THE EFFECT OF ROLFING", applying pressure to fascial sheets would still be a most effective tool to lower high muscle tonus. But it would be most useful for us to learn more about the nervous system's role in body alignment and to include that in our thinking, our teaching, and out practice. For example: we Anatomy Instructors would have to go back to the books and study the neuromuscular system further, and then include that in our lead-in classes and pre-trainings. And the knowledge of our Movement teachers (which I assume they have) about how to change habitual neuromuscular patterns would have to be valued and expanded with a much higher priority.

But first we need to know more about some of the questions I raised here. If our theory is clear (and in congruence with experimental data) then we can be clearer about our practice. Please communicate any feedback or information you have on the above questions to me. - Sincerely yours"


So far my letter to all Rolfing teachers, Movement instructors and anatomy teachers as at April '90. The reply I received up to now consisted of a letter from Peter Melchior, indicating that it has been his conviction for some time that as Rolfers we primarily change people's "minds about their bodies", which then leads to physical body changes; and Stacey Mills' encouragement to continue researching this direction, including some special emphasis on the role of emotions in this.

Further elaborations with half a dozen anesthesiologists and other researchers have meanwhile strengthened my belief that it is time to replace our old model of fascial plasticity with more nervous system oriented models and descriptions. Clinical in vitro studies have shown that short term mechanical deformation of animal tissue results in elastic form changes only, whereas a long-term deformation of at least 10 minutes per spot would be necessary to cause any permanent `plastic' (viscous) changes. I am now fairly well convinced that what we experience as "fascial plasticity" during our very short term Rolfing strokes is, in fact due to the plasticity of the neuromuscular system. Skilful stimulation of various nerve receptors (specially Golgi organs) in fascial sheets can evoke changes in muscular holding patterns and furthermore in the brain's body image. So I suggest it is time we change our traditional self-image as `sculpturers' to one of `skilful communicators'.

I have used the last year to venture further into exploring the `Neuro-Myofascial Net' and the brain's influence on human structure. Let me share some of the discoveries, questions, troubles and insights that I have come across. My previous clear distinction between posture (muscular holding patterns) and structure (remaining connective tissue restrictions) had to be dropped in the light of my anesthesia examinations. Furthermore, I now tend to question the usefulness of our tradition of looking mainly (sometimes exclusively) at a very rare body position: the even balanced two legged stance. In most of my clients' lives, this position is very rare and does not always reflect their preferred habits in the majority of their body usage during the week. When client A tends to stand with a more anteriorly tilted pelvis than client B in the "Rolfing stance" this does not necessarily mean that this situation is similar in sitting, or in the majority of their daily body use.

So what is structure? As I see it now there is only movement (even standing is never without movement), and what we are looking at are movement patterns and habits. Those individual movement patterns that are most permanent in a person's behavior I call "structure". So structure consists of the most deeply ingrained habits of our motor nervous system. "Integration" then, for me means, to achieve more economy in one's movement habits in relation to gravity. In order to change structure it is necessary to seduce the brain to let go of some of its most rigid movement habits and/or to develop different habits.

It has been shown that our conscious awareness is limited to a maximum of 5 to 9 bits of information at any time. Muscular coordination of walking, standing, etc. includes hundreds of different elements and information. If our deep tissue manipulation (or Rolfing Movement Integration) wants to achieve any structural improvement it is therefore necessary to effect a change in the neural connections of the subconscious motor coordination. So what are the most effective ways to do that? The pursuit of this question will demand a closer cooperation between both work aspects of our school (Rolfing manipulation & Rolfing Movement). And we should not be afraid to "look over our fences" into some of the models, theories and research data that have come out of other educational or therapeutic methods in the last decade.
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First Helper NLRolfer
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replied January 4th, 2012
Robert Schleip PhD is considered the world authority on connective tissue (fascia) research. He is a professor at University in Ulm, Germany and one of the founders of the International Fascia Congress (3rd this Feb. 2012, Vancouver, Canada). He is also the Research Director for the European Rolfing Association, which with The Rolf Institute, has sponsored and promoted research into connective tissue for the last several decades.

Don Hazen, recently deceased, was a Certified Advanced Rolfer who specialized in the relationship of nerves to connective tissue throughout the body... he postulated that nerve entrapment by connective tissue was behind many problems with the body... including limitations in range of motion, posture, and many forms of pain.

Both men were trained in Rolfing Structural Integration, both are/were practicing Rolfers. Christoph Sommer, another Rolfer, has also written extensively about nerves... "A New Paradigm: on Nerve Tissue Treatment" Dec. 2006, Structural Integration, the Journal of the Rolf Institute.
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Did you find this post helpful?

replied January 4th, 2012
Robert Schleip PhD is considered the world authority on connective tissue (fascia) research. He is a professor at University in Ulm, Germany and one of the founders of the International Fascia Congress (3rd this Feb. 2012, Vancouver, Canada). He is also the Research Director for the European Rolfing Association, which with The Rolf Institute, has sponsored and promoted research into connective tissue for the last several decades.

Don Hazen, recently deceased, was a Certified Advanced Rolfer who specialized in the relationship of nerves to connective tissue throughout the body... he postulated that nerve entrapment by connective tissue was behind many problems with the body... including limitations in range of motion, posture, and many forms of pain.

Both men were trained in Rolfing Structural Integration, both are/were practicing Rolfers. Christoph Sommer, another Rolfer, has also written extensively about nerves... "A New Paradigm: on Nerve Tissue Treatment" Dec. 2006, Structural Integration, the Journal of the Rolf Institute.
|
Did you find this post helpful?

replied January 4th, 2012
Robert Schleip PhD is considered the world authority on connective tissue (fascia) research. He is a professor at University in Ulm, Germany and one of the founders of the International Fascia Congress (3rd this Feb. 2012, Vancouver, Canada). He is also the Research Director for the European Rolfing Association, which with The Rolf Institute, has sponsored and promoted research into connective tissue for the last several decades.

Don Hazen, recently deceased, was a Certified Advanced Rolfer who specialized in the relationship of nerves to connective tissue throughout the body... he postulated that nerve entrapment by connective tissue was behind many problems with the body... including limitations in range of motion, posture, and many forms of pain.

Both men were trained in Rolfing Structural Integration, both are/were practicing Rolfers. Christoph Sommer, another Rolfer, has also written extensively about nerves... "A New Paradigm: on Nerve Tissue Treatment" Dec. 2006, Structural Integration, the Journal of the Rolf Institute.
|
Did you find this post helpful?