Relieving forward head posture: integrating bodywork techniques, plus, a still point

This is the third post in a series about my bodywork sessions with Cate to relieve forward head posture. Go here for the first post, here for the second.

by Cate Radebaugh

This session on September 30 is hard to write about because it was so fluid. I’d like to start, though, with something I left out of my last post, which is, I have a hard time figuring out where I am on the table. I’m supposed to lay centered on it, but I’m either too far to the left or right at my shoulders and too far the other direction at my hips, and sometimes, the direction I think I’m going in is not the direction I’m actually going in. This is an issue with proprioception*, and probably explains why I bump into things a lot. I don’t know where my body is in space or where my parts are relative to each other.

Anyway, our first task every session is getting me aligned on that table. I keep waiting for MaryAnn to say “goodgodamighty, get straight, Cate,” but so far she hasn’t even sighed.

I don’t know what modalities MaryAnn used in the session*, and I couldn’t recall the sequence of things after I left because the session felt so fluid. One discrete experience flowed into another, except for the first one, which was me on my back while MA held my heels in her hands and pulled on both my legs at the same time. It really does feel like my legs get longer as she pulls on them.

I learned on Friday that the ankle bones are the ends of the leg bones, not the tops of the foot bones, and the wrist bones are the ends of the arm bones, not the top of the hand bones. That is a very different orientation to me, for some reason, and I feel put together differently because of it. Go figure.

We worked (I’ve decided I’m a partner in the work*) some more on the trapezius muscle and the SCM. The SCM as it goes up the neck can take different shapes in different people. Mine is round and fairly prominent, probably because it’s working so hard to hold my head up. It is also positioned straight up and down, which comes with the forward head posture. Were my head in the right place, the SCM would go diagonally from behind my ears to my clavicles and sternum.

MA held my head in her hands and moved it up and down in an odd way. I was trying to help, of course, with not much success, and she told me to move it like a chicken moves its head when it walks, which is a kind of horizontal bobbing motion. I gave that a try and she said, ‘yep, that’s it.’ So, added to my homework is periodically tucking my chin in and pulling my head back from the center of my neck, with intent to eventually pull the SCM into that diagonal position. This all feels very awkward, so at least I know I’m doing something different.*

Then a number of things happened that felt so wonderful that all I’m recalling is what I felt and not what MaryAnn did, but most of them had to do with work she was doing with my neck and the back of my head and base of my skull or top of my spine. So I’ll tell you what I felt, and maybe she’ll remember what she was doing. I remember her pushing, I think with her thumbs, and it was amazing. I wish she were here doing it right now. And I said, ‘oh, yeah,’ and she said, ‘yeah, everybody says that.’*

She rubbed my ears and the muscles around them and I learned why dogs like their ears rubbed.

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Image source

And then she did something and it hurt so, so, so good. Bodyworkers call that hedonistic pain. I’m sort of melting again as I think about it.*

And then she did three more amazing things. One had something to do with my arm. Maybe she was moving it in some way? I only remember another arm on top of it, clear, and the same shape, but more real in some way than my flesh and blood left arm. I might have felt it with both arms, but only remember the left. It reminded me of The Possible Human by Jean Houston.

Another time, she doing something at the nape of my neck, I think, and said the energy or the fluid there was really open and she was closing it. I couldn’t feel anything, though, and for the first time, had a twinge of disbelief, when suddenly, it was as if something inside there took on a funnel or v-shape and I felt quiet and weightless inside it. She’d created what’s called a still point. If you’ve never experienced that, you’ve got a treat in store.

She was noodling around another time and again, very suddenly, it was as though a vertical plane took shape inside the center of the back of my head, light-filled, sparkly. None of my descriptions do it justice.*

I haven’t told you yet about my homework*, which was amazing. This post is already too long, so I’ll put that in a separate one.

MaryAnn’s notes:

Many of us have issues with proprioception, including me. I’ve learned to feel the edges of the table with my fingers to help gauge if I’m in the center. Also, if I can get my butt in the center of the table before lying down, it helps!

In this session, I started with Zero Balancing — it really does lengthen the body — then did myofascial release, and ended with craniosacral therapy.

Hurray for being partners in our work together! Cate does her homework and is rapidly gaining body knowledge and awareness.

Changes in alignment go through a stage where it feels awkward. It takes time to train the nervous system to feel at ease in the new position and want to hang onto it. And then the old position will feel awkward!

The thumb pushing was into her upper trapezius.

The hedonistic pain comes from the Occipital Base Release. It creates more range of motion at the cranial base, where people with forward head posture really need it.

I can’t explain the arm experience.

I worked with her suboccipitals (she mentioned her vision got better), and then I induced a still point using the CV-4 technique.

Her new homework was to try out my Still Point Inducer at home. Click here to read about her experience.

Click here to read about our next session.

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