Frida Kahlo probably had fibromyalgia

While continuing to learn more about fibromyalgia, I found something interesting: Frida Kahlo probably had it.

If you’re wondering what fibromyalgia is, the Mayo Clinic says it’s a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Symptoms sometimes begin after a trauma, surgery, infection, or significant stress. Women are much more likely to develop it.

One researcher, Manuel Martinez-lavin, says it’s likely the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo had fibromyalgia. The bus accident that badly injured her at age 18 must have been quite traumatic and was followed by many stressful surgeries. The accident left her with chronic pain, well documented in her art.

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-11-07-37-amThe Broken Column

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Working with forward head posture: Zero Balancing and more

Note from MaryAnn: This is a guest post by someone I’ve known for nearly a decade. Years have gone by without us seeing each other, and then we reconnect, and it’s a happy occasion. She is a wonderful writer with a fascinating and fascinated mind, a perceptive presence, and a wicked sense of humor.

We initially did a 90-minute craniosacral therapy session with Zero Balancing. Then we did a 30-minute Zero Balancing session that she writes about here. This is the first in a series of posts about her experience receiving bodywork from me to help relieve her forward head posture (and the pain and tension that accompany it) and work with anything else that arises.

Forward head posture is becoming more common with our sedentary, screen-gazing habits. Several of the modalities which I’ve trained in and practiced are very effective at relieving forward head posture, including Zero Balancing, myofascial release/Deep Massage, and craniosacral therapy. And Cate will have homework to do as well.

I hope you enjoy reading these posts as we progress. The bottom of the post contains a link to the following post if you wish to read them consecutively.

by Cate Radebaugh

Over the years, I’ve developed forward head posture. Some of it comes from many hours in front of a computer screen, and obesity and self-image issues haven’t helped any. I recently became aware, though, that carrying my head out so far in front of my body is exhausting, and my neck, shoulders, and upper back are so constricted from the constant weight that they never really relax or rest, even in sleep.

So … I went to see my friend MaryAnn Reynolds to find out if she might be able to help. I’ve already said a little about my first visit* and my second was just as interesting. It was a Zero Balancing session. I think Zero Balancing is a really funny name and an even funnier intent, because I already experience moments of what I think of as zero balance and would just as soon not. MaryAnn’s Zero Balancing is different from that. In fact, it seems to be something of antidote. Continue reading

How yoga is connected to Rolfing

Tom Myers on The Century of the Body: Fascia, Yoga and the Medicine of the Future.

Loved this interview with Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains (which I hope to be studying in March at the Lauterstein-Conway School of Massage).

Until I read it, I had no idea that Ida Rolf was an early (1920s) practitioner of yoga, and that she developed Structural Integration (aka Rolfing (TM)) as a way to bring the benefits of yoga to people without the actual practice of yoga, since yoga wasn’t readily available.

Boy, would she be surprised at how popular yoga has become! And, the rise of yoga in America doesn’t seem to have put a dent in the Rolfing business either, perhaps because yoga helps people become more aware that their bodies are bound up, and they seek Rolfing.

My Rolfer, Mary Kimberlin in Dallas, told me that being Rolfed was the equivalent of doing yoga for five years in terms of the freedom of movement. I believe that. I was practicing yoga before I got Rolfed, and it definitely accelerated my flexibility in asana practice.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Fascia—or connective tissue—is what glues us together. So, it’s a broad use of the word fascia. What we’re really talking about is the body-wide extracellular net that holds us together.

So, again, people have been paying a lot of attention to the chemistry and neurology of conditions like depression, and not much attention to shape. But shape is hugely important, and that’s where yoga and bodywork really shine.

We’re really just looking at the very beginning of the potential offered by body work, yoga, Rolfing, osteopathy, and so on—all these body therapies contributing to this realm.. This next century is going to be the century of the body, because this is the century in which we need to learn to change behavior.

We need to learn how to get people to change behavior, because so many of the big diseases are all lifestyle-related. At the heart of big, epidemic conditions like heart disease and diabetes really are behavioral, lifestyle issues. These are conditions where people need to change their habits more than they need to take the medicine.

Yoga was very small until quite recently. Pilates was very small until quite recently. And bodywork was quite limited until very recently. Going forward, I think we will see these unite into a very powerful combination of manual therapy and movement, where everybody is speaking one language.

Cadaver video showing the importance of stretching, massage, and yoga

Warning: This video may be gruesome to some viewers. It features a cadaver. If you think that it will upset you, then don’t watch it.

Why am I featuring it here? It shows why you need to move your body to your full range of movement to maintain your freedom of movement as you grow older, and why you may need yoga and/or bodywork to restore freedom of movement after periods of inactivity.

Freedom of movement is something that I intuitively believe is related to having healthy energetic meridians. If you can move freely, then the energy in your body is flowing well.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to it than that, but you can feel it, can’t you?

New discovery about connective tissue

One of my wonderful student massage clients, perhaps triggered by me saying something about fascia (connective tissue), told me about and later sent me a link to this fascinating article, How Pig Guts Became the Next Bright Hope for Regenerating Human Limbs, about how extracellular matrix (ECM), formerly thought to be a kind of structural scaffolding, is actually

primarily a collection of signaling proteins and information that is held within the structural molecules.

ECM can be inserted where tissue has been damaged and destroyed, and somehow it manages to recruit the body’s own stem cells to rebuild nerve, muscle, and other tissues.

It holds promise for regenerating tissues in damaged limbs, preventing the need for amputation, and healing serious wounds without scar tissue.

Thanks, Bruce and Discover magazine.

Why massage, yoga, shaking medicine, and movement make you feel so good

One of the coolest things I’ve learned in my first two weeks of massage school, besides that I actually know something from my years of experiencing bodywork and that my hands love connecting with people, is about fascia.

If you don’t know, fascia is the name for a type of connective tissue, a thin membrane. It is labeled superficial when it is right under the skin and deep when it surrounds, binds, and separates muscle. It’s really all the same — these terms just differentiate the location.

The semi-transparent membrane on an uncooked chicken breast is fascia.

Here’s a new word: thixotropism, from the Greek for touch and turning. It refers to the fascia’s ability to change from one state to another. Fascia has two states: a thin fluid (sol) and a thicker gel. In its thin state, it is fluid, pliant, and elastic, offering a wider range of movement. In its gel state, it is tougher, more inflexible, and restricts movement.

When the body is out of alignment, such as when the head is jutting forward, the fascia supporting those straining neck muscles become more gel-like, stiffer, and supportive.

When you feel stiff, it’s because the fascia is in its gel state.

Through touch, exercise, and/or stretching, fascia “melts” from gel to sol and becomes looser, more flexible, and elastic. This allows the muscles to be manipulated in massage, increases joint range of motion, and frees the body from restrictions in movement.

When you move fluidly and freely in your body, your fascia are in the sol state. And of course, that feels fantastic.

This is at least one piece of the physiology of why it feels so good to get a massage, do yoga, warm up your muscles through work or exercise, and do the movements of TRE and shaking medicine.

They literally transform stiffness into fluidity.

Conversely, this is why it feels bad to sit for prolonged periods, and why we need to stretch after the stillness of sleeping.

If you want to feel free in your body, move, shake — and get massages.