Friday, November 14, 2008

An osteopathic perspective of your office

(You can find a french translation of this article Here)
I really wonder if I should write this post. In fact if you read this post you can be pretty sure that you will save hundreds of pounds in physiotherapy, chiropractic or osteopathy...

The aim is to give you a few advices to properly sit in front of your computer. Each time I read something about it, I have never been satisfied with the given answers.

Many of our patients work sitting in front of a computer. Because of poor advices, awareness, and common sense the worker quickly develop the "mouse syndrome" (I first heard this term from D. McGinn one of my teacher). In fact working behind a screen more than 8 hrs a day is become a new form of slavery. The office furniture quickly become a huge money making industry to promote ergonomic chairs, ergonomic tables, ergonomic keyboards, ergonomic mouse, erg... OK I think you understand. Well in fact for the advice I will give you, you will need: a decent size table, a decent chair (adjustable height), and a "grandma" cushion (not too small not too thick 40cm*25cm).

The Mouse Syndrome:
No it is not a state in which the patient develop a long tail, some fur and an increase appetite for cheese. The mouse syndrome is a series of signs and symptom that a typical office worker tends to develop.
-neck pain
-upper back pain
-shoulder pain
-Thoracic outlet syndrome
-carpal tunnel syndrome

Analysis of the typical posture in an office:

Too often the employee slouch in his chair which because of its price is generally quite comfortable, but in fact wrongly comfortable. When you slough you:
-decrease your lumbar lordosis (decrease extension of low back) which feels good because you stretch some muscles but in fact you over stretch for 8 hrs a day your ligaments , capsules and discs of your low back.
-increase of thoracic kyphosis (flexion of mid back). This leads to a poor relaxed posture which compromise greatly the function of your diaphragm. In fact your diaphragm cannot contract properly because it sits on your abdominal organs. This obliges you to breathe with your upper chest and use breathing accessories muscles: scalenes, SCM and some intercostals muscles. The scalenes are muscles which are attached from the neck to the first ribs. Their contractions induce some tension in the neck and elevates the first rib: A fantastic cocktail for neck, shoulder and TOS !
-Increase of the neck extension, as the patient might have a bit of wear and tear in his neck this neck extension is precipitating some neck pain and headaches.
-Only the wrists or first third of the forearm is resting on the desk. By doing so you need to carry the weight of your arms and forearms. And which muscles do so ? your trapezius and levator scapulae muscle! Well known muscles for their tendency to give neck and shoulder pain !
-Tendency to use the mouse moving all the arm and shoulder. The shoulder is not made to do some precise movements but wide ones. if you try to do precise movement with your shoulder you need to contract all the muscles of the shoulder! Mouse Syndrome.

Analysis of a better posture at work:

So what is this secret posture ? well the secret of the pain free posture is... is... Arghhhh...
Only joking !
-Sit right back on your chair, not your back but your buttocks. Now lean forward and insert the grandma cushion down your low back. Now straighten up. How do you feel? if you have the good size cushion you should feel being straight without any effort. The cushion should be situated at the upper part of your low back, if this make sense. Don't try to force your shoulders to touch the back of the chair. Just sit straight.
-Now come closer to your desk, a bit more, a bit more. Be close enough from the desk to have 2 inches between your stomach and the desk.
-Your feet should be flat on the flour with a nice 90deg angle at your knees. Add a foot rest if your legs are too short.
-Now rest your two forearms on the desk, your keyboard should be at least 25 to 30 cm away from the edge of the desk. Adjust the height of your chair to feel your shoulder relaxed and your arms/forearms resting comfortably on the desk. You should be pretty comfortable in this posture and should feel your shoulder much more relax than earlier. In fact you don't carry the weight of your arms anymore, but the desk does it for you !
-The mouse is situated at the same level than your keyboard. Have your mouse sensitive enough so that you can run through the screen only using your wrist.
-The screen should be standing at least 45cm away from the edge of the desk. I would recommend a 17 or 19 inches flat screen.

Fantastic ! you now know the secret not to come back to see us that often!

Another recommendation would be to adopt a more abdominal breathing.
Try to breathe in for 3 sec and out for 3 sec, between the two hold your breath for 1 to 2 sec.
Each time you breathe in avoid to breathe with your chest but pushing out your abdomen. When you breathe out pull in your stomach and contract your abdominal muscles and pelvic muscles firmly, and when you breathe in just relax them. Doing this will promote a good breathing, a better digestion, a firmer abdo belt, decrease your stress and being more focus on your work !

Take Care,

Monday, September 8, 2008

Total Trans-generational Osteopathic Lesion

In this post, we will try to see how our mind & body can be influenced from what we inherit from our family or relationships and how our body and mind could influence our family and relationships.

Again, I have to warn you that we will be doing a bit of "Osteopathic philosophy", most of the examples below are illustrative. I hope that you will not read these lines too severely and that you will enjoy your lecture as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I tried to classified these different interactions:

-Structure and Function our inherited DNA
-Our inherited family culture & diet

-Our inherited psychology and somatisation

Structure and Function, our inherited DNA:

In traditional chinese medecine they use the notion of Qi (chi). The Qi is the energy that animate you. A part of it is acquired by eating properly, doing sport, breathing properly (healthy lifestyle) and a part of it is innate or pre-natal, and this is the "Yuan Qi". This pre-natal Qi is given from the Qi of our parents: we can follow the same process, a part of it is aquired, and the other is issued from their respective Yuan Qi.

If we try to compare this chinese notion to our western point of view, it seems that our Qi at birth (mostly Yuan Qi) is the DNA that we inherit from our parents. This DNA relatively determines what we will become. From birth we are not equal physically, physiologically and neurologically and this thanks to our parents. If both of your parents are tall, there is a good chance that you'll be tall. if both of your parents are small, there is a pretty good chance that you will be small. Now if both of your parents have a "weak" heart, unfortunately there is a good chance that yours will be too. As our DNA predicts how our anatomy will develop, we can inherit from our parents, a big/small heart, big/small lungs, good/bad teeth(...). I remember a mother and her daughter who came to see me for some Osteopathic treatments, what amazed me was that both of them had the exact same left knee: both had an uncommonly excessive passive external rotation. Our DNA (partly) determines our anatomy and therefore our structure, we believe in Osteopathy that structure affects function, that means that our DNA package will partly influence our function and might lead us to certain weaknesses, functional or pathological problems.

Now something that I discovered recently (well not really discovered, i red it in a magazine of some sort) is that not all our DNA is used! in fact, certain part of it are expressed and others ignored. But what is really interesting is that the unexpressed parts of your DNA can express themselves under special circumstances, for example under a big stress or if you are facing a new environment.

One very interesting example is the one of the domestic pig. Some people may not like it but we are quite close genetically. A domestic pig has fine hair and a concave snout while a wild pig has thick coarse hair and a flat snout. The shape of his nose seems to be adapted for his alimentation. It has been noticed that a domestic pig if left in the Wild will see the shape of his snout changing and flatening. The crazy thing is that if you bring back this very same pig to a domestic life, his snout will change again and curves back to its initial state!

From a human point of view if we take 2 twins and that we place them in two different environments the expression of their DNA will be different. If one is sent in a rice field and the other one in Central London their morphology will adapt over time; one will develop strong low back muscles, and will probably suffer from osteoarthritis in his lumbar spine but will generally be very fit and strong physically while the other after spending years behind his computer will probably suffer from neck and shoulder pain and not being that fit physically. Their body morphology will be much different but their DNA the same. What changes is the expression of their DNA made to adapt their body to their need.

If we come back to the discussion about the Qi, this expression of the DNA could be part of this acquired Qi as well as a healthy lifestyle (which will affect the expression of your DNA).

Now, do we transmit this acquired Qi to our children at a pure DNA level ?

I don't know but I'd like to believe so.

In fact this would mean that the environment in which we evolve before having a child would facilitate the expression of the child's DNA for this specific environment from birth or even in-utero.

A bit lost ? So am I...

OK let's take an illustrative example:

hypothesis: is the environment in which our family evolve influence the expression of our DNA in-utero or at birth ? Will it influence our DNA selection over 3 to 4 generations?

Imagine that we have 4 pair of twins, 2 pairs of female and 2 pairs of male. their name are : F1, F2, and f1, f2. The name of the male twins are M1,M2 and m1, m2; now we match them with each other in order to obtain 2 groups of similar couples.

we obtain in the first group:

-couple 1:F1,M1 and couple 2: f1,m1

in the second group:

-couple 1: F2,M2 and couple 2 f2,m2

The first group will be sent in the country side and will have a rural type of life with some extra physical work while the second group is sent in town and lives an extremely urban life, no much sport, using cars to move around and a computer type of work.

In both cases the next generation of children are following the same type of lifestyle than their parents. Now these children are getting married to each other respecting their cast (children of (F1,M1) with the one of (f1,m1) and same thing in the second group).

Now at birth, having had 2 generations of parents being either in town or in the country side and having a very different type of life, are these children much different in terms of weight, strength, shape ? is the expression of their DNA more geared towards a physical lifestyle or cerebral one? are the children of the rural group more adaptable to a rural lifestyle than the children of the urban group?
I would like to believe so, but I am not sure about that. If anyone knows about this let me know, because this could mean that the function of our life could determine the DNA or its expression that we pass on !

Functions affects structure, which is another Osteopathic concept. It seems that there is something, some studies on diets have shown that if we have an "american style of diet" over 2 generation that it activates a "obesity gene" quite hard to get rid off giving a higher chance to our children to develop diabetes, HBP...We'll come back to this later. So far we have shown that the DNA will affect our anatomical development which in turn can favor us to suffer from such and such condition or problem, and there is a possibility that the lifestyle or "acquired Qi" of our parents influence on our DNA expression and possible structure, which in turn can also lead us to suffer from specific condition.

-Our inherited family culture and diet:

My mother once told me something that really surprised me:
"The other day I went to this restaurant where I ordered an andouillette (a kind of sausage made of porks' pieces which according to wikipedia and my girlfriend can have a taste of pork feces), each time I went to this restaurant with my parents they forced me to eating this, since then each time I go to this restaurant I was eating this plate, but I just realised that I don't like it at all!"

It impressed me because a lot of our comportment is automated and it is actually quite difficult to determine what is issue from our own choice (if any) and what is just a type of complicated pavlov reflex.
Here is just a quick series of illustrative examples:

-using the knife with the right hand

-having a cigarette with your coffee if you are a smoker

-yawning or caughing when someone else does

-have you notice that your mind anticipate automatic stairs? if the stairs are not working and you enter them, you seem to loose your balance forward and backward at the end of them.

-who do you sit next to in a bus, someone of the same sex or not?

-when you talk to a child or baby and are you having a baby talk? or when you meet someone for the first time is your voice of slightly higher tone?

-do you walk to work? do you always use the same pathways ?

-are you voting for the same political party than your parents?

-Are you following the same religion than your parents?

We constantly believe that we have a "free will" and our society relies on it, but sometimes I wonder if we really do have one...

Influence of the culture:

In Thailand for example, in the coutryside people tend to sit/squat. From the age of 10 months children imitates their parents and squat when they want to sit. For a westerner it is not necessarly easy to do so. First of all because we use chairs, but also anatomically it is not always possible. Exercise time! try to squat keeping you feet flat on the floor as low as you can. if you fall backward this means that you have either: tight calves, ankles or knee problems. What happens is that in Thailand the whole family will tend to sit that way and in their fifties there is a good chance that their knees will suffer from wear and tear. This sitting habit is deeply anchored in their culture and difficult to change (and why would we like to change it ?)

Muslims need to pray at least 4 times a day. During each prayer there is a succession of kneeling and flexion of the spine. One could argue that this ritual keeps them fit, but the repetitive full flexion of the knee and spine will change the structure of their body (function affects structure) and possibly make them more likely prone to suffer from specific "conditions".

Another example is the one of the toilets. Again in Asia and in under developped or developping countries you need to squat when you need to p**. In fact this position is really natural (not really practical), because when you squat you open your pelvic floor making it easy to pass motion. In"Europe" being a bit lazy and not being able to squat, we sit! Our pelvic floor is not fully relaxed/opened which means that we need to push a bit more to achieve our goal: great for hemorrhoids !

Influence of the Diet:

Diet could be one of the biggest and influential factor on our body function and DNA. It has been shown in the US that the typical Macdo diet modifies our DNA making our children more likely to develop obesity or diabetes for example. A "recent" research has shown that within 2 generation a healthy japonese family that emigrated to the USA started to develop these type of diseases when following a "junk food type" diet. The horrible thing is that being the diet of choice for "non-rich" people, your social status is directly liked with your health.

In Europe culturally, we tend to heavily rely on alcohol, coffee, milk, carbonated drinks: it is an affront to refuse such a drink, and you may be seen as antisocial. These drinks are perfect coktails for increasing stomach acidity which leads to some gastritis or ulcers. From a gross Osteopathic perspective, this means antalgic posture around the stomach/duodenum, decrease amplitude of the left hemi diaphragm, fixations of the ribs 5 to 8 on the left, elevated first ribs, shoulder, neck and upperback pain...

Talking about milk, have ever wonder what went through the mind of the first human who drunk some cow milk ??? Beurk !

Psychologically it has been demonstrated that children tend to imitate their parents: It means that if the parents demonstrate an interest in healthy food, sport, healthy lifestyle it is likely that the children will follow this way of life or at least be aware of it. But if the parents lives on junk food, they spoil all the chances to transmit to their children a healthy lifestyle, which in turns will fail to transmit it to their own kids. This unhealthy lifestyle will lead them to all sorts of complaints, symptoms and pathologies and as this way of life as been anchored since birth it is very hard to reprogram it.

Influence of our mind:

I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. The following examples are shorten/cut/exaggerated for us to understand it. I am sure that some of you, readers, will consider it as vulgarisation or maybe pub psychology. Fair enough, the aim is just to open a bit more our understanding to an often misregarded field.

In Osteopathy we tend to see and touch a lot of patients which gave us an interesting understanding and analysis of patients. There is often a link between the body and the mind of the patient. The director of a financial company will tend to have a rigid and stiff body, whilst someone who shows some flexibility and maleability at work will often have a flexible body. Look in the streets, some men will walk straight barely avoiding anyone, their are stiff in their postures, they are the big dominant bosses!;) Generally they are a "nightmare" to treat, meaning that they often present chronic condition (chronic low back) and as their body is stiff the full and long term recovery is often an illusion. Some big bosses can be less stiff or even relatively flexible, check on Utube Steve Jobs the Apple big boss, the way he moves clearly indicate a relative flexibility in his body and in his mind. But his job needs him to be creative, open to new technologies and concept; his mind need to be quite flexible.

The posture is also quite a good indicator of the type of person you are facing. Someone who is leaning forward tends to be ready for action, extraverted, outgoing constantly in motion, combative, assertive, dominant... The opposite is also often true, a lay back posture is quite often reflecting a lay back personnality, introvertion, shy, reserved, submissive, imaginative, scared... What happen is that these different type of posture will result in different and quite specific complains, for example: leaning always forward will make your back muscle work harder and you might develop some bilateral muscle stiffness of the low back while being lay back increase the extension of your lower vertebrae (L4-L5-S1) which will give more specific vertebral facets compression/pain. This is a very short example but the list is long, the body functions will be completely differently regarding the postures.

Now if we come back to their children, knowing that they tend to pick up these non-verbal communication expressions, they will themselves tend to imitate the posture of their parents which makes them prone to follow the same body functions and suffer from relatively the same type of pains and discomforts.

In a very interesting book that I read recently, the french title is "ces enfants malades de leurs parents" the literal translation would be " these children sick from their parents". In this book the authors talk about family secrets which are physical or emotional traumas that can happen to us and that we try to hide from our children. the first example is "anism". Anism is a condition in which when we need to defecate the anus contract instead of dilating. this leads to anal fissure, hemorrhoids, functional constipation and possibly low back pain. While anism can happen to anyone, it is predominant in children or adults that have been sexually abused in their childhood. More than 95% of abused children will suffer from anism. Be careful the opposite is not true. What is amazing it is that a mother who has been abused can unconsciously transfer this emotional trauma to her own children and themselves can develop this specific condition (and certainly other stress related conditions)!

Anniversary dates are also very important psychologically. I realised recently that christmas in my family was never not such a happy day: my grandmother once lost a child at christmas (family secret) and later on, my mother a husband. This example is unfortunately quite obvious, but if a patient lost his parents in a traggic accident at 12 for example, when his own children will turn 12 some changes may certainly occur in the psychological dynamic of this family.

Once a patient who consulted me was in her mid fifties and looked incredibly younger. She came to see me complaining of a low back pain that I related with her uterus. It happens that all her life she had a painful lower abdomen. She mentioned that she had her first periods quite late (at 16 or 17) and that she was a real Tom boy being young. In fact she had three older sisters and her parents desperately wanted a boy, but unfortunately she was a girl. One of her parent gave her a boy "nick name". Does the guilt of being a girl and betraying her parents could push her being a Tom boy? having her periods (female attributes) relatively late? having a symptomatic uterus (pain in her female parts)? I believe so and I actually read similar stories.

I wrote quite a lot about psychological factors, but how are they related to Osteopathy ? In fact many of our patients' complaints are "stress" related. Even if we can find a symptomatic tissue causing pain and some osteopathic findings predisposing and maintenaing this particular symptom, Stress is often there, increasing the sensibility of the body or somatised in the tissues. Being aware of different reasons that can affect a patient as a whole make us open our mind and allow us to grasp a bit more the concept hollistic therapy.

Influence of Reincarnation ?

The first time I heard about this concept was while reading a book from Dr J. Upledger an american Osteopath. He describe a diagnosis and treatment received from JP. Barral (well known french Osteopath). Barral could apparently feel that Upledger was suffering from a spasm of the left ureter (little duct which goes from the kidney to the bladder). The thermal diagnosis revealed that this pain was more than 100 years old ! The only incident that Upledger could recall was being "stabbed" in a previous lifeliving as a farmer. Souvenir that he accessed a while ago during a previous regression hypnotic session.

I have an immense respect for both of these practitioners but I am still a bit dubitative about that one !

Lately I came across a book about reincaration written by a "medium" Joan Grant and a medical Psychiatrist Dr Denys Kelsey. In this book Denys explained how he became a firm believer in reicarnation and how he could, using hypnosis, successfully regress a patient to a previous life in order to treat certain symptoms affecting the same patient in his actual life. A major trauma in a previous life could apparently influence our behaviour in our actual life. I am not THAT open minded for the moment, give me another few years...

Let us try to find reasons in our actual life for the moment.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Psychology of the Tissue

Let me tell you two little stories as an introduction to this post :

The first one is, from what I remember, coming from a book written by Bernard Weber.
There is a farmer trying to push his donkey into a box and his son is observing them. The donkey doesn't really want to go into the box, infact it doesn't want to be forced into the box. The father pushes the donkey even harder, but the harder he pushes the harder the donkey resists from being pushed. The son starts laughing at the scene. After a while the father, frustrated and irritated by the obstinence of the "stupid" donkey and by the laughing of his son, shouts at him : "you do it if you think you can !"
The son approaches the donkey and pulls his tail. The effect is immediate, the donkey jumps forward into the box...

The second one was told to us (a group of students) from Mr Colum Gregory (Osteopath, teacher/Tutor at the ESO).
Mr Gregory was at that time a student practicing at the ESO teaching clinic under the supervision of a senior tutor clinic, Mr Gez Lamb.
Colum was in a room with a patient and was trying desesperately to "crack" her T9 (a thoracic vertebrae) but it was really restricted. Gez Lamb finally came in the room and told him to unwind T9 using one of the legs as a leverage... (dear reader, if you are not an osteopath please acknowledge that such a technique is as irrationnal as it is obscure for you to understand). Mr Gregory did so and after a few moment the patient started crying excessively. This is what we call a good somato-emotionnal release. Colum asked her what happened and she replied that she remembered a particular incident that had happened during her childhood when some boys attached her to a tree and were particularly nasty with her.
This T9 restriction couldn't be forced to shift with a HVT or a LVT technique, fascial unwinding was THE technique to use to release this restriction with this particular patient.

While we could have forced the donkey into the box by pushing it with a tractor or "cracked" this patient's vertebrae with the help of a professionnal wrestler, a different approach adapted to the patients particular needs seemed to have worked and done the trick.
We are constantly confronted in practice with multiple choices of techniques we can use on one patient and on one particular restriction.
On certain patients a structural adjustment will have fantastic results, while others will react by tensing up even more.
On certain patients deep tissue massage relaxes the contracted muscle whilst with others the muscle will contract even more.
On certain patients the cranial approach will have almost miraculous effects whilst others will take you for a quack.

Is it possible that for any patient's restriction there is one specific approach which will be the most effective with the less side-effects ?
Which one needs to be used ? GAT, GOT, HVT. LVT, Recoil, BLT, direct/indirect cranial approach, MET, PNF, A/P work, Unwinding, Strain/counter Strain, Trigger point inhibition, dry needles, Functionnal techniques...
Is there a reason why a patient may react better with a certain type of technique or approach ?

I believe there is one, and the reason could be explained due to the Psychology of the Tissue.

Psychology of the Tissue

What is a Tissue ?

I will employ this term to express living structures such as bones, ligaments, muscles, capsules, tendons, arteries, nerves, cells, fasciae...

If we want to talk about a "psychology of the tissue" we need to accept the fact that a tissue holds a memory. Memories of past experiences are an essential part of the psychology of an individual or a tissue.

Tissues have memory :

There are some debates about it. Some state that the memory resides exclusively in the brain and some others believe that the memory is also localised in the tissue itself at a cellular level. This memory is very important as it will influence the psychology and the comportement of the tissue. I would say that there are 3 major memory mechanisms, and certainly many more.

The somato-psychologic, the psycho-somatic and the somatic-somatic memory (please note that I use the term somatic in its broader sense including the visceral sphere).

The somato-psychologic memory:

When we hurt ourselves some afferent information coming from the injured area is sent to the brain. A part of this information analyses the type and quality of the pain felt while another part is sent to our limbic system where the brain will attach an emotion to this pain (in which circumstance this injury happened) and will compare it to previous similar injuries.

let's give some examples :
  • Let's take two similar injuries which happened to two different individuals :Imagine a soldier on a battlefield who whilst carrying and saving the life of one of his team mates, twisted his ankle. Now imagine another random person who whilst on stage live on TV, missed a step and twisted his ankle, and by this action, embarrassed himself in front of million of spectators. During a treament the practitioner will certainly notice this injury. Asking about the cause of this trauma will awaken a sense of pride and self-confidence to the ex-soldier whilst it will awaken a deep sense of shame to the other patient. The internal chemical secretion and the immediate reaction of these two patients will be totally different.
  • Imagine now a widower who just lost his wife. Every single one of his friends came to him and whilst putting their hand on his shoulder asked him : "How do you feel?" or "How are you?" This scene is repeated 100 times. It creates a deep anchor mixed with a pavlov reflex between the sensation of feeling the hand of a friend on his right shoulder, the sentence "how do you feel?" and the deep sadness. Six months later our widower starts recovering slowly. One of his friend innocently put his hand on his shoulder and asks him :"How are you?" Unconsciously, a voice will say : " I was feeling fine until you reminded me I lost my love 6 months ago by reactivating this anchor..." Internally the chemical reaction will lower his mood for the day.
It is interesting to note that this somatico-psycological link will have in return an influence on the soma.

The Psycho-somatic memory :

This is maybe one of the most well-known links. The effect on the body from this type of link is very important. It is often classified as "stress". Stresses influence our body function greatly , by playing with our cardio-vascular system, our respiratory system, digestive system, immunity system, mental health and will also influence the musculo-skelettal system.

In practice we mainly percieve it through the musculo-skelettal, digestive and respiratory system. From my experience constant repetitive stressful situations tends to manifest itself by a general increase of the muscle tone. It means that generally muscles are more tense than usual. A good victim and barometer of the stress level is the diaphragm; stress generally holds the diaphragm in expiration limiting the expansion of the thoracic cage. Other good indicators of the stress level are the stomach and duodenum as well as the upper back and neck muscles (trapezius, levator scapulae, SCM, scalenes...). The way I would explain it, is that when the diaphragm is held in expiration, the thoracic spine is forced in a kyphotic posture. This kyphotic posture induces the posterior muscle chain (thoracic erector spinae, trapezius...)to contract constantly in order to maintain a relative balance. The lack of diaphragmatic expansion forces the accessory muscles of the respiration to increase their tonus. These muscles are the SCM and the scalenes. Their contraction allows the breathing to take place in the upper chest by raising the upper ribs. Another interesting effect of the kyphotic posture is that the shoulders rolls inward thus compromising their biomechanic.

In short the main complains of a stressed person are upper back pain, neck pain, headache, shoulder pain and thoracic outlet syndroms. Stress increases stomach and duodenum acidity thus resulting in gastritis or ulceration. The fact that these organs suffer can make the patient adopt the above posture. I can't say if these organ are always the direct/indirect cause of this adaptative posture.
We lost the track here ... where were we ? yes, we were talking about the psycho-somatic memory. So, is there a memory in there ?

Of course there is ! when the patient is clearly stressed because of his job, his symptoms don't go away as soon as he leaves his office. After a whole life of perpetual stress, the patient can become really rigid and his muscles really fibrotic.

Another example could be if you were involved in a car accident. I can promess that the first time you will get back into a car you will realise that your whole body is more tense than usual.

In fact this psycho-somatic memory can be more specific. if you had suffered from a relatively serious injury or trauma, months after the incident you will over protect the affected area. This over protection is accomplished by facilitating the contraction of protective muscles. The muscular tone is increased from a constant neurological firing. After years of over-stimulation the muscles become fibrotic.

This is how powerful is this psycho-somatic memory/reflex.

The somato-somatic memory :

Can a tissue have a memory by itself without involving the brain ?
Some may disagree but I will say : " Yes, of course !"

The memory will not be the same type of memory stored within the brain, but the memory will be a structural/mechanical memory on a cellular level.

After a whiplash, a repetitive trauma, an injury the structure of a tissue will be affected and that is a form of memory. If you suffered from a broken radius in your childhood, 40 years later an Xray will reveal an extra calcification; this is a structural memory of a trauma. If you suffer from a complete tear of a ligament, the memory is there, the ligament is gone.

Infact mechanical/chemical changes will take place around an injury which in the long run may affect the local vascularisation, the tone of the muscles and ligaments. Generally a sensation of density can be felt by the practitioner over an old injury. Dr John Upledger calls it : "kyst of residual energy".

This is where the concept of tensegrity take its place.(i'll come back later to this point in another post)

So far we have seen that :
1. to a physical trauma is attached to an emotion and a memory of this trauma
2. a "memory" of a mental trauma or stress can affect the physical body
3. a "memory" of a previous trauma can make us overprotective of the injured area
4. a physical trauma will affect the structure and therefore the function of the affected area, this is a structural/functional "memory" of an injury.

From these we can deduct that each traumatised or injuried area will be unique because of the unique psychological/structural/functional "memory" associated with it.

As each traumatised or injured area is unique we can understand that they will behave and react differently to the same external stimulus. Two different injured/traumatised areas will react differently to the same type of technique (same stimulus). Each "osteopathic lesion" has its own psychology.

If you have been brave enough to read until this point, you deserve a tea break...

Different bodytype, different psychology

The notion of different body types is a concept. I will discuss the bodytypes described by Sheldon. Sheldon distinguished three main bodytypes coming fom the three types of embryological tissues known as endoblast, mesoblast and ectoblast. Each one of these groups is associated with specific physical and psychological attributes.

-the ectomorph : is roughly a predominance of the element of restraint, inhibition, and of desire of concealment. Cerebrotonic people shrink away from sociability as from too strong a light. They "repress" somatic and visceral expression, are hyperattentional, and sedulously avoid attracting attention to themselves. Their behaviour seems dominated by the inhibitory and attentional functions of the cerebrum, and their motivational hierarchy appears to define an antithesis to both the other extremes.

In fact the ectomorph is not a physically strong individual. To "survive" in the world he cannot rely on his physical body but on his intellect. The ectomorph type has a tendency to intellectual over-stimulation and introspection.

The ectomorph is tall, long, thin, introverted, inhibited, quiet, serious...

-the mesomorph : is roughly a predominance of muscular activity and of vigorous bodily assertiveness. The motivational organisation seems dominated by the soma. These people have vigour and push. The executive department of their internal economy is strongly invested in their somatic muscular system. Action and power define life's primary purpose.

The mesomorph relies on his physical body and he is a man of action. He tends to be competitive, dominating and power seeking. They enjoy physical team sport.

The mesomorph type is muscular with large bones and strong ligaments. He is assertive, risk taking, adventurous.

-the endomorph : in its extreme manifestation is characterised by a general relaxation, love of comfort, sociability, conviviability, gluttony for food, for people and for affection. the viscerotonic extreme are for people who 'suck hard at the breast of mother earth' and love physical proximity with others. The motivational organisation is dominated by the gut and by the function of anabolism. The personality seems to centre qround the viscera. The digestive tract is king and its welfare appears to define the primary purpose of life.

The endomorph relies more on his digestive system. Life is not only about hunting and thinking but is also about eating and enjoying it ! The endo is a "bon vivant" as we will say in french.

The endomorph type is a social, loving, friendly, lively person and has a tendency to put weight on.

Osteopathic approach of the bodytypes

The following idea is easier to expose with the ectomorph and mesomorph type. Tom Dummer was using the functional/structural terms: Structural for mesoblastic constitution and functional for ectoblastic and endoblastic constitution.

In Osteopathy structural type of techniques are really effective on mesomorph patients while ectomorphs tend to react better to the functional techniques. Of course sometimes a functional approach is better to be used with a restriction of a mesoblastic patient and vice-versa.

It means that HVT/LVT ("cracking") techniques, GAT (general articulation techniques), deep soft tissue work, General Oteopathic treatment are the techniques of choice with the mesomorph patients.Whereas ectomorph patients have a good response with indirect functional techniques, Balance ligament tension techniques, gentle innhibition, fascial techniques, cranio-sacral treatment...

It also means that ectomorphs react a bit too much to structural techniques while the mesos are wondering what you are trying to achieve by touching their head lightly!

We said in the previous chapter that different bodytypes had different psychological profiles; let's make a comparison between the techniques used and the psychological profiles of these two groups.

Mesomorph :

gross psychological profile: vigorous, aggressive, competitive, dominating

type of technique: GAT, HVT, LVT, deep STW.

Ectomorph :

gross psychological profile: (hyper)sensitive, intellectual, introspection, inhibited

type of technique: gentle inhibition, functional techniques, BLT, cranial, fascial unwinding...

I don't know if we read the same thing but it appears to me that there is a disturbing correlation between the psychological profile and the technique used. I would even say that the technique used for each profile is the best psychological way to communicate manually with the tissue of the patient. Structural approach imposes a certain state to the tissue whilst the functional one listens and discusses with the body of the patient.

Now let's take a typical mesomorph patient : a rugby player or a marine soldier. How would you convince them about something ? How will you convince them to win a game or to fullfill their mission ? Will you use a diplomatic or an authoritative speech ? that's right an authoritative one : you will give orders, you will shout at them and you will have to be more dominating than they are. The structural techniques are authoritative, strong, "aggressive", dominating...

What about a typical ectomorph patient : a chess player or a computer "geek". How would you convince them ? How will you convince them that they should change their tactiques or their programs ? Will you use an authoritative or a diplomatic speech ? Of course a diplomatic speech will be the best approach in order to convince them step by step of the need to change their point of view ! The functional techniques listens to the tissues, follows their logic and gently influences them.

We saw in a previous chapter that tissues had a "memory" and a "psychology". Wouldn't it be logical that our osteopathic techniques were psychological manual techniques ? In this case each technique will be a specific psychological manual tool to communicate with the traumatised tissue of the patient. It would mean that one technique would be more suitable than another according to the psychological profile of the injured tissue...

In the next chapter we will try to give a psychological definition to the most common osteopathic techniques.

Psychological explanation of osteopathic techniques (Chapter in construction)

This part is HIGHLY subjective and I invite anyone to comment on it

In Osteopathy we treat the hypomobilities, the restrictions. We said that a traumatised tissue (a somatic dysfunction) had a certain psychology. In fact a traumatised tissue is "stuck" in a certain behaviour pattern (a way of thinking) because of a previous stimulus (trauma).

For a easier understanding we will say that the tissue thinks "A" when it is traumatised (traumatised=osteopathic lesions). The aim of a successful treatment is to bring this traumatised tissue which thinks "A" to a balance relaxed and open state of mind where it will think "B".

Let's try to understand and analyse the most common type of techniques :

The Structural techniques:

HVT: these are the "cracking techniques". Manual description of the technique :With this type of techniques we impose a quick and "violent" stretch against the restriction of the somatic dysfunction in order to gap the joint. A "crack" sound is usually synonyme of a successful maneuver. Within a few minutes the joint has gain a significant gain in its range of movement. Psychological description of the technique : we give an order to the joint by imposing a point of view exactly opposite to his. You think "A" and I order you to think "B"and I impose you "B", no discussion.

GAT (general articulation technique): Manual description : there is a notion of repetition with this techniqne. The aim is to mobilise a restriction by going against it. generally the grip is relatively firm in order to focus a "six degree of liberty"type of movement on the specific area and you . The technique is progressive, a slight pain/discomfort can be felt. It allows to smoothen up the restriction thus improving the mobility of the joint, especially fibrotic joints. Psychological description : there is a notion of repetition and progression in this technique while being in safe hands (the firm grip). It looks to me as if there was a coach encouraging, stimulating, brain-washing and overcoming a negative thought "A" to bring it to a point of achievement "B".

The Recoil (from the Mechanical Link, Paul Chauffour) : this is quite interesting one . Manual description : after 300 to 400 tests the practitioner finds THE primary lesion of the body and exert a recoil (a kind of precise flick) against the barrier of the restriction, and and you quickly remove your fingers from any contact with the body. Psychological description : the effect of a recoil could be like, questioning in a few words the patient about a deep rooted psychological conflict that he is victim of, bringing this thought from the unconscious to the conscious. eg: "did you accept the death of your father ? " the fact that your hands are not in contact anymore means that you don't want to listen to the reply, letting the patient to deal on his own with this issue. if the tissue thinks "A" the recoil could tell it : What about "B" ?

The functional techniques :

Indirect cranial/fascial and Balance ligament techniques : Manual description : the aim and philosophy of these techniques is to move toward the lesion in order to arrive at the still point. The still point is a point of relative calm (the eye of the tornado) where tensions are balanced. It induces a lack of proprioception coming from this area, the body react by changing the muscle tone or tensions in order to regain some afferent informations. The aim is to move from still point to still point until a balanced fluidic movement is felt. Psychological description: In these type of techniques the aim is certainly not to go against the will of the thought but to encourage it. The tissue thinks "A" ok, show me the idea, the concept, why are you like this ? why do you think "A"? why ? why again ? I don' judge you, i am not against you, I want you to show me why you think "A", what does it involve. Sometimes we don't really believe in it but we follow an idea (A) just to be in confrontations with others. The fact that others try to confrontate us on this idea make us react even more. this is the exemple of the donkey at the beginning of the post, the Donkey doesn't mind to get into the box, it doesn't want to be forced into ! or we could give another example : you need to leave and ask your child to come but he refuses to let go of his toy. Either you force him to let go of his toy and to come (big tantrum) otherwise you can say ok you want to stay here ? stay here but me, I am leaving. By leaving the child to what he thinks he wants, you avoid the confrontation, the child realises that he was looking for a confrontation not really being alone. As he sees you leaving, he quickly realises that he needs to follow you.

Another way to see it : if some one has a short sighted point of view on a particular subject, "A". Instead of contradicting it, you ask the reason why. Try to get to the bottom of his "A" point of view. There is a moment where the root of the idea "A" has no logical value. As soon as you will get to this unlogical root of the problem, the patient will logically analyse that it is unlogical. This realisation will start unwinding the whole misconception about this "A" idea leading the tissue toward a more balance "B" way of thinking.

Functional technique: Manual description : Our starting position is "in" the restriction and the aim of a well executed technique is to arrive to the opposite position of the joint without avoiding any conflict with the restriction of the lesion : "follow the ease, avoid the bind". Psychological description : the tissue thinks "A" and by using a step by step agreement we bring the point of view of the tissue to "B".

MET (isometric): manual description : we find the motion barrier of a muscle or a joint and ask the patient to push against our resistance with 30 % of his force. After maintaining the isometric resistance for 5-7 secondes, we ask the patient to relax. After 2-3 seconds we stretch the muscle/joint until the next motion barrier. This process is generally effectuated 3-4 times. Psychological description : This technique feels like you ask the traumatised tissue to express its "A" thought while you remain still. After the "A" thought is expressed then you conter-attack with a gentle opposite "B" view (stretch). The fact that your resistance remains still may express that you don't accept the "A" argumentation given by the tissue.

The concentric MET could express encouragement to the tissue we want to strengthen. The Eccentric MET could challenge the tissue we want to work on.

Fascial unwinding : Manual description : the practitioner contacts the tissue to unwind. It can be a fascia, a muscle, a joint, a limb or even the whole body ! The aim is give a positive feedback to the proprioception to the tissue to unwind allowing it to express itself. The patient may have the sensation that the practitioner is moving his arm (for eg) while in fact the practitioner just follow the movement that the arm of the patient wants to express. The fascial unwinding may look like a "Neurologic Symphony" as the movement described are very smooth and intriguing. You can adapt this technique to the whole body and relive a certain traumatic event such as a fall in the stairs, a repetitive fascial trauma (repetitive hammering for eg) or even re-live your birth! Psychological description : it is a sort of encouragement to the expression of a trauma by "mirroring" the information received.

The explanations that I give are purely coming from my own interpretation. If you disagree or have another "psychological explanation", I'll be happy if you could comment on this post.


As two different osteopathic lesions have a different cause and a different memory, the chance that they react the same to the same technique is inexistent. This can explain why a mesomorph may react better with a functionnal technique on certain of his somatic dysfunctions and visa versa with an ectomorph.

It is possible that there is more than a single psychological blockage with a traumatized tissue. This could be the reason why sometimes you need to use different techniques to relax a tension, eg : deep STW, functional inhibition and HVT.

It could explain why such studies to check if spinal manipulations are effective in acute lowback pain are failing. Maybe that some of the acute facet lock shouldn't be manipulated because it is not the "psychological" way to convince them to relax ! (Of course other reasons may certainly interact with the study : please report to the post "lower back pain, an osteopathic perspective")

It could also explain the example that I give at the beginning of the post. This patient reacted so much with a fascial unwinding technique because it was the technique needed to express this tension.

It is, I think, very hard to know which exact technique to use on which patient, and this comes from a practitioners experience, skill and an open mind; this is the art of Osteopathy. If the somatic dysfunction doesn't release with a technique , I urge you not to persist but maybe to communicate with it in a different way.

From my belief a very good Osteopath should succeed to detect and understand the causes of the patient's complaint and at the same time he should know which technique needs to be used to get the best release from this particular restriction.