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CAPA ROLF LINES 1995-03-March

Acupuncture Points, Meridians and Stripes

Pages: 30-33
Year: 1995
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

ROLF LINES, Vol XXIII nº 01, March 1995

Volume: 23

I continue in my process of doing the 10 sessions with an awareness of the locationof acupuncture points, meridians and stripes. This approach continues to yield new insights into human structure and opens new ways of effectively reaching the goals of the individual sessions.

Before examining the inner arch of the foot in the second or fourth sessions, I would like to mention a new article by Jim and Nora Oschman. This year, they published a paper called Physiological and Emotional Effects of Acupuncture Needle Insertion. Copies of the article can be purchased directly from N.O.R.A., P.O. Box 5101, Dover New Hampshire.

I found the paper very inspiring. They present a wealth of information about the effects on different structures the skin, the perivascular tissue, vasculature, prerineurium, nervous system, myofasciaem and the periosteum. For me, one of the great values of the article was to extend my knowledge of the microanatomy of connective tissue and cell structure. Their paper gave me many new pictures of the processes set in motion with my hands in the ten sessions and specifically how touching can effectively changes the bodies of my clients.

With their permission, I am quoting the two hypotheses that guided their exploration.

The first is that acupuncture simulates an injury without actually injuring tissues, and thereby elicits local and systematic wound-healing responses that have a variety of therapeutic effects.

The second hypotheses is that the skin surface is not uniformly sensitive to stimulation-certain areas are more responsive than others in terms of their ability to activate particular injury responses and to spread those responses away from the point of stimulation.

As a practitioner of Structural Integration, I draw many implications from Jim and Nora’s paper. First, over the years there has been an ongoing discussion within the Rolfing community about “painless versus painful” and/or “hard and soft” styles of Rolfing.

I have been working effectively for several years using the lightest possible touch at specific places to attain the objectives of the 10 sessions. A soft and pleasurable touch is not enough in itself. The touch must be applied at specific points (generally the acupuncture points) if I expect to get real changes.

On the other hand, I suspect that many Rolfers, out of enthusiastic dedication to do the best that they can for their clients, are doing tissue damage.

I read two recently published articles in magazines about Rolfing. Both journalists reported black and blue marks as a side effect of their sessions. Over the years in newspaper articles, a dominant impression which the journalists communicate is “painful”. Rolfing has traditionally had this kind of media image and we continue to recreate it.

I often hear Rolfers talk about their shoulder problems. From the soft Chinese martial arts, there is a guiding principle: “Do not meet force with force”. A defensive reaction from the connective tissue in the body of a client creates a resistance to the pressure applied by someone doing massage or myofascial release. The harder the therapist pushes, the harder the tissue of the client pushes back. If I push against a door with my hand, the door pushes back on my hand with and equal and opposite pressure. If I push hard into bodies, they push just as hard back into my body. The shoulder joint is often the mechanical weak point for Rolfers, because of the way we stand or lean over the table as we work on our clients.

I think that as a community, we would have a better reputation and would do better work with less “cost” to our own bodies, if we could practice initiating a process of healing that simulates tissue damage-rather than a process of change that comes from damaging tissue. In this regard, Jim and Nora’s paper can confirm the theoretical possibilities of effectiveness from a minimum touch applied properly at specific locations.

As I mentioned in my last article about acupuncture points and stripes, I have experienced acupuncture therapists who needled in the superficial connective tissue and others who let their needle bend and follow the loose connective tissue between muscles deep into the body.

Because of the connectiveness of connective tissue, changes in the deeper layers can be set in motion by a soft touch in the layer of the superficial connective tissue between the skin and the muscular-skeletal structure beneath. Some people imaginatively refer to superficial fascia as the “body stocking”.

But a soft touch can also continue in depth through the pathways in the loose fascial tissue between individual muscles, muscle groups, or even skeletal structures.

If there is a tension at an acupuncture point, I can feel a slight depression, somewhat like putting my finger tip into a shallow thimble. If I follow the pathway carefully, I notice that the bottom opens out like the base of a funnel. From the shallow thimble on the surface, I can go deeper into the body without force. I have to be willing to follow that pathway as it opens, as it twists and turns through the muscular-skeletal structure. If I lose the pathway through the tunnel, I start banging my finger onto a wall of a tunnel.

Additionally, if I do not control my temper, I can easily start to try to mash my way through the wall of the tunnel. I think that there is a little voice in most of us, that says, “Nobody pushes me around! If I find something hard, I push on it until it gives up. I will meet force with force, if I think I can win.”

I remember the first time I heard a Chinese martial artist say that he would never hit anyone with his own force. After years and years of training, he was reluctant to hit anyone. His reason was that to the extent that he hurt the other person using his own force, he would also hurt his own body. The trick in Chinese martial arts is to neutralize the other person’s force and to return their aggression back to themselves without adding on to it. The person who started the attack or defense gets back what they put out-on the physical and emotional planes, they get a mirror to their projection. They can confront their own aggression or fear and learn to be free from it.

I work to avoid banging away on hard connective tissue. My role is in two parts. First, I actively find the tension in my client’s connective tissue. At the first sign of resistance on their part, I change to a passive role. Having initiated a process of healing with the first, minimal stimulation of the tissue-to-be-released, I have initiated a natural healing process in their body. If I keep my finger lightly on the tissue without adding any more force, I notice that traumatized tissue will release by it self if I give it time, space, and acceptance and if I trust the process.

I personally believe that my client’s body has the resources within it to heal itself. My client’s body does not need me to beat down their resistance. It is natural for traumatized or tense tissue to forgive. To “forgive” is to give-by returning to the state before the event happened. Tense or traumatized tissue knows what to do if I give the lightest touch possible and then rejoice as I passively feel the wisdom of the body’s natural healing unfold under my finger tip.

I think that we as a community have a lot to learn about the possibility of initiating the process of structural change by simulating rather than creating tissue damage. As I recall images of my teachers in Rolfing classes 14 years ago, Michael Salveson, Peter Melchior, Peter Schwind, and Vandam, I remember that they worked generally with a soft but effective touch. Peter Schwind gave us a beautiful model of what he felt as his fingers floated down through the connective tissue until they met grains of sandy resistance-and how these melted in time. But I shudder when I think about what some of my classmates and I did to our models. We used all too much force. Pushing elbows and knuckles as hard as we could into the flesh of the recipients of our first attempts at Rolfing. I observe the same behavior in some Rolfers who studied with other teachers.

I hope that things have changed or will change so that some of the principles behind their soft touch will be directly communicated in classes and continuing education. I hope that present and future students will be “corrected” away from tissue damage towards soft, effective, trauma release processes. In my opinion, the work of Peter Levine, Jim and Nora Oschman, Southerland and Up ledger are not “Rolfing add-ons”, but should be mainstream in terms of guiding us to find the “how to do it” to effectively achieve the objectives of the 10 sessions.

There is a second major idea that I get from the Oschman’s paper. In order to be effective, I need to be specific in terms of where I use my hands. Their paper points to the importance of acupuncture points. If as a community, we are going to be softer, I believe that we must know more about the possibilities of creating specific structural change from using the acupressure points, meridians, and acu-stripes.

Over the last few months, I have been fascinated by the skeletal structure of the foot. Ida indicated a division of the foot into an inner and an outer arch. I have gone further with this basic idea and consider the subdivision of the inner arch into two parts. The big toes in one part-the second and third toes making up the other unit.

The bones of the toes of the outer arch go from the phalanges to the metatarsal to cuboid to the calcaneus. The bones from the inner arch go from the phalanges to the metatarsal to the medial, intermediate or lateral cuneiform. The three cuneiforms meet the navicular which is in touch with the talus. The outer arch relates to the calcaneus and the inner arch to the talus.

So, when I look at a foot or an ankle, I notice the relationship of the calcaneus to the talus. At first sight, the talus is often quite obviously medial or else lateral in its relationship to the calcaneus. Getting the talus to rest where it should on the calcaneus is critical to achieving the aims of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th sessions. To realign these two bones, I prefer to use two techniques. One technique is described as “cross train”. (There is a section on “cross train” in the appendix to Up ledger’s first book on Cranio-Sacral therapy.) I hold the calcaneus in one hand and the talus in the other. I move the two bones in relationship to each other and find the axis of movement in the joint. I feel for maximum resistance (maximum freedom of movement). Then I gently push the bones in the opposite direction into the position that gives the maximum ease of movement. I hold the cross-strain position for 90 seconds. This indirect technique releases the tension that I noticed before I started.

The other technique I like is to follow the cranio-sacral rhythm between the calcaneus and the talus. Often, these two bones will spontaneously start a release in a therapeutic pulse. Otherwise, I can provoke a therapeutic pulse and follow the unwinding until the bones realign.

As for the subdivision of the inner arch, I am fascinated by the placement of the three yin acupuncture lines. For me, an acupuncture meridian is a loose connective tissue structure that differentiates the structures beneath to allow for a maximum of movement.

If you consider the spleen meridian, the middle yin line on the front of the foot, you will see that it divides the big toe into a top and bottom. The spleen meridian divides the skin and connective tissue into dorsal and planar sections thereby facilitating the maximum possible range of movement of the inside edge of the foot in both extension and flexion.

Do not be bothered that the spleen meridian does not go all the way back along the side of the foot. Remember that a distinguishing characteristic of the primates is that what we call the “heel of the foot” is on the ground. Most other mammals stand and walk on their toes-the heel is up, off the ground.

The liver meridian on the dorsal surface separates the big toe from the second toe. The kidney meridian does the same on the bottom of the foot. For me, these two meridians indicate the possible differentiation of the first toe from the other toes.

(The lack of a meridian between the second and third toes indicates that these two toes are organized as a unit. The stomach meridian divides the third and fourth toes, i.e. the inner and the outer arches. The Gall bladder divides the fourth and fifth toes. The bladder meridian divides the dorsal and plantar sections on the lateral edge of the foot.)

In most 4-legged mammals, when their feet are on the ground, they rest on what would be the second-fifth toes. The equivalent bones of the thumb and the big toe are there, but they are generally off the ground and at the back of the leg. The calcaneus is in the air. When man has come down to rest his weight onto the soles of the foot, the big toe has migrated forward to the front of the foot, in fact the big toe has come all the way around so that the medial cuneiform is superior to the intermediate cuneiform of the second toe. Therefore, it has been interesting for me to reconsider the relationship between the first and second toes in the formation of the inner arch.

After I looked at enough feet, I began seeing that on most people, the first toe has moved away from the optimal neutral position: the phalanges, metatarsal, and cuneiform of the big toe has moved further than it should towards the top of the foot or not quite enough and is placed towards the sole of the foot. Sometimes there is a twist. The phalanges of the first toe can be held by chronic tension in one direction while the cuneiform is held in the opposite direction.

Two ways to improve the relationship between the bones of first toe and the bones of the second toe are to get hold of the adjacent bones and use the cranio-sacral rhythm or cross strain. The best place to get hold of the bones is to use your fingers on pairs of acupuncture points-one point on the liver meridian and another point on the kidney meridian.

We can use the acupuncture points to reposition bones in relationship to each other.

This application of acupuncture points extends the range of applications of therapeutic possibilities of the acupuncture points. Jim and NoraOschman have indicated use of the points to simulate an injury without damaging tissue to induce the wound healing effects of therapeutic value. Earlier in this article, as well as my previous article in Rolf Lines, I described the use of the acupuncture meridians as a natural pathway, a tunnel, from surface to deep in the connective tissue. And now, there is a possibility of using these pathways to realign some critical relationships in the skeletal structure.[:de]I continue in my process of doing the 10 sessions with an awareness of the locationof acupuncture points, meridians and stripes. This approach continues to yield new insights into human structure and opens new ways of effectively reaching the goals of the individual sessions.

Before examining the inner arch of the foot in the second or fourth sessions, I would like to mention a new article by Jim and Nora Oschman. This year, they published a paper called Physiological and Emotional Effects of Acupuncture Needle Insertion. Copies of the article can be purchased directly from N.O.R.A., P.O. Box 5101, Dover New Hampshire.

I found the paper very inspiring. They present a wealth of information about the effects on different structures the skin, the perivascular tissue, vasculature, prerineurium, nervous system, myofasciaem and the periosteum. For me, one of the great values of the article was to extend my knowledge of the microanatomy of connective tissue and cell structure. Their paper gave me many new pictures of the processes set in motion with my hands in the ten sessions and specifically how touching can effectively changes the bodies of my clients.

With their permission, I am quoting the two hypotheses that guided their exploration.

The first is that acupuncture simulates an injury without actually injuring tissues, and thereby elicits local and systematic wound-healing responses that have a variety of therapeutic effects.

The second hypotheses is that the skin surface is not uniformly sensitive to stimulation-certain areas are more responsive than others in terms of their ability to activate particular injury responses and to spread those responses away from the point of stimulation.

As a practitioner of Structural Integration, I draw many implications from Jim and Nora’s paper. First, over the years there has been an ongoing discussion within the Rolfing community about “painless versus painful” and/or “hard and soft” styles of Rolfing.

I have been working effectively for several years using the lightest possible touch at specific places to attain the objectives of the 10 sessions. A soft and pleasurable touch is not enough in itself. The touch must be applied at specific points (generally the acupuncture points) if I expect to get real changes.

On the other hand, I suspect that many Rolfers, out of enthusiastic dedication to do the best that they can for their clients, are doing tissue damage.

I read two recently published articles in magazines about Rolfing. Both journalists reported black and blue marks as a side effect of their sessions. Over the years in newspaper articles, a dominant impression which the journalists communicate is “painful”. Rolfing has traditionally had this kind of media image and we continue to recreate it.

I often hear Rolfers talk about their shoulder problems. From the soft Chinese martial arts, there is a guiding principle: “Do not meet force with force”. A defensive reaction from the connective tissue in the body of a client creates a resistance to the pressure applied by someone doing massage or myofascial release. The harder the therapist pushes, the harder the tissue of the client pushes back. If I push against a door with my hand, the door pushes back on my hand with and equal and opposite pressure. If I push hard into bodies, they push just as hard back into my body. The shoulder joint is often the mechanical weak point for Rolfers, because of the way we stand or lean over the table as we work on our clients.

I think that as a community, we would have a better reputation and would do better work with less “cost” to our own bodies, if we could practice initiating a process of healing that simulates tissue damage-rather than a process of change that comes from damaging tissue. In this regard, Jim and Nora’s paper can confirm the theoretical possibilities of effectiveness from a minimum touch applied properly at specific locations.

As I mentioned in my last article about acupuncture points and stripes, I have experienced acupuncture therapists who needled in the superficial connective tissue and others who let their needle bend and follow the loose connective tissue between muscles deep into the body.

Because of the connectiveness of connective tissue, changes in the deeper layers can be set in motion by a soft touch in the layer of the superficial connective tissue between the skin and the muscular-skeletal structure beneath. Some people imaginatively refer to superficial fascia as the “body stocking”.

But a soft touch can also continue in depth through the pathways in the loose fascial tissue between individual muscles, muscle groups, or even skeletal structures.

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