Laser Love in the Third Paradigm

Pages: 29-34
Year: 2004
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Structural Integration: The Journal of the Rolf Institute – Summer/June 2004 – VOL. 32 nº 02

Volume: 32

There is a pernicious pseudo-problem that has caused an inordinate amount of unnecessary confusion in our community for years. Since it has received so much clear-headed attention, I thought it had been finally laid to rest. When I read some of the responses to my laser article, I was surprised to see it appear once again, as if nobody had ever given it any thought.

A pseudo-problem is a question or statement that is posed in such a way that it seems, at first blush, to make perfectly good sense, but is, in fact, a form of misdirection that sends you scurrying down all the wrong paths in trying to come to terms with it. For example, if you are asked where your lap goes when you stand up, and you try to answer this question, you will only get yourself into a terrible conceptual muddle. You don’t have to think long and hard to realize that there is something mischievously wrong with the question. The problem is not that the question is difficult to answer. The problem is with the framing of the question itself. So if you want to solve the problem posed by the question, your best course of action is to reject the question as either nonsense or ill-conceived. You certainly do not want to try to answer it.

The ill-conceived question that has infected our community with a pseudo-problem is: “Should Rolfing be about symptom relief and fixing people or about the holistic enterprise of integrating people in gravity?” This question is ill-conceived because it implies, according to the logic of disjunctive propositions, that you couldn’t both “Rolf” people and relieve them of their symptoms at the same time. The logic of disjunctive propositions entails that if you relieved a client of his pain, then you couldn’t have “Rolfed” him, or if you “Rolfed” a client, you couldn’t have relieved him of pain. None of these statements are true, of course.

To clarify these matters, I formulated th concept of Three Paradigms of Practice (th first version was formulated in 1986). Thi concept has been part of our technical vo cabulary for such a long time that it seem an empty exercise to go through it in detai yet again. You can read about it in Chapte Five of my book, Spacious Body. If I may of fer a short metaphorical reminder, I saic that Rolfing as a third paradigm holistic practice does not push the stars – it trans forms the sky. As a result, Rolfers are ably to achieve the results of the corrective prac titioner. But a corrective practitioner can not achieve the results of the holistic prac titioner, except by accident. The upshot fo: the present discussion is that even thougl Rolfers don’t work in the corrective para digm, they should expect to see their cli ents relieved of their symptoms, as a mat ter of course. That is how powerful Rolfin? is. Dr. Rosemary Feitis’ reply to my article in which she describes how she works wit] carpal tunnel syndrome, provides a ver3 good example of this point. I have alsc pointed out on many occasions that not relieving your clients’ symptoms often inter feres with achieving the goals of structural integration.

Clients often ask me how I am able to gel rid of their aches and pains so quickly anc I tell them it is because I am a Rolfer. I explain to them what it means to work in the holistic paradigm and not be limited tc chasing symptoms. So if you want to be good and effective Rolfer you need to know how to deal with pain and somatic dysfunction – not because you are just about fixing people, but because you have bigger fish to fry, as Dr. Rolf once said.

Richard Wheeler seems to exemplify the typical contradictory position that our historical pseudo-problem generates. He boldly declares, “Nothing in this article persuades me that our profession should become concerned with symptom relief…” This is a surprising remark, because just six paragraphs earlier he hastened to assure us that, “I too have seen many amazing immediate improvements in muscle strength and ‘fixed almost all the pre-surgical carpal tunnel syndrome that I have seen’ during my practice and application of Dr. Rolf’s ideas. No laser required.” Apparently Wheeler strongly believes our profession should not be concerned with symptom relief but proudly admits to relieving symptoms. Hmmm.

By the way, as a practicing Rolfer working in our holistic paradigm, I can also fix carpal tunnel syndrome without the laser. I prefer to use the laser for two reasons: it is faster and it precisely locates the impingement sites. If Wheeler wants to take the fifteen mile route to the top of the mountain rather than the two mile route, that is his choice. I prefer not to waste time. I also opt for the two-mile route because the laser allows me to know precisely which impingement sites need work.

When I use the laser I use it as a Rolfer working in the holistic paradigm. I don’t use it as a corrective practitioner. If you use the laser as a corrective practitioner, then you get second paradigm results. If you use the laser as a third paradigm Rolfer, you get the kind of results that are dear to the heart of Rolfers. It is the same with any technique. If a corrective practitioner employs a technique to release a facet or organ restriction, you won’t see holistic structural change and integration in gravity, but when the same technique is used by a Rolfer in the context of a Rolfing session you will. Wheeler sharply challenges my use of the laser with the following questions: “Does using a laser to ‘turn a muscle on or off’ create any outwardly visible changes in the body’s structural contours and alignment in gravity? Does laser exposure contribute to the goals of Rolfing? Could it result in the top of a person’s head going up? Does it contribute to lengthening the axial core? Does it improve flexibility, inter-segmental or whole system alignment?” The short and very sweet answer to these questions is: yes, you bet it does, but only as long as the laser is used by a third paradigm Rolfer in the context of a Rolfing session. I should point out that the laser doesn’t “turn muscles on and off” as Wheeler misstates it. The laser resets the neurological communication tc the muscle thereby bringing the muscle back to strength. What is completely fascinating to me is that you can actually feel the living matrix (as Oschman calls it) or liquid crystalline continuum (as Ho calls it) respond to the laser and begin tc orthotropically organize itself around its midline. Wonderful!

Both Nicholas French and Richard Wheeler seem to think that I have regressed into the corrective paradigm. Why? Probably because they have been seduced by our historical pseudo-problem. From the fact that I discuss cases where there was a reduction or alleviation of symptoms from using the laser, they mistakenly conclude I must not be interested in achieving the goals of Rolfing anymore. All the cases I discussed were Rolfing clients receiving full Rolfing sessions in which the laser was used to augment the goals of Rolfing. When I am writing an article for our journal it goes without saying that I am speaking to my peers as a Rolfer who works in the holistic paradigm. It should not be necessary every time I discuss a new technique or a new way tc free a local fixation to add, “Oh by the way, keep in mind that I am still a Rolfer working in the holistic paradigm and that this case is no exception.” Perhaps we need an AA-like ritualized greeting every time we report on a new technique or approach: “Hi! I’m Jeff and I am a third paradigm Rolfer.”

Even so, I purposely made certain to include three cases where using the laser enhanced my work as a Rolfer. Here is what I said: “The remainder of his session looked like standard Rolfing. To my great surprise when he stood up he was straighter and taller than I had ever seen him, and for the first time his torso was longer and finally balanced over and supported by his legs. His hip pain had also disappeared. Although he retained the wonderful structural change and strength, his hip pain returned in a week’s time. However, subsequent Rolfing sessions reduced his pain by eighty percent.” Notice how I talked about structural change and alignment.

In the case of the elderly woman with balance problems I made similar observations. “Encouraged, I used the laser more extensively during her session. I worked with the brain, brain stem, cerebellum, and the affected cranial nerves. From the laser treatment alone, she got a ninety per cent improvement. I ended her session with some fairly standard Rolfing back and neck work. To my surprise, she got the best length through her torso, especially through her upper back and neck that I had seen in thirty sessions. She held onto all the changes we achieved in that session.”

I also mentioned the integrative effect the laser can have on movement. “I have also had great success in using the laser at the end of a Rolfing session when a client is experiencing trouble with integrating the work they just received into movement. As every Rolfer knows, tracking is often the best and most effective solution. But many times the laser is just as effective. You program in frequencies for the brain, brain stem, cerebellum, and nerves. As your client strolls around the room you follow behind and laser from head to tail bone. Within minutes you will often see a remarkable change in gait. You can also use this method to effectively change aberrant gait patterns before you begin a Rolfing session.”

What could be clearer? Yet both Wheeler and French passed right over these cases. Is it because they were taken in by our pseudo-problem and, as a result, blinded by their unthought-through presuppositions?

In response to my indicating that the block model and the line of gravity are problematic, Wheeler asserts, “Dr. Maitland states that it is “…not really possible to align the body along the line of gravity. This is plainly, demonstrably, patently false. From our early Polaroids to the current digital and video technologies, generations of photographs taken of Rolf processing results have shown that it really is possible to directly affect the relationships among the body’s segments. Their cumulative realignment and changes in contour are visually obvious, although much research work remains to be done in the documentation and analysis of these results.”

Apparently Wheeler thinks that if I question the explanatory model of a phenomenon that I am rejecting the possibility of the phenomenon itself. I did not reject the possibility of structural change and alignment in gravity. I questioned the use of the block model and the line of gravity as being completely adequate to the job of understanding and representing it. The fact that he tries to counter my position by claiming, “that it really is possible to directly affect the relationships among the body’s segments. Their cumulative realignment and changes in contour are visually obvious…” shows that he thinks I am rejecting the possibility of structural change and alignment in gravity. As I demonstrated above, I have not abandoned the goal of aligning the body in gravity. I pursue the goals of Rolfing, achieve visually obvious changes in contour, and affect the relationships among the body’s segments just as every Rolfer does. And I also believe that the block model and the line of gravity, as represented by the little boy logo, are a useful way to begin understanding integration in gravity, as I stated in my article.

To clarify my point further, let’s look at Wheeler’s conflation a little more closely. He says, “Contrary to Dr. Maitland’s assertions, nothing about Dr. Rolf’s block model forces us to assume that the body’s segments (or blocks) are of equal density. Likewise, there is nothing about the block model that “…forces you to see the body as a nonliving object…” In my direct experience with Dr. Rolf, she always viewed the body as a special kind of a living object that, by default, exists in and relates to Gravity.” Well, of course, Dr. Rolf, and most Rolfers we should add, can have a bigger understanding of the body than the block model permits. That is not the point.

Consider a stack of blocks of equal density. If you want to line them up so that they are balanced and right with each other, you line them up along the line of gravity. To do that you have to get their centers of gravity over top of each other. When that is achieved they are aligned. You can draw a straight line through the weight centers, you can say they are aligned along the line of gravity, and each block is right with the one above or below it. But you can’t do that with the human body, because it is not equally dense throughout like a stack of blocks. You can’t both get the segments right with each other (which is analogous to getting equally dense blocks right with each other) and get the centers of gravity over top of each other.

Imagine working with a pregnant woman or a man with a huge potbelly. If you could get the weight centers perfectly over top of each other (aligned with the line of gravity), the positioning of the segments would be so oddly off from a Rolfing perspective that nobody would ever seek your services again. If you could get the segments right with each other, in a way that makes Rolfers cheer, you couldn’t draw a straight line through the centers of gravity of the various segments – you couldn’t align them along the line of gravity. Thus, with respect to living body, which is not equally dense throughout, alignment according to the line of gravity is different than what we might call segmental alignment. With respect to non-living blocks that are equally dense, achieving segmental alignment and alignment along the line of gravity amounts to the same thing.

Given these considerations, it is all too clear that with the following assertion Wheeler unwittingly disembowels his criticism of my view: “Contrary to Dr. Maitland’s assertions, nothing about Dr. Rolf’s block model forces us to assume that the body’s segments (or blocks) are of equal density.” The logo clearly illustrates segmental alignment and the line of gravity. But as we have just seen, in order to be able to draw a straight line of gravity as pictured in the logo, the blocks must be of equal density in order for the centers of gravity to be directly on top of each. If Wheeler is saying that the block model does not presuppose equal density, then why does the logo have a representation of the line of gravity?

Even more bizarre and to the point at issue, Wheeler’s assertion that the block model does not presuppose equal density not only completely undercuts his criticism of my position, but logically implies that he agrees with me. As we just saw, since living human bodies are not equally dense throughout, structural integration it is not about getting the weight centers directly on top of each other, and hence not about aligning the body along the line of gravity. Since Wheeler admits that living bodies are not equally dense throughout, he is logically committed to my claim that it is “not really possible to align the body along the line of gravity,” a claim he took angry offense at and denounced as patently and demonstrably false.

Dealing with Wheeler’s criticisms is a bit like playing tennis with a person who wants the net down when he serves, and up when you serve. Just two paragraphs after saying “nothing about Dr Rolf’s block model forces us to assume the body’s segments (or blocks) are of equal density,” he does a complete turn-around and claims, “Modeling the body as if it were composed of a set of even-density masses can have immense practical value.” Perhaps by trying to have it both ways Wheeler thinks he has created an airtight case against my position. But it does not matter whether he believes the block model presupposes the blocks are equally dense, not equally dense, or both equally dense and not equally dense, my point still holds: even though the block model and the line of gravity may be a useful way to begin understanding structural integration, in the end you cannot line the body up according to the line of gravity. (By the way, Dr. Peter Schwind was the first Rolfer to realize that the block model/ line of gravity was problematic because it presupposed the blocks were equally dense.)

Hopefully it is now dearer why I said that the block model and the line gravity are problematic. Something more is going on when we get a person’s structure integrated in gravity than Newtonian physics, the block model, and the line of gravity permit us to grasp. I have written in detail about this “something more” and the importance of looking to biology for an understanding of our work that is much richer than can be provided by Newtonian physics. Learning to see and feel the self-sensing liquid crystalline continuum respond to your touch and subtlest intention by orthotropically organizing itself around its midline is not only an amazing experience, it is a far more potent way of achieving the goals of Rolfing than trying to line clients up according the abstract line of gravity which has no perceivable referent in the body. It should not be necessary to repeat these points again, especially since I provided the relevant references in my laser article (especially important are the references to Oschman and Ho’s writings) and in other the other articles I have written on this topic.

I have also written in detail about the pitfalls of somatic idealism for our work. I have pointed out time and again that you can view the logo as an example of the profound structural changes Rolfing is famous for or as an example of somatic idealism. If the latter, then, given the results of the above discussion, it also follows that you don’t want to use the line of gravity as your only norm for evaluating structure. Otherwise you will be attempting to fit often vastly different morphologies into the same often inappropriate structural mold, thereby possibly either undermining the goal of structural integration or causing dysfunction – or both. Once again it shouldn’t be necessary to repeat all this material here. In effect I have already answered Wheeler’s following corrosive misprision: “And what urban myth about Rolfing led Dr. Maitland to assert that practitioners who are being mindful of the Gravity field must ‘force every body into the same structural mold’?” Of course, he also manages to misstate my position. I did not make the silly claim that practitioners who are being mindful of the gravity field must force every body into the same structural mold. I said, “This way of thinking [meaning the thinking and evaluation process based on the block model and the line of gravity] also leads practitioners to attempt to force every body into the same structural mold and miss how each structure is struggling to realize its own unique morphological imperative.”

Even though I said that there was plenty of research on the laser and backed up my assertion a reference, Wheeler never even did a cursory search into the literature. Instead he invites me to “to settle down and do the real science behind his subjective reporting.” If he had read any of the research, he would know that what he is asking me to do has already been done. He continues, “My pocket laser pointer projects points and lines at the same frequency of Red at 635-670nm (with the same 5% accuracy tolerance) but with five times the power (and a proportionally increased penetration depth in living tissue) as the Erchonia device. And yes of course, there is a little tag on it warning about eye exposure. I’ve seen this same laser used in Rolf Institute classes to point out anatomical regions and details on models. I observed no obvious changes associated with laser use, and none were noted or reported by the class models, students or instructors. To those of us who have built electronics equipment (and I have built many racks of electronic instrumentation) 5% tolerances are a familiar analog electronics standard. Tolerances of (plus or minus) 1% are more common for most common ‘high precision’ technological components. Perhaps Dr. Maitland’s laser is more likened to low power supermarket scanners. If so, mass numbers of shoppers should regularly be experiencing the healing effects of exposure to red laser light!”

I doubt that Wheeler really went to a grocery store or Rolfing class to study the effects of bar code readers and laser pointers on structure. But let’s take him at his word. The fact that he saw no change in shoppers or models exposed to laser light proves nothing of much interest or relevance to the present discussion. His examples assume that I was claiming that the laser all by itself was capable of achieving the results of Rolfing. I never implied or stated the cockamamie notion that the Erchonia laser was a substitute for Rolfing. Furthermore, his example is analogous to a person saying that he tried a couple of Rolfing techniques on his wife’s back and since her structure didn’t get integrated in gravity, he concluded that Rolfing doesn’t work. You don’t need a course in logic to see that there is something wrong with Wheeler’s thinking. Besides, there is a rather significantly big difference between a laser pointer, bar code reader, and the Erchonia laser, as we shall see below.

I consulted with Steve Shanks, one of the owners of and researchers at Erchonia, about Wheeler’s remarks. Here is what he said: “The Erchonia laser is plus or minus 5nm not 5%, which is controlled through the circuitry. The exit power is 5mw per diode. I have never heard of a laser pointer with 25mw of power. If that is true, it would be a class 3b laser, which would require safety glasses. There is a big difference between exit power and the power it takes to produce the exit power. Think of a light bulb, it takes 100 watts of power to produce about 2 watts of power from a light bulb. Even though it is listed as a 100-watt bulb,it does not produce 100 watts of light. If he builtMedical equipment he would know that the laser would have to be built according to ISO and FDA quality assurance standards. Lasers are regulated by federal and state agencies with which they must comply. Otherwise it is illegal to use them. They also must comply with each state’s medical licensing board. To get FDA approval Erchonia had to do two double randomized, multi-site and placebo-controlled studies. This process took over two years, which gave the Erchonia laser the first FDA approval of any low-level laser. Additionally Erchonia just submitted our second study for FDA approval, which again proved several clinical applications in reduced post-surgical pain (100% less than placebo, less pain medication compared to placebo, etc.). We have done research on first, second and third burns with 65% pain reduction and have over 500 SEM, TEM and MRI pictures proving cellular effects. Scientific studies on Erchonia lasers have been published in Lasers in Surgery, Plastic and Reconstrutive Surgery, Cosmetic Surgery Journal, and Aesthetic Surgery Journal just tcname a few. We have been at the Tour de France the last four years and will be there again this year. Erchonia has a proven depif of penetration to 4cm (Published in AACS journal). What proof does Richard Wheeler have that his laser pointer penetrate, deeper? Now it’s his time to prove it.”

Wheeler says, “Rolfers must exert work tc get their results because it takes mechanical energy to change the way the myofascial landscape is configured. For sake of argument lets say that it takes 1000 watts of energy to change a significant percentage of the hardened, dense gel-set masses of con. nective tissue in an average size human Melt, mobilize, entrain or derestrict, thf laser Dr. Maitland describes is simply not capable of energetically transforming the volumes of tissue inhabited by each humar structure. Whether exposure to lights of any frequency can catalyze changes in biochemistry or function at any practical level o1 interest to the structural integration community remains to be seen. At the least, Dr Maitland appears to be playing laser ta? with symptom sets and subjective impres. sions. At worst, his laser games would seen benign, given the minimal power output o: the device he describes.”

To these comments Steven Shanks had this to say: “There have been several hundrec published articles to prove this point but will reference two. Both IRB and FDA reviewed and approved multi-site, random ized double blind and placebo-controllec clinical trials that we did to get FDA ap. proval. We used pre and post range of mo. tion of the neck and shoulder to prove pair reduction. We achieved 60% pain reductior and about 25% to 90% increased range o. motion depending on the range measured This is not subjective, it is proven. All Dr Maitland did was follow the same principles that were used to get FDA approval These procedures are, of course, repeatable Since it takes about 1 watt to vaporize tis. sue, the hypothetical notion that it take, “1000 watts of energy” to change hardened dense gel-set masses of connective tissue it an average human is preposterous anc demonstrates simply not understandin? how the body works. Read Jame, Oschman’s books, Energy Medicine and Errergy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance. There is also a well-known bio logical law, Arnat-Schultz, which says “Weak Stimuli excite biological activity.” Dr Maitland hinted at this law in his artichwhen he said the body was capable of responding as an orchestrated whole to minimal interventions.”

Wheeler goes on to suggest that I “design and carry out a series of relevant, double blind experiments and gather statistically significant amounts of real data.” He says that I will “need to identify and constrain the relevant variables and sort through a large number of possible interactions to parse out any significant effects.” Once again, if Wheeler had done a literature search, as any researcher would know to do before making such suggestions, he would have known the research has already been done. Steven Shanks replies, “I will not speak subjectively. Objectively its been proven (see comments above). Over ten million dollars worth of research that has been done using the Erchonia laser – and this is only a partial list. It is time for Wheeler to look at the research and open his mind to a new way of looking at the body. We are not trying to replace Rolfing, we are giving Rolfers a way to enhance what they do.”

Wheeler asks a question similar to the ones I answered above, “Does having any or even all of our cells ‘entrained back to coherence’ result in a higher level of structural integration?” The answer is still the same: yes, if the laser is not used in the corrective paradigm or as a substitute for Rolfing, but in the context of a Rolfing session.

He also asks, “Are there any credible reports about positive effects with collagenous restrictions, adhesions or cross-linkages in acellular, dense tissue beds? The Erchonia company web site does not mention effect(s) of their product at the acellular level. It would seem that results of any laser stimulated “cascades of events happening at cellular levels” would clearly take time to percolate through dense beds of acellular ground substance. So is there a concomitant response in the acellular matrix?” Shanks replies as follows: “This research is already published (see journals above), but due to the FDA restrictions it is not on our website. We believe our second FDA approval will happen within 30 to 60 days and at that time they will be on our website.”

To Wheeler’s request for a control study, in which clients are randomly exposed to the laser to see if differential results show up in the data, Shanks reports that it has already been done in several different studies and that copies of these studies are available on request.

I want to end my reply to Wheeler by answering the criticism with which he began his brief critique: “In my experience, this is no reason to address individual muscles or muscle sets because, in medically ‘normal’ healthy subjects, muscle tone imbalances normalize immediately when the underlying structural schema or pattern is re-established.” This statement shows that Wheeler does not grasp the point at issue. I was not referring to testing and normalizing “muscle tone imbalances.” I very clearly stated that I was testing myotomes, not muscles or muscle sets. The laser does not treat weak muscles or address muscle tone imbalances. Rather the laser resets the neurological communication to the muscle. The treatment of neurological inhibition and the resultant restoration of communication are what bring the muscle back into strength. Perhaps this kind of muscle weakness is due to injury, no one knows for certain. What is important is that it can be restored and the results are repeatable.

I have a suggestion. Don’t take my or Wheeler’s word for it. Learn to test myotomes and find out for yourself whether Rolfing is sufficient to restore neurological communication to the muscle. Don’t determine muscle strength the way you usually do. Instead, test the myotomes. Do it before each session and then again at the end of the session to see if you brought the muscles back to strength. If some or all have turned on, ask your client to run around the room a bit and check the myotomes again. Often it happens that just a little activity is enough to recreate the neurological inhibition. Testing myotomes is an objective way to keep track of the effect of one level of your Rolfing. If you do this, you will have a clear understanding for yourself of what Rolfing can accomplish at this level. If you don’t know how to test myotomes, read the books I referenced in my article. Both Kendall and McCreary and Hoppenfeld’s books are quite good. And, yes, myotome testing is easy.

Usually it takes far more words to untangle confused thinking and bad logic than it does to express it. Having come this far in my response to Wheeler, I look forward to devoting a lot fewer words to Jeffrey Burch and Dr. Rosemary Feitis’ more genteel remarks.

Like many of my colleagues, I have spent years developing and honing my manua and perceptual skills. So I can agree witf Jeffrey Burch about the danger that exist, for the beginning Rolfer who might shortcircuit the development of his manual skill, by relying too heavily on a machine to dc his work. But for the dedicated practitio ner it needn’t work that way – there ib nothing preventing her from developing manual and machine skills at the same time Also since being effective with a percussoi requires well-developed perceptual anc manual skills, I have found that my skit level has allowed to be more effective with the percussor than beginners. But, ever more interesting, I have found that prop erly using the percussor opens you to whole new level of perception. The percus sor can actually teach you to see and fee differently and more deeply in and througf the body. The same is true for the laser. It i, truly a wondrous experience to learn to fee the organizing energy around the body respond to the laser as well as perceive the self-sensing living matrix respond to the laser by releasing and orthtropically orga nizing itself around its midline.

Allow me to shift stylistic gears to responc to Dr. Rosemary Feitis’ remarks.

Rosemary, I found your comments intrigu ing and I will do my best to answer your questions. Let me begin with the easies first. Playing devil’s advocate, you wonder whether “it would be possible to makecase that the clinical results seen in lasering are the result of cellular destruction. ThE ‘weak’ glutei have contracted and noon match, say, the tension in the hypertrophiec quadriceps, hamstrings, and adductors The neural sites in the wrist are scarred over Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe in the long run it’s not so good, or good some times and not others.” What I have learnec from Erchonia is that over forty years worth of research into non-ionizing lasers has proven that a laser like Erchonia’s cre ates no cellular destruction. Several publi cations prove through the use of SEM, TEM and MRI that the Erchonia laser causes nc damage to the cell. The research is clear: i shows that the Erchonia laser has no knowr side effects. As we also saw above, severa multi-site studies have proven its gooc clinical results, which is why Erchonia’s la ser was the first to get FDA approval Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Rolfing had thi! kind of proof behind it?

When using homeopathy and Rolfing together, you mention the difficulty you had telling which produced the amelioration. Given the nature of the practice of homeopathy, I can appreciate the problem. Rolfing is a systematic form of holistic manual and movement education and homeopathy is also a systematic holistic approach. But the laser is not a holistic system at all. It is just a very remarkable tool that can be used to enhance our work. I have experimented with using the laser before, during, and after a Rolfing session and it is pretty darn clear what did what, especially if you stand your client up after laser and Rolfing interventions and use your Rolfer’s eyes. The length and balance I saw in my densely muscled client were clearly the result of using the laser first in the context of a Rolfing session. Interestingly, most of my clients are aware of what the laser contributed to their session. In any case, figuring out whether the laser or Rolfing got the result is really no different, in principle, than trying to figure out which Rolfing or movement interventions produced the results in a given session.

I found your discussion of why you treat hypertrophy and how you treat carpal tunnel syndrome interesting. It is a great example of why Rolfing is so good at relieving symptoms. You say, “In both of these examples, my experience in my practice seems to contradict your findings. I do not treat muscle weakness; I treat hypertrophy and find that the weakness takes care of itself. I do not treat a painful area; I treat the supporting or counterbalancing structures and find that the pain takes care of itself. Clearly, more discussion would be useful. Contrasting the results of therapy (particularly over time) would also be useful.” I agree; more discussion and contrasting results would be useful, indeed.

It is probably worth mentioning that our present discussion about what we see in our respective practices is at the anecdotal level and unfortunately doesn’t come up to the level of proof achieved by Erchonia. Also before I try to deal with how our findings contradict each other, I should again clarify an important point. It is not entirely accurate to say that the laser treats weak muscles. Rather the laser resets the neurological communication to the muscle. Are we both talking about muscle strength in the same sense?

I use the laser on most of my clients. Most are not gym aficionados and many do not exhibit hypertrophy. (The densely muscled client I discussed in the laser article had fibromyalgia and was not a gym addict.) In fact, I seem to have my share of soft bodies – the type that has trouble building muscle. Many of my clients have quite a history of injury, which may be also why they test weak. When testing the myotomes, regardless of their body type, a majority of my clients test weak. Using the laser in the context of a Rolfing session enhances my ability to achieve balance, order, integration, and relief from many forms of dysfunction. Because of the balance my clients achieve, they tend to get rid of their carpal tunnel syndrome and other symptoms just as yours do. The difference is that I also use the laser to test and work on impingement sites as well as “Rolf” impingement sites.

With respect to those clients whose problems can clearly be linked to hypertrophy, it would interesting for each of us to work with them our own way and compare results. The nice thing about myotome testing is that it gives you a clear and objective way to evaluate and test whether you got the results you were looking for. Do you have a comparable objective way to evaluate hypertrophy? If you do, then we could compare our respective results. We could see which approach, laser-enhancedRolfing (which by its very nature could not help but work with hypertrophy) or hypertrophy-only-Rolfing, got the best reduction of hypertrophy and which got the best restoration of strength.

Having come to the circuitous end of my replies and comments, I hope I haven’t dampened any of the excitement over the extraordinary power of the Erchonia laser. It is truly an amazing machine that is capable of much more than turning the nerve/muscle complex back on and much more than what I have shared. Since I recently got the go-ahead from Erchonia and Dr. Brimhall to teach the laser, I intend to teach workshops in how to use the laser and percussor for Rolfers. I am already planning to spend some weekends with some Rolfer colleagues experimenting with the laser together. Eventually, when there is a sufficient number of Rolfers trained, we will be able to see what contributions Rolfing can make to the use of the laser. I think this experiment promises to very interesting and exciting.

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