Spontaneous myofascial release

I experienced a minor miracle the other night, one that not only affected my body, but may change the way I work with massage clients. I am also wondering if any one out there has had a similar experience. Please share! Maybe it wasn’t as weird as I think.

You can see that way the flute is played can lead to a tilted head position after a while. This sketch is by me.

I’ve had neck issues for years. Between being stressed and tense, having a lot of curvature in my spine (think hunchback, turtle neck and swayback all at once), and playing the flute, it’s amazing that my neck is as good as it is. That said, bad posture is one reason people experience pain, so I have had pain off and on. I’ve written in previous blogs about some of the things I have done over the years to straighten my posture and calm my nervous system. It’s worked to a large extent, but I still have a lot of tightness in the soft tissues of my neck, and a compressed disk on the right side.

To help with this, lately I’ve been spending a little time when I first go to bed lying on my stomach with my head turned to the left and pressing into the pillow to stretch out the right side of my neck. I usually stay there for a minute or so. The other night, when I was doing this stretch, I started to feel some softening in my upper chest. That’s great, I’ve been getting some softening as my torso straightens.  But then it turned into a huge wave that moved into my neck, up to my jaw, back down my neck, up around my ear, and down again into the back of the right side of my neck. It felt like someone was lifting a piece of plastic wrap off of me.

If I didn’t know something about the myofascial planes in the body, and the visco-elastic nature of that tissue, I would have been alarmed. Instead, I was delighted. You see, we have sheets of connective tissue that are much like plastic wrap, in that they wrap parts of the body. And, like plastic wrap, they can become stuck to the underlying tissues. They can also form thick hard areas. But when you pull on them with the right amount of pressure, they either will become unstuck and slip, or they will soften in a wave (rather than ripping). So I was pretty sure that my fascia (connective tissue) was either softening or slipping free and moving to where it needs to be.

My neck is by no means healed, but it does seem a little better. And the wave got me thinking. What if one reason my clients have these hard trouble areas is that their sheets are stuck? What if we could pull on them just right and they would send a wave of change through their whole body? This isn’t a novel idea. There are techniques which attempt to do just that, and I’ve even studied a couple of them and experienced even more. But I’ve never experienced anything like that rush, almost like being pulled down a waterfall.

Was that a fluke? The result of my dogged pursuit over many years of better posture? Or is it something that could be transferred to my clients? Are there people who just will never improve unless something like that happens to them? A particular older man comes to mind. His torso is hard as steel and his legs are about as bad. Is this what he needs? Am I wasting my time with him unless I figure out a way to pull on his tissues like I pulled on my neck, and I hold his tissues for a long time, like I did my own? I really don’t know.

Certainly, I’ve done this stretch a bunch of times before, but this is the first time it let go like that. Why was that night the magic night? I have way more questions than answers right now. Any ideas? Know anyone who has had this kind of spontaneous (nearly) healing?

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  1. #1 by Mishka on November 16, 2013 - 4:25 pm

    I am a bit thunderstruck! Sitting with a friend last night doing nothing in particular. My skull on my neck spontaneously adjusted “Crunch!” my vision went H.D. then every joint in my body starting with my shoulders began readjusting. It felt like someone took a very tight corset off my chest and my lungs opened up, each vertebrae and rib dropped into place, my jaw readjusted, my hips dropped into place in the most physically satisfying way. I felt like my whole body was untwisting and it felt amazingly good. I was in and out of laughing and crying and have been since. I thought I was turning into a superhero!This went on for about 2 hours and left me feeling like I had run a marathon (or had the most incredible sex) . Today my muscles are very sore and I am continuing to click into place.
    I have been seeing a chiropractor and Myofascial Massage Therapist ( who has been able to make me feel better like no other therapist even before this incident) for chronic TMJ and muscular issues from repetitive motion stress and repercussions from an auto accident. I am just amazed by what happened.

    • #2 by annstanleywriting on November 16, 2013 - 4:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story. That’s absolutely wonderful, Mishka!

  2. #3 by Olga on November 25, 2012 - 11:20 am

    Maybe this video would be of some help:

    All the best!

    • #4 by annstanleywriting on November 25, 2012 - 9:34 pm

      That’s a fascinating video. It vividly shows the interconnection between the neck and legs. There is the misleading implication that a nerve starts in the neck and ends at the foot – it doesn’t quite work that way, because there is a synapse between neurons along the way (in the ventral horns where the nerves exit the spinal column and the actual fascial tube surrounding the nerve connects).

  3. #5 by elizabethcmain on October 4, 2012 - 11:26 am

    I’ve never experienced anything like that, but what a fascinating experience. Hope the good feeling continues for you. Also, I like your sketch. Liz

    • #6 by annstanleywriting on October 6, 2012 - 8:22 pm

      Hey, Liz, The sketch is taken off a drawing that a guy did of me years ago. It was complex, so I outlined it and then a friend helped me gradually come up with something fairly simple. I’ve always loved it.

  4. #7 by KM Huber on October 4, 2012 - 6:47 am

    I don’t know that mine has been as spontaneous, Ann, but some months ago I was having a great deal of difficulty with my neck and upper back (degenerative arthritis throughout my body as well as degenerative disc disease; three surgeries and numerous pinched nerves).

    In my autodidact way, I experimented with certain movements that I can only describe as making sense, meaning these stretches released the stiffness and discomfort . I did feel an immediate release–perhaps not as dramatic as yours but it was significant–like you, I am not healed but I feel as if I’m on my way. I have begun similar exercises/stretches with my lower torso and legs. Have not had any immediate release but it feels as if they are responding.

    I would be remiss if I did not attribute some of this to an overall relaxation– mentally and physically–that I have been experiencing in daily meditation that I began in July of this year. I do not assume any “meditation position” but my work with consciousness and quantum healing is also a factor.

    Excellent post, Ann.


    • #8 by annstanleywriting on October 6, 2012 - 8:25 pm

      So I am not the only one, Karen! And never underestimate the power of relaxation. It’s amazing. I attribute some of my changes to the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of cranio sacral therapy on my clients and it seems to transfer to my body, probably partly because I have to relax to pay attention to the minute details of theirs.

  5. #9 by Lu Mueller-Kaul on October 4, 2012 - 4:37 am

    First, thank you for linking to my blog!
    Second: I’ve found no rhyme or reason to phenomena like the one you described. We can just be happy and grateful when they happen. Sometimes crazy things happen in treatments… like when I was working on a woman’s ankle and suddenly the rib joint that had been bothering her for months adjusted itself. It’s not only been good ever since, but also her blood pressure had normalized right after!

    I do think fascia has a lot to do with it, but unfortunately it’s impossible to predict which kind of treatment will bring success in “strange” cases. Ida Rolf used to say “It’s not where you think it is.”

    Fortunately, most myofascial problems are not “strange cases” and much easier to treat by just working around the affected area. I’m putting together everything I found out about “the techniques most likely to succeed” into CE-classes for LMTs.

    some exercises that might be useful (especially “towel trick”)

    I hope you continue to feel much better!

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