Structural Decompression Technique

The Structural Decompression Technique focuses on freeing the soft tissue contractures around the Atlas (1st cervical vertebra/ very top of the neck) and what classical Chinese medicine calls “The 5 Axes” of the body. “The 5 Axes” are 5 muscle-fascia groups which function as the primary support for our central structure (hips and pelvis on up to cranium). The 5 Axes can have issues due to external or internal origin. The external origin is injury: falls, blows, auto accidents, hyper-extensive movements, twists, slips, bad lifting, etc.  Internal origins stem from various habits of bad posture, kinetic habits or even somatized emotions; any of these can cause uneven tension in one or more axis. This leads to various “adaptations” or “compensations,” which leads to one or multiple contractures in the soft tissue. The 5 Axes govern and uphold the three major bony cavities of the body (pelvis, thorax, and cranium) as well as the spine. Classical Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of the 5 Axes in maintaining good posture, freedom of movement, freedom from pain, as well as the proper free exchange of qi, blood, and fluids between upper and lower, front and back. The comprehensive design of Structural Decompression Technique breaks up contractures in all 5 Axes.

The Atlas

The Atlas / 5 Axes

The Hip Connection

The Atlas is the first (topmost) cervical vertebra. It gets its name from the Greek Titan, Atlas, who is said to be holding up the celestial sphere on his shoulders to keep it from crashing down onto the earth. The Atlas bone is positioned at the top of the spine and supports the skull. It is at the level of the hole in the center of the Atlas where the spinal cord fuses with the brain stem (specifically, the medulla oblongata portion of the brain stem.) This makes the position of the Atlas the most important neural intersection in the entire body. All the information coming into the brain from the spine and limbs passes through this junction as well as all of the information passing from the brain into the spine and limbs. When the Atlas is twisted, it squeezes this neuro-intersection and can cause a wide variety of issues. Astonishingly, the Atlas is out of alignment on a staggering percentage of people, young and old, though it certainly is not causing serious issues for many of these. It only takes one fall at the right angle, one unlucky blow to the head or neck, one car accident, one burst of tension in the upper body  . . . etc. to cause the Atlas to “go out” — and it tends to stay out until corrected. Structural Decompression™ works from an opposite principle of chiropractic by freeing up only the soft tissues, releasing the constraint surrounding the Atlas to allow it to slip back into its natural position without any direct bone or joint manipulation. Simply by allowing the connective tissues around the Atlas to relax, and by restoring equal, moderate, and natural tension on each side, the Atlas slips back into its natural position all on its own.

Structural Decompression Technique™ is comprehensive. It releases the contractures in the soft tissue around coccyx (tailbone), sacrum, and hips, including all the major muscle attachments of the pelvic axes. It decompresses the soft tissue along the spine and opens up the primary acupuncture channels that are associated with the vertebral column. The 5 Axes are 5 overlapping sets of muscles and fascia that support and move the spine and the 3 primary bony cavities of the body: the pelvis, the thorax, and the cranium. Each of the 5 Axes mediates between at least two zones, linking either the front and back of the body or connecting two or more important bony structures. A good example is the paravertebral/paraspinal muscles. This muscle group and their associated fascia connect the spine to the chest as well as to the pelvis. The iliopsoas/ hip flexor group connects front to back by connecting to both the lumbar spine and the front of the hips. Classical Chinese medicine believes that movement and posture strongly contribute to form. Tension in any of the 5 Axes, if it becomes habitual, can alter the structures of the neck, the sacrum and ilium, the way we hold our shoulders, and so much more. Structural Decompression™ releases the holding patterns in the 5 Axes and allows the individual to rebuild the proper relationship between these muscle groups and their bony structures.

It is a common observation that when the hip is twisted, the Atlas too will be twisted; likewise, if the Atlas is out, the hip will often be out. This is because the tension at one end of the spine is by necessity transferred to its opposite end through torque. The result is typically a hip that is rotated anteriorly on one side. This can affect the knees, ankles and feet, as well as the hips, back and neck. What makes Structural Decompression Technique™ so extraordinary is this: since it addresses the entire length and trajectory of the torque, it eliminates persistent unequal tension at their sources; the alignment thereby is stabilized and lasts a long long time.