Classical Chinese medical philosophy teaches that physical action creates form. More specifically, physical repetition trains the body to respond accordingly and this response can result in alterations of form. Compensation after an injury is one of the best example of this. If someone injures their left knee, they might begin to favor it by shifting more weight to the right side. This shift can alter the orientation of the hips, which shifts the weight in the right knee and can eventually cause the right knee to hurt much like the left one. Over the weeks, months or years that this develops, the initial changes take place in the muscle structures (see “5 Axes” section). The muscles are more plastic, more changeable than joint or bone, but sustained tension– especially uneven or a- symmetrical tension– in a muscle group that supports a joint or bony structure can eventually alter the form of the bony structure. But it is not just injury that triggers these types of alterations.

Classical Chinese medicine also teaches that things like emotions, spirit, and attitude influence our physical actions. These aspects of the personality are expressed outward through posture and body movement. Even though we ourselves are usually unaware of what we are communicating from our bodies, it is nevertheless easy for us to see it in others. (What mother can’t recognize her children from even a great distance simply from the way they walk and move? Besides expressing the personality, another aspect of repeated physicality involves the way we process (or refuse to process) stress or emotional trauma. Emotions and attitudes can, through the very same mechanisms that alter the muscles and joints after an injury, develop the same type of structural changes. For instance, many people who respond to stress with an attitude of responsibility, asking themselves “What do I need to do about this?” or being upset that no one else is taking responsibility so that it seems to land on their shoulders very often have chronic pain at the top of their shoulders or in their neck. Another way some people compensate for certain feelings of vulnerability is to tense up their hip flexors in the groin. The muscles here extend to the lumbar and these people can have low back pain and increased curvature in their lumbar spine. These are just two examples of how emotions are made physical and eventually create problems in the structure.

The compensations we respond with when injured or stressed are never ideal adaptations. As seen above in both the example of the knee injury and lumbar curvature, the compensations themselves can easily develop into their own health issues. The hidden value of a treatment like Structural Decompression™ is that it not only works very deeply, but it is also comprehensive. It releases the holding patterns locked in our tissues; in a sense, wiping the slate clean so that if a coping mechanism we have formed a habit around has proven to cause more harm than good, we now have the opportunity to form a new habit and a new way of physically processing our experiences. In a very real sense, this is the foundation of personal freedom.

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