Myofascial Holding Pattern
Myofascia refers to the tissue that covers and holds together all of the muscles. Myo meaning 'muscle' and fascia meaning 'covering'. This fabric like tissue flows throughout the entire body, wrapping and connecting all of the muscles in the body into a web-like matrix.
The central nervous system has many peripheral nerves that run through the myofascial matrix as it connects to each individual muscle. When our sympathetic nervous system is over-stimulated through stress, over work, or unresolved emotions or physical traumas, our brain tells our muscles and the myofascia to tense up and constrict.
With repeated tensing and constricting of our muscles and the fascia covering the muscles, we begin to develop a repetitive, patternized, habitual muskuloskeletal response to stress or fatigue. The Myofascial matrix starts to become locked in a specific pattern due to years of repetitive straining.
After having developed a myofascial holding pattern, it becomes much harder to resolve muscle tension or orthopedic misalignment. We get a massage but then we're tense the next day. We get a chiropractic adjustment but our spine goes out the next day. The myofascial holding pattern becomes a myofascial pain syndrome.
These knots in our shoulders and lower back are places where the fascia of one muscle has become glued to the fascia of its neighboring muscle so now the muscles are stuck together, unable to glide smoothly over one another. Now we are unable to turn our neck or bend over to touch our feet. Our muscles have all been glued together.
How can I resolve this Myofascial Pain Syndrome?
There are many therapies out there that can help. Massage helps to work directly on the fascia if done properly. Trigger Point therapy is very useful for unlocking myofascial holding patterns. Shiatsu and Acupressure are also very useful and similar types of massage therapy for myofascial pain syndromes since they work directly on the meridians and muscles that connect to the diseased tissues.
Acupuncture is a very powerful treatment for both relaxing the muscles and the central nervous system back into the parasympathetic mode of 'rest and relaxation' which is the key to resolving the myofascial pain syndrome and holding pattern.
Acupuncture has also been shown to elevate endorphins, serotonin, and natural opiates produced by the hypothalamus in the brain to induce pain relief and a sense of calm. Many acupuncture points on the scalp are useful for relaxing the sympathetic nervous system and reducing our pain response.
People with myofascial pain syndrome are always diagnosed as having 'Liver Qi Stagnation'.
Pain and tension are a sign of blockage to the natural flow of Qi and blood. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) state that the flow of Qi is governed by the Liver while the flow of Blood is controlled by the Heart. Together the Liver, Heart, and the Lungs maintain a smooth flow of circulation throughout the body.
TCM and acupuncture is able to diagnose imbalances in the organ systems at a much more subtle level than Western medical diagnostics so don't think that if you are told that you have 'Liver Qi stagnation' that you have a Liver disease as defined by Western medical terms. It just means that you are developing an energetic pattern that will probably result in Western medical condition. TCM and acupuncture is a preventative medicine and helps to resolve imbalances before they even manifest to the point where an M.D. can be able to diagnose any disease.
Anger is the emotion that is most associated with the Liver although all emotions disrupt the Liver's ability to maintain a smooth flow of Qi in the body. The Qi is said to move the blood so if you have Qi stagnation, you will eventually wind up with Blood stagnation. Most people with back pain have both.
This is how unresolved emotions or personal conflicts are said to effect the body in Traditional Chinese Medical terms. It is very similar to the theory of psycho-somatic diseases. This theory states that diseases are a result of the imbalances in the mind. TCM states that all disease begins with Qi stagnation.
Whichever language you like to use, the message is the same. Old emotions and childhood or adult traumatic events get stuck in the body, causing a cyclical, repetitive response these old memories. Our muscles remain tense, our Myofascial matrix remains frozen in the same state as it was when it originally responded to the initial trauma that led to a snowballing effect of emotional disturbances that followed ever after.
Now we get angry very easily, or frightened or manically joyful. We are hyper-emotional. All of these constant emotions excite our sympathetic nervous system, causing more strain and stress on our adrenal glands as all of this energy to driven from the core of our being, outwardly into our environment.
We would do well to close our eyes, ears, and mouth to the outside world and try to resolve the inner conflict that is really troubling us.
Try now, closing your eyes.....slow down your breathing...and try to feel your body with your mind.
Start at the top of your head and work your way down to your feet. Breathing deeply into our lower abdomen....relaxing our muscles into the earth below.