One of my students once told me that I sometimes cry when I talk about muscle. We had a good laugh, but the truth is I am passionate about skeletal muscle. I’ve been learning about and manipulating muscle since 1974, and find it ever fascinating, ...Introducing NeuroSoma®
One of my students once told me that I sometimes cry when I talk about muscle. We had a good laugh, but the truth is I am passionate about skeletal muscle. I’ve been learning about and manipulating muscle since 1974, and find it ever fascinating, from its complicated process of contraction to the intricacies of its metabolism. I was lucky enough in my early days as a massage therapist in Los Angeles to be friends with some members of Stunts Unlimited; these radically courageous stunt people threw themselves off tall buildings and rolled motorcycles over cliffs, then took their battered bodies to Thomas Griner who put them, like Humpty Dumpty, back together again. Through them, I met the Maestro and convinced him to be my teacher.
Author if “What’s Really Wrong With You? A Revolutionary Look at How Muscles Affect Your Health”, inventor of the miraculous BioPulser® precision percussor, and probably the greatest palpator of skeletal muscle ever, Thomas Griner developed a technique in the early 1970’s to relax skeletal muscle. Prior to graduating from Chiropractic College and his career as a myologist, or muscle doctor, he worked in engineering research for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was uniquely able to discern truths about skeletal muscle by looking at the system through the eyes of a mechanical and electrical engineer – and by focusing more on function than on structure. He named the work C.A.N.O.N., an acronym standing for ‘Compression Activated Neurogenic Organic Normalization’: yes, he was an engineer. We now call it NeuroSoma®.
NeuroSoma focuses on the muscle spindle sensory receptors scattered throughout skeletal muscle, and on the flowerspray feedback nerves running from these spindles to the cerebellum. It is a very delicate (and by ‘delicate’, I don’t mean ‘light-pressured’, just light-pressured enough not to turn on the stretch reflex response), yet remarkably powerful fingertip massage technique; but unlike massage therapy, it specifically addresses insidious hypertonic muscle spasm: hard, overly-contracted muscle which is actually being held in permanent and ever-increasing contraction by the cerebellum because of a glitch in the small, innocuous system of maintaining ‘muscle tone’.
Throughout the years, Griner has held a sense of frustration which I now share: although skeletal muscle normally comprises approximately 50% of our body mass, there exists and has existed for most of medical history a certain lethargy about, an almost disdain for muscle tissue. There are no doctors – no myologists – for this incredibly complex and important system. Medical specialists abound: cardiologists, neurologists, hematologists, endocrinologists, for example; but if you have a muscle problem (and most people do at one time or another), the medical structure provides only physiatrists, who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation, or surgeons, pharmacists, or physical therapists; they cut, drug, or prescribe exercise or stretch. But they do not know how to relax muscle tissue.
It is simply not possible to force a muscle to relax by over-pressing or stretching, nor is it possible to exercise a sick muscle into health. The powerful stretch-reflex mechanism, an automatic guarding reaction, instantly contracts a muscle that is over-stretched or invaded with deep static pressure. Muscle relaxant drugs don’t stop the contractile process, but instead block nerve impulses (or pain sensations) in the brain or depress the central nervous system.
Both the chiropractic and medical communities subscribe to the paradigm that skeletal muscles only misbehave when induced to do so by a structural problem – i.e. that hard, contracted muscle is a by-product of joint misalignment (subluxation or dislocation). Our belief is that muscle cannot be caused to malfunction by an out-of-joint joint, but rather, when muscle is grossly over-contracted, it can and does compress and misalign joints. Bone does not move muscle; muscle and tendon (the functional ‘horse’) moves bone (the structural ‘cart’).
It is important to remember that insidious hypertonic muscle spasm is different from ordinary temporary tension in that it is produced by malfunction of the nervous system; this extremely complicated and little-understood process is a permanent condition unless treated. Ramifications are wide-flung: nerves, circulation, joints, and even the body chemistry are gravely impacted by sick, hard muscle. Sick muscle creates a sick body.
To actually reverse the overactive contractile process of hypertonic muscle spasm, one must be able to treat the source of the problem – the nervous system – and not by depressing it, but by stimulating it. With precision use of the limited ‘sub-stretch reflex’ pressure and highly specific stroke techniques, the NeuroSoma® myotherapist is able to relax hypertonic muscle not by mashing the muscle into submission, but by repairing, or re-setting distorted nerve feedback to the cerebellum through precise stimulation to the nerve beds, thus allowing the brain to correctly “see” the contraction in which it has been holding the muscle, and consequently to release that contraction. The body then heals itself.
This therapy can successfully treat an astonishing number of muscle problems, as well as conditions not normally associated with skeletal muscle – without surgery, without drugs, using simply the healing power of our own bodies. The process of softening knotted, tight muscles is cumulative, and when optimum results are achieved (the core spasms are reached and the muscle is healthy throughout), maintenance becomes the objective. Other changes are generated, such as increased circulation, joint health, and nerve repair, and reduced histamine production (a blessing for anyone with allergies, sinus problems, and certain immune system disorders). Our goal is not to eliminate pain – a messenger saying something is wrong; our goal is to eliminate the source of pain.
Tamsin Lee Stewart, NeuroSoma® Muscle Therapist, has practiced since 1974. She began studying with Thomas Griner early in her career and worked primarily with ballet dancers, musicians, and stage and film actors in Los Angeles until 1985, when she moved to Washington DC to work as private muscle therapist to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States. She held this position until 2000, during which time she traveled the world and treated many dignitaries and heads of state in addition to the Ambassador and his family. Upon retiring she founded Well Being LLC, and created, with the assistance and imprimatur of her teacher, the 100-hour NeuroSoma® Graduate Course as a means of realizing her long-held dream to bring these concepts and this therapy to as many health professionals as possible, in order that people everywhere might have access to this extraordinary healing modality. A professional member of ABMP and nationally certified by NCBTMB, Tamsin now resides in Central Virginia. For more information go to www.neurosoma.com.