Pain affects lives. From minor aches to debilitating agony, pain can change your mood, affect your health, destroy your relationships and stop you living your life to the full. Anybody who's ever had to live with pain knows how insidious and soul destroying it can be.
From headaches, to arthritis, to acute injuries, pain affects us all, so we have dedicated this month's newsletter to helping understand and deal with it's presence in our lives.
Are You In Alignment?
by Joel Delaney- Acupuncturist & Massage Therapist
A large majority of pain conditions I see at the clinic relate to the structural balance of each person, which stems from the alignment of the hips. The body needs symmetry to function optimally, minimize muscle tension and reduce pain.
From an oriental point of view, the idea of pain is simple: lack of blood and energy movement will cause pain. Sharp pain relates to the blood and ache or dull pain relates to energy movement. Have you noticed that when you get a bruise (pooling of blood and lack of movement) pressing it gives a sharp pain? Then when the bruise starts to disappear the pain changes to a dull sensation (energy congestion)?
This relates to structural imbalance because if there is tension in a particular part of your body, the blood and energy movement in this area is impaired. The tight muscle can put pressure on blood vessels or joints like your spine, causing a less than optimal environment for your body, meaning you are more likely to feel pain, have weak joints or slow injury recovery.
From a holistic point of view, structural balance relates to the complete structure however it can relate to single areas like the shoulder or knee joint for example.
You'll see in the picture above (Figure 1) that the hips act like the epicentre of the body (orange triangle). If the hips are level, the body is more likely to have structural balance. If the hips are not in balance they have a flow on effect to the upper back, neck and down through the legs knees and feet. In the diagram above, for example, the hips tilt down on the left, and the shoulders have to compensate, falling to the right. This is an attempt to keep the head level but will lead to (or make worse) things like upper back and neck tightness / pain. You can also see that the left leg rolls in, potentially causing problems and pain in the left knee, and possibly the left ankle.
Hip balance can be easily measured in your consult, firstly by checking your leg length. If your hips are out one of your legs will appear longer than the other. The other is to visually compare the tops of both hip bones to see if they are at the same level.
Hip imbalance can effectively be corrected with acupuncture, massage and Sotai (Japanese style of stretching). Over a period of time (dependent on level of imbalance) these modalities are used to retrain the relevant muscle to hold proper alignment (retrain muscle memory), move blood and repair any damage. This will help hold the structure in a position which benefits all of your body.
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