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Archive for April, 2009

Integrative Health Care: Some Considerations

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

By Joel Proctor, MS, Dipl.Ac, L.Ac.

It is obvious that the integrative health care model is the future of health care in this country.  What is not clear is how this approach will play out in the real world.  The introduction of different medical traditions in the West, where the allopathic approach has held a monopoly since the early 20th century, has led to some confusion when trying to describe what these ‘new’ traditions and approaches are.  Until recently, they have been described only in relationship to the Western scientific allopathic model, which itself has been labeled, in my opinion incorrectly, as ‘traditional medicine’.  Because of the political, economic, cultural, and intellectual control the AMA has held on health care in the West, many well-intentioned health care pioneers have only added to the confusion.  Terms such as ‘complementary’ and ‘alternative’ medicine, while valid descriptions in the milieu from which they sprang, now create some interesting problems when discussing these new integrative medical models and, more importantly, in their implementation.

This is not to say that many of these ‘new’ modalities, such as naturopathic, chiropractic, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, structural integration, and nutrition, to name a few, are not being used as ‘complementary’ and ‘alternative’ treatments.  Increasingly, many open minded and wholistic Western MDs are referring their patients for these treatments.  More health insurance plans are allowing some coverage as well, as long as results can be shown using the Western scientific paradigm.  While these are examples of how far we have come in advancing more effective health care in this country, it is also where the seeds of potential problems are germinating.

Whether health care is paid for under the present abysmally ineffective, and costly system or by more innovative and socially just means it will still be provided based on the Western scientific ‘evidence based’ double blind reproducible results model.  Even if one generously forgoes the important conclusions reached by Western quantum mechanics this model is fraught with inconsistencies and weaknesses.  Western Medicine has shown some very dramatic results using this model and is very effective in certain areas of health care and should be given deserved respect.  But within this ‘quantitative’ science lies an inherent weakness.  By not looking at the relationships within the whole, as a ‘qualitative’ scientific paradigm such as  Chinese Medicine  operates within, side effects from the ‘cure’ can be fatal at worse, or at best, need to be treated as well.  An obvious example is the use of antibiotics which has saved the lives of many, but have had many negative effects on overall health as well.  Prolonged or incorrect use of these wonder drugs not only can destroy digestive and immune systems but have a history of breeding resistant strains of ’super bugs’, some only found in hospital settings.

This is not about bashing the medical establishment, but only to set the background for this discussion of the potential problems that are facing integrative health care models.  The Western Medical establishment is catching on and catching on fast.  Already many prestigious medical schools are incorporating ‘alternative’ and ‘complementary’ medicines into their curriculums.  On the surface this appears to be a very good thing for health care.  But it is still being driven by corporate considerations and authoritarian control.  It still operates within the ‘evidence based’ western scientific paradigm and ruled by linear thinking.  The need for standard protocols used in research cuts the root of many medical traditions, such as Chinese Medicine, that design treatments based on ever changing internal and external patterns, such as each person’s unique constitution.  Six people with a Western diagnosis of diabetes, for example, may receive six different point protocols, six different herbal formulas to address six different ‘patterns’ and their treatments slightly altered each visit.  This is a serious conundrum and one that will not be resolved easily.  Throw all of this into the mix of professional inferiority complexes of many  ’non-traditional’ medical practitioners, especially those involved in the politics of professional organizations, combine it with the authoritarian superiority complexes of their Western counterparts and we have some serious considerations about what these integrative health care models are going to become.

This is not about which scientific paradigm is better.  The both have their strengths and weaknesses.  Neither is this about the many different modalities each utilizes in their diagnosis and treatments, as these are only the flowers, stems, and branches of health care.  It is not even about the way they are practiced, alone or in an integrative approach.  This is about achieving mutual respect and balance.  To achieve this a fundamental shift in consciousness and an expanded awareness of what it is to be a whole human being is needed.  This gets to the root of true healing.  In the circle of life, we are all connected.  This is the intent, this is the foundation of what the Sacred Tree is all about.  My next offering for your consideration will be some of the ways Sacred Tree is creating opportunities for accomplishing true healing for individuals, families, communities, and this Mother Earth that gives and sustains life for us all.  For All Relations…..


Structural Integration: A Fresh Approach to Pain Management

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

By Eriks Peterson

Summit County residents and visitors alike understand the effects of an active lifestyle. High intensity sports such as biking, skiing, hiking, snowboarding, and golfing can lead to tight muscles, lack of flexibility, back, hip, and neck pain.

Over time many of our ‘healthy’ activities result in shortened muscles, compressed joints and decreased range of motion. Our daily habits make matters worse. Poor posture, past injuries, chronic dehydration and low quality diet can also bind up the body’s freedom of expression making life less enjoyable. Waking up to chronic aches and pains becomes a normal part of our daily lives. Structural Integration aims at freeing these restrictions, resulting in pain reduction and enhanced well-being.

Getting a monthly massage, spending a few minutes stretching the hamstrings before a workout, or attending a weekly Yoga class is often not enough to offset the effects of an active lifestyle. Few people invest enough time for these activities to be truly effective.

Injuries, repetitive use and illnesses leave residues throughout the body called compensations. Compensations are adaptations to stress that provide support to stressed areas of the body by thickening and shortening tissue.

Although compensations are the body’s natural response to stress, they often lead to one or more of the following side effects:

Lack of flexibility
Inefficient movement patterns (i.e. Limping)
Shallow breathing
Decreased range of motion
Poor posture
Compressed joints
Lower energy levels
Higher stress levels
Decreased circulation
Asymmetries (e.g. Hip and shoulder imbalances)
A burdened feeling often associated with aging (’getting old’)

Connective tissue wrappings called fascia surround muscles, bones and organs. Fascia is highly adaptable and will shorten and thicken (compensate) in response to stress. Unfortunately, these adaptations do not dissolve when they are no longer needed and over time accumulate, creating strain patterns throughout the body.

Fascia not only surrounds, but also connects bones, muscles and organs to each other. This web of inter-connection is the reason why there is no isolated effect in the body.

Shortened tissue pulls on all of the surrounding structures, which in turn effects the placement of every other structure in the body. After a period of time these new relationships become set in the body’s matrix. Compensation anywhere eventually becomes compensation everywhere.

That’s why merely freeing a single muscle is often an ineffective strategy for creating lasting change. The rest of the body eventually pulls the tissue back into pattern (rebound).

For long lasting change to occur, a comprehensive approach that reorganizes and balances the body’s soft tissues must at some point take place. One such approach is Structural Integration (“S.I.”), often referred to as Rolfing®.

The S.I. process seeks to reverse the destructive cycle by systematically freeing up restrictions throughout the body. By applying specific pressure, the S.I. practitioner dissolves connective tissue adhesions, which restores length and space to the tissue. As space is reestablished the body experiences increased circulation, flexibility and range of motion. An easy upright posture emerges as the body is freed of its burdens.

The basic process takes place over ten sessions. Each session has specific goals that are accomplished through a combination of soft tissue manipulation and neuro-muscular reeducation.

Benefits of the Rolf Ten-Series:
Increased flexibility and range of motion
Enhanced balance and athletic performance
Quicker injury recovery
Increased circulation and energy levels
Lower stress levels resulting from a relaxed structure
Expansive breath
Upright posture
Feeling of lightness
Long lasting changes

Structural Integration compliments other therapies like massage, physical therapy, accupuncture and chiropractic. By restoring space to the connective tissue, muscles lengthen and joints unwind. This enables the interventions of these complimentary therapies to be more effective and longer lasting.

The series can erase the residues of our various activities and poor habits so that overall performance is enhanced and chronic pains are reduced. After completing the initial Rolf Series when patterns start to set in again, it usually only takes a tune-up session to restore the openness achieved during the series. Seasonal tune-up sessions can be an effective strategy to help maintain healthy resilient tissue throughout the year.

Structural Integration has been around for over fifty years. Many professional athletes have used this process in both injury recovery and athletic enhancement with great success. Notable ones include: Charles Barkley, Ivan Lendl, Danelle Ballangee and Edwin Moses.

This process effectively wipes the slate clean of the degenerative effects of an active lifestyle, repetitive use, poor posture and injury. Imagine hitting a reset button for your body. The commitment to this process is rewarded with enhanced well being and a better quality of life.