All vertebrates, (probably all living cells) are biotensegrity structures. This means that local muscle tension is distributed throughout the body. The way we sit, stand, and walk provide useful clues to the muscle and fascia tension lines in our body. Tom Myers calls these tension patterns “Anatomy Trains”.
An observant, trained body-worker, will always assess for, and correct, any imbalances and adhesions throughout your tension network when treating chronic pain.
Therefore, observing posture and gait give the first clues to unraveling and eliminating your specific myo-fascial pain. Is your posture ideal? Do you walk with one or both feet in some degree of pronation, eversion, supination, inversion, internal or external rotation? As your therapist helps reduce specific tension patterns your pain will (seemingly) magically disappear.
ToeClinic seems a strange name for a website about chronic pain. Until very recently, I passionately believed that a genetic condition called Morton’s Toe, (the first metatarsal is shorter than the second), was almost always related to chronic pain and range of motion limitations. Read the Wikipedia link. People with Morton’s toe often walk with one or both feet in some less than ideal degree of external or internal rotation and pronation. Myofascial stress vectors associated with foot rotation and pronation are intimately related to: bunions, foot pain, knee pain, hip pain, sciatica, sacrum pain, lumbar pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, TMJ, and some forms of migraine headache. Balancing the stress vectors usually (often unbelievably) significantly reduces or eliminates all the above. A shim placed under the ball of foot, behind the big toe can help with the foot rotation, but did nothing to improve range of motion in neck, hips or shoulders. I surmise the shim does little to correct myo-fascial imbalance and their associated stress vectors.
I was very sure that pain and dysfunction almost always started at the feet, and worked its’ way up. If you Google “Morton’s toe”, you will discover hundreds of websites reinforcing that belief. I HAD TO UPDATE MY PARADIGM! During a recent Continuing Education seminar, a knowledgeable and gifted therapist assessed, and then taught me, how to free up the sacroiliac (SI) joint. A fully functional SI joint has a small amount of play, or give, in it.
For at least the last two decades the functional range of motion in my neck, both shoulders and both hips has been (mostly) pain-free, but pretty limited . I could barely turn over my shoulder to check the other lane while driving. I had a limited ability to raise my arms above my shoulders, or internally rotate my thighs. Bodywork would temporarily improve my range of motion. However, even with remedial stretches, limited range of motion quickly returned. My feet used to externally rotate at least 30 degrees when walking. Using a Morton Toe shim, which I will describe on another page, helped reduce foot rotation, but did not improve overall range of motion.
Now, without shims, my feet track relatively straight ahead when I walk. I can turn almost a full 180 degrees and look out the back window while driving. I have almost normal bilateral shoulder range of motion and internal rotation at my hips is improving. The point is that Morton’s toe probably actually plays a minor role in pain and range of motion dysfunction. More likely, the large core muscles in the hips and abdominals play a larger role. Read about lower cross syndrome to better understand why.
Meanwhile, read on to discover and try strategies that will almost certainly help you understand and resolve your own pain issues.
I passionately believe that osteoarthritis is not a disease. You can’t catch it by sitting next to, or drinking from the same cup, of someone who has it! I believe osteoarthritis results from a myo-fascial tension imbalance that puts abnormal torque on the joint. This imbalance and torque result in the wearing away of articular surfaces. I further believe, and research supports the idea, that cartilage can regenerate. It MIGHT be possible to reverse osteoarthritis by simply returning myo-fascial balance to the body. For sure, myo-fascial balance (almost always) reduces or even eliminates osteoarthritis pain.
Current medical procedures usually rely on cortisone injections or joint replacements. Rarely, do doctors address or treat myo-fascial imbalances putting torque stress on joints. Visualize the tires on your car. If the front end is out of alignment, the tires wear out on the sides. Aligning the front end prevents further abnormal wear. Our bodies self repair by design. It just might be, that eliminating a major source of joint wear would give the joint the opportunity to repair itself.
I damaged both my knees about 10 years ago trying to force my legs into lotus position. I limped around for a year or so, then discovered the Morton’s Toe concept. I have worn corrective shims in all my shoes since then. Both knees are pretty healthy now, with little or no distress. For the last two years, I social dance 2 or 3 times a week. Lots of turns, spins and other torques on my knees. Although my knees get a little grumpy after 2 or 3 hours of dancing, I am pretty sure I could not have sustained that much knee torque a few years ago. I am anxious to discover how my knees feel after dancing now, with my new-found, improved range of motion.
This web site will give detailed information for assessing, and treating myo-fascial pain. Some of the information will probably ultimately be presented as a nominal fee to use blog. A lot of the information will remain free, and link to public sources such as YouTube. Many of the strategies are easily performed by the layperson. Others will probably need specific hands on training to acquire any dependable skill.
All assessment strategies will be common protocols used by many professional bodywork therapists including doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists. They will all be within the scope of practice of a licensed massage therapist. For example, specific protocols efficiently and accurately assess and differentiate between sources of knee pain. Specific protocols assess for minor muscle strains, meniscus damage, collateral ligament, or cruciate ligament damage. The information on this website will help you assess for, and treat, conditions like frozen shoulder, frozen hip or pain from a simple muscle strain.
Although assessment and treatment are relatively easy, you will almost certainly need professional, hands on instruction, before you are able to become predictably proficient. However, you will discover that effective, inexpensive treatment is possible. The hard part will be finding a trained orthopedic body work therapist.