Sometimes it seems like intuition. Or magic. Or that I’m sensing some ineffable aspect of your body’s “energy.”
But in fact, it’s simply palpation. “Palpation” means deriving diagnostic information from the sense of touch.
Palpation is the best diagnostic method for finding spots in the connective tissue web of the body where motion flows less readily.
I’m feeling for zones of tension, restriction, or tautness. Spots where the skin or muscle feels too tightly glued to the bone underneath. Where the connective tissues are gristly or disorganized.
Palpation can take two forms: “active” and “just listening.”
Let’s say you have pain when lifting your arm over your head. I can gently raise your arm and palpate the nature of the restriction: does it feel like a hard bone-on-bone blockage? (That might mean you have an impingement syndrome.) Or a softer, more gradual connective tissue restriction? (That might mean you have trigger points in your rotator cuff muscles.)
Active palpation can also find tight spots in the muscles. I contact the muscle with medium pressure and try to displace it to the side, at right angles to its length. At a point of restriction, the sideward glide will be limited.
With passive palpation, I use a much lighter touch. Instead of introducing motion, I just feel for the body’s inherent “drift.”
Imagine that you’re looking at a group of boats at rest in the harbor. Even when the wind and waves are mild, they’re all gently drifting and rocking. But their motion is constrained by the ropes tying them to their moorings.
Even if you’re too far away to see the ropes themselves, you can infer where the ropes are connected. Up to a point, a boat drifts freely. But at a certain limit, the rope grows taut. The potential motion of the boat forms a circle around the point of tethering.
I can palpate a “tethering point” in the body by using the same strategy. That allows me to target a variety of connective tissue releasing techniques where they’ll have the most benefit.
Restoring motion flow in your body is one of the big ideas anchoring the work I do. Your body works better, pain is alleviated, and your nervous system is relieved of the stress of constantly monitoring an area of disturbance.
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