SPINAL THERAPY & MASSAGE
by Walter Last
There is a reflex connection between every organ system and the spine. The malfunction of an organ will produce tension in a specific part of the spine, while a misalignment of the spine will cause tension in a specific organ. Additionally, various acupressure-points along the inner branch of the bladder meridian, close to the spine, are linked to specific organs. Furthermore, on both sides of each vertebra, less than one inch from the midline, are 'extra' acupuncture-points not included in the meridian system, but generally related to certain regions of the body. Press along both sides of the spine and especially where you encounter any tender points.
A spinal massage is best given as part of an overall body or back massage. For an initial general massage you may or may not use massage oil. It is helpful to know special massage techniques, but not essential for home practice simply rub, stroke and knead as it comes naturally. A caring attitude during massage is more important than technique. Start by giving attention to the feet.
Glide slowly downward with your thumbs on each side of the spine (fingers or the knuckles may be used as well). Press reasonably hard for a moment then glide to the next vertebra, basically along the inner bladder meridian.
When a sore spot is encountered, ease the pressure, and press for several minutes with a slightly circular motion. Increase the pressure when the pain subsides. Repeat this several times, gliding down the spine, pausing at tender areas. Moving back from the base of the spine to the neck, press with the base of the palm, supported by the other hand, along the tops of the vertebrae.
Other points in need of special attention are the base of the skull, neck, shoulder, the tops and centers of the shoulder blades; the buttocks, the hips and the back of each knee.
Another technique to treat tender points along the spine is to apply a constant moderate finger pressure on each tender spot for about 90 seconds. Direct the pressure against the spine, and simultaneously raise the opposite body side of the patient against the pressure. This is done to relax the treated muscle and, in doing so, to ease any pain caused by a strong pressure.
When treating the upper part of the spine, the shoulder is lifted; when treating the lower part, the hip is raised. On the neck, move the head against the finger pressure. The patient should remain completely passive during the treatment and should not try to help move any body part.
Apply an overall massage and pressure massage once a week, best after a bath or shower. This is an excellent exercise for developing a harmonious relationship with a friend or partner. When using long strokes during massaging, try to follow the flow directions of the meridians.
Massage oils are commonly used to let the hands glide over the skin in long strokes. However, with pressure therapy, deep muscle work and for feeling the energies it is often better not to oil the skin. Massage oils may also be selected according to the specific needs of the massaged person. Edgar Cayce (American medical psychic) has left us the following recommendations.
GENERAL TONIC MASSAGE - Peanut oil 6 parts, olive oil 2 parts, dissolved lanolin 1 part, rosewater 2 parts; shake well before use.
PEANUT OIL & OLIVE OIL MIXTURE - 2 parts of each and 1 part dissolved lanolin; this is good for arthritis and rheumatism, after-effects of anesthesia, injuries from accidents, kidney disorders, menopausal complaints, multiple sclerosis, prostatitis and toxemia.
PEANUT OIL ALONE - For apoplexy, arthritis, cholecystitis, coronary occlusion, fatigue, glandular disturbances, low vitality, menopause, multiple sclerosis, palsy, paralysis, Parkinson's disease, polio, poor circulation, ulcerated stomach. Preferably heat the body with an infrared lamp or by exposing it to sunshine during and after the oil rub.
CASTOR OIL ALONE - For arthritis, back pain, contractions and spasms, rheumatism and all muscular and joint pains. Rub very warm castor oil into the affected parts, preferably using an infrared lamp or sunshine to work it into the skin.
REMOVAL OF SCAR TISSUE - Combine 1-2 parts camphorated oil with I part peanut oil; massage into the scar tissue for several months. Alternatively or in addition use vitamin E oil.
COCOA BUTTER - Stimulates the circulation in massaged areas, and strengthens the nervous system and eliminating functions. It is especially useful for massaging babies and young children gently along the spine. It helps body development and guards against head congestions. For increasing the size of underdeveloped breasts, massage around the glands under the arms and below the breasts. Direct massage of breasts with cocoa butter combined with alum water has been recommended by Edgar Cayce to decrease their size. You may use melted cocoa butter on its own or as part of a massage-oil mixture. To increase breast size also see breasts.html.
In addition, you may add various aromatic oils either just for their fragrance or for any additional healing effect. The olive oil should be extra-virgin and the peanut oil cold-pressed, both having been stored in a cool and dark place. You may also squeeze some vitamin E oil capsules into the massage oil. A small amount of the oil may be lightly warmed before applying it to the body. I am not in favor of using polyunsaturated oils as massage oils as these become easily rancid.
Muscle pain is commonly due to a contracted or spastic muscle. This may generate pain from pressure on a nerve or from an inflammatory condition resulting from overacidity. The original cause may be an injury or overuse of the muscle. This causes a lactic acid accumulation in the muscle, which prevents calcium from moving out of the muscle fibers to allow them to relax. The blood and lymph circulation through the contracted muscle is greatly diminished. Therefore, lactic acid is removed very slowly and oxygen supply to the muscle is rather low.
With this, any further use of this muscle generates more lactic acid and keeps it contracted and either weak or painful. If this condition becomes permanent, then the area gradually tends to calcify, such as two vertebrae fusing together or a joint becoming immobile. The solution is to use suitable therapies to relax this muscle and increase the blood and lymph flow through this area.
The first thing to try is a period of rest to allow the lactic acid to disperse. Heat such as a hot pack or bath or rub greatly speed up this process. Using additional Epsom salt or magnesium chloride aids muscle relaxation by displacing some of the calcium in the muscle with magnesium. Adding baking soda to a bath or pack helps by reducing the overacidity of the muscle. Magnesium as well as an alkalizer may in addition be used internally. MSM internally as well as externally speeds up these processes.
A quick but also painful way to relax a tense muscle is to press right into it for several minutes. In addition or instead of this a deep muscle massage greatly speeds up lymph and blood flow through the muscle, pressing, kneading and rubbing the area. Color therapy with blue light, the south pole of a magnet, reflexology, acupuncture and meridian therapy may all be used in difficult cases as supportive measures.
Frequently, health problems are intensified by a misalignment of the spine. Hereditary factors, incompatible food and negative or suppressed feelings will cause organ and gland functions to become overactive or under-active. This in turn weakens or tenses muscles in associated reflex areas of the back. The same may happen because of one-sided strenuous muscle activity. This causes an uneven pull of muscles on the spine, and individual vertebrae can easily become misaligned, causing pressure on nerves emerging from the spine and consequent pain or malfunction.
Therefore, most people with health problems will benefit from an initial professional adjustment of the spine. However, if the muscles are not balanced simultaneously, the correction will not last and you may become a regular customer of a chiropractor. This, of course, is not necessary. You may either see an osteopath or a chiropractor who does muscle balancing as well. Furthermore, working with a friend, you can easily balance each other.
For backache, first find out, by pressing, which side of the back is more tender. Frequently trace the bladder meridian of the tender side with a south-pole magnet (or the fingers) from toe to head. Trace the bladder meridian on the other side from head to toe with a north-pole magnet. For neck problems also the gall bladder meridian should be retraced in the same way.
In addition, apply ear acupuncture, and reflexology, and a strong south-pole magnet to the painful area. Finally press into the tender muscle until the pain eases, then press harder and circle the thumb, knuckle or elbow with which the pressure is applied. Check for other tender points in the same area and work these out in the same way. Often misaligned vertebrae will then realign themselves during subsequent back-stretching exercises or with the head-and-neck exercise.
As a general rule, neck and shoulders are affected by the gall bladder, upper back by the lungs and heart, the middle by the stomach and pancreas, the lower end of the ribcage by the kidneys and the lower back by the intestines. Liver problems often manifest as a pain near the lower right shoulder blade. Treat implicated organs with other suitable methods.
If the spine of the partner or patient has not been injured, you may occasionally place your hands, facing in opposite directions, on both sides of the spine and press down for a moment with a twisting or turning motion. Start at the lower back and gradually move towards the neck. The patient should lie on a reasonably hard surface and exhale with the downward pressure.
Then you do it from the other side and twist in the opposite direction. Sometimes you may hear a vertebra jump back into place. Adjust the pressure sensibly according to the condition of the patient. As a variation of this method, you may carefully walk along the spine of a robustly built partner.
One of the best methods for back improvement is regularly hanging upside-down, from either special inversion equipment or a ladder. Traction on the neck improves the upper spine.
This is an effective method for stimulating and strengthening weak organs and body parts. The general principle is to stimulate the nerves emerging from the spine with rapid soft taps to certain vertebrae. If the patient is bony, or if you use a small rubber hammer, you may put a folded towel over the area to be treated. You may use the edge of the hand or the knuckles to tap the selected vertebra rapidly (but not very hard) for about 30 seconds. Then rest or treat another vertebra for 30 seconds and return to the first vertebra. Repeat this process for about five to eight minutes.
For general health improvement, you may go up the whole length of the spine and stimulate each vertebra in turn for about 30 seconds. You may tap firmly at the lower spine but only lightly at the neck. Let your patient or partner tell you how hard to tap so that it feels invigorating and pleasant. For serious problems this treatment may be repeated daily, otherwise once a week or when feasible. If tapping produces pain, professional advice should be sought.
If sedation rather than stimulation is required, try prolonged pressure, gradually varying in intensity, on the appropriate vertebra. Select suitable vertebrae from the following compilation.
1 head, brain, pituitary, sympathetic nervous system
2 eyes, tongue, hearing problems, sinuses, allergies, fainting
2-3 for headaches: prolonged pressure between C2 and C3
3 cheeks, teeth, outer ear, acne, eczema, neuralgia, neuritis
4 nose, lips, mouth, Eustachian tube, catarrh, hayfever
5 vocal cords, neck glands, throat problems, pharynx
6 neck muscles, shoulders, tonsils, upper arm
7 thyroid, goiter, shoulders, elbows, bursitis, nose bleeding, fainting; contracts inner organs, contracts dilated heart, normalizes blood pressure, angina, palpitation and tachycardia (fast pulse), lung and kidney diseases, diabetes.
C7 is the most prominent vertebra at the base of the neck; use it as a landmark for counting the other vertebrae along the spine.
Dorsal or thoracic
1 lower arms, hands, esophagus, trachea, asthma, cough, breathing problems, thymus
2 heart, coronary arteries, lungs, chest pain
2-3 for hiccough: press between D2 and D3
3 lungs, breasts, increases milk flow; contracts gall bladder, esophagus and pylorus; dilates heart and peripheral vessels, reduces blood pressure
3-4 tap both for developing breasts
4 contracts and empties gall bladder, increases secretions of pancreas; jaundice, hepatitis, shingles
5 liver, solar plexus, low blood pressure, poor circulation, anemia; opens pylorus and empties stomach
6 stomach, indigestion, heartburn, dyspepsia
6, 7 tapping both dilates kidneys, nephritis
7 pancreas, duodenum, diabetes, ulcers, gastritis
8 spleen, diaphragm, hiccoughs
9 adrenals, allergies, dilates gall bladder, biliary colic
10 kidneys, nephritis, dilates pancreas and blood vessels, reduces blood pressure; ataxia, anemia
11 kidneys, urethra; dilates heart, stomach, liver, spleen, abdominal arteries, intestines, increases blood supply to lungs; spasms, nervous diarrhea, angina, skin problems
12 small intestines, Fallopian tubes, lymph circulation, enlarged prostate, contracts kidneys
1 large intestines: constipation, diarrhea, colitis, hernia
2 appendix, abdomen, upper leg, cramps, varicose veins
3 sex organs, ovaries or testicles, bladder, knee, menstrual problems, impotence, bed wetting
1-3 contracts stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, uterus
4 prostate, lower back muscles, sciatic nerve, lumbago, backaches; difficult, painful or too frequent urination
5 lower legs, feet, leg cramps, cold feet, contracts bladder
Sacrum: hipbones, buttocks, sacro-iliac conditions
Coccyx: rectum, anus, hemorrhoids, pruritus.
This method for balancing the bio-energy of the body was developed by Gerda, Mona-Lisa and Ebba Boyesen. As a result of unreleased emotions, the energy flow in the unhealthy, neurotic body (that is, in most of us) usually runs too much upward and inward. In addition, there is an excessive accumulation of pathological energy in general, a deficiency of vital energy, and an 'ungroundedness'.
In addition to the removal of excess energy and the energy distribution between over-energetic and under-energetic areas, a main aim of this treatment is the re-establishment of normal psycho-peristalsis. (Peristalsis means the wavelike contractions of the intestines by means of which food and waste are moved through the digestive tract.) In the healthy person, any excess of nervous energy will be discharged through increased peristaltic movements of the small intestine. This can be heard with a stethoscope or by placing an ear against the abdomen. The normal, harmonious sound is like a 'running brook'. If there are spasmodic movements, the sounds may be 'explosive' or like 'rolling thunder', and so on. If psycho-peristalsis is absent, there will be silence inside. Of course, there should be no effects from a previous meal when you are testing.
The general massage movements are smooth strokes, starting at the head and working downward. The aim is to establish a contact between the energy in the hand of the therapist and the energy congestions of the patient and in this way to lead the energy down. Another massage direction is from die midline to the sides and, finally, from the inside to the surface. This energy is led outwards by a succession of three strokes, the first very firm to connect with the energy at the bone level, the second moderately firm to connect with the muscle energy, and the third very light, sometimes even above the skin level.
While in some patients an excess of energy has to be released through the skin and the feet, in others sealing of the aura to prevent excessive leaking of energy is required.
The most important parts to massage and free for the flow of energies are the narrowings, such as the neck, waist, wrists, ankles; joints; and edges, as along the eye sockets, nose, chin, tops of shoulders and bottom of the ribcage. The therapist is guided during the massage work continually by the peristaltic sounds to which he or she listens through a stethoscope with an extra-long tube. In addition, he or she may be able to feel the energy flows of the patient and act accordingly.
This technique was developed by E. Vodder. It is designed to improve the lymph flows, accelerating the transport of waste products from the tissues into the bloodstream, from where it can be eliminated through the kidneys. A congested and stagnating lymphatic system is a main cause of infections, inflammations and degenerative diseases.
The lymph flows upward through the legs to the large lymph nodes at the groin and up the arms to the main lymph nodes at the armpits. From the groin and abdomen, the lymph collects in the thoracic duct, which flows along the midline of the body and empties, together with the lymph from the upper left side of the body, into a large vein under the left collarbone. The lymph from the upper right side of the body joins a vein under the right collarbone.
Any lymph massage should start and end with the chain of glands at the sides of the neck running from below the ears to the hollows of the collarbones. For massaging the limbs, use light, slow, circular movements with the four fingers of the hand. Movement may be clockwise or anti-clockwise, whatever feels better, but do not change direction during the massage. The skin should be moved lightly over the underlying tissue. Generally, five circles are made at any one place, one circle per second. Vary the finger pressure during the circling to achieve a pumping effect. Then move about two inches along the limb and repeat the circling. During massage a limb should be raised, while well supported and relaxed, to help the backward flow of the lymph.
To massage the arms, circle first ten times at the armpits, then at the insides of the elbows, and finally from the palms upward to the armpits. The legs, similarly, are started at the groin, then the backs of the knees and finally from the feet upward to the groin.
Along the trunk, from the groin upward, you may use long, firm upward strokes towards the left collarbone, and also along the spine and the sides of the back. However, the main benefit for the trunk lymph drainage will be derived if the patient lies on his or her back and makes bicycling movements in the air. The movements must be either parallel to the floor or, better still, vertical while in the shoulder-stand position. In between positions are not effective. Do this exercise for about one minute before and after leg-drainage massage to make room in the trunk for lymph from the legs. Varicose veins should not be massaged.
An alternative drainage of the limbs may be achieved by encircling the limb with both hands and moving them in opposite direction in what is commonly called ‘Chinese burns’. However, in this case the action should be rather gentle and move in small steps from the wrist or ankles towards the trunk.