The Functional Muscle Manipulation – old

by | Mar 2, 2024

War = Therapy ?

The whole therapy industry around stiffness and muscle / joint / nerve pains, is based on war. That includes doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, postural therapists.

Orthopedic doctors want to kill the pain with injections. Or cut off a bit of your body to stop some symptom. By not healing the cause, the problem often comes back, maybe one vertebra higher or lower.

PTs often consider that a chronic pain in the low back is caused by ‘weak muscles’. They will try to strentgthen your muscles to correct ‘wrong posture’. But since the problem most of the times is not weakness but defensive contraction, the already contracted muscles may contract even more.

Chiropractors, although they claim to think holistically, attribute muscle spasms to overuse or physical trauma, and are unaware of the defensive functions of the body that cause that. Or, even if they appear aware, they dont treat that the way it needs before they do their adjustments, which is their signature therapeutic approach.

Massage therapists, especially deep tissue, trigger point, myofascial release and some other modalities, see the soft tissue mechanistically as a hardened material that they need to break down by force. They talk about scar tissue and adhesions and they excert a lot of force to break those down.

Posture specialists, attribute muscle pains to a ‘wrong’ posture. But posture is a result of chronic contraction, not the cause. Since they dont address the contraction, they guide the patient to contract muscles above and beyond the stiff area, trying to fight it into straightness. 

When I’m stressed, I get stiff!

What they are all blind to, is that chronic muscle contraction is a function.
When I work on people, I find that their muscles are typically fine, just doing what they’re commanded to do, by another system.
And that system is not the Central, but the Sympathetic nervous system. The SNS is one of the two parts of the Autonomic NS. It’s function is survival, defense. It kicks in the ‘fight or flight response’.

For some reasons, it appears that all humans are in a chronic Sympathetic Hypertonicity. That is -interestingly- a term used by medicine to describe a state of chronic anxiety.

In my 34 years of practice so far, I have only seen one client, among thousands, without any chronic muscle contractions next to his spine. He was the exception.

The Functional Muscle Manipulation is based on the understanding that you cannot force the body to soften up. When you try to, it just contracts even more to defend itself. Instead, we ‘negotiate’ with that defense mechanism. We work the muscles, to talk to the Sympathetic, to release the muscles.

The other part of the Autonomic NS, is the Parasympathetic Nervous System. Doctors are taught that the Parasympathetic is the ‘Rest and Digest’ system. They are also told that the Vagus Nerve, the main construct of the Parasympathetic, is the ‘brake’ to the Sympathetic NS. 

It has become clear to me that the Parasympathetic is also the system of Healing and Happiness.
And since the two parts have antithetical functions, the body doesn’t heal well while in survival mode. It heals when (if) it can shift to the healing mode. 

My opinion is that the Sympathetic also takes control of regions of the body. The upper back and neck may be much more defensive (and chronically contracted) than the mid and low back. 

Science says…

For over two decades, whenever I would discuss this with doctors and other scientists, I would hear that the Sympathetic has no control over the motor muscles of the spine.
Yet, when I would imitate the “startle response”, when we unwillingly take a sharp breath and contract the upper part of our body instantly, they would agree that is the ‘fight or flight’, the Sympathetic.
When I pointed out that, “if things move, muscles are moving them”, they would fall silent. 

In the past decade, some highly recognized trauma therapists, such as Peter Levine, Stephen Porges, Gabor Mate, Bessel Van Der Kolk and others, agree that the Sympathetic NS chronically stores trauma in the body, including in the muscles, which manifests as shallow breathing, stiffness and dissociation. 

Since 1991, when I started trying to understand why the technique I had developed in 1989, the Functional Muscle Manipulation, has actual long-lasting results, the above was exactly my explanation.
I use the term ‘armoring’, that Dr Wilhelm Reich first coined in the 30s, and that some of the esteemed trauma therapists endorsed. 

I also use the term: Chronic Sympathetic Defensive Contraction Patters (CSDCP), or in short, Contraction Patters. The latter is not to be confused with childbirth contractions, which are also Sympathetic, but serve another purpose. 

FMM: A therapy that actually works

The results of the Functional Muscle Manipulation on chronically contracted muscles (which we all have) are decisive. Almost all cases of chronic lower, upper back stiffness and pain, neuropathies -such as carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, sciatica, nerve impingement etc- find complete healing.

With that I mean that their symptoms are gone early on, and after 15 or 20 sessions, they typically keep the results for years.
That happens because they learn how to reconnect to their disassociated muscles and use their breathing and senses to release them when they react to some event. 

Copyright – George Rodafinos. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. The article can be reproduced only with a mention of the author and a link to the source.

Read also:  How does the Functional Muscle Manipulation work?