I once worked on a 10-year-old boy whose parents brought him to come see me because he was experiencing significant pain in his ankles. I took a look at him standing barefoot. The reason for his pain was immediately evident: he was totally collapsed in the medial arches of his feet. He wasn’t just flat footed, he was collapsed into his medial arches. Why would a 10-year-old boy who is very active as an avid soccer player have such collapsed arches? In this work, we allow the body to tell it’s story and dictate the sequence of the work. When I was able bodied, I would do that by standing behind the client and gently resting my palm on top of their head and applying the slightest amount of force downward. We call this general listening. The small amount of force engages all the bodies tissues and allows them to tell their story by showing their strain patterns and attracting the hand to the primary source of restriction. Now, I am able to do that same listening from a distance just by tuning in properly.
The general listening took me directly into his head/cranium. I had him lay down on my table and I proceeded to what we call local listening and listened to his body tissues in a smaller area, in this case his head. I found numerous restrictions in his cranial sutures, the joints between cranial bones and membranes inside is cranium. When I listened to the expansion and contraction of his cranial rhythm I found the movement to be very suppressed. I was so surprised by the level of restriction that I remarked out loud: “Wow, his head is really jammed!”
His father immediately responded: “You should’ve seen his birth! It was absolutely brutal! As soon as he crowned they saw blue skin and they knew he was suffocating and they had to get him out immediately or he would die! They used forceps to pull him out and it was absolutely brutal! “
That certainly was great confirmation for my listening!
His body led me to working almost the entire session on his cranium, the cranial contents and a little bit on his neck and upper chest.
When I was finished working I had him stand up and face me and his arches were 80% of normal! Even with all the amazing things I had seen over the years as a bodyworker this session has become one of my favorite stories because of the lessons that it shares:
Problems in one area can create problems in another area of the body, sometimes even at the opposite end.
Primary restricted areas may create no symptoms around the restrictions yet they might create pain and discomfort and mobility problems elsewhere in the body.
If you listen to the body and allow it to direct the work be prepared to be humbled and surprised!
Often areas in the body that become too loose or flaccid are caused by areas of too much strain and restriction in another part of the body.
When this boy came back to see me a week later he had no pain in his ankles and he held onto all the changes. Over the course of another two or three sessions we were able to restore his medial arches to normal.
I tell this story a lot to prospective clients or people I’m just trying to explain my work to. It clearly demonstrates how nonlinear our bodies are and how important the listening technique is for directing the work in a way that makes the best sense for the body. It helps clients relax and give them some understanding as to why I am perhaps working in an area that does not seem related to their pain or dysfunction.