An article in New York Times last week by Jane Brody has prompted me to take up the cudgel once again for fixing one’s own self. In this case, shoulders can be one of the most aggravating injuries of our bodies in terms of a slow death by attrition of favorite functions.> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/health/02brody.html
Nevermind that this article plays into one of the most prevailing cultural ontological metaphors of the body: THE BODY IS A MACHINE. Ontology definition: the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such.
Nevermind that our whole culture shows up for Rolfing® Structural and Movement Integration with the idea that fixing the machine is what they are after. We are good at fixing stuff, too, and we know the parts. We also know that the body is not made out of metal or petroleum byproducts. We think of things differently, unless we have sold out to the machine.
Here is a better ontological metaphor: the body is a structural and functional living gestalt with dimensions that arise naturally from the gestalt. Gestalt definition: Fuzzy German word with no exact English equivalent, variously defined as completeness, configuration, essence,form, manner, organic structure, totality, and wholeness.
Toward the end of the New York Times article we see the physician’s (machine idealized) take on why the exercise won’t work for musicians: they are “overtrained”. My translation: musicians need to do something besides raise their arms over their heads, thusly this fix is incomplete. I suspect other high functioning people would have the same problem if more tests were done besides the arm raise.
This fix is not unknown, this leaning against the wall, (see picture in article) as many many folks practice this yoga preparatory move for going upside down. Gita Iyengar, for instance, uses this preparatory move in her “hospital” program in India for shoulder relief within the context of yoga. (I’m told this. I would cry if I had to go to India and do a headstand, even with the preparatory exercise.)
So what is the Rolfing SI “fix” in the gestalt metaphor? To consider this move within the larger frame of the body metaphor, a soft tissue metaphor, here are some ideas:
1. Make sure the head is not dragging down, as it is in the picture.
2. Drop the head of the humerus (the top of the arm) back into the glenoid fossa, the shoulder socket.
3. You have now created a closed chain positional exercise for the rotator cuff. If you want, you can do little circles, you can get on elbows and knees and minutely go back and forward and around. It is good to do both at the same time. As Don Hazen of blessed memory has told us, there is a direct neurological connection between the two sides.
4. The comic book version of getting into the free open chain: stand up and point at stuff, let the stuff attract your hand(s) and arm(s) towards it. Do the pointing up down and sideways. Let your torso be free. Don’t get to this free pointing open chain if it still hurts the rotator cuff, instead do a quasi-open chain: place your forearms and hands on a table in front of you and let the hands be drawn to stuff. Basically you are pointing while supported.
Have fun with it. Rotator cuffs can be “fixed”. The last straw for the fixing of my 3 tendons of rotator cuff torn almost all the way through was to ride the boogie board, which is a good mix of the closed and open chain.
I had help. I went to a rehab MD who diagnosed and I went to a Rolfer for help. But that’s just me. I know that my view of what is going on with my own ontological being can be limited.
Just in case you want to BOOGIE ON: http://www.wikihow.com/Boogie-Board