Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2015

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108 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k n o v e m b e r / d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 5 branch), responsible for both deep relaxation and for primitive biological responses to trauma. 5 It is also the site of the ganglion impar, the single unpaired ganglion at the convergence of the left and right sympathetic trunks just anterior to the sacrum's juncture with the coccyx (Image 2). In yogic philosophy, the coccyx is the site of muladhara chakra, where the ida and the pingala (the two energetic flows of the body) meet and are united. 6 THE PELVIC LIFT Ida Rolf, PhD, the originator of Rolfing structural integration, finished most of her sessions with a pelvic lift maneuver, most likely inspired by her study with osteopath Amy Cochrane in the 1940s. 7 More recently, author and structural integration teacher Thomas Myers ("The Pelvic Lift," Massage & Bodywork, January/February 2013, page 96) described Ida Rolf's technique this way: "In the pelvic lift, the client, supine with her knees up, rolls her pelvis up from the tailbone until the lumbars are off the table. The therapist slides a hand, palm up, under the lumbars, stretching and easing tissue along the posterior of the lumbars and sacrum as the client brings the pelvis slowly, segment by segment, back down to rest on the practitioner's hand … Hook your fingertips (by flexing your fingers) into the tissue on either side of the spine and draw downward toward the tailbone … be sure that your pull is straight toward the client's heels, not in a curve." What was the purpose of Rolf's pelvic lift? There were many. Myers quotes an archival list of 18 "Possible Pelvic-Lift Objectives" that includes "disengage sacrum from L5" (#1), "lengthen the thoracolumbar fascia" (#8), and "ground client—stimulate parasympathetic autonomic tone" (#16). 8 technique MYOFASCIAL TECHNIQUES Working with the Sacrum By Til Luchau The English word sacrum is a shortening of the Latin os sacrum or "sacred bone." Prior to the mid-1700s, this bone was called holy bone in both English and German (heiliges Bein), where it is now referred to as the Kreuzbein (or "cross" bone). 1 The "sacred" or "holy" connotations of this bone's name are mysterious; theories include the cross-shaped appearance of this bone in some animals; its supposed role in animal sacrificial rites, due to its proximity to reproductive organs; and its being the last bone to survive cremation in a sacrificial pyre. 2 Since the original Greek root can be translated as either "sacred" or "strong," others conjecture that the Latin "sacred bone" was simply a mistranslation of "strongest bone"; interesting to us, since the sacrum, as the largest vertebral structure, bears the weight of the entire spine. 3 Word origins aside, the sacrum (Image 1) has a unique significance in many manual therapies as well. Osteopathic manipulation places special importance on sacral dynamics, and, of course, it figures prominently in the craniosacral approach that traces its roots to osteopathy. 4 Structural bodywork emphasizes the sacrum's role in weight transfer from the upper body to the supporting lower limbs and its function in mediating the movements between the left and right ilia and legs. Autonomically, the sacral region is significant for its high concentration of parasympathetic nerve ganglia involved in visceral function (the "old vagal" FLOATING SACRUM TECHNIQUE As an alternative to the direct-traction technique described above, we often close our Advanced Myofascial Technique sequences with a less directive, listening-based version of this sacral technique. A lighter, more receptive approach at the end of a session helps end things on a quiet note, since subtle types of work can be deeply calming. And rather than add more input, more information, or more manipulation from the outside in, the receptive approach of this technique also gives the client's somatic awareness time to register her own internal bodily perceptions from the inside out. The sacrum (green) has special significance in many manual therapy methods. Image courtesy Primal Pictures, used by permission. 1 The concentrations of parasympathetic nerve ganglia near the sacrum (yellow) may help explain the calming and quieting nature of sacral work. The ganglion impar is at the convergence of the left and right sympathetic trunks, just anterior to the sacrum's juncture with the coccyx. Image courtesy Primal Pictures, used by permission. 2

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