Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2023

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20 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k m ay/ j u n e 2 0 2 3 One of the first things we learn as bodyworkers is the idea that muscles have partners. Or perhaps I should say counterparts. A muscle has an action, and its counterpart—or its antagonist, in anatomy speak—does the opposite action. The classic example of this is the relationship between the biceps and the triceps. The biceps flex the elbow, and their counterpart, the triceps, extend the elbow. When one of them fires, the other one has to relax to allow for movement. For example, as you bring your excessively large cup of coffee to your mouth every morning, your biceps (among other moving parts and addiction-forming internal processes) do the contracting. And if your triceps were to contract at the same time, well, that would be ugly. Not only for that cup of coffee but also, I would guess, for anyone in your path. Luckily, the body moves in a way that does not typically create a multitude of tiny wars. Our systems—all of them— work to constantly bring us back to homeostasis . . . or some semblance of balance. It's kind of like we all have this little avatar inside us who runs around putting out fires and preventing f loods. And although this is an entertaining way to educate ourselves about the lessons taught in Eastern theory, there are no bald guys with arrows painted on their heads to be found anywhere in our anatomy. The truth is our musculoskeletal system is in constant communication with our brain. There are afferent, or sensory, nerves that run from a muscle to the brain informing how it feels, where it is, and whether it is tired or in pain. And then there are efferent, or motor, neurons that run from the brain back to the muscles signaling them to stop or go or calm down or speed up. There is a lot more to it than that, but I'll save that for a future article. THE GIFT OF INTEROCEPTION This constant communication between the brain and the musculoskeletal system tells the body what it needs to keep things in check. Within our musculoskeletal system, the brain tells one muscle to fire and its antagonist to relax so we can walk without falling and drink a cup of coffee without jettisoning it across the room. But it is not all unconscious chatter. There is also a part of the brain called the insula that interprets a lot of this By Allison Denney KEY POINTS • The application of opposing techniques within a short time frame brings the recipient into a deeper awareness of self and a greater perception of balance. • When you are seeking to find the right technique for your client, don both your modern, scientific hat and your age-old, philosophical hat. THE REBEL MT Push and Pull, Now and Then TECHNIQUE

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