The Myofascial Balancing courses, each dealing with a different region of the body, are based on a few simple ideas, delivered with a good deal of experience and sophistication. Some of the ideas are:
• Muscular stabilization is the force that organizes our bodies in gravity. Improving stabilization is at least as important as improving relaxation or mobility.
• Our neuromotor systems automatically stabilize what we're currently doing. The best way to improve our version of stabilization is to improve our alignment.
• While most therapists learn to evaluate alignment visually, we find that much more detailed and accurate information can be gathered through palpation of standing clients. Learning to palpate in this way often radically improves students’ visual evaluation skills as well.
Our alignment patterns reshape our myofascial tissues into unbalanced patterns. In our classes, students learn to feel the directional imbalances in the soft tissue and to use gentle, unlubricated techniques to balance the position and mobility of the tissues. We also use stretching and other self-care strategies to reinforce this balancing effect. One of the most useful services therapists can provide is to teach clients how to improve posture and movement patterns in daily life. Students in these classes learn a clear model of posture and movement strategies designed to improve clients’ understanding of their necessary role in achieving long-term results.
In many cases, orthopedic problems (the ones with diagnostic labels) are simply exaggerated versions of the imbalances present in most people. In other cases, the problems have a different sort of cause (for example, osteoarthritis). It’s extremely valuable to be able to tell the difference! These classes include an overview of common orthopedic problems, including both assessment and treatment options.
About this Series: Our primary focus is assessment-driven myofascial work. The work can be directed at deep or superficial layers, as needed. The amount of force used can be varied to be comfortable and appropriate for both the client and therapist. It is also non-lubricated, so it can be done on skin, through a sheet, or through clothes.
Myofascial Balancing frequently uses the skeleton as a 'handle' and as a guide in evaluating alignment. The work is designed to keep the loop between evaluation and treatment as short as possible, so that the therapist remains well-oriented and therapeutic goals can be attained quickly. We teach palpatory evaluation of the client’s alignment pattern in standing, and ongoing palpatory assessment of tissue mobility on the table. We also teach simple postural and movement strategies to help clients improve alignment and usage in daily life; we believe this is a critical aspect of successful treatment.
Balance in the Pelvis, Sacrum and Low Back:
Balance around the middle of the body is the heart of an optimal alignment pattern. In this course, we will evaluate and treat many elements of this balance, including: hip joint mobility; the relationship between the pelvis and femur; and alignment, in detail, of the sacrum and lumbar spine. Strategies and structures include:
• weight-bearing dynamics and common postural patterns of the pelvis on the femurs
• intra-pelvic patterns: tilts, inflare, outflare, and torsions
sacral balance and SI joint mobility
• contribution of nerve bundles and spinal dura to fascial strain pattern
In the orthopedic realm, we will discuss hip arthritis, sacroiliac problems and sciatica. We’ll also teach strategies for stable seated and standing posture.
Balance in the Hips, Legs, Knees & Feet:
Balance and stability in standing and walking are built from the ground up. Many therapists are surprised to see how dramatically overall alignment can change when the lower leg and foot find appropriate function. In this course, we will evaluate and treat many aspects of good function in the lower body, including:
• tissue and bony mobility within the forefoot, arches, heel and ankle
• effective and gentle treatment of the fascial compartments in the calf and thigh
• functional dynamics of the tibia, fibula and inter-osseous membrane
alignment patterns of the foot, ankle, knee, and hip
In the orthopedic realm, we will discuss ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, common knee injuries, hip arthritis, and lower body tendon injuries. We’ll discuss client strategies for good standing and walking balance.
Balance in the Spine and Ribcage:
Balance in the torso is a fascinating and sometimes confusing topic. In this course, we will evaluate and treat both general balance in the spine and specific, vertebra-by-vertebra patterns of dysfunction. Our principal focus will be the thoracic spine and ribs, but we will extend our model into the rest of the spine as well. Topics include:
• general side-bends and rotations in the thoracic and lumbar spine
• assessment and treatment of localized restrictions between individual vertebrae
• postural support from the pelvis, rib cage and shoulder girdle
• rib cage postural patterns, mobility and internal fascial structures
• treatment of the dural membrane system in each spinal section
• cervical joint mechanics, with assessment and treatment methods
In the orthopedic realm, we will discuss scoliosis in depth, as well as strategies for nerve root impingement, dural strain, and ‘stuck’ ribs. Postural strategies and home care focus on dynamic support within the trunk, coordinating pelvis, ribcage and head.
Balance in the Shoulder Girdle & Arms:
The shoulder girdle makes the most sense when seen as a single unit—including the arms—that is poised on the upper ribcage. In this course, we will evaluate and treat common imbalances of the shoulder girdle and arms, including the dynamics of the shoulder girdle and the extension of those dynamics into the arms and hands. Topics will include:
• weight-bearing dynamics of the shoulder girdle as a unit on the upper ribs
• gleno-humeral joint structure, function and dysfunctional movement
• common restrictions in the thumb, wrist and forearm, including inter-osseous membrane
• neurovascular bundle restrictions in the brachial plexus, distal nerves and related vessels
• body mechanics strategies for supporting arm and hand usage
In the orthopedic realm, we will discuss the very common shoulder impingement syndrome, common shoulder and elbow injuries, thoracic outlet syndrome, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Postural strategies focus on the reciprocal balance between the ribcage and shoulder girdle, as well as coordinated body alignment for use of the hands.
Balance in the Head & Neck:
In this course, we focus on the upper most segment in the body, which has its own intricacy and is subject to all the postural strain in the body below. We will evaluate and treat postural patterns of the neck and head; anterior, lateral and posterior myofascial layers; as well as intra-cranial patterns. Specific techniques include:
• joint-by-joint alignment within the cervical spine
• decompressive fascial technique for the anterior neck, appropriate for acute whiplash
• mobility of the cranial and cervical dura, our deepest fascial layer
• cervical nerve roots and upper brachial plexus
• decompression of the sphenobasilar junction, a primary site of cranial imbalance
In the orthopedic realm, we will discuss how to apply all these techniques to the sometimes-complicated condition of whiplash. In the postural realm, we focus on the feeling of support up the front of the body, from bottom to top.
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See a course schedule.
Each Myofascial Balancing class is structured as a stand-alone two-day class. You will receive a certificate of completion for each class. We are offering the "Myofascial Balancing" courses at a discounted group rate if you register for all five classes at once, versus taking one or more individual classes.
Integrative Pain Management, Chapter 7: Structural Bodywork
Authored chapter focusing on structural methods and Myofascial Balancing in particular. Handspring Publishing, 2016.
- Fascia Research Congress, Boston, 2007
- Fascia Research Congress, Amsterdam, 2009
- Robert Schleip, The Nature of Fascia, 2008
- Steven Levin, Bio-tensegrity and Dynamic Anatomy, 2005
- Dr. JC Guimberteau, Strolling Under the Skin, 2009: new in vivo images of fascial layers and their hydraulic, fractal architecture
- Bach Rescue Remedy Cream – Lauren's favorite 'lubricant' for fascial work, precisely because it doesn't lubricate as much as it increases tack; in my experience, the herbal remedy also helps client's tissue receive vigorous work without bruising and it soothes my hands too! Available in single tubes through many health food stores, or you can buy in bulk on line.
- Tennis balls, large and small: for self-care stretching the plantar fascia, iliopsoas, IT band, etc., these balls are great – inexpensive and easy to use. We get ours in bulk through Pet Edge.
- Foot reflexology balls: these are getting harder to find. They are solid and quite dense (not to be confused with the prickly, softer balls that are so popular right now); they are great, when used judiciously, for stretching the soles of the feet while standing.
4000 Aurora Ave N, Suite 114
Seattle, WA 98103
116 NE 194th St.
Shoreline, WA 98155