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The body therapies that may ease pain

MagazineJune 2007 (Vol. 18 Issue 3)The body therapies that may ease pain

These various techniques may best help long-lasting chronic instances of pain

These various techniques may best help long-lasting chronic instances of pain.

Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is a re-education in movement aimed at making us more aware of the way we use our bodies and releasing unnecessary physical tension and imbalance. The technique has been widely endorsed as a practical way to treat or prevent back, neck and shoulder pain caused by poor posture and inappropriate muscle movements. Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian-born actor with vocal problems, developed the technique in order to overcome his disability. Eventually he discovered that a habitual tensing of his neck muscles was causing compression of the neck and spine, but by realigning his head, neck and spine, he found he could resolve the problems with his voice.

Alpha-Pulse Therapy

Alpha-Pulse Therapy (APT) uses pulsed electromagnetic fields to treat a wide range of bone and joint disorders. Pulsed magnetic fields have been used for years, and have been subjected to several scientific studies that show that they can be useful in treating chronic degenerative conditions such as osteoporosis, swelling and post-surgery cases as well as low-response, intractable illnesses such as fibromyalgia.

Biofeedback
The word "biofeedback" was coined in 1969 to describe laboratory procedures (developed in the 1940s) that trained research subjects to alter brain activity, blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate and other bodily functions that are not normally controlled voluntarily. Biofeedback is a training technique in which people are taught to improve their health and performance by using signals from their own bodies.

Bowen Technique
Developed in the 1950s by the late Tom Bowen in Geelong, Australia, the Bowen Technique attempts to marshal the body's own healing resources through sequences of small, gentle moves at specific sites on the body. There is no forceful manipulation, just gentle cross-fibre manoeuvring of a muscle, tendon or ligament. The Bowen Technique supposedly taps into the body's natural feedback system that monitors the state of each muscle. As well as releasing any tension within the muscles, the moves also work on energy blocks (caused by injury, tension or disease), allowing increased energy flow and, eventually, healing to take place.

Chiropractic
Chiropractic specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that are due to mechanical dysfunction of the joints and their effects on the nervous system. After medicine and dentistry, it is the third largest primary health care profession in the West. Poor, inadequate or incorrect function in the spine can cause irritation of the nerves that control our posture and movement. This spinal nerve stress (which may be caused by factors such as accident, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor posture and anxiety) can lead to the symptoms of discomfort, pain or disease.

Craniosacral Therapy
Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, non-invasive technique, which focuses on the craniosacral system of the body, which includes the skull, the entire spine, cerebrospinal fluid, and the spinal membranes. A therapist can sense abnormalities in the cranial pulse or rhythm, which ranges from 6-12 cycles per minutes. Through gentle manipulation, the therapist can unwind the myofascial system affecting craniosacral imbalances to allow the body to self-correct and allow the cerebrospinal fluid to regain a natural rhythm and flow. Trauma, infection, stress, inflammation and poor posture are all common causes of craniosacral dysfunction. Left untreated, craniosacral imbalance can cause multiple musculoskeletal symptoms, which often cannot be treated successfully by conventional means.

Feldenkrais Method
Developed through 40 years of research by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, this technique utilises movement and attention to enhance our natural abilities to learn. Dr Feldenkrais's own physical problems led him to a lifelong exploration of ways to improve movement and functioning. His investigations reflected his various fields of expertise (physics, neurology, martial arts, cybernetics, body mechanics, and psychology) and resulted in a method that is a unique synthesis of science and aesthetics.

Kinesiology
Applied kinesiology is both a system of diagnosis and treatment first developed by a chiropractor called Dr George Goodheart, Jr, who observed that a muscle dysfunction could affect the performance of organs and glands. An applied kinesiologist will examine the muscles and relate muscle strength to the state of a patient's health. If a patient has a weakness in an organ or gland, a kinesiologist will look for a weakness in certain muscles which correlate with the weak organ; strengthening those muscles, and improving any postural problems or range of motion will help to achieve normal internal organ function. These procedures are also used to restore normal nerve function.

McTimoney Chiropractic
McTimoney chiropractic is a particularly gentle and effective whole body manipulative technique. This technique was developed by John McTimoney and subsequently is taught by licensed members of the McTimoney Chiropractic Association at the McTimoney Chiropractic College. The body of knowledge of the technique is handed down by McTimoney chiropractors. Adjustments are carried out following assessment of the spinal function by palpation. It aims to correct the alignment of bones of the spine and other joints of the body, to restore nerve function, to alleviate pain and to promote natural health.

Osteopathy
Osteopathy is an established and recognized system of diagnosis and treatment, which lays its main emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body. It is distinctive by the fact that it recognizes that much of the pain and disability that we suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as damage caused to it by disease. Whilst back pain is the most common problem seen, osteopathy can help with a wide varied of problems including changes to posture in pregnancy, babies with colic or sleeplessness, repetitive strain injury, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, children with glue ear, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries among many others.

Reflexology
Reflexology is a 20th century version of an ancient healing and relaxation technique that may be even older than acupuncture. Dr. William Fitzgerald, an American ear, nose, and throat specialist, developed the technique. It is also practised in several cultures, including Egypt, India, Africa, China and Japan.

Reiki
Reiki, which means 'universal life force energy' in Japanese, is an ancient hands-on method of natural healing. Life-force energy is said to run through every living thing along an energetic grid system not dissimilar to that of traditional Chinese Medicine. When we are healthy, positive and well, this energy flows freely. However, during particularly stressful periods in our lives, the tension we experience slows down or restricts this energy flow in various parts of the body, adversely affecting health.

Shiatsu
Shiatsu is a traditional hands-on Japanese healing therapy. It can help with a variety of chronic conditions, including the joint pain and reduced mobility usually associated with arthritis. As with acupuncture, shiatsu believes that vital energy, known as Ki or chi, flows through the body in a series of channels called meridians. Illness occurs when this energy is blocked, practitioners believe, and it is their task to free this through a series of massages. These can range from gentle holding, pressing with the palms, thumbs, fingers, elbows, knees and feet on the meridians and, sometimes, more dynamic rotations and stretches are also used.

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