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Spinal Curves, the Heart Space and the Anterior Longitudinal Ligament

Manual therapists trying to heal shattered bodies have strange lives. Everyday they are on their own in a room trying to figure out something really difficult. They take classes from the geniuses but don’t always have the geniuses specific talent so they are often left to their own devices. As a whole, I would say an expert body worker has about the same batting average as a good baseball hitter. (If you consider a hit to be someone healed of their problem) .333. With back problems it is even lower, about 200. This is not to say a larger percentage of patients don’t get help, they just don’t get over the problem. This is not a criticism, I have spent most of my adult life flailing at this. All over the world there are hundreds of thousands of talented, brilliant therapist who have done the same. But the human body is a complicated organism; it can suffer an injury pattern in one instant a supercomputer can’t figure out. Nonetheless, there is a mystery here. We are missing a big piece. With a lot of good luck (or grace, depending on what you believe) through decades of study I have unwound a powerful twist within this conundrum. It involves curves, the diaphragm, the anterior longitudinal ligament and something at the heart of the matter. This discovery increases the practitioner’s batting average to twice the best hitter who ever lived.

In 2012, in the later part of a 30 years career, I was chagrined to realize most of the people in my practice had the same problem. As I got more skilled over the years, I expected increasingly difficult people to find me; but increasingly the severely injured patients I saw stayed and stayed. They would improve temporarily but never heal. If they didn’t see me for a month the problem came back.

I knew, deep in my soul, that all these patients suffered from the same syndrome; I just couldn’t figure it out. The symptoms were different; bad shoulder, horrible back, hip problems, painful, knees, wry neck, headaches and dozens of other maladies, including lifelong digestive problems; but the cause seemed to be the same. Something elemental was wrong; pain was spread through their entire bodies; the thorax, head and extremities. This extended culture of pain made life a constant struggle for them; many spent a least part of the day in bed. For these patients, ease was difficult to find. It became my life’s great adventure to unravel this mystery. As with many adventures, there were times I wish it were happening to someone else.

Of course, after getting drubbed by this problem for so long, I had generated some ideas. 15 years ago when Bonewhispering was born I was trying to heal my own debilitating physical problems. At that time, I was sure the central tendon of the diaphragm and the vascular system held the answers. The subsequent years were fruitful and I developed a whole new paradigm of bodywork which helped a lot of people, But after a decade of work on the central tendon it was clear this wasn’t the answer and things began to turn toward the anterior longitudinal ligament embedded in the front of the spinal curves. After several more years, as is often the case, it turned out not to be an either -or problems; it coalesced into the relationship between the central tendon/diaphragm, the longitudinal ligament and the surprising connection between the two; the body’s need to keep space around the heart and throughout the vascular system.

In the thousands of hours I spent working on the anterior ligament one thing perplexed me. Why was it so often injured? Almost without exception, injuries of any kind enmeshed it; even a sprained ankle. I explained this with the knowledge the ligament was at the center of the body where strength lay.

To see this, let’s do an imaginary test. Picture the act of falling on your shoulder. Pull up your body into a protective position. If you’re sensitive to your movement, you’ll feel everything goes toward the middle. If we fall, or get whiplashed or even land on our back, we will always power toward the front middle. Both the arms and legs are organized this way, with the major power of the fascia sheets and muscles pulling toward the middle. And what is at the center of this middle? The anterior longitudinal ligament. It rides the curves on the front of the spine from the head down into the sacrum.

Fetal development also pointed toward this curved ligament. I subscribe to the Blechscmidt fetal growth model from the daunting book Biokenetics and Biodynamics of Human Differentiation. In this model our tiny fetus grows not like a flower, but rather biodynamically from pushes and pulls. Here are some of the words he uses; “restraining function”, “growth pull”, “growth resistance”. In other words, to blossom the fetus needs something to work against.

In the first 6 weeks, the tough longitudinal ligament is at the center of the fetus’s growth dynamics. It is the first dense structure to form; arriving before the bones, even prior to the cartilage. You can make a case that the arms, legs, organs and bones, all grow tied into this structure and that when visceral manipulation, or chiropractic or strain/ counter strain succeed it because this ligament and its relationships is corrected. It certainly is connected strongly to the curves the chiros emphasize so much. This also explains why balancing and impacting this ligament can heal backs, digestive systems, hips, headaches etc.; everything is related to it.

But it is all good and well to think this is the problem, but its deep bury Is a challenge. In front of this long ligament are the heart, the lungs and all the other organs, behind is the spine and to the sides there is a lot of meat. To add to this problem, in Bonewhispering, it is the bones in the front portion of the spine, which hold the change we want. Thusly. A healing method must be strong enough to change these bones but indirect enough to bypass obstacles.

Understanding the techniques to heal the ligament is to rewind the fruits of my 30 year bodywork journey. During this stretch, I became the Bonewhisperer and spent much of my time discovering the hidden mysteries of bones. First and foremost I learned to distrust our total misconception about the nature of bones. Most importantly, we are used to LaBrae tar pit bones, hard and calcified. But living bones are changeable and liquid, bending and malleable. Their structure is lattice-like; more like connective tissue than steel, able to shape shift its structure with the right input of energies. Over time I began to use vibration and certain tools to engineer changes throughout the entire boney system. So, unlike the Chiropractors, my therapy healed the injury in the bones themselves rather than the articulations. This does not mean the articulations do not go out, only that they go in easily if the “bone spasm” are released. My purpose is to change the lattice of the bones thus remodeling all around them.

Consequently, when I looked to uncover a method for the longitudinal ligament, I wanted to change the bones of the spine behind the ligament not the ligament itself. This involved holding the ligament firm at the top and bottom with nobs to give leverage then employing vibration and movement to change the bone lattice. This was a huge step in the right direction.

Unfortunately it was part of the answer but not all of it. When I used this method to release the spine behind the ligament even the worst patient would feel better, usually immediately. Once these bones began to lose their spasm, the ligaments, bones, organs, and curves could be rocked back into a functional position. At this healing point an astonishing array of problems would improve; some truly unexpectedly; acid reflux, heart problems, breathing difficulties, insomnia, vertigo, I thought I had found the answer. But as time went by, the symptoms would creep back until the pain would reassert itself.

But what structure deeper than this longitudinal ligament? If I went any deeper with the therapy it would be on the other side. Then, as often happened on this journey, during the night I was given an insight. It was like a magical mystery tour. I saw that the organizing principle had to do with the heart. But it wasn’t the flesh of the heart; it was the space around the heart. In natures amazing intelligence, it created within us an organ to feed our cells with blood by wringing itself in a pumping motion. To accomplish this, the heart had to be suspended in space, not imbedded in any other structure.

But nature had a truly difficult engineering problem. When an organ is suspended in order to beat, how do you protect it? You can’t smash it between two powerful muscles or twist it the length of a bone. So what do you do? Brilliantly, the body chooses to not grab it, but rather to maintain the space around it. In other words, you don’t want it compressed, so you design the whole organism to maintain this space. From the moment we are born the body instinctively knows how to protect the heart, including the entire vascular system, in its space making design.

When this was revealed to me, it explained my whim of 14 years ago, which began my journey with bones. While working on a woman with a bad knee I had the thought, ‘what if the arteries bend the bones around themselves for protection?’ Bonewhispering blossomed from that thought. But I didn’t know what pattern the arteries used to wrap the bones around them; this explained it. At the center is the heart space. To protect it, every muscle, all the fascia sheets and bones goes into something I call Active Tensegrity in which the boney structure bends in response to injury to maintain the space. But this is not just the space around the heart, but also follows along every large artery and vein throughout the body.

Nature could design it no other way. Even with the simplest injury, the heart cannot be pulled toward the trauma; the same with the arteries/veins. Too much sheer or shift produces a tear. But what a brilliant scheme! In protecting against injury, every move toward self-preservation is toward maintaining space. And it does this faster than the blink of an eye. When I show people this, they get the concept in every cell organ and bone of their bodies. I have discovered so many patients with forceps injuries; invariably bound into these protection patterns. Without exception the injuries follow the line of the vasculature. We come to earth programmed. Even an unborn baby knows how to protect its heart.

But how can this help heal someone? Looking at it from this angle, injury occurs in the spaces. There is trauma at the injury but the body meets this trauma with active tensegrity, bending in against the blow. The harder the force the more it goes into this boney space-making machine. Because the heart is at the center of this, you can hurt a leg and funnel up into the upper body to protect the heart. Consequently, to help you must undo the space around the mediastinum (heart sack) and the system of bones maintaining it. They are bent around these spaces or even more exact, they are the spaces. There is no separation between the bone and the space. The lattices of the bone are wrapped within the fascia and muscles to create space. To heal this, the lines of force within the bones themselves must undo. And you need to do this throughout the system. When this is accomplished, through vibration and movement in the direction of the injury, the entire system will relax and open itself to healing.

The first thing I do with a new patient is determine if the arms, legs and head are locked into the medialstinal space. I hold the chest near the lungs and gently pull on the arms head and legs with the other hand. If there is no separation of movement then I know the body is stuck in this space saving syndrome. For instance, if the problem is in the leg and you do not let this line of bone spasms go from heart, then whatever work is done on the leg will not hold. The self-preservation instinct deep in the vasculature will not allow it; by the time your patient is back in her/his car from your office the symptoms will be back.

As for the longitunal ligament, its constant state of emergency is explained by its leverage position. Looking from the point of view of space, the diaphragm and heart sack need something to pull against to protect space. For this they use the extremities and the longitudinal ligament. Add to this mechanic other frontal injuries, particularly to woman in childbirth, and you have the makings of disaster. These days I am surprised when the longitudinal ligament is not a train wreck.

To release it is a process involving holding the ligament and moving in directions the lattices are spasmed within the bones and mixing this with vibration. To accomplish this, the practitioner works in the direction of the injury and includes the whole length of the problem; down into the leg or the arm or head if necessary. This is impossible to do with two hands, so the patient becomes the assistant and holds percussors to help cover long fetches. Movement is so important to this work, both in diagnosing and remediation. The patient is very involved. He/she is the best assistant and source of information.

This sounds complicated; and in words it is. But the human body employs this protective action instinctively. And when we heal it, consciousness is constantly looking to help itself. We provide another horizon with our movement and vibration for this instinct toward healing; all the patient needs to do is get his brain out of the way.Literally it is child’s play for the master of our bodies.

The theoretical side of this healing could encompass a book. But I am interested in results. As I write this I received a call from a woman who had suffered from a bad right hip. I worked on her 2 days ago and she called last night saying it was more painful. I told her to come in tomorrow to remedy the situation. Today she called again to say she is much better and she doesn’t need me. She is ‘feeling fantastic”. In our session I worked on the anterior ligament. As is often the case it took a few days for the unbound bones to work their magic.

But do these techniques work in general for my patients? In my practice I see roughly 3 types of injuries coming in my door.

The first type suffers from trauma; a bad shoulder from a fall or lung infection, or a bad back after landing on their knees, a sore foot from a sprained ankle, Bonewhispering is a miracle for these people; you can go straight to the problem even if it happened today. 90% of these acute cases take one or at most 2 sessions to heal. Of course if there is swelling from a sprain or a bone bruise the body needs time. But without exception if the bones are unwound the healing will happen 3 or 4 times as fast.

The second category is those with two or more connected accidents. These are more complicated. If the patient can tell me exactly what the direction of the force was in the trauma healing usually take four to five sessions. In these cases, if they drag on, it is almost always because the person forgets to tell me about a serious incident. Or they were unconscious and do not know what happened; then I have to guess on the innumerable possibilities the body has for protection.

The third type of problem involves a total breakdown of the body’s coping ability. Included in this category are head on crashes exceeding 30mph, falls from heights, uncontrolled tumbles down stairs, bad infections in the lungs or heart, and birth trauma (usually forceps) among other incidents. The hallmark of these serious syndromes is pain throughout the whole body; often including organs. Frequently there is a birth trauma complicated by an injury laid on top. Usually the injuries happened early on in the patient’s lives, by teenage years at the latest. These deep-seated patterns take longer; sometimes they need follow up sessions.

My practice is bursting with these patients for a simple reason. Bonewhipsering helps; they reclaim their lives from possession by suffering. To succeed with this group you need to get down to the level mentioned in this article. There is no bodywork, which approaches Bonewhispering with this population. I have worked on them every day for 15 years. Do you think it is possible I don’t know what works and what doesn’t? Most of these people have seen dozens of therapists. Either they are out of pain or not.

As I have said before, none of this is ivory tower theory. The injured people in my practice often have been in trouble for a decade or more. Like Teddy Roosevelt says, this work is “ in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again…who actually strive to do the deed;” Bonewhispering is close to the truth. It is safe, I have worked on thousands of people employing it. The unwinding of bones and releasing the anterior longitudinal ligament into the heart space is the bodywork of the future.