Creative Healing Applications For The Back
The back is a miraculous construction of flexible strength, designed to withstand abuse while protecting the spinal cord housed within. The flexible column is a series of stacked bones known as vertebra. Each has a hole in the middle to let the spinal cord pass through. The spinal cord contains all the nerve fibers for every motion and function in the body. The nerve roots exit the cord where each vertebra is separated by a moveable cushion or disc, a fluid filled sac to cushion the bones. The vertebra has projections on the sides called transverse processes that act as a shield for the nerve root for a short distance as it leaves the cord. The whole column is surrounded by an extremely tough fibrous connective tissue that both supports and protects the column. All these parts move together to provide for the flexible movement we all count on. It all acts as one unified thing. The Universal law “as above, so below” can easily be seen in the spine; when something shifts to the right in the low back, the neck will often compensate with a shift to the left. A long as all the parts are in proper alignment and balance, everything works wonderfully well. If the spine were a simple straight line, keeping alignment might be easier, but we wouldn’t have the flexibility without the S shaped curve of the spinal column that acts like a spring to absorb pressures. Maintaining balance in a moving, flexing, extending, rotating, weight bearing S shaped column is an amazing feat of engineering. It is only when one of the parts is out of balance that we experience problems. Looking at the body from the side, one sees that there are three distinct curves to the spine. The sacrum has a very slight inward curve that extends through the lumbar area and blends smoothly into an outward curve behind at the chest, the thoracic area, and that first gently protrudes at the base of the neck at C7 which indicates the beginning of the cervical section of the spine where the curve blends into an inward or concave curve in the neck. Each of those curves defines an area of the spine. The cervical has 7 vertebras, the thoracic has 12 vertebras, and the lumbar has 5. The sacrum and the coccyx are at the base. The coccyx should move slightly with breath to create a pump for the cerebral spinal fluid to return to the head. Each area has distinctly differently shaped vertebra, the lumbar being the widest.
As a Creative Healer, we must be able to see the spinal column as an inter-related unit of flexible substance. During treatment, we are most concerned with the softer tissues, the disc cushioning substance between the vertebra and the connective tissue surrounding it, rather than the bones themselves. Mr. Stephenson used the word substance for all the tissues; the cartilage, ligaments, tendons, muscles, connective, nerve, and synovial tissues that contain, support, surround, join and protect the vertebra. Problems and pain in the spine is almost always caused by displacement of substance. When out of alignment, substance will swell, causing more pain and pressure. It is this substance between and surrounding the vertebra that the Creative Healer is most concerned with re-positioning. We may see that the vertebra is out of alignment, but our way of treating is to re-position the substance around the bone to re-create balance. Because the connective tissue makes the spine move as a unit, molding the substance affects the whole structure, and the bones will move with the substance. The cartilage is molded as is very firm clay. Because cartilage retains the form imparted to it with re-molding, it will retain balance if adequately supported by the ligaments. Usually we will need to treat a long standing problem with successive treatments to help reestablish the integrity of the supportive ligamental structure. If the substance is protruding it may be swollen and feel warmer to the touch. Restoring normal temperature, reducing the swelling by creating a vacuum, and repositioning the substance will always get results.
In Creative Healing, it does not matter what diagnosis or name is given to the back problem, as the treatment is the same no matter what. Our job is to restore the natural flow of life force through the spinal column to allow for nature to heal.
As we exam the spine, drawing energy down the spine hand over hand, we can feel the alignment and flows of energy. Notice the patterns in bony projections that we can discern most at the center line of the back. These bumps are called spinous processes. Looking at the pattern and feeling for interruptions in the flow will tell you where to treat, as will asking where it hurts. There is a depression or hollow equally sized between each bump in the healthy spine. One can easily feel the hollow with the thumb. If there is no hollow or if the space is swollen or filled level to the bump or spinous process, or protruding above the process, or much larger or smaller than the others, there is an obvious displacement of substance. You may see the displacement protruding, depressed or off center to either or both sides. Sometimes, you will not see or feel the misalignment, but the patient will complain of tenderness to the touch, or pain in the area. We treat to reposition the substance to get the desired results.
The quarter twist to reposition substance is applied with the tip of the thumb. The thumb is placed in the hollow or to the side of it between the transverse processes, with the tip of your thumb pointed at the spine. As you visualize your intention, gently rotate the tip of your thumb to pivot in place a quarter of a twist when the thumb points towards the head. We use the twist as a lever to open the space between each vertebra, and to lift and re-position the nerve by burying it back it the proper channel, as we reposition the substance back into comfort. The Creative Healer can often feel it yield. Hold your thumb there for bit to ensure the remolding of substance, reminding the body of harmony.
The patient sits in front of the seated Creative Healer. It is important that the buttocks of the patient are fully supported by the bench they are seated on. Any hanging over the bench will cause the spine to sag. Their feet should be flat on the floor. If they must lie on their stomach for treatment, place a pillow under the hips to help support the spine properly so that the spaces will not close more tightly when pressure is applied. With the spine erect, we can better see how the body is adapting and using gravity. We can better see the shape of the spine and its connective tissue. The spine is better aligned with the weight of the body on it, and is the more natural position for allowing gravity to work with us in bringing the life force from the head to the spine.
Start at the bottom of the spine at L5, just above the sacrum, the triangular shaped bone at the base of the spine. We work from the bottom up because everything above is dependent on the stability of what is below it. Treat both sides and the mid line with the quarter twist motion at each level, working your way to the base of the neck. You may choose to work both sides one at a time, or use a thumb working up both sides at once. I like to stair step the movement up the spine, working both sides; first one side, then the other, causing the tube of connective tissue to gently rock back and forth to center-up the structure. See the proper alignment in your mind’s eye as you work to mobilize and free the spine of irregularities in the symmetry. When the displacement is to the side, mentally direct the pressure angled towards the midline. Do not let your thumb slide from the depression you begin the twist in. Stay focused on your intention. Keep your body in comfortable alignment and be mindful of grounding yourself and the client. This treatment is extremely powerful and simple to perform. We attempt to get all the depressions uniform as we re-mold the substance, but is important to understand we are not perfect so perfect uniformity cannot be achieved and is never observed, even in the healthiest individual. Follow the remolding with massaging down the spine with one hand following the other to the sacrum to stimulate circulation. Every now and then, run your thumbs and fingertips down the spine slowly while you look for where the symmetry is disturbed. Or you may use the middle and index finger of one hand to describe the shapes of the spine, letting them glide gently over the surface to determine what lies beneath. Another technique is to use the index finger on one side of the spine and middle fingertip of the other side, hand over hand, gliding the fingers upward, vertebra by vertebra, using short intermittent strokes, with each stroke overlapping the upper part of the last stroke, keeping firm contact. These strokes are not smooth, but somewhat jerky. This too will lift and assist in aligning.
If the patient becomes faint of dizzy, let them lie down for a while before continuing. This will allow the person to catch up with the changes in the delivery of nerve life.
There are two times that you should not use the quarter twist to treat an area of the spine: The first is when you see a reddish, bluish, or mottled swelling that has fine lines within it. This could indicate a blood clot that must not be disturbed. Send the patient to their medical doctor.
The second time you should avoid using the quarter twist on the spine is when the displacement of substance is markedly depressed or anterior. You will not be able to see or feel the protrusions of the spinous or transverse processes. The area will feel soft and spongy. Do not put any pressure inward here! Mr. Stephenson called this a soft vertebra.This is most often seen at L5, just above the sacrum. This vertebra is particularly vulnerable as it is the first from the stationary bottom of the spine that rotates, flexes and extends. The weight of the entire spine is resting on it. This is most often caused by an injury that caused the area to be cut off from nourishment. If treatment is given soon after the injury, you may see restoration in a few days. If the problem is long standing, the patient may already have limited use of, or radiating pain in their legs, and the treatment may need to continue until everything below the injury is restored to full use too. They may be unable to stand unassisted if it has gone untreated for some time.
Position the patient as comfortably as possible seated in front of you, while you are seated also. If they have no strength to be upright, drape them over a mound of pillows to round the back, relieving the soft vertebra of any compression. This position can gently traction the area to great benefit.
The treatment of choice is to strengthen the area by using a positive feeding stoke, as you draw energy from the sides, above and below just to the edge of the depressed area.
To best position yourself for upward feeding, place your thumbs about 1 inch apart where the sacrum and tailbone meet. Spread your fingers and rest them on the patient’s buttocks, Rest your forearms on your thighs, with your knees pointing diagonally from your hips. By moving your legs slowly together, the finger and the thumbs are pushed up the sacrum. This allows you to give a smooth, slow, steady lift. As you approach the soft spot, lift to stay on the same plane as the sacrum and the vertebra above the soft spot, putting absolutely no pressure on the spot, but rather drawing it outward with intention as you glide over the space above it. Create a strong vacuum action in your mind.
For the first several treatments, this is the only feeding you will do for the soft vertebra, gradually, the area will strengthen. When the patient reports feeling stronger and you can see the soft area has become less soft as the tissues strengthen, then you may add a diagonal movement to the sacral lift above. Use your thumbs, beginning on the sacrum with the thumbs separated more than before, at the outside edges of the sacrum so when you will contact the wide erecting muscles on either side of the spine in the lumbar region. Carry your stroke a few inches above the soft vertebra.
After several more sessions of feeding as above, then you may begin to feed from the sides also. This stroke is a feeding quarter twist, different because you begin with the tips of your thumbs pointing towards the spine as for the quarter twist, but several inches to the sides of the soft spot. As your thumbs approach the soft spot, perform the quarter twist very, very gently, without the molding pressure. If the soft vertebra is in the thoracic region, then your stroke will follow the hollows between the ribs.
*Caution: Never put pressure on the soft spot.
Each treatment may last 15-20 minutes. Let the patient’s response guide you. You may feel releases under your hands, or hear gurgling sounds. As the flow of circulation opens in the area, the patient may experience tingling, warmth, or other sensations in their legs or feet if you are working on L5. They may also have visceral responses in the belly, chest or up into the head, depending on the areas being treated. If the patient complains of a strong burning sensation radiating from the soft spot to both sides, then there could be seepage of the joint fluids. If this happens, use the very gentle feeding quarter twist directly over the pain pathway with the strong intention to seal off the seepage. Occasionally, the feeding may cause a sudden release of nerve life or circulation that may be experienced as uncomfortable momentarily. This is a good thing, indicating a return of nerve life. Treating this problem takes times and patience.
Pain Between the Shoulders On the spine, directly between the shoulder blades, or scapulas, there is a spot that often causes severe pain, breathtaking, even mistaken for heart attack.
The Creative sits with the patient seated before them.
To find the spot, glide your thumbs down the thoracic spine until you encounter a tender or painful spot. It may feel warm. If there is any doubt about the spot, then draw a cross from the top of each scapula to the bottom of the other, noting where the cross happens on the spine. This is often the right spot for this kind of pain pattern. If this one is not sensitive, then check just above and below. There is a displacement of substance here that often causes the space to feel fuller than the others on the spine.
To Reposition Substance place the pad of your thumb on the spot in the center of the spine. Your thumb is horizontal, as in the beginning of the quarter twist. Using positive pressure, press straight inward as you rotate the thumb to complete the quarter twist. If this does not release the pain, or if you can see or feel that the displacement is to one side or the other, then use the quarter twist accordingly, angling the pressure/intention slightly in towards the spine and up.
If the pain persists, then it is helpful to coordinate the patient’s breath with the treatment: Have them take a deep breath in, then, as they let it out slowly, you will do the appropriate quarter twist as they bring their shoulder blades back and together. After you have completed the quarter twist, use each hand to hold their shoulders back for another breath or two to help the repositioning take hold. Be sure they don’t lift their shoulders, as in a shrugging motion.
If there is no obvious misplacement of substance, then the pain may be caused by muscle contractions in the same area. Use the pads of your hands to loosen the muscles around the spot, then place your thumbs as for the beginning of the quarter twist, but use them to ply apart the spinous processes that have been drawn too close together by the spasm. Use the inner edge of your thumb to pull outward as you complete the quarter twist.
Feed the Spine with hand over hand downward stroking, drawing strength and nerve life from the head.
*Caution: Before working on the thoracic spine, always check for swelling along one side of the spine. Mr. Stephenson called it a Swollen Column that runs parallel to the thoracic spine. It is most often about 1 to 1 ½ inches from the left side of the spine. It will be ½ to 1 inch wide, sometimes reddish in color, warm and sensitive to the touch. This must be treated before any other work is done around the thoracic spine.
The Flu Spot Mr. Stephenson described a very usual spot to head off or treat the flu. It is only sore when there is flu, or displacement of substance here. Your hands and the patient’s symptoms will tell you the truth. Mr. Stephenson also used this spot to restore respiration to a person who was unconscious from electric shock.
You will sit with the patient seated in front of you.
You will find the flu spot one space beneath, and often, just to the left of, the spot for pain between the shoulder blades. Break up Congestion using just the pad of your thumb, keeping your thumb stiff and your fingers touching the body to support and strengthen your thumb, extend your arm from the shoulder and maintain this position while the thumb does a gentle breaking up circular motion to dispel the contraction at this spot. Visualize the motion and intention of your thumb action going deep within the chest to break up the core of the congestion of the flu. Soon, the patient will complain of a pain deep within their chest, continue your motion until the pain dissipates, usually 3-4 minutes.
Finish by stroking over the middle back to restore normal temperature and ensure good circulation to the area. It may be important to also treat the liver, kidney or heart, as symptoms indicate.
Scoliosis is seen as a bowing of the spine, off center to one side or the other. Using the principles of Creative Healing, you will want to mold the spine back to the center, using the quarter twist only on the outside of the curve, while the strong feeding stroke is used inside the curve to strength the muscles to better hold the center.
Emotionally, this can be seen as a person who bore too much responsibility too early in life. Helping them to release their burdens is often helpful.