Psoas and Fascia: Stretching Webs In a Collapsed House

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For now, stem cell therapy was on the back burner, simmering on a very diminished flame. I felt God was, momentarily, guiding me in a different direction. His message serenely revealing,” Not now, but not never.” The brakes on stem cell therapy were being halted for a reason. My heart felt this to be true which helped me take this set back in stride. Listening for the ensuing step of God’s plan became my next crucial quest.

The routine of relentless adjustments and training sessions led to sloth-like improvements. It was time to shake things up, once again. Although these sessions were much needed, something different had to happen. I was searching for someone to provide more rigorously controlled movement, in addition to working with my trainer twice a week I wondered, would a new physical therapist have something different to offer from the one I tried in 2017?      

In 2017, I visited a UT Southwestern Physiatrist (physical therapy doctor) on my own accord. (An option which  had never been presented by my Muscular Dystrophy doctors.) She refused to take my input into consideration, wanting to perform an examination which would have been more of a physical detriment to my current state. I’d learned to listen to my inner voice, hence declining the treatment.

Due to this 2017 encounter, my inner voice alerted me to find someone holistic. In my mind, it was imperative to find a holistic physical therapist who would listen to me and focus on my entire body. The question was…did a holistic physical therapist even exist?

Clueless as to where to find a holistic physical therapist…so I Googled it, of course. Only one reference popped up in Dallas. The more I read and researched, the more I thought that this physical therapist, Yvonne Brannigan, could be beneficial to my progress. Was she the missing component in the year of 2018?  I sat on it for a week, prayed, and discussed with Dr. Cris. Dr. Cris thought she would be a wonderful addition to my team since Yvonne could focus my tight muscles and Dr. Cris could attend to aligning bones.

Yvonne Brannigan,
holistic physical therapist

Quiet and reserved, in April 2018, Yvonne gained my trust right off the bat. Although originating  from Canada, her tranquil demeanor and Irish looks were very calming. She used a specific, therapeutic method of myofascial release by John T. Barnes which allowed my body to start opening up, bringing noticeable relief on my 1st visit.

After multiple visits, I learned or confirmed several things. As weird as these words may sound, the psoas and fascia play a powerful role in a person’s health. Most people have never encountered these odd terms, but when either of them get tight from lack of movement, they can cause all sorts of havoc on the body.

The psoas major is the biggest and strongest contributor in a group of muscles called the hip flexors. Together, they contract to pull the thigh and the torso toward each other. This mighty muscle may not be the most famous, but it dangerously affects not only the surrounding muscles, but the entire body, especially if you’re sitting for long periods of time.

Yvonne compared the psoas to a house. On top of this house sits the roof, or diaphragm, and below the psoas sits the pelvis. If the psoas (walls of the house) is compromised, the roof or diaphragm comes crashing down. thus causing a compromised diaphragm, weakening the lungs and voice. In turn, if the pelvic floor collapses, it weakens the hips, pubic bone, femoral heads and, basically, the entire pelvic region. Life’s stresses often cause this muscle, also, known as the “fight or flight” muscle to tighten up, causing much anxiety. This cyclical pattern often plays a major role with a person’s emotional state  My bodily house had been demolished by a wrecking ball, uncertain if I’d ever escape this exhaustingly stressful cycle.

Resting on top of all muscles exists the fascia. A thin layer which not only binds skin to muscle, but also holds cells together and keeps organs in place. It is one continuous piece of gooey, sticky, web-like material which is connected throughout the body. Go figure! It’s sometimes compared to a flat bed sheet, running from your head to your toes. Usually, if a bed sheet is flat one can lie comfortably in bed. But, If a wrinkle kinks in one corner of that fiat bed sheet, it affects the entire sheet, not just the corner which tends to make the whole sheet annoying. Likewise, a fascia wrinkle or tweek typically occurs after an injury. The wrinkle, or tug on the body, is at first irritating and then slowly morphs into agonizing pain. For example, a stub of your toe may cause a pain in your shoulder.  All due to fascia. I know this sounds crazy. At times, fascia dominated over all of my other issues, causing debilitating pain and leg cramping. Most doctors consider this layer insignificant. They are taught in medical school that one must cut through the fascia to get to the “good stuff”. But, I’ve learned from personal experience that fascia is the “good stuff” which plays a crucial role in healing and maintaining all parts of a healthy body.

Using pressure points, Yvonne performed myofascial release on my hip flexor fascia. (A fancy name for a simple procedure). Gently, yet firmly, she pressed one finger down into my psoas muscle, under my pelvic bone.These pressure points were completed bilaterally on my upper abdomen for about 20-30 minutes. This freed the fascia to break up and the psoas muscle to relax and release. What a relief! After the tightness of sitting for forty years, immeasurable solace presented glimmers of hope. And, it was only the first visit!

Only 5 visits in and my body had felt distinguishable changes. Opening up into a fuller core stretch allowed my diaphragm to ease up, resulting in a slightly stronger voice. Overall, the muscles in my pelvis and back were more pliable, holding the bones in place longer. And, when those bones were starting to head out of position, there was a slight chance that a good night’s sleep would manipulate things right back in position by morning.

The grandiose change was the stabilization of my SI joint, staying in place for longer periods of time after seven long years! This being a catalyst for increased mobility. Also, decreased pain meant a better night’s rest which I desperately needed in order to continue the rejuvenation of my body. Big or small, I celebrate any improvement since each one is a building block for the next blessing!

Once again, so grateful God had granted me the ability to receive his message and move in a positive direction. But, in early September 2018, Yvonne decided to uproot her life and move to Scotland. Although this news came as a surprise, I had to keep the faith and take it in stride. HE did it once and HE’ll do it again!

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