Tag: injury treatment

Detecting Skeletal Alignments Without Using X-Rays

Did you know that it is possible to detect skeletal misalignment without having to take X-Rays?

In fact, not only is it possible, it’s the first thing I look for when treating an injury ~ particularly if the pain or discomfort is felt in the neck or lower back and pelvic regions. This type of treatment is called Muscle Energy Techniques (MET). It has been used by osteopaths for decades and is far more palatable for the patient to receive than the much more stringent “adjustment” performed by chiropractors. When a misalignment has been observed (or assessed), Hold/Relax stretching is applied (a series of isometric contractions, each followed by a slight stretch) to loosen and lengthen the tight muscle that has been pulling the skeleton out of alignment.

If you are wondering how one goes about finding these deviations, it is by palpation and observation.

For example, there are several bony landmarks in the pelvic girdle that can tell us what is going on with this structure. By palpating and then observing these landmarks, we can discover deviations such as high ileums (one hip will be higher than the other hip), anterior or posterior rotations of ileums, sacroiliac (SI joint) fixations, pubic bone misalignment, and deviations of the sacrum.

By observing from behind the client, it’s also possible to identify side-bending curves and rotations of the spine. We can even detect rotations of individual vertebrae, although one wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the only bony landmark we can see (the spinous process). The cool part about this is that by close examination of the skeleton, osteopaths discovered that in the lumbar portion of the spine, the transverse processes of each vertebra are located laterally, (about an inch wider on each side), halfway between the spinous process of the vertebrae we are investigating, and the spinous process of vertebra directly above the one we are investigating. So, by placing my thumbs about an inch wide on both sides, half-way between the spinous process I’m investigating and the one directly above it, I can see if one side is sticking out more (or is more posterior) than the other side. Depending on which side is posterior, we would identify it as being either “rotated left” or “rotated right.”

The muscles that control individual vertebrae are very small compared to the bigger muscles (prime movers such as hamstrings, quads, etc) and as such, they need only a tiny effort (10%) when applying the series of isometric contractions used to loosen the tight muscles that are causing the deviation. In either event, one must always re-assess the bony landmarks to confirm that the misalignment has been corrected!

Ultimately, without having to rely on X-Rays, we can assess the entire spine, both in flexion & extension, and this will amount to about one half of the entire protocol known as the Onsen Techniques (developed by Rich Phaigh, renowned massage therapist in Eugene, Oregon). Several massage practitioners at the Club have trained in the Onsen Techniques: Maryann Kuchera has taken all four classes (at least two times), as has Misa Shimizu (one time), and Carrie Nelson and Leo Dilorenzo each have taken at least one class!

Julie Bacon, LMP and Certified Onsen Techniques Therapist, Instructor & Examiner.

Introducing Carrie Nelson!

Carrie came to us with a long history in the Massage field. She graduated from Seattle Massage School in 1996 and has been licensed since 1997. Her interests in massage include sports massage, injury treatment, manual lymphatic drainage, and energetic work.

Prior to her career in massage, Carrie studied anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry at the University of Hawaii. Carrie has a lifelong fascination with science and the natural world and spent 20 years as a medical research technologist at the University of Washington School of Public Health. She loves helping people through touch and attention to detail.

Outside of her work in massage, she is an avid skier, hiker and lover of the natural world. She hails from many places, West Virginia and Minnesota to name a few. She has lived here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest since 1987. She is very happy to be part of our team here at the Seattle Athletic Club and looks forward to being of service wherever it’s needed!