Balance and Stress
Balance and stress have an interesting relationship. When we are stressed out we will often refer to our experience as being out of balance, we bump into things and we loose our orientation and sense of direction or purpose in our lives. Stress can have a negative influence on balance, which can then amplify stress. (More on Balance and mechanisms of cognition) Physiologically there is an interesting correlation between being out of balance and stress. Both have connections to the central nervous system with nerves that run through or between the bones of the skull. These nerves are specifically Cranial Nerve VIII which connects the vestibular (balance) and Auditory components of the ear to the brain, and Cranial Nerve X which is also known as the Vagus Nerve. The Vagus nerve is the primary connection between the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and the Brain. The PNS has a lot to do with stress responses and the physical symptoms of distress, such as heart rate, tightness in the gut, constipation and insomnia.
Imbalance in the function of Cranial Nerves is known to arise from tension or compression placed on them by changing alignment of the bones of the skull. By simply reorganizing the relationship of the associated Cranial bones, normal nerve function may quickly resume, and the experience of being balanced and centered ensues. Chronic misalignment is usually associated with joints between the bones than can become stuck and it can take some focused work to unjam them. However, the type of imbalance that we all experience, sometimes just calling it “a bad day” can be approached much more generally and often with the simple exercises I am about to present. This type of imbalance can result from how we slept, to our physical reactions to any type of stress, from trauma (even minor injuries) and can last quite a while before our body figures out how to self correct it.
Gall Bladder Meridian Technique
This technique has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) and is based on the Gall Bladder Meridian and Applied Kinesiology. I use it as a sort of first aid kit for working with structural imbalances when it is not appropriate to dig deeply into the origins of an issue. The exercise can be done sitting, however it is better to do standing on a flat surface and looking at a horizontal line in front of the eyes (strip of tape). This allows the visual and proprioceptive neural networks to orient to the vertical plane (2,3). This exercise can be very beneficial before physical tasks.
1) Behind the knee is a little horizontal muscle called Popliteus. If you gently get your fingers into the void behind the knee, you will feel this muscle. Check both sides. One muscle might feel much tighter than the other. Use a very slow Spindle Cell Technique (1) (be gentle) paying special attention to the side that is tight. Do this three times to each side.
2) Anterior Deltoid: Anterior Deltoid runs down the front of the arm from the shoulder to a third of the way down the arm. Again use Spindle Cell Technique (1) three times to release and organize these muscles on both arms.
3) Temporal Tap: Tap around the ear on both sides of the head, preferably standing and looking at a horizontal line. Use a gentle rhythmic tapping and go around the ear 5 – 8 times. This is to activate the vestibular system for balance and organize it in relation our visual horizon(2) and the feeling of our weight through our bodies, especially our feet(3).
This technique can allow the Cranial organization to quickly adopt a more functional organization and can immediately release some type of pain and improve function. If you are feeling out of whack, this technique may make a big difference to the quality of your day.
I would like to also present a related technique that has more to do with our energetic organization.
This technique also originates from Applied Kinesiology and TCM. It uses meridian stimulation to orient our energetic organization to our vision and vestibular system. This can be very useful before cognitive tasks. An excellent full description of the Switching Technique can be found in “Touch for Health, The Complete Edition” by John and Matthew Thie. This technique is also best done standing and looking straight ahead at a horizontal line.
1) Place one palm over your belly button and with the thumb and index finger rub the top of the chest under the collar bones for 5 – 8 seconds. Switch hands and repeat.
2) Place one palm over your belly button and with the other rub the top and bottom lip for 5 – 8 seconds. Switch hands and repeat.
3) Place one palm over your belly button and with the other rub you Tail Bone for 5 – 8 seconds. Switch hands and repeat.
1) Spindle Cell Technique is a manipulation where the muscle is tricked into lengthening by compressing the fibres of the muscle together. It is sort of like pinching the muscle along the direction of the fibres. Slow pressure is directed to bunch up the muscle fibres and held for seven seconds(3).
2) Masgutova Neuro-Motor Reflex Integration and Dr Svetlana Masgutova
3) Applied Kinesiology and Dr. George Goodheart