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By Meir Schneider and Carol Gallup

Movement Is Life
"We need movement because that is what life is about," she said. "There is no such thing as a completely sick person, or a completely healthy person either. There are only those who move more and those who move less. Movement in the human body is continuous. Once it stops we stop living. There is either restriction to movement or freedom of movement, and a person can choose either." Movement exercises for his calf and shin muscles, she said, would improve his eyesight. Schneider found the statement mind-boggling. Miriam pointed out that Schneider's eyes were becoming more alive with the movements of his eye exercises. She advised him to perform them on the beach, rotating his head from side to side and moving his toes up and down while standing in shallow water, so that the movement of the waves would stimulate his foot and shank muscles. Schneider tried it, and found a whole new world he could come back to again and again. Winter or summer, he would stand in the surfexercising, opening himselfwholeheartedly to the practice and study of movement, breathing, coordination and the gentle rhythms of the body. It was bliss. It was also the beginning of a lifetime exploration. Schneider soon began creating exercises for himself and others with serious illnesses, and seeing remarkable improvement. He discovered that everyone has an innate power to create recovery and health. The key to accessing this selfhealing power was a deep sense of movement, sometimes called kinesthetic or proprioceptive awareness. Over the years, thousands of clients of his Self-Haling Method have developed their own kinesthetic awareness and reversed the progress of such degenerative conditions as mu-lar dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, &rick polio and postpolio, carpal tunnel ?ndrome, near- and farsightedness and m m r diseases of the eye. Miriam could not explain the connection she sensed between the lower legs 2nd
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Massage therapists are T h i s is the first of six coluAns by Meir really the ideal caregivers to Schneider, founder of the Center for SelfHealing in San Francisco and the author foster in their clients the of The Handbook of Self-Healing and Selfkinesthetic/proprioceptive Healing: My Lifeand Vision. Throughout awareness that awakens the column Schneider and co-writer Carol their self-healing powers, Gallup will explore the importance of movement in daily life, and the necessity because a powerful synergy, of incorporating movement into healing the combination of treatments. massage and movement, discovered is available to them. theWhen Meir Schneider first he was a importance of movement,
blind teenager working very hard to learn how to see. Every day, excited and hopeful, he would come home from school and practice eye exercises and massage his head and neck for hours at a time. He even did the eye exercises during classes at school, much to the annoyance of his teachers. His family scoffed at his efforts. Doctors had told them years before that Schneider was hopelessly, permanently blind. Five unsuccesshl surgeries in early childhood had replaced his congenital cataracts with scar tissue so dense that only five percent of one lens and one percent of the other admitted any light. There were other serious vision problems as well. Schneider's only support came from his ON^ mentors, Isaac, a teenager who had learned the eye exercises of the Bates Method from a library book to clear up his own nearsightedness, and Miriam, the librarian who introduced the two boys. Now, six months into his project, Schneider could see shapes, light and dark and a little movement without glasses; with them, for the first time in his life, he could see the ordinary objects of the world -windows, air conditioners, girls, his own face in the mirror. Within another year, he would see equally well without glasses, and later, he would read and write normally and earn an unrestricted driver's license. Miriam told Schneider his program was incomplete without movement exercises.

eyesight. After trying her exercises, Schneider found it out for himself. An area that feels unsupported from below will comp'ensare by stiffening. Schneider's tense, undeveloped shanks and feet were perceived by every part above, especially his neck, as an inadequate base of support. Strengthening Schneider's feet and shanks allowed his neck to relax enough chat massage and exercises there could have a lasting effect. Schneider discovered that, with his neck more relaxed, the increased circulation available to his head made a noticeable improvement in his eyesight. Through movemenr, he had begun to sense the interconnectedness of all parts of the body.

The chain of movement
A massage therapist needs to have hands that are alive - warm, penetrating, aware. Movement can bring this kind of life.to your hands. It has to start, as it did for Schneider as he nurtured his eyes, with your base of support - feet, ankles and shanks. Take a moment to investigate it for yourself. Stand up, tighten up your ankles and then try making circles with your knees and hips. Now relax your Hnkles and do thesame thing; notice how much more movement you have above them. Movement scientists point out that in walking, excursion is greatest at the ankle, less at the knee, still less at the hip, and so on. If you introduce stiffness at the ankle, it goes all the way up the kinetic chain. According to David Winter, a leading researcher in movement analysis, a major challenge of the lower body during walking is that of controlling the anteriorlposterior (forwardlbackward) sway of the upper body. The head needs to be kept steady to reduce sensory "noise" to the eyes and the balance receptors of the vestibular system. Because we are topheavy (rwo-thirds of the body's mass is above the legs), the upper body acts as an inverted pendulum rotating on the hip, sometimes accelerating forward, sornetimes backward, always inherently unstable. Whatever accelerations of the inverted pendulum are left undampened after the lower body has done its work ark left to the muscles of the back and neck (erector spinae and splenius capitus). If you limit movement below - through tense mus51

Photos # l a & Ib: Bringing movement up the body.

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Movement is Life
cIes or from wearing unyielding shoes or high heels - you're going to have to tighten your back and neck. Not coincidentally, many of us have stiffness in these areas. Base-building exercises This is the beginning of a complete movement exercise sequence continuing into the next two sections, which will create balanced, relaxed use throughout the body and enliven your hands. Check your neck for stiffness now. Rotate your neck in each direction, move your chin left and right, bend your neck to each side (ear to shoulder). As you do the following exercises, check your neck from time to time to see whether it moves more easily. Awakening the toes: Rotate all your toes together and then each one individually, passively and then actively. You may need to hold onto all the other toes to help one move by itself. Then give each toe some resistance training to create strength and awareness. Move it up, down, to one side, then the other, resisting with your fingers; now try to rotate it again, then visualize the rotation, then rotate it again. Building strong calf and shin muscles: Standing, alternate moving the forefoot up and down 50 times. Then alternate moving the heels up and down 50 times. Ankle rotations: Sit down comfortably. Rotate your neck in one direction, then the other, noticing how freely it moves. Now keep your heels together on the floor and make circles with the forefeet. Now rest one ankle on the other knee and massage the calf and shin muscles while making circles with the forefoot of the supported leg in both directions. Then see whether the neck rotations have become easier. Bringing movement up the body: (Photos # l a & Ib): Still sitting, keep your feet on the floor and mobilize your knees by making 20 mirror-image big circles in each direction. Now mobilize your back in three parts, moving continuously and going as far as you can in each direction five times. Tilt your pelvis back and forth; then put one hand on the lower midri& one on the midback, and guide the midthorax back and forth; then alternate collapsing your shoulders forward and pulling them back. Check your neck; notice how much less tension is present.

Photos #2a & 2b: Shoulder rotations.

W a k i n g barefoot on the beach: Normally, with each step, your foot moves from inversion (soles pointing toward each other, presenting the stiffest possible surface to the ground) to eversion (soles pointing outward, arches lowering) and back again, as it investigates the kind of surface ic is walking on and accomrnodates itself. Walking with shoes on hard, even surfaces, we can lose much of this movement and sensory awareness. On

sand, as at the beach, we get lower impact, a more various, balanced use of foot and shank muscles, and a lively interaction with the soft, uneven sand. After walking along and noticing how it feels for a while, try walking backward. You can glance over your shoulder occasionally to make sure there are no major obstacles. If you like, bring along someone to spot you. This is a great way to break up stiff patterns throughout the
MASSAGE Issue Number 60. MarcWApiil1996


body. Your center of gravity moves backward. You start to feel your shins and the back of your thighs mobilize. Your neck stops craning forward and your head feels delightfully like an idle passenger. Now walk forward again and see how different it feels. (One Olympic gold medalist skater who was working with Schneider rehsed to walk barefoot on the beach. He was afraid to give up the stiffness in his ankles. Would it have hurt his performance? Maybe, in the short run. T h e "peak performances" of athletes may be less than wonderfbl in terms of health.)


Your hands can endlessly increase their ability to feel the movement needs of the area they are working on, while they transmit a sense of all the movement that is possible there.


Losing and regaining movement Degenerative illnesses -such as arthritis, age-associated diseases of the eye, overuse syndromes and chronic back pain - are on the rise. Medicine has no effective remedies. W e believe that lack of movement causes most degenerative,illnesses and creates major symptoms in others. Degenerative conditions are diseases of stagnation, of chronic postural rigidities and unbalanced use. Of the body's approximately 600 muscles, we grossly overuse about 50 and greatly underuse many others. Muscular tension builds up in some areas until they are numb and immobile. Whichever system of your body is most vulnerable will accumulate problemS fastest. If it's your connective ;issue, it will slowly harden, causing joint spaces to shrink, and eventually t ; pain h and stiffness of arthritis begins. If it's your circulatory system, a tight chest may lead to heart problems or a tight neck to migraine and then,stroke. Freezing up like this doesn't happen overnight. We all know the typical anxi7

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Movement is Life
ety posture, the "coat hanger look" head forward, shoulders hunched, upper chest collapsed, ready to "shoulder" the next task. Anxiety tends to dominate not only emotionally, blocking out all milder feelings, bur physically. We use what Schneider calls the anxiety muscles - the flexors - and avoid working others, for example, the abductors. The critical question is whether these stressful postures are occasional or embedded. When we get upset, we tend to take it in the neck, briefly, but when emotional tension is put into a neck that is habitually tense, it will stay on. It's like the difference between a swamp and a river -if you throw dirt into a swamp, it just sits there, but if you throw it into a river, it will be swept away. In working with an embedded movement loss, relaxation has to be first a physical action and only later an emotionallmental one. Movement loss is part of a lifestyle for many people. It's insidious. Over the course of time, ideas of how we can move become limited and stereoryped until some areas of the body lose wen the memory or concept of movement. For example, most of our day-to-day movements occur in the sagittal (fonvardlbackward) plane -walking, reaching, typing -leading to wear and tear, and overuse syndromes. We get too many of these angular, jerky movements and not enough of the fluidity of circular movements that take us through many planes. As patterns of stiff, limited, unbalanced use build up, eventually they can follow us even into new pastimes like swimming or yoga, robbing us of the release and refreshment such activities initially offered. A big part of the problem is that too much,movement is goal-oriented, so that the body becomes merely a tool to be used - and ignored. In this respect, the jogger who runs his seven miles every day no matter how it feels is no more aware of his body's movement requirements than is the ofice worker who dutifully sits immobile at a computer screen all day until the movement her body desperately needs actually feels strange and unwelcome. Chronic stress, endemic in our culture, is a major cause of movement loss. It causes us to tense up many more muscle groups rhan we need to perform an action. In a startling example of overrecruitment, when most of Schneider's clients try to roll from side to side on the floor, their diaphragm, chest and throat

Photos #3a & 3b: Awakening the back.

muscles, inappropriately trying to control the movement, stiffen enough to create nausea and dizziness. (Rolling is not only useful for evaluation; it's a nice way to break up movement blocks. Try it for yourself and with your clients.)

Massage therapists are not exempt from stress and over-recruitment. As you massage a ,-lien[, is it only the massaging hand that is working, or is it the entire arm, shoulder, chest, upper back, neck and maybe even the abdomen and face
MASSAGE. Issue Number 60 March/April1996



(especially the jaw) as well?All of these muscles may be acting together as a big insensate block. This is poor mechanics and - from the point of view of yoga and other disciplines -poor energetics, .-because enerm channels are blocked in many places. Furthermore, the nervous system becomes so.understimulated that it is very hard to feel the tissue you are massaging. Unfortunarely, clients can sense the difference. When you over-recruit, you over-use the stabilizers- for example, the shoulders, and deny the appropriate muscles their Ill.movement. You may, for instance, choke up on the wrists and fingers so that the client feels a frozenness in your fingertips. Recruitment of unnecessarv muscles is an occupational Kazaid of massage therapy. The results include fatigue, burnout, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Even maisage therapists who don't usually recruit unnecessarily may do it under stress.
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Movement and massage Movement is the treatment that is often missing in medicine, in massage practices and in the massage therapist's self-care as well. Massage therapists are really the ideal caregivers to foster in their clients the kinestheticlproprioceptive awareness that awakens their self-healing powers, because a powerful synergy, the combination of massage and movement, is available to them. Movement can change the therapist1 client relationship. .How many times have you seen a client come back with the same problem week after week?Adding a home program of movement and self-massage can get these clients unstuck, enlist them as active, inventive partners and change the energy of the massage session. Realistically, clients that like to be dependent may leave you, but you will probably attract more self-reliant ones. Schneider believes that it was no accident that his first successes with dcgenerative diseases came while he was working to gain functional vision. Enormous sensory and motor changes were occurring in his brain as a result of his explorations; this open, nonroutine state had a powerful effect on his early clients. Our center is often full of clients from all over the world with degenerative diseases of muscle, nerve, joints, vision and


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Movement is Life
others. one bfour chronic pain, therapists told us she envies her clients with serious diseases for the spiritual aspects of their recovery. ~h~~ become extraordinary people. We couldn't be any use to them if we didn't continually explore movement - including the important movement of missage - and stay open to what we find from moment . . to moment. You really can't ever stop. W e transmit movement - our own - to others every time we touch them. It tends to keep us honest. fiercises to thaw movement patterns T h e following exercises can help you and your clients break up frozen movement patterns by isolating and peripheralizing movement. By using only the muscles that are needed, massage therapists can work 14 hours a day or more without fatigue. Shoulder rotations (Photos #2a & 2b): All of these rotations should be done in both directions. Lying on your side with your head well supported by pillows, rotate your free shoulder 20 times in each direction, while tapping on the tip of the shoulder with your other hand. Visualize that the tip of your your shoulder is leading the action; this releases the muscles of the midback. Now visualize the shoulder rotations. Next, rotate the shoulder passively with the other hand. Then repeat the active shoulder rotations. Rotate the whole arm 20 times in each direction. Focus on the fingertips and visualize that they are leading the motion. Interrupt your arm rotations once or twice to tap with your fingertips on the floor about 10 times. This will help you focus on the fingertips. Return to the shoulder rotations; and ask yourself whether the shoulder feels looser. Then d o the same sequence with the other shoulder. Awakening the back (Photos #3a & 3b): Get down on hands and knees on the floor. Hold your arms and legs steady and rotate your buttocks. Allow your thighs to rotate with the hips, and make bigger circles, always in both directions. Next, allow your arms and legs to join in the rotation. Hold your pelvis as steady as you can and rotate your chest and upper back, first with your weight equally distributed on both hands (more of an upand-down motion), then shifting your weight from one hand to the other (a more side-to-side motion). Next, move You: 'PIJer back and down bringing your shoulder blades as close to each other and then as far apart as possiKeeping your entire torso steady and your weight on both hands, rotate your As you breathe, have everything separate and expand still further - rib cage and sides moving outward. When your client is face down, try rotating your head while massaging. As you move through your day, visualize that every movement you make is per-

ble several times.

Photo #4: Opening up adhesions. shoulders, first together and in the same direction, and then alternately, so that one shoulder is up while the other is down. Arch your back and lower your head until the top of your skull touches the floor and takes some of your weight, and rotate your torso on your head. This peripheralizing exercise continues the exploration of movement in the back from the above-mentioned exercise to bring movement up the body. For variety, you may choose t o mobilize the lower, middle and upper back in flexionlextension in the all-fours posture you assume at the beginning of this sequence. Use these suggestions as a starting point and see how many ways you can find to move your spine. Expanding everywhere: The next time you are giving a massage, breathe deeply and visualize that every part of your body is lengthening, expanding, loosening. Tell your head to go up to the ceiling and your shoulders to the walls. formed by your body's periphery. As you walk, picture your feet lifting your legs. When you use your arms -writing or giving a massage -picture your fingers leading the motion. An architect came to our center two days before she was scheduled for surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. She learned how to use only her fingertips for her drafting work and let go of her shoulder, jaw, neck, chest and abdomen. Her symptoms disappeared completely, and she canceled the surgery. Now she is a full-time massage therapist. These peripheralizing exercises and the following wrist and hand exercises were part of her regimen; you may want to teach them to clients whose occupations and pastimes rely on extensive use of their hands. You can help them -and yourself - prevent or recover from overuse syndromes.

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Movement to bring more life t o your touch Massage therapists need to have a special kind of intelligence in their hands. Isolation and peripheralization are important kctors; so are strength and sensitivity. The following exercises will bring

In a branch of Judaism, the soul is considered to be in the forearms, so a ritual cloth is wrapped around them for prayer. Schneider sometimes thinks of this during sessions as he experiences the life of his hands, the life of another person through them, and the compassion inherent in the act of massage.

relaxation to your hands, make them strong enough to work independently, and actually increase their intelligence as you create new neuronal and neuromuscular connections. Your hands can endlessly increase their ability to feel the movement needs of the area they are working on, while they transmit a sense of all the movement that is possible there. Finger tapping: Sit in a chair that supports your back well; cushion and support the elbow of the tapping hand with a pillow or blanket. On a table or other hard surfice, tap with all the fingers of one hand a few hundred times. The wrist should be very loose, and the movement floppy; a ~ o i d - ~ o u n d i n ~rigid fingers. with How are the fingertips reacting? They will probably feel pleasantly stimulated at first, then pained, then numb, then pained again, then stimulated. If they simply hurt continuously, you may be tapping too hard, so ease off. When


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Movement is Life
you have tapped 300 to 400 times,'your fingers will be tingling - and more sensitive - from better circulation and nerve response. Feel your face, scalp, shoulder and chest, first with the sensitized hand, then with the other, and compare what the two hands register. Repeat the exercise with the other hand. Opening u p adhesions (Photo.#4): D o each of these movements about 100 times: Open and close the fingers of one hand, focusing o n your fingertips and tapping on the forearm with your other hand. Next, rotate your forearm in both directions, then rotate your shoulder in both directions. Open your mouth as wide as you can and close it. Rotate your head in both directions. Now open and close your fingers again and see if they are looser. Repeat with the other hand and arm. Awakening wrist and hand joints: Rest your right forearm on a table and relax your right hand as completely as possible while you grasp the fingertips and passively rotate it in both directions with your other hand. Continue until the right hand stops helping or resisting the motion. Now grasp your right hand just under the wrist and let it rotate slowly in as big a circle as you can make without tensing the arm: Keep the right hand and fingers completely relaxed and let the wrist do the work alone. Repeat 10 to 20 times, then return to the passive rotations. Is there a bigger range of motion and less resistance? Now rotate each finger of the right hand, first passively, then actively, then passively. Next do the same with each joint on each finger. How much independent movement do you get from each! Compare both hands as to warmth, sensitivity, looseness, aliveness. Compare the way each hand responds to different surfaces, including your own leg. Now rotate all the joints of the left hand. Massaging each hand: (Although this is not a movement exercise, we included this self-massage because it's a perfect end to this sequence.) With the fingertips of one hand, start to explore the muscles of the other. Make small circles with a gentle downward pressure, keeping the fingertips o n the skin. Anchor your hand with the thumb, then massage with the thumb, too. Proceed from the base of the hand up to the knuckles, then along both sides of each finger. Massage each finger between the thumb and fingers of the other hand. You may find tense or tender places; when the tension is released, it may produce an emotional release as well. Repeat for the other hand. In a mystical branch of Judaism, the soul is considered to be in the forearms, so leather strips are wrapped around them for prayer. Schneider sometimes thinks of this during sessions as he experiences the life of his hands, the life of another person through them, and the compassion inherent in the act of massage. EI

Meir Schneider, Ph. D. L.M. 1,an internationally known therapist and educator, is the creator of the Meir Schneider Self-Healing Method, the author of two books, Self-Healing: My Life and Vision and The Handbook of Self-Healing, and thefounder/director of the Center and Schoolfor Self-Healing in San Francisco. As a teenager, he overcame blindness cawed by congenital cataracts and other serious vision problems and toddy has an unrestricted driver's license. Forfirther information, call (415) 6657574.

Carol Gallup is an advanced student of Self-Healing,registrar of the Schoolfor Self-Healing,staff writer of the SelfHealing Research Founddtion, and the author of numerous magazine articles. She studied physical therapy at the Mayo Clinic and is now a master's degree candidate in research psychology at San Francisco State University. For her thesis, she is documentating thep r o p s of a SelfHealing client with muscular dystrophy using kinematic anabsis.