Much of Myofascial Release is about landscape. I look at posture to see deviations from mid line. I palpate tissue quality to determine tightness or restriction. I move into the rib cage to feel for areas that lack movement. These rib issues are what I want to address today.
Working into the osseous structures has always interested me. When learning this work, I felt that I had an adequate number of techniques to address rib cage tightness, but it was only through years of experimenting and noting the outcome that I learned the value of treating the rib cage.This is where landscape becomes important.
Think of the ways we treat those scapular or rhomboid knots that clients complain of. Treatments or modalities of all sorts may give some relief, but the pain returns. When was the last time you looked at and felt the landscape of the thoracic ribs?
In an ideal world, we are born with a landscape where the posterior rib cage gradually eases from shoulders to the lower trunk with a smooth, gradual sweep. There are no sharp peaks or valleys. With your client face down, you can view this while standing at their head. Global pressure into this area provides feedback of an equal give, all ribs and soft tissue flexing inward until you gradually reach the barrier. The thoracic spine matches this, with a smooth undulation toward the table. The scapula glides over this landscape in response to motion of the arm. The underside of the scapula finds no resitance from the smooth landscape underneath.
But, with normal or abnormal postural asymmetry, injury, scoliosis, or trauma, the rib cage often assumes a more craggy appearance, one where the landscape is interrupted by peaks or valleys of apparent tight ribs. The thoracic spine does not give equally to your pressure. The underside of the scapula is constantly irritated by the raised ribs, causing spams. The asymmetrical rib tension can force a rib head to misaligned at its junction with the spine.
Instead of staying on the surface and working the muscle or superficial fascia, move deeper into the rib cage. Engage the fascia and musculature of the intercostal regions. You most certainly will need to address pelvic torsions and tensions, but do not forget the landscape.
Walt Fritz, PT Pain Relief Center, Rochester, NYhttp://www.myofascialresource.com
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