DSL Edgework:

The term “DSL Edgework” is derived from the following meanings:

  • DSL(1) — are the initials for David Scott Lynn
  • DSL(2) is the acronym for Dynamics of Structural Laws & Learning
  • Edge(1) Being on The Leading Edge of Bodywork & Yoga Therapeutics
  • Edge(2) Playing the EDGE of Pain, Fear & Resistance is a major FOCUS of our hands-on bodywork and yoga postures
  • Work Represents “Bodywork” — Making the body work better

8 Elements of DSL Edgework

Elements of DSL Edgework for Muscle Pain Relief & Stress ReductionThis Document gives you an Overview of the DSL Edgework Therapy System, Developed by David Scott Lynn

You’ll know the most basic Principles & Perspectives we operate under. If you take one of our programs, this will give you a Context in which to understand & apply what you’ll learn in the various DSL Edgework Educational Programs.

Here are the Basic Elements
of DSL Edgework:

1. A Primary Focus of the DSL Method Is C.E.M.&.N.T.
Chronic, Excess, MusculoFascial & Nerve Tension & Stress … and Negative Habit Patterns

What IS C.E.M.&.N.T.?

It is excessively “tight (hyper-tonic) muscles” exerting excess pressures, stresses, & entrapments to other tissues in the body: joints, blood & lymph vessels, nerves, organs, and other muscles.

C.E.M.&.N.T. is a Primary Source of aches & pains, dysfunction, lost range of motion, weakness, poor posture & balance, reduced vitality & energy, scoliosis, kyphosis, and many other symptoms and conditions. …
It’s not the ONLY source, but it is a BIG one!

REDUCING C.E.M.&.N.T. is Our
Primary Focus of Therapy


(Opens In New Page So You Don’t Lose This One)

2. The DSL Approach, in General, on HOW to “Work with Muscles.”

Knowing HOW the Muscle System Works,
Tells You HOW to “Work It.”

elements of dsl edgework - muscle-fascia structure described in the school of hard knots

The word “MUSCLES” refers to the Psycho*-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial System as a whole, synergistic system. …

* The term “Psycho-“ refers to the mental & emotional processes, and levels of thought & memory, that control, interplay with, influence, or react / respond to the sensations from the muscular system, bones & joints, organs, and other sensory nerves. Many of these are processes of the Brain & Central Nervous System (CNS), and organs sending their input to the brain. …

However, there ARE functions & responses of the body that do not necessarily communicate with the upper levels of the CNS & Brain. They work more-or-less on “automatic” (without conscious control) and it is harder for the conscious mind to perceive these processes. Yet in many cases, a Client’s conditions are “trapped” in these un- or non-conscious areas.

Because it is difficult to change what you cannot feel, and much of a Client’s tension, stress & trauma is DE-Sensitized, and much of it operates in the non-conscious parts of the CNS & Brain anyway, it can be VERY challenging to help a Client unwind & unravel the tension patterns causing their soft tissue issues. 

 AND, there are vast networks of hormones, neurotransmitters, and impulses arising from the muscles, glands and organs, sending large quantities of  information up to the various levels of the Brain & Mind.

Some medical researchers say the “microbiome'” the “GUT” in your belly has as much or more neural processing power as the brain you carry around in your head!

The MIND is Much More than Just the Brain.

This is why DSL Edgework has such a strong focus on MINDFULNESS, or Meditative Awareness.

The Question Arises as to WHAT is the Cause of C.E.M.&.N.T.?

There are a number of possible causes, and many people have more than one of them. Repetitive action, action under load, action under stress, action under misaligned body mechanics, for starters. Putting the body in positions where certain muscles are over shortened much of the time. High impact accidents such as auto or falling down stairs, and such.

ANYTIME muscles are called on to contract often or with great force, especially if there is fear or trauma involved, causes muscle to chronically stay “stuck” in the “ON” or “excessively contracted” position. And unfortunately, there is not simple “switch” you can flip to turn therm off. There ARE “switches” called synapses, but they are NOT like a light switch.

We delve deeply into that question in the School of Hard Knots, one of the programs available on this website. There, we will discuss this question in great depth. Because if you know more about HOW a Client developed C.E.M.&.N.T., you can better evaluate for and develop a treatment strategy.

And SOMETIMES, if you can provide a believable & relevant (to them) explanation as to what is or might be causing the problems of a particular Client, their uncertainty or fear levels will often go down, sometimes a LOT. When fear goes down, they usually relax & DE-contract their muscles some, and THAT often starts the Healing Process. …

Being able to educate them can help your Therapy for them a LOT!

Educated Clients are Often the Most Successful Clients!

When Clients understand how “those muscle things” work, they are more likely to work more effecticiently* with the tension release process. One aspect of this is the NO Pain, MORE Gain Rule, explained further below. This is about NEVER letting the amount of pressure applied by the Therapist, or in a stretch, to become invasive or intrusive. …

Effecticient = effective + efficient

The Client should never be “tolerating” the sensations of therapy.  … We want them to LIKE or be Neutral over how much or what kind of sensations they are experiencing. 

Maybe surprisingly, THIS is often one of THE most difficult aspects of DSL Therapy for Clients to comply with. Sometimes, the Therapist must remind the Client on a frequent basis to let them know when The Goldilocks Principle is being violated, as I explain below on this page.

MUSCLE = Muscle Cells + Myo-Fascial Sheaths

Muscles control the stability, protection & movement of the body, including joints & bones and organs & glands, and the BodyMind as a whole.

Elements of DSL Edgework - Muscle Belly, Fibers & Fascial Sheaths -

Fascial Sheaths =
Epimysium + Perimysium + Endomysium

Muscle Cells, by way of their highly specialized contractile fibers, are the Primary FORCE GENERATORS of the musculo-fascial units.

The Fascial Sheaths Direct & Deliver those forces to joints & bones via the Tendons, which are continuations of the fascial sheaths.

The fascial sheaths also provide critical protection & sensory input to work in cooperation with the highly fragile muscle cells to generate appropriate & necessary forces to give the body proper function, movement, & ACTION.

This includes stabilizing the body in gravity and protection of the body against outside physical forces.

When the neuro-musculo-fascial units & functions break down, many negative results appear & accumulate.

All of that taken together, the more severely traumatized Clients can be VERY challenging to bring back toward health. Yet the Principles of Physiology & Neurology say that in MOST cases, all this CAN be reversed, if not fully, at least substantially.

Yes, there are limits. Some people have too much actual tissue damage, such as tearing of cells or sheaths. But our experience is most therapists or physicians give up FAR too soon. Or they do not understand certain critical principles of therapy that are not well known.

MANY TIMES I’ve worked with Clients who were told their pain was from a torn this or that (such as a rotator cuff muscle). Yet only a few minutes of proper manual, or even stretching, therapy relieved the pain. Therefore, while the tissue MIGHT have been torn, the pain was NOT directly from the torn tissue.

All too often the diagnosis of “torn tissue” is only assumed based symptoms. Yet in actuality, it very often is NOPT torn.

This is just one more reason well rounded physicians should have FAR BETTER understanding of muscle therapy so they are better equipped to make a more accurate diagnosis.

One Real Tragedy in Health Care is so many people have issues that CAN be reversed. Yet too many therapists or physicians do not recognized many of these factors as we are discussing here.

Yet Clients often do not have the resources — primarily time & money — to invest in their healing process. (We will discuss that issue in the DSL Edgework Training programs, along with some possible solutions.)

Many MYTH-Conceptions in the
Field of Muscle Therapy

There are many Myth-Conceptions about how the musculo-fascial systems of the human body work, or not. Such Myth-Conceptions tend to direct therapeutic interventions toward inefficient, ineffective, or counter-productive, even harmful, methods of therapy. We examine such Myth-Conceptions, and provide …

to the Puzzles of
Posture, Pain & Dysfunction

Many, if not most “hard knots” or “tight muscles” are very often the location where the most excess neurologic output & irritation is occurring, causing many different problems. “Talking” to the central nervous system (CNS) by way of manually contacting the skin, muscles, & “hard knots” — by applying steady manual (hands-on) pressure or stretching techniques — often provides the most input to the CNS & Brain, which in turn  spontaneously reduces the excess nerve output keeping muscles too tense & tight and organs overactive & over-stressed.

As this excess nerve output is reduced, the CNS & Brain are “RESETTING” to more “normal” levels of neurological activity.

To a Great Degree, We Are RESETTING the Brain & Central Nervous system by way of the Reticular Activating (Tonus) System at the top of the Brain stem.

DSL Edgework uses mostly mindful, manual, hands-on pressure or conscious stretching to contact & connect with, via the muscles & fascia, the deeper levels of the CNS & Brain, with a number of specialized nuances of treatment in the process.

The more Mindfulness, the more In-the-Moment Feeling & Awareness, the Client can bring to the process, the better & more long-lasting their results will be.

Having worked for over FORTY YEARS with Clients & Students from all over the Country & World, we are told that we employ certain nuances of technique not often utilized by most therapists. We also, in many cases, work for unusually long periods of time on certain muscles, or parts of muscles, that need MUCH TIME to find their Pathway back to Deep Relaxation or DE-Contraction of their muscles.

These nuances are applied to the Mindful Medical Massage, the manual, hands-on therapy, as well as Yoga Therapy, or conscious stretching.

• We use the DSL Edge-Touch Method of manual therapy. This includes the NO Pain, MORE Gain approach. The same principles apply to yoga (or conscious stretching).

• The Edge-Touch Method method also includes “Playing the EDGE of Pain, Fear & Resistance.”

• This is where the Client keeps in close communication with the therapist. This keeps the therapist informed if the level of intensity of sensation the manual pressure or stretching produces gets too deep.

The Object is to Go UP to Pain, but NOT INTO Pain.
This is the Maximum Edge

Intensity of Sensation is fine, but if it becomes painful, or the Client generates fear or resistance (even if it is not actually pain) then it is best to back off. If the therapy gets too deep into pain, fear or resistance, the deeper, unconscious portions of the CNS & Brain will very likely begin an underground war of resistance to the intrusion, partially or fully defeating the purpose of the therapy.

It is The Goldilocks Principle:
Some is too hot.Some is too cold.

Playing the Edge minimizes negative reactions in the Client’s BodyMind and usually produces far longer lasting results. That is because when there is no pain, the changes in the peripheral nerve system can be integrated more fully, higher, & deeper into the CNS & Brain.

• The more stressed, tense, injured, or traumatized a Client is, the further away for The Edge we should work. SOME severely compromised Clients need to start at the least amount of sensation possible.

• This is the Minimum Edge.

• We spend a LOT of time working on each muscle fiber group. Sometimes just one small spot for quite a while, sometimes MANY minutes, with little or NO lateral movement. NO cross-fiber. NO sliding or gliding. NO “strumming” of the muscle fibers. Just long, slow, steady pressure until the muscle fiber group releases enough to make a difference. THAT is a very subjective “skill” and sensitivity the therapist develops to know when enough relaxation is enough release of tension.

And we work right through or around clothing, no lubrication necessary.

3. BIO-Structural Analysis & Postural Evaluation

The Secondary Focus (after how best to release excess muscle tension) of the DSL Method is WHICH Muscles & WHAT Sequence of Work are indicated by the Client’s structural & postural anomalies (deviations from normal)?

BIO-Structural Meaning:

BIO: B = Bio-Logical, I = Integrative, O = Optimal / Organon

BIO- refers to the “logic of a whole of human life,” including all psycho-emotional aspects affecting & operating the bone & joint structures of the human body by way of neuro-musculo-fascial & skeletal action.

There is a Living, Breathing Being with a mind, emotions, and a metabolism operating behind or within the neuromuscular, myo-fascial & musculoskeletal structure. …

Integral- putting it all together into a synergistic, cooperative, wholistic or whole health process.

Optimal- in search of the best possible function & action of the various aspects of Being Human, with a focus on the BIO-Structure.

Organon- is an “Instrument of Logic or Reasoning”… a body of principles of scientific or philosophical investigation. It is “an instrument of thought, especially a means of reasoning or a system of logic.” …

This is our own Philosophical & Operational Paradigm of assisting the human body to return to Optimal Health.

Therefore, we will be exploring & developing an “instrument of logic or reasoning” for understanding the “logic of a whole human life,” and applying a range of “whole health processes,” to achieve the “best possible function & action” for our Clients … and ourselves in the process.

THAT is a BIG Job …
Are YOU Up For It?

A. BIO-Structural Analysis & Postural Evaluation

This is the method we evaluate WHICH muscles are of Highest Priority.

(Sometimes, a Client has only a few muscles that are the primary source of their soft tissue issues. Other Clients, unfortunately, have FAR more muscles involved.) We use the relationships between muscles & bones and within the field of gravity — and in the context of the Client’s Personal Health History — to determine which muscles are the primary target of treatment, and in what order.

 (This is seldom an EXACT science. Many Clients have too wide & varied a health — or sickness — history to fit neatly into pre-existing “protocols.”) But it provides a good foundation on which to start.

Ideally, and time permitting, we start with what I call the Homeopathic Interview.

We try to get as broad & deep a picture of their health related background as possible. Yet that can include many aspects of life. Very often, events the Client never suspects are playing a big part in their pathology.

(This Info Gathering & Evaluation can take a LONG TIME in some cases. It is amazing how much traumatic & injurious “stuff” some people have been through in their lives.)

However, one of the Principles of Homeopathic Awareness is that focusing attention on some Element of One’s Being very frequently dissolves any residue it has left in the BodyMInd. Some Client’s healing process starts just by remembering (and sometimes processing) what has happened to them, and getting proper perspective on it.

Homeopathic Interview: “Homeopathy” means “treatment by similars.” Our initial interview, and sometimes subsequent discussions are used on the principle that SOMETIMES, when a Client becomes more clear on, or even remembers things they have forgotten, events from their past, there is often an increase in clarity of what really happened to them, what the associated feelings & thoughts were, and so on.

The idea is to bring the Clients’ memories, feelings, images, thoughts, etc., into closer resemblance or SIMILARITY to what really happened to them.

In SOME cases, that increased Self-Awareness, and Internal Harmonization, when things “click,” sometimes by itself, opens Pathways to Self-Healing, even before the therapy itself starts. Just having better clarity & understanding of what happened to them, and taking the “mystery” out of their “Mystery Pains,” allows them to Relax & Let-Go, at least to some degree.

This is especially true if you can show them it is unlikely their various tissues are not “damaged” or “broken.”

Illustration of a Kitty in a "rag doll" state - Radical Relaxation is a Key to releasing muscle tension

DEEP, Radically Relaxed Kitty

If they can see the possibility that, to a Great Degree, DEEP, Radical Relaxation is what it is ALL about, then that in itself produces a generalized relaxation of their bodymind systems.

For people with “extreme” histories of injuries, traumatization, & stressful circumstances, that Initial Interview can take a long time. I’ve had a few that took an entire 3-hour Session!

It is True that truly DEEP “Letting-Go” of Tension, a FULL, Complete Re-Lax*-ation or DE-Contraction can take time & attention. Yet it is WELL WORTH the energy & efforts involved in gaining that ability.

* Lax = opposite of tense

B. Postural Evaluation

Lumbo-pelvic CORE & structural alignment in BIO-Structural Balancing & Postural Alignment

Postural Evaluation with Focus on Lumbo-Pelvic CORE

Application of a basic formula of analyzing* where the bones are in relationship to each other, and how they are balanced, or not, in space.

This informs the therapist of which one or more muscles are locked long or locked short, which are the over-lengthened or over-shortened muscles.

* Analyzing: The root meaning of analysis is to loosen apart.

A very fitting task of bodywork & yoga, to loosen apart the “tight muscles.”.

Structural: relating to the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of a complex whole. …

We learn to “Think Structurally” as well as “Wholistically.”

Using the relations between muscles & bones within the field of gravity and other physical forces — and in the context of the Client’s personal health history — to determine which muscles are the primary target of treatment, and in what order. Usually the Locked Short muscles. Although there are occasional exceptions in more complex conditions.

Paradoxically, it is often the Locked LONG muscles that are tighter & more painful than the locked short muscles.

Paradoxically, In Many Cases, the Over-LENGTHENED Muscles Are Tighter & More Painful Because They Are Working Harder than the Over-Shortened Muscles

Initially, we focus almost exclusively on releasing the excess muscle tension in the over-shortened muscles, leaving the over-lengthened muscles ALONE for the time being. This is done primarily by the Client having the opportunity and learning experience to FEEL, Relax, Lengthen, Balance, & Coordinate their muscle system.

Now that we know WHICH muscles to address, we then determine the Sequence in which they are most likely to produce the best results. This achieves Postural Alignment allowing the body to operate more precisely in the Field of Gravity with far less effort.

It also includes System-wide, Myo-Structural DE-Compression, using Deep, Radical Relaxation to take pressure in the muscles OFF the other tissues of the body, such as joints, organs, nerves, blood & lymph vessels, and so on.

4. Myo-Structural Bodywork

This is the Psycho-Muscular Release Technique we use to assist the Client in learning how to FEEL, Relax, Lengthen, Balance, & Coordinate their various muscles.

Tension Release from Stretching & Manual Pressure - Muscle Pain Relief and Stress Reduction and the cause for sore muscles

Muscle Tension Release from Stretching &/OR Manual Pressure

This incorporates the NO Pain, MORE Gain approach to how much manual pressure or stretching to exert on the Clients’ Soft Tissues. It involves, slow, steady pressure, with very little lateral movement, on, literally, one “spot” or area of a muscle at a time. We stay in that place with minimal movement until that tissue relaxes to at least some degree. Then we move to the next “spot.”

How much is enough for each muscle or fibers within a muscle in each session is a highly subjective question, with several possible guidelines.

The Edge Motto is …

It is easier to open the door before you walk through it,
And you can’t peel an onion from the inside out!

This gives the Client far more time to Relax or DE-Contract the “tight spots” than is usually available in typical massage or bodywork sessions. And if the Client participates by informing the Therapist when the pressure is getting too deep, or too intense, the Therapist can back off, giving the musculo-fascial units more time and “space” to “let-go” of their tensions, stress, & trauma.

While working the whole body often has many great benefits, SOMETIMES, spending a LOT of time on JUST ONE MUSCLE is what the Client needs most.

While many Therapists tend to push harder on the “tight spots,” WE usually go LIGHTER on the tight spots. We are letting the nervous system do the work, as it is designed to do, letting the nervous system do the “Neuro-RESET,” rather than attempting to use force to “make” the muscle soften up. … Which, in very traumatized people, rarely works anyway. Or if it does, the muscle often tightens right back up in the next few hours, days, or weeks.

Awareness & Thinking - Muscle Pain Relief and Stress Reduction and the cause for sore muscles

Awareness & Thinking Working Together

There is a meditative / mindful component to everything in DSL Edgework. We are not “mystically” inclined, being more focused on physical / mental Reality in the Here & Now.

Yet we believe we are very Conscious in our approaches.

To do our work, we must be able to move seamlessly back and forth between analytical, linear, rational thinking (to evaluate for proper treatment Strategy) and meditative, sensitive, non-rational* awareness (to be In-Touch with how a Client is responding to changes in their bodymind from the therapy).

Non-Rational is NOT “irrational.” IR-rational means it make no sense. But Non-Rational means you are accessing more wide-ranging Sense-Abilities beyond the “normal” range.

5.  Myo-Structural Yoga Therapy

Myo-Structural Yoga Therapy, among DSL Elements in DSL EdgeworkWith the same principles in manual therapy, we use physical yoga postures or stretches therapeutically to stimulate specialized nerve endings within muscles in order to communicate with the CNS & Brain. Done properly, this also “RESETS” the CNS & Brain to reduce the excess nerve tonus (energy) that keeps the muscles “too tight.”

Actually, they are the same nerve endings we address in the hands-on work. But the focus is somewhat different.

In highly traumatized or injured people, the manual therapy is often far more efficient in the early stages of therapy. But as a Client moves back toward a more “normal” and healthier state, stretching becomes more effective & efficient.

When highly traumatized, however, what can take days or weeks to accomplish with yoga might take only hours with hands-on therapy.

The Yoga Therapy or Conscious Stretching is primarily used for …

A. Client Self-Care for Maximizing & Maintaining the Hands-On Work.

B. Physical / Mental / Relational Yoga as the Foundation for DSL Hands-On Therapy.

C. On-going Client Self-Maintenance after therapy is complete or at least when the hands-on work is reduced in frequency.

LEARN MORE About DSL’s Let-Go Yoga Method HERE

(Opens In New Page So You Don’t Lose This One)

6. Tai Chi-based Movement & Exercise Therapy

The Basic Idea is the slow, low-intensity movements of “Yin-style” Tai Chi or Yin Yoga can release excess muscle tension & stress as well as activate the parasympathetic nervous system. That system controls the rest, regenerative, healing, rebuilding, & immune function of the body. It is “built-in” Self-Care.

Tai Chi-style movements also provide a good “bridge” between the relatively still or seemingly passive,* internal movement of yoga and the more outward, external movements of more typical exercise or sports.

* Passive: although the “movements” of a typical yoga posture can be quite subtle, sometimes not noticeable to the outside observer, the internal movements are often numerous and significant, just on a much smaller scale. … “Yang-style” Yogas such as Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga, etc, are more toward the SECC end of the Health—Fitness Spectrum.

Health / Parasympathetic Sympathetic / Fitness

The “exercise” focus is more for SECC: Strength, Endurance, Cardio, (gross) Coordination. There is nothing wrong with SECC, except that one must be aware that SECC activates the sympathetic nerve system and turns down the parasympathetic system. This is the difference between parasympathetic Fitness-building and sympathetic Health-building activities.

We must all find our own proper balance between Fitness & Health.

The ai Chi-based Approach to movement …

A. Provides further Integration of DSL Bodywork & Yoga Therapy.

B. Helps us Discover the Most Effecticient Movement & Action Patterns of our Body in many aspects of life.

Because we are focused primarily on HEALTH & Healing, ALL elements of DSL Edgework are mostly geared toward activation of the parasympathetic nerve system and calming down or quieting of the sympathetic (Fright, Freeze, Fight Or Flight) nerve system.

7. Internal / External Ergonomics

Elements of DSL Edgework include Ergonomic Work Station Set Up

Proper, Upright Sitting Posture Keeps Your Major Muscles More Balanced in the Field of Gravity

Helping a Client redesign their various environments at work, home, in their automobile, (and sometimes their boat!) and other places often reduces stresses & strains on their body. Such reductions of stress & strain often make their therapy process far easier to regain & maintain their optimal state of health.

Keeping major muscle groups from over-shortening, and staying balanced in the filed of gravity, reduces stress & strain on your neuro-musculo-fascial units.

8. Philosophy, Psychology & Science of Being Human

The DSL approach to Philosophy & Psychology, and the underlying Sciences, is based in part on Principles of Western Civilization with a few Essential Insights from the East.

We use a wide-range of other Philosophical & Psychological Elements as Overarching & Underlying Sources of Perspective on How Things Work, including Human Nature. We talk about the Nature of Reality, of Human Nature, of how Human Perception “creates” its Reality, and so on.

We especially focus on these topics in the Context of Health Care.

You Can Learn a LOT MORE about Muscles & Fascia
and the Nerves Controlling Them at

DSL’s School of Hard Knots:
A Masterclass on Muscles

SUB-Pages Under this Section on
Various Elements of DSL Edgework:

The DSL Method — Overview

Yoga, Let-Go Yoga, Yoga Therapy

Yoga / Bodywork Therapeutics

Whole Health & Anti-Aging / Elegant Aging

• Whole Health Principles & Practices

• The Art & Science of Physical / Mental & Therapeutic Yoga

• Technical Summary for Physicians & Therapists

Thank You for Reading about the Elements of DSL Edgework!
Take Care,
David Scott Lynn (DSL*)
* DSL: Your High Touch Uplink to the Inner-Net*
* Inner-Net: Your Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial Network