A Primary Element of DSL Edgework &
Myo-Structural Bodywork (also Known
as Mindful Medical Massage:
Edge-Touch© Manual Technique
Playing “The Edge” of Pain, Fear &
Resistance in Mind & Body
— with Mindful Medicine —
The DSL Edge-Touch® Manual Technique is a manual (hands-on) technique used to dissolve tension & stress ( C.E.M.&.N.T. ) in musculo-fascial units. It is a hands-on process of contacting, touching & pressing the skin, muscles & fascia to affect changes deep into the Central Nerve System (CNS) & Brain.
To this end, we use a NO Pain, MORE Gain approach to therapy.
While enduring the old No Pain, NO Gain Myth, that philosophy might well work for football and boxing, yet it does NOT work so well in therapeutic processes!
The idea is to produce a level of intensity of sensation the Client likes or is neutral about, and can focus their attention on. The Client should, ideally, be INVITING the sensations, not FIGHTING the sensations.
But they are NOT going into sensations of PAIN, which, by definition, produce sensations interfering with the relaxation process ( many of which are NOT usually or easily noticeable to the conscious mind ).
This is the Main Job of the Client: to KEEP the Therapist as WELL INFORMED as possible of what they are experiencing. Their job is to make sure the Therapist does NOT go too fast or too deep. And to stay in “hot spots” if they are found.
This is a Key Feature of Participatory Medicine, rather than spectator medicine. This is the introduction of Mindfulness, or a Meditative component, of the DSL Process. This is a more wholistic approach to the meaning of the word Medicine:
( Please See: Medicine Defined – Ancient Meanings )
To do this effecticiently,* the Client / Patient needs to pay Close Attention to what they are feeling in their body.
Effecticient = Effective + Efficient
In some cases, for some Clients, this requires near CONSTANT communication. That’s because sometimes, “things” in the Clients’ soft tissues change really fast. … Sometimes, it is minute to minute!
And it is Often THE MOST Difficult Thing for a Client to Do.
Being more mindfully, or fully focused on sensations of the body is a physical aspect of meditation. And the meditative “state” (which is NOT really a “state” because, ideally, it is so fluid) is not something most people are used to doing. And the human ego / self-identity has a deep resistance, even a fear, of being truly meditative. (That’s a whole article in itself!)
Maximum & Minimum Edges
Finding the *Maximum Edge* of Pain
The Edge, then, is about going UP TO, but NOT INTO, pain. The Edge is that fine line where Intense Sensation becomes PAIN.
Pain is defined as any process informing the CNS & Brain of impending or occurring DAMAGE to the system.
The Edge is that place where maximum results are achieved with minimum negative response or reaction.
The *Minimum Edge* of Sensation
Now, the more traumatized, injured, stressed, or otherwise impaired a Client is, the more they need to back off the Edge of Sensation / Pain as much as possible.
Sometimes, the Client must go all the way back to the Minimum Edge, the very first point where they just feel SOMETHING, but NOTHING challenging, intrusive, or invasive AT ALL.
People who are very stressed or traumatized are often hyper-reactive to nearly ANY sensation AT ALL. Almost ANY level of pressure triggers negative reactions in their body that inhibits, or sometimes arrests altogether, the healing process.
Playing The Edge Is NOT Always EASY
This concept, by the way, is THE hardest thing for most Clients to wrap their minds, or bodies, around. Too many people are SO conditioned into the No Pain, NO Gain idea that they cannot effectively “play the edge,” let alone efficiently. They almost always find themselves going over it and into pain, sometimes a LOT.
And sometimes, they do not even realize it for quite a while. Sometimes they don’t realize it unless you ask them.
Yet then, later on, very often, they will complain about it hurting too much!
Deep Tissue WITHOUT the PAIN!
One aspect of respecting The Edge is that the tissues are not “fighting back” against the manual pressure of the Therapist.
Because there is NO Pain! (Or there does not NEED to be.)
I’ve had many occasions when Therapists were VERY surprised to see how easily I could get into a Client’s psoas muscles without the Client experiencing any pain. The idea that it is necessary to be painful to get into any tissue is a VERY BIG Misconception.
Therefore, the Therapist can get FAR deeper into the tissues, and STAY in the tissues for much longer. That way, they find more “hot spots” and take the extra time necessary for the Client to reduce their accumulations of C.E.M.&.N.T.
It is Easier to OPEN the Door BEFORE You Walk Through It,
AND, You Can’t Peel An Onion from the Inside Out!
~ A Saying from David Scott Lynn
Now, to be more precise, a Client often comes in with pain already happening. So, the Therapist’s job is to not “add to” the level of pain a Client comes in with.
Even MORE precisely, sometimes the “way in” to the Clients challenges is to “bring up” the existing pain level just slightly, JUST ENOUGH to bring the Client’s attention more fully focused on exploring the sensations.
Yet if ANY resistance starts in the client’s experience, then the Therapist backs off to a much less challenging sensation level. This gives the Client time to readjust.
Pain Is NOT a THING
Part of the mental challenge is the Client sometimes feels as if the pain is a “THING” stuck in their body and that the job of the Therapist is to “get that THING out of me.”
Yet the pain is not a “thing.” The pain is the result of processes the Client is DOING. Meaning psycho-neuro-musculo-fascial contraction of the muscles. Sometimes they are doing it unconsciously, or even NON-Conciously.*
* NON-Conscious: There are many processes and functions in the human body that have NO sensory nerves transmitting information directly to the conscious parts of the brain. We can only feel or observe them indirectly, if at all.
For Example, when in a stretch, IF the muscles are relaxing & lengthening, and usually softening in the process, we do NOT actually or directly FEEL the muscle fibers DE-Contracting. We only feel the RESULTS of the muscle relaxing & lengthening through OTHER sensory information coming into the cerebral cortex, the “conscious” part of the brain.
So we feel the joints moving. Or we feel pressures on other tissues relieving. We feel ourselves sinking deeper into the stretch. We might feel a limb warming up as more blood flows in. … Yet there are NO sensory nerve endings that deliver the information directly.
This makes it difficult sometimes for the Client to realize that something IS HAPPENING. So they do not get the reinforcement of the feeling of a positive result. In such cases, it is up to the Therapist to provide feedback
The Descending Sensory Pathways
[ The Following is an Excerpt from David Scott Lynn’s
eBook titled The EDGE of Physiology. Much of that material can also be found in Structural Balancing: A Clinical Approach, authored by Kyle C. Wright, co-authored by David Scott Lynn.]
In other cases, the sensations of what is happening in the body are there, but do not get past the lower part of the brain to the cerebral cortex. They are blocked by the Descending Sensory Pathways in the lower brain.
Here’s how that works. Or doesn’t work, as the case may be …
A significant problem in a Client reporting what is happening in their body, and in reporting on how close they are to their Edges of pain, fear and resistance, is neuromuscular desensitization.
What’s That? …
Most of us are at least vaguely familiar with the Ascending Sensory nerve pathways which deliver information — sensations — to the CNS and brain. We also know of Descending Motor nerve pathways which deliver commands from the brain and CNS to the muscles and organs to turn on or off, providing movement and metabolic function.
There are also Descending Sensory nerve pathways whose job it is to selectively block incoming sensory input, preventing it from reaching the cerebral cortex, the conscious part of the brain. They are located in the older, lower, deeper parts of the brain, and are not subject to direct conscious control. You cannot feel them in action, either.
Why does this happen? … Of what value is it that the nervous system blocks incoming sensations on a steady basis?
Limitations on Conscious Processing Power
This neurological phenomena occurs to block redundant, repetitive or excess sensory input that would overwhelm the conscious part of the brain if allowed to reach the cerebral cortex. A mechanism had to be developed by human evolution (or intelligent design for the more religious) to prevent certain parts of the brain, especially the cerebral cortex, from being overloaded with input, or it would be extraordinarily difficult to function in any conscious way.
A simple, low-level example of this is when we put our clothing on in the morning. We feel it contacting our skin for a short period of time. Then the sensation quickly fades into the background, not to be perceived again, unless something unusual happens or we for some reason pay attention to it. If we were feeling and perceiving all of this, plus everything else going on within and around us all the time, the human mind would most probably be unable to function effecticiently, if at all. …
The question is, [of the available sensory data,] who or what decides what sensory input to block out? Because this function exists at a pre-conscious level, we have no direct control over it. If it can be managed at all, it is only possible through more-or-less indirect means. The first challenge, then, is to discover what it feels like to not feel, and go from there. The very act of directing your attention to something in a new way changes the way way your nervous system develops.
Therefore, many phenomena the nervous system senses are not perceived by our conscious mind. This allows many things to happen in and to the bodymind that we cannot feel or observe. So when we ask a Client to report what they’re feeling, or tell us whether or not they are over their Edge (as in putting to much manual pressure on their tissues, or being too deep into a stretch or an exercise), they often don’t feel anything at all, or not much, and don’t really know whether they are over the Edge or not. Therefore they cannot, obviously, communicate to you.
Many people when stretching have no idea they are stretching too deeply because no sensation activates until they are already way too deep into the stretch. Many yoga teachers who are very flexible have significant pain and dysfunction because they have been stretching with too much intensity for too long a time, and their descending nerve pathways have desensitized and blocked the more subtle feelings. The descending pathways have blocked the feelings of tension and related sensation
The fact that this intensity might have felt good to them makes no difference; it could still have created a desensitizing (sensitization in medical terminology) effect. The result is they have to feel a LOT to feel anything. They do not feel the very subtle sensations that provide the information they really are in need of, but cannot feel.
When it comes to bodymind responsiveness, one cannot easily change what one cannot feel. It is very difficult to relax tensions if we cannot feel them. If we cannot feel that we are moving incorrectly, we cannot easily change the way we move. We must learn how to be able to feel things — or to RE-sensitize — to gain control over them.
[ MORE COMING SOON ]
Thank You for Reading about Playing the Edge!
David Scott Lynn (DSL*)
* DSL: Your High Touch Uplink to the Inner-Net*
* Inner-Net: Your Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial Network