Tattoos causing neck pain and headaches

The Origin of Neck Pain can be mysterious

I love a mystery. A new client complained of feeling less stability and strength over the last year. His visits to physiotherapists for a variety of small complaints hadn’t yielded any results. He found me through the  directory. In his interview, he mentioned a lot of neck tension and frequent headaches.  I asked about tattoos in my interview and he said he had several, including some dark ones.

Tattoos CAN cause motor control dysfunctions

Dark Clavicle Tattoo

It doesn’t happen very often, but tattoos can cause motor control dysfunctions. They are in fact scars – though generally ones that don’t go very deep. Very dark tattoos like this one affect motor control more often than lighter ones or ones that aren’t colored.  This client had gotten these tattoos just previous to when he had started to notice the decrease in stability in strength. I did some testing to check the coordination of the cervical spine muscles and found it lacking. However, stimulation of the tattoos improved their function.

These tattoos were downregulating his cervical extensors, especially the ones of the right. These muscles on the back of the neck are critical for holding the head up and for performing neck movements. Underactive muscles will often get toned up, stiff and painful. In fact, I have found that they are more often painful than overactive muscles. This client was compensating in various ways to make up for their inability to function properly. The toned up muscles there were certainly contributing to his frequent headaches.

Motor Control requires a variety of stimuli

Motor control is created through a feedback loop in which information is fed from the body to the cerebellum and back again. A huge amount of this information comes from the skin. Sometimes the body needs less information from a certain part of the body to work correctly. For example, less tension in an area around a scar sends less information about tension to the cerebellum. You can read more about that in this blog entry about scars and motor control

However, often the body needs MORE information, more stimulation, or just different information. For example, a muscle that isn’t contracting properly might need to activate to send more information, stimulating the mechanoreceptors for stretch.  A joint that is improperly positioned might require deep pressure stimulation in a particular direction in surrounding tissues to function optimally. This might be achieved with a deep tissue massage.

There are a lot of different types of mechanoreceptors. Combinations of different stimuli types mean that there is a much larger variety of types of stimulation. For example, shallow vibration and deep vibration combine reception from several different types of receptors.

Mechanoreceptors in Hairy Skin

Stimulation is paired with motor control retraining

This particular area wanted light touch stimulation -sensed by hair follicle receptors or Merkel’s disks. Once the area had been lightly stimulated for a minute or so his cervical extensors started responding in a coordinated way again. The lack of these stimuli was downregulating the cervical extensor muscles. In order to retrain the neck to work properly, those muscles have to be consciously activated soon after the stimuli are fed into the system. Basically, this reminds the motor control center of what this information should be used for.

Homework is often a key part of changing stability issues

Sadly the effect didn’t last very long. This doesn’t mean that the retraining will be ineffective, it just means that it will take more work to make it effective.  In order to retrain this area, he will have to stimulate the area, again and again, several times a day for probably for a few weeks, maybe longer. He will also have to pair the stimulation with the retraining of his cervical extensors. The homework was simple but critical. To retain positive effects on his reflexive stability and increase motor control he will have to stick with it.

If you are having trouble tracking down the origins of your issues, think about booking an Initial Assessment with me to do some in-depth analysis and get a fresh perspective

Eye Have a Migraine: Eye movement Rehab leads to Migraine Relief

Migraines and Eye pain are associated

Migraine relief can come from addressing the discoordination of eye muscles with muscles in the neck and trunk. Migraine headaches are associated with eye pain and light sensitivity.  A sub-type of migraine is an ocular migraine, which presents with visual symptoms. Ocular migraines are further divided into migraines with auras and retinal migraines. An aura may occur in up to a third of patients with migraines, but photophobia and light sensitivity are much more prevalent; occasionally even between migraine attacks. Many people also report blurred vision with migraines. The connections between oculomotor functioning and migraine are fairly robust. While eye movement repatterning won’t address the neurological source of migraines directly, it can significantly reduce the severity and length of symptoms. Further, it can reduce the frequency of attacks, offering migraine relief to those who suffer.

Inability to dissociate eye movements from neck movements contributes to migraines

Migraine relief gained from re-patterning eye movements

I had an online consultation with a client who suffers debilitating migraines. She had migraines for 6-8 days of every month. She had suffered with these debilitating migraines for over a decade.  After reading some of my Instagram posts about concussions, she reached out to me hoping for some migraine relief.

When doing the cervical movement exam I noticed a lag in the movement of her eyes to the right. When she turned her head to the right her eyes didn’t lead, they followed. This was strange. We skipped straight to an eye movement exam. (Which, by the way, is challenging but not impossible to perform on yourself.)

The exam gave me enough information to go on. There were movements that this client could not perform with her eyes alone. Her neck was doing the movements for her.  When I asked her to look up right she wouldn’t even notice that she had moved her whole body so her eyes actually stayed around the midline. The ability to dissociate eye movements from neck and intrinsic core movements is CRITICAL for functional and easeful movement through the whole body. When they can’t dissociate migraine symptoms get much worse. When the eye, neck, and midline movements don’t dissociate from each other there are corresponding compensation patterns that cause a rigid neck and torso. This often presents as neck and back pain.

Eye movement rehab leads to migraine relief

I had the client examine her own eye muscles and then perform several exercises. After a few minutes, she reported a significant change in the tension in her face! She was now able to perform eye movements which previously she been unable to do. We both felt optimistic about these results. I gave her some daily exercises and told her to contact me after doing them for a while.  I heard back from her after 12 days. She hadn’t had a migraine since her appointment, and couldn’t believe how different the area around her eyes felt. I’m looking forward to hearing more updates during our next consultation.

If you suffer from migraines the American Migraine Foundation has some useful resources on its website. If you are in the Kitchener Waterloo area and have migraines you can book an appointment for an assessment. For online consultations contact me by email

Muscles are not decision-makers: Motor Control is top-down

Last week a client came in for an Initial Assessment. She’s a personal trainer and so wasn’t surprised when during posture analysis I noted the right hip was higher than the left, and the right ribcage tipped down from ribs 10-12. You can see this in the photo to the left.

These postural issues were one of the reasons she’d come in, along with lower back pain. This posture dysfunction usually means the internal abdominal oblique on the side with the high hip (the right side in this case) is stuck in a shorted position. And it was very stiff. If this was the end of the assessment we would have used a Tune Up Fitness Coregeous ball to self-massage the right internal oblique. And IF there were any results, they wouldn’t have lasted. Why not?

Full History is a crucial part of the assessment

The Initial Assessment has many parts. Further testing and a full history revealed another possibility. Scar tissue around a rib she’d broken in high school was adhering the ribs together. Why were the muscles on the right side so tight? The motor control center in the brain (the cerebellum) was USING them to try to break-up this scar tissue on the left. This scar tissue was keeping these ribs from moving and so impairing optimal breathing. Remember, the muscles aren’t making these decisions.

Posture doesn’t tell us everything we need to know

One more example from last week’s sessions.  A client came in with a left shoulder persistently rolled forward (protracted). The front of the shoulder, in the pectoralis minor area, was very tender. But testing showed that the issue was not the shoulder. The back muscles in this client’s upper back were stuck short, extending it. It was a short section of muscle that was stuck so the upper back wasn’t visibly extended. And the tender pectoralis minor was following orders from the motor control center, trying to correct his arched upper back with shoulder protraction (which wasn’t working). We released the upper back and the shoulder moved back into a much more functional centrated position. Posture exercises to retract the shoulder would NEVER have worked.

Posture Assessments and Core stability Testing in the Kitchener Waterloo Area

Releasing muscles that are painful rarely works as a long term therapeutic strategy. Releasing muscles according to postural analysis works more often. However, when the logical solutions fail, don’t keep foam-rolling the same spot. Do more analysis; take more history; test movement patterns and stability. Or, come get an assessment with me and I’ll do all that for you plus more. You can book online or contact me at for an appointment in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge areas.

The Eyes Have It: Balance Issues and Core stability problems

Aren’t those beautiful eyes?
Vision is a really big deal when it comes to organizing motor control. Just ask Kat. Kat came in last week to see me because her body was strangely twisted and she was having difficulty with some movements, back pain and knee pain.

Eye Movement Dysfunctions

 Kat has been following me posts on Instagram about scar rehabilitation and thought some of what she was dealing with might be related to her many surgical scars, especially her c-section scar. And indeed the c-section scar is causing some problems. However, the real loss of core stability came around her eyes! I did a series of tests to confirm that we should be working on eye movement before starting; but it was clear to both of us that the left eye was pretty dysfunctional when I asked her to look to the left without moving her body and she just couldn’t. Even attempting to do it made her very wobbly.

Eye movement dysfunction can cause full body compenstations

Neurons devoted to visual processing take up about 30% of the cortex. Touch takes up just 8%, and hearing 3%. We are REALLY invested in vision, and in the information it provides for us to function. And when our eye muscles aren’t able to do their job to move our eyeballs around, the rest of our body will start to twist and contort to make it easier for us to get that visual information.  In particular the neck muscles start to work differently and there is research to support this coupling. The core will then coordinate to the changes in the neck and so on, all the way through the system.

Eye Muscle issues can present in lots of ways

Eye muscles (like all the other muscles in the body) get stuck in short or long positions. This makes them unable to coordinate with other muscles. The eye muscles that are dysfunctional can then present a number of different symptoms.

  • They might feel stiff or tender to gentle pressure. Just as neck or shoulder muscles that don’t know how to work efficiently will get trigger points in them causing neck pain and shoulder pain, eye muscles can feel painful as well.
  • The tight eye muscles sometimes result in twitchy eyes or floaters in the eye. Floaters are sometimes caused by a lack of proper bloodflow, which can be caused by lack of proper muscular contraction and relaxation.
  • The difficulty these muscles are having will often be evident in the eye movements -stuttery or slow movement, hesitations, the inability to move the eye into certain positions.
  • There might be a lack of stability in the rest of the body when looking in certain directions. There are strong connections between motor control and visual processing.
  • Dizziness and lack of balance are common symptoms.
  • Looking in the direction the dysfunctional muscles are intended to be used for is tiring; often the eyes will squint or water.
  • Frequent headaches, even migraines can be caused by eye movement dysfunction.
  • Neck movements will often be compensating, causing chronic neck and shoulder pain.
  • In more extreme cases they can result in double vision,
    lazy eye (amblyopia), crossed eyes (strabismus), shaky vision, and involuntary eye movements (nystagmus).

Releasing and retraining eye muscles can result in dramatic changes in posture

Motor control is constantly coordinated. Once an obstacle to better motor control is eliminated, the motor control center reorganizes within moments. This can happen with a bit of shaking or some time in regular movements such as walking. This is integration. Sometimes integration needs to be careful and deliberate, other times it happens naturally. 

We released Kat’s eye muscles and she spent a bit of time practicing looking in the direction she’s been having trouble with while keeping her head still. She will have to continue doing these exercises for the next few days. When she went to stand up she was particularly wobbly. She had to watch her feet in order to walk. Loss of stability is a normal response at the beginning of integration. You can read more about that process on my blog.  This only lasted a minute. After five more minutes she was 1) walking normally 2) her posture was less twisted 3) she was more steady on her feet.  Her posture had changed dramatically from a few minutes release of a tiny eye muscle.

Assessments available in Kitchener Waterloo

If you have twitchy or tired eyes, headaches, migraines, eye floaters or think you might have an eye movement disorder, contact me. You can book an Initial Assessment online, or contact me by email at

Who Nose about Back Pain? Scarring from childhood broken nose causing back pain

Just before I had to close my clinic due to Covid 19 restrictions I worked on a client whose case really emphasized for me the deep interrelationship of the breathing passage with rib positioning and back pain. This new client came in with a host of different issues, including a big twist through his torso and shoulder and back pain. He told me that his pain was worse in the morning and got better through the day as he worked long shifts as a server. I also noticed his runny nose, which he told me was a chronic issue he thought was mostly due to allergies  — a week before the pandemic became serious here in Canada I just noted this down as relevant clinical information rather than breaking into a panic and asking him to leave.

Postural Evaluation showed Rib Flare

Often the cause of back pain can be narrowed with postural evaluation. A glaring issue with his posture was a HUGE rib flare on both sides.

The most common cause of this issue is an upregulation of the muscles of the diaphragm, low back or the hip flexors and a downregulation of the muscles that hold the costal margin down. The abdominal muscles which hold the costal margin down  importantly include the transverse abdominis and the internal obliques. These two muscles are especially important because they are both connected to the deep laminate layers of the thoracolumbar fascia. These connections mean they are partially responsible for the maintenance of intra abdominal pressure and core stability. However, after testing with Neurokinetic Therapy we found these muscles all relatively strong. This wasn’t a cookie cutter case at all. His core stability loss and back pain weren’t coming from his core.

Reflexive Stability Testing helps pinpoint the issue

Luckily I am also able to use reflexive stability testing to help narrow down the area that might be the most important. This client didn’t lose stability around his pelvis or ribcage, which is what you might expect with a big rib flare and low back pain. Instead we found that he lost most stability in the area of his face. What did this mean? Thank goodness for histories! His nose was straight so it wasn’t obvious he had broken his nose twice (once on either side). I did some nerve testing and found decreased sensation in V3 areas of the facial nerve on the right side. This meant that the scar tissue from the nose break was potentially entrapping a nerve. His jaw, neck and everything down from there was compensating for this unhappily stretched nerve.

Scar Tissue was blocking his air passage

Maybe more importantly, the scar tissue had partially closed off his air passage. This meant his diaphragm was having to work EXTRA hard to create a vacuum in his lungs for air to pour into. This overworked diaphragm was causing his rib flare and contributing to his back pain. How do we know? His ribs dropped after 10 minutes of release work. I released the scar tissue around his nose and adjusted his nasion (the bridge between the nasal bones/ forehead). This drop in his ribs also reduced the strain on his back significantly, returning core stability and reducing back pain. Of course, blocked air passages can cause even worse problems than that back pain. Read my blog post about another client’s struggle with fascial scarring here.

His Blocked Air Passage was Causing Back Pain

So why were my client’s symptoms worse in the morning and got better through the day? This pattern was another clue in the analysis and had a pretty simple answer– sinus drainage. His horizontal sleeping position made breathing even more difficult. It took hours upright during the day for his diaphragm to relax from the marathon of strained breathing during the night. While his ribs only dropped partially during this time, it was enough to give him relief.

Scar Rehab takes Time

Scar release does often take quite a bit of time to do. However, often my clients are able to do it on their own after I show them how. This client’s homework was bifold. 1) Continue the release around his nose a few times a day for at least 4 more days, and 2) focus on exhalation when doing conscious breathing exercises. I heard back from him 6 days after his appointment. He was happy to report that his left nostril had cleared up significantly. This was a big shift from what felt like a lifetime of stuffiness. I am looking forward to what we find when we finally get to work together again – hopefully soon.

Pain Assessment means looking beyond the Obvious

If you have back pain it could be related to core stability loss. However,  it might also be connected to something less obvious. Chronic stuffiness, a previous broken nose, fascial scarring, time of day that the pain gets worse or better– these are all hints that help lead me to the real causal agent of chronic pain issues. This work brings out the detective in me — I follow the body of evidence in front of me and then test using NeuroKinetic Therapy to verify my hypothesis. If you have chronic pain or a movement disorder that you’ve been having trouble getting good treatment for, contact me or book an appointment.

Image credit from which has a great article on breathing, strength and posture; which explains the more common causes of rib flare and how to correct them. I highly recommend it!

Breathing Issues and Breathing Exercises

Breathing Issues cause neck pain and back pain

Changing your breathing mechanics is not just about reducing breathlessness when you exercise.  There is a very long list of disorders and symptoms associated with breathing issues. These range from weight gain and cardio-vascular distress to back pain and neck pain, chronic fatigue, anxiety, incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders, to gas and acid reflex. How can improper breathing mechanics lead to so very many issues? Breathing is pretty complicated.

Breathing is a high priority

The crux of it is that breathing is of incredibly high survival priority. Thus the rest of the system will coordinate to accommodate it as best it can. You are a wonder of dynamic coordination. This constantly amazes me. One consequence of breathing issues that is particularly fascinating to me is the connection of the nasal passage to rib position. Of course both the nose and the diaphragm are part of the cardiovascular system, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised? Nonetheless, it’s often overlooked. The diaphragm works a whole lot harder to ‘pump’ air when the nasal passage is blocked. The overworking diaphragm might flare the ribs and cause lumbar instability.
A blocked nasal passage might also down regulate the muscles of exhalation (your abs!) so as to reduce resistance to the muscle of inhalation, your diaphragm. Bingo, and your stuffy nose is causing your back pain. Read more about a client with this issue here.

Stress response can cause bad breathing habits

Even if the air passage is free, if the stress response in your body has dictated stress breathing patterns they can become a habit. In these patterns the diaphragm feels that it’s having trouble breathing on it’s own. It needs help. Neck and shoulder muscles that are also attached to the ribs are recruited to help do the job of expanding them to let in air. When neck muscles are being used for breathing, they are really crap as neck muscles. They hurt. And thus the breathing issues are also causing neck pain!

Breathing Issues are bad for your organs too

But it’s not just the back, neck and shoulders that suffer. With changes in the positioning, movement and tension of the respiratory diaphragm come changes to the structures that pass through it. Which structures pass through it? Some pretty important ones! The esophagus, the abdominal aorta, the inferior vena cava. Stress on these can lead to swelling in the legs, gas and acid reflux, indigestion, lethargy, varicose veins, etc. You can learn more about this anatomy HERE in this YouTube video. But this isn’t the end of it here.  Because breathing issues usually mean suboptimal amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your system — and EVERYTHING in your body needs this. Bad breathing is bad for your organs too. Every system in your body becomes compromised with bad breathing.

Breathing exercises are NOT One-Fits-All

breathing exercises

There are a lot of breathing exercises out there. And most of them will provide you with some relief and improve your capacity to breathe in some way. While a few might make things worse.  I repeat, breathing is complicated.

I repeat, breathing is complicated. Learning what specific issues you might be having can be incredibly empowering, and not just mentally. When you breathe better everything changes.

If you want better overall health get your breathing assessed. I’m available for appointments for those in the the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge areas. I can coach you through specific and appropriate breathing exercises and breathing techniques that can make big changes in your health once you have been assessed. Contact me at to make an appointment or book an Initial Assessment.

Getting His Life Back: Facial Scars causing Core Stability Issues

When 18 year old Ben (not his real name) came to his first session he was slumped, his voice sounded muted and his breathing was labored. I could put him off balance with an ounce of pressure from my pinky finger; and when I tested his ability to activate any of his intrinsic core muscles he couldn’t, UNLESS he was HOLDING HIS BREATH.

Facial Scars that affect breathing affect core stability

Three years ago Ben got into a series of accidents that left him with cuts across his face, a severely broken nose, and a cut that went almost all the way through his left hand.  As he recovered he realized he couldn’t close his mouth properly. It was a struggle, an effort to keep it closed. The trauma was causing a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problem. I have talked before about how impactful scars on a person’s face can be on motor control. This is especially true when they impair the passage of air for breathing or the ability of the mouth to close. In particular scars that affect breathing affect the core muscles, which are all fundamentally breathing muscles first.

Breathing is prioritized

He said to me that “his body just didn’t feel right”. It was twisted and unstable, he had back pain and neck pain. He didn’t feel like his old energetic, vibrant self. After these accidents he quit playing sports, making music, and wasn’t able to go back to school. His life was on hold. But I wasn’t surprised that he wasn’t able to take on much — holding your breath all day just to move around means you don’t have much oxygen left to fuel a sense of focus, be creative, or to learn new skills. The struggle to breath is more important than all of that. Motor control is prioritized; and your cerebellum knows damn well that breathing is more important than pretty much anything else. 

Empowering people in their own healing

Ben is seeing me regularly– I have assessed and adjusted the pressure the old injuries are putting on his face and released scar tissue. But more importantly I’ve shown him how to heal himself: to continue the release of this scar tissue on his own, to practice developmental exercises to decompress his spine in areas where it is compressed, to move his jaw and neck differently. My goal is to empower my clients in their own healing.

I have never had a client that works harder

When he’s working with me Ben vibrates with mental effort. He knows better than to let any other part of his body take over, and when I ask him to move just his jaw and his back wants to arch, he doesn’t let it. The work is slow and intense. It is all about inward focus and I have never had a client that works harder in session. His determination is inspiring. He knows that he is building himself up; and he’s making fast progress because of that determination.

Home Exercises are key to progress

The work we do in session is only a small part of this process. Rehab requires daily effort. I assign very specific exercises, usually just 1 or 2, and ask clients to do them a few times a day — but make it clear that the more times come back to those exercises a day the more progress they will make. My clients don’t have to wonder if their exercises will work because we have seen improvement during session and KNOW that they work. But continued progress is up to them. No one has said it better than Ben did last session: “No one can do this for me. It’s all on me.”

Feeling hopeful

Two weeks after his first session Ben walks upright with a longer stride. When he sits he is not slumped automatically, but sits tall for at least a few minutes before his body grows tired. He has started to breathe more quietly though his nose and his face looks more relaxed. And most importantly, he is eager to get back to working out, playing basketball with his friends, looking for work, and to getting his life back. He has a sense of hope.

If you have facial scars contact me via email at for an Initial Assessment to see how it’s affecting your breathing, core stability and jaw movement (TMJ).

Hand Scars: Shoulder stability and shoulder pain

shoulder pain can caused by scars on the hands and arms
My client came in complaining of upper back pain on the right side after long hours of serving. We tracked it down to a scar on her left thumb. Whhhhaaaat?! Yup.

Scars can entrap nerves

The median nerve supplied motor and sensory information to the thumb and is supplied by nerve roots at C6-T1.  Nerves don’t like to be stretched and as this nerve was entrapped at the thumb and connects up into the brachial plexus on the L side, it was affecting the motor control of the whole of the L arm and shoulder girdle.

The nerve entrapment was causing shoulder pain

Most importantly it was affecting the functioning of the lower fibers of serratus anterior. Serratus anterior stabilizes the scapula and interdigitates with the external abdominal oblique — making it the major connection of the core musculature into the arm. We could establish this connection using Neurokinetic Therapy. She holds her tray with the left hand which requires a good steady functioning of this muscle, and since it wasn’t working she was overusing the upper back muscles on her right side to try to stabilize her spine while she held this load for long hours on her left side.

Scar Treatment Requires Patience

We tractioned the scar and the nerve entrapment site for almost 20 minutes while she occasionally nodded her head to floss the nerve. Scar release can take a long time and requires patience and a lot of attentiveness to the subtle changes in the quality of the tissue. After the release she felt a return of warmth to the area. When finished we retested the patency of her scapulo-thoracic joint and found it had returned to functioning smoothly. At the end of the session her left arm was stable. What about the complaint she had come in with though?

The site of pain is rarely where the problem is

We had only worked on the releasing the peripheral nerve entrapment happening at the location of the thumb scar on her left side, however the discomfort and tension in the upper right side of her back has reduced dramatically. Why? The tension was being held there as a protective mechanism because of a failure of functioning on the left side. The site of pain is rarely where the problem is. Once the left side was working better, the right side could relax and just do it’s own job. Muscles are team players. When one is out of commission the others will step in. She will continue to release the scar for another week or so, especially before her shift starts; and she will work on her core activation.  Her workdays should be a lot more comfortable.

Hand and Arm Scars can inhibit shoulder stability and cause neck pain

I’ve had several client with arm and hand scars that are affecting their shoulder stability over the last few months. I have dealt with this issue myself pretty extensively. I have multiple scars on my wrists and arms from self harm during my adolescence. You can read more about that HERE in my blog post from Feb 2018. If you have scars on your hands or arms and are dealing with shoulder stability issues, shoulder pain, or neck pain, consider booking an Initial Assessment to have their affect on your motor control assessed.

Longitudinal Abdominal Scar Release: Post Surgical Scar Rehabilitation

Abdominal Scar Rehabilitation and post surgical rehabilitation

This client’s abdominal scar is a mark of survival and medical ingenuity.

The surgery, for an abdominal aneurysm, required most of his vital organs to be removed from his body. The surgeons did their best when they replaced his vital organs. Nonetheless, the internal trauma left scar tissue not just in a longitudinal line down the center, but throughout his abdominal cavity, in an unpredictable pattern.  Unlike most of my clients, he didn’t come in with pain. He didn’t even have a sense of how the scar might be affecting his movement patterns. But he did know about my work. He had heard that scars interfere with motor control and he wanted to explore what might be possible. 

We tested his reflexive stability and some global movement patterns after taking a history. His ability to rotate to the right was noticeably impeded. I then tested some of the intrinsic muscles that are involved in rotation; I  found his upper right Transverse Abdominus inhibited by his scar.  This is a common pattern with these longitudinal scars and I have another post here about a release.

So how DO scars interfere with motor control? You can read a little about that on my blog post from Feb 2018.

Surgical Scar Rehab

Scars from surgeries, or scars made by sharp objects are very different from the scars created by internal fractures. This scar was even more complicated because of a reorganization of the organs during the surgery. The most superior region of the scar was very stiff and had a hard immobile bulge in it. We found an area near the jejunum- a part of the small intestine- that had TOO much space around it.  This area required compression in a few very specific directions. I have found this technique to be useful before when addressing the after effects of space occupying legions such as cysts and tumors.

After this compression was complete the superior part of the scar had reduced in stiffness without direct intervention and we could feel movement around it. I was then able to work on the scar itself. His TVA was strong and stable again when we were finished, and his breathing was more efficient. There were also significant gains in his global rotation to the right, not just in his abdomen, but also in his neck and pelvis, as you can see in the before and after photos.

Primacy of Vision: Problems with Eye Movement can cause Chronic Pain in other parts of the body

Vision Rules

In 1991 Felleman and Essan published a study called “Distributed Hierarchical Processing in the Primate Cerebral Cortex” which established scientifically the centrality of the visual system in primates.

Visual Processing takes up a lot of brain power

The retina is an outgrowth of the brain. It contains 150 million light-sensitive rod and cone cells. It’s damn sensitive, and incredibly important. Neurons devoted to visual processing in the brain are in the hundreds of millions. They take up about 30% of the cortex.  Touch takes up just 8%, and hearing 3%. The visual system has “extensive connections with cortical areas outside the visual system proper, including the somatosensory cortex, as well as neocortical, transitional, and archicortical regions in the temporal and frontal lobes.” But we all kinda know vision rules already. Our language reflects how central to our way of thinking, feeling and being in the world vision is.  Do you “see” what I mean?

Eye Muscles can get Dis-coordinated too

There are so many factors in our ability to see.  In my work I analyze eye movement as part of integrated neuromotor functioning. I focus primarily on how the 6 extra ocular muscles coordinate with the rest of the body’s motor control system. As examples Nystagmus and strabismus are at the far end of the spectrum. They are easily identifiable, but smaller issues can still cause big problems. And these smaller issues aren’t usually noticeable without an exam. For example a difficultly in looking straight up or straight down can affect the functioning of the entire posterior and anterior kinetic chains.  Muscular function is a slave to the body’s ability to feel safe. Since vision is SO important to our ability to stay safe in the world and meet our basic needs, AND such a large part of our brain’s functioning, it’s supremacy is powerful. Therefor, if you can’t look down, you probably shouldn’t bend down, and your motor cortex will keep you from doing so.

Not only concussion patients have eye movement disorders

Concussions and traumatic brain injury are highly correlated with eye movement issues. But it’s not just people with a history of concussion that have eye movement issues. A variety of types of trauma and chronic stress can cause problems. Eye movement disorders are unsurprisingly often connected to neck pain, chronic headaches, and migraines. I’ve been diving deep into my study of ocular motor assessment recently, however I’m just at the BEGINNING of my journey. I can’t wait to learn more. That’s why
I’m very excited to have the opportunity to connect with a real expert, Optometrist Dr. Patrick Quaid of Vue3 Vision Therapy Center in Guelph, and talk about his approach to vision therapy at the end of this week.