ASYMMETRY AND STRUCTURAL ACCUMULATIONS
By Mark Thompson D.O., N.D.
Most of us start life with a beautiful, lithe, supple body that can bend in all directions, one that is truly free, and yet all too soon in life we start burdening it with things it doesn’t need or want, things that deflect it from its natural flow and form.
The food and drink that we consume these days is very high in residues, particles that are completely useless to the body, particles that require the body to undertake complex detoxification or elimination processes.
These include high levels of inorganic minerals, especially in our water, minerals that cannot be used by the body and must therefore be eliminated. There are also heavy metals, organic wastes, chemicals and useless residues of food processing.
Water has never been more polluted than it is today. Even the trendy bottled waters are high in useless solutes. If you place an electrode in these waters, they turn brown or sometimes black with the residues that come out of solution.
From the day you are born, even in the womb, these high levels of residues begin to cloud your blood and intercellular fluids. They circulate continually around your body waiting to be either detoxified by your liver and/or cleared by your elimination system. Unfortunately your detoxification and elimination systems were never designed to cope with such a high burden and so they struggle to keep up with the workload.
If for any reason you experience long-term muscle contractions in your body from say chronic tension, injuries or guarding, the flow of fluids through the affected area starts to slow down. Consequently the residues in the fluids begin to settle and accumulate in the surrounding tissues (think of what happens in a stagnant pond as opposed to a flowing stream).
If these muscle contractions are short lived, say six weeks or so (enough time to heal most aches and strains) then the infiltrations will be cleared by the return of natural movement as soon as the muscular contractions have abated. But if they last longer the build up of waste products becomes more permanently embedded.
Soon, the extreme range of joint articulations start to become furred up and the muscle tendons, blood vessels, nerves and organs start to become congested with plaques.
After a number of months or years have passed the parts of the body that have been held in compression become rigid. The springiness of the tight muscles is thus replaced by a firm ‘mineral frame’ in the shape of the affected area. What is more, as you go through life, each new long-term muscle contraction you experience creates an additional layer of rigidity until soon they begin to join up and overlap.
If we removed the mineral frame from every person alive, each would be a unique, faithful representation of their personality, their injuries, their places of tension, their postures and habits. Take out this frame and they would once again be left with a lithe, supple body, similar to the one they started out with.
When I first meet a patient I put them face down on my bench and I pad around their body for a while. I immediately get a feel for where their springy and rigid areas are. I can therefore quickly build up a picture of the events of their life and personality.
A very common area to have rigidity is the middle of the ribcage. Underneath here is the stomach, the liver, the gallbladder, the pancreas, the spleen, two kidneys, the diaphragm and the start of the small intestines. Many elements of our diet and modern lifestyles tend to create stress and therefore discomfort in these organs.
If this happens then the ribcage becomes fixed in its most hollow form to stop any compression of the tender organ. If the discomfort is brief then nothing chronic will occur, but if the fixation is held for some time a mineral rather than muscular cage develops and the area becomes more rigid.
Now, usually the organ affected in this scenario is away from the midline of the body so that the rigid cage becomes somewhat asymmetrical. It may be rotated or tipped forwards, backwards or to one side so that the muscles that are attached to the rib cage become inefficient in their actions.
Important muscle groups that connect the ribcage to the pelvis, to the shoulders and arms, and to the head and neck become similarly unbalanced, i.e. the entire body’s biomechanics become compromised by this one occurrence.
The ribcage is ‘Grand Central Station’ in your body and any rigidity or asymmetry that develops in it will ultimately compromise your physical health. The fluid exchange of movement between your upper and lower limbs will become blocked as will the inter-coordination of your arms and the connection between your upper and lower back.
When muscles pull unevenly on the two sides of your pelvis they inevitably start to pull your lower back out of shape. Being originally four legged creatures who decided to stand on two legs, the change of orientation of the spine from horizontal to vertical means that the lower back in every human is a very vulnerable place. It doesn’t take kindly to being held in an asymmetrical position for long because the body weight above tends to focus on one side of the joints. Consequently these areas wear more quickly and back pain becomes an inevitable occurrence.
As the two pelvic bones become slightly twisted by their unbalanced muscular corset, so the legs are also forced to operate in an asymmetrical manner. When lying down the leg lengths may even start to look different as the leg on the tighter side becomes elevated. If this occurs then the person’s weight distribution will move away from the midline and become focused on one leg more than the other.
As this pattern becomes habitual so the hips become more locked, the knees become torsioned and the feet need to compensate for the uneven loading. The hamstrings become tighter and less balanced, the calves become permanently contracted and the muscles around the shinbones pull sharply on their attachments. Consequently injuries to all these areas become much more likely and repair of injuries becomes much more difficult.
Of all the people I see in practice, a good 80-90 per cent have got asymmetries in their lower back and pelvis and a good proportion have uneven looking leg lengths. Almost all of them have got some unbalanced tension in the muscles around their waist, lower backs, hips, bottom and legs. Many are so tight they can no longer touch their toes (let alone put their hands flat on the floor as they should be able to do). They cannot squat fully with their feet flat on the floor or even kneel properly and comfortably.
As well as compression of the middle ribcage, another common area of rigidity is the upper back and lower neck. This is because most of our lives now take place in a small window of space directly in front of us, just below head height. Working at desks, reading, driving, watching television, eating at a table etc. Your head probably weights about 10lbs, but when it is tipped forward to look at a book it feels more like 30lbs to the muscles that hold it up. Hold this position for long enough and the muscles get fatigued. Eventually if this happens all the time, the body accumulates fibres in the muscles so that, rather like guy ropes on a tent, these fibres do some of the holding work rather than using expensive muscle energy. The area becomes compressed and a mineral frame forms which fixes the lower neck and alters the orientation of the joints.
Such restrictions to the smooth operation of the shoulders, arms and head have telling effects on a person. Their shoulder heights may look different, they may not be able to fully extend their elbows or wrists and their fingers may have become compressed. The muscles of the arms without help from the redundant upper ribcage become isolated, unbalanced and inefficient. They consequently become more easily strained and tend to clamp the joints in vice-like grips bringing on early degeneration and arthritis, especially to fingers.
In the neck, the fixed lower joints force the vertebral joints above to compensate for any fixed asymmetry so that the eyes can remain level (one of the body’s priorities). Joints in the middle of the neck may also be forced to move excessively to allow for adequate head movement.
Such disorganisation leads to early degeneration, strains and misalignments of the jaw and bones of the skull. Headaches are consequently more likely and youthful facial symmetry starts to become lost.
Take a moment some time to look at your face and see if there are any subtle asymmetries. Maybe your eyes are different shapes or your mouth hangs down on one side. These are all telling signs of patterns of muscle contractions that have permeated the body and are now showing up in the face, a sign that your body is already enduring many physical restrictions.
Whether you know it or not you will always scan a new acquaintance’s face for symmetry. We use this, amongst other factors, to tell whether someone is in good health and to predict their manner and personality. A symmetrical face is considered to be attractive (i.e. healthy) and the sign of a well-balanced personality.
In this way the history of a person’s life becomes etched into their body and their story can be read in their posture, their symmetry, their flexibility, even in the symmetry and look of their face. So you can see that when a new patient comes to see me I do not need to ask them much about their medical or personal history because it is often written in their bodies. I may want to ask them about specific problems that I’ve found to put detail into the patterns, but generally I can see their true self in their non-verbal form and movement.
- * -
Our bodies evolved to best cope with the physical demands of an active outdoor life, so the sedentary and often-limited way we now use our bodies is insufficient to keep it healthy. Unless we make up for these limitations with a form of exercise that regularly releases the contracted muscles and moves the joints through their full range of movement, the physical body will start to malfunction.
Practically everyone in modern society who leads a ‘normal’ life will have developed the beginnings of their own unique mineral frame by the time they are in their twenties. If they do not do anything to combat its accumulation they will become progressively stiffer and stiffer, losing range of movement, suppleness and agility until the impregnated frame starts to seriously affect their ability to function normally.
Imagine a supple, flexible body that is impregnated with a rigid frame. Imagine how it would affect the fluidity of its movement. Imagine the extra stresses that would be placed on joints, muscles and other soft tissues with every movement. Imagine how some repetitive movements would start to create irritations and therefore inflammations. Imagine how normal physical exertions such as sports would now become much more precarious and more likely to cause injury.
Now imagine it the other way around. Remove the mineral frame from someone who is stiff and inflexible. Imagine how much better they would move, imagine the balance that their body would rediscover, imagine how much less prone to injury they would be.
- * -
It’s not just skeletal movement that suffers from this degenerative process. Under an area of stiffness the blood vessels also become compromised. To be healthy they need to be pushed and pulled around just like every other part of the body. This keeps them flexible and responsive. If they lie in a static part of the body then they too collect plaques on their walls. If these plaques continue to accumulate they will eventually turn the blood vessels into stiffened pipes that are consequently more likely to break (haemorrhage) or become blocked (heart attacks, thromboses, embolisms etc).
Rigid blood vessels also create greater resistance to the flow of blood around the body. This means that the heart is forced to pump more vigorously to deliver blood to the extremities. Consequently blood pressure rises creating a more highly pressurised system that is inevitably more prone to leaks (strokes). The higher pressure also means that there is more resistance to the return of blood to the heart causing backing up (pooling) of blood in veins (varicosities).
Similarly, the nerves, like the blood vessels, have fluids flowing through them and need to be flexed in order to stay healthy. Nerves that operate in static parts of the body will consequently also accumulate plaques that may ultimately interfere with their functioning and increase the chances of contracting a neurological disease such as Multiple Sclerosis in peripheral nerves or Alzheimer’s in the central nervous system.
Then there are the organs, like the intestines and liver, that rely on movement to help drain unwanted metabolites, avoid congestion and aid in their functioning. These too suffer when encased in rigid cages. The stasis may not cause disease in itself but it may predispose the organ to problems that it may otherwise have been able to deal with. Take bras for example. A tight bra will restrict four or five ribs and cause a static area underneath. This affects not only the diaphragm and digestive system, but also stops the breasts from being able to adequately drain themselves of waste products. It is not surprising then that studies in Fiji have shown that women who wear bras are much more prone to breast cancer than those who do not.
- * -
It is almost certain that accumulations of unwanted materials in the body have a marked effect on many of the chronic diseases that blight modern society.
Lack of mobility and movement may bring about asymmetries and changes in biomechanics that bring on musculo-skeletal aches and strains like back and neck pain. Accumulation of plaques may help bring about heart disease and neurogical conditions. Lack of drainage caused by compressions may create the breeding grounds for cancers and countless other conditions.
Most people will enter their mid-life with at least one or two chronic problems that limit their ability to function without restriction. Take back pain for example. Two thirds of adults in the UK experience back pain with five million seeing their GP about back pain each year (that’s one in twelve people). It is now the leading cause of disability, with 1.1 million people affected at any one time and 300,000 people off work every day with it. On a financial level, it costs us £140.6 million a year in GP consultation time and symptomatic treatment which provides these people with virtually no long-term benefits. Physiotherapy for back pain costs the NHS an estimated £159.6 million each year.
I have travelled to many countries and found that people who live more simple lives, those that eat simple foods, use their bodies fully and are not wrapped in complex social constraints, they have much softer, more flexible bodies even into old age. They also do not get anywhere near as much back pain as we get, despite often lifting things awkwardly and doing all the stressful things we are told are the causes of these problems.
In is important in your understanding of this programme to realise that practically all the factors that tend to lead to long-term tension, muscular compression and then mineral rigidity are caused by modern living. Most factors that might have affected our distant ancestors when we were simple hunter-gatherers, such as injuries or acute infections were transient and would therefore have passed before any chronicity set in.
In parts of the world where lifestyles most replicate those of our ancestors people usually remain soft and supple even into their old age. They are also relatively free of chronic diseases.
In the Western world however, most people start to become inflexible and stiff even before their middle age. They are also suffering increasingly and ever earlier from chronic diseases.
It seems (and the statistics bear this out) that our modern medicine is adept at keeping us going longer but our inappropriate lifestyles mean that we live those extra years in poorer general health and with a steadily accumulating list of chronic problems. For many people this means that their final years are hardly worth living.
Having largely protected ourselves from the ravages of nature, most of the stresses experienced by Westerners tend to be enduring ones that can last for months, years or even a lifetime. They include modern foods that we are intolerant to, pollution that we are constantly exposed to, working tensions or postures that we adopt, repetitive activities that cause perpetual strain and guarding and emotional pressures that we can’t escape from.
Because these stresses cause muscular tensions and mineral frames so a person’s life experiences become steadily etched into their bodies. They thus take on a unique shape that is a physical mirror image of their personal experiences, their personality, their lifestyle and their circumstances.
If we removed the mineral frame from each person we would we find that each one was different and each would have brought around a different history and manifestation of ill health. But despite their obvious differences, to find good health each one will first need to undertake the same process - the removal of their mineral frame.
Once this has been achieved they will be left with a body that functions better all through, one where fluids flow more freely, where injuries repair more quickly because more blood gets to the problem, one which feels freer, lighter and more energetic (think how much extra energy it takes to lug around and cope with that mineral frame).
By then most of the problems they presented with will have gone away revealing the real underlying problems that got the who degenerative process going in the first place.
- * -
It is obvious to me that a true return to physical well-being can only be achieved by ridding oneself of the accumulation of unwanted infiltrations in one’s body. But how does one go about clearing their mineral frame? Well, since it is impossible to cut someone open and remove it, the only way is to clear it the way it was accumulated - bit by bit.
Firstly it is important for you to stop putting unnecessary residues into your body. This means giving up all of the foods and drinks that contain high levels of useless molecules, i.e. modern foods. Then you must break open and continually mobilise your unique mineral frame in order to get some of the residues back into the body’s fluids. At the same time you must support the function of the organs of detoxification and elimination, i.e. the liver, kidneys and skin in their efforts to rid your body of the circulating residues. Finally when left with a less rigid body you must look at the areas of muscle contraction that remain and work out why you hold on to them and find ways to let them go.
The effectiveness of this process will depend on how efficiently and completely you undertake the task and how much of a frame you started out with. If you are faithful to the process then you can be confident that your body’s health will progressively improve and you will start to reap the benefits of being biologically younger than you were when you started out. You can therefore look forward to improved health, better quality of life and greater longevity.
In the next chapters we will add some detail to this picture. We will describe the sort of chronic problems that you can improve and avoid with this process, explain why many aspects of a modern diet are so inappropriate and stressful to your body, suggest the best methods of breaking up and mobilising your mineral frame, explain how to then keep your body supple and fit, outline methods of detoxifying and supporting your organs of elimination and most importantly highlight the modern life factors that tend to lead to chronic muscle contractions. Finally I will list the sort of practitioners and products that will help support you if you decide to undertake the process and reclaim you natural body.
The only things that move in your body are muscles. Your bones, ligaments, tendons, organs, blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues will remain in the same place from one moment to the next unless a muscle decides to move them. If you had no mineral frame and every muscle in your body returned to its neutral position your whole body would be balanced, symmetrical, and fully functional – you would be incredibly well (and your symmetry would look very attractive to others).
The important thing to remember is that every muscle in your body is controlled by YOUR brain. That means that every long-term tension or contraction in your body that has led to dysfunction and eventually allowed your mineral frame to accumulate is under your control. Put another way, all your chronic problems have been started and maintained by your own brain.
Now this is very good news because it means that if you can get rid of your mineral frame then achieving balance and health is all down to you. No pills, no potions, remedies or programmes just letting go of chronic muscle contractions.
Because your brain is aware of these contractions, it must be holding on to them for a good reason. When you were supple and young the reasons might have centred around organic discomfort, emotional tension or unavoidable injuries but when a mineral frame has been in place for some time then they are also likely to be protections against aches and strains caused by the inefficiencies brought about by the mineral frame itself. This is a true vicious circle.
When we have mobilised away most of our mineral accumulations we will almost certainly get rid of most of our aches, pains and predispositions to injury. What will remain thereafter will be the organic and emotional contractions that started the whole process off in the first place.
From my experience I would say that most organic discomforts originate from ingestion of inappropriate substances. Many of the foods we eat today and those we give to our children are foods that we do not cope with very well. That is because they are foods that are relatively novel to the human diet, foods we have not had enough time to evolve appropriate metabolic and detoxification pathways. They therefore constitute a burden on the body and may lead to malfunctioning and discomfort.