West meets East: energy balance
When Western chiropractic ideas regarding posture and muscle testing procedures are combined with Eastern energy-flow ideas of chi, or life energy, a new tool for the massage therapist or bodyworker becomes available.
The Touch for Health System encompasses the vitalistic world view that humans' natural birthright is to be able to use touch to activate their own bodies' natural recuperative powers, or energy. These natural recuperative powers are enhanced or inhibited by daily activities. In response to those activities, changes occur within muscles and skin--and the way we feel and function is affected as we become more, or less, vulnerable to injury and disease according to the balance of our energy. This energy may be called chi, as in the Chinese world view; ki, from the Japanese; prana, from the Indian; and innate intelligence in the Western chiropractic tradition. In each case we refer to the power of the intelligently designed human body to come into harmonious balance as a whole person.
Your massage clients need to restore their energy and muscular balance daily to overcome the normal stress of gravity on the body causing shrinkage. Yes, in the course of the day we actually tend to shrink. And as we shrink, our life energy becomes unbalanced, and chronic tension and rigidity set in-which gradually reduces the full range of movement that allows us to function most effectively.
Think about when you have gotten into an automobile after a great night's rest, feeling really good about starting out the day's activities. You adjust the rear view mirror. Then you drive off. You arrive at your office and things start to go less than desirably. People around you seem to press your emotional buttons and you need to control yourself physically and emotionally. The food you have for lunch isn't well-prepared and you have a physically tiring job to do in the afternoon. Then when you get into your car you look into the mirror and it needs to be readjusted. It seems like somehow it raised itself up. You have shrunk. The average person is one inch taller in the morning than in the late evening. This physical constriction causes fatigue, a sense that our physical parts are somehow foreign to us, and diminishes self-esteem. This condition develops day by day, no matter what the age of the affected person. By the end of each day we are all shorter than when we awoke after a good night's rest-and if we don't manage to get a good night's rest, the effect can be cumulative. Do you know any 80-year-old who isn't shorter than when he or she was younger?
Maintaining clients' height and flexibility through the Touch for Health System will give them better health-and getting them to stay in balance will help them to minimize the shrinking process. Touch for Health reverses the shrinking process, because by relieving chronic muscular tension and/or spinal curvatures due to muscular imbalances, the body is allowed to relax and expand.
Touch for Health leads clients to relax at least some of the inappropriately contracted muscles. They then feel the exhilaratingly greater range of motion that increases their sense of grace, presence and spontaneity. They literally become taller.
Massage therapists can teach clients the Touch for Health System during their sessions while the therapist balances the client's energy. This balance is achieved by using specific muscle testing procedures to determine if chi energy is in balance. By using this system, therapists can help clients have peak performances more often. Clients who are in a rehabilitation program, are post-surgery, or receive treatments along with a chiropractic adjustment will recover more quickly.
An overview of the system
"I couldn't get out of bed for up to an hour after I awoke, due to severe back pain and spasm-and now I have no problems most of the time," said the owner of a health club after learning and using the Touch for Health methods for less than two months. He had been to several health professionals and was able to get only temporary relief. It wasn't until he and his wife learning how they could help each other with Touch for Health methods on a daily basis, in addition to professional health care, that permanent relief came about.
Headaches, arm pain and stiffness, stomach and intestinal complaints, menstrual problems, dizziness, difficulty in lovemaking, and problems with decision-making and goal-setting have all be improved by using the Touch for Health methods.
Touch for Health was designed to be a complementary methodology-it does not help any and every human situation all by itself. Clients could need drugs, surgery, vitamins, minerals, psychological counseling, family therapy or chiropractic, in addition to Touch for Health treatments.
Using Touch for Health methods can improve clients' function. The flow of energy in each client's meridians can be evaluated by using this system. This is done by testing the relative strength of a particular muscle that is related to a particular meridian. Whether the muscle locks within a specific range of motion indicates the flow of energy to the muscle through its related meridian. By balancing the energy flow through the use of acupressure you can assist clients' healing. Touch for Health is immediately available for use to enhance your performance as a bodyworker.
Of the people with specific symptoms, the ones who benefit most from Touch for Health methods are those who have been to a professional and have been told that there doesn't seem to be any organic cause for the suffering. The professional recognizes that the patient has a genuine complaint, but is unable to pinpoint a specific cause. Touch for Health's energy balancing begins by setting a goal. what outcome is desired? What performance does the client want enhanced? Next comes testing of the muscles related to each of the 26 meridians. Then acupressure is used to stimulate the flow of energy and the indicator muscles are retested for positive responses. This simple technique often gives dramatic improvement.
For example, a person who is a weekend athlete developed groin pain that was diagnosed as arthritis, and was told to take drugs (which gave only temporary relief) and to take shorter steps when running or stop running altogether. In just one session using Touch for Health to balance the meridians and muscle functions, the client reported a 90 percent improvement of his condition.
How to incorporate Touch for Health into a massage session
The Touch For Health system is a valuable addition to any massage session-and if a client has been told that he or she must learn to live with the limitations of age or a physical condition, the massage therapist could benefit the client greatly by incorporating the Touch for Health approach into his or her sessions.
First, the therapist needs to learn how to test a muscle. It takes some practice to develop the sensory-motor skills to feel the slight difference between a muscle that locks into position, and an inhibited muscle. Referring to the chart of muscle tests in Figure #1, notice how the body is positioned so that individual muscles are isolated in a position of maximum contraction. The muscle is then gently moved through its full range of motion to prepare the client for the test as well as to cue up the meridian related to the muscle being tested.
The therapist then pulls or pushes against the muscle with about two pounds of pressure, for two seconds, in a range of motion of about two inches. Meanwhile, it is often important for the therapist to counter-balance the client so as not to push him or her off the massage table. It is not necessary to apply more than two pounds of pressure, as the test is used to indicate subtle differences in muscle response-not to see whether the therapist can overpower the client.
Likewise, testing for more than two seconds can often fatigue a muscle in isolation and cause it to give way. If the muscle response seems wobbly or mushy, or the muscle does not seem to lock into place within about two inches, this indicates that energy probably is not balanced within the related meridian.
Once testing skill is acquired, then (using the chart or pictures from the
Touch for Health book) you can massage the corresponding points on the body to restore the normal locking of the muscle in its maximum contracted position, and retest the muscle to reset the proprioceptive mechanism.
The human design is such that the same reflex point that is massaged to strengthen a muscle can also be used to challenge the muscle and indicate an imbalance in another, deeper energy system. If an inhibited muscle locks into place after massaging the corresponding reflex point, you can test for further imbalance by placing your hand, or the client's hand, on the just-massaged reflex and retesting the muscle. If the muscle becomes inhibited again (only while touching the reflex point) this indicates that another subtle energy is out of balance. This procedure is called "challenging" the previous reflex. There are at least five types of energy systems addressed in the Touch for Health System.
The spinal reflex is the first one tested. We say that imbalance in the spinal reflex is present when the same muscle on both sides of the person is inhibited. To challenge these reflexes, retest the muscles on both sides of the person and, if both are strong, no further reflex tests are needed. If one side is weak then the first step is to utilize the corresponding neuro lymphatic reflexes, tender points specifically related to individual meridians and organ functions. Massage these tender points (see Figure #2) for 10-60 seconds and retest the muscle that was inhibited. Look for small improvements in the locking-in, maximum contraction position.
When you have observed an improvement, put your hand, or the client's hand, on the reflex point and retest the muscle. If it is inhibited again, this indicates that another reflex energy point is still inhibited. If no improvement is found after massaging the neuro lymphatic point, then you need to find the more tender area and massage for a little bit longer. In some cases this massage may be for several minutes before some improvement is found. If a point becomes too tender, or no improvement results, hold the tender point lightly and also hold the beginning- or end-point of the associated meridian. Look for slight improvement and then challenge that improvement. Once you've given it a second or third try, you may want to skip to the next technique and return to this reflex later.
The next system to look at is the neurovascular system. The reflex points for this system are all located on the head. These points are held lightly. At least two points are held until a slight pulse is felt, and the pulse synchronizes under both points. The challenge to the first neuro lymphatic point is then done again. An absence of muscle inhibition indicates that the neurovascular reflex point has been facilitated. The neurovascular point is then challenged by placing your hand, or the client's hand, on the neurovascular points and retesting the muscle. If the muscle does not become inhibited you can continue on to another muscle.
If the muscle becomes inhibited when challenging the neurovascular points, it will be necessary to utilize the reflexes related to the meridian for that muscle. The same procedure is followed. The reflex we prefer for the meridians is tracing the meridians from beginning to end three times on both sides of the body (see Figure #3) and then retesting (other meridian facilitation methods also balance this energy). When the muscle tests strong on challenging the neurovascular point, the challenging procedure for the meridian is to touch the beginning- or end-point to see if inhibition returns. If inhibition does not occur then you can move on to the next muscle.
If inhibition returns upon touching the end of the meridian and retesting, then the reflexes in the muscles need to be activated by massaging the origin and insertion of the muscle involved. After massaging the origin and insertion of the muscle and finding the most tender points (see Figure #4) the meridian is challenged. If the inhibition has been eliminated, then the origin or insertion of the muscle is challenged by you, or the client, touching the points and retesting the muscle.
Most clients do not have inhibited energies of all five types and rarely does testing go beyond the neuro lymphatic and neurovascular points during normal balancing procedures. Most practitioners using the Touch for Health System can check and balance muscles for all 26 meridians in less than 20 minutes, malting this an add-on procedure or a short massage procedure that gets great results and adds to the massage therapist's repertoire of bodywork techniques. The changes that the client feels immediately after a Touch for Health System energy balance are truly amazing. Inhibited muscles become relaxed when the inhibited muscles are restored to function, allowing tight, painful muscles to release.
There are many additional techniques utilized in the Touch for Health System, which are described in the Touch for Health book and demonstrated in the Touch for Health classes for those who desire hands-on education. Working with emotional stress, balancing with Tibetan energy flows, working with the meridian laws of the East, enhancing learning skills, and nutritional and allergy. correction procedures are all part of the Touch for Health System.
Development of Touch for Health
I developed and perfected these methods in my private chiropractic practice over a 35-year period (with the help of over 5,500 certified Touch for Health trainers, who shared their experiences with me).
The Touch for Health methodology was developed from applied kinesiology techniques first developed by chiropractor George Goodheart. In 1964 Goodheart, practicing in Detroit, Michigan, made a discovery that revolutionized health care and the treatment of disease: He discovered that tight or spasmed muscles are caused by opposing, or synergistic, muscles that are inappropriately inhibited. The inhibited muscles, which would normally balance the contraction of their opposing muscles, allowed those opposing muscles to continually contract and subsequently spasm.
This discovery was followed by the finding that chiropractic, osteopathic, meridian therapy and other touch/massage methods could turn the inhibited muscles on, which in turn allowed the inappropriately facilitated muscles to relax-and thereby improve the functioning of the whole person. And when the whole person functions in a harmonious manner, no matter what the complaint was or what performance improvement was desired, everything seems to feel and work better.
I met Dr. Goodheart in 1965 and was so excited by his discovery that immediately started using his methods in my chiropractic practice. I found that these safe, simple methods could be taught to patients to complement my chiropractic care. I suggested to Dr. Goodheart that his original observations should be made available to the general public. Dr. Goodheart told me that if I wanted to spread the word about the methods that he and many others were developing under the banner of applied kinesiology, then I should write a book for the general public. So Touch for Health began with Dr. Goodheart's challenge to me to follow up on my desire to make the methods available to a much wider audience.
At the same time as I was writing the methods down for the general public, several other chiropractors and I recognized the need for a professional organization for those utilizing the methods in their practices. Together we formed the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK), which restricts its membership to licensed professionals, who have the right to make medical diagnoses. I served as its founding chairman, although I disagreed with the premise that membership should be restricted to licensed health professionals.
My book, Touch for Health was completed and published in 1973. Next, a school that trained people to be Touch for Health instructors was formed. The Touch for Health Kinesiology Association also certifies Touch for Health instructors.
In 1990 the Touch for Health Foundation's functions were turned over to its faculty, and the International Kinesiology College was founded as college without walls with its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. The college has two divisions: one for training certified Touch for Health instructors and one for training health professionals in kinesiology.
The North American Touch for Health Association headquarters in Malibu, California, was formed by the Alumni of the Touch for Health courses and certified Touch for Health instructors.
In other countries around the world, particularly Holland, Germany, United
Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, Brazil, Israel and several others, Touch for Health associations (sometimes called kinesiology associations) had been formed prior to 1990. Kinesiology institutes that educate and provide therapy were developed by many people who had taken Touch for Health classes. These institutes usually give people their first understanding of observations of how people function as whole persons rather than only as parts.
Over the years, numbers of new observations have been made and several systems of muscle testing have been developed throughout the world. The Touch for Health System remains a method for the general public to enhance their own performances and give them the ability to have more peak performances. In addition, the muscle testing & reflex procedures taught in the Touch for Health book form the foundation of many of the other types of kinesiology used by many health care professionals as adjunctive methods in their practices.
Touch for Health/kinesiology and applied kinesiology have been written up as successful methods that the public needs to know about in many books on alternative and complementary therapies. Thousands of health professionals-including physicians, chiropractors, osteopaths, naturopaths, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, dentists, nutritionists and dieticians--have added Touch for Health methods to their practices.
Professionals using Touch for Health in all of these fields find it to be a valuable tool. Millions of lay people utilizing the methods throughout the world have benefited.
I retired from my chiropractic practice in 1992. I now devote my life to serving the public by teaching and lecturing on the subject of Touch for Health. I hope that readers will be able to add the Touch for Health methods to their massage therapy practices, to enable clients to have more peak performances and personal bests, more rapid recovery from injuries, more effective relief from chronic problems and to have more exciting, enjoyable, graceful lives.
John F. Thie, D. C., founded Touch For Health in 1970. He is the founding chairman of the International College of Applied Kinesiology and has sat on the International Examining Board of Applied Kinesiology since its founding in 1975. Thie is the author of the book Touch For Health, and is the president of Touch for Health Education, an organization through which he writes and distributes a newsletter and gives seminars, workshops and lectures. Thie also directed the Thie Chiropractic Clinic in Pasadena, California, for 35 years. Dr. Thie passed away August 3, 2005 in Malibu, California. His wife Carrie is still living in Malibu, California.