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July 3, 2015
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East vs. West

Remember ages ago when I asked you guys what you wanted me to write about? I still have the list and WILL slowly work my way through it. Adam Wolf’s question/ topic was:

How do you meld movement with manual therapy and eastern medicine and how does that coordinate to the paradigm and increasingly intertwined melding of “eastern” holistic medicine with the Western [philosophy]?

Ahhhh…it all comes down to East vs West. Just like when I was in high school at Kenmore West (Blue Devils). Our rivals were the Kenmore East Bull Dogs. I remember the very clever chant well: “West is best….East is least!”


Manual therapy is all about improving structure. Well…let me rephrase. We know we are not going to mold a humerus, or reshape a femoral head, but you know what I mean. We are attempting to change whatever soft tissue structures we can. We attempt to lengthen, stabilize, impact physiological healing and change, mold and adapt soft tissue. Our structure is going to dictate the function of the area. Why are there so many bones in the wrist and hand? Think of the dexterity we need there. Why is the glenohumeral “ball and socket” shaped differently than the femoralacetabular “ball and socket”? The shoulders are built for more mobility for the needs of the upper extremity while the hip joints need more structural stability to carry our body. Structure dictates function. If there is something we can do to enhance structure from performing manual therapy, I say we do it. Function will eventually dictate structure. If we continually sit with poor posture, our spines will become less mobile, eventually becoming so rigid that we cannot even stand up straight. Structure & Function go hand in hand and cannot be separated. Hence, the name of my company:


To me, Eastern and Western medicine go hand in hand. I don’t think of Eastern medicine being more or less holistic than Western medicine. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming to be an expert in Eastern medicine philosophies, but I do like to read about it and learn concepts from the disciplines. A lot of Eastern medicine has been passed down for thousands of years because it works! Those practicing back in the day had to use their current resources…plants and herbs from the mountains to cure illness, a way to describe the energy we all feel within us and others without diagnostic tests, etc. Just like we now use the resources we have available to us…medications, diagnostics, motion analysis, etc.


The definition of holistic:

Relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts

I think a lot of us practice holistic medicine when it comes to human movement. We look at the entire chain or segment and how it moves within the system. If we add some nutritional education in there, we are becoming “more holistic”. If we add in some sports psych counseling, we are becoming “even more holistic”. So Western Medicine IS holistic….or at least it can be. Just how holistic do you want to be?

This is why dry needling resonated with me so much. He looks at the body very holistically. Think about the definition of a muscular trigger point:

a sensitive area of the body, stimulation or irritation of which causes a specific effect in another part, especially a tender area in a muscle that causes generalized musculoskeletal pain when over stimulated.

Stimulation. Over stimulated. Where does stimulation come from within the body? Peripheral nerves. So we need to treat the peripheral nerves. Where do nerves come from? The spinal cord. So we need to treat the central nervous system as well. Now we are getting even MORE holistic!

Keep in mind a tool is not to be confused with your philosophy. Tools simply are the way we are choosing to express our philosophy at that given moment with that given athlete. Does it matter if I use a cup, a dry needle, a foam roll, a breathing pattern, a movement or a kettle bell? No, not at all. All those tools, whether classically divided into eastern or western medicine, express my philosophy at how I evaluate an athlete: And that philosophy is simply holistic.

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