STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY Why Life Hurts Without Doing Anything
Most people walk in to a doctor’s office complaining of some sort of pain. Pain is often the result of a soft tissue problem. When I say soft tissues I mean skin, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and their smaller subunits like collagen and elastin. If the tissues designed to hold you together are themselves under stress and in need of help, don't expect to feel good after a massage, an adjustment, working hard in the yard or even sitting at a desk all day. Common complaints with soft tissue problems would be things like back pain, knee pain, achy muscles, sore joints, headaches and muscle cramps. However, it is important point to realize that soft tissues are the last things to break down. This means that an imbalance has been present for some time before symptoms ever manifested. Therefore, checking the integrity of the tissues is a great way to assess if a significant underlying problem is present in the body as a whole. And as expected, the nutritional answer will turn out to be a major nutrient (or two) that the body needs not only to repair the secondary soft tissue problem, but more importantly, to also repair the primary problem that caused the painful symptoms in the first place. Below I list the ten functional soft tissue tests that I now commonly use and explain what each mean if they cause a strong muscle to temporarily weaken. Most of the tests are either a gentle squeeze or easy stretch. Strong pressure is not necessary or appropriate (that would be a test for pain). All of these tests can be done in less than one minute, but as you will see by their meaning, quick and simple does not at all mean trivial. In fact, treatment of these soft tissue problems regularly aids patients with a myriad of chronic conditions (migraines, hot flashes, weight loss issues, severe legs cramps at night, and fibromyalgia are all recent examples).
1.Joint squeeze – An easy squeeze directly into any joint. This is one of the most important tests for anyone who complains of joint problems. The answer is often a specific form of my new favorite supplement, sulfur. When someone on their own chooses a supplement for joint pain they are often directed to glucosamine, chondroitin or MSM. These are all forms of sulfur. The answer though is not usually a combination of one of these, but a good dose of just one form. It is no surprise that those with joint problems are also the ones who have hormonal or detoxification (liver) issues. Since the liver requires sulfur for nearly all of its detoxification pathways, the clear connection between these widespread issues is sulfur.
2.Ligament stretch – Gently stretching the ligaments of the wrist or ankle. This test often verifies the presence of adrenal gland fatigue – our primary stress managers. The adrenal gland could respond to a variety of substances to aid in healing. Vitamin C, glandular tissue, zinc and again sulfur are all possibilities. High levels of dense protein are often required as well, since adrenal-repairing amino acids come from protein. Additionally, protein’s counterpart, the carbohydrates, place a great deal of stress on the blood sugar system and consequently the adrenals as well.
3.Skin squeeze – Lightly squeezing the skin of the hand (or anywhere else). A very good test to check for collagen integrity. Collagen is one of the most abundant soft tissue components in the body making up large percentages of skin and bone. Amino acids and sulfur are important for collagen repair as is vitamin C.
4.Skin stretch and release – A mild tug of the skin with an immediate release. This is a test for the integrity of elastin – the substance that helps keep our skin tight and tone. As we age elastin becomes less viable and skin therefore begins to sag. With the loss of elastin on the outer skin, integrity within blood vessels also suffers leading to varicose and spider veins. Elastin requires high levels of antioxidants like A, C and E, also sulfur and proper blood sugar balance (glucose is one of the most important raw materials for all healthy soft tissues).
5.Wrinkle stretch – Stretching across a wrinkle. Antioxidants again are an important consideration if this test is positive. Alpha lipoic acid is a common sulfur-contain antioxidant used to repair wrinkles.
6.Muscle squeeze – Moderate pressure squeezing any muscle. A very good test to help those who regularly get muscle cramps at rest or with exercise. Mineral imbalances are the number one reason why people get leg cramps. The most common need is calcium in its correct form, followed by magnesium and potassium.
7.Muscle stretch - One of my favorite tests since it is the one that helped me overcome 6 months worth of generalized lower back pain. Muscle are not always tight. In fact, most sore muscles are actually too loose. If stretching causes tension and/or pain, then the muscle-stretch test will likely be positive. Fat soluble vitamins are the answer here. Vitamins E, A and D, in that order are the often helpful. E must usually be in a mixed tocopherol form, not just alpha-tocopherol.
8.Fat squeeze – Can you release fat from storage? That is the question that this test answers. If a strong muscle goes weak with a gentle squeeze to the abdominal tissue then the answer is no. A critical piece of data to have when attempting to help someone lose weight or balance hormones. Some form of niacin (B3) is critical with this test, although other possibilities exist.
9.Liver/Gall Bladder touch – While the patient rests the left hand over the liver reflex area (under the right breast), the gall bladder point at the corner of the eye is touched at the same time. If this produces a weakness, then the patient is having trouble burning their fat after it has been released from storage. The gall bladder’s job is to provide bile salts into the digestive system whenever fat is present. Bile, like a grease-fighting detergent, is a fat emulsifier. Without bile, fats do not properly get broken down into smaller units. The gall bladder often needs good fats to stay healthy. The easiest way to upset the gall bladder is to eat too many unhealthy fats. Partially hydrogenated oils are the worst followed closely by canola oil. Yes, canola, the wonder oil that is so heavily touted in the health food stores. That is a story for another time. A great all purpose oil is olive. Black currant seed oil is also excellent for gall bladder repair.
10.Joint Grind – An easy pressure compressing and slightly rotating a joint. Within joints is a lubricating fluid called hyaluronic acid. If this test is positive, there is most likely a deficiency of this important fluid.
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