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Old 12-04-2012, 03:21 PM   #308
Josh Lerner
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Location: Renton, WA
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 80
Re: Is aiki a clash of forces?

Hi Eric,

I don't have time to address every point you've brought up, so I will only address the main ones of yours that I was refuting. And I will also attempt to put together your assertions in a logical structure, because I'm having trouble following them. I will also use the abbreviation LTR for localized twitch response.

That is not established -- (referring to my statement that the myofascial trigger points that researchers and therapists are talking about in the literature are not smooth muscle phenomena.) though it is plainly a complex of tissues involved -- the contribution of the smooth muscle behavior of the fascia to the problem is not ruled out.

If you are talking about myofascial trigger points that can undergo LTR, it is absolutely well established. Those trigger points are localized contractions of sarcomeres in skeletal muscle. There is a very clear electron microscope image of trigger points that usually shows up in the literature, and although I couldn't find the specific image I'm thinking of online, here is a variation -

The localized twitch response is a further contraction of the skeletal muscle fibers when the trigger point is stimulated, after which the knots are relaxed because the micro-contractions have released. The most current and accepted theory about the formation of trigger points that I am aware of has to do with damage to the sarcomeres and Ca++ pump and the ensuing shortage of ATP. You can google "energy crisis theory" for more details.

Now, in terms of what causes them - sure, tight fascia that causes the skeletal muscles fibers to be overworked and damaged is a causative factor. So are lots of other similar things like scar tissue, emotional stress, vitamin deficiencies, hypoglycemia and other endocrine disorders. So in terms of things that are contributing to the problem, the smooth muscle-like contractibility of the fascia that tightens it is certainly not ruled out and can be an aspect of the problem. But if you are talking about trigger points that can have a localized twitch response, tight fascia is not the trigger point.

The complex interrelation and the undeniable postural source of most myofascial pain indicates a connection between adverse structural position and dynamic compensations that may overstimulate tissues. The positional fixation combined with the underlying tonic vibration or stress oscillation involved in stayinhg dynamically stable in such a bad posture -- that is exactly like hand-clenching from repetitive grip stress of a tool, but just occurring in and shortening sections of the muscle tissues (possibly from the Cinderella effect) rather than the gross shortening of the forearm muscles that clench the hands involuntarily. These connections are plain and highly suggestive and have not been ruled out.

The mechanical issues you are talking about - poor posture, keeping the hand in a clenched position - have to do with how skeletal muscle reacts to eccentric or isometric contractions and not to vibrations or stress oscillations. It can happen in response to oscillations but it can just as easily happen without them. The problem with postural distortions is that they involve chronic low-level muscle contractions which overuse the earliest-recruited muscle fibers (since later-recruited fibers never get the chance to fire without a full contraction) and which cause excess intramuscular pressure to build up, leading to localized hypoxia and ischemia.

If I sit in meditation for two hours with my head slightly forward, without moving at all, the constant low level contraction of various fibers in muscles like the trapezius will cause the formation of trigger points without any need for oscillations or vibrations.

The striated muscle tissues interleave with the fascia -- which has this smooth-muscle behavior -- including the hormonal sensitivities -- which we apparently agree on -- (plus the study noted above).
It is the biomechanicals effects and causes that are of interest -- but in the context of considering fascia in martial applications Ueshiba's sense of budo as "love" and the "spirit of loving protection" to ignore the involvement of oxytocin -- the love hormone -- is to ignore some obvious evidence or directions for inquiry from a seemingly knowledgeable source.

Following your logic -

Practice aikido >
Develop feelings of "loving protection" >
production of oxytocin >
stimulates smooth muscle-like aspect of fascia >
fascia tightens >
develop Ueshiba's level of martial efficacy (and develop trigger points, I guess?)

If I add up all of the individual statements you are making, that is the only conclusion I can come to about what you are saying. To which I really just have no response.

IOW -- you just described plucking it like a fat guitar string. It is the effective influence of the resulting vibration on the systems in question that are of interest and the local twitch response is one more among the spinal reflexes that are mediated by such methods of striking, plucking or vibrating in another way. They do -- interesting -- things to people.

Pressure versus vibration. Since vibration is useful in such therapeutic massage or manipulations -- as is pressure -- and since vibration in tissue is just an oscillation of pressure-- I am not sure the distinction is that significant.

No, it is not the influence of the vibration on the system, and yes, the distinction is very significant.

Sure, it is a spinal reflex like the stretch reflex. But you are talking about the LTR as it occurs in trigger points that are "strummed", and I repeat that your ideas about vibration and oscillation are extraneous to the subject.

I get LTR in patients all the time by slowly holding a muscle with constant pressure or by inserting a needle into it, with no vibration or oscillation of any kind. With manual pressure, the twitch often doesn't occur for ten seconds or up to a minute or two. The fact that vibration can relax muscles and tight fascia is a separate issue. I have many manual vibrating techniques that I also use with patients, and sure, they are very effective for relaxing tight muscles and connective tissues, realigning structures and even relaxing people emotionally. And with thousands of treatments using these techniques, I've never felt an LTR when using them.

And with that, I have expended my available time and energy resources for this topic. Carry on.

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