Striving for balance

The other day, I found myself ruminating over balance as I was elbow deep in a hamstring.

Massage aims to uphold balance within muscle tissue, connective tissue, (fascia) bones, energy, and lymph.  Humans are up against gravity, aging, postural holding patterns, activities of daily living, emotional storage, chemical inbalances, environmental challenges and who knows what else every day.  Tipping the health scales off balance in just part of life.

Lucky for us body workers, bodies are built with bi-lateral replicas almost nearly from head to toe, allowing for a gauge to measure up against when we attempt to bring you back to center.  For example, pain and scar tissue felt in an injured left hamstring is much easily understood in contrast to the health of the right one, for both client and massage therapist.

Our bodies crave balance. A sense of peace ensues when all systems are stable. This innate deep rooted mechanism: homeostasis.  Your body keeps its own self in check quite well as long as things are running smoothly.

So, how are you holding up? Literally, how is your head on your neck? How is your neck positioned on your shoulders? Where are your shoulders in relation to your rib cage? How does your rib cage talk to your pelvis? Does your pelvis know about your knees? Do your knees dance with your ankles? Does your big toe have distant memories of your skull or are the two close friends?

I’m nearing the end of my structural series with Pat O’Rourke. Last weekend we revisited some tried and true anterior neck massage techniques. The theory of tensegrity in the body came up again.

Tensegrity =  (ten)sion + inte(grity):


  1. the characteristic property of a stable three-dimensional structure consisting of members under tension that are contiguous and members under compression that are not.

Pentakis_Icosahedron_50_in._by_Collins tensegrity087This was primarily an architecture term coined by Buckminster Fuller in the 60’s, but can also be applied to structural anatomy.

I like the visual that our bodies are like big top circus tents, with every corner and side flap equally pulled taut with anchored ropes. There will be no wrinkles in that canvas as long as each rope is doing its job. Same deal with our tissue.

So, what does this mean in the context of your next massage? 

I have found that the releasing the combination of the anterior side of the neck, jaw and the pteregoids (inside of the mouth) is a great way to lessen the commonly overstretched strain on the back side of your neck and shoulders.  Let go of the compression on your front side in order to pick up the slack on the back.

By the way, do you get headaches or migraines? A compressed shortened anterior neck is one way to perpetuate this problem. I would love to work with you to find optimal alignment for your neck and jaw.  Please ask me about Intraoral massage or read more about my perspective on it here… 

June is National Headache and Migraine Month! If you suffer from these despicable things, check out It’s a great website with plenty of support and resources. Personally, there’s nothing worse to me than a headache I can’t kick.  The cause can be sort of illusive, yet one thing I know is that by the time I get the type of headache that feels like an electrical drill bit is permanently lodged behind my left eye, things have been off kilter for a while. And so, one of my favorite things about my job is relieving headaches for clients through neck and jaw massage.

Also, in support of this month, my awesome chiropractor, Dr. Mychal Beebe of Health First Chiropractic is offering new patient consults and exams for the week of June 23-28 at a discount of $98. And, she will donate 1/2 of the money collected to the National Headache Foundation. This is a great deal with a fabulous doctor!  I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this if you’ve been looking for a good chiropractor.

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful June and landing comfortably in your own pendulum, whatever that may look like.  I’ll keep reminding you to periodically lay still on a table and let someone else worry about it for an hour…so that you can go get cattywampus again. Because life is just like that.




2 thoughts on “Striving for balance

  1. Raleigh

    This is terrific and empowering information! Striving for balance is a constant challenge. The concrete examples you provide on how & why we often fall out of “balance” (homeostasis) were articulated beautifully. Thank you Jen, for taking the extra time to share. Keep it coming!

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