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Connecting Sensory Integration and Trigger Points

In the mid-90s, I started working with an OT that specialized in Sensory Integration. She was one of the best. More than that, she ran seminars that brought the icons of Sensory Integration treatment into town.

I was in a special place. I was teaching at The National Institute of Craniosacral Studies and laying the foundation of Integrative Bodywork. I was writing The Workbook of Classical Neuromuscular Therapy for the ASHA School of Massage. I was living, eating and breathing Sensory Integration at the place where I practiced. I was still seeing adults for pain relief. I began to see a cross-over of concepts.

The people who came in on the lecture circuit were fascinated with craniosacral therapies, so they were interested in talking to me about cases. They talked, of course, about sensory issues. So I started researching which trigger points created problems in sensory organs, like SCM and the pterygoids. They talked about fight-or-flight, so I researched and found that muscles like the trapezius and splenii irritate the sympathetic ganglion keeping us in fight-or-flight. They talked about sensitivities to tags and socks. I found trigger point research on that too. I found the trigger point research that created for vestibular and proprioceptive issues. The neuromuscular assessment was connecting me to the problem.

Then came the subject of muscle tone. All these kids had low muscle tone and/or tight muscles. It was mysterious and no one had a good handle on how to address it. Voila! Trigger points restrict contraction and stretch while making the muscle tire quickly when used. These children were irritable and shut down. Trigger points release chemical irritants over broad areas creating tension that made them irregular and shut down.

Here’s where it all began to head toward a more effective structural approach. These weren’t the popular craniosacral techniques; they were craniostructural. That means that there were integrative techniques that release large patterns of trigger points throughout the system. I didn’t have to fight the trigger points, I could give the trigger points what they want so that they would become inactive. I learned to mix structural techniques that made big changes with functional techniques that were calming and organizing.

I’ve worked with Sensory Integration clients for many years and this just makes more sense than ever.

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Tony Preston has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s. He has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients.

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