Tuesday, February 14, 2012
You might not recognize it as such, but Michelangelo's statue of David is probably the best known spiral in the world. Don't feel bad if you don't see it at first. I didn't either until last week when I participated in a 48-hour certification course for myofascial massage therapy. (In case you're wondering, the participants wore clothing for the lectures as well as demonstrations.)
Now I can see that David's body, besides its obvious artistic appeal, has a clockwise spiral orientation, common to about 70% of people. The left hip has an anterior and inferior placement. And the right leg is more outwardly or laterally rotated, which forces it to bear about 65% of the body's weight. Look at his feet. The weight distribution there isn't exactly optimal. His left shoulder is elevated more than his right one. That posture tends to compress the lateral (outside) edge of his right ribcage. Breathing could be challenged, if David were alive at this point.
Over time, this clockwise postural stance gets set in stone, so to speak, in the human body as well. Fascia maintains its contractility or ability to shorten, but its elasticity naturally decreases over time. We dry out as we age. Hydration helps some. Massage therapy helps even more. The static gel state of fascia is warmed by massage and becomes more fluid and dynamic by a property known as thixotropy. Muscle tension is released, and the body functions more effectively as the spiral unwinds a little. What's not to love about that prospect?