A new angle on relieving old muscle tension and pain

Pain and tension in the body hamper circulation, and it can get very confusing — even exhausting — to search for a healing modality that works for you.

by Roxann Christensen — 

Amy could not turn her head without stirring up pain from an old gymnastic injury. Steve’s leg muscles had atrophied from his many foot injuries. Sally’s hands cramped so badly at night that the pain would wake her up. Ted was headed for carpal tunnel surgery, but wondered if there was a non-surgical answer.

Pain and tension in the body hamper circulation, and it can get very confusing — even exhausting — to search for a healing modality that works for you. After trying many different modalities, such as chiropractic, massage and physical therapy, the people above turned to a new therapy called Ortho-Bionomy. This therapy gets its strength and effectiveness from working with the body, versus against it.

For example, do you remember being told as a kid to put your shoulders back? I would always put mine “back” until the coast was clear and then I’d relax again. Some muscles are actually distressed by this kind of stretching, or they simply don’t respond.

Using Ortho-Bionomy self-care techniques for slumped shoulders, you relax one of your shoulders, say the left one. Then with your right hand, you reach over and pull your left shoulder in, exaggerating the offending hunch; then, extend it a little further, and hold a gentle, inward compression for about 20 seconds.

This exercise helps release the stress and tension in the muscles so they can relax, letting the shoulder slide farther back and closer to where it should hang naturally. You would work the other shoulder the same way. While this is not a one-time cure, it is amazing what you can accomplish when you work with the body, not against it.

The kind of compression used in this example is effective without being painful. To the contrary, it actually feels good because it is compression from both ends of the muscle, toward the middle, rather than deep into the center of the muscle, which can be painful and can exacerbate the problem.

The principles of Ortho-Bionomy allow us to make a more significant difference than the simple practice of putting a shoulder back into place. For instance, used gently, it can help anyone who regularly uses a backpack to release the tension that builds up in the neck and shoulders.

Amy, the gal with the 10-year-old gymnastic injury, was pain-free after two sessions. Steve, the man with atrophied leg muscles, started regaining use of those muscles after four visits. Within six sessions, the pain and cramping were gone for Sally, the lady whose hands would knot up. And Ted, the man with carpal tunnel syndrome, got his wish and was out gardening, pain-free, after just three sessions.

For more information about Ortho-Bionomy, visit


Roxann Christensen is a licensed, nationally certified Asian bodywork therapist who also practices Ortho-Bionomy. 623-330-8488 or 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 4, August/September 2006.

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