The outstanding physiotherapist Francoise Mézières was born in Hanoi, Vietnam, on the 18th of June 1909 and died in 1991. She created the concept of muscular chains and the Mézières method. According to the theory of muscular chains, groups of muscles work together as though they were one.
It is impossible to move just one single muscle. Every movement we make with our bodies involves a set of muscles and so shortening or stretching only one muscle is beyond the bounds of possibility. Consequently, in order to stretch effectively, it is necessary to increase the distance between the ends of these muscular chains.
Nekane Ripodas created a method (posture reordering) based on Mézières’ and Bertherat’s theories, which she learnt at the school of diafreotherapy.
The work we perform at Kuraia is based on this knowledge and, with experience and humility, we shall try to build on the rich gift of this legacy.
THE NATURE OF MUSCLES (the importance of stretching)
Using the basic knowledge which we all learnt at school when we were nine years old (more or less), we shall try to explain the work we do with posture. Using these concepts, with which we are all familiar, it is possible to understand the importance of keeping ourselves elastic and symmetrical.
Muscles are plastic and elastic, and are capable of changing in terms of length and thickness. On their own, they would be unable to hold themselves up against gravity and so they are attached to a rigid structure, the skeleton. The job of muscles is to hold the skeleton up against gravity and generate movement. In order to do this, they need to be attached to different bones so that when they contract, the points at which they are attached move and change the body’s posture.
Because they are plastic, muscles can be toned and can increase in size, becoming shorter or drawing their points of attachment closer to one another, without having to contract, and remaining that way until they are stretched. This modifies our posture, generally increasing and/or correcting natural curves and may also lead to rotations and asymmetry (i.e. the muscles on one side of the body behave differently to those on the other).
Being attached to different bones (almost all our muscles cross a joint), our muscles draw the bones which meet at the joint closer together when they shorten, and also sometimes when they are toned, compromising their functionality. If we add the factor of symmetry to this equation, it is very likely that the members on one side of a joint and those on the other fall out of line. When they shorten, muscles which are attached to different axes on one side of a joint and on the other tend to leave the two attachment points on the same axis, thereby misaligning the members which the joint connects.
Muscular rigidity compromises the functionality of the body.
Stretching, the art of allowing, as opposed to stress
Stress readies the muscles so that they can react as quickly as possible. This means that it keeps all the muscular chains slightly and often imperceptibly tense.
When stress shortens our muscles, we need to release it in order to be able to stretch, i.e. increase the distance between two points. The same thing happens when we stretch any elastic object (a piece of chewing gum, an elastic band, etc.).
Stretching puts strain on the brain, because it feels the need to defend itself against an intense sensation. If you want to stretch, you have no option but to relax and overcome the resistance that the brain puts up, reducing its opposition to intense physical sensations.
We work with the biomagnetic pair theory created by the brilliant doctor Isaac Goiz Durán, through which we seek to balance out the body’s pH level using magnets. The aim of biomagnetism is to improve the health, but at Kuraia we have observed, as posturologists, that pH imbalances activate stress systems, maintaining unconscious sustained muscle tension and asymmetry.
You could say that when a living organism feels that it is being attacked, disturbed or abused (alteration of pH), it tends to activate sustained overall muscle tension as a means of defending itself until the cause disappears.
In posturology we already knew that a person with the flu could maintain their elasticity, but not increase it, due to the tendency to clench the body and shorten the muscles while the virus remains inside the organism.
Most focal points of pH imbalance harbour pathogens, which the body considers a source of attack, shortening either all the chains which pass through the point or the entire muscular suit (the term we use to refer to all the body’s muscular chains at the same time). In short, at Kuraia we basically use biomagnetic pair theory to help people “loosen up”, to stop them contracting their muscles unconsciously, thereby permitting, favouring and enhancing the effects of the postural work we perform later.
In a nutshell, having a point of pH imbalance means that we react as though someone had pinched us and our whole body doubles up at the point at which it hurts: the point of tension, of hostility, of attack.
At Kuraia we would like to find a postural biomagnetic scheme like the one we found with the meridians from traditional Chinese medicine by working in conjunction with acupuncturists.
With biomagnetism, only time will tell and all we can do is humbly hope to find one.
If you take a look at Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (a drawing based on the golden ratio), you can see that masses, volumes and lengths in the original human structure or design are evenly distributed on each side of the centre of gravity, which is in the very middle of the structure.
In the face of gravity, buildings require symmetrical bases on which to consolidate greater symmetrical mass. Structures which fail to meet this condition generate tension in order to prevent their collapse or tendency to fall as a result of the vertical force of gravity.
The human body comes with a brain which constantly calculates and recalculates the tension needed to keep the centre of gravity in the middle of the body so that the structure does not collapse as a result of gravity (vertical force which affects us all equally).
As explained earlier, muscular chains can shorten asymmetrically, meaning that something in another part of the structure is subjected to anomalous tension (contractures), producing a tug-of-war within the body between the shortened muscles and the contractures which hold it up to see which of the two can displace more of the skeleton.
At Kuraia we do not release a contracture without knowing where it comes from or why it exists. Starting by loosening a contracture would be like telling the brain “You don’t know what you are doing” and we would be releasing the contracture and what it grips or holds up at the same time. This may lead the chain which is in the process of shortening to shorten even further and displace more bone structures, altering the posture incorrectly and deviating from the original design.
Luckily, because the original design is determined (Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man) by a mathematical formula which exists throughout nature and is contained in our DNA, the fact that each cell in the body includes and recognises it works to our advantage. We do not invent new postures because human posture is the result of 20 million years of evolution. Second to none.
In fact, most of the people who come to our centre complain of contractures, as a consequence of muscle shortening, and, while not in pain, they suffer their consequences (be it visually, noting the postural alteration, or through touch, feeling the contractures and rigidness which may be generated on the “other side” of the structure or opposite the shortened muscle).
Scoliosis is one of the worst postures and we particularly like to address this problem because of the complexity it involves.
If you maintain the original design of the body, you can subject its structure to added stress without causing it any damage. What would you prefer, a Ferrari with one wheel smaller than or different from (asymmetrical) the others or a Ford Fiesta with all four wheels the same (symmetrical)?
Many sports people choose to add a turbo and a spoiler to that asymmetrical car, and stretch the machine to its limits, thinking that by doing so they are improving it. But what they are actually doing is subjecting a structure with a tendency to collapse to a level of stress for which it is not prepared. You cannot return the body to its original design by toning the muscles more and more. It is only possible to make full use of the functionality of the body by preserving its original design. In order to maintain the minimum level of overall elasticity and symmetry required in order to preserve the original design (and keep the centre of gravity in the middle of their body), sportspeople need to know how to carry out basic muscle maintenance.
We have already seen the relationship between the muscular chains and the meridians. In fact, all the meridians run along muscular chains and vice versa. Unblocking a meridian means that we can do a better job on the muscular chain that passes along it. We work with electrical stimulation and infrared light at these points so that those afraid of needles can receive acupuncture treatment without having to see any.
Advanced Vietnamese facial reflexology was created by Doctor Bùi Quốc Châu, who discovered a range of reflex circuits which could be stimulated from the face, bringing interesting physical and psychological benefits.
The parts of the brain which act upon the area of the body which needs to be treated are stimulated by pressing the different BQC points that the doctor discovered.
At Kuraia we use this technique because it has proved to be effective when it comes to alleviating points of pain, thereby facilitating our objective of increasing elasticity and symmetry.
At Kuraia we teach and provide the tools you need in order to enter the optimum mental state for any kind of muscular change.
The sigh, the breath of change.
Sighing is as innocent as it is demanding. You may think it simply means exhaling air, but if authentic, sighing means abandon, acceptance, losing the will to resist or control sensation (the present).
Sighing means putting an end to unconscious muscular contractions or constant states of thought. When your body is taut and your head is thinking, it is very hard to sigh and stretch.
We could say that stress is no ally when we want to stretch, encourage a change in our body, bring it to life…
Stress is not bad in itself. We are not aware of the countless occasions that it has saved our lives, but it should also be said that a prolonged state of stress exposes us to more accidents and poor health.
It would be wonderful if we could switch it on and off. Stress only readies our body, for example, when we need to run away from a tiger right at this moment (matter of survival) and we also activate it to deal with our emotions (imagine what that entails); other situations include being late for the dentist, watching an action movie, etc.
At first, sighing switches stress off and, for a brief instant, generates the kind of brain waves (associated with sleep or meditation) with which we gain access to the frontal lobe said to be the fount of will. This means that you can materialise your will, making a change in your body possible, in this case stretching (i.e. increasing the distance between two points). Stress is capable of depriving us of our finest tools when it comes to evolving as a species because it means that we only make use of the most primitive parts of the brain.