What does DCT mean?DCT stands for Dynamic Contraction Technique™. Dynamic Contraction Technique™ is a form of resistance stretching that is similar to but applicably different than the variation of PNF (Proprioceptive Nueromuscular Faciliation) known as Combining Isotonics.
How does DCT work?DCT™ works by isolating a muscle using concentric contractions to recruit specific muscle fibers until a perceivable “burning” sensation is felt. Once the intended muscle is fatigued (burning) an isometric contraction is used to maintain the muscle fatigue while transitioning into an eccentric contraction. The eccentric contraction is the means by which DCT™ exercises facilitate the release of both muscle and fascial tension. The mechanism of the DCT™ resides in the unique mechanical function of the eccentric contraction. When muscle tissue is sufficiently fatigued around areas of tension in the body and then subjected to an eccentric contraction there is a distinct translation of an external force to that of an internal force directly opposing the area of restriction in the muscle or fascia. This physiological phenomena allows the user of DCT™ to systematically reintegrate their muscle and fascial systems optimizing function and performance.
Who is DCT for?DCT™ is for anyone who is attempting to maximize functionality of their body while decreasing pain and the probability for future injury. DCT™ can be used to help address chronic or acute injuries or as part of a developmental program to increase flexibility and strength. There are very few limitations to the performance of DCT™. A DCT™ client or patient must have a desire to participate in their own healing process, and a basic kinesthetic awareness and level of communication is needed in order to learn the technique or have a session facilitated by a practitioner. As such the youngest client that can adequately perform DCT™ is typically 9 years old. The upper end of the age limit is related more to physical capacity and conditions that limit communication. To learn more about the specific demographics that can benefit from DCT™ see the About tab of our website.
What is the difference between a DCT Practitioner who is a therapist vs. a DCT Practitioner who is a trainer?DCT™ Practitioners are subject to their own licensure and must follow the regulations of their state with regard to using DCT™ therapeutically. DCT™ can be used as a form of exercise or preventative flexibility training by anyone without need for a therapeutic license. However, should DCT™ be used for the direct purpose of treating and alleviating a symptom or diagnosed dysfunction many states require that the facilitator of the treatment must hold a valid license to perform therapy on the human body. That being said, there is actually no difference in the training received from Harmonix Health by a DCT™ Practitioner who is a therapist vs. a DCT™ Practitioner who is a trainer. However there is a difference in their prior education and other certificates/licenses they hold. In general the best way to distinguish between the level of expertise within the DCT™ system is by the Level of DCT™ certification the practitioner holds. A level 4 DCT™ Practitioner will have significantly greater expertise in DCT™ than a Level 1, 2, or 3 Practitioner regardless of their status as a trainer or therapist. However, if you have an acute injury that requires licensed therapy then the DCT™ Therapist may have insight into your condition that a DCT™ Trainer may not.
How often should I do DCT?DCT™ personal exercises can and should be performed daily. However, there is great benefit to be had from performing your DCT™ workouts 1-3 times per week. We like to encourage people to learn several DCT™ exercises at a time that are done daily for several minutes at a time, but longer DCT™ workouts have a greater benefit and do not need to be performed every day. As for how many assisted DCT™ sessions from a DCT Practitioner should be received in a week the answer depends very much on what you are trying to accomplish. Typically for resolving chronic injuries like Lower back pain or neck pain we recommend a minimum of 1 x per week until the pain begins to resolve. Assisted DCT™ sessions should not be performed more than 3 x per week unless you are an elite athlete or are blending your assisted work with learning the personal DCT™ exercises. The body requires time to recover from the intense and sometimes radical changes achieved during each session. A good rule of thumb is to treat an assisted DCT™ session like a weigh lifting workout. The personal exercises on the other hand can be performed daily or even twice daily to mitigate tension that forms from your daily activities.
Is it better to do DCT before or after exercise/activity?DCT™ can be used as both a warm up and a cool down. If performed before exercise, it will make muscles more active. It will also allow them to work at greater ranges. If DCT™ is performed before explosive exercise (sprinting, throwing, plyometrics, etc.) it is always best to make sure the intensity of each DCT™ exercise is mild so as to avoid over-lengthening a targeted muscle. Creating greater length in a muscle requires time for the muscle to heal and re-establish strength at the newly gained ROM. After exercise, DCT™ will allow for quicker recovery and reduced soreness.
DCT Private Sessions:
What should I expect from my first DCT private essionExpect to learn a new way of thinking about flexibility and stretching. You can also expect to learn how to feel and experience the 3 different phases of DCT™ (Strength, Transition, and Stretch). You will leave your first session feeling profoundly different in your body and will likely have a sense of excitement regarding what is truly possible in terms of feeling healthy and living without pain. Lastly, you will wonder why no one ever explained these simple ideas about flexibility to you before.
How long is a typical DCT private session?A full DCT™ session is usually 1 hour and blends Barefoot Shiatsu with assisted as well as personal DCT™ exercises. DCT™ sessions can be modified for almost any environment and time frame. Injury specific protocols can be facilitated in as little as 5-10 minutes when one particular area or body part is being isolated. More lengthy sessions are appropriate when teaching in a semiprivate format or when focusing more heavily on personal DCT™ exercises/workouts.
What should I wear for a DCT session?Exercise clothing are usually the best outfit to wear to a DCT™ session. However if you forget your workout gear you can perform your DCT™ exercises in loose fitting regular clothes (No Skinny Jeans or Skirts though…)
What is Barefoot Shiatsu massage?Barefoot Shiatsu is form of therapeutic massage work where a practitioner uses their feet instead of their hands to provide a percussive pressure to the muscles of the body. The purpose for using the feet instead of the hands is both for effectiveness and self-preservation. Many forms of massage that require the use of a practitioner’s hands will result in excessive wear and tear on the joints of the fingers and wrists. The feet are designed for walking over the course of a person’s life and can tolerate the abuse of repetitive activities. Longevity is paramount to the education program for DCT™. Harmonix Health LLC prides itself in providing one of the most ergonomically sound and biomechanically evolved educational programs. As for the effectiveness of Barefoot Shiatsu, all it takes is one session to realize how much leverage and pressure a practitioner has when standing on a muscle of the body. We like to say that we ruin people who like the traditional Swedish oil massage, after your first DCT™ session you will be asking your masseuse to climb up on the massage table and walk on you!
Why is massage used in DCT sessions?Massage is used in a DCT™ session in order to facilitate blood and fluid movement through the muscles and connective tissue that will be used during the session. The Barefoot Shiatsu method allows a DCT™ Practitioner to artificially pump blood through areas that are restricted by muscle and/or fascial tension. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients through the body, when tension exists in muscles and connective tissue then blood can’t profuse and deliver these nutrients to the restricted tissues. This means that the tissue that is deprived of blood will literally suffocate and starve to death creating deep investing layers of scar tissue in the body. The percussive style of massage employed by DCT™ Practitioners helps warm the tissue up and prepare the body for the muscle recruitment needed during a DCT™ session. At the end of a DCT™ session massage is used to help pump the waste products that were released during the exercises out of the muscles and into the lymph system to be processed and then sent to the filters of the body for disposal.
Why are you working on my legs if my shoulder hurts?In order to understand posture and alignment it helps to imagine the body as a house. The hips are like the foundation of the house. You can imagine that if we were to twist the foundation of a house that everything above it would be affected. The windows would break, the floor boards would snap and pop up, and the doorways would slant at odd angles. The same is true of the human body! Our hips can be twisted by the muscles that attach from the legs to the pelvis. As such if your hamstrings and gluteus muscles, which attach on the back and bottom of your pelvis, get tight then they pull your butt down and underneath you causing your upper back to hunch and your shoulders to roll forward and in collapsing your chest. When the shoulders are held out of alignment by the tension in the hips there is an incredible amount of wear and tear that occurs at the ligaments and tendons of the shoulder. Much in the same way that the foundation of the crooked house must be fixed before the windows, floors, and doors, so too does the tension in the hips and legs need to be addressed before the shoulders can be fixed. Otherwise any adjustments attempted on the shoulder girdle would simply revert back to a state of mal-alignment. DCT™ Practitioners are trained to identify the root causes of biomechanical alignment issues and to unwind these tension patterns systematically restoring proper function and alignment to the body.
What can I expect following a DCT session?Most recipients of DCT™ leave feeling “taller” and “looser”. This feeling tends to stay put for up to a week. The more one receives DCT™, the more permanent the changes to the body will be. Due to the fact that DCT™ exercises break down adhesions within muscles, periods of soreness may be experienced. In the very rare occurrence of a “flair up” or continued discomfort, one should reconnect with their DCT™ practitioner to discuss their symptoms and to allow the practitioner to take note of the exercises that were performed during the session and determine which exercises should be modified or avoided in future sessions.
What can I do on my own to improve/support the work I did in the DCT session?The best way to support and bolster the effects of your DCT™ session is to learn and perform personal DCT™ exercises. Often your first session will focus primarily on a facilitated experience of DCT™ in order to help you learn what each phase of a DCT™ exercise should feel like. Once you have had a facilitated experience of DCT™ the personal exercises can be more easily learned and retained. Learning a DCT™ workout that is specific to your needs from your DCT™ Practitioner or at a DCT™ workshop is a great way to more quickly achieve your functional goals.
How is DCT different than PNF?Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a form of assisted resistance stretching that has been around since the 1940’s. It was originally used in the rehabilitation of individuals suffering from paralysis and or muscle disorders because of its neurological effects on the body. Proprioception is knowing where a joint is located in space. For example, if you closed your eyes and someone lifted your arm out to the side and bent your elbow to ninety degrees you would be able to tell them that your elbow was bent without looking. Neuromuscular facilitation is referring to the fact that ultimately it is signals from your brain that stimulate muscle contractions. Here is how PNF is performed and the theory behind why and how it works. The practitioner picks a muscle they would like to stretch on their patient/client like the hamstring muscle. They then lengthen that muscle and ask the patient to resists against them using that muscle. In the case of the hamstring the patient would be lying on their back with one leg lifted by the therapist and they would be kicking their heel into the therapist’s hand for resistance. The therapist does not let the leg move forcing the patient to hold and isometric contraction for 5-6 seconds. The therapist then places their hands on the front of the foot/leg and asks the client to pull their leg towards their chest against resistance. Again an isometric contraction is held for 5-6 seconds. Finally the therapist returns their hands to the heel and asks the client to relax while they move their leg into a deeper stretch. The process can be repeated indefinitely continually providing more and more range of motion (ROM). With PNF the range of motion that is gained is due mostly to a neurological effect where activating two groups of muscles that are in an agonist and antagonist relationship(means one muscle does the exact opposite action that the other one does) causes relaxation of tone in the target muscles. As soon as the muscle undergoes stress the tone will return and the range of motion that was gained will be lost. This does not mean that the method lacks value, actually, it is an extremely effective way to accomplish exactly what the name describes, “Proprioceptive Nuromuscular Facilitation.” PNF essentially helps reestablish a connection between the mind and body relative to joint function at different ranges of motion. This is very different than removing muscle tension, and very different in practice than DCT™. DCT™ utilizes three different muscle contractions to remove tension from muscles. Let’s compare the PNF hamstring stretch described above to that of a DCT™ exercise. A DCT™ Practitioner would allow the client to perform hamstring extensions by resisting them at the heel but allowing them to slowly kick their leg down to the floor. This is a concentric contraction that builds strength in the hamstrings of the client. The concentric contractions will be repeated until the client begins to feel fatigue or a burn in the target muscles. Once fatigued, the Practitioner will have the client hold an isometric contraction at the smallest range of motion (with the heel close to the floor). The isometric contraction is used to further isolate the hamstrings and to make sure that the muscle tissue remains engaged as the Practitioner begins to push the clients leg towards their chest against the clients resistance. This is an eccentric contraction and is actually the phase of a DCT™ exercise where tension is removed from a muscle. (See Lesson 3 in the How my Body Works section of our website) A DCT™ exercise recruits muscle tissue that is around areas of tension (knots), maintains the activation, and then forces the muscle to pull against itself removing the muscle tension from the inside out. This is a physiological phenomenon and has immediate and lasting physiological effects on the body.
How is DCT different than ART?Active Release Technique (ART) is a form of manual therapy where a muscle is targeted by a therapist and pressure is applied using their thumbs, forearms, elbows, or a wooden/plastic dowel while the client performs specific movements that the targeted muscle aids in performing. This is an exceptionally effective technique for increasing mobility within a joint and or giving muscles more freedom of movement. Here again, however, it is important to distinguish exactly what this technique is doing. Many would claim that it is releasing muscle tension based on the results that ART professionals achieve during their sessions. The truth of the matter is that ART actually works on the Fascia or connective tissue that is located locally within a muscle, and on specific neurological trigger points found in the muscle. This is a powerful combination in addressing many chronic and acute pain issues that arise in the body. The fascia is profoundly connected to movement. (See Lesson 4 in the How my Body Works section of our website) If the fascia becomes restricted then muscle tissue has less room in which to do its job. By pressing down hard on a specific point in a muscle the ART therapist is effectively pinning the fascia to the bone at that location and then having the client move their body part, let’s say an arm, contracting the muscle around the point that is pinned to the bone. This essentially peals the pinned fascia away from the surrounding muscle tissue alleviating referred neurological pain associated with the trigger point as well as giving the muscle more space in which to contract functionally. DCT™ works with Fascia in a very different but equally effective way. DCT™ Practitioners first remove muscle tension in target muscle groups by using eccentric muscle contractions. Once the muscle tension has been addressed this allows the joint to function properly so that more complex stretching positions can be used safely. Isometric and eccentric contractions are then used to separate the Fascia from the muscles and surrounding tissues. DCT™ fascial stretching is achieved by having the client position their body such that their limbs are pulling tension bilaterally or from their lowerbody to their upperbody. (See Lesson 4 in the How my Body Works section of our website) An example a DCT™ fascial stretching position would be a deep lunge position where the therapist raises the clients back leg while they are in the lunge to isolate the fascia in the front of the thigh and hip. DCT™ does not ignore the important distinction between muscle tension and fascial tension, and by being able to address both systems independently it allows for a more lasting and permanent shift in movement patterns and biomechanical alignment.
How is DCT different than AIS?Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is a form of rehabilitative exercise and assisted therapy techniques developed by Aaron Mattes. The technique involves holding different positions for no longer than two seconds at a time utilizing a physiological relaxation response in muscle tissue. AIS works in a similar fashion as PNF, allowing increases in range of motion without removing the underlying muscle tension that is causing the restricted range of motion in the muscle. This method has tremendous value in informing the client in neuromuscular reeducation, and the body positions are very safe and ergonomic allowing individuals at any level of restriction to perform the exercises. DCT™ also uses very safe positions for assisted and individually performed exercises. This is really the only similarity between the two modalities, DCT™ approaches each muscle by activating and recruiting muscle fibers(via concentric contractions), retaining the isolated muscle fibers (via isometric contractions), and then removing muscle tension (via eccentric muscle contractions). DCT™ Practitioners are also taught to use DCT™ exercises as a diagnostic tool, following the tension patterns that are unique to each client/patient. This is accomplished by allowing communication and client/patient feedback to guide each session. Every DCT™ client/patient is taught about their condition as well as how the exercises function to remove tension so that during their session they can direct the practitioner effectively, allowing a more precise and safe removal of tension. DCT™ provides a new paradigm of therapy where communication is the bottom line and empowerment the ultimate goal. Because such a high level of resistance and control is required to perform a DCT™ exercise it is impossible to be a passive participant during a session. The therapist really just acts as a tool facilitating the experience that is being guided by the sensations experienced by the client. This lends itself to quick and profound results for which credit is given to the client due to their willingness to participate with full attention.
How is DCT different than Yoga?Yoga is a posture based exercise method that uses complex multi-joint multi-muscle postures to build strength and flexibility in the body. The complexity of each yoga posture and the fact that multiple muscle groups are isolated at once usually spanning from the lower body through to the upper body makes yoga very effective at releasing fascial tension from the body. The approach used in DCT™ begins first with the isolation of individual muscle groups in the body and very specifically activates and actively stretches the isolated muscle group using an eccentric contraction. Once an individual muscle group has been released DCT™ will then work up or down the kinetic chain with more complex positions that are used to isolate facial tension spanning the line of muscles along the kinetic chain. The main difference between Yoga and DCT™ is that DCT™ explicitly uses a combination of concentric, isometric, and eccentric contractions during both simple single muscle group postures as well as in complex multi-muscle group postures. Yoga tends to emphasize isometric muscle contractions again lending itself to a more fascially focused flexibility method.
How is DCT different than Pilates?Pilates encourages its recipients to use large areas of their body at once. Much like yoga and other “macro” focused modalities, Pilates seeks to integrate larger parts of the body on the whole. Through compound movement patterns, it encourages the mind, body and breathing, to work all together to produce strength and balance. The movements of DCT™ are much more focused in comparison, as it’s goal is to focus on one area of the body at a time. This requires a different type of “listening” to the body. DCT™ is not so much a system of learning a new set of “movements” which can be reproduced at greater levels of expertise. Rather, it seeks to improve the health and strength of each muscle and in turn improves ALL movements one might care to make.
Should I stop doing other activities like yoga or Pilates and just do DCT?No, absolutely not. DCT™ is designed to enhance a person’s understanding of their body and improve their functional range of motion giving them increased strength and control during all forms of movement. As such DCT™ is meant to be used in conjunction with your favorite activities or forms of exercise and therapy. DCT™ can be used alone with great benefit, but when used with other modalities and exercise systems one can expect to maximize their personal development.
How come when I get a massage my body gets tense again so soon? Why doesn’t it stay loose?Massage is perhaps one of the most misunderstood therapy modalities in the alternative health world. This is due in part to the fact that there are so many different kinds of massage that get lumped together. But whether we are talking about Deep Tissue, Swedish, Thai, Tui Na, Lomi Lomi, Rolfing, or Sports Massage it all comes down to one basic truth. Massage does not remove muscle tension. However, massage does increase blood circulation, break up scar tissue, release fascial tension, alleviate inflammation, reduce pain, and drain lymph fluids. Not too shabby! But it definitely does not get rid of the knots that are camping out in your shoulders. Muscle tension is the result of the binding of sarcomeres within your muscles. Sarcomeres are the subunits found within muscle fibers, and when they bind they are chemically bound such that external pressure is not enough to break them apart. (See Lesson 3 in the How my Body Works section of our website.) However massage can very effectively lengthen the fascia that surrounds muscle fibers providing more space for the muscle to work in as well as increasing the amount of nutrients that flow through the area. This is sometimes enough to cause relief of acute and chronic pain. The problem is that after several days because the underlying tension is still present in the muscle tissue the pain usually returns and any suppleness and or softness that was gain is lost. Hence the need to repeat massage sessions on a regular basis in order to mitigate pain. In more extreme cases of tension even massage is unable to give relief. This is seen most often with great amounts of muscle tension have led to a degeneration of the joint around which they attach. At this point the only solution is to use eccentric muscle contractions to remove the tension from the inside out releasing the pressure/torque being applied to the joint. DCT™ effectively combines massage techniques(Barefoot Shiatsu) with resistance stretching exercises to adequately and definitively alleviate pain and restore proper biomechanical alignment to the body.
How come when I get a chiropractic adjustment I have to go back again right away for another adjustment? Why don’t I just stay aligned/adjusted?Imagine for a moment that you have suffered an impact injury. (A car accident or a fall skiing) Your body is forced violently and suddenly out of alignment. In this situation it makes perfect sense to go and have a chiropractor forcefully slam your body back into alignment. Otherwise it really makes no sense at all, here is why. If we look at how muscle tension works to pull the bones out of alignment slowly over time it will become clear that any adjustments made to the skeletal system without first addressing the muscle tension would be ineffective and potentially dangerous. (See Lessons 1 & 2 in the How my Body Works section of our website). If a muscle has shortened to the point that it is holding a bone out of alignment, then pushing bone back to its original position will only stress the ligaments and tendons at the associated joint. Furthermore either later that day or several days later the muscle tension that is still present in the muscles will inevitably work to pull the bone back out of alignment. This is why when you go for an adjustment you have to keep going back over and over again for the same adjustment. After enough adjustments, however, the joint will actually get overstretched and the relief you initially felt will no longer occur and the adjustment will last mere hours as opposed to days. This is why DCT™ Practitioners tend to only refer out to chiropractors who have a strong grasp of either DCT™ or other effective soft tissue techniques(ART ect…), or of course for relief from impact injuries. This FAQ is written with the understanding that we are referring to the stereotypical “Rack em and Crack em” Chiropractors. There are many great chiropractors who use their license as a spring board propelling them towards many new and amazing therapy techniques in their professional careers. Just be mindful of the potential for injury and seek out chiropractors who understand the principals described above.
What is fascia?Fascia is the filler of the body. It is also known as connective tissue and scar tissue. Fascia connects all tissues of the body by investing in and around them in every direction. You can imagine fascia as a 3 dimensional web that permeates everything from the surface of your skin down to and around each bone in your body. It is so pervasive that if you were to magically make everything else in the body disappear you would look exactly the same. Fascia is made up of collagen (a protein) and has the function of adhering and binding any structures in the body that remain motionless for significant amount of time. For instance, when you cut your skin as long as you use a band aid or stiches to hold to two sides of the cut together long enough then fascia (Scar tissue) will form binding the two separated flaps of skin back together. The problem with fascia as it relates to flexibility and muscle function is that this healing process is happening all the time whether needed or not. This means that if you were to bend your elbow and keep your arm bent for too long that the fasicia in your body would bind and hold your elbow in a bent position until you either forced the arm to move tearing the newly lain scar tissue or in severe cases of immobility you would need to perform surgery to cut the elbow free. Motion is the key to keep fascia at bay. As long as you move your body through its available range of motion regularly then new fascial bonds are not given a chance to thicken and restrict motion. DCT™ allows for strong internal forces to be generated along both muscle fibers and fascial lines to keep the local and global fascial systems aligned and functioning properly.
What causes muscle tension?As defined in the How My Body Works learning lessons on our website muscle tension is a binding of sarcomeres within the muscle fibers of the body. Sarcomeres are the individual components that make up a muscle fiber. There are upwards of 50,000 sarcomeres in series with one another in a single fiber within a muscle. You can think of them as links of a chain. The actual mechanism that makes the sarcomeres bind and shortens the resting length of a muscle is a great controversy within the scientific community. The simplistic explanation used to teach DCT™ where we define muscle tension separately from fascial tension is most likely scientifically inaccurate. The latest research is leaning towards an understanding where fascia is at the core of all local muscular dysfunction as well as the superficial more global dysfunctions that manifest in the body. However, this does not mean that it is not useful to define and think of muscle tension separately from fascial tension, it just means as the science of the body continues to be refined the mechanisms may be show to be different than initially speculated. As is normally the case with science!
What is Bio-Tensegrity? How does DCT fit in with it?Bio-Tensegrity is a paradigm for how the body works. Briefly, it is the idea that all the tension bearing members(muscles, fascia, ligaments, tendons, bones, etc.) in the body work together to hold the body steady and safe. For instance if one has 5 pounds of pressure active somewhere in the body, the rest of the body must equal out that 5 pounds to make sure the individual can stay balanced. (For more information, please explore Biotensegrity.com. However, as the body figures out this very complex set of equations to keep itself upright, it will often sacrifice smaller parts to make sure the whole is healthy (ie, lock down an ankle because a knee is injured, tighten the neck because the low back is too loose)DCT™ helps to strengthen what is weak, and loosen what is tight, so the “tensegrous” structure of the body can work together more fluidly. This will often allow injuries or imbalances to go away quite naturally as the system becomes able to balance itself in a healthy position.
Will increasing my flexibility make me weaker?Increasing one’s true flexibility will never make someone weaker. However, please keep in mind that DCT™ Practitioners believe flexibility to be better expressed by the word flexAbility. This means that we believe true flexibility is the ability to contract a muscle maximally at its full range of motion. So if someone is gaining length without contracting a muscle, they WILL lose strength. Remember though, within the DCT™ system, we NEVER gain length without contraction! This means we never lose strength.The only other caveat is this: Explosive athletes must make sure to “reintegrate” the new distance they have gained before competition! Since the distance of the muscles has changed, their power structure might have been altered as well. The muscles are usable at a longer distance, so they are inherently stronger. However, one must remember that in explosive muscle activity, time is involved (Force = mass x acceleration). This means that neuromuscular control system must be given adequate practice in using the longer distance in the same amount of time! The biggest gains in flexibility are always best made in the “off” season. This gives maximal time for reintegration.
How does DCT help alleviate nerve pain (sciatica)?Nerve Pain is a blanket term that is meant to indicate any sensation of pain in the body that is electrical in nature and radiating in a limb usually the leg but also in the arm and forearm. What is important to understand about nerve pain is that the location of the pain is not where the problem is. Our nerves connect the tissues in our body to our brains via the spinal cord. The nerves serve to relay information from the body to the brain as well as from the brain to the body in the form of electrical impulses. Sensation is one of the primary forms of input that the brain is acquiring at all times from the nerves. When stimulation occurs on nerve the brain forms that stimulus into the related experience. When extraordinary pressure is applied to a nerve the brain is overwhelmed and registers the stimulus as pain. This is extremely evident if you have ever hit your “funny bone” behind your elbow. There is an electrical shock that radiates all the way to your finger tips and then a numbness that follows and can last for several minutes if not longer. In the How my Body Works Lessons we learn that muscle tension can squeeze down on any of the structures that pass through the muscle. (see Lesson 5) This is what is occurring with nerve pain. Let’s look specifically at Sciatica.Sciatica is nerve pain that is associated with the sciatic nerve which exits out the sacrum (bottom of spine) and runs through the glut muscles and down the back of the leg to the foot. This nerve in particular threads through a small deep muscle called the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is one of six very strong outward rotators of the hip meaning that when it contracts it turns the whole leg out to the side. What significant about how the sciatic nerve relates to the piriformis is that it either goes straight through the middle of the muscle or right between the muscle and a little notch in the pelvis called the sciatic notch. Because of the size and strength of the muscle when it gets tight it can pinch very hard on the nerve itself or pin the nerve into the bone of the pelvis. Imagine hitting your funny bone over and over and over again and you will get an idea of what this pressure would feel like on the sciatic nerve. Common approaches to working sciatica focus on direct muscle manipulation (massage) in order to attempt to give relief. The problem with this is that the last thing the sciatic nerve needs is more pressure, and many times deep massage on an individual experiencing sciatic will exacerbate the problem.DCT™ is able to gently activate and isolate the piriformis muscle and immediately release pressure using an eccentric contraction. As long as the sciatica is coming from the piriformis and not a bulging disc isolating and releasing the tension in the outward rotator can give relief very quickly if not immediately. The same is true of pressure on the Brachial Plexus in the upper body where individuals are experiencing numbness and tingling in the arm wrist and hand
How does DCT help alleviate bulging discs (herniations)?A bulging disc refers to the protruding of the fibrous disc in between two vertebral bones in the spine. These bulges only become problematic when they press into adjacent structures, most commonly the nerves that run through the spinal column. In the How my Body Works Lessons we learn how tension in muscles can pull on the bones they attach to and cause many different kinds of postural distortions/alignment issues. (see Lesson 2) The specific muscles that are problematic when it comes to bulging discs are the Psoas Major, the Hamstrings, and the Gluteus muscles. These muscles attach to the spine and the pelvis on both the front and back of the body. Consider for a moment a set of forces pulling on the front of the spine combined with a set of forces pulling on the back of the spine. You can imagine that the disc that is caught in the middle of those two sets of forces will be compressed, and because of the gelatinous nature of the intervertebral disc it will bulge under the pressure. Sometimes the direction that the disc bulges coincides with a spinal nerve causing and impingement and varying degrees of “nerve pain” that radiates down one arm or one leg depending on which side the disc is bulging on. This pain can be crippling in its intensity or nagging in a subtle yet relentless way.Bulging discs are dangerous if left untreated because the nerve pain is symptomatic in nature. Which means that the pain that is experienced in the leg or arm of the individual is not stemming from a problem with that leg or arm. The root of the problem is actually coming from muscle tension in the opposite side of the body. If the right side of the body becomes very tight it will pinch down on the right side of the vertebral disc bulging it out to the left side. The person will then begin to limp on the left side where they are experiencing the symptomatic nerve pain pulling even more tension into the problematic right side! As such the bulge continues to get worse and worse until it ruptures or the pain becomes so severe that surgery becomes necessary. The problem with getting surgery on a non ruptured disc, where they trim away the bulge, is that because the tension that caused the bulge in the first place is not addressed, more often than not the individual will end up needing surgery again in the future. This is where DCT™ can make an impact.DCT™ Practitioners isolate the primary muscle groups that are putting the stress on the vertebral column releasing the tension and allowing the spine to realign and for the bulge to recede back into position. The largest obstacle in treating bulging discs using DCT™ is inflammation. As long as the inflammatory response around the effected area can be kept low during the initial visits success is very likely. This is accomplished by using complementary treatment modalities when necessary. It is important to note, however, that if a disc is ruptured surgery is almost always required to clean up the fragments that are in contact with the nerve. Should surgery be required the tension still must be addressed in order to eliminate the potential for problems in the future.
How does DCT help alleviate frozen shoulder?Frozen Shoulder is an extremely painful condition where an individual is unable to move their arm due to crippling pain in the shoulder. The reason for the onset of this condition is unknown, but commonly there is some minor aggravation to the joint followed by a very quick onset of pain. However when asked what the specific injury was that triggered the condition most individuals have a hard time pinpointing exactly what it was, which lends to the mystery of the condition. Due to the intensity of the pain involved with frozen shoulder people suffering from it tend to keep their arm completely immobilized for long periods of time before getting help, this complicates the situation because the muscles of the arm atrophy(weaken) very quickly making traditional forms of therapy very problematic. What happens is the weakness in the muscles around the shoulder joint allow for more stress to be placed on the supporting structures around the joint, which in turn exacerbates the pain. Therefore when the individual receives a therapy session that focuses on joint mobilization it simply aggravates and intensifies the pain. This is where DCT™ can be utilized very effectively. DCT™ works within the existing range of motion of the shoulder joint, no matter how limited the range, to build strength in the muscles while reestablishing proper alignment at the joint. DCT™ therapist are taught the correct series of movements for the shoulder that allows an individual suffering from Frozen shoulder to move their arm during therapy without pain. Passive movements with the arm WILL exacerbate the pain; DCT™ always utilizes contractions through movement and as such can very quickly reeducate the weakened muscles to follow their proper movement patterns. Once strength and proper alignment are reestablished the pain goes away and stays away. (For a deeper understanding of joint stability and function see our FAQ regarding Bio-Tensegrity.)
How does DCT help me lose weight?The eccentric muscle contraction that is used during an DCT™ session removes muscle tension by breaking apart the knots that are in the muscle. (see Lesson 3) When the knots are removed from a muscle the result is that the muscle has more available muscle fibers to contract. This means that when the muscle is used during an exercise more tissue fatigues/burns which in turn means that more energy is consumed and by extension more calories are burned. Therefore DCT™ helps burn calories during the session by building strength in isolated muscles and removing tension that allows for even more calories to be burned after sessions during normal exercise. More calories burned = more weight loss.
How soon should I expect to notice a difference in my pain/body/performance from doing DCT?Most recipients will experience a change after 2 to 3 DCT™ sessions. Most recipients can describe a reduction in acute pain in between 6-10 sessions. After 10 sessions, one gets into the realm of permanent change within the body.The gains in flexibility tend to follow this pattern depending on the constraints of the individual. Persons who are very “tight” will tend to make tremendous gain within their first 5-8 sessions. These gains can be upward of 70% in some areas. Once the tissue learns a new distance and deeper issues become available to work through (ie. Rotational aspects of the shoulders and hips, bulging discs, neurological problems) a longer time frame of healing can be expected. Individuals who are overly “loose” can expect a tightening back up in between the 10 and 20 session mark.Sports performance will be affected immediately. Most recipients describe a freedom , smoothness and efficiency within their sport after only 1-2 sessions. At around the 10 session range, athletes can expect greatly reduced soreness and even greater endurance.
How does DCT affect me beyond the physical?DCT™ has some of its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The original resistance stretching method that inspired DCT™ innovator Nic Bartolotta to explore the genre of resistance stretching was called the Meridian Stretching Method and was developed by a man named Bob Cooley. Cooley found that by activating specific muscle groups that were associated Chinese acupuncture points and energy meridians that a direct emotional or psychological effect could be achieve in an individual. Just as acupuncturists use needles to affect the qi (chi) in the body so too can resistance stretching techniques. With DCT™ much of the analytical aspects of Chinese Medicine are left aside and a simple Body = Mind = Body principal is followed instead. This principal can be explained as follows: If the human body is viewed as a vessel in which resides emotions, psychology, and spirituality then it is not difficult to understand how using a physical modality such as DCT™ to affect the physical form of the body will effect everything within it and vice versa. For instance, if a person is hit by a car it is easy to see how the trauma from that injury will be stored in the body and affect how they are able to move in the future. In the same light we see people who have been involved in emotionally traumatic relationships exhibit specific body postures given the type of emotional abuse. This basic example of the mind body connection allows us to operate under the assumption that if we can take tension out of the physical body then we can improve the emotional, mental, and spiritual health of a person without explicitly explaining what is wrong with them. DCT™ sessions are designed to balance you physically and by nature of the body mind connection you sessions will often lead to greater understanding of yourself in other arenas of self development.