Myoskeletal Alignment is a term developed and coined by Erik Dalton, PhD, in the early 80s after seeing a need for a more integrative perspective on pain science as it applies to the human body.

After spending years working as a certified Rolfer® and studying under legendary figures such as Drs. Vladimir Janda and Phillip Greenman, Erik realized a broader approach was needed to better help his clients in pain. Erik’s fascination with Janda’s upper and lower crossed postural model challenged him to design a way to incorporate and teach this basic, but powerful, discovery to the massage and bodywork community.

In 1998, the Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques book and video set was released. This very popular MAT home-study course included Dalton’s “Dirty-Dozen” routines for assessing and correcting pain problems associated with Janda’s commonly seen “crossed posture” model. It was then that Myoskeletal Alignment — an integrative marriage of the work of Vladimir Janda, Rolfing, and manipulative osteopathy — was born.

The MAT program was developed as a tool to help relieve our nation’s neck/ back pain epidemic. By incorporating muscle-balancing techniques with joint-mobilization maneuvers, manual therapists learn to quickly identify and correct dysfunctional neurologically driven strain patterns before they become pain patterns.

Fly-by on Pain Science in Manual Therapy

Working in the pain-management field is a challenging, yet exceptionally rewarding, experience. Clients suffering from chronic pain are confronted by a unique disorder—a personal experience unlike any other physical malady. While an X-ray can confirm a broken bone and an infection can be detected by a simple blood test, there are no universally reliable tests available to measure pain levels. Because of this, many common musculoskeletal complaints are incorrectly assessed and treated.

To achieve a noticeable reduction of increased excitability in the neuronal pool, the pain-generating stimulus must be interrupted until the memory burned into the nerve cells has been completely forgotten. For many chronic-pain cases, a serial-type deep-tissue therapy works best when clients are seen twice weekly until hyperexcited receptors feeding the CNS are quieted. This process helps inhibit the chemical activation of pain at the site of its peripheral stimulation and often allows the brain to downgrade the condition and relieve protective spasm.

Of course, successful management of chronic pain depends on much more than intellectual knowledge. It must be teamed with keen observation skills, patience, compassion, and a constant reminder that the healer is, ultimately, within each client. Therapists only serve as helpful facilitators in the brain’s ongoing journey toward optimum health, and we must learn to gratefully utilize the body’s innate self-regulatory system to help guide the therapeutic process.

Despite the variety of pain-management approaches available in today’s ever-expanding bodywork field, the therapeutic goal should remain the same: restoration of maximal pain-free movement within postural balance.

Erik Dalton, Ph.D., created Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques and founded the Freedom From Pain Institute. Dalton’s broad therapeutic background in Rolfing and osteopathy is taught worldwide through pain-management workshops and home-study courses approved by NCBTMB, BOC, the Florida Board of Health and most state-certifying agencies. The Freedom From Pain Institute is licensed through the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools.

“The neuromusculoskeletal system must be assessed and treated as a whole, with muscle dysfunction considered in relation to the functional status of the whole motor system, including articular and nerve structures. Any change in the statics or dynamics of the distal trunk and lower extremities will, in some way, be mirrored in the function of the upper complex, and vice-versa.” Vladimir Janda, M.D.

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