Two handed contact on the spine
We recommend that the two-handed contact from the side is as familiar to you as holding the cranium or the sacrum or working from the feet. Using the finger tips allows you to touch three, sometimes four, spinous processes quite easily. This direct contact with the vertebrae really aids clarity and precision in the treatment process. In shiatsu training it is taught to have a ‘mother’ hand and a ‘working’ hand. The mother hand has a calming, grounding influence and can be used to monitor changes in the whole body. The two-handed spinal contact can use this idea and allows you to feel how one end of the spine responds to shifts in shapes and patterns at the other end. It really facilitates awareness of the whole midline.
Neck hold: Finger pads from either side
Some useful indicators of change
- The vertebrae under both hands inhale and exhale together.
- The midline lights up. Potency surges.
- There is a sense of flow between the hands along the midline. An increased sense of fluid tide.
- The spinous process derotates and comes back in line to the other spinous processes.
Being able to contact three or four vertebrae at a time allows you to directly contact manageable ‘chunks’ of the spine as you wait for the primary fulcrum to present. Holds we use a lot are a combination of C6, C7 and T1 (cervical thoracic junction CTJ) or C3, C4 and C5 with the upper hand and L3, L4 and L5 or T11, T12, L1 and L2 (thoracic lumbar junction TLJ) or T8, T9 and T10 with the lower hand.
Intraosseous work at the occiput is the key to the triad of occiput, atlas and axis. Most practitioners will have great skills at the sacrum and working with the lumbar sacral junction (LSJ). It is important to feel confident with the sacrum and occiput alongside your direct skills on the spine.
There are some other huge advantages of working with the two-handed contact:
- Being under the junctions (CTJ and TLJ) really allows you to tune into the spinal cord and more easily orient to facilitation throughout the whole cord (see the debate on the flexor withdrawal response). You will frequently pick up on the sympathetic chains; there is a characteristic buzz to the sympathetics that is unmistakable once felt. Similarly it is easy to pick up on the adrenals and the solar plexus.
- The anatomy above the thoracic lumbar junction is phenomenal – you are in contact with every major physiological system in the body; organ issues, the diaphragm and soft tissue pulls often pop up when making this contact.
- Dynamics organized around the ignition centres of the heart and umbilicus can be clearly felt.