Creative Arts with Patrick Moore

Melting Muscles Theory (book excerpt)
July 24, 2017, 5:17 pm
Filed under: compassion, exercise, hands-on healing, healthcare, massage, self-help

Why Muscles Tense and How they Resolve-

-the Theory of Melting Muscles

Including similarities and differences to Dr. Sarno’s Model

2017 Preface

The theory of Melting Muscles was not influenced by the late John Sarno’s books.

The first time I read his book was early in 2017. The theory of Melting Muscles was completed in 2001, 16 years before I had read Dr. Sarno’s book. I published about ten articles and eBooks on Melting Muscles between 2002 and 2016. Someone might say there are similarities between Dr. Sarno’s ideas and Melting Muscles, and there are, but I doubt this is because Dr. Sarno’s books had somehow influenced me or my teachers. Although his books had been published by the time I was in massage school, I believe his ideas were not influential in the physical therapies in the 1990s, probably because Dr. Sarno advocated people with muscle tension should avoid physical therapy, and I imagine physical therapy educators probably avoided Dr. Sarno’s concepts for this reason. That leaves us with, any similarities between Dr. Sarno’s ideas and my own are not just coincidental, but synchronistic: human discoveries that are enlightening, happen to agree or supplement each other.

I began writing this book, on the theory behind Melting Muscles, about five years ago, before I had read Dr. Sarno. The book would have come into existence even had I not read Dr. Sarno. It is not necessary for me to describe here Dr. Sarno’s ideas, in order for you to understand the Theory of Melting Muscles. However, it may be helpful.

I just learned that millions of people have read Dr. Sarno’s books and seen him on TV talk shows and documentaries (which I missed since I stopped watching TV in the early 80s). I recognize that for readers, having something they know as a stepping stone that can be compared with and contrasted to the newer idea of Melting Muscles, offers a more thorough understanding. I admit I may also get more readers with his name on my cover. Selling more books is not my first interest, unless ideas that serve people well, will reach more people.

Overall I am glad Dr. Sarno wrote what he did. I imagine his model helped many people. I also have concerns that the help he offered was … incomplete, or even … hasty. Evidence of his lack of thoroughness is, that in the ten regions where people usually have muscle pain, he said after his treatments the pain would go away but not the tenderness upon palpation. To me this means the tensions have not been resolved but only reduced their reporting volume. I have hope that a more complete model will help future therapists, and tense people, to more completely resolve and embrace tensions.


 What you will learn from The Theory of Melting Muscles:

  • How tension is created
  • How the Brain or Subconscious (BoS) strategizes the resolution of emotional tension by creating muscular tension:
    • Suggesting the subconscious is much different from how Dr. Sarno has presented it. The subconscious is the supervisor of the many trillion cells, dozens of organs and physical systems of the body of any animal. Its chief concern and mission is to maintain health, or when the organism has become imbalanced, to restore balance in the animal.
    • Questioning Dr. Sarno’s belief that the subconscious initiates repression and wishes to continue repression, indefinitely.
      • Suggesting instead, the subconscious will only repress in survival emergencies (like a childhood trauma) and not for comfort, preference or avoidance. In cases where repression is initiated for survival physical or psychological, the subconscious initiates a plan at the moment of repression, specifically for how and when that repression will find its way to light again, once the child has gained enough skills, supports, resources and opportunity. The moment these are present, the subconscious is intensely motivated to relieve the burden of repression, bring the material to light and restore the organisms balance that has been diminished all these years.
      • Suggesting that the subconscious, initiates the resurfacing of repressed emotions through muscle tension. This is the opposite to Dr. Sarno’s view. He believed the subconscious initiated muscle tension in order to repress more. I believe the subconscious initiates muscle tension in order to bring repressed material to the surface.
      • Using muscle tension as a way to bring repressed emotions to the surface, honestly, is smart, for those people who would find emotions too embarrassing to deal with directly. The subconscious knows what kind of person this is, and calculates the methods of restoring balance based on a love for the person and a wish to serve.
      • If there is a part-of-self that represses anything unpleasant, embarrassing or painful, and hopes to keep those things repressed indefinitely, that part-of-self would not be the subconscious. The subconscious is not at all swayed by the threat of unpleasantness, embarrassment or pain. In fact the BoS will create these three effects, when it feels this is necessary to improve vitality, organism function or self-sufficiency.
    • Proposing muscle tension is one way the Brain or Subconscious (BoS) wishes to serve the person, to regain balance, increase vitality, resiliency and self-sufficiency which are natural to all organisms.
  • The role of ischemia (reduced blood flow) in muscle pain:
    • Ischemia can only occur after muscle tension has increased.
      • Blood vessels may constrict, but only with the help of sphincter muscles which contract in order to constrict blood flow.
      • Muscle tension in other areas also constricts blood flow. For example muscle tension in the shoulders or hips, constricts venous blood from returning from the arms or legs.
      • Deliberate muscle tensions precede deliberate restrictions in blood flow.
    • I believe (differently than Dr. Sarno) that Muscle tension occurs earlier in the causal chain than ischemia.
    • A more plausible model than Sarno’s Ischemia model, for how the brain enacts guarding in a local area of the body, would be the motor-voltage hypothesis.
      • The brain wishing to reduce range of motion, increase stiffness, irritation, discomfort and pain in a specific region, has only to send from the motor cortex a slightly higher percentage of voltage down the motor nerve to one specific muscle. This doesn’t need to be a 100% contraction (or spasm) but may be a mild contraction at first.
  • Why Pain?
    • The Brain or Subconscious (BoS) does not wish to distract the person by using pain, as Dr. Sarno says.
      • It wishes instead to serve the person to shift a thought or behavior pattern to be healthier, more balanced, more resilient, more developed, to restore what would be natural for that species at that stage.
    • If a small contraction is enough to get their attention, so that they behave differently, so that balance is restored, the BoS is happy giving only mildly increased muscle tension.
    • Only when the person has ignored milder tensions does the BoS increase tension enough to cause pain.
    • The purpose of the BoS causing gentle muscle tension, up to terrible muscle pain, is to serve the person: to help the person rebalance around a choice, lifestyle, behavior or thought pattern that has pulled the person’s organism off balance, reducing vitality or reducing the likelihood of survival.
    • The moment the person changes the imbalancing pattern, the BoS will end the muscle tension or pain. There is no lag time. The subconscious is not the laggard slothful slug that Dr. Sarno makes it out to be.
  • Treatment: how muscle tension may be is addressed and resolved in the brain through a combination of sensation and motor interventions
    • Self-help methods like aerobic regular exercise, written exercises, creative arts, expressive dance, &tc.
    • Physical therapies including
      • Osteopathic Indirect Techniques (like Upledger’s craniosacral, Jones’ Strain/Counterstrain, Chikly’s brain work, Barral’s visceral manipulation and neural manipulation series and the many fascial unwinding techniques.)
      • Melting Muscles muscle pressure method.
    • Mental talk therapies.
  • A realistic prognosis:
    • It is difficult to see how emotional tensions could “disappear” with Dr. Sarno’s approach. The pain may disappear, but what happened to the emotional tensions? I am afraid to even guess…
    • Emotional tensions can resolve with bodywork, but this will be more expensive, take longer and lack the depth, accuracy, efficiency and speed of talk therapies. Talk therapists have vastly superior education, experience and understanding regarding emotionally caused tensions. Going to a bodyworker or physician when you have emotional problems is like taking your broken car to a carpenter.
    • Emotional tensions resolve best with the help of a person trained and experienced to deal with emotional issues. It is extremely difficult (nearly impossible) for a person to self-diagnose and self-help things he is actively hiding from himself. We are all in this situation. Everyone has these issues. And we are all embarrassed to go to talk therapists. My advice: we all need to get over it! We need the help! Instead we seek out people to help us who have little or no experience and training, because we hope they won’t expose our vulnerabilities. We seek incompetent people to do things for us that require competence. We seek professionals who we calculate won’t be able to accurately see our games. We need instead to seek people who are smart enough and experienced enough to see through our games.
    • Still, many people will never in this life seek out a talk therapist capable of seeing thorugh their games. For these people, many will go instead to physical therapists, massage therapists, personal trainers, yoga teachers, physicians, nutritionists, occupational therapists and so forth. We non-talk therapists need to be prepared for these people. It is not unethical for us to treat them using less efficient methods to help them resolve their tensions without actually being vulnerable. Still we should do this without fooling ourselves or them. We should let them know, you would get better a lot faster and more thoroughly if only you would go to a talk therapist. If they say, Yeah I know but I want to stay with you, at least this is informed consent.


What’s in the Book:

1. First I will give a succinct explanation of the late John Sarno M.D.’s model of Healing Back Pain.
2. Then I will describe the areas of his model that concern me and why. Some of my concerns are small: does it really matter whether muscle pain is caused more by lack of oxygen, or by increased voltage down the motor nerve? Not that much. But other parts of his model concern me more. Where do the emotional tensions go? How are they resolved or embraced? Are they resolved with Dr. Sarno’s treatment? Or have they just gone into a deeper, alternate repression? Is the absence of pain, enough evidence to prove the emotional tensions have been resolved?
3. Now we come to the theory of melting muscles. This is the body of the book.
a. First is the model that a tight muscle is one that is receiving excess voltage from the brain, down the motor nerve.
b. The hardness of a muscle tells the therapist that excess voltage is being conducted to this muscle.
c. A number of factors must be present for the brain to feel safe enough to reduce the voltage, a dozen factors I describe from
i. the shortened position, to …
ii. … to the nonjudgmental compassionate relationship.
d. The therapist knows the voltage is being reduced when he feels the muscle softening. Some readers may think the “melting sense” the practitioner experiences is too subjective. After all, practitioners supposedly feel “cranial motion” and this has been called into question since there is no proof anything has changed.
i. No fear. Range of motion (ROM) can be tested for any muscle, giving clear, objective evidence that the brain has reduced voltage to the muscle.
4. Once Melting Muscles has led to the muscle being more relaxed (less voltage, better range of motion), what conclusions can the therapist make, regarding the original tension?
a. Clearly the physical tension has reduced, but does this indicate the emotional tension is being resolved, or embraced?
b. Is the melting of muscle tension a better indicator, than Dr. Sarno’s absence of pain, that emotional tension has been resolved or embraced?
c. I leave this question for readers to determine, since I am biased.
5. After the voltage model, I offer other explanations, models and perspectives for how tension/dis-ease is created, and how it resolves (or is embraced) with the help of a compassionate therapist/helper person. These perspectives include spiritual, energetic, metaphysical, interpersonal, mirror neurons, group mind, quantum physics and neoplatonic.
6. The above bullet list is now fleshed-out with fuller explanations of how and why therapy works when it works, and how it doesn’t work when it doesn’t, what part the subconscious plays, how physical therapists and physicians can work with people and communicate in a way that will either help them resolve their issues, or steer them to other therapies that will work better.
7. For Appendix One I give a step-by-step instruction, with a dozen hi-res photos, how to resolve the tension in your own neck (head-rotator muscles that cross the the atlas and axis) using the Melting Muscles technique. See for yourself that it works. Then puzzle for yourself, how it works.
8. Appendix Two includes short quotes from the 1991 book Healing Back Pain by John Sarno (2010 kindle version) with my comments and questions.

relaxing her obliquus inferior muscle

relieving the atlas and axis by relaxing the muscle between