Inguinal Hernia

by Wayne Still

Comfrey Root Powder for Poultice

One of the most common physical afflictions to beset the human body is the inguinal hernia. It is far more common in men than women particularly if the man is sedentary and overweight. Usually dealt with by surgery, there are about 750,000 procedures done in the US each year with a 10-15% failure rate.

An inguinal hernia occurs when there is a tear in the membranes and muscles of the abdominal wall which allows a section of the small intestine to protrude through the abdominal wall. The inguinal area is located just superior and lateral to the pubic bone. A hernia is not life threatening except in the case where the intestine actually protrudes through the skin when it is known as a strangulated hernia and emergency surgery is needed. Without surgical intervention to replace the intestine and repair the abdominal wall the digestive system becomes blocked. Obviously not a good thing.

Late in 2015 I was getting back into swimming after not having done much of the sport for about four decades. I was in a coached program and at one point we were taught the butterfly kick. One evening after a couple of practices of this I felt a softness in my inguinal region which was soon followed by a palpable bulge. To my horror I realized that I had developed a hernia and I am neither sedentary or overweight. A quick check online confirmed my suspicion along with the information I have relayed in the first paragraph. Now I am not a fan of surgical interventions except in exceptional circumstances. I see the negative after effects of surgical scar tissue in my bodywork practice on a regular basis so was not too inclined to go that route. In any event a MD at a walk in clinic told me it would be six months to year before I could have the procedure. So I started to do more research on non surgical treatments for the problem.

What came up immediately on Dr Google was the use of comfrey root poultices along with a bunch of horror stories about botched surgeries. Also encouraging reports of people who were able to deal with a hernia without surgery. I found a source of comfrey root, bought a coffee grinder to make it into a powder, then learned how to make and apply the poultice. This involves making a pad from 4×4 cotton sponges, mixing the powdered comfrey root with enough water to make a paste roughly the consistency of brownie dough. The mixture is applied to the pad and taped to the area where the hernia is happening leaving it on for 8-10 hours. After the first painful removal I learned to shave the area as I am a rather hairy beast. I continued to apply the poultices pretty much on a nightly basis sleeping with my amethyst bio mat over the poultice for several months. In the summer I was able to source fresh comfrey from a friends farm so was able to use the leaves as well as the roots in the mix. I was also getting weekly acupuncture and cold laser treatments to the area. In addition to all this I would spend an hour or so in the evening on my slant board with the intestine pushed back into place doing Kegel exercises that extended into the abdominal area to strengthen the muscles of the abdominal wall so as to facilitate the healing of the tear. Skiing, swimming and cycling activities were suspended for the duration of the winter.

Over the course of several months I felt the area of the hernia become solid again although the loop of intestine continued to come through the wall. The encouraging part was that the loop gradually got smaller and harder. There is smooth muscle tissue in the intestinal wall which was strengthening and shortening the loop. I did not ever have a lot of discomfort from the hernia but I now go for days with out feeling anything out of the ordinary in the area fourteen months after the initial occurrence. During the summer I was able to pursue all the activities I enjoy so I am quite satisfied with the healing regime I chose. As I continue the exercise regime I described above I am confident that eventually the hernia will completely heal.

Form and Function

by Wayne Still
siIn the  fall of 1970 the great love of my life, Kathleen, joined me in Istanbul, Turkey. We were on our way to India and the adventures that lay in store for us. We spent our days in Istanbul wandering the streets, exploring the museums and markets of that ancient city. One day we came upon a group of old men who were hanging around a large building. What made this group of old men remarkable was that they were all permanently bent forward at the waist at about a sixty degree angle, their backs were flat.

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Continuing Education

by Wayne Still
backIn our basic training we are taught the important fundamentals of our craft. They stand us in good stead as we begin to practice, we get quite remarkable results following the ten series recipe Dr. Rolf left us. But Dr. Rolf also left us with the admonition that “Where you think it is it ain’t”. This was to encourage us to look further for the cause of an imbalance than where a pain may be manifesting. She taught us to see the body as an interconnected whole piece. So a pain in the neck may be more related to a problem in the knee than any disfunction in the neck itself. In the ten series we work on all parts of the body, finding and eliminating the adhesions formed in the connective tissue that create imbalances in the body. Over time we find the basic skills we learned, while effective for the most part, are not always adequate to deal with the complexities we are presented with.

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C-1, The First Cervical Vertebra

by Wayne Still

B.J. Palmer

B.J. Palmer – the first to develop a therapy based on the upper cervical vertebrae

C-1 is the first cervical vertebra making it the first vertebra in the spinal column. It is also known as the atlas, named after Atlas, the mythical figure who carries the world on his shoulders. Like Atlas, the atlas vertebra supports the human skull. It is also the point of entry for the spinal cord into the spinal column as it leaves the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain. In addition, important nerves, arteries and veins pass through C-1 and its partner on which it turns, C-2. This is a very important piece of human anatomy, its maintenance is crucial to the optimal functioning of the spine and hence the whole body. Continue reading

Yoga and Structural Integration

by Wayne Still

yoga posesThe founder of Structural Integration, Ida P Rolf PhD, began to practice yoga in the 1920s while she was a research scientist at the Rockefeller Institute. This was decades before the practice of yoga came to be as widely known and accepted as it is today. Through its practice Dr Rolf gained an understanding of body dynamics particularly as it related to developing balance in the body and its fluidity of movement. Continue reading

The Human Hand

by Wayne Still

human hands massageIn 1908 J. Madson Taylor MD penned the following lines:

No single therapeutic agent can be compared in efficiency with this familiar but perfect tool… The Human Hand. It is preeminently the instrument of the artist in all departments. The hand is an ever present agent of skill…. It is capable of infinite adaptation…. If half as much research had been expended on the principles governing manual treatment as upon pharmacology, the hand would be esteemed today on a par with drugs in acceptability and power….

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After a Session

by Wayne Still

walkThe experience of having a bodywork session, whether it be Structural Integration or any other modality, can take us to another realm of feeling and intensity. Coming back to the reality of the session room and the world outside can take a time of reorientation. Here are some tips to help you with that process. Continue reading

The Difference Between Structural Integration and Rolfing®

manDr. Rolf first called her work Personal Structural Integration and formed a Guild for the practitioners she taught. In the 1960s she was working and teaching at the Esalen Institute at Big Sur in California. The Esalen Institute at that time was the hub of the human potential movement where people were exploring new ideas such as eastern philosophy, yoga, meditation, Gestalt etc, ideas which are now part of the common discourse. Continue reading