Myofascial release helps hyperactivity

Hyperactive behavior may present in a child who is constantly active, talks excessively, fidgets, is easily distracted, has difficulty concentrating or following directions, and behaves aggressively.

by Maria Troia —

A recent article in The New York Times reported that hyperactivity in children is caused by a “particular portion of the body being too active.”

Hyperactive behavior may present in a child who is constantly active, talks excessively, fidgets, is easily distracted, has difficulty concentrating or following directions, and behaves aggressively. Hyperactivity may interfere with a child’s schoolwork, as well as with his social development. These socially inappropriate behaviors can make it difficult for him to make friends.

Because of the obstacles created by hyperactivity, some of these children may seem depressed. They also are more apt to be targeted by bullies for being different.

Various philosophies exist as to which body system is at the center of a hyperactivity diagnosis; however, it is commonly believed that the nervous system is integrally involved.

What is too commonly overlooked in considering the nervous system, however, is the effect of the myofascial system. The nerves are surrounded by fascia, a three-dimensional web of connective tissue. When this connective tissue is injured, it tightens and grabs onto whichever structures are within its reach: nerves, blood vessels, muscles, bones and even organs.

This tissue has up to 2,000 pounds of tensile strength, giving it the power to send the body, particularly the nervous system, into crisis. Injuries to the connective tissue do not show up on diagnostic imaging, which is why such imbalances often go overlooked without a skilled myofascial therapist to assess the condition of the tissue.

Children who cannot express their feelings of heightened tension and stress often demonstrate excessive behavior. They will act out as the body’s innate intelligence causes them to become more active — an attempt to discharge the nervous energy that is trapped in the dysfunctional myofascial system.

As their bodies try to return to homeostasis, they send messages to restore balance to the myofascial system. Children, however, have no words to communicate this. Thus, they are labeled hyperactive and are often given medications to sedate such behavior. The medications may address the outward manifestation of the problem, but do not get to the root of it.

Circumstances that injure the fascia are many, but birth trauma is often a factor in children. Difficult or prolonged labor, forceps and even C-section deliveries are all possible causes. However, causes of tissue injury need not be so dramatic. Environmental allergens, food sensitivities and toxic exposures also can affect the myofascia, causing it to lose its fluid nature and solidify, thereby creating stress on the structures within its reach.

The John Barnes Approach to Myofascial Release is a gentle system of bodywork and the only system that engages the myofascia at its deepest level — the collagenous barrier. This allows the fascial tourniquet to be released from the nerves and other structures that are restricted by the solidified tissue. When the collagenous barrier is engaged, an immediate and lasting change in the tissue occurs, and subsequently, in the stress that caused the hyperactive behavior.

Children are particularly responsive to (and enjoy) this form of therapy, since they do not have the filters that adults have, which can stand in the way of allowing the release.

Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH. is the owner of East-West Holistic Healing Arts in Old Town Scottsdale. She has advanced training in the John Barnes Approach to Myofascial Release and is certified in Pediatric Myofascial Release. She also holds a Master’s in Education from Hofstra University. 480-313-6260 or www.EastWestHolistic.net.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2012.

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