Fixations ST 5
A fixation is where two or more skeletal structures become fixated or stuck together, or where one structure becomes fixed to another.
Fixations are typically found in the spine, where two or more vertebrae become jammed together. They will not usually be misaligned, as they are in a subluxation (please note - a vertebral subluxation often involves spinal nerve impingement. Subluxations should only be directly treated by a qualified chiropractor or osteopath).
A fixation of the spine means two adjacent vertebrae have become jammed together and move as a unit. During any bending of the spine, the vertebrae at either end of the fixation are required to move twice as much to facilitate the same degree of movement. Hence, fixations are one of the most common causes of spinal pain. Spinal fixations can sometimes be observed as a ‘flat spot’ in the back when the person slowly flexes the head and torso. This is the area where adjacent vertebrae are unable to move independently, inhibiting normal flexion of the spine.
Stress in a particular area the spine can also affect muscles innervated by the local spinal nerves, so these should be monitored as part of the activation and assessment of a spinal fixation. Other common areas of fixation are between cranial bones, at the sacro-iliac joints, and in the carpal and tarsal bones in the hands and feet.
There is commonly a link between fixated physical structures and a mental or emotional fixation or attachment of some kind. From a TCM perspective, fixations may relate to stagnation of qi, particularly those occurring in the limb joints. Either way, choosing to express or let go of whatever has become ‘stuck’ will be important. Once this is recognised by the client, physical techniques are more likely to prove effective.
A gentle, rhythmic pressure, applied in a specific direction, is used to facilitate the release of fixations. This pressure should be co-ordinated with the client’s breath, so that pressure is gradually applied during one breath phase and released during the other.
Clearing fixations can be beneficial for a variety of physical issues, including back pain, joint pain, headaches, inflexibility, pelvic and neck problems and poor posture