The Domino Effect is also known as the dreaded compensatory pattern, and I’m betting many of you have experienced the domino effect without having had a name for it.

First, your neck gets injured [1] in a minor whiplash in that teeny tiny car accident that you had when you were sixteen years old. But you’re sixteen years old, so no biggie. You ignore it and it gets better, or at least is better enough for it to become a part of the background white noise of your physical existence.

But once you enter college suddenly you have this nagging shoulder pain with all the extra typing and sitting you’re doing. As the years go by you start to think of yourself as the “tight shouldered” person, and sometimes you have a pinching pain when you lift your arm. You also notice that when you drive it requires more effort to turn your head all the way to one side when you’re backing up or changing lanes. Again, not that big a deal. More white noise.

More years go by and you are now not only a “tight shouldered person”, but you also suffer from occasional low back spasms and have developed plantar fasciitis, which you assume must be because you’re a runner and everyone says running is bad for you… it never occurs to you that the thing that started the dominoes falling may have been the car accident at age 16 because it feels like a million years ago (even when we’re only talking about a span of 10 or 20 years). So how could it be contributing to your current plantar fasciitis, low back pain, and shoulder issues?

This is just one quick sketch of one type of Domino Effect out of infinite possibilities, but you get the idea. The thing that this person is experiencing is actually the long slow drain of an unaddressed compensatory pattern on a body, but in our culture we call it, “just getting old.”

So what to do? Ultimately you are going to have to address things holistically. Which, admittedly, is an overused and misunderstood word. I don’t mean that you should burn incense and listen to whale songs while you get your (in keeping with the above example) plantar fasciitis worked on.

I mean that you need to work with a practitioner or teacher who has the ability to view your body as a whole, and is not going to just work on your current problem locally. You will need someone who can do the detective work necessary to facilitate a full body unraveling of your compensatory pattern; because a compensatory pattern, but its very nature, is always going to be global. This is where Rolfing comes in, as it is a whole body approach to giving you back effortless alignment and movement via addressing compensations in the fascial system. You can read more about it here.

[1] There is evidence to support that many compensatory patterns begin somewhere from birth to 2 years of age, so there is not always a concrete event, like a car accident, that we can point to. And even if there is, the concrete event is usually just a new stressor added to an already-in-progress compensatory pattern. http://erikdalton.com/article_pdfs/articleCCPThesis.pdf (Pope 2003)

This article is an excerpt from the ebook Why Fascia Matters. You can get a copy for free here.

 

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