Within this section we explain in more depth some of the fundamental basics that underpin Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy in its modern western framework and how they relate to a balance (treatment) that you may receive.
Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy uses soft tissue and mobilisation techniques that are rooted in the ancient Japanese ‘feeling’ practised by Dr. Hatsumi and developed by Dennis Bartram. Together they provide Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy with a unique set of techniques for our clients. They are movement orientated and engage with the body's soft tissue to initiate movement at an injury site. This helps to release painful spasms or restrictions around the injury and, therefore, supports the rebuilding of healthy neurological patterns and global body balance or proprioception.
For further information about what happens during a treatment (balance) please see the treatment - the balance.
It is important to talk about proprioception in relation to Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy because every balance (treatment) aims to support its restoration to your injury sites and your wholebody. Proprioception refers to the body's ability to sense movement, enabling us to know where our limbs are in space without having to consciously look. This system is subconscious, which means that we don't have to think about making the movements. Sometimes the reactions take place so fast they are termed reflexive. Proprioception is important in all of our everyday movements and, in particular, during complicated movements where precise co-ordination is essential; such as those in sporting activities or when undertaking a complicated manoeuvre such as parallel parking your car.
Our proprioceptive sensory receptors are located throughout the body and are found chiefly in the muscles, tendons, joints and the inner ear. They provide information to your brain about joint angle, muscle length and tension, which are integrated in order to allow the brain to be able to detect the position or motion of a limb or the entire body in space.
Therefore, distorted information being received from any of the joints, tendons or muscles that have been injured will have a negative effect on your proprioceptive abilities and bodily co-ordination. A more specific example of this is when the receptors within the joints or ligaments are damaged such as with a sprained ankle. This means that the information that is usually sent to the brain by the ankle ligaments will be impaired and, therefore, their whole body proprioception will be compromised. As a consequence many clients say that the joint feels odd or just doesn't feel right and that they are unable to walk easily in their normal way. This can leave the person with decreased co-ordination during their daily activities making them more prone to falling over and re-injuring themselves. In addition, they will also be walking differently to compensate for the injured ankle which could lead to other injuries or strains in other parts of their body.
Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy supports and works with the natural abilities of your body, aiming to aid the restoration of the proprioceptive quality in your body and movement.
Natural body movement
We all have the potential to move in a natural, easy way but long-term bad postural habits, accidents or illness can inhibit or damage this. Our body’s natural movement should require no conscious control; thereby our day to day activities or ‘walk’ are automatic reflex actions.
Therefore, in line with Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy’s roots in ancient Japanese natural movement principles, our practitioners are trained to understand the importance of your body’s movement restrictions or injuries. Our practitioners utilise their own integrated natural body movement within their techniques, thereby also working to allow your body to regain its own ease of motion. By re-learning how to move our bodies in a natural and integrated manner, we enhance more than just body movement, we also enhance our health. The essence of this is to move and act as natural human beings. Once this is obtained, other Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy techniques are utilised to help to maintain the balance of the body and therefore promote good health.
An example of an unconscious reflex action is when you burn finger on a hot substance. Your reflexes will remove your finger from the source of the heat, without enough time for conscious thought. If you had to consciously think about removing it first, your finger would remain on the hot substance for much longer and become more damaged. Examples of natural movement principles are also constantly visible all of the time within nature. Consider the ability of the albatross to fly around the globe with barely a flap of his wings or the complexity of the amazing flight dynamics of a dragonfly which even now are still not fully understood by today’s aeronautical experts.
Throughout the ages man has understood, comprehended and copied nature. Quite often though, our copy becomes a mechanised version of the natural source. Modern life can also mechanise us to some degree as we now spend much of our daily lives operating machines or computers and driving our cars. This can make us lose our inherent, inbuilt abilities to move in natural ways. We will often then become susceptible and vulnerable to injury whilst performing the most simple of tasks. Our practitioners are trained to understand this, and work to help restore your natural movement capabilities in every treatment (balance.)
The information in this section is reproduced from Dennis Bartram’s ‘Spinal and Pelvic Dynamic’s, Anma Module with his kind permission.
In the modern world, we believe that the science of biotensegrity offers the best description of some of the fundamentals of Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy’s approach, and explains how our body structures work together and therefore affect each other when damaged. Our practitioners are taught to understand how an injury or illness within one part of the body will always have a global impact elsewhere within the body.
It was in the 1970s that Dr Stephen Levin first conceived of this ‘Law of Tensegrity’ entitled ‘biotensegrity’. It is with the kind permission of Dr Levin that we reproduce the history and principles of biotensegrity within this website. For further information on his work please see his website http://www.biotensegrity.com.
Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy’s whole body, tensegrous approach helps the body to regain its natural balance and movement by identifying and releasing injuries or distortions, allowing biotensegrity to be re-established within the body.1
Dr Levin’s work on biotensegrity started in the mid 1970s, when he was a young orthopaedic surgeon trying to understand what he was doing as a 'body mechanic'. He was taught during his residency training by some of the top biomechanics of the time. Yet the teaching was still based on the application of first year college physics to biologic structures and particularly how it applied to the human frame. This has been, and continues to be, the most widely accepted explanation of the mechanics of body movement. It was first described by Giovanni Borelli (an Italian mathematician, physiologist, physicist and 'renaissance man') in 1680 in his publications De Motu Animalium I and De Motu Animalium II, and in essence it has changed little since then. These theories are all based on Newtonian mechanics as they would be applied to a column or building built with rigid materials and standing in one place on solid ground.
However, humans, and indeed all biologic structures, are mobile, omni directional, gravity independent structures built of 'soft materials', foams, colloids and emulsions, (bone and wood are stiff foams, like Styrofoam.) Therefore Dr Levin concluded that the mechanical laws as applied to these structures may be different.
In the mid 1970s Dr. Levin lived outside of Washington, DC, and he went to study the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum in his search for answers. He just could not accept the standard Borellian model but he could not find another suitable model. Sitting on the mall in front of the museum, he looked across and remembered the Needle Tower, a Kenneth Snelson sculpture2 right across the mall at the Hirshhorn Museum and so began the rest of the story of the evolution of biotensegrity.
The word tensegrity is a combination of the words tension and integrity; wholeness based on a balance between tension and compression. The concept in brief is that the human body is a living, tensegrous structure that is self supporting. There are no shears, bending moments or levers, just simple tension and compression in a self organising, hierarchical, load distributing and low energy consuming structure. Tensegrities are closed systems in that they are structurally independent of outside forces. Within the body the soft tissues provide the tension whilst the bones provide the compression.3
The natural biotensegrity of a person can be compromised by injury, illness and many lifestyle related factors which, in turn, impacts on the balance within the body. For example, we can compare the body’s structure to a bicycle wheel. If one of the wheel’s spokes becomes distorted or bent by running into a kerb, the entire wheel structure changes and its natural tensegrity is lost. Therefore the specific damage to the wheel’s spoke not only has an effect at that place, but has also impacted the entire wheel’s function. Based on these principles every injury will not only have a local and specific impact within the body, but also a global impact.
For example, if a person simply twists their ankle by turning it over onto the outside then they may stretch (or possibly tear) the ligaments in the ankle. This inherent change in the shape of these ligaments will affect the shape of the whole leg, which will then also have an effect on the position of their pelvis and spine and then their entire body structure. This adaptation of the pelvis will then also change the walking posture of the person, the shape of the ribcage and the balance of the shoulders amongst many other things. Therefore, a simple ankle sprain can irritate or affect an existing vulnerability or old injury elsewhere in the body, or create a new condition, which may not be obviously directly related to a sprained ankle.
Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy’s breakthrough in the west began in 1986 when Dennis Bartram first discovered Dr Hatsumi’s work and then in 1995 when Dennis, William Doolan and Christopher Roworth made history as the first non-Japanese therapists to be taught the ancient healing principles of the Tatara by Dr Hatsumi. They were all granted Menkyo Kaiden (full teaching rights) of the ancient school as a result of Dennis Bartram’s personal work and research. These teachings are now underpinned within a western scientific framework and are available today as Amatsu Orthopathic Therapy, which is taught by ATA approved schools. For further information on Dennis please see dennis bartram.
1. Dr.Stephen Levin’s research into biotensegrity explains these principles further. To find out more please visit www.biotensegrity.com
2. See Kenneth Snelson, Forces made visible.
3. Dr. Stephen Levin, Live lecture April 1, 2005
Some of the information in this section is reproduced from Stephen Levin’s website with his kind permission.