What My Face Taught Me About My Back – Part 1
Whenever a stretch or movement doesn't hold long I'm always curious as to why, then I start looking for what else could be related. In this case I've discovered a few key things about my face that gave amazing relaxation to the muscles surrounding my spine. It took a while to realize that the sensation in the bones of my nose were related to the back of my head and to my spine. It probably wouldn't have dawned on me if it weren't for the classes I took in Cranial Sacral Therapy which afforded many 'ahas'! It may not be the same for everyone, but I began to notice that wearing glasses, whether they be sunglasses or reading glasses, could pull on the small bones behind the nasal bone in such a way as the effect the back of my head. First take a look at the ethmoid bone and how intricately attached it is to the nasal bone, just at the place where a pair of glasses sit. Then, connected to the ethmoid is a strong membrane - the falx - that slides right down the center of the brain from front to back, including the cerebellum at the very back of the brain. In this central section of the cerebellum lie the postural muscles which are very difficult to gain conscious control over. They are the paraspinals that are nestled in between the spinous processes (those large bumps on the back of each vertebrae) and the transverse processes which are on the sides of the vertebrae. When you stretch the back muscles, it's working the erectors which are more lateral to the spine, or the latissimus dorsi, which cover a great deal of the erectors.
I think we instinctively know that working this area around the connection of the nasal bone to the ethmoid releases tension in the back, because many people rub it when the eyes get tired. Coincidentally, the eyes also have a connection to the base of the skull via the sub-occipital muscles, which can easily reflexively contract with the use of the eyes. These muscles attach to the upper cervical muscles of the neck, which will also have a significant effect on your back. The other fascinating connection here to the back muscles is on an energetic level. Bladder 1 and Bladder 2 are seated right in the corner of the eyes and at the top of the nasal bone just under the eyebrows as it continues alongside the falx down the back of the head and alongside the postural muscles before it heads down to the feet. It is one of the longest meridians in the body. Very possibly, if this meridian is over-stimulated, the energy could become to full generating tension that may also stiffen the back. There are many significant points along the bladder meridian that impact many areas in the body, but also points that specifically help to release the back muscles.
The key here is, if you specifically target the connection of the ethmoid to the nasal bone, or the edges of the falx along the forehead (falx cerebri), it will have a more influential effect on the back than if you just rub the area in a general way. Just press with gentle, but deliberate contact for a few seconds and wait for the body to make the conscious connection to the posterior side of your body and you'll feel the relief. Same for the points on the bladder meridian near the eyes; hold them intently for a few seconds. If you continue with similar spacing between your hands along the top and back of your head, you'll be working the tissue alongside the falx at the same time you're stimulating the bladder meridian. I've found that working this along with the gall bladder meridian in the head really helps the skull bones to move more freely, probably due to the release of the tension in the surrounding membranes as well as the improved energetic balance. There is a sweet dance that happens between the bones, soft tissue, and energetic fields and pathways in the body, as well as with the nervous system. I find that incorporating these relationships is a more thorough, integrated approach that may help results to last longer, and guide you to an easier release the next time tensions show up.