EXPLORING THE BENEFITS OF CLINICAL REFLEXOLOGY AND CRANIO SACRAL THERAPY AS POST BOUT CARE FOR BOXERS
by Shivana Inalsingh, Clinical Integrative Reflexologist
A report done as part of the Brain Injury Program at the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, New York, found that the degree of head injury suffered by a boxer is determined by his professional status reflective of increased exposure (i.e., duration of career, age of retirement, total number of bouts), poor performance, increased sparring, and apolipo protein (APOE) genotype all of which can contribute to Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury.
The risk of head injury in boxing is high, and fortunately, developments in the field of medicine, research, recommendations and implementation of regulations by sanctioning bodies working together with government and sporting bodies are serving to reduce the risk of injury to the boxer.
International boxing sanctioning body, World Boxing Association (WBA) has the 3 Knock Down rule in effect for all sanctioned fights. In addition, there is the 6 week suspension of a boxer who has suffered a Knock Out so as to provide a safe net for recovery from a possible head injury, along with medical assessment and evaluations. Some ringside Physicians have also recommended that annual brain scans be done on active boxers as a good safety measure for the protection of boxer from aggravating an existing head injury as well as an effective means of monitoring tissue health and evaluating possible brain tissue deterioration. While the scans will be highly valuable, not until it becomes more affordable and accessible, will it be available across the board.
What safety considerations can be made for the boxer who is not knocked out and who appears normal outside of the neuropsychological tests? History has shown that it is possible that a boxer can sustain an undetected head injury and while there are a few scientific medical and psychological diagnostic systems available for identifying these, there is a need for further development for more conclusive medical assessments for identifying minute trauma.
It is consolation knowing that the body will naturally attempt to self regulate and heal itself. The rate and extent at which recovery will happen will be determined by the physio chemical composition of the body during the healing process. We understand that factors such as general health, diet, exercise, emotional wellbeing and genetics all play a part.
I suggest that rather than leaving it to the boxers own ability to self heal, (or for any professional athlete for that matter) that we make use of the rapidly growing clinical applications of complimentary health care therapies such as Energy Medicine, Clinical Reflexology and Sacro Cranial Therapy. These non-invasive, gentle therapies support the body in rapidly restoring the right physiochemical composition so it can heal itself. In professional contact sport the ability to naturally activate and accelerate the bodies’ self healing ability enhances a more complete healing of tissue while reducing recovery time so as to facilitate a regular and improved training schedule.
With attention on prevention and reduction of long term brain tissue damage in boxers, these therapies can form a valuable part of a Post Bout Recovery Program Protocol which includes a post bout medical evaluation for all boxers. With clinical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of reflexology and craniosacral therapy administered even years after brain trauma, we can assume that if done sooner, e.g. up to 1 week following a fight, it can prove even more effective in allowing the boxer to resume normal activity sooner.
The growing evidence from clinical research, in addition to my own successes with these non invasive and cost effective therapies suggest that with its application to various imbalances, injuries and trauma, some mechanism of internal healing is triggered, accelerating the bodies natural healing process and in boxing can provide a safe way for enhancing the health and well being of the boxer and the safety of the sport.
In a nutshell, by inducing a state of relaxation, the bodies’ naturally activated self healing mechanism operates in a greatly enhanced restorative internal environment resulting in more complete and rapid recovery from injury and trauma.
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology is an ancient art which sees the feet, hands and ears each as a mini map of the body. Every organ, tissue and gland is reflected in the specific reflex points of the feet hands and ears. It is viewed that these reflex points when stimulated using specific reflexology techniques, directly affects the organs, tissue and general systems in a way that the body is strengthened.
Clinical reflexology applies the scientific and medical understanding of the human physical and physiological systems in perspective of a holistic approach to health and well being. By applying alternating pressure using one of 6 reflexology specific techniques to the feet, we identify subtle changes in texture, tone and appearance of the reflex tissue. This evaluation can guide to sources of imbalance in the body. For example, excessive firm tone of the big toes can suggest an imbalance or blockage in the head. This along with other indicators as understood by standard medical anatomy and physiology using these reflex points can determine underlying issues.
Reflexology has been effective in a wide range of issues from mental to physical imbalances in adults, children and babies. Stress related disorders such as depression and anxiety, fertility issues, pain management and illness. To restore balance, we can stimulate reflex points to activate the body’s self regulatory system. The result is that the source of pain, illness, or potential debility can be restored to a state of balance and restore the body to a state of harmony. In this way, not only is the symptom addressed, but the source of imbalance.
Male 60 years. Hospitalized for severe headaches. A preliminary diagnosis of a Brain Aneurism was made. Medical doctors recommended further investigation and surgery if no improvement of condition.
Reflexology Treatment: – 30 minute Foot Reflexology session for consecutive10 days.
Observation: Client confined to bed by Medical physician. Client has general pale appearance and shows general weakness. Initial treatment indicates very firm tone of tissue in the distal aspect of the great toe, plantar side bilaterally. Acute sensitivity by patient noted at the pineal gland reflex and adrenal gland reflexes bilaterally. Progressive sessions over the days show softening of the tissue of the head reflex suggesting healthier functioning of the tissue.
Angiogram done subsequently in consideration of surgery shows no abnormalities.
Patient fully recovered.
What is Cranio Sacral System and what is Cranio Sacral Therapy?
The Craniosacral system (CSS) is a newly acknowledged physiological system, along the lines of the cardiovascular or digestive system. Comprised of a tough waterproof membrane which lines and compartmentalizes the skull, and spinal column and the more delicate membranes:
It includes the body parts that directly affect the membranes, such as the skull bones (most of which are attached to the membrane) and the vertebrae (though their attachments are not so direct).
This semi-closed hydraulic system is responsible for the production, circulation, and re-absorption of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid into and out of the membranes. This protective fluid that surrounds the brain and spine is regarded as a vital matrix in the body serving many important functions. Apart from the mechanical protection of the brain and spinal chord, it distributes important neuro endocrine factors and nutrients to cells, helping to maintain the interstitional environment for the healthy function of neural processes as well as preventing brain ischemia, to list a few.
Cranio-Sacral Therapy is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the most gentle effective holistic therapies for physical issues. The after-effects of car accidents, sports injuries, fall injuries, or any other kind of physical impact respond rapidly to this work. Other physical traumas such as surgery, dental work, repetitive stress injuries, and childbirth also respond well.
This healing practice uses very light touch (pressure of a nickel) to help release pressure in the craniosacral system to restore balance in the body. Through gentle palpation along the spine and cranium the natural alignment of the vertebrae and cranial bones and the intra-cranial pressure and the flow of cerebrospinal fluid along the craniosacral system are restored, helping to maintain a healthy physiological environment in which the brain and nervous system develop and function.
Case 2: Client D.S, Male 12 years old, DOB- 04.09.1992
At age 8 client began to suffer seizures and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The frequency of seizures escalated to become almost a daily occurrence. Parent began noticing that when clients’ feet touched the ground he suffered a seizure. MRI report showed cortical furrows at the temporal lobe. This therapist was approached to provide rehabilitative support for the now 12 year old client.
Treatment: 60 minutes – Ear and foot reflexology with Sacro Cranial Therapy once weekly over period of 2 months.
First session, Ear Reflexology suggested imbalance between right and left brain hemisphere. Sacro Cranial assessment confirmed non synchronized rhythm of brain activity. Performed cranium cradling and felt release within few minutes. Client made audible sigh and fell into light sleep.
At follow up session 14 days later patients mother said that following initial treatment, patient showed better sense of well being and experienced only one seizure 2 days prior. Clients mother also said that she was able to touch his feet without initiating seizure. Client show continue to show improvement.
A male 14 year old was the victim of a hit and run motor accident. Suffer from fractured skull at left parietal lobe, damage to internal organs, broken left femur and right radius. Patient show partial facial paralysis with no sign of understanding questions addressed to him. Treatment included feeding tube and dialysis. His general appearance was non responsive. After 14 months, patient did not demonstrate any significant improvement or signs of recovery. Client was bought to this therapist to see what could be done.
Treatment: Session of Foot and Ear reflexology with Sacro cranial therapy for 60 minutes twice weekly for 3 months. Aromatherapy oils also added.
Observation: First session: – Firmness of tissue and acute sensitivity in the head reflexes of the feet are noted. Left head reflex show higher levels of tenderness and sensitivity to touch to the level of discomfort indicated by patient drawing foot away from touch.
At second session, patient was able to respond with yes and no blinking to questioning by Therapist. Several days after, mother of patient says son had bout of spontaneous laughter. Subsequent sessions show rapid improvement in client responsiveness. Patient begins showing improved ability to understand, along with appropriate responses. Facial expressions are more relaxed along with a general improvement in mood and well being. Feeding tube removed after 3 months of therapy and client begins voice therapy.
How can Reflexology and Cranio Sacral Therapy Benefit Boxers?
The results of these cases suggest that the application of Reflexology and Sacro Cranial Therapy is assisting and accelerating the bodies natural ability to balance and repair itself and these finding are supported by medical physical evidence.
In boxing, a physical blow to the head has the potential to displace the protective fluid that surround the brain and spine called the cerebrospinal fluid. The unregulated leak of CSF from a head blow compromises not only the healthy function of the nervous system, but every system of the body.
The initial trauma to the head can result in edema, where the cerebrospinal fluid is released from its protective membrane. Secondary damage occurs as the body begins to heal itself forming fibrous scarring and tissue separation which compromises the flow and function of the CSF.
This interferes with the membranes ability to fluctuate rhythmically in response to fluid pressures and volumes creating a potential problem.
Dr. John Upledger and Biophysicist, Dr. Zvi Karni, in their research, have discovered that the body often retains (rather than dissipates) physical forces. Upledger describes the dysfunctional area becoming isolated; creating what is called an “energy cyst” or restrictions which requires extra energy to perform normal bodily functions.
Left unattended, it is thought that they eventually manifest on the physical level as a loss of vitality and function in the area of the restriction, and often in other parts of the body as well. As time passes, the adaptive pattern of the body loses its effectiveness and symptoms begin to appear and, over time, become more difficult to suppress such as the “punch drunk” syndrome.
By integrating the broad healing potential of Clinical Reflexology with the specific treatment of Cranio-Sacral therapy, we have an opportunity to not only identify if there are areas of restriction, but also to help restore balance and facilitate an overall improvement in well being and health.
Both Reflexology and Cranio-Sacral Therapy are gentle enough to be done immediately after a fight and within moments or hours of an injury, depending on the severity. We are simply applying the work to the compensatory mechanism of the body.
They can offer a safe and cost effective means of assisting the body to recover fully following a fight, and the result can contribute to the reputation of the sport in a meaningful way. Not only will it reduce the long term impact of repeated head blows and injury, but we may also find that by improving symptoms and promoting sense of well being, there is better performance by boxers both in and out of the ring. Generally it can:
Assist in recovery of head trauma
Reduce the long term effect of repeated direct head impact and trauma.
As a means of improving overall well being and health, it can allow the boxer the choice of extending their career by sustaining their ability to perform.
Allow retired boxers the opportunity to enjoy a greater healthy social integration.
It is well possible that in the long term, we find that these holistic healing arts when integrated with standard medical practices as part of a Post Bout Recovery Program can provide a safe, non invasive and cost effective way for enhancing the health and well being of the boxer and the safety of the sport.
Feedback made by Athletes* who were given Reflexology & Cranio-sacral Therapy have commented on experiencing the following:-
(*Athletes were from various sports fields including cycling, boxing, swimming, football, track and cricket)
Increased sense of relaxation and sense of wellbeing.
Improvement of the symptoms – They felt better
Improvement of other symptoms. For example, someone coming for treatment for a bad back also found that other aches also got better too.
Change in behavior patterns, leading to an improvement in relationships with friends, family, colleagues, etc
Greater capacity to manage life in general
Better management of specific disease symptoms
Improvement of psychological issues
Reduction of effects of past trauma
Improved sense of well-being
Shivana Inalsingh Bsc, Clinical Integrative Reflexologist & Personal Wellness Coach is Director of Reimedi Spa in
Trinidad. She brings over 18 years experience, research and training in integrative health care and wellness. Her clinical practice is the merging of ancient eastern healing therapies with western scientific technology that include Electro Acupuncture, Biofeedback, Meridian Therapies, Energy Medicine, Foot, Hand and Ear Reflexology, Reiki, Matrix Energetics tm, Sacro Cranial Therapy, Tongue/ Pulse Diagnosis and Infrared Sauna Therapy. She does lecture presentations for corporate wellness programs as well as runs reflexology workshops and classes. She is a WBA Regional Supervisor and Member of the Ratings Committee of the WBA-Fedecaribe.