Sylvia Skefich, D.C.  

Dr. Sylvia Skefich - Santa Cruz Chiropractor

Troubleshooting Pain

Keys to Vitality

Stress-Bucket Theory

Good to Know

Stored Energy

“Monkey-Wrench” Removal

Confessions of an Addict

Press the Reset Button for the New Year

Horizontal Planes of the Body

Can Calcium Be Bad?

What’s in a Short Leg?

Body & Back Pain

Stretch-Injury Damage


You Had Your Teeth “Adjusted”!?!


Horizontal Planes of the Body
by Sylvia Skefich D.C.

Throughout the body, there are vertically oriented muscles and tissue (like the leg muscles or the long erector muscles of the spine), and there are also a number of horizontally oriented planes of tissue. You can visualize these “horizontal planes” as a stack of hanging baskets or hammocks within the body. If you alter the position of one basket, all the others get altered too, via the chains of the hanging baskets (i.e. via the long muscles). The horizontal planes are: 1. the pelvic bowl fascia, 2. the umbrella-shaped diaphragm muscle, 3. the thoracic outlet (another umbrella-shaped mesh of connective tissue that attaches the shoulders and clavicles to the torso), and 4. the base of the head including the jaw. There is also a plane inside the head, and the knees and  ankles are planes, too.

How do they work? Imagine a tightrope walker. If he starts to loose his balance, he can shift weight in order to regain balance. The hip may jut one particular way, the rib cage may shift and the shoulders may lean. Although each individual block of the tightrope walker’s body is off-balance, those blocks all add up to a whole-body balance in that moment. This is how our bodies react and compensate daily.

Let’s say you have a knee problem due to a soccer injury. You may favor the leg, and the muscles may have healed a little bit too tight due to the strain of injury. The pelvis may torque, to level itself over the uneven knees. Then the mid body and diaphragm region are pulled by the pelvis due to the long muscles that span the two regions. Now the shoulders need to respond…then the base of the head upon the neck adapt. You may get pain in the midback, but originally stemmed from the poorly healed knee.

The same scenario can play out in many different orders. Let’s say the chest and shoulders are really tight from mental stress. This makes the back of the head and jaw brace upon that altered foundation. Headaches may ensue. The diaphragm also becomes altered because this muscle is attached to the rib cage all the way around its perimeter. So anytime the sternum and upper cage are altered, the lower cage will be altered too, as they are all attached. And so on.

The more flexible the person is, the less compensation is forced into the neighboring horizontal plane. Imagine a slinky spring. You can wiggle one portion of it, without necessarily causing the rest of the spring to wiggle too. But now imagine a wooden rod. If you wiggle one end of the rod, the whole rod is going to move. Think of the human body in this same way. The more flexible you are, the more buffer you have against compensatory postural reactions.

How can you eliminate and reduce the whole chain of compensatory reactions as well as the seed? Regular stretching will always be useful. Receiving body work by one of the many systems that recognize the interconnectedness of the parts is often necessary to accurately identify and reduce tension from the problem areas. (A short list of therapies includes Cranio Sacral Therapy, Sacro Occiptial Technique, Applied Kinesiolgy, Acupuncture, Mechanical Link, Rolfing and others.) Also, practice a technique that increases body awareness, such as tai chi, chi gong, or standing meditation is encouraged to become aware of how to identify and fluidify your own misalignments.

Sylvia Skefich is a Doctor of Chiropractic, instructor of Cranio-Sacral Technique, and certified Orthopedic Massage therapist. 115 Maple Street, downtown Santa Cruz. 831-459-6001


Doctor of Chiropractic, Sylvia Skefich – Santa Cruz, California 831-475-1995
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