In the last months I’ve been intrigued by a little known muscle, the pyramidalis. This muscle lies anterior to rectus abdominis, and is contained within its sheath. Its action is to tense the the fascia of the ‘linea alba”, meaning “white line,” between the two sides of the rectus abdominis. Pyramidalis originates on the superior surface of the pubic bone and inserts into the linea alba midway between the umbilicus and the pubis (not coincidentally, at the precise level of the energy center known as the “hara” or tan-tien”).
The pyramidalis obviously lies in a potent, highly charged region. Many therapists avoid working here. Many clients might misinterpret work in this area or simply find it uncomfortable. But the very avoidance of this area by both clients and therapists should give us pause.
Let’s at least consider what a healthy experience of this area could be like and the potential benefits from self-massage or from receiving as a client.
What are the health benefits – physical and psychological – of high quality attention to the area at and above the pubic bone? Structurally, by beginning at the public bone, you help clients experience how long their front torso actually is (similar to how good back work feels when it includes the sacrum, amplifying the sense of length to the entire spine). The fascia of the front torso extends up from the pubic bone to the point on the sterno-clavicular junction, beautifully named in Chinese medicine, “Elegant Mansion”, the last point on the kidney meridian.
Working on and just above the public bone helps us feel strength in the lower abdomen. We may feel our breathing bringing healthy movement fully down to the pelvis. It may help people let go of shame, tension and anxiety in this area, and to feel more relaxed, confident, and assured in one’s sexuality. It can relieve anterior “reflections” of iliac misalignment, low back strain and SI sprain. It can relieve residual muscular tension that often accompanies dysmenorrhea and continues beyond menstruation as low level cramping in the stomach muscles.
In Chinese medicine this point is known as “Qugu”, “curved bone”, the second point on the Conception Vessel. They consider it as indicated, among other things, for genital pain, gynecological disorders, impotence, leucorrhea, irregular menses, urinary dysfunction.
Here is the most well-boundaried and refined way I’ve found to work here:
First, during your pre-tablework interview, decide if this work might be relevant for this client and if he or she would likely be accepting of it. If you feel strongly that the client may answer yes to both questions, then say something like, “I think working with your abdomen could be helpful today. Would you be fine with work on your tummy?” Then, if they say yes, I would ask, “I’d like to work the full length of your tummy muscle; it begins on your pubic bone – is it fine for us to begin work there?” If they say yes, then you can proceed. GIANT CAUTION – If you feel any hesitation, spoken or non-spoken, I would say, “You know, let’s start the abdominal work today just below the belly button – is that ok with you?” Then you have a graceful way to back off.
If you do have clear permission, before you work on the abdomen, ask the client to show you where their public bone is.
Then stand alongside their torso facing down toward their feet. You will work bilaterally. Rest both palms on the surface of the abdomen, fingers facing down. Allow the person a moment to feel the reassuring warmth of your hands on the whole tummy area.
Then gently curve your fingers. First go posterior-ward, about a half-inch above the pubic bone with your fingertips so you are assured when you go inferior to the public bone you will be on its superior (cranial) surface, not on its anterior surface or slipping below it. Press clearly and gently onto the superior surface of the public bone. Now add just the slightest bit of pressure onto the superior surface. Keep your palms as relaxed as possible and adding warmth to the client’s experience of the abdomen. Hold this fulcrum on the public bone for usually not more than 5 seconds. You may encourage the person to breathe into their lower abdomen. Sometimes I’ll say “Imagine you’re breathing all the way down to your legs.”
After about five seconds, clearly disengage. Then proceed with other abdominal work and torso work.
For more on abdominal work and all sorts of techniques, news ideas, detailed theory and philosophy relating to Deep Massage, I must share my excitement. My book, The Deep Massage Book, will be published this spring by Complementary Medicine Press. We are just deciding on the cover design! The book features 25 clear, beautiful illustrations and extensive instructions for all the basic Deep Massage fulcrums that I teach. It also explores the history, philosophy, anatomy, and evolutionary power that Deep Massage gives us. Of course I am excited to be bringing The Deep Massage Book to each of the classes I teach this year.
I so look forward to seeing you this year. I am doing just a few out of town classes so please note where and when these are. Note the registration information and please register early to assure your place and structure it into your new year.
February 22-24 Oregon School of Massage – Deep Massage 2.5 day class
(503) 244-3420 or (800) 844-3420
March 13-17 California – teaching at the ZB Teacher Training
May 19-20 London, U.K. – Deep Massage – Back and Neck
Register: +44 (0)7526 925734 or email@example.com
May 21 Bristol, U.K. – Art of Deep Massage (for ZBers)
Register: 0044(0)1308 427001 or firstname.lastname@example.org
May 23-27 Gaunts House, Dorset, U.K. – Deep Massage 1, 2, 3 Intensive/Retreat
Register: 0044(0)1308 427001 or email@example.com
June 14 Presenting at the ZB National Conference in Chicago
see www.zerobalancing.com for more information
July 19-22 Austin – Zero Balancing II at Lauterstein-Conway School
Register: 800-474-0852 or www.tlcschool.com/courses-ce-zero-balancing-ii
Sept 28-30 Waldoboro, Maine, Downeast School of Massage
Deep Massage 1, 2, 3 – intensive in Maine w/ guest assistant Zanna Heighton from England
Register: 297-832-5531 or www.downeastschoolofmassage.net/cont_ed.html
Oct 3-6 at AMTA National Convention in Raleigh, North Carolina (tentative)
The day I wrote this newsletter, I synchronistically received this painting from recent graduate, Erica Santiago, reproduced here with permission, “Harvest Moon”. I was struck by all the pyramids – you can see the blue pathway leading to the bright moon as a fantastic energy depiction of pyramidalis!
Happy New Year, Everybody. I look forward to seeing you this year and sharing new learnings and my new book with you!
Preliminary Reviews of The Deep Massage Book
“David Lauterstein has written a profound, poetic and enlightened book that looks at the person as a whole being, not just the sum of the body’s parts. It is a reverent, beautifully written mixture of the practical and the philosophical. David uses vivid prose to weave together touch, massage, structure and energy into a book that emotionally connects us to ourselves and others. His knowledge and respect for the human body and the human experience is evident on every page. This book is destined to become a classic in the bodywork field. Every massage therapist and bodyworker should read it.”
Ben Benjamin, Author, Listen to Your Pain, Ethics of Touch, Are You Tense?
“An absolute masterpiece! Written by a true master of this ancient craft; and a joy to read.”
Robert Schleip, PhD, Director Fascia Research Project Ulm University, Germany
“At the heart of this fine book is music. David Lauterstein – a voice of deep experience – sings the octave of the body’s chakras to create a melody of deep-tissue protocols, bathed in the harmony of rich therapeutic contact, steadied by the bass tones of bodywork’s place in our unfolding human story.”
Thomas Myers, Director: Kinesis, Author of Anatomy Trains and Fascial Release for Structural Balance
“The great bodywork pioneer Ida P. Rolf described her work as “a series of principles that leaves behind it a trail of techniques.” I cannot think of a better way to explain David Lauterstein’s seamless way of presenting the principles of his Deep Massage method and the precise and innovative techniques that are organically birthed from them. Part poet, part philosopher of healing, and part master clinician, David– and his new text– is a 100% invaluable resource to all sincere students of bodywork and manual therapy.”
Dr. Jeff Rockwell, D.C., clinician, author, educator Santa Cruz, Ca.
“In The Deep Massage Book, David Lauterstein transmits years of valuable knowledge and experience. An artist both of words and touch, he delightfully informs the reader. This is an important book for every therapist, student of the healing arts, or any person curious as to the deeper benefits of massage therapy and bodywork.”
Dr. Fritz Smith, MD, founder of Zero Balancing,
Author of Inner Bridges and Alchemy of Touch