Kimberly Burnham, IMTC, PhD Candidate

Essays and articles written by Kimberly Burnham, whose interests include Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT), CenterIMT, Neurodegenerative Disorders, Parkinson's Disease, Vision, VisionIMT, Eye Disorders, Travel, Languages, PhD Candidate, Westbrook University, Connecticut School of Integrative Manual Therapy.

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Location: Bloomfield, Connecticut, United States

Friday, April 30, 2004

IMT Article - Sensory Imput

Can You Feel Your Feet? and What They are Doing to Your Heart Beat?

Imagine for a moment a busy retail store at 3 o’clock on a sunny afternoon, you hear a door slam, turn to look in the direction of the sound, a friend waves and you go on with your shopping.

Now imagine the same retail store, the same door slamming but it is 3 o’clock in the morning and you are surrounded by darkness. As you turn to look in the direction of the sound, what happens to your heart rate? to your adrenal glands and sympathetic nervous system? to your brain waves? to your digestive and immune system? to the large muscles in your legs?

For many people, the experience of the door slamming will affect their body in different ways. The identical sound in the darkness when you think you are alone, does not have the same effect as when we are surrounded by sunshine in a busy environment.

We receive a significant amount of sensory information from our eyes, ears, nose and mouth as well as touch and proprioceptive information from our entire body. With this sensory information we can react appropriately to our environment. At times, it may be appropriate to respond by relaxing, digesting our food, re-oxygenating our muscles, while at other times it may be best to run for cover and hide. Each moment we make choices about how we behave, how we react to our surroundings. Without enough information these choices need to be more defensive, more preparation to fight or fly is required, leaving less time to rest, digest and heal.

Now picture the sensory information we get about gravity, about the angle of the walking surface, about the temperature of the ground, about the texture and stability of the surface, while we are walking bare foot on the beach as compared to walking in rigid shoes on a concrete side walk. Our choice of foot ware and walking surfaces influences the sensory information we receive from our feet. A constant diet of low sensory stimulation for our feet can also increase our vigilance and heighten our search for information about our environment in order to keep ourselves safe. Sensory information helps us distinguish a dangerous world from a safe one.

One of the things a reflexology treatment does is increase the amount of sensory information available to a client’s feet. Thereby allowing the client’s system to relax and make better choices about how to respond to their environment. As can be seen by the affects of a reflexology treatment, it is not only the feet that are affected by the sensory information they receive but the whole body.

Integrative Manual Therapy, a hands on treatment approach, which addresses all systems of the body, can also influence the amount of sensory information the client is able to receive and interpret.

Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) treats structural problems, which interfere with the client’s vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch perception. There are a wide number of techniques that address the biomechanics and tissue integrity of the lower extremity. IMT can help decrease the compression on the gastrocnemius, decrease the neural tissue tension on the common peroneal nerve, improve the blood flow in the femoral artery, improve the integrity of the tarsal bones, increase the lymph flow in the popliteal fossa, improve the flexibility of the plantar fascia. All of these things increase the clients ability to receive sensory information from their feet and respond to a variety of environmental stressors.

By improving the structural integrity of the foot, ankle and lower extremity, as well as other areas of the body, IMT enables functional therapies, involving the feet to be more effective.

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