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The Spinal Touch Treatment

by Bel Spencer(more info)

listed in back pain, originally published in issue 220 - February 2015

Spinal Touch is a therapy which works on the soft tissue and can help to undo tensions and postural distortions and assist in restoring alignment and restores the balance of the centre of gravity. It can thus help in reducing strain on joints and excess tensions and restore freedom of movement. The treatment suits those who prefer a gentle, non-force approach and, for added re-assurance a patient will receive which is known as the ‘plumbline analysis’ can be made both before and after the treatment, assessing how well the patient is aligned.

The Origins of Spinal Touch

The therapy has been practised for over a hundred years and was developed by of the structural engineer John Hurley in the 1920s.

Dr Hurley had an in-depth understanding of the design of buildings and the structures that would best withstand stress and the principles of engineering. When he later studied as a chiropractor, his knowledge became invaluable and with the help of fellow practitioner Helen Sanders, the technique was developed between them; the two stressed the importance of the links between poor posture, stress and ill-health. His belief was that correcting distortion can in itself have a profound impact on overall health and a wide range of issues and associated pain. Dr Hurley showed that if the sacral area is out of balance there is a knock on effect throughout the rest of the body as one area affects another.

The Method was first named ‘Aquarian age healing’, and was taught to chiropractors, a number of whom became prominent trainers, namely Dr Francis Goes and another LaMar Rosquist MD DC. Dr Goes encouraged Dr Rosquist to improve and refine the technique and he changed the name of the method to ‘Spinal Touch’. He also published his book in 1975, the Encyclopedia of the Spinal Touch Treatment; Rosquist taught many Spinal Touch practitioners who practise today.

Spinal Touch

The ‘Plumbline Analysis’ and the Centre of Gravity

The precise measurement of the centre of gravity of the body, in relation to ‘the plumbline' provides a valuable tool. In other words, the assessment may reveal that instead of aligning with the plumbline, the pelvis may drift to either side or tilt forwards or backwards. Once an assessment has been made, the practitioner has the necessary information to know how to correct this imbalance, by re-centering the pelvis at the centre of gravity (the lowest vertebra of the lumbar spine, L5).

The treatment will involve a gentle ‘rub out’ motion, over a pattern of touch points, encouraging the muscles to relax and allow the body to return to balanced alignment and promote a free-flow of energy to the muscles, bones and joints.

Who can be helped by Spinal Touch?

Quite a dramatic change can be achieved in only a couple of treatments, depending on the severity and time the person has had the issue.

The plumbline analysis can then determine what and how much correction is needed. The measurement is carried out both before and after treatment. Very often the effects will include a general improvement in health and bodily functioning. The systems of circulation, respiration, digestion, nerves, and so on can all benefit as the knock on effects of postural distortion become alleviated and the body is allowed to truly rest. Each system of the body is dependent on one another, with a ‘domino effect’ resulting from improved balance. Our ability to digest food, breath freely and the proper nourishment of organs by the blood can be restored once the energy flow is unimpeded.

Where an issue is longer term (or more severe), further or ongoing treatments can be needed to maintain the benefits. Chronic muscle tension that pulls the bones out of place can be addressed, however the pattern may recur if the body has a tendency to go back to its old pattern. The priority is always to restore the body’s relationship to its centre of gravity so that the impact of distortion is alleviated (or significantly lessened).

Stress, whether emotional, mental or physical is known to impact in a physical manner on our systems. It can result in an imbalance at the body’s centre of gravity. Continuation of this stress can contribute not only to physical discomforts but also emotional holding patterns. Therefore a Spinal Touch treatment will work holistically to correct the source of the issue, undoing the relevant tensions which pull us out of balance, which will assist with the free-flow of energy through the spine and the rest of the body.

Reported Results and the Impact on Mobility

Many people report that walking becomes much easier and more fluid. Where there was a lean to one side or a favouring of one leg over the other, this can be lessened. The body, once restored to its true centre of gravity, is no longer having to compensate for imbalance and distortion, and so the muscles are free to do the job they were designed to do. Where there has been injury and trauma, the body is given a very promising chance of recovery as the contraction is undone and the body is able to heal itself. Visible changes can include the shoulders become more evenly balanced and the muscles around the neck and shoulders become more relaxed. The lower back would become noticeably less tense as the pelvis effortlessly resumes its proper relationship to the spine and rest of the body, undoing twists, front to back rotations and more tensions so that the lower back becomes noticeably more free from tension.

While a lot of the work is focused on the spine and sacrum, the knock on effects of this correction can result in improvements in mobility and relief in pain when walking - relieving pressure on the joints such as the hips and knees so that chronic discomfort is alleviated - in fact a common report is a sensation of ‘walking on air’ and a sense of being ‘steadier’ on the feet.

A Patient’s Feedback

I had two treatments of spinal touch and the difference has been amazing. My ‘problem’ neck and back have been comfortable since and I have even been gardening without any problems! This really surprised me as I normally have a week of back pain after of going for it in the garden. I highly recommend both the gentle, relaxing treatment which has effectively improved my mobility and encouraged a positive change in attitude so that I feel a definite improvement in my quality of life.


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About Bel Spencer

Bel Spencer BA Phil Lit  MSTAT  TFT  CERT SPI is a qualified Spinal Touch practitioner and teacher of the Alexander Technique with over ten years’ experience as a holistic practitioner, specializing in spinal alignment, mobility, posture and back pain. She teaches Alexander Technique and its applications to performance at the University of Wales. Bel trained as a Spinal Touch practitioner with Lightouch therapy with Susanna Terry, a further three years at the Bristol Alexander Technique training school (graduating in 2005), then did postgraduate work at the Fellside school in Kendal.  She also studied the Qi Gong (Taijiwuxigong) exercise system with Dr Shen Hongxun at Shen Hongxun College (Belgium/ UK). Bel has worked with inspiring teachers including Rosa Louisa Rosi from Switzerland, Lucia and Elizabeth Walker from Oxford and Kathy Madden from the USA and continues to update her training. Bel may be contacted via Mob: 07942 816 502;


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