xf-Tzb17Rs8b5 - ART of BODYWORK online Tutorials

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Copyright © Alastair McLoughlin 2015    Revised © Alastair McLoughlin 2019 and 2022

The right of Alastair McLoughlin to be identified as the original Designer, Developer and Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1998.

All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover, or reprinted in any physical or electronic manner without the written consent of the author.

The ideas and concepts explored within this text are those of the author. For educational purposes only.

No diagnosis is being offered nor any cure promised by the application of this information.

Alastair McLoughlin cannot be held responsible for any injury arising from the application of this work by the practitioner to any third party however caused.

This work is not a substitute for medical attention. Please seek your physician’s advice if in doubt.
Note: This work should ONLY be applied to the thoracic area - not the lumbar or cervical.


  • Tenderness or pain on the spinous processes of the thoracic vertebrae.
  • Pain or tension in the thoracic area.
  • Kyphosis
  • Any muscular or soft tissue tension in the thoracic region that is not responding to other work you have used.


  • These moves should not be used in either lumbar or cervical regions.
  • Do not perform these moves if a fracture of a vertebral body, spinous or transverse process, or nearby rib has been diagnosed and confirmed, or if there is any possibility of a fracture.
  • Do not perform these moves where there is diagnosed osteoporosis*.
  • Be cautious in cases of osteopenia*.
  • Do not perform these moves if there is any disc injury or the possibility of any disc injury*.
  • Do not use on any ankylosed or fused area of the thoracic spine*.

* There is a section of the tutorial devoted to an alternative method of release in these contraindicated cases.
Please refer to that section for those explanatory notes and video presentations.

Refer for medical diagnosis if you are unsure about any undiagnosed medical condition.

Position of the patient:

Laying prone, with client‘s head resting in the breathing hole of the treatment table.
This keeps the upper thoracic region in alignment - the ideal position for this AoB procedure.

Do not perform this work with a client’s head side-laying!

Always have the client’s head resting in the breathing hole of the treatment table for this work!


Identify the spinous processes of T12 and T1 as in sequence (a)

Sequence (b):

Commencing at T12 and using the tip of your middle finger, palpate T12 spinous process and get verbal feedback from your client if there is tenderness, sensitivity or pain when pressure is applied.
Repeat on all spinous processes of the thoracic region - from T12 through T1.

Make a written record any thoracic spinous processes that are tender, sensitive or painful.

The objective is not to elicit pain in every vertebra but, by applying a medium pressure to each spinous process (with a pressure of around 5 out of 10), to determine which vertebra are possibly restricted in their articulations.

Alter the angle of your middle finger during your assessment to match the curvature of the thoracic arc.
Maintain an angle perpendicular to the curve of the body.

You may also assess the surrounding soft tissue of the para spinal musculature for tension or sensitivity.
Any tissue tension may highlight the possibility of an adjacent vertebral problem.

Application of the AoB procedure:

If, for example, you have assessed and found T8, T7, T3 and T2 have a pain and sensitivity with your assessment then commence at T8 and move superiorly addressing each vertebra that was sensitive i.e. T8, T7, T3 and finally T2.

Place first and second fingers of each hand either side of the spinous process you want to treat - as shown in the video presentation - within the paraspinal canal adjacent to the midline.
Fingers should be spaced equally - left to right as well as superior to inferior - so all four fingers would fit inside a perfect square.

The image of the dice here represents perfectly four finger tips in the corners of the square (equally spaced) and the centre spot representing the spinous process itself.

Ask the client to take a deep breath.

Upon exhalation, as the ribcage reduces and sinks back to the table, ‘follow’ their body down with your fingers.  

When the breath is completely exhaled add a final ‘push’ through each of the four fingers to release the vertebral joint as shown in the video presentation.

IMPORTANT: Do not use excessive force for this procedure. If you are a physically strong person working on a small person, or person who is slightly built (such as a youth), use a pressure that is within their tolerance.
If after re-testing you discover the thoracic spinous processes are all still painful, sore or sensitive then reapply the work with a little more force than the first time.
Take care not to use all your force for this procedure.
It is not required.  

Also note that fingers are used - not the thumbs.
This is designed to prevent excessive force onto the spine.  

Complete the release of all indicated vertebra in the direction: from lower to upper. i.e. T12 towards T1 - not the reverse of this.

Do not apply this work to vertebrae that do not indicate it is needed - only to the indicated vertebrae from your assessment.

Pause for 2 to 5 minutes for reaction tot he treatment to occur.

Retest all the previously indicated vertebra for tenderness, making a note of any improvements.
If there are any remaining problems (using our example of T8, T7, T3 and T2 ) - we may now find that T8, T7, and T2 are now pain free but T3 remains a problem.

You can now repeat the move on T3 only.

Wait 5 minutes and re-assess.

Should there be any remaining tenderness or pain do not repeat again.
Schedule a follow-up appointment in 7 days.
At that next appointment, recheck all areas to see there are any remaining problems.

Often checking the tension of the soft tissues adjacent to the spine (such as the rhomboids) often shows immediate relaxation of the musculature.

Alternative AoB procedure:

This work is to be used in cases of osteoporosis, osteopenia and other cautions such as suspected disc injury.

Refer for medical diagnosis if you are unsure about any undiagnosed medical condition.

Identify the para-spinal canal located between the midline and the medial edge of the soft tissue adjacent to the spine (e.g. erector spinae, longissimus, spinalis) - labelled as sequence (x).

Various methods and combinations of moves for this application and adaptation of the AoB procedure can be made as demonstrated in examples (i), (ii), and (iii) as shown in the video presentation.

Please note that in sequences (ii) and (iii) we are crossing the midline of the body - across the spine.

Also note that sequence (iii) uses alternating left and right moves.

Help the client to a seated position:

Pause and check the client experiences no dizziness or light-headedness.

If they are dizzy or light headed then wait for a minute or two to allow that feeling to clear itself.
Only then may the client step down from the couch placing BOTH feet on the floor at the same time to allow even weight-bearing into both hips to occur as shown in sequence:

If the client continues to be dizzy after waiting two minutes then lay them in a foetal position, cover them with a blanket and wait for the dizziness to pass as shown in sequence:

Return them to a seated position and check any dizziness has subsided.
Then ask them to stand - placing BOTH feet on the floor at the same time to allow even weight-bearing into both feet to occur.

The client may need to sit for a few moments before dressing and leaving your office.

How it works:

Slight fixation and loss of movement in the thoracic region can result in reduced flexion and extension of the spine, increasing stress and tension in the soft tissues of that area.

By placing two fingers on the upper vertebra and two fingers on the supporting vertebra, with the spinous process in the middle, depression of those two structures (anteriorly) results in the release of the vertebral joint. This enables release of the soft tissue tension and improved flexibility.

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