Leg Length Check: How do we use it in shin tai?

The leg length check that we use in shin tai is used for assessing soft tissue stress in the body and also alignment of the pelvic structure. Usually the assessment for soft tissue stress is done in prone position (face down), while the structural assessment is done in supine (face up).

The leg length check is a valuable tool to feel into the body and gather information to guide treatment

Assessing Meningal Stress


When doing Central Channel we use the leg length check to assess soft tissue stress in the body, especially meningal stress patterns. The receiver is in prone position (except in some advanced central channel work) and the assessment of leg length discrepancy is done at the heels. While holding the feet in the leg length check position, look down at the most inferior level of the heels and determine which side, if any, is ‘short.’

Keep in mind that the leg length check is not actually a check of leg length itself; it is an indicator of soft tissue stress patterns in the body, especially the meninges. Restriction and unsymmetrical torquing of the resulting tension patterns throughout the body can cause one side to appear shorter than the other. This assessment is usually done in prone position so that the sacrum is more free floating and possible structural misalignments there are not dominating the reading.

Why do we check at the heels in this case? Compression that could be present in the joint articulations between the interior malleolus and the calcaneus bone of the heel is considered a valid part of the leg length reading and should be included in the assessment. This goes for any shin tai work that is using leg length check as an evaluation of soft tissue and meningal stress in the system. For those of you who have studied advanced central channel work, this applies when doing the check in prone or supine position. It can be of value to notice if there are compressive forces between the malleolus and heel and keep an eye on how this can change.

Assessing Structure


We check leg length at the internal malleoli when assessing the structure, because it gives the most accurate reading of pelvic structural alignment. In this case we do not want to include the effects of compressive forces within soft tissue of the ankle bones in our evaluation, because we want the reading to be giving information primarily about the alignment of the structure, not the soft tissue system. We do this structural check in supine position so that the sacrum is stabilized; this makes meningal/soft tissue effects from everything above the sacrum less of a factor in the reading.

Central Channel Diagnostic Tools

Let’s review the evaluation tools we can use when doing central channel work. These diagnostic methods are used to gather information about the body and serve as guides to treatment:

  • Motion - observation around and in the body for movements and impressions

  • Radiation - check by scanning with hand or 3rd eye

  • Achilles Tendons - gentle palpation to assess tension and symmetry; notice the qualities in each side: tension, stiffness, asymmetry, curvature, etc. - this can give information about the stress level and stress history in the system

  • Leg Length Check - traction, dorsiflexion, eversion, adduction - all in one fluid motion

  • Critical Point/Alert Response - the critical point is a sensation, it catches our attention

These evaluations can be used on their own or all together. When the body is in pre-phase I or phase I motion, they are used in a more deliberate, systematic way in order to facilitate the more linear treatment to proceed effectively. As restrictive patterns begin to loosen and release and life force circulates and creates more motion, these assessment tools tend to be used more fluidly as they present themselves to the practitioner.

Leg Length Check Details

The Leg Length Check is an evaluation to get information about the amount and type of stresses in a receiver’s system. Usually the short leg is ‘apparent’ and not actually shorter than the other. This becomes clear as the stress patterns release and the ‘short’ leg becomes equal or longer and stays that way for longer periods of time.

A true short leg is possible, but not that common. In our experience, it is anatomically present in less than 5% of people. Working with someone with a true short leg demands more focus, as you will be adjusting your reading to see ‘equal’ differently than usual.


The leg length check takes practice and finesse to do. Do not take it for granted! It develops over time, can always be improved, and you will learn new facets of it as you gain experience. Let’s go over the 4 parts of the leg length check:

  1. Traction - just enough to take out the slack;  connect up through the meninges into the occiput; make sure not to push in after the initial tractioning (this is a common mistake, even among experienced practitioners)

  2. Dorsiflexion - flex to the easy motion barrier

  3. Eversion - do not butterfly the feet outwards

  4. Adduction - do not need to force feet all the way together, take the adduction firmly into to the easy motion barrier of the movement and then assess from there

These four parts eventually become integrated into one smooth motion. It is a good idea to break them down sometimes and do the leg length check very deliberately in order to check on your technique.

Another aspect to consider is that the quality of the leg length check changes depending on what phase of motion is happening in the body. More motion = a less deliberate, physical leg length check.

  • Phase I motion: the check is more mechanical and clinical; all 4 parts are incorporated deliberately

  • Phase II motion: the check can be done by gently doing a version of the four motions right above the heel (instead of wrapping your hands around the feet); there is less physical movement of the feet in order to do the check and it is more of a feeling

  • Phase III motion: the check is more implied and sometimes quite light and quick

In Conclusion

The leg length check is a valuable tool to feel into the body and gather information to guide treatment. We can use it to understand the type of stress and history of stress in someone’s system. We can get a clear impression of where restrictions are and how they reverberate through the body. We can be guided with precision as to the where, how and when to make contact during a treatment. We can perceive when stress patterns release and allow life force to circulate and adjust and enliven a person’s body and life. Putting some of our attention on this assessment method in order to keep developing it is worth the focus required!

The Role of Motion in Shin Tai Bodywork

Motion & Life Force

In Shiatsu Shin Tai bodywork, we use motion as a main indicator of life force in the body. Motion becomes both a diagnostic tool, and a guideline for what techniques to use and how best to apply them. As motion is restored, the receiver’s inner power and healing capacity is also restored. Shizuto Masunaga himself said that motion = life.

As certain specific motions are recovered through treatment, certain things can be predicted in the life sphere. These changes usually occur over time after a course of treatments. Some examples of specific motions coming back into the body and their subsequent effects are:

  • lateral motion coming back to the ribcage = person feels less trapped in certain situations

  • pelvis lifts and tilts during breath cycle = hormonal system improves, sexuality/identity become more clear

  • shoulder blades rolling = person can see both sides of things

  • paravertebral muscle contractions = person can stand in own power and is not so easily intimidated/swayed by others’ opinions

In a more general way, the more motion in a person’s body, the more motion/energy they will have in their life, and the more capacity they will have to make changes in their habits, attitudes and behaviors. As a practitioner, it can be very interesting and fulfilling to see movement changes occurring during treatment and then hear about the changes showing up in a client’s life.

You can begin to learn the shin tai method of evaluation of motion in our online video course “The Spine.” The material in this course can be integrated with any bodywork modality.

The Effect of Stress on Motion


When there is stress, there is compression or restriction in the body. This occurs during micro-stress events, such as being late for an appointment or having indigestion and also macro-stress events, like a divorce or an accident. The body often adapts and resolves stresses when they occur, but sometimes it does not fully resolve the restrictive impact (whether it be physical, emotional or psychological). Over time, this leads to a buildup of compressive forces in the body which restrict motion.

Most babies and young children have boundless energy. Their systems are relatively free of restrictive forces and their life force moves rather freely through their physical and energetic bodies. Because their bodies are less compressed, circulation of blood, nutrients, oxygen, etc. streams easily, along with the free flow of emotions and ideas.


As we grow up we lose some of our natural movement capacities due to unresolved stresses. This leads to a smaller frequency range of vibration within and around the body. The range of physical mobility decreases, as well as the range of emotional and psychological resilience and response. Perceptions become more limited and distorted.

Space = Motion = Life Force

Unresolved stress leads to compressive forces in the body and less spaciousness. The less space there is, the less motion there is. This applies in a general way, such as breathing that is more shallow, and in specific ways, such as a vertebra having restricted mobility. More unresolved stress = more restricted motion.

We interpret present time through a filter of misinformation that the compressed system is giving. Shin Tai focuses on restoring space and thus motion to the body. As stress patterns in the tissues and meninges release with treatments, this affects the physical condition, emotions, psychology, etc. This progression is not always logical, and depends on the state of the receiver and the practitioner. Deep change becomes possible as stress matrixes that held conditionings and beliefs soften, dissolve and morph into more functional, present-time possibilities.

3 Phases of Motion/Resonance

We define 3 phases of motion or resonance in order to have a framework to operate within during treatment.

  1. Wave: there is a horizontal wave motion throughout the body with the breath cycle; stress matrixes are softening

  2. Resonance: whole body is easing more deeply; stress matrixes are releasing from compressive patterns; outer body membranes are softening

  3. Atmospheric shift: physical body and outer body synthesis; stress matrixes dissolve and previously trapped life force actively recirculates or re-enters system

Someone may move in and out of all these phases during a session. Sometimes it can be several treatments before a receiver goes deeply into Phase I. The goal is not to get right to Phase III and stay there, but instead to always be facilitating more motion in a natural, non-force manner, allowing life force to gradually flow more in the person’s body and subsequently, their life.

Below are a few of the specific micro-motions that indicate each phase. These categories are not exact; they are meant to serve as guideposts to have a general idea what phase of motion is in dominance at any time.

Pre-Phase I:  non-wave vertical breathing


Phase I

  • wave motion

  • horizontal breathing motion

  • head tremble

  • pelvic lift - vertical motion increases

Phase II

  • shoulder blade motion

  • lateral rib expansion

  • pelvic lift and tilt 

  • turtle motion of head

  • improvement of kyphosis 

  • intermittent paravertebral contractions (not full spine)

Phase III  

  • atmosphere of room is resonating from the resonance in the receiver’s body

  • paravertebral contractions (whole spine)

  •  independent sacral movement

  • lateral/medial heel motion

It takes practice and focus (and treatments for themselves!) for a practitioner to be able to perceive these motions. During classes we go over a full range of motions for each phase, what each one looks like, how to identify it, and techniques to facilitate them. The overall intention during treatment is to release compression, introduce space, and facilitate motion in order to reestablish full integrity throughout the system.

Central Channel & Motion

The Central Channel is a circuit of life force that moves along the pathway of the spinal cord. It directly affects the functioning of the meninges, the spine, the central nervous system, the Governing Vessel meridian, the chakras, and the craniosacral fluid. In Central Channel bodywork, practitioners learn how to identify and release specific stress patterns in the fascia of the spine (meninges) one layer at a time, beginning to untangle a maze of compression that has become a part of someone’s ‘story’ or life. Release of these meningal stress patterns helps to improve a myriad of physical problems along with increasing emotional, mental and spiritual health. Like other aspects of shin tai, the 3 phases of motion are a major part of diagnosis and treatment. This work is complex, creative and penetrating; many practitioners use it in conjunction with other modalities of bodywork.

Fascia is a 3D web of soft tissue throughout the body. The meninges is a special kind of fascia wrapped around the spinal cord. Stress patterns create restriction in the fascia/meninges, and the information flowing through the system becomes inaccurate and/or incomplete. These stress patterns become layered in the body over time, and they accumulate. The effects of these patterns radiate into the body in many ways, and create a myriad of symptoms that are indirectly associated with the original stress(es).

As Central Channel treatments progress, layers of stress compression are released and life force is reintegrated into the more spacious system. This begins to reflect out into the person’s life. It can take about 9 months - 2 years for the effects of a deep clearing to show up. The goal is to assist the receiver to release stress patterns in an integrated matter so that their projection/story changes naturally and without struggle. As the body becomes more clear of compressive forces and functioning in present time, the life becomes more clear and functional within present time.

Click the button below for information on the upcoming Central Channel course in Pipersville, PA. Participate in-person or via livestream video:

Shiatsu Shin Tai: A Natural Prevention for Orthodontics

Shin Tai: A Natural Prevention of Orthodontics

Shiatsu Shin Tai treatments can be a natural prevention of orthodontics in adolescents.  There are several ways that shin tai techniques can change patterns of restriction and misalignment in the whole body, and also specifically in the jaw and temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

First of all, stress patterns in the meninges and soft tissue system exert force throughout the body.  This often creates compression and asymmetries in the cranial bones.  This can lead to a cramped palate, unbalanced movement of the maxilla, and disfunction of the TMJ, all of which can be reasons to recommend orthodontic intervention.

Also, there are correspondences between the hip structure and some of the cranial bones - the mandible, maxilla, occiput, temporals, and sphenoid bone in particular (see Secrets of the Skeleton by Dr. Mees for wonderful photos that illustrate this).  As puberty unfolds, compressive forces in the pelvic region due to different physical and emotional stresses can amplify, creating a mirror of tension patterns up in the cranium.

The 8 year old girl (Ana) in this video was told she would probably need braces soon in order to make more space for her adult teeth.  To try and prevent this, her mother is going to bring her for a series of treatments.  We have had good success with this approach in the past.  Even two of our own children were able to avoid orthodontic work that had been deemed necessary!


What kind of treatment strategy works best?

The treatment in this video shows a series of central channel releases, and then specific work on some of the cranial bones.  More treatment will be needed.  An optimal schedule would be 3-5 sessions within a 2 week period, and then once a week for a few weeks.

The cost and effort needed to get a series of shin tai treatments is MUCH less than getting braces.  Many people are not programmed to think of it in this way, so it is a good idea to offer this information so that parents can make an educated decision of where to invest their time and money.  Even if an adolescent still needs orthodontics after a series of treatments, there is a very good chance that treatments will lessen the time the braces are on, and the degree of change that will be needed.

Client feedback is important!

Interesting to note that near the end of this session (around 20:20) Ana tells Saul her mouth feels "relaxed, and not so cramped as it always does."  Already she could feel a difference, even though she wasn't told specifically what the treatment was for.  She also mentions that when she wakes up she feels aching in her body, especially her ankles.  The ankles are a reflex area for the pelvis;  let's see if freeing up stress patterns in her pelvic structure help to relieve this aching in her ankles.

Other things to observe in this video are different motions and phases of motion that show up during the treatment.  The expanded frequencies in the room (atmosphere shift - a Phase III indication) become quite pronounced several times, and this comes through on the video.  After the treatment Ana did not want to leave and proceeded to snuggle up on the BodyCushion for quite awhile while her sister received some bodywork.

Identifying specific motions, and also really feeling the general environment of Ana's system and the room during the video is a wonderful way to improve your skills as a practitioner.

Central Channel Release & the Governing Vessel

Here is a short clip from a Governing Vessel course given by Saul & Lynn Goodman in Dec 2014.  Saul is describing the effective of the general release of the central channel technique on the meridians in the body via the Governing Vessel.  

Central Channel and Motor Neuron Disease

I am sharing this extraordinary account of a Central Channel treatment by a practitioner who recently completed the Central Channel course in Nottingham, UK. “The person in question was diagnosed (…. with motor neuron disease) three years ago and can only move her head and neck, her right thumb and forefinger and shrug her shoulders. I followed the protocol and although unconvinced of stage one (following a cross-over) having challenged the occiput, the sacral notch - short leg side, both legs and then back to the beginning for another cross-over, I tried the sacral zones. When I got to the second sacral zone, the client told me she was experiencing an electrical current up and down her spine, which, after a few minutes went off. She asked could I make the contact again because she felt something most unusual was happening. One and a half hours later, on her insistence that I keep reconnecting with the same place, I let go of the point. In that hour and a half, the client (remember she is paralysed apart from neck and shoulders and her left index finger and thumb) had movement through her shoulders into her back pulling her arms back, her buttocks down both thighs and calves and into her feet. Her breathing went through the phases of motion, 1, 2 and 3. My own breathing was deeply affected and the individual who assisted me in moving the client, felt intense pain in his second sacral zone each time I adjusted. When the client was brought to upright, she cried (not a crier) and said she felt deeply calm and peaceful, the kind of release of endorphines that you get after a long run or vigorous exercise. Her body has not moved this much in almost a year. I have not seen any movement in her legs - whatsoever, in at least 6 months.”

I am reminded of the power of this work and the responsibility that practitioners hold in facilitating these changes. I emphasise that this is a very UNUSUAL situation, in terms of response and the length of time the contacts were held. ShinTai work aims for a gradual unfolding of stress patterns so that changes can be integrated into the system. The guidelines are to progress slowly with clients who show signs of deep compression or neurological condition, just a couple of contacts (few seconds to minutes), shorter treatments, watch carefully, take time, and be patient to facilitate new movements into the system in gradual increments. The effects of this unfolding can take several weeks/months to show up. This practitioner had all the best intentions and focus while working, and is continuing to monitor this client. A challenging experience for any practitioner and a good learning for us all.

Shiatsu Shin Tai Demo Treatment - focus on Advanced Central Channel

Here is a video of a demonstration Shiatsu Shin Tai treatment given during an Advanced Central Channel course in Doylestown, PA, USA. Saul Goodman is the instructor, treating David Imhoof, a Shin Tai teacher from Switzerland. The treatment is well into Phase II and III motions when the filming begins, so many alternative contacts are used. The receiver's body is doing much of the work during a treatment once there are these motions present. There are some wonderful exhibitions of paravertebral contractions, medial/lateral heel motion, occiput/sacral synchronization, and shoulder/scapula motion.

The course included learning alternative contacts for Stage I-V, anterior contacts, working with the cranial sutures to do vertebral adjustments, and other material.  Progression into more non-linear treatment was the focus.  


This course was followed by a 2 day Advanced Central Channel Clinic on Oct 29-30.  Students participated in various group treatment exercises to take the material further.  We also be observed and treatments of outside participants to learn more about how to integrate this advanced work with other Shin Tai work, as well as massage, shiatsu, craniosacral, and chiropractic.  

Teaching Central Channel in Scotland: Feedback

By Liz Arundel Dear Friends,

I wanted to give you some feedback on the first Central Channel course in Scotland and what I learnt from the experience.

We had 2, 3 day weekends 6 weeks apart. This big space between the weekends was due to the room only being available at those times. The students said that it was very helpful having time in between to digest the information and practice and rewrite their notes.

2 students sent me their typed notes by email after the first weekend for me to check for mistakes (there were a few but not many) and then we shared them with the group. They had a good grasp of the info and I think it helped them to type them out.

We had 9 students and 5 teachers on the first weekend! We, the teachers, were all very excited about the course and the students picked up on the significance of it being the first CC in Scotland. I felt very honoured to be teaching this material and the other 4 teachers (Char Scrivener, Kindy Kaur, Rachel Boase, Petra Elliott) all made very valuable contributions to discussions and helped clarify the information. At times it was like a mini teacher training for us all! The benefit of having so many of us in the room was that when they worked in 3s, each group had a teacher with them which they found very helpful for guidance and questions. It also gave the teachers an opportunity to teach their group, just like in Hungary! Seeing their confusion really taught me humility, patience and compassion and reminded me of how I felt when I first started learning this work and right up to the TT!

On the second weekend it was just Kindy, Petra and myself. The group was more confident and less confused this time and more settled and clear themselves from all the work they had received so there as a better flow to the 3 days. Clearly the CC was working! So having 3 of us guiding the class was perfect. Kindy led some of the proprio exercises which the class  really enjoyed. After Stage 5 the class did a short treatment in 2s on their own and that helped their confidence.

Alot of their questions were useful in clarifying information. When I was demonstrating Stage 2 and 3 they didn't come up in the person I was treating but stage 4 appeared so they saw how non linear the process was. So I showed them on the spine where to contact and then reviewed it after the practice session when the stages did come up. With Stage 5 it was right there at the beginning of the demo! There was more phase 3 motion in the second weekend while I demoed and when the class practiced which gave them heart that it was working. Lots more proprio suggestion from givers and priopro sensations from receivers in second weekend too.

After all the writing on the board the first weekend, it was suggested to me to organise a powerpoint presentation of the stages for the second weekend so didn't have to spend so long writing them up. This was a major logistical challenge for me as I'm not great with computers. So I got some help from a friend and I did it, only to find that I didn't have  any powerpoint technology at the centre. So I printed out my powerpoint notes for the class for stages 4-6 (just the basic info) which they said was very helpful and it gave us more time to go into the finer details of stage 5 in particular.

I had an hilarious moment when I was showing on the spine the anatomical difference between C1 and C2 and had turned the spine anteriorly and forgot to turn it over to show the spinous processes on the back but gamely tried to show them the processes on the front. Kindy's face was a picture of horror. When I realised  a few seconds later we had a good laugh! So always good to admit mistakes immediately!!

So I'm trying to organise a review weekend in September so follow up their progress. They all have buddys to practice with and go over the material and notes. I feel it was a great success and can't wait to teach the next one.

I hope all your plans and teaching are going well.  Love and hugs to you all,

Liz (Arundel)

Treatment with a Little Girl

This is a short clip of a treatment done with a four year old girl.  She asked her mom for a 'tweetment' so her mom brought her.  She came in, laid down on the body cushion, and after a few contacts got up and was finished! The voice was dubbed in afterwards.  Notice the many 2nd and 3rd degree resonance motions she exhibits in such a short time.

The Strong Effect of Central Channel Release

by Hermann Grobbauer This is a picture report of a Central Channel treatment with a woman who comes regularly for treatment. The first time she came for shiatsu treatment, she was suffering from 30 years of migraines – often 3 times a week. She said to me later that she would need three sessions to trust this work (this was in 1996).  Since then she started with yoga-meditation, and also did some shiatsu trainings and shamanic studies with my teacher and me. She said her life changed a lot.  The migraines appear only sometimes and she handles them well.

In 2002 she got diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She started again with regular Shin Tai treatments, in addition to homeopathic treatments with her doctor.  Shiatsu Shin Tai always gives her release of the pain.

These photos were taken in June 2010.  She came with acute symptoms and had a lot of pain in her tissues.  I took the pictures, because I wanted to know if there would be a change of position with only central channel contacts.  After the treatment I showed her the photos.  She was very surprised. She thought her right side was up… I got her permission to use them.









The first two photos are when she laid down for her treatment.  She said she felt comfortable and 'straight' on the cushions.

The third photo is how she looked after a few central channel contacts, without me making any manual changes to her position