Sometimes that’s what it feels like. What I tell them is that I’m something between a physical therapist (PT) and an athletic trainer. Unlike a PT I get to spend the entire session time working directly with the soft tissues. Your clothing stays on because bodywork doesn’t use oil or lotion. Our session starts with you on the table. Positioning varies depending on our goal for the session. Lying face up, face down, on your side or sitting up are all options.
I am looking for anomalies. I’m looking for what’s not functioning. I’m searching for all the different directions the tissue is being pulled from. Scar tissue is like the web Spiderman shoots from his hand. The initial scar is a clump of fibers holding the wound together but the cool part is all these other anchoring strands. Each strand is thrown out and attaches itself to something stable. Each of these strands has to be unhooked and the scar tissue is worked until the clump becomes linear stretchy tissue.
In bodywork we work backwards. The pattern that was created last is worked first. I work my way through all of these adaptive patterns until we find the very first adaptive response.
Twenty two years into being a bodyworker has taught me that nobody knows how to do this. So many people have pieces of the puzzle but not the entire puzzle, that is still elusive. I imagine it’s like the explorers of old looking for the fountain of youth or the holy grail. I have a bigger piece of the puzzle than most of the bodyworkers I know and definitely something unique from my fellow massage therapists. When My clients move away from the area or out of state they search, mostly in vain, for someone to do what I do. One of the issues is what to call what I do. I work with connective tissue. But that’s not enough to get them to someone like me.
When I was young I was a professional British nanny. I would go on interviews and the family would be thrilled to have me show up. What they wanted to know is how did they get me this time. The add was the same and they knew they wanted someone like me. But I am a unicorn. I was then and apparently I still am.
Why are we not training differently. The world of massage therapy is antiquated. There is a place for massage but more and more people are seeking something elusive. Relaxation is good but truly being relaxed in our own skin generally isn’t happening. My clients sleep really well after a session with me. The session wasn’t what people would call relaxing and yet their autonomic nervous system flips to parasympathetic within twenty minutes. Why?
Thixatropy is one of the answers. Connective tissues bind and support our organ systems. Fascia runs through and wraps all of our muscles, twists and becomes tendons. Disfunction distorts this matrix and causes dehydration, stickiness and spiral patterns. All this traps the muscles within a tight sheath that doesn’t respond to stretching. A chemical substance that is a liquid matrix responds to Thixatrophy. The manual pressure exerted down into the tissue initiates this chemical reaction and transforms all this dysfunction into a solution state. It liquifies and spreads until it meets resistance. The cool part of working within this matrix is that the person receiving tells you where to go next. The resistance usually comes with pain. This pain is giving the therapist valuable information about where the restriction is.
The training that’s missing is in not listening to the body. I used to think intuition was guiding me. Intuition backed up by anatomical knowledge. For years I could see the patterns inside my head like a road map. Since I added trauma training, specifically Alchemical Alignment training I’ve changed my mind. As I sit in stillness before approaching the body I invite information to show itself to me. I follow the pattern unfolding for me. I don’t second guess myself. However I do have skills to draw from. I know how to assess tissue for restrictions. I know how to test for joint mobility and range of motion. But the body system that I’m assisting is my guide. I listen.
I mentor whenever possible. But why am I out here on my own? What are massage schools doing wrong? The massage industry isn’t helping. They had the chance to add a professional level and didn’t do it because they said it was too subjective. All of my clients can objectively tell the difference.