The essential difference from my method of bodywork from what is generally found in the marketplace is that I focus on evidence-based and results-oriented therapy.
My clinical bodywork is solely focused on creating healthy tissue and function using effective techniques such as connective tissue massage (CTM - which is very similar to Rolfing/Structural Integration/Myofascial Release), effleurage, cross-fiber frictioning, active release, counter strain, stretching and trigger point manipulation.
This is not to mention the educational component and therapeutic exercises and stretches that I may suggest for you. Our relaxing massage may use some similar techniques but is aimed at inducing relaxation through intent, compassion, and creativity.
Is an effective approach to tension relief that combines soft-tissue manipulation methods (advanced massage techniques), exercises, stretches, and postural re-education. Dr. Ben Benjamin, founder of The Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, MA, developed Muscular Therapy.
I am a graduate of the Muscular Therapy Institute and specialize in the techniques of myofascial release, trigger point therapy and cross-fiber frictioning which play an integral role in Muscular Therapy. Advanced myofascial release or connective tissue massage (CTM) focuses on stretching the body’s connective tissue or "fascia". It is the main technique used in Structural Integration.
My work is highly influenced by experiencing the full 10 series of Structural Integration sessions and more from certified Rolfers including one that learned directly from Dr. Ida Rolf herself, Dr. Erik Dalton. I received personal instruction in Myoskeletal Alignment Technique from Dr. Dalton.
While there is fascia throughout and around a muscle and CTM will address certain adhesiveness and chronic tension the muscle itself may need to relax.
Most individuals, unless they are genetically gifted or highly trained elite athletes, will have muscles that don't fully relax. As we age, we lose the broad range of ability to contract and relax. As a result, our muscles settle into a middle ground of chronic tension that does not enable full relaxation nor full contraction. This means that the muscle is always working. This state results in pain, ischemia, and disfunction. Sometimes it is a result of poor posture or can be the cause of it. Trigger point manipulation is used to 'reset' the muscle by stimulating receptors that sense pressure. When the receptors are stimulated at the proper threshold they send a signal to the tissue around them to relax. This is the same principle that chiropractic capitalizes on except that chiropractic stimulates the stretch receptors in the joint capsule that indirectly cause the physiologic relaxation response in the muscle.
A combination of CTM, trigger point, cross-fiber frictioning, stretching and effleurage is the optimal way to address most chronic muscle tension and connective tissue restrictions. I don't like to settle on one technique as the 'end all and be all' of therapy or health care for that matter.
To understand my style of bodywork it is important to gain an understanding of fascia. All of the structures in the body are surrounded, protected and supported by connective tissue a.k.a. fascia. This matrix connects, or binds together, the body's organs and systems, and at the same time provides compartmentalization between them. (Imagine the thin, tough white membrane found when cutting apart a chicken.) The fascia is a continuous elastic sheath that provides structural support for the skeleton and soft tissues (i.e., muscles, tendons and organs). As it surrounds the muscles, it is referred to as the fascial envelope, which is where I focus my intent.
Dr. Rolf's original research on the characteristics of fascia identified its different biochemical states. Subsequent research has added to our understanding of it. The fibers are made of collagen and elastin. Collagen is more static, elastin more elastic. They serve distinct purposes in restricting and damping movement. In a healthy body, the ratio of collagen to elastin is lower. That is to say that there is more elastin in healthy tissue. My bodywork capitalizes on a physiologic response as a reaction to said bodywork to incorporate more elastin in its structure. Moderate exercise and stretching create a similar stimulus in a different way. My work, however, destroys scar tissue and overall it frees the body to move and carry correct posture.
Elasticity Of Connective Tissue. Connective tissue has a unique quality of elasticity, allowing it to be elongated. Rubbing, kneading, massaging or compressing the tissue will not change or elongate the tissue. Fascia and muscle are distinct types of tissue requiring totally different approaches of palpation and manipulation. When connective tissue receives appropriate contact and sufficient force, it changes immediately. This dynamic characteristic ensures that a practitioner is either working on muscle or fascia, but not both at the same time. My work often incorporates the two quickly morphing from one into the other merely by angle of approach.
Oblique Angle Of Contact. In order for fascia to be stretched as previously mentioned, it must be contacted at an oblique angle (less than 45 degrees). Rolf was adamant about this point, stating that the tissue responds and lengthens only when the downward, compressive force is eliminated. For example, shortened fascia, like wrinkles in a sheet, can be pulled out and lengthened only when we put a more forward, stretching movement into the tissue. The oblique angle of entry to the body maximizes this stretching quality, while minimizing any invasive or compressive contact.
Continuity Of Fascial Planes. Fascia lies in broad, continuous planes in the body. This quality of continuity allows for transmission of structural change via these planes. An example is wearing a wet suit, which represents the superficial fascia. You could pull or stretch the "fascial wetsuit" from any part of it and affect the entire structural fabric. Conversely, without contacting these long planes of connective tissue, a practitioner would be working only on isolated spots. It deserves emphasis that the individual muscles are not our focus. Instead, our primary considerations are the relationships of long, broad fascial planes to one another. This allows us a creative and effective means whereby fascial work in one area affects the entire body.
Fascial Layering. Another important characteristic of fascia is the way it organizes the body through an elaborate three-dimensional webbing of layers. Within this continuous network, Rolf teaches us to address the fascial layers one at a time, progressing from superficial to deep. Only after the more superficial layer has become more elastic, supple and lengthened is it appropriate to work on the next, deeper layer.
More On Fascia
Left: Pulling or stretching the "fascial fabric" from any part of it will affect the entire structural fabric. Right: This schematic, of a cross section of the thigh, shows the elaborate three-dimensional and continuous network of fascial layers that organize the body.
" Fascia is the organ of posture. Nobody every says; all the talk is about muscles. Yet this is a very important concept...especially the anatomy of fascia. The body is a web of fascia. A spider web is in a plane; our body's web is in a sphere. We can trace the lines of the we to get an understanding of how what we see in a body works."
-Dr. Ida P. Rolf
Another important characteristic of fascia is the way it organizes the body through an elaborate three-dimensional webbing of layers. The bodywork must progress from superficial to deep. Only after the more superficial layer has become more elastic, supple and lengthened is it appropriate to work on the next, deeper layer.
It is not a good idea to touch the deeper layers of fascia without first having worked the surface layers. Ultimately, the client will likely experience the work as harsh or painful if the practitioner tries to "muscle" their way through resistant tissue, without achieving any positive results. Make sure to tell me if you feel like you are not having a good experience. If the work is too fast you may experience some skin pulling. If you have a lot of body hair then it might be advisable to shave. Most areas are fine but an occasional hair may get pulled.
Virtually everyone can receive connective tissue work and experience its many benefits. CTM helps relieve chronic tension, promotes deep relaxation and enhances self-awareness. It also facilitates significant improvement in posture. The CTM work incorporates many of Rolf's ideas about structural alignment. People report feeling longer, lighter and more open throughout their bodies. This new alignment requires less effort to maintain because the body is beginning to approach a more balanced vertical relationship with gravity. Within this improved body balance, dramatic changes in flexibility are common, as well as ease of movement for even the most chronically tense clients.
A CTM session can be organized to focus on a particular client complaint (e.g., neck tension, carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatic pain). It can be helpful in preventing, as well as rehabilitating, many types of injuries. Fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other disorders affecting the neuromusculoskeletal system also can be addressed with connective tissue work. In fact, many fibromyalgia patients report receiving a substantial reduction of symptoms as a result of CTM work.
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