Sunday, February 17, 2008

RSI Clinics

It's been a long while, but we've finally done it. By April RSI Clinics will be a fully fledged company in its own right - RSI Clinics Ltd - with clinics in Brighton, East Sussex and London Harley Street. We are specialising in treating repetitive strain injury, hand and wrist pain, typing pain, texter's thumb, that sort of thing. Myofascial release and trigger point therapy are extremely effective in providing a sure and steady route to rehabilitation for repetitive strain injuries, and sometimes the improvement can be very swift.

4.7 million days work are lost in the UK alone due to RSI, and in a recent HSE (Health and Safety Executive) survey, 57% of respondents had experienced what we recognize as RSI symptoms in the last year although very few had taken time off work - they just soldiered on, hoping it would go away. As we know, it tends not to.

All our staff are fully trained in MFR, having done the advanced courses with us, and are receiving ongoing training in the application of RSI and trigger point therapy to RSI problems. Of course, RSI can occur anywhere in the body, but we are focusing on the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers first, which is probably one of the most common types of RSI.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Science fiction?

I've been reading a lot of Melissa Scott's work. Science fiction. Very, very good stuff, intellectually challenging. She has a running scenario in Dreamships in which starship pilots take control of their ship by means of some kind of communication device wired directly into them, under the skin. By means of this they key in to a responding device in the ship and 'feel' that ship, and by means of gestures - or anything they choose - monitor, follow, direct its movements and its internal workings.

When I first read this I was riveted. It sounds exactly like what we do in bodywork. We have a communication device wired in to us - we are born with it. We 'key in' or 'tune' in to other mind-bodies, following, monitoring, supporting and sometimes nudging or directing the self-healing tendencies of the mind-body of our focus. We too use gestures, hands-on techniques, to aid this, often osteopathy or massage, myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, and so on.

Sometimes, when I'm working, I realise that the techniques are more to aid my own cognitive comprehension of what's going on (not unimportant) than necessary to obtain any particular result. So with Scott's world where "Drive" is the counterpart to our familiar and perpetual interplay of energetic rhythms and pulses of the mind-body, sometimes making it into physical manifestation, more often not, she speaks about the pilot's choice in how she perceives, interprets the data communicated via the inwiring.

There's a spell-binding passage in Dreamships where she has her pilot muse: "virtually any image or set of images could be used to interpret Drive data, as long as it called up the right set of reactions from the pilot. She had once known a woman, a small, golden, perfect creature, who had taken her ships into Drive by ceremoniously brewing a cup of green tea..." Rachel often quotes someone, a Rolfer probably: "Good bodywork is 95% perception".

Of course, working with humans and animals is exponentially more complex than taking a ship into Drive: we are not biochemical machines (certainly part-biochemical manifestations of energy, but not machines) whatever orthodox western medicine and the drug companies would like us to believe. And because we are effecting authentic communication with mind-bodies just like our own, we too are affected by each encounter. Each 'treatment' changes both the client and the therapist. All this doesn't have to be new-agey or airy-fairy, or, indeed, without clear cognitive comprehension. In fact, I much prefer to have clear cognitive comprehension. Switching in can take miliseconds and is teachable and practicable. And magical.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Masterclass conference

The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies is putting on this Masterclass / conference on Understanding Trauma and Adaptation: Managing the neural, myofascial and psychological issues. Intriguing speakers, most of whom I have either read, trained with, or wished I could train with, a couple entirely new to me. I'll be there. Come and play?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Virgin rebounder

This is a tale (true) about how I started feeling into the phenomenon of rebounding.

The year is 1981, the location is Brighton on the south coast of the UK; we are in the reception area of the Lotte Berk studio in seedy Preston Street, an exercise studio for the pursuit of the perfect shape through an excruciatingly difficult (and now almost defunct) exercise method. I was the studio owner, director, lead teacher, etc. etc. It was the era of Jane Fonda’s new ‘aerobics’ which was sweeping town, and we were getting bookings by the hour from women who had injured themselves in huge aerobics classes doing things that were and are highly injurious to the spine and everything that hangs therefrom. The more the aerobics teachers demo’d fast, high impact, totally out of control, ‘go for the burn’ lunges, crunches and extreme stretches, the more we focused on control of movement, proprioception, body awareness.

I had just trained for a year full time, that’s twelve whole months, with Lotte Berk herself in her renowned (notorious) London Manchester Street studio. Lotte was a formidable woman, took no notice of her trainees at all, but we had to get it right before she would issue the diploma and let us loose on the general public in our own studios. She must have done something right herself, because in Brighton that year we were inundated with women rising to the challenge of an intelligent exercise method and the ‘novel’ idea that one could gain shape, control of one’s movement and posture, just through going to exercise classes. These were tough women, willing to pay the price. Exercise was serious business. We took no prisoners. I had no idea what was going on.

The reception area was large, a shop front in fact. We frequently featured gizmos and gadgets for class attendees to try and buy. One of these small pieces of apparatus was the ‘Rebounder’, a small trampoline, on which one bounced in jogging – on- the – spot mode whilst performing unlikely movements with arms and legs. This was supposed to provide aerobic exercise without high impact, and also help with lymphatic drainage. Whatever.

The rebounders were a great hit and women bounced and boinged with gay abandon in the heady pursuit of more things to do with their newly-reclaimed bodies. This was the early 80s, remember. This was also the era of low cut leotards, tights, holey and ripped if one was serious about working out, leg warmers (also ripped – we used to sell them ready-ripped) and not a lot of underwear worn. Abiding memories include bouncing boobs, barely contained, legwarmers flying as the leg routine began, and some wonderful, wonderful women, many twice my age; I was totally in awe of them, and they looked to me for the latest word in working out. Apart from that, our paths did not cross.

What I did notice, amidst the heady, new, brash confidence was one strange phenomenon about rebounding, not mentioned anywhere in the sales brochures: as women started to bounce, they started out stiff, unbalanced, anxious, determined. A couple of minutes in it seemed as if they settled into a rhythm which flowed through them as they bounced, the rhythm cascading through them from top to toe and back again, lapping up against the edge of their physical bodies and crashing back in like waves; they would become softer, in body, in their faces, in the feeling, or energy (‘vibes’ – remember the ‘vibes’ of the 80s?) coming from them. As this progressed they became more coordinated, relaxed, everything one would expect. But it didn’t end there. What I observed was that I was beginning to see more of the ‘insides’ of these women, they were becoming more ‘whole’ as they softened. In other words, where they had been holding themselves, their lives, together, holding things in, ‘contained’, as they rebounded they lost some of the divisions within. I sensed I was seeing more of the authentic woman. This was not featured in any sales brochure – and one had to look past the flying boobs to catch it.

Cut to the exercise studio itself. I’m teaching a leg exercise, ten women in a row, clutching the barre with a death-like grip, tiny-bend-stretching their working leg impossibly high (willpower reigned supreme), standing leg stretched like a stick of celery, teeth gritted, shoulders creeping up to the ears. This is *before* the epiphany of Pilates. They are magnificent, there is no mercy, we’re going through to ten repeat tiny-bend-stretches, and none of them will drop an inch.

What is worrying me is that as they beat their bodies into submission, learn about their hidden depths of persistence, always digging deeper for one more repeat, is… well… that they *are* beating their bodies into submission. And I have this dim notion that that is maybe not such a good idea. I have this strange idea that they would be better off working *with* their bodies, instead of against them, as it were. Just a hunch.

There is a problem here. They will do anything I say during the class. Our lives may be a million miles apart, but they trust me, I have brought them results. Their shape has changed. But however much I say ‘drop your shoulders’ and ‘shake your head loose’, they can’t do it. The shoulders don’t drop and the head does not loosen, even if they do shake it. It really is about working *with* their bodies, not against them, I decide. And this is where it gets seriously problematic.

It goes like this: Our classes are filled with women who are taking charge of their lives, starting with taking control of their bodies and getting separate bank accounts. They have lived full lives and have a lot to take charge of.
I have taught them to isolate parts of the body and to hang with the bits they aren’t focused on for the moment. Now I am going to try to get them to get body and mind to work together or at least get body bits to work together. But they have achieved success by separating them. Divide and conquer. Hmmm.

It doesn’t stop there: In order to connect with these women on a mind-body level rather than on an isolated body-part level I have to… er… connect with them on a mind-body level. How on earth do I do that? I am 24, single, with a degree in Philosophy. I am dealing with women who have had kids, careers, marriages and failed marriages, illness, disaster and shattered dreams. Strong women. I can’t connect for one minute with their lives, they don’t connect with mine, we don’t share experiences. It’s not going to happen.

This is where I think about what I observed as they were rebounding downstairs on the mini-trampoline. What I was noticing there was the authentic Perry, Sally, Kate. No isolated body parts. They were showing their authentic selves in rebounding. That was a level deeper than experience, life lived, wisdom or relationships. That was my way in, without words. If I couldn’t connect with their lives, maybe I could connect by going deep into their core, where I was sure I could find their rhythm.

So I pick the most tensed-up, teeth-gritted woman right at the beginning of the next exercise to try it out on. I have the space of three sets of ten movements to get through to her, without pouncing on her right at the beginning. I set it up, get them moving, go through all the ‘let your shoulders drop’ routine, then go round to help them with their positions as usual.

Only this time it’s different. I take her hand and arm, held out at shoulder height (rigid), and as I count for them, give the hand a shake, trying to mimic the kind of rhythm I had observed on the rebounder downstairs. Nothing. Totally rigid. She’s trying to figure out where she is to put her arm, as I seem to be waving it up and down. We are on to the next set, and I make it a little more complicated than usual, to take their minds off what I am doing, in case they are wondering. This does the trick. She can’t concentrate on both arm and leg and lets the arm go. It takes a couple of counts and I am in to her rhythm. I have no idea how I find it, but it starts to ripple through her body and her spine lengthens, her shoulders drop (fractionally) and her teeth unclench. The movement I am initiating in her arm is infinitesimal. She shifts to release the other hand clenching the barre. Amazing. I count in their third, much less complex set and scoot around to give the others some attention.

Nothing is said. I get no feedback and I give no explanations. What would I explain? I have learned that firstly it works for the purposes I had intended, and secondly I have to get it to work extremely fast. Over the months I develop the habit of a little shake here and a little rocking there, to tune in to the rhythm, and to get it flowing. I don’t teach my teachers to do this, as I really have no idea how I do it myself. It is, however, probably the most effective thing I ever introduced to the Lotte Berk classes.

Rebounding or shakin', rockin'and rollin'

This a going to be a bit technical and possibly odd. It may explain some of the 'Virgin rebounder' post, though.

Rebounding: variously known throughout the bodywork world as shaking, rocking, rocking and rolling, rhythm work and probably by many more terms, probably as many as there are marketing managers :) Some people teach it as a strategy in itself, whole bodywork modalities have been formed around it. At the MFR Clinic UK we integrate it into our practice in various ways, usually just where something needs to be loosened up or ‘jogged’ out of its habitual pattern. Or for assisting the client to loose themselves in the deep, deep rhythm of their fascia. I’ll explain. Briefly. Resulting in more questions raised than answers provided, I suspect

There is a vibration, or a ‘rhythm’ of the fascia, which it is useful to tune in to when working with a mind-body in myofascial release. (Yes, that’s ambiguous). I’m not going to speculate on where it comes from or how it arises. It is not the rhythm of the organs, or the craniosacral rhythm, but an underlying rhythm or vibration. Told you this would raise more questions than answers.

Why tune in? Tuning in as a therapist serves several purposes, the first of which is to ‘connect’ with the mind-body you are working with. This connection is appreciated by the client mind-body and can lead to all sorts of further myofascial release. It also increases the trust between therapist and client. It is impossible (well, I’ve never seen it happen) to tune in to a vibration without connecting. If the mind-body doesn’t want to connect, s/he won’t, if they do, tuning in to the vibration will enhance that experience.

Secondly, the unique ‘signature’ vibration of a limb or the torso, or of a much smaller body part can give the therapist a very good idea of energy that is flowing well or ‘stuck’, fascia that is stuck or muscles and joints which are not moving well. If the rhythm is not smooth, it is possible to find out where it is ‘sticking’ and there one will often find the point at which energy flow is also stuck, or fascia itself. There is also very often symmetry or dyssymmetry between hands, legs, or sides of the body, upper or lower quartiles, leading a curious mind to ask ‘how come this?’.

How to tune in? Best taught hands on. However, the basic sequence of events is this – although this may tell you nothing: take a limb, a leg, say, with your client prone. Or supine. Begin to rock the leg or the thigh until it seems to ‘sink in’ to whichever rhythm you have started with. (You’ve got to start somewhere; experience will tell you a likely rhythm to start with). It's as if you are rocking a bowl of water and you feel the water reach the rim of the bowk, and you bring it back before it tips over. The leg seems to ‘like’ it. Now use whatever ‘tuning in’ facility you have to match your rocking to the rhythm the leg likes best. This is the ‘connection’ bit, impossible without, and at the same time taking you deeper into connection.

This is the important bit: under the rhythm, there is a vibration, faster (probably) than the leg can rock. The rocking seems to dovetail with the vibration. You may find yourself picking up a vibration and rocking in concert with it, much slower. For instance, it is not uncommon to be able to ‘quantify’ a vibration such that you can rock the leg to and fro for every 4 ‘parcels’ of vibration. Don’t ask me how this works, I’m just describing it as best I can. It’s easier when we are teaching this hands-on, believe me.

Why are we doing this? The vibration you have tuned in to is the ‘signature’ vibration of the thigh, the thigh is integral to the whole, the whole likes to be known at its core, at its deepest form of being, you are ‘knowing’ someone at the deepest level of their beingness. This is highly therapeutic for human beings who do not want to be treated as mechanical / biochemical constructs.

Why else are we doing this? You may discern that there is something ‘sticking’ or ‘interrupting’ the vibration, or that it is ‘not quite right’. This will come if you are at the same time connecting with the whole, picking up the key or signature vibration of the whole. By calibrating from the ‘whole’ you can tell whether the leg is in tune with the whole. If it is not, work out where and what is stuck. Energy, fascia, whatever, then deal with it. Just try it. The rocking feels very nice (for all the above reasons) so you have not short-changed your client if you give it a go.

This is even more interesting: you may find that inside the vibration, there are one or both of two other vibrations. (Or more). You may find something that is ‘frozen’, not moving, discernible through the rhythm as well. This may well be tissue memory, which the mind-body does not want to disturb. If there is good enough connection, if the time is right, if there is enough trust, this ‘frozen’ vibration may well unfreeze. There lie dragons, in other words, this may be volcanic, so be aware. This is myofascial release at a deep, deep level. Once the mind-body has allowed release, it will be deeply healing. Any tissue memory locked in is unhealthy for the body – divides it, prevents integration at a vibration level with the whole, on top of all else, it HURTS!

You may find clients going into spontaneous rebounding - sometimes after freeze-thawing; take up the rhythm for them and go from there. There's so much more...

The other vibration? Underneath underneath, there is another vibration, which feels more like the signature vibration of the whole mind-body. Sometimes, when the frozen lakes and the volcanoes have melted and erupted, energy flow is restored, fascia (how mundane?) is released, the leg will change vibration to tune in with this underlying pulse. Even sometimeser, the most underlyingest of the vibrations I can reach feels more like the pulse of the universe life and everything. Bring on the white coats and padded cells, I'm going to swim inbetween the particles. I don’t usually talk about this, but it sure feels good when you’re there.

Rocking, rebounding, tuning in to the vibrations can take ten minutes, all session, or a couple of seconds. I often give a little rock to catch the wave on the rebound, to tune in to the vibration, to know where I am. My aim is to facilitate the total integration of vibrations throughout the body, and if it is possible, come to a place where the most underlying vibration flows uninterrupted throughout. Well, it's something to aim for :)

If you have trained in craniosacral therapy with Upledger or others, acupuncture, shiatsu, any oriental medicine, you may recognize everything I have been talking about, but use different semantics and different approaches. Think of energy cysts and arcing, sound therapy, meridians, listening touch...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Thrown off the list!

I was thrown off a specific training provider's MFR discussion group recently for failing to subscribe to 'true' myofascial release. The throwing off was conducted by the list administrator accusing me (on the list and with great gusto) of leading people astray and presenting myself as something I was not. Not true, as visitors to my site would find out, but no right of reply for me. I was summarily ejected, thrown forever into outer darkness. I did however manage to speak to the wise soul who had taken it upon herself to do this, and it appears that the reason she 'needed' to expell me was that I did not conform to 'true' myofascial release, i.e. I let on that I included other training in my practice and even saw myofascial releases occuring in 'other' modalities. Heresy!

She also admitted, when pressed, that she had seen from my bookstore that I recommended books that were not by her particular training organisation, and that that is what was leading people astray. ROFL!

Well, I have had another look at the bookstore and have concluded that it was not *nearly* broad enough! So here is the new updated Myofascial Release Clinic Bookstore.

Happy browsing, and may you never have to endure 'true' myofascial release yourselves :)

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Freeze Response - encore

There is another good article out there on the Freeze response. Jonathan Tripodi writes clearly on this subject here The Freeze Response. His training courses in MFR come very highly recommended.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Flight, fight or freeze?

Click here for an article by John F Barnes of Myofascial Release Treatment Centres. Flight/Fight/Freeze

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Self Unwinding

Unwind the self every day. Without fail. Really without fail. All unwinding is 'correct', you can never do it 'wrong'. Or fail. neither can I. Hurrah.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Just your average MFR session

Would this be a real blog without some real- life experiences to spill? Certainly not. Last night's MFR session - mine - is worth blogging about.

Started off in a very civilised fashion, I just knew I wanted unwinding, so sat on the side of the table in the usual way. Went into unwinding immediately, drifting half in and half out of full consciousness. Ended up, don't know how (that's the nature of MFR) lying face down, still on the table (comfy!) and Rachel 'being drawn into' my paraspinal fascia, ribs, around T6. When R gets drawn into somewhere, it usually means quite a deep encounter. To all intents and purposes it should be at least a little painful, but with MFR discomfort seems to be secondary if the therapist is on the right spot. I don't know how long she was there, but I remember saying 'don't stop' (the stupid things one says during MFR: as if she would)! And Rachie saying 'I don't have much choice'. Now that is siginificant, because it means that she was committed to going where my body took her, even if it felt as if my ribs were coming apart. And then I said 'I think my ribs are coming apart'. And, hey presto, when I investigated after the session, it was true, they had come apart, only I didn't know they needed to. the structural outcome of this is that my spine now feels straight - it was straight before, wasn't it? - not as straight as it is now.

And then... time goes by in weird and wonderful installments in MFR, then I was on my back and Rache was drawing circles on my hand and I was feeling the circles on my other hand...

Thenner still, I was floating through space, tumbling, flying, and my body was trying to keep up and I was doing rolly polly things, like swimming through thick, dark, beautiful... not air... something. It feels like floating inbetween the particles of an atom;

And even more then, I have no idea where Rachel was, or where I was on the table - at least I think I was still on the table, unless I went off and Rachie got me back on again and didn't tell me - she was doing something on the front of my ribs and in the diaphragm area and I suddenly had a very dark, black, velvety roll running the length of my spine and up to the top of my head, and in this roll were... er... things, coloured, like deep rich red rubies and jewels, but not hard or physical... running out of words here... and a silver line running up the centre of the entire black velvety roll.

There. Another day's unwinding.

Got home and was shaking through from the inside, but not an unpleasant feeling. Found that I couldn't stop crying, either, but again, no sorry or grieving or sadness, more like release. Odd. (I've stopped now). My spine is still longer and looser, and I have this dark, dark core which is very light, i.e. I can see perfectly in it, even though it is nigh-on black, with the silver thread. Make of that what you will.