Thursday, October 24, 2013

What is Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy?

Now that I've finished the first level of training for Erik Dalton's Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy from the Freedom from Pain Institute, I find a need to explain what the heck that means to people. Until a year ago, I had never heard of that specific massage modality and have only heard of it since when I have specifically searched for it myself. I don't foresee anyone asking for it by name anytime soon.

I chose the class because of Dalton's reputation for scholarly, research based, results based live seminars and his many years of experience developing and practicing these techniques. Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy (MAT) is the system he developed.

If you go to a Certified Myoskeletal Alignment Therapist for a massage treatment, you should expect a methodical, well planned, deep tissue massage that aims to create muscular balance and optimal movement in the body. As a "Posture and Pain Specialist" I would focus more specifically on the muscles of the spine to create comfortable mobility in the hips, sacrum, lumbar (low back), thoracic (mid-back), and cervical (neck) areas. The techniques are targeted to very specific needs, unlike other massage modalities that aim to be symmetrical and all-inclusive. MAT is also not going to chase the pain- meaning that treatment may be in an unexpected area to fix a larger issue. For example, the Psoas, Quads and Adductors of the leg may need attention when the symptomatic pain is in the low back. A MAT therapist will work out the areas that will get the results, not just temporarily soothe the painful low back.

Clearly, as a massage therapist, I do not manipulate the bones directly and do not expect to "crack" backs, like a Chiropractor or Orthopedist. But a Myoskeletal treatment should complement the work of those other professionals. The techniques do involve direct pressure on the muscles directly on and around the vertebrae, so the feel of receiving the treatment may be more similar to a DC adjustment than a typical massage feel- nothing like Swedish massage.

It will typically take several treatments, within a plan developed individually, depending on each client's needs, to get lasting results. Aside from my obvious bias to sell my new skill, I really believe these are powerful, meaningful techniques which have already brought significant healing to several of my clients.

Here is an example of the treatment protocol for head forward posture:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CMAT: Posture and Pain Specialist


I've been working on this material for over a year now and am happy to report that I have passed the test and received my official certification. It's funny that I feel even more confident in using these techniques in  my daily practice, now that I have a piece of paper to back me up. I will be doing a video soon with my specific thoughts on the class and how it has helped me.

Overall it was well worth the money, because I believe it is valuable knowledge that directly helps my clients in ways I could not help them before. I also get my name on another online directory of massage therapists- we'll see if that generates any traffic- another topic for the video review of the class.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fourth and Goal

Fourth quarter of the year so I thought it was about time to checkup on my list of goals...

I've had to drastically alter some things, such as moving to Tennessee, which was going to happen in August. I'm in Tampa for another year, at least. My wife lives with me again and our stress level about the housing situation is hugely improved by our move from Land o Lakes to Tampa. That was mainly due to landlord issues that were beyond our control, unless we completely separated ourselves from the situation, which we did. Lowered stress level is a significant improvement for our health, so while I could not have planned on it specifically on a list of goals, the final result is a step in a healthful direction.

Driving one of these Big Boy Trucks
The move was hard work in terms of physical labor, but thankfully, I'm as healthy as I have ever been during a move, so it was a nice pat on my back to feel fine- even after several strenuous days. I was careful to eat bananas, drink plenty of water, and to pace myself all along the way. Surprisingly, the big increase in driving during the moving week seemed to fatigue me more than the actual heavy lifting. I got a 90 minute massage at the end of our moving week which helped me sleep better, even on an inflatable mattress, and greatly minimized soreness. Massage really works!

My main personal goals on the official list were re-connection with the Wife and regular Bible study. Having my wife move back in with me after 3 months out of state obviously helped our relationship. As soon as she got back, we started prepping for the move, which took most of my waking time away from work. I have read very little of anything lately, especially my Bible. Hopefully my spiritual journey will resume after my earthly journey calms down a bit. We have several churches to try based on several recommendations from friends and family. Finding a church home will strengthen the Wife relationship as well.

This is what I use- not fishy at all. 
Physical goals were very diet and nutrition oriented: More veg, less meat, low fat and low processed sugar, about 50% raw whole foods, less caffeine, and eat or drink leafy greens daily. I did great when I was on my own- lost some weight, felt great, awesome digestion, clear skin. As is the story of my married life, as soon as I get in a good diet routine, we end up really broke and can't afford the optimal food choices. If nothing else, I am certain to eat plenty of bananas and leafy greens. I've learned that about myself- that I miss those when I don't eat them. I've also added spirulina to my smoothie regimen, which is amazing nutrition for the price.
Pic from

Also on the physical list were Run 5k in 30 minutes by May and sleep more. Running will resume very soon, now that we are in a more pedestrian friendly neighborhood with good lighting at night. The distance and stop watch times are nowhere near what I had planned, but I don't feel like crap when I do run short sprints with the dog, so I'm not too concerned about picking up the routine again.

More, better sleep is also more attainable in our new home, for many reasons. The main thing I've learned from this goal setting exercise this year, in terms of sleep, is how to notice in myself when I need to get more sleep- more awareness of  how I feel, with or without quality sleep time.

Long story short, my goal setting has made me more aware of these aspects of my health - I pay attention to them more, whether I meet the goals or not.

10 Year Old Massage Therapist

Happy Folding Sheets in 2003
As I sneak up on my 10th anniversary as a licensed massage therapist in the state of Florida, I've been thinking about the beginning of my career frequently, lately. My first year with a license had me running all over Brevard County doing independent contracts for several resorts along the coast. During that year, I met the woman of my dreams, a massage therapist as well, and got engaged. Once we got married and moved to Tallahassee for her to attend FSU, I got sidetracked from my massage career while I worked for the Department of Children and Families using a completely different skill-set. 5 years later, we moved to Tampa and I started full time as a massage therapist again. During these 3 and a half years in Tampa, I feel like I've grown, developed, evolved, and blossomed as a massage therapist.

Also lately, I've been thinking about the business/entrepreneurial side of my career much more. I recently read a Lifehacker article about personal branding for introverts (like me). It spoke of the advantage we have in forums like blogging and social networking in terms of focusing our alone time to find a voice that resonates with a larger audience- as opposed to an extrovert who is handshaking at live events giving out one business card at a time along with a 3 minute sales pitch to only a couple of people.

In my 10 year career, my brand has changed many times to fit the establishment I was working for. When I try to do something independent with a private client, I feel like I'm carrying over whatever "product" I sell at the establishment. That works really well, now that I'm a Massage Envy guy, since they are trying to be as accessible as possible to as many customers as possible.

All that being said, it turns out that this blog is exactly my chosen route to finding my personal brand. What sets me apart as a therapist in this very competitive market, is the extra mile of nerdiness that I revel in. Every book, documentary, seminar, scholarly journal and newspaper article I consume that can tie into health, wellness, and massage, helps to define who Tom Maxson, LMT really is. Once I can write down the important pieces of those information sources and apply it to either my health or a client's health, I consider it to be properly assimilated into my arsenal of healing tools. Better yet, I can share that with the world, thanks to the blogosphere, and help even more people than one at a time.

To wrap this up, I also want to mention how grateful I am to still feel child-like in my awe of the human body and its healing processes. Hence the "10 Year Old" wording in the title. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. I hope to never lose that.