Friday, July 11, 2014

Stretching and Massage Class from Bodyworker Seminars
This week I took a live, hands-on continuing education class from Heath and Nicole Reed at Bodyworker Seminars. It was paid for by Massage Envy, for which I am grateful, and they even provided lunch. Because I took two days of classes from Bodyworker Seminars last year, I knew to expect a well thought out, well presented burst of therapeutic knowledge, based on the decades of combined experience and education from the teachers. The one thing I feel did not exactly meet my expectations, which is not necessarily a bad thing, was that the class spent much less time on stretching than I expected. We did hear a lecture about stretching and learned a few stretching techniques to apply to our clients, but we learned several more lotioned elbow techniques than stretches. I guess the "And Massage" portion was bigger than the "Stretching" part of the class title. After my decade of stretching clients daily, I was pleased to hear their fresh look at incorporating movement and stretching based on Thai massage, Yoga, and several other perspectives. From this class, I have several ways to refresh my daily practice, which is really the point of taking continuing education, right?

Some key things I learned:

Nicole Reed lead a warm up where we stretched ourselves, grounded ourselves, and tried to heighten our awareness of what it felt like to be inside our own bodies. During this time, she said,  "A small adjustment can create a big change." We were doing a straight leg stretch with one leg resting on the massage table while standing on the other leg. We held that hamstring stretch for several breaths and then she directed us to evert our foot on the stretching leg. This was a change of millimeters which created a dramatic change in the feel of the intent of the stretch. Likewise, she also told us to dorsi-flex the foot during another stretch to protect the knee. I can't wait to try that with clients who have sketchy knees and see how much of a difference it makes to their comfort level. 

Another eye opening concept was how much science is changing and adapting in stretching theories. There is a lot of new research and practice coming out in the last decade. It is an exciting time to be a myo-fascial therapist. For example, stretching actually strengthens soft tissue structures, it does not just relax them. When you stretch, the muscles have limited length, but fascia has far more adaptability. Most of a stretch actually addresses the fascia. The collagen, which is one part of the fascia, aligns to the line of force or tension and more collagen is built into the structure when regular, consistent stretching occurs in the same tissues.  

When we are injured, the body throws down a disorganized patch of fascia to temporarily protect and immobilize the area. After the injury is healed, stretching therapies can re-organize that patch into a stronger, more appropriate, more mobile design. Speaking of injury, there are 10 times more sensory neurons in fascia than muscle, which means 10 times more pain sensation comes from the fascia. Making a stretch feel nice to the client relies much more on fascial manipulation to create balance, than muscular focus. This is also why myo-fascial release is key to resolving chronic pain.

Heath and Nicole spent a long time explaining why sedentary lifestyles create immobility and long term musculoskeletal dysfunction. Aging is highly controllable by movement and expanding mental boundaries of what you believe your body is capable of. You have to practice not being fearful of breaking yourself with stretching. On the aging topic, they say you must "Prevent trouble before it arises." You should plan ahead for your old age physically just like you do financially. Genetics are not permanent because attitude, nutrition, movement and environment can change your gene expression. David Wolfe has been talking about "Epigenetics" lately too, which is the same concept. 

Another way of looking at the aging process is that your entire body, at the atomic level will be replaced in about 2 years time. We will have NONE of the atoms in our body 2 years from now, that we have today. If we get our atoms from breath, environment and food, we can see relatively quick results if we make positive choices today. (I'm kind of extrapolating from what Heath said about 2 years and new atoms, not directly quoting.)

The last thing I want to mention that I really loved about the class the other day was a quote they shared from Dr. Ida Rolf, "Movement is the physical acceptance of change." That's certainly something to meditate on!

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