1. Listen to your client. They are telling you their truth and in it is how to help them. 2. If a client cannot tell me what makes them better or what makes them worse, we will not make a very good team. 3. Pain is a the body’s indicator. It doesn’t necessarily tell us where or what. More like a check engine light. Get to the shop now. 4. Structure and symmetry are important, if not more than I thought in the beginning. 5. If you find something that works- stick with it. 6. If something doesn’t work, throw it out for now. But remember to add it back into your life as soon as you can. 7. Function for each person means something completely different. That is ultimately the goal- to move freely doing the things you love. 8. It takes a village. We need lots of good practitioners in our life to keep us moving at our best. 9. I still love an eclectic approach. Sometimes a solution really needs a different tool. 10. Find what you need to heal and put it in place. As we reflect on this past year, I extend my gratitude to all of my clients and mentors for their teachings. Remember to celebrate your own body daily! And listen to it’s messages.
As I approach my bodywork practice’s 15th birthday, reflection seems inevitable.
Does it always take an ‘aha’ moment and a detour in your path to make a big life change? At the time I began massage school, I had been practicing orthopaedic physical therapy with a hands-on approach for almost a decade. Healthcare was in an updated version of managed care, and we were being asked to see double the number of patients of only one year ago. Combating this chaos, I choose to race my bike at the highest level I could.
The Tour of the Gila, a five day stage race in the mountains of southern New Mexico, was calling my name. In order to make this happen, I knew I had to improve my descending skills if I was to stand a chance against an elite women’s field. To hone my skills, I signed up for the Carpenter/Phinney bike camp in Frisco, Colorado. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be a kid all over again. Under the skilled reins of, Olympic gold medalist Connie Carpenter, and Team 7-Eleven sprinter extraordinaire Davis Phinney, I got the skills I needed, and of course so much more.
On day 2 of bike camp, we set off to summit and descend Vail pass. My task was to stay with my ride leader so that I could get some one-on-one pointers on the tricky downhill. It was a magical day as I witnessed, a 7-Eleven teammate, Ron Keifel literally dance down the tight, steep switchbacks of the narrow descent. As we flew down the long downhill into town, my descending skills were forever changed. The rest of our group was still behind us, and as they went down this fast hill, a few riders connected wheels and hit the road. One of them happened to be my roommate, Erin. She had a huge red and purple hematoma on her outer hip to show for her unplanned dismount.
As luck would have it, the camp guest that evening was the Team 7-Eleven soigneur from their days of racing the grand tours in Europe. Soigneur is the French word for the ‘one who provides care.’ Her livelihood had been to take care of the riders’ bodies, during those long 21 day stage races, with proper food, gear and massage. Crash or no crash, she had to make sure those cyclists were in their best form possible every day. I know this was no easy feat.
That evening, my roommate was still willing to get the massage she had signed up for before her crash. As she headed out, she spoke confidently that they wouldn’t be working on her injured area anyway. Afterwards, Erin told me in complete awe, that her hip was just about the only area that the 7-Eleven soigneur spent time on. She remarked that it had hurt a bit while she worked on it, but it already felt better. With the word, ARNICA, carefully written on a scrap piece of paper, we were off on a mission to get something neither one of us had ever heard of. After all this was a small, quirky Colorado town that did have a health food store. Sure enough, we found the arnica formulated cream that she would apply directly to her bruised area. Both of us expressed our doubts that Erin would be riding the following day, as we each had experienced just how bad you feel the day after a crash.
The next morning, reporting just a little stiffness, Erin was up, dressed and ready to roll with her group. The physical therapist and the cyclist in me were absolutely amazed. One glance at her hip, and it was clear that the work the soigneur had done had changed the bruising and the swelling in less than one day. By the end of the week, there were almost no visible signs that Erin had ever crashed. How did she do that? Without any real awareness on my part, I know that this woman’s ‘art of healing’ got stored in with my ‘aha’ moments.
Detour in the path
While I was away at bike camp, President Clinton signed the ‘Balance the Budget Act’. On my arrival back in Austin, the upheaval in the physical therapy jobs in nursing homes and home health settings was huge. Losing their jobs, these P.T.’s were scrambling for work anywhere they could get it. Our hourly rates took a 10 dollar an hour hit. How could this happen, I wondered to myself? I had gotten my first taste of the volatility that exists in our health care system.
Big life change
I answered back by enrolling in massage school, and opened my own practice immediately after graduation. September 24, 2014 will mark fifteen years. Every day, I am still astounded by the ability of the human body and spirit to heal. Each client along the way has taught me something. In the past five years of doing this work exclusively, the lessons have been exponential. I wish to express my gratitude to each and every one of you who has helped shape this amazing path. Namaste- I appreciate the spark within each of you.
“What you seek, is seeking you.”- Rumi
These words from Louise Hay are my ‘go to place’ when I am feeling overwhelmed about the care of a client or a loved one. My hope is that you too will find some comfort in the words of such a wise woman. I also try to remember that the lotus flower grows up out of the murky pond, and so can we.
To “let go” does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.
To “let go” is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another.
To “let go” is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To “let go” is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To “let go” is not to try to change or blame another, it is to make the most of myself.
To “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.
To “let go” is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies.
To “let go” is not to be protective, it is to permit another to face reality.
To “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.
To “let go” is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To “let go” is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
To “let go” is to fear less and love more.
“It’s all about where your mind is at.” —Kelly Slater, Pro Surfer
Optimal Health is available to everyone.
Health and wellness are our most valuable assets.
The whole person should be treated – mind, body, and spirit.
A compassionate and respectful partnership between client and practitioner is essential.
Clients have the right to choose their own healing path.
Healing is always possible even if there is no cure.
Passion I’ve been doing bodywork for 23 years now. It sounds like a long time, but it always feels like there is so much more to learn. Just as I peel away the layers on soft tissue issues, I feel closer to the awe that is the human body. To me, it is like getting a fireworks show every time I think about its amazing power and resilience.
Currently, the two things that inspire me most are fascia and movement. And though both have been around since I started my journey, there is a thrilling amount of new information and study coming from each of these fields. My mentors are everything to me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. So in order to further explore my ideas about the resolution of hip pain, I think it is important to look at the sources I have found to be of benefit.
Fascia Despite the fact that fascia was first described over 100 years ago by, the founder of osteopathic medicine, Andrew Taylor Still, MD, the first international fascial conference was held only five years ago in 2007. With the advances in research methods and technology, most of what Dr. Still hypothesized about fascia, is now being proven.
What is fascia? Fascia is a very densely woven covering that interpenetrates our organs, muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels. Of great significance, it is actually one continuous structural support that exists from head to toe without interruption. So truly an ankle sprain that doesn’t completely heal, can lead to headaches in your future if the fascia gets tight enough. Medicine prefers to look at the body in its parts, not in its connectedness. This is why as a bodyworker; fascia explains a lot of the clients that have fallen through the cracks in our healthcare system.
It took me until 2010 to have my own break out moment about the power of fascia. It was during a yoga workshop that I was introduced to the work of Tom Myers, the man behind Anatomy Trains. Leslie Kaminoff, of the Breathing Project, showed us a video dissection of the ‘deep front line’. And yes, just like in the movie Jerry Maguire, Tom Myers work had me at “hello.” It just tied together a lot of those loose ends.
Movement Let’s move on to the new concepts in movement. Every time I turn around there is a new functional movement guru. Currently I am drawn to the work by Gray Cook and Kelly Starrett. My thought on why functional movement is sticking now vs. previously is because we are using these tools with our professional sport teams and getting results. They are showing that by doing a functional screening on these well paid athletes that they can predict their probability of injury. It’s funny how managers seem to prefer to pay for athletes that can stay in the game at their top performance vs. on the sideline.
Fascia and Movement relating to hip pain When I do an assessment on my clients with hip pain, I usually find a combination of both fascial and movement dysfunctions. The key for me is to address them in the proper order. If you don’t have the movement due to fascial tightness, I work to get rid of the restrictions before retraining their movement. If I find an unstable joint, I get it supported with tape or bracing and start strengthening at whatever level they can manage without pain. Even if I find fascial restrictions around this instability, I must be careful as taking any more stability away from an area may hinder my client more.
Hip pain Alignment check Here I find that the pelvis, sacrum and low back may be impacting the hip. Now I have to decide if the change is due to a one time trauma that has altered the position, or that a constant postural tension with fascial restrictions has led us to where we are today. Or the truly challenging and most common is a combination of both.
Hip pain Movement Patterns The second biggest finding I have with hip pain is muscular imbalances in the hip, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. My job is to figure out if the tissue is short and fascially restricted, or overactive and just on all the time and needs to be relieved of its overactive duties, or truly just weak.
“Maybe we are all cabinets of wonders.” ~ Brian Selznick
That’s it in a nutshell. I sense more details on hip rehab next time.
Finally Hip pain Part 1 is posted! Please take a look 🙂
Hip pain: Part II will be coming up next. I’ll get into more details about the bodywork side of things as well as add some details to the rehab side of things.
If you have specific questions you would like answered, send them!
Thanks and stay cool! Stacy