About a month ago I decided to take a day-long course titled: Advanced Myofascial Mastery. It was taught by a guy by the name of Til Luchau who has been a bodyworker for over 30 years, and who is highly respected in his field.
The course was not what I was expecting.
Instead of a workshop on techniques (though we did learn a few), it was more of a philosophy course. The aim of bodywork, they said, should not be to think that we as massage therapists are moving muscle and tissue and making large physical changes in the patient’s body. We are not moving mountains here, but this is the prevailing assumption.
Studies have come out that show that massage therapy does little to change the structure of muscle and connective tissue. But it makes us feel better, so what then is it actually doing?
The aim, they continued, should be to engage the nervous system. That is where the pain lies. Sure there are muscle knots and muscle tension, but the nervous system is the underlying structure that controls that tension and how we perceive it. The nervous system is the computer of the body, in a sense.
Trauma, injury, pain and tension get left in the nervous system when we experience these things without releasing them. Our body is a series of circuits, and when we feel pain (electricity) we are conditioned to wince, to hold on, and to guard the area so that when the sensation runs through our nerves, we block its motion; it gets stuck inside of us.
What we can do, as massage therapists, is to gently persuade the nervous system to open up. To let that electricity pass through and move.
We can slowly coax that tension away not by force—jamming our elbow into your back to extinguish the knot—but by remaining present with the tension and most importantly, allowing you, the person on the table, to engage their nervous system and allow it to release the pain.
To feel is to heal. It’s not about us being healers or having magic hands, it’s about facilitating your body’s natural healing mechanism, and helping it along its way.
That’s why chiropractic works the way it does. An adjustment that realigns the spine directly affects how we perceive pain. With massage and chiropractic combined, we can gently persuade you into a more whole state of health.