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Cranial Connections

By Don McCann, MA, LMT, LMHC, CSETT

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Bringing Your Massage Therapy to the Level of Transformation

In this day and age, clients who are in pain are seeking rapid relief and rehabilitation long term. Many have turned to massage and unfortunately have not had the relief they are seeking. Sometimes, it's because the body just takes time to heal but unfortunately, more often than not, it's because the massage therapist does not have the knowledge and skills to help the client achieve long lasting and significant changes early in the treatment. In essence, what clients are seeking is a transformation in their body that relieves their pain and dysfunction.

The term "transformation" is often misunderstood. According to Webster's dictionary, to transform is to "change in composition or structure, change in character and condition, change in potential, a major change in form, to change outward form or appearance or to become transformed." From this definition and from what our clients are seeking, it's obvious that you can be agents of transformation. For many therapists, the first step is to transform your thinking. If your massage therapy is not already producing transformation with your clients, then looking at the way you are thinking and what you believe should be your first step. Often you will find that you continue to apply the same techniques repeatedly for your clients' conditions with limited results. If you continue to do the same thing, you will continue to have the same results.

The first major shift in thinking is not to be satisfied with either short term or minimal results. Look beyond and entertain the thought of, "what am I missing in treating this client?" This is a transformed thinking process. If you keep your mind open and continue to search for answers by looking at different modalities and by just keeping an open mind to other possibilities of massage therapy treatment that are available for clients, you are open to discover new potential solutions.

metamorphosis - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The second shift is to examine what you are thinking about your clients' potential for rehabilitation. If you are thinking that no matter what the condition is they can only get so much better, you are not seeing their full possibilities for maximum rehabilitation. One of the biggest mistakes is to buy into diagnosis. The process of making a diagnosis is to: Separate, Identify and Name.

If you look at the capitalized letters of the process of diagnosis, they spell SIN. Unfortunately, many massage therapists will see a diagnosis and not see the possibility of recovery beyond the defined expected outcomes. What is usually missing with a diagnosis is a dynamic path to healing and rehabilitation. What you see is a concrete term that fixes the expected outcomes and possibilities. Stepping outside of a diagnosis and paying attention to client symptoms and their causes leads to successful maximum rehabilitation for the client. This will open the path outside of the box of the diagnosis allowing you to see the potential for rapid and long term recovery. A transforming thought here is to have a high goal to hold for all your clients. The goal to use is that clients can return to their normal life activities pain free.

The third shift in your thinking is to step outside the box of your present mind set and look for new solutions for your clients. When doing this, you will transform your way of thinking and open your mind to new possibilities.

With an open mind, entertaining the possibilities for your client's maximum rehabilitation, you can now look at the actual therapies and modalities you are using and ask the following questions:

  • When I have applied this therapy or modality, has it met my clients' needs for pain relief, function and maximum rehabilitation?
  • Is the expected outcome from this therapy or modality pain relief, function and maximum rehabilitation?
  • Will this therapy or modality produce long term pain relief, function and maximum rehabilitation?
  • What are the components of this therapy or modality that will create significant change in the body of my client for pain relief, function and maximum rehabilitation?
  • Does this therapy or modality make sense for this client?

When examining therapies that have already been applied, it is necessary not to keep going down the same therapy pathway if you are not seeing results and the client is not rehabilitating or feeling better. These results can be seen in changes of structure, conditions of soft tissue (ischemia, trigger points, inflammation or atrophy), muscle and fascia organization and contraction, scar tissue/adhesions, and overall function as seen in strength and balance. Positive changes here mean that the therapies and modalities you are applying are achieving client goals. If there are no positive changes, then either modifying of the therapies and modalities or finding and applying new ones is crucial.

Even if some changes are taking place, does it appear that the client will reach maximum pain relief, function and rehabilitation? For maximum pain relief, function and rehabilitation to be achieved you need to know the expected outcomes from the application of the therapies and modalities and how they apply directly to the clients' conditions that you are treating. If you cannot expect maximum relief of pain, increase in function and a client's return to normal life activities pain free, you need to either change or expand the techniques you are using for the client.

Does the client have improvements that only last for a short period? The components of any modality or therapy need to be able to produce long term positive changes in the condition of the soft tissue, structural balance, release of myofascial holding patterns, changes in the muscle length, strength and function, release of adhesion and normalizing of scar tissue. If they don't, then they either need to be expanded with the addition of modalities or therapies that will produce long term changes or not applied as a therapeutic answer for the client.

The client's condition, age, overall health and tolerance for therapy need to be evaluated, as well as the clients' desire to get better. If the client's condition is such that the application of therapy will not help them recover, then some form of palliative care would be appropriate. The client's age is a tricky one as some of my clients in their 90s have tolerated and benefitted immensely from structural balancing and deep myofascial work. However, there have been a few who are in the last years of their lives, or accepting their conditions due to old age, so the structural transformational therapies would be inappropriate and not in line with the clients' goals. There are also times when major changes for clients with extreme health challenges are not possible. In these cases, it's better for the client to use all their energies for meeting their health challenges. An example is stage four cancer when going for a structural transformational change for a low back issue would be inappropriate and palliative care would better serve the client's needs. The client's tolerance for the sensation to deep work also needs to be considered. If the client cannot tolerate deep work, then transformational work may be limited.

Paradigm For Transformational Change

Start with the Cranial/Structural Core Distortion Releases (CSCDR) which brings into weight bearing support the relationship of the sacrum and ilium ( hip complex), equalizes the leg lengths, brings support to the spine which minimizes curvatures, takes the twist out of the thorax and mobilizes and balances the cranial motion. In addition, it adds strength and function to the muscles that are compromised by the core distortion throughout the body. This is about 50% of the muscles operating at 50% efficiency and function prior to the release of the core distortion. Every joint of the body has at least one muscle group operating under this limitation until the CSCDR is applied for rehabilitation and maximum performance potential.

Apply specialized myofascial release techniques that will release the old myofascial holding patterns that were present with the core distortion. This will also release inflammation, ischemia and trigger points that are chronically present. Once the fascia has started to change and soften, additional deeper myofascial strokes can be used to lengthen the individual muscles and fascia, release and soften adhesions and normalize scar tissue.

Restore normal energy flows that were blocked by chronically tightened tissues and release old stored emotions and behavior patterns that distort the body. The release of old emotional behavior patterns supports the long term changes and the clients' well-being.

With these significant changes in clients' bodies transformation of the clients' conditions from pain and dysfunction to leading normal life activities pain free is attainable long term. If you are a therapist who wants to have your clients experience transformation from their painful structural imbalances that limit their lives, then transforming the way you think and work is the solution.

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