Walking Like a Penguin
Continuing education classes, they say! I traveled to Raleigh NC for my first SMRT (Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique), taught by Dawn Lewis. I was surrounded by massage therapists of all backgrounds: prior physical therapists, accountants, working in spas, having home practices, working from inside gyms and chiropractors offices. Most therapists had been practicing upwards of 5-10 years and some over 20 years.
The knowledge and skillsets were BUZZING. So here I was, less than a year into my career and telling all these veterans that I had already opened my own business...within 3 months of getting my license!
I guess you could say I have a thirst for knowledge. In massage school I learned "the basics," and my foundation in various healthcare and fitness avenues gave me an edge coming out of school. But, I knew there was plenty more to learn in clinical assessment, and a faster route to pain relief. Sure, I can give deep tissue for those that seek it. But over and over again, I find that "beating the muscles into submission" is not an effective way to "release" the muscles. Sometimes a person's nervous system just does not want to let that muscle relax. Think of someone trying to rip the blankets off of you when it's freezing cold, you're sick, you haven't had a full night's sleep in weeks, and FINALLY you in a deep cozy sleep. Suddenly someone rips the blanket off you, because it's 16 hours later and THEY think you should get up. What are you going to do? Clutch the blanket as hard as you can and probably throw a pillow at them! This is the exact reaction your body can have against someone trying to "force" the muscle to relax. It might feel good in the moment, but your body can put up an even stronger "guard" and create an even larger problem in that area, requiring more "force" to release that muscle, and the cycle repeats.
So what's the alternative? Enter, SMRT. It works WITH the body's natural
movement patterns to give it permission to relax. For example, imagine you are reaching for your charger cord that fell behind your bed. You're reaching as hard as you can and you just can't seem to get it. Now, would you rather someone reach up from below and hand it to you, or pull your fingers down to the ground, making your head smack into the wall on the way? Probably the first one, right? SMRT is that "helping hand" that tells your body "here, I got you." What does SMRT feel like? SMRT is a very subtle technique and some people may not feel anything. Others may feel some compression in their joints, and a sense of "ahhhh, that agrees with my body". The first time I received SMRT I didn't feel much. However, by the third time I received SMRT, I felt significant changes. On the third day I felt taller, and like my ribs could expand more and I could stand with better posture. My shoulders and thoracic spine could extend further backwards. After one of the treatments on the pelvis, I actually got up from the table and was walking like a penguin. My body couldn't figure out how to take a full length stride! I wasn't in pain, I didn't feel any negative sensation whatsoever, it was just as though my body couldn't figure out out how to walk. By the time I went to lunch about 5 minutes later I was walking normally. If that's not a testament to the degree of change that this technique can evoke, I don't know what is! Since the treatment 3 days ago I notice that my hip pain is significantly less. I don't have the usual tightness in my upper back. And I still feel the same "taller, more open" posture, so it's refreshing that the work is sticking.
There are plenty more classes to take on SMRT. So far I have learned techniques for the hips, lower back, and abdomen. (Did she just say abdomen?) Yes, abdominal work should not be neglected. Anyone who has had surgery in their abdomen, pregnancy, or sits at a desk for work is likely to benefit from work on the abdominal muscles and fascia. Remember, this is gentle work, so there will never be any elbows in your belly. I look forward to adding SMRT into your massage session to get targeted results for what your body needs to take you through life in the fullest and healthiest way possible!