Working with forward head: myofascial release

Read the first post in this series here. My notes are at the end of this post. ~ MaryAnn

by Cate Radebaugh

So, I had another ‘forward head position’ appointment with Mary Ann. She is very excited about the new Zero Balancing work she’s learned and briefly contemplated adding that to this session, but decided against it. Myofascial release it was.


Notice that Cate’s ear is in front of the middle of her shoulder. The SCM runs from behind her ear to her chest. 

First, she took a picture of my neck so we can all track my progress.

Then, because this is “take some of your clothes off and cover up with a sheet” work, that’s what I did. (Those sheets are so soft. They’re made of microfiber. I suggest you get some for yourself. Or go do work with Mary Ann, because they’re part of the treat. Now back to the forward head thingy.)

One of the advantages of working with Mary Ann is she shares her knowledge about bodies with her clients as she’s working on them. I feel on speaking terms with some of my muscles now.

Two big ones are the sternocleidomastoids, SCMs for short. They run from my mastoid processes – the two bumps behind my ears at the base of my skull – down my neck and attach to my collarbones and sternum, and are what turn and nod my head.

Then there are the trapezius muscles, which attach to the base of the skull, run down the back of the neck, and attach to the shoulder blades and back.

And then there are the scalene muscles, three on each side, that sound like Italian brothers and do I don’t remember what. I do remember Mary Ann separating each one of them out from the others with her fingers, and it was A.Ma.Zing, as if there were many very small finger-like roots or root-like fingers elongating inside my neck like mycelium.

There were several other muscles, too, only I don’t remember their names. No matter. What’s important to me is knowing that for my head to float back up where it belongs, the muscles across my chest must open and release outward and those in the back of my neck must move down somehow.

Even more important than that is the sense of awareness I have of all these muscles, and the sense that they now have an awareness of me.

The session was so relaxing that my mind wandered somewhat, and I imagined having a great deal of money, and with it, I would purchase all MaryAnn’s appointments for two years and come every day, all day, and just do this work. I shared that with MA and she suggested that it might be a little much, as she’d done some intensive work once and it made her noodly, which wasn’t good for driving.

I said I didn’t care about that because I would be very rich, and I’d just hire a driver and someone to put me on a gurney and push me in and out of her office. Of course, the intent of this work is to stand up straight, not ride a gurney around Austin, so never mind.

The session would have been perfect except for two things. I shared with MaryAnn my assumption that as my head came back where it belonged, the ‘C’ in my neck would straighten. She got a somber expression on her face, and I knew bad news was coming.

“Your neck is completely normal,” she said. Yeah, well, so are my feet, which are yuge.

And as I was preparing to leave, we were talking about relaxation and she spontaneously shared with me that sometimes, when clients relax, they fart, and then they get all tense again because they’re trying to keep that from recurring. Damn. I have intense social anxiety about farting in public, and while I hadn’t worried about it before because I hadn’t relaxed that much, you can bet I’m worried about it now.

On the other hand, when I turn my head now, or nod, I am affectionately aware of my SCMs, and I know the Scalene Brothers are in there, doing what they do, and that all feels friendly and homelike to me. I have a body, and a relationship with it, and an image of it, and all of that is coming up for me at MaryAnn’s, and maybe, just maybe, it will all be okay.

MaryAnn’s comments:

It’s such a pleasure to be working on this collaborative project with Cate!

My main techniques to help Cate’s body learn to carry her head with ease are Zero Balancing and myofascial release. I studied Tom Myers’ video Easing the Neck and use David Lauterstein’s Deep Massage techniques, which I learned in massage school. Because our sessions are brief (30 minutes), I wanted this second session to focus on myofascial release.

Zero Balancing is done fully clothed. I need to make skin contact to do myofascial release, hence undressing the part being worked.

The sheets are from Comphy, which sells to spas and has a line of home bedding as well.

I can talk about what I’m doing when I work on someone who’s interested, but it’s not required. Some sessions are mostly silent. Cate needs material!

The triplets Anthony, Marco, and Paolo Scalini side-bend the neck, lowering the ear toward the shoulder.

This is beautiful: Even more important than that is the sense of awareness I have of all these muscles, and the sense that they now have an awareness of me.

Farting is a sign you’re relaxed. It’s a good sign in the context of receiving a massage. I worry about farting when I’m giving bodywork. I guess the best that can be said is that if I’m farting, I’m relaxed, and you wouldn’t want to receive a massage from a tense therapist, would you? If we need to air out the room for either of our farts, I will do that! So just give me some warning if you need to fart. I’ll start fanning.


Come get a Zero Balancing session. It’s on me.

September 2016 newsletter sent to my Austin area mailing list. To subscribe, send your email address to mareynolds27 at gmail dot com.

Free Zero Balancing? Discounted craniosacral therapy? Read on! From MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB. Thanks from my heart for making my work possible.


The view out the window in my new office.

Free Zero Balancing!

Everyone (well, almost) likes free bodywork, right? I’m just back from Zero Balancing II training in San Antonio, where I deepened my knowledge, got lots of supervised practice and feedback, and refined my technique.

Now I’m bringing it back to you. Continue reading

Working with forward head posture: Zero Balancing and more

Note from MaryAnn: This is a guest post from someone I’ve known for nearly a decade. Years have gone by without us seeing each other, and then we reconnect, and it’s a happy occasion. She is a wonderful writer with a fascinating and fascinated mind, a perceptive presence, and a wicked sense of humor. We first did a 90-minute craniosacral therapy session with Zero Balancing, and then a 30-minute Zero Balancing session. This is the first in a series of posts about her experience receiving bodywork from me to help relieve her forward head posture and work with anything else that arises. I hope you enjoy reading these posts as we progress.

by Cate Radebaugh

Over the years, I’ve developed forward head posture. Some of it comes from many hours in front of a computer screen, and obesity and self-image issues haven’t helped any. I recently became aware, though, that carrying my head out so far in front of my body is exhausting, and my neck, shoulders, and upper back are so constricted from the constant weight that they never really relax or rest, even in sleep.

So … I went to see my friend MaryAnn Reynolds to find out if she might be able to help. I’ve already said a little about my first visit* and my second was just as interesting. It was a Zero Balancing session. I think Zero Balancing is a really funny name and an even funnier intent, because I already experience moments of what I think of as zero balance and would just as soon not. MaryAnn’s Zero Balancing is different from that. In fact, it seems to be something of antidote. Continue reading

Gravity Pal, a low angle inversion table, makes a difference in a minute a day

I just had the pleasure of taking Zero Balancing II training in my pursuit of skill and finesse in my bodywork practice. Jamie Carmody was an excellent teacher, her lovely San Antonio studio well located, and my fellow students a delight to learn with, practice with, and get to know.

For more about Zero Balancing, go here. I’m getting ready to send out a newsletter with some sweet special offers, including one for Zero Balancing that will be impossible to resist for wellness-seekers in the Austin area. If you’d like to subscribe and get in on this time-limited offer, please send your email address to me at mareynolds27 at gmail dot com.

If you haven’t yet encountered it, you’re probably wondering what Zero Balancing is. My description is that it lets you feel like you’d feel without habitual tension patterns or the constant pressure of gravity pulling you down. Younger? Taller? Lighter? Buzzing with healthy energy? Can you even imagine feeling like this? I invite you to come get a session, or two or three, and find out how it affects your body.

Continue reading

Cashew-tamari-garlic dressing, like Wheatsville’s but even healthier

Austin is blessed by the presence of Wheatsville Food Co-op, an institution that has operated in this fair city since 1976. A food co-op is a business structure that people join by paying a one-time fee. They then become actual owners of the co-op, voting on the board of directors and if there is sufficient profit, receiving rebates. Wheatsville offers its owners special deals, owner appreciation days (10% off any one shopping trip four times a year), is very responsive to requests, and more.

I could go on about Wheatsville and how awesome it is. Local, organic produce and meat, an amazing bulk section — I am so grateful Wheatsville exists, and I’m happy to be a member. Click the link above to learn more, and put a stop there on your to-do list when visiting Austin.

But what I want this blog post to be about is their amazing cashew-tamari-garlic dressing. It is savory amplified ten times. So good. And it’s thick enough to use as a dip that will make kids love to eat their veggies. Continue reading

Quick sweet dessert with raw cacao

Having given up sugar (well, almost), there are those times when I need to satisfy a craving for something powerfully tasty and sweet. Usually it’s post-dinner that I get that feeling that a little something sweet would be satisfying. And my favorite sweets are those that contain chocolate.

So once every couple of weeks when that craving hits, I add these ingredients (all organic if available):

  • raw cacao
  • coconut oil
  • maple syrup

into a small bowl, stirring to mix. Continue reading

I’m moving my private practice!

Update: I’ll be seeing people in the new space starting August 16.


I’m leaving 827 W. 12th Street, where I’ve done my private massage and bodywork practice since October 2012, except for outcalls and occasional work at my trailer.

I’m moving my office to 5524 Bee Cave Road, Suite G1, in Westlake Hills. I’ve been offered an opportunity to relocate to a suite to be shared with two craniosacral therapists whose skills and integrity I greatly admire, Nina Davis and Christian Current.

Workwise, I find myself more drawn toward craniosacral therapy. I start the classical Upledger training in August. I’ve already completed Ryan Hallford’s trainings in classical craniosacral therapy, and the Upledger training will be an expansion on that. I plan to complete Ryan Hallford’s biodynamic training this fall, and I plan to study biodynamic CST with Michael Shea when he returns to Austin next year. Beyond that, there’s more, but my path hasn’t become clear yet. Continue reading

Homemade red cabbage sauerkraut

I just made my second batch of sauerkraut with a head of red cabbage. I’m getting into this, and I will never buy sauerkraut in a store again. It’s so easy and gratifying to make at home.

The first time, I used half a head of green cabbage, wakame (seaweed), and salt. It was good. Not that juicy, so I added a bit of sauerkraut juice from a jar of Bubbie’s!

This time, I used only two ingredients: cabbage and salt, and followed these easy steps: Continue reading

Working from home in the mornings

This morning I got a call from a client I hadn’t seen in a while, wondering if she could get an appointment for bodywork sooner rather than later because she had been experiencing the misery of muscle spasms.

She lives somewhere in south Austin, and I live in Manchaca, and depending on how far south someone lives, it can be more convenient to come to my trailer rather than drive to my downtown studio.  Continue reading

Rebuilding tooth enamel after drinking water with lemon

I wanted to remineralize my tooth enamel after drinking water with lemon and noticing my teeth had become so sensitive it was scary. Drinking it first thing in the morning had softened my enamel, and by brushing my teeth not long after drinking it, I was literally brushing my enamel away.

My previous post from a couple of years ago contains many suggestions on how to drink water with lemon safely, preventing a loss of enamel.

After writing that post, I started researching how I could rebuild my tooth enamel. Now this is not something most dentists will tell you is even possible. There is no hard scientific evidence, and as far as I know, dentists do not receive any training on the effects of diet on teeth except for the connection between sugar and cavities.

Fortunately, one dentist did extensive research. More on him below.  Continue reading