Relieving forward head posture: full body myofascial release (aka Deep Massage)

This is the fourth post in a series about Cate and me partnering in bodywork to relieve her forward head posture. Click here to read the first post, here for the second, here for the third, and here for a special post about the Still Point Inducer.

by Cate Radebaugh

Since I was in Austin for several days early this week, I opted to go to MaryAnn’s on Wednesday instead of Friday. She told me that it was time for a full body myofascial massage and gave me the familiar intake paper with four sketches of a human body — front, back, and both sides — and instructions to circle where I feel discomfort, pain, tension, etc.

It’s always the same for me: neck and shoulders, lower back, and feet — so that’s where I made my circles.

Then MaryAnn went out while I undressed, got on the table, and under the sheets. I’ve had massages before, so I knew about putting my face in the little face holder, but she also had a special pillow with holes in it that I could put my breasts in, and that was wonderful, because typically, they get smooshed between me and the table, which is not so great. With my breasts in a safe space, I felt completely comfortable for the first time ever laying prone on a massage table.

Then MaryAnn came in and went to work. I remember two things really well. First, when she worked on my feet, it was like I had a line of plastic bubbles down the center of the soles from heel to ball, and she ran her fingers down those lines and popped the bubbles one by one. Each one gave off an electrical charge without the pain. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but it wasn’t unpleasant, either — just really, really odd.

Then later, when I was on my back, she pushed her thumbs or fingers into acupressure points in my shoulders called the Shoulder Wells, and that is nothing short of divine. [GB21, image courtesy of]

In between my feet and my shoulders there was pulling and pushing and this thing MaryAnn does where she pushes down with her fingers then drags them across my skin that makes me feel like play doh. She worked and worked and I kind of zoned, but honestly, I didn’t think there was much to it, though the session went on for an hour. In fact, compared to the earlier sessions, it even seemed a little dull.

And then she finished up and left the room. I stood up and went to put on my clothes, and that’s when I thought to myself, “Uh oh.”

This is hard to describe, but here goes. It was as though my body was flowing with bitterness. There was also anger and sadness, but mostly, it was bitterness. And it wasn’t in my gut or solar plexus where I typically feel things like that. It was under my skin, and it was flowing.

Now that I see that written down, I realize I’d had bitterness under my skin for years and years and didn’t even realize it. It flowed and flowed and flowed, and then MaryAnn came back in and I told her about it and she said it was flowing into the earth, and the earth was neutralizing it.

It took about an hour but it finally seemed to flow completely out and then I felt very clean, is all. Simply clean.

And that would be all there is to it, except later that afternoon, as I was walking outside, I realized that my feet were moving easily for the first time in I don’t know how many years.

MaryAnn had said they felt dried out when she worked on them. But I don’t think they are quite so dried out anymore, and though the ease of movement comes and goes, when it comes, it makes me feel like someone else entirely, someone I would like to get to know.

And in the future, I shall certainly be more respectful of “dull” sessions.

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-1-40-34-pmMaryAnn’s note: I learned full-body myofascial release from David Lauterstein, who developed Deep Massage and teaches it at Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in Austin and elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas. His book is available here.

Shoulder Well is an acupressure/puncture point (Gallbladder 21, on each shoulder) that releases shoulder pain and stress and reduces anxiety. If I could do only one thing on someone’s tight shoulders, that’s what I would do.

Bodywork can release old stagnant stuff. It dissipates, and people generally feel cleaner or lighter or better in some way afterwards, though there may be a period of discomfort that should not last too long. Breathe through it and notice it move and flow and change in quality. It’s kind of amazing when stagnation flows out of the body.

Cate’s description of bubbles on the soles of her feet is similar to what I feel. It’s like tiny bubble wrap, and I’m popping the bubbles with my fingers. I’m not sure if it’s calcification, lactic acid, or what. I just know the feet feel more fluid and resilient without the bubbles. I plan to work on Cate’s feet more.

You might be wondering why I did a full body session when Cate’s most prominent issue is forward head posture. It’s because everything is connected to everything else. Our habitual postures are deeply influenced from the feet up by the constant pressure of gravity. Deep Massage is similar to Zero Balancing in that it affects the body’s structure and energy, creating more balance, relieving chronic tension patterns, and relieving the cumulative influence of gravity.

Cate also mentioned that as of Thursday (Oct 6), she can do 5 deep squats in a row using the door handles, and that it feels completely amazing and gives her such a sense of personal power. “It’s particularly strong tonight, just because it was so much easier than yesterday.” This was homework. Kudos for being motivated, Cate. It makes a difference.


Note, 10/26/2016: Cate is working out of town providing end-of-life companionship, which is her livelihood and passion. Our sessions will resume when she returns.

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