Pelvic rehab update: getting bodywork, exercises, kinesiotaping

A couple of weeks ago, my advanced program class at Lauterstein-Conway Massage School did our final exam for the orthopedic massage training. We were assigned a partner in the class, and our job was to interview them, observe, palpate, check range-of-motion, and do special tests if needed to identify the tissues involved.

Then we treated them, and they did the same for us.

My partner, James, did a great job of reassessing my pelvic alignment, first done back on June 22 by our teacher, Jan Hutchinson, PT/LMT. I’ve been wearing a sacroiliac belt around my hips much of the time since then. My hips feel tighter, and my walk has changed for the better. I rarely feel much discomfort at the left SI joint any more.

But I’m still not there. I still had a slight lateral tilt, an anterior tilt, with the left innominate having more of an anterior tilt than the right, and the pubis was also tilted. James watched me walk and could see that it affects my gait.

James applied what we’ve learned in the class. Since the bones are supported by the muscles, we learned techniques to length and shorten muscles to move bones into better alignment.

By the end of his treatment, he retested me. Everything was aligned. No tilts! Good job, James! Continue reading

Orthopedic massage for injuries and conditions

In the Advanced Program at the Lauterstein-Conway Massage School, I’m currently in the segment learning Orthopedic Massage, as taught by Jan Hutchinson, PT, LMT, and assisted by Lizabeth Franklin, LMT extraordinaire.

I feel very fortunate to be able to get this training, because I’m learning how to work on specific soft tissue injuries and ailments beyond simply relieving muscle tension. It’s very different from a full-body Swedish/integrative massage in that the focus of a session is on the injured/ailing part rather than working on the full body. I’ll get a history of the injury, observe, palpate, do range-of-motion and resistance tests, and treat.

foot milagroSo far, I’ve learned techniques for working on plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and anterior compartment syndrome.

I just learned some fabulous foot exercises to teach for homework that can help strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet, the ones that don’t get used much because we wear shoes and walk on hard, flat surfaces all day. Using these muscles can prevent and relieve many foot issues.

Some of you are first-hand familiar with these conditions/injuries, and I want you to know that while I am in this program, I’m offering half price sessions so I can put into practice what I’ve learned in class. I’m a pretty good student, so you’ll get your money’s worth. If you are in the Austin area, I’d sure like to see you on my table.  Continue reading

Check out my new massage therapy website!

Here’s the link: http://http://thewell.massagetherapy.com/home. And if you don’t mind, while you’re there, please click a “share” button on the left or a “follow” button at top right. It helps with search engine rankings.

The Well website

This is just a screenshot! Click the link to view the actual website!

It’s a work in progress, but it is complete enough at present to go public with it. I’ll be adding images, videos, and more as I have time.  Continue reading

Report on effective treatments for fibromyalgia

A few folks with fibromyalgia have come to me for bodywork. Fibromyalgia, if you don’t know, is a condition of chronic pain with tender points located in various places on the body.

There’s a lot of mystery about it. It used to be thought by doctors to be “all in the head” (which basically means they don’t know, so it must exist just in your mind), but we know better now. A couple of years ago, scientists pinpointed the cause.

In my bodyworker role, I’ve noticed that some fibromyalgia sufferers prefer very light touch, while others prefer medium pressure and don’t mind, in fact prefer it, if I do deep tissue work in the tensest, tightest places, such as the upper trapezius. Continue reading

He said, “Why aren’t you a craniosacral therapist?”

Years before I went to massage school, I received monthly craniosacral therapy sessions from Nina Davis for 2-3 years. I didn’t know what craniosacral therapy was, exactly, but I figured that between trauma, head injuries, sacrum injuries, and scoliosis in my spine, that any kind of bodywork that focused on the cranium, sacrum, and points in between was going to be good for me. I asked who was good. Nina was recommended.

And it was good for me! Continue reading

Student massages at TLC

I’ll be doing my 50-hour internship at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School starting in December and ending in early February. I’ve created a page on my blog, Massage Internship Schedule, where you can see my schedule so that if you like, you can schedule a massage with me.

The school and clinic are located at 4701-B Burnet Road, behind Phoenicia Bakery, in central Austin. Student massages are $35 for 60-minutes, no tipping allowed.

Regular massage — weekly, biweekly, monthly, or every six weeks — not only feels good, it’s very therapeutic for the body. It lessens stress, pain, back aches, injuries, headaches, and fatigue.

Regular massage reduces blood pressure, improves circulation, strengthens the immune system, elevates mood, and relaxes. It stimulates the nervous system and helps maintain general health.

Plus, it feels good!

Ninety percent of doctor visits are stress-related. Imagine what getting a regular massage — very affordable at this rate — could do for your health and well-being.

I’d love to see you there and work on you.

Massage, brainwaves, NLP, work, yoga, women in prison, Gurdjieffian book group, trailer, and more

Life is going pretty well. Knock wood, right?

I’m doing well in massage school. Got in some great practice on three people outside of school this past Wednesday, ahead of Thursday’s practical exam. I have a major written test next week and then a week off. It’s hard to believe that I’m about halfway through!

Tomorrow it will be three months since I finished brainwave optimization. I am glad I did it. I feel more centered, my memory is better, and so is my focus. It’s been worth the expense, and I can still go back for individual sessions if I feel the need. It’s been helpful with juggling school/trailer/moving/remodeling/working and so on.

I’m looking forward to doing some gamma wave enhancement when my trainer Gigi Turner at NeuroBeginnings is ready and I have time.

Also, I can have a drink now! You are warned not to drink alcohol during the training and for three months afterward. Kinda makes me wonder what alcohol actually does to the brain. Any drinking I do will be very light — my alcohol tolerance is low.

I did an NLP session with a friend today and picked up a freelance writing/editing job for her website! This is my second recent website writing job. I love doing this for people who have created and are running their small businesses that make the world a better, healthier place, people who are living their passions. I’m looking for more work like that.

I posted my technical writing resume on Monster.com a couple of weeks ago. I’m looking to work 20 hours a week at most, flex-time and telecommuting preferred. Meanwhile, I’m open to doing freelance writing and editing, as well as more yoga and NLP coaching.

I’d love to teach yoga out of my trailer to individuals or small groups (up to 4 max). I’m putting this out there so if you know anyone in South Austin who’d like a small class with more personal attention, you can refer them to me.

I’m considering teaching a donation-only class on Saturday mornings until the weather gets cold. I plan to check out Searight Park in my neighborhood as a possible location. I have Sun Salutations on my mind!

I’ve been attending a weekly class in Anusara yoga at Castle Hill taught by Brigitte Edery or Liz Belile, both great teachers who stimulate and challenge the mind and body. It’s a natural segue from my Iyengar-based training. Love the attention to awareness.

Next week I’m going with Keith Fail into the state prison in Lockhart to teach some basic NLP to women in prison, as part of Truth Be Told‘s Exploring Creativity program. We’ll teach triple description — first, second, and third position, like first, second, and third person in English class, only applying it to your real life. Perceptual flexibility is a fabulous skill to teach, and I’m looking forward to it.

I’m participating in a book group, reading Life in the Labyrinth, by E.J. Gold. This is my first foray into the Gurdjieffian lineage, not counting my longtime interest in the Enneagram. The group has been meeting for a while, and I’m honored to have been invited. We take turns reading aloud, covering a chapter a week, and enjoying some stimulating discussion.

I’ve signed up for a one-day workshop at Lauterstein-Conway later this month on cranio-sacral massage. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I received CST every month for 2-3 years from Nina Davis. It is a fascinating branch on the massage family tree.

Week after next, I’m trading two hours of Swedish massage, with all the extras, for a two-hour lomi lomi (Hawaiian style) massage with James Moore. Really looking forward to that! I haven’t had a lomi lomi massage yet but have read about the Hawaiian healers who have kept this art alive.

Last, the trailer. I’m working on finding the best weatherstripping for the aluminum jalousie windows — something that will last that I can buy in bulk for the 48 windows, which have had the old, melted weatherstripping painstakingly removed.

Then, I hope to replace the nonworking sliding glass doors at the entry with something that works and build an entry deck. I’ve been using the back door to come and go.

Oh, and I must share this! August 2011 was the hottest month in the hottest year on record in Austin. It was also my first full month of having AC in the trailer. Friends have been telling me about their outrageous electric bills — as much as $400.

My AC ran nearly all day every day in August. I worried about my bill being outrageous.

The August bill was $100. Whew! Jon Esquivel at Austin Star Services did a good job getting a good unit in this trailer. For that I am grateful.

Other tasks coming up include plumbing and wiring my shed for a washer and dryer, getting some good window coverings and installing them, and planting more trees and a fall garden with some edible landscaping.

I am really, really loving my life now and the direction it’s going. It’s scary to make a big change in direction like I did, and it is working out well. Knock wood!

Blindfolded massage, looking at and seeing

Yesterday my class at Lauterstein-Conway Massage School did blindfolded massage.

We’re in the 11th week of our studies (going 3 full days a week) and have learned Swedish massage, range-of-motion and stretching, body mobilization techniques, friction and melting, and pressure points.

At this point, we have the Swedish techniques down pretty well. I am still remembering when to integrate the other techniques. To do it all would take a couple of hours. Also important is learning to do the extra work just where the client most needs it.

I’ve decided that I do not like to give massages that are less than 90 minutes. This is from someone who got 60-minute massages for years. Now that I know what massage therapists have to omit to give a 60-minute massage, I see that I’ve missed out on some real juiciness! No more!

I will have my third Swedish practical exam tomorrow. I’m practicing today on a couple of friends.

Back to blindfolded massage. We students paired off and practiced on each other. The connection was so different.

With no visual distractions, the world takes on a different shape. Massaging the back becomes a journey through a landscape, with plains, valleys, mesas, hills, loamy ground, rocky areas, escarpments (and forests on some). Without seeing, the palm and fingers gain insight.

What if at the end of each finger, on the very tip, there is an invisible light shining out, showing the way? What if the entire hand is a light?

A very interesting thing occurred. It’s been difficult to give a massage in 60 minutes since learning the bells and whistles. Our instructor told us several times during the blindfolded massage how much time we had left. Both my partner, Robin, and I finished on time (albeit omitting the abdomen and face), and it looked like most everyone else did too.

I’ve written before about focused and peripheral vision. Foveal (focused) vision is narrow. (I remember this from the book The Open-Focus Brain, and I’ve written about the 12 states of attention as well.)

Looking at (focused) and seeing (peripheral) are different states. One is more stressful, tied to the sympathetic, fight-or-flight nervous system, and the other is more relaxed, tied to the parasympathetic, rest-or-digest nervous system.

Without using vision at all, functioning mainly through touch, time condenses to the present moment.

Robin noticed that I stopped several times, once on each limb, she said. I remember needing to really feel into it. Apparently some others did too.

I also learned not to do anything where feedback from seeing the person’s face is valuable, such as during stretches and when working on the neck. Fortunately, Robin saved herself from me!

Also, draping (sheet placement) was more difficult blindfolded. Robin did well draping me, so I know it can be done.

Wish me luck on my practical exam Thursday and second written exam next Thursday! Then I’ll have a week off.

Body presence and awareness

This morning I was standing in line at the post office, and I could not stop making small movements as I stood. Shifting my weight from one foot to the other, letting my spine ripple up from the sacrum up, I became deeply aware of my muscular body, how muscles and connective tissue wrap around the bones and each other, and my body’s relationship with gravity and movement.

Today I have a sense that I have moved into my body more fully and become more physically present, more alive with more awareness. 

I like it.

I’m guessing this is a benefit of going to massage school and receiving/giving several massages a week as well as the last few years of working on my physical body with multiple healing modalities including yoga and shaking medicine.

The brain training I did in June could also be a factor, since changes continue for several months afterwards.

I’ve been lucky enough a couple of periods in my life to be able to afford a monthly full-body massage, and for several years to receive 15- to 30-minute massages at work once or twice a week. Massage is a great antidote for tension and stress, and it’s so beneficial if you can receive it regularly. 

We were told early on at massage school that we will receive 70 or so massages during the six months of training, and that that will change us.

I believe it. I feel more connected and present in my body already.

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Today another HVAC expert looked at my Spartan trailer. I think I’ve found someone who can fix me up with a central heat and air unit using the existing closet and ductwork. He’s emailing me a bid, and once I crunch the numbers, I can make a decision and move forward.

It’s been so hot, it’s hard to work more than a few hours early in the day before needing some relief.

I’m making decisions today about the bathroom — tub surround, wall covering, vanity, sink, faucets, and more.

Progress is slower than I thought, and the decisions are worth getting right.

Spartan Carousel has arrived!

Just a quick note — my Spartan Carousel trailer arrived in Austin yesterday morning and is now set up in its space in the trailer park!

It was there on an extendable flatbed at 8 am yesterday, and a local company unloaded it and put it in place (and charged too much for something that my handyman could have done for much less with his truck.)

Here it is, still on the flatbed, at 8 a.m. yesterday. It has a sign on the rear: OVERSIZE LOAD. Fred, the driver, said lots of people were curious about it during the journey here.

It was wonderful to finally see it in person. Getting it here has taken so long — I bought it in February, waited for 10 weeks for the state of Washington to issue a clear title, and then floodwaters made it impossible for a truck to get to it to begin the journey, until last week.

At times it felt like it would never happen, that I was stuck in a dream.

And then, after months, it arrived — on the same day as my first class at The Lauterstein-Conway School of Massage. (I was late and will have to make it up, but it was worth it to see the trailer in place at last.)

Was that a powerful coincidence or what? In redesigning my life in terms of home and livelihood, who would ever have guessed these two events would occur on the same day?

I’m choosing to interpret it as confirmation from The Universe.

If you’re interested, Swan Transportation (Dan Rogers) managed the transportation, and Fred of Speedway Express was the driver of the extendable flatbed. I bought it through Vintage Campers.

An aside: The trailer park manager’s father used to haul Spartans all over the country back before production ended. He said he thought this trailer would have made it just fine behind a truck with good tires, wheel bearings, and hitch.

He also shared a story about a Spartan the size of this one that was specially built for a Saudi oil tycoon. The trailer had “gold-plated everything” and carpet 2″ thick. He hauled it from Tulsa to Corpus Christi, Texas, for shipping to Saudi Arabia.

Drawers had slid out onto the floor during transit, and the rear end is dinged up, but it appears to be pretty intact. We’ll know more tomorrow.

It really needs a good scrubbing — the windows are filthy and there’s a lot of dust. It probably sat for a long time without a human.

Ian has leveled it. It is hooked into the septic system, but he found at least one leak in the water lines. We’re meeting tomorrow to check out the propane system/cooktop/wall oven, figure out a solution to the water leak, and get the electricity turned on and wiring checked out. And start taking the original floor coverings off.

I’m glad to have Ian since I’m in class 3 days a week, and I booked to work with a website client this weekend, before I knew it would be here. After I finish that job, when I’m not in class, I’ll be practicing massage or working on this trailer, getting it livable so I can finally move in later this summer.

It won’t be finished when I move in, but it will be functional.

Here’s the awesome roundish kitchen with skylight. The cool Sputnik light fixture was hanging by the wires, and you can see debris spilled onto the floor from a drawer that slid out — nuts and bolts and screws, etc. (There’s also a closet in the bedroom full of window screens and the frames to the original sliding glass doors.)

Below, Ian is holding up the curtains at the front window wall. That ceiling fan is going to have to go. He bumped his head on it. Not a problem for me, but not kind to tall people.

You can see the birch paneling on the ceiling and the walnut paneling on the walls. I’m not a fan of the walnut and may replace it with birch — this trailer calls for a pale wood on the walls, the better to reflect all that light.

Note the heat register in the floor. It may be possible to add central heat and air conditioning… It currently only has a fuel oil furnace, useless in Austin.

Here’s me in the bedroom looking into the large mirror of the vanity. You can see the electrical box on the left. It will probably be moved. At the right is the hall to the kitchen. The rear entry is just out of the frame to the left. You can see the original pink refrigerator, which has a wide freezer at the top and two lazy-susan shelves. I really hope it still works!

Still haven’t decided whether to create a separate blog just for the trailer. I’m feeling like I’ll just post here for a while since my days have become so full. Maybe once the remodeling is done, I’ll put up a separate site.