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Thoughtful Thursday…Restorative manual therapy...my healing experience...


Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

After my first session, I felt “lighter”, able to move better, and a little woozy. Much energy shifted in my body. Injuries from long ago were being addressed, fascia manipulated, limbs stretched, and pain released.

After hearing about this healer(manual therapist) of body (and mind), I knew I had to make an appointment to address the continued and new issues I was having with my shoulder and my SI joint.

What exactly does a restorative manual therapist do? He restores mobility, improves structural balance, encourages the body to function as a whole and stimulates the body’s capacity for vitality and healing. That’s a mouthful and it doesn’t even begin to describe what the human body is capable of with the right healer.

In today’s newsletter we delve more into the practice of manual therapy and my experience.

To describe my manual therapy session is difficult to put into words. However, I will try, as this may be something you could benefit from this form of therapy (actually I think anyone would benefit from it). It was a combination of many things that ultimately “unstuck” fascia (connective tissue) and muscles that had been trapped potentially for years. A more formal definition of manual therapy is a specialized treatment approach that consists of ‘hands-on’ techniques designed to mobilize joints, muscles, connective tissue and nerves in order to facilitate healing and restore function.

My therapist described it that my fascia was “congested”. Congested indeed. One of my legs was shorter than they other, tight muscle were restricting my movement. My left shoulder, also tight and had restrictive movement. Congested fascia was pulling or rotating my shoulders forward.

After the therapist observed my movement, range of motion, and listened to me explain injuries and things going on in my life (stress and emotions do play a factor). He then “mapped out” what was going on with my tissue. This involved moving into certain positions, muscles being “worked”, and stretching and moving. Was this painful? At times, yes, many knots many years. It is established on a scale of 1 to 10 how much pain we should have before saying, no mas por favor. However, there was some pain and I was cued to take deep breaths. Basically (in my words and interpretation) “feel” through the pain, feel through tightness and allow it to be released.

A reassessment of my movement was done and I saw and felt marked improvement. Much energy got moved around in my body, similar to a massage, which left me feeling a bit “woozy”. Hydration will help with that so I made sure to get lots of water afterwards.

After that session, I felt so opened up. Good cracking sounds coming from my back and shoulders. I. Just. Felt. Good. It was amazing! Thinking about what he said, that even an injury that happened years ago can still have an impact on us. My left shoulder injury that occurred years ago (anterior dislocation) could be having an impact on my movement as well as posture.

As Dr. Cate Shanahan says, form implies function. When our form or posture is compromised, it impacts our movement and even how we breathe. Improper breathing can lead to a lack of oxygen to the brain and, well, everything.

As with most things, the first step is awareness. It was brought to my attention that my shoulders rounded forward. Sure enough, a quick look in the mirror gave me further feedback. I began working harder on exercises to strengthen back muscles and work on tight spots in muscles. What was super effective was the manual manipulation of the tissue that the therapist worked to get back into their correct form. Again, this all began with awareness.

“Making it a priority to observe how you are using your body asymmetrically is key to repair, as is, of course, ceasing those old habits while engaging in corrective exercises that restore the affected tissues back to their original length.” Those are wise words from Katy Bowman, a biochemist that focuses on the mechanical causes of disease and author of Alignment Matters.

Ceasing old habits is key. I was given exercises and stretches to perform to help keep the tissue functioning as it should. All possible because that “congestion” was broken up allowing for that. Of course, this is a work in progress. I have another manual therapy session coming up this week and hope to see even more improvement.

What I observed after that first session is that someone with deep knowledge and understanding can use that education to cater to specific needs of individuals. It was really an art in motion as different techniques can be brought together to help and heal.

I encourage you to be aware of your form and posture. Right now, observe. Are you standing straight? Sitting straight? Are you looking down on the ground while you walk or is head up? The take-home message is that our posture, our form, how we move does matter. It reflects what’s happening on the inside.

Take a moment. Observe. Make it a priority.

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

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P.P.S. Discover GreenNote Fitness recommendations for books, podcasts, and more on body, mind, and spirit.

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