Back hurt?

Written by integrativetherapeutics on . Posted in The Body Mechanic, by Todd A. Forman, PT

You’re not alone. You’ve probably read the stats by now about how over 80% of the adult population in this country has lower back pain and how we spend billions every year on it without getting closer to a solution. So, why does it happen?

When my daughter was about 2 years old, I noticed she had perfect posture. When she bent down to pick something up, she bent at her knees instead of bending over at her waist. Though no one who knows me will believe this, I did NOT train her this way- she just did what came naturally. I asked a colleague about it, and she also noticed her children moved with near perfect body mechanics (without being trained).

A blog about Craniosacral Therapy

Written by consiliumclub on . Posted in A Little Connection, by Jen Richards Little, MSPT, CST

We have a room off the back of our house that we call the outdoor living room.  It has a roof, a floor, furniture, and open walls.  In this space, I am part of the house and part of the garden.  I hear the woodpeckers and early morning chirps of the birds, see an occasional small animal scurry past.  I feel the cool breeze, and smell the beginnings of spring.  And I can also hear what is going on in the house, it’s muted by the glass door, but I can still sense the pulse of our family slowing waking.  It is the natural boundary between our house and the nature around it.

It occurs to me that this is the mental space I try to have each time I work with a client.


I listen to their tissues with the same wonder and awe of listening to the space around me.  The slow gentle expansion and contraction of the craniosacral system, the currents and eddies of the lymphatic system, the pull and push of the myofascial system, the big sweeps of the musculoskeletal system, the vibrations of the nervous system.  All the different parts of the body that sing a symphony to me as the client lies on the table.

Just as if I am sitting in the outdoor living room, still available to the house, but still present to the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the outdoors, I join them in their world, while still keeping a foot in my own world.  Emotionally tuning in to the comings and goings of their lives, while sharing what is going on in mine, as friends joining each other for a few steps of shared life journey.  “The teacher and the taught, together become the teaching.”  I wrote this statement down at a course so long ago, and it has shaped my practice as much as any technique I have ever learned.  Even though the client is on the table, there is still a dialogue going on in the room, between the client and myself, and also between my hands and the tissues underneath them.  I get support from my clients, as they get support from me, and I often find that when issues are moving through my life, they are also moving through my clients’ lives, and we can brainstorm together different solutions or approaches.

But don’t get me wrong, a dialogue does not mean there is no boundary, that I am pouring all my personal energy into my client, or conversely, sucking all the energy out of my client.  It is actually very different. It means that I am grounded and full of what I call “universal energy”, offering the overflow to the client for them to use however their body needs to use it.  By making sure that my own needs are taken care of, and that I am energetically full, I can have all my senses present to my client, secure in knowing that I am safe from being “drained”, “overpowered”, “disconnected”, “triggered”, or the myriad of other ways I have heard people describe the energetic dynamics that can go on between a therapist and a client.  And by being more fully present, it allows me to tune in to the entire symphony my client and their tissues are expressing, and through that listening I can hold a deeply healing space, where both of us are safe, nurtured, and connected.  It is just as relaxing as sitting in our outdoor living room.

I love my job.

Back to Basics

Written by consiliumclub on . Posted in A Little Connection, by Jen Richards Little, MSPT, CST

Mask on?  Check.

Tank air on?  Check.

Fins on?  Check.

I place one hand over the regulator in my mouth with two fingers up to brace my mask, and take one giant stride off the side of the boat.



I pop up at the surface, inflate my BC (the vest that holds the tank and controls your buoyancy) and signal to the captain of the boat that I am ok in the international big O of putting my hand on top of my head.

I watch my husband, Dave, jump into the water, signal that he is ok to the captain, and give me the sign that he is ready to head down below.

I deflate my BC, and start down, finally immersed again in water.  I can only hear my breath from the regulator in my mouth.  Breath in, breath out.

It takes a few minutes to readjust to being back here.  Which makes sense, since the last time I went scuba diving was six years ago, before I was pregnant with my son.  At first all I see is the blue of the water, and the coral reef, yellowed, washed out, it looks sad.  Not like the vibrant colors of similar Caribbean reefs from even six years ago.

I struggle a little bit to keep my breathing steady, to remember how to keep myself balanced and buoyant in the water.

We swim along, seeing some fish, but nothing that unique or impressive.  I try to remember that I need to just keep looking, enjoy the dive no matter what, and it just takes one good find to turn a dive around.  When my husband and I dive, I am the critter finder, and he takes the photos.

And then, I find a pair of lion fish, these tropical fish with feathery things sticking out every which way.  (Funny thing about lion fish, they are not native to the Caribbean.  They are fish from the South Pacific that people have bought for fish tanks, and then when they eat the rest of the fish in the tank, they dump them in the ocean, so now they are eating all the local wild fish, but have no predators, and are messing up the ecosystem).  And just like that, the dive changes, for right after that I start finding a little creature called a Flamingo Tongue, it’s sort of like an underwater slug, but pink, with brown spots, but in an ocean that is so big, to find a creature about an inch long, I think that it’s pretty cool.  Then I look over as watch a reef shark gliding by.  We follow him a bit, sharks are so graceful to watch, the way it’s fascinating to watch a fighter plane.  We turn around to head back to where the boat is, and as we follow the sand channel back, Dave spots a turtle.  Now, I love turtles.  And I have to tell you that it was very hard not to just follow that turtle until my air ran out.  But the turtle is swimming away from the boat, and I know I need to save enough air for my safety stop.  We head back to where the boat floats above us, do our safety stop watching a large school of silver Jacks and a barracuda, and get back on the boat to share with the captain and the other divers what we had seen, and listen to what everyone else had seen.

The whole dive was about 45 minutes.  Not quite as long as a treatment session, but very similar to one in a lot of ways.  The immersion into a client’s tissues, the looking around to find what is not moving as it should and waiting to see what needs help first.  The feeling of finding the restrictions, and how different restrictions present like the different animals I encountered underwater.  The one “aha” moment that changes the course of a session into something that is powerfully healing. The gradual phasing out of my energy from the tissues at the end of the session that is just like the safety stop at the end of a dive, allowing the client and me to both leave the treatment room energetically full, grounded and separate.

It also reminds me of the process I went through when I was first learning the CranioSacral Therapy techniques.  At first, I wasn’t sure what to look for, or what I was feeling, floundering a bit for my CranioSacral buoyancy.  The longer I practiced the techniques, with each experience as the therapist and as the client, the more confident and relaxed I became.   The more relaxed I became, the bigger, cooler stuff came across my table.  And it’s hard sometimes to refrain from playing beyond the end of a treatment time.  But holding that boundary is also part of the experience and part of the learning.

A theme is developing in my life reminding me to get “back to basics”.

The day before this dive, I had to take a refresher course, having been six years and all.  A class to review all the basic skills needed to stay safe while scuba diving in a swimming pool.  I am also mentoring a colleague of mine in the CranioSacral Therapy ten step protocol techniques.  One hour a month where we work on each other and I give her feedback and guidance to make her more effective.  I am also starting to transition into teaching classes, and I have a lot of different ones in development.  And the questions that keep coming up are “how do I teach these basics”, and “what basics do I teach to which audience?”  Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, what strikes me the most with all of these areas is that these are basic skills, true.  But basic also means foundation, and they are the foundation skills for a reason, and that is because they work.  They work on their own in their purest form.  And because they are basic, they become infinitely easier to share with another.

A teacher in physical therapy school said once, “When there is a strong base, a strong foundation, then there is an infinite potential for movement.”  She was referring to stroke patients needing a strong trunk to create a stable base for the limbs to move on, but I think it applies more generically as well.  Maybe someone is trying to tell me that if I have a strong base, I will have infinite possibilities of movement.

I guess it’s time for me to dive in.

“Pain is a liar”

Written by integrativetherapeutics on . Posted in The Body Mechanic, by Todd A. Forman, PT

The first time I heard that was from my mentor (I’ll call her “Ann” here to protect the innocent).  I was a new physical therapist, just about 2 years out of school, and I was having trouble with one of my patients with back pain.  Ann asked me what was going on, and I gave her a very detailed description of my patient’s symptoms.  Her response was a bit harsh, but well deserved:  “You didn’t tell me anything that the patient couldn’t.  You’re his physical therapist.  What is the problem?”.

In an attempt to answer her question, I gave her a more detailed description of how my client’s pain changed with different activities.  Ann cut me off after about 2 sentences (she never suffered fools well) and told me:  “If you want to do this kind of work, the first thing you are going to have to learn is that pain is a liar”.