Why Integrative Bodywork?
If you're already my client, you probably already know the story. I grew up in Iowa, the birthplace of chiropractic as a profession, where everyone with a musculoskeletal problem - especially back or neck pain - visits a chiropractor before any other healthcare professional.
My own chiropractor was Dr. Derby, a short, elderly man who worked in hour-long appointments and frequently took longer than that to finish his treatments. Every patient that came to his office had their spine, head, arms, legs, toes, and soft tissues "adjusted".
Dr. Derby loved his method of treating, and he wasn't very fond of five-minute chiropractic appointments. He always wanted to fix the problem in that one session, so he would go searching for every tiny misalignment. His treatments were a little weird, but they made fast changes and lasted a long time.
When I started chiropractic school, I discovered that I was going to learn very little about what Dr. Derby was doing in the basic curriculum. We learned anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, some biochemistry and then how to adjust - mostly the spine - with high velocity, low amplitude manual techniques. We learned how those adjustments relieved back and neck pain, but I wanted to do more than that, and I wanted to know how manual therapies could do more than treat pain.
I started with acupuncture, earning a certification in acupuncture and meridian therapy during my last year of grad school. I read acupuncture books constantly during my first few years in practice, and whether I used a needle, a laser, or manual pressure, I used my acupuncture knowledge in every treatment.
One of the most impactful books I read during that time was The Body Electric by Robert O. Becker. It was not an acupuncture book. It was about the discovery and research of electric microcurrents and their effect on our cells, communication systems in the body, healing, and regeneration. Becker explained how the acupuncture system could be studied and understood from the perspective of microcurrents. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in research for years, and I had seen it work, but I always felt better about using it when I understood the mechanism behind it.
At the same time, research into fascia was exploding. Fascia is the connective tissue that wraps every structure in our bodies. In the early 2000s, research studies and books were being published about our new understanding of the way fascia functions. It is not just a structural component that passively holds us together, but a dynamic tissue with a huge neurologic component. Fascia is also a great conduit for those microcurrents I had learned about. Like always, I wanted a more complete understanding of fascia, so I read Fascial Manipulation by Luigi Stecco. It would have been a difficult book to trudge through except none of it was really new to me. It was a brilliant integration of everything I knew about anatomy, physiology, neurology, microcurrents, and acupuncture.
Over the years, I keep adding to my skill. New methods for treating the structural system pop up all the time, but as Ida Rolf, the founder of Structural Integration said, "There is nothing new under the sun of manipulation." Every structural therapy is affecting the fascial, acupuncture, microcurrent, and nervous system at the same time. The key for me is to be thorough like Dr. Derby. In every session, I want to find and correct every dysfunction in the system that I can. The closer I can get your tissues to their normal alignment (restoring order and removing stress), the better your whole body will function.