This article is about unwinding pain, and my empathy towards it.
There will be many questions in every session. But mostly, I try to offer a space that allows anyone to release what they came in for.
Sometimes that takes a long time, and sometimes that can be done in a session. That is not just up to my skillset, it is also up to you.
The main topic here is connective tissue, and the 3 approaches I take towards unwinding it from the body and what to expect when I am doing so.
1. Skin to muscle - This is usually referred to as the sleeve, but it is better to say the sleeve is actually the space around and between the muscles. This approach can be handled in one of two ways, nicely, or not nicely. Sometimes there isn't much of a choice, it all depends on how the body will allow you to break down the connective tissue. The tension the body can hold can sometimes be more than one session can help with. Skin rolling is usually the not nice way, but is extremely effective at peeling the sleeve of the body. A nice way can be petrissage, which can be not nice too, again depending on the person. It's like kneading the skin, like a cat would but without the claws. When you combine these techniques, this is where I will grab whatever area I'm working on, and literately work through the layers of the skin and break down the anchors surrounding the muscles in order to better access the origins and insertions of the muscles. Once the belly is free and separated from the skin, I usually move on because the body will take care of the rest, assuming my client knows how to use the now free area.
2. Muscle to muscle - This is the common one with all therapists, where relaxation massages apply some deep tissue techniques, and also where people can feel bruised after. Which could happen from a therapist being to tough, or, not finishing the job they started. Once you poke the bear, you better remain dedicated or it will bring an awareness to the person they didn't know they had, without having changed the sensation can leave them "feeling worse" then when they came in, when they came to get a massage to feel better. My style has a tendency to not feel good during, but has remarkable differences afterwards, no matter how nurturing I am or try to be, I am not a therapist who fits all, although I am willing to work on any kind of person.
The restrictions from muscle to muscle is where balancing the whole pulley system begins, and the detective work gets into gear. I will focus on axial movement in the body, and use what the body tells me by its lack of range of motion, where I should go in order to increase that joint's function. Sometimes areas like, the glutes or quads, have so many muscles around their muscles doing similar jobs as the ones around them, that they don't know what it's like to be separated. Creating separation in those kinds of areas is vital, but I also believe in the body's desire to work long term and integrate change overtime. The mind wants the quick fix, but the body wants to integrate change over time in order to make it seem like nothing has changed at all, as to where the mind wants to remember what's profound and forget what it no longer needs to remember. The body never forgets what it learns, which is a part of why pain is so interesting compared to pleasure. Learning to create pleasure in reference to someone's nervous system as a means to heal is probably one of the best things anyone can do for another person. We all need a reminder of something that doesn't linger or antagonize. This is why I do not get worried if someone finds an area really painful, one, I already know it does, and two, I am here to create change of sensation to this area by holding space and being patient... once it does change, it's time to move on.
3. Muscle to bone - In some rare cases, skin to bone, but that depends on where it is (ex. clavicle and acromion). The sensation found in these areas is usually sharp, or felt at such a depth or intensity, that the reaction of the person receiving is (usually) inevitable. When there isn't a reaction, it's usually because the area is clear, or not that bad. The reason why, is because it is usually compounded by trauma and chronic issues. It requires the know how to access the angles and patience necessary to work through the layers around it to finally relieve the joint or area. The places of greatest emphasis tend to be the scapula in the infraspinatus, the feet, the forearms, and the spine. The clusters of connective tissues found in these areas are often times what I call 'anchors'.
Anchors are areas in the body that are the main source of glue to the holding pattern. When the anchor's are broken down, it's like taking out the don of the mafia, but the mafia can still function on its own without a leader, but what changes is how the mafia operates, same goes with taking out an anchor in the body. There can be multiple anchors, all this means is that there are multiple focal points in the body that store stress due to a series of different holding patterns. It is always best that once one of these crunchy painful anchors are found, to tend to the area in whatever way it needs until it no longer exists before moving on. No matter how much friction is applied to this area, it should not cause inflammation unless you are punishing your client... I don't recommend doing so, I prefer to offer security and safe feelings to the nervous system when letting go of big stuff. Anyway, the reason why is because the attention is not focused on the muscles. Inflammation occurs during injuries to flush an area out, to have the blood heal or process whatever is there. Connective tissue does not store blood, it has nothing to do with it. It can restrict blood flow however, so that once releasing an area that has been deeply bundled can lead to new sensations in any area of the body once released. Pretty fascinating stuff really.