How can you do Massage if you don’t know what’s inside?

by David Lauterstein

I say to so many of our students, especially when they start the internship, that each person is a gift. It is such a gift, for both for therapist and client, to explore the layers of fascia, muscle, and bone and to see how you can make a positive difference in their lives.

Yet what’s the sense of getting the gift if you don’t know how to open it? Our ability to have in-sight into what goes on inside the human body directly relates to the quality of our therapy. One of the very greatest gifts then is being able literally to see inside the person.

Here we encounter another incredible gift. Many generous people have donated their bodies to be used in medical schools to help students learn. We are lucky at our school that we have a long association with Texas State University’s Physical Therapy Department. They give us a unique opportunity. At least once a year in many years they have let us come into their lab after they have fully completed the dissections in their PT classes. We then have the privilege of working with the cadavers. With the expert guidance of both their faculty and ours, participants in these classes get to put on surgical gloves and explore through the fully dissected cadavers.

I can’t tell you the delight and almost sacred sense that comes from being able to see more deeply inside people. Actually seeing and feeling for the first time so many things – even “Bodyworlds” doesn’t come close! The first time I saw and felt the iliopsoas was unbelievable – I had never quite succeeded in visualizing its size and route. Just feeling the iliopsoas directly in my hands gave me a level of knowing that I simply could not get any other way.

Seeing and feeling between your fingers, the intrinsic muscles of the feet, the layers of the lower back, the sacro-iliac ligaments, all the muscles in the front and back of the neck, even the meninges surrounding the spinal cord! It gave me the feeling, now when I work on people, that I have a kind of X-ray vision and, I’ll tell you, clients can feel the difference! And it increases your sense of reverence for being human. One can understand the wonder experienced by Leonardo and Michelangelo as they explored the inner workings of the human form.

If you are in Austin, do not miss this incredible opportunity. If not, see if you can arrange a visit to a local medical school or chiropractic college.

To quote Gil Hedley, who teaches very enlightening cadaver classes and recently dropped by our school – “Dissection is an act of introspection. By unwrapping the layers of the donor’s gift, participants uncover hidden layers of themselves.”