Pain science is telling us that pain is an output of the brain, not an input from the body. Similarly we can note that relaxation and pleasure are outputs of the brain, though we may “feel” them in the effected organs, muscles, and other tissues.
Ironically then it turns out that soft tissue manipulation, which most states use as the definition for massage therapy, is not essentially what we are doing. Soft tissue is no more the locus of therapy than the cell phone is the locus or content of our conversation. Rather, soft tissues are the communication medium through which we can carry on profound conversations with the nervous system. If one is open to these terms one might say we use the client’s structure to communicate with their energy.
Milton Trager said, “You have to reach the unconscious mind of the client if you want to produce change that lasts.” Science is catching up to Trager, Fritz Smith, and other visionaries who have known consciously or intuitively that manipulation is not the essence of our work. Communication is the key to health. Bodywork that is not also mindwork may not be very effective!
Let this caution us about the negative consequences of many therapists’ and clients’ notions of deep tissue that call for adding more pressure for more benefit. When we see soft tissues as a communication medium, more pressure may be seen as the equivalent of shouting into your cell phone. “I SAID RELAX!!!”
Find new ways to talk with the nervous system. The brain and the bodymind appreciate the kindly attention.