Pain!

The March 7, 2011 edition of Time Magazine was devoted to the discussion of pain and ways to treat it. From spinal cord stimulation by implants, through drug therapies and finally by complementary and alternative medicine that attempts to minimize pain with minimal damage to the body.

Implants and narcotic drug therapies carry risks along with the possibility of easing pain. We are all aware now that what was once considered an innocuous pain reliever, acetaminophen, is known to cause liver failure when used in large doses. And, ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications, even aspirin, can cause stomach bleeding.

In the area of pain management, medications do not heal the body. But in the hands of a competent physical therapist, that is, one who is licensed and who has a minimum of 10 years of experience and who works hands on with the patient for at least 30 to 40 minutes, physical therapy can alleviate pain, whether it is from a structural problem, an injury, or has been longstanding and chronic.

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Massage Therapy

History

Massage therapy originated over 5000 years ago as a form of medical treatment for the ailing human body. Tomb paintings in Egypt show people being massaged. In ancient China, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, a book from the year 2700 B.C. recommends massaging the skin and flesh to treat a variety of problems.

Greek physicians used massage and it is said Roman physicians used it to help treat Julius Caesar’s neuralgia. And massage therapy was and still is a valued component of India’s Ayurvedic medicine. Even Hippocrates, recommended it for aiding in the health of the body’s joints.

Later, a French physician, Ambroise Pare, who was the Court’s physician, praised its value and a Swedish doctor, Per Henrik Ling developed what we all know today as the Swedish massage and the Dutchman Johan Georg Mezger defined its basic hand strokes.  A popular form of massage, Shiatsu, used today in both East and West was developed by the Japanese.

Uses

Massage therapy is increasing in its use for many and varied illnesses and stress related discomforts such as:

  • Muscular tension
  • Headaches
  • Circulation problems
  • Anxiety and emotional disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Sports injuries

Benefits

Massage therapy can be beneficial in maintaining overall health and well being by:

  • Helping to improve the functioning of the immune system
  • Improving blood flow
  • Providing needed relaxation in an over stressed society
  • Soothing and releasing tense muscles
  • Increasing joint mobility
  • Improving skin tone and elasticity
  • Decreases anxiety

Body Tuning & Massage Therapy

In the Body Tuning Studio, massage therapy can be requested from one of our licensed massage therapists. But, it is also incorporated into each body tuning session according to the client’s needs. Many body tuning techniques use massage as a foundation in helping to heal an injury or long standing problem. Though, to the client, it may not appear as a traditional form of massage, nevertheless, body tuning promotes healing, relaxation and well-being.

Who should consider massage therapy?

  • Those in stressful jobs
  • Those who do heavy physical labor
  • Health care practitioners
  • Mothers, Fathers and All Caregivers
  • People who sit too much
  • Musicians, Artists, Dancers
  • Sports enthusiasts
  • Mothers to be
  • Those with disabilities
  • In short…massage therapy is good for EVERYONE.

Verify… Then Trust!

I have been in practice for over forty years, and during those years I developed the name ‘body tuning’ to describe both the philosophy behind my work and the actual art of treating the body as if it were a delicate but out of tune instrument. I have spoken and written about it, articles have been written about my work and me. Physicians and prospective patients can research my background and training so as to feel comfortable recommending me or becoming my patient. Gratefully, I have a following of patients who value the work I do because they have trusted my expertise and experience and have been successfully treated for their particular problems. Over the years, the same patients return with varying complaints, knowing that they and I have been good partners in their healing before and will be again.

If a patient comes to me and asks for a massage. Or they give me a prescription from their doctor for a particular and specific kind of treatment; for instance, let us say, the doctor wants the patient to have 6 ultra sound treatments and exercises to strengthen the knee. What I tell the patient is that they do not need what I have to offer and refer them to other physical therapists for those treatments.

Continue reading “Verify… Then Trust!”

6 FAQ About Magnetic Therapy

1. What is magnetic therapy and what are the benefits?

Magnetic therapy is a safe, non-invasive method of applying magnetic fields to the body for therapeutic purposes. It accelerates the natural healing process and provides natural pain relief.

Benefits of magnetic therapy include:

  • Magnetic devices increase the blood flow in capillaries, flushing out lactic acid and other inflammatory substances from tissues, thereby relieving pain and inflammation.
  • It Increase blood and oxygen circulation along with the nutrient carrying capacity of the blood
  • Improve fracture healing
  • Can powerfully influence the production of certain hormones from the endocrine glands
  • Stimulates and fosters enzyme activity and other related physiological processes

2. What kind of cases can magnetic therapy treat?

  • Arthritis, arthropathies, spondylosis
  • Contractures
  • Fractured bones form trauma/stress fractures
  • Muscular disorders
  • Chronic pain, phantom limb pain, neuritis
  • Arterial and venous insufficiency, cerebrovascular insufficiency
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Selected skin disorders
  • Tiredness

3. Is it a safe treatment?

Yes. Magnetic therapy devices which are used in medical field are absolutely safe.

4. When do you apply this therapy?

I personally use magnetic therapy quite often in my practice. It can be applied in case of acute trauma or inflammation as well as chronic condition, poor healing or fracture.

One has always remember indications, which I mentioned above and contraindications, such as:

  • Pacemakers or automatic internal defibrillators
  • Pregnancy
  • Malignancies
  • Acute infections/ active tuberculosis
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Bleeding

5. Which tools are used to deal with the body in this treatment?

Magnetic therapy devices are customized to work solo or as a part of more complex combined equipment. Magnetic therapy may be safely combined with vibration therapy, cold laser therapy or light therapy.

6. Do you advise using magnetic treatment?

Yes. I would definitely advice and advocate to use magnetic therapy. However, we have sufficient data today which proven, that combined use of PT modalities several times more effective then every single modality along. And I am using this advantage in my everyday practice.

“The King’s Speech” and Body Tuning

by Jason Alan Griffin

While I was watching the movie, The King’s Speech I was struck by how the methods used by the speech therapist, Lionel, were so much like ‘Body Tuning.’  Even some of the movements he had Bertie do were reminiscent of what might go on in a Body Tuning session.

I was especially interested in the scene when Lionel was about to be fired because it was discovered that he was not a ‘doctor.’ He had never represented himself as such but even without the ‘degree’ he was the only person who had been able to help the Duke. Yet, his successful track record was not enough, it seemed, in the face of not having ‘credentials.’

The film showed how doctors were trying ‘the latest techniques’ on the Duke, only to leave him frustrated and swallowing marbles. Had he   dismissed Lionel, he would have lost what he had found: a treatment that worked.

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Physical Intuition

Almost all of us have heard of Medical Intuitives, alternative medicine practitioners who use their intuition to seek the cause of a physical condition. In general, they do not provide a prescribed diagnosis, but some Medical Intuitives are also M.D.s and may be held in higher repute. With their psychic skills, Medical Intuitives ‘read’ our bodies, our internal organs, the individual energies we present. With the information they gather they may be able to explain the root causes or connections between a symptom, or disease and an emotion or traumatic event that caused the sickness. That information can help to find the proper treatment and eventually a ‘cure’ for the ailment.

Louise Hay’s book: Heal Your Body is itself a kind of medical intuitive guide. Edgar Cayce, not an M.D. but a clairvoyant, was known to be able to diagnose and treat people he had never seen. Much of his work shows the correlation between our mental processes and the diseases we have. And perhaps the most famous present day Medical Intuitive, Carolyn Myss, a Ph.D. not an M.D. who has written extensively on the mind/body connection and who eventually teamed up with an M.D. named Normal Shealy to enhance her work.

There are many ‘healers’ we encounter in our everyday lives. I would include psychological counselors, bodyworkers of all kinds who allow more than their training but their instincts or intuition to lead their clients towards better health and well-being.

Continue reading “Physical Intuition”

The Value of Body Tuning

Jason Alan Griffin, teacher of Nia, Yoga Tune Up®, Strength and Toning, actor and model, shares another observation from his current apprenticeship with me.

There is a man, who I see regularly in Shmuel’s office (let’s call him Martin). I couldn’t tell what his complaint was from his posture or his gait or even from his experiences in the treatment room. So I asked him. And he told me that he has no problems. Just a bit of tightness that recurs if he doesn’t come to see Shmuel once a week.

It reminded me of that old ad for dandruff shampoo. One person is shocked to learn that the other uses this dandruff shampoo and says, “But you don’t have dandruff.” To which the response is, “Yes, exactly!” The implication being that if they didn’t use the stuff then they would have dandruff so the stuff must work.

Martin told me that he first came to see Shmuel about 25 years ago.  He had been in an accident and hurt his knee. He had surgery on the knee and was debilitated and in pain.  Martin’s wife had been to see Shmuel and she said he made her feel completely better, so she strongly recommended that Martin see him as well. He did, and Shmuel’s Body Tuning work helped his knee immediately. Martin was so thrilled to be without pain and so impressed by Body Tuning, that he has been back to see Dr Tatz weekly ever since.

Martin is a perfect example of someone who recognizes the value of proper, regular maintenance. He doesn’t come to the Tatz Studio for knee issues any longer. “It’s preventative,” he says. “I do it because if I don’t come back, I know my back will start to get tight.”

Shmuel says, “Yes. I am doing something that he could be doing for himself, but he doesn’t want to do it for himself, so I am doing it.”  If you use your body, you need to tune it. If you use it a lot, you need to get more tuning. Shmuel’s ’rule of thumb’ is that for every week of daily, vigorous activity, you should get an hour of Body Tuning.

However, that applies to people who don’t have pain or discomfort. If you find that something has gone wrong in your body, you should see a professional Body Tuner to get you back in tune. The work of Body Tuning is so naturally good for the body, that it gets results in chronic cases (like from years of bad posture or misuse) or acute cases (like accidents). But it also serves as a way to keep the body running smoothly.

Martin has the luxury of not needing to do the work on himself because he can see Shmuel weekly.  But the truth is that if we all take good care of our bodies, doing the exercises and movements that Shmuel Tatz teaches in his office, not only will our bodies be in better condition, but we will be preventing pain and injury from occurring.

In Celebration of National Physical Therapy Month

When do you need an MD? When do you need a PT?

In today’s world most of us have family doctors, internists, eye doctors, dermatologists.

Sometimes we get sick and need to consult a physician to find out the nature of our illness, but sometimes if we have minor symptoms, such as a cold, or stomach upset, we may not need to spend our time and money visiting a physician. We can just as well talk to a nurse practitioner or other health practitioners in whom we have confidence.

Many of us are active people who walk, or run, play tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball, to stay healthy and to enjoy ourselves. When we have serious injuries to our musculo/skeletal system, a bone broken, for instance or pain that increases in its intensity or our joints become red and swollen, we consult an orthopedist.  And rightly so.

But if we have lesser injuries, aches and pains, discomfort, tension in our muscles, tendons or joints, we need to have our own physical therapist to consult; someone who is knowledgeable and responsible to evaluate our problem and to know if he or she can handle the problem or refer us to a medical doctor.

Too often, we do just the opposite. In the case of musculo/skeletal problems, we visit the doctor first. It can take weeks to secure an appointment. More likely than not the doctor will then ask for X-rays or MRI’s and then render an opinion to rest the injury, or give cortisone injections which can slow down our recovery time for the original injury even though it gives us some immediate relief. At the last, the doctor may advise us to undertake physical therapy. But because of this lengthy process, we have lost weeks of healing treatment.

A patient came to me after having spent three weeks waiting to see his orthopedist who then ordered an MRI after which he had to wait for the results and consultation with the doctor. The recommendation was for physical therapy. This took five weeks of his time, energy and money in co-payments. After three weeks in physical therapy we solved the problem.

Why waste time? Why do dozens of tests and pay unnecessary fees? The sooner you start physical therapy treatment the faster you are returned to physical health.

I tell my patients to consult their general practitioner or internist before they get sick so that the doctor is acquainted with them as a person, and can give them basic tests and see them regularly after that to follow up and help keep them healthy. Sometimes the doctor will pick up on something important that the patient did not even know existed and treat the condition before it becomes a problem. Patients will also be able to evaluate the physician they have chosen. Did they get a full examination? Or was it minimal? Did the doctor spend enough time with them asking questions, taking a detailed history? Or were they in and out in very little time?

It is the same with physical therapists. Go to see a physical therapist before you have an injury. The therapist will do an evaluation of your body and sometimes even see a problem before you are complaining of pain or discomfort. You will have established a working relationship with the physical therapist who will feel more able to help you when and if you are in need of his care and treatment. As with a physician, a physical therapist should be adept at an evaluation of your body and when you are treated, spend a minimum of 30 minutes hands on therapy and at least another 15 minutes using various modalities that aid healing.

Americans often have little information about physical therapy, its possibilities and responsibilities. You do not need a prescription to see a physical therapist. Once you do, the physical therapist is proscribed by law from taking cases that are not within his purview and must and will refer you elsewhere. This is safe medicine for all concerned.

So, my advice to you is to evaluate your pain or injury and decide: do I really need to see a medical doctor or can my physical therapist evaluate this problem and help me? You will be in good hands either way. It’s up to you to make the best decision in your own behalf.

Does a Composer’s Body Need to be Tuned?

A client of mine, Mark N. Grant, is both a musician and a writer and has written an intriguing article for NewMusicBox, entitled: Does a Composer’s Body Need to be Tuned? I believe it may be of interest to many of you and so I am using it for this week’s blog. My thanks to Mark Grant and to NewMusicBox for allowing me to reproduce the article.

Professional singers and dancers have always been trained to think of their bodies as delicate instruments that need constant maintenance. Instrumentalists, less so—a bout of tendinitis is still regarded as something of an aberration in the professional life of a pianist or violinist, though not as much as it was a generation ago. But is it possible that we have not recognized heretofore that a composer’s body is itself an instrument, too? That you unconsciously “tune up” the body to compose as much as you tune up your cello, harp, or clarinet to play with other musicians? Even if this kind of “body tuning” doesn’t involve intonation or pitch per se?

In my view a composer is a musician who sings with his brain. But that brain state of composing is a somatic activity as well. To sing with your brain you engage your whole body, not just consciously in the physical labor of notation but unconsciously in the tension engendered by the anxiety of creation. Gershwin famously complained of his “composer’s stomach.” Morton Gould once wrote that for him “creating is like tearing out one’s guts—it is both a devastating and exhilarating experience….The period of digging into one’s self is always distressing.” To me that’s a remark you’d more likely expect of Mahler, but no, that was Morton Gould. And as for his supposed glibness as a crossoverish composer, Gould added, “Well—all I can say is that it is not an easy facility, and if it is—I would hate to function with any less!” So even the effortless Gershwin and the facile Morton Gould had nervous tension problems with the creative act? This makes me feel much better, because even when I’m sketching (especially then, in the early stages of composition), the creative act pitches me into a state of extraordinarily high physical and nervous tension. Is it performance anxiety of the brain? Is it that the body is being just as cooked as my brain by the mental pressures of the muse? Or is it because I’m unconsciously “tuning” my body as well as my brain in order to compose?

If you talk to a psychiatrist about the stresses of his/her work, you’ll be surprised to hear them tell you how physically (as well as emotionally) taxing it is to sit for hours in a chair listening to other people talk. There’s a famous, maybe apocryphal story about writer John O’Hara collapsing cold on the floor just after mustering the finishing keystroke on his typewriter for a short story he was completing on deadline. We composers, too, sit (or stand) for long, long hours with incredibly intense mental traffic coursing through our brains and bodies. Think of Strauss scoring his operas by sitting in the chair at his desk for 12-hour stints at his Garmisch villa interrupted only by his wife’s tea service. The Germans have a word for it: sitzfleisch.

It’s hard to separate the psychic tension from the sheer elbow grease (or “drudgery,” as William Bolcom put it to an interviewer) of composing. In the pre-software days of composing music (i.e. the entire history of the world prior to about 15-20 years ago), your body has to be a workhorse to tolerate the physical marathon of notating concert music in longhand. (How did Stravinsky do it with all those colored inks? And Boulez’s autograph scores, with his extremely microscopic handwriting?) Composing (i.e. thinking up and notating) a large scale work like an opera or symphony can put a strain on our bodies, and in some susceptible people can be as athletic and exhausting as performing. Sure, there are composers blissfully unaffected by strain of any kind, like Darius Milhaud, whose startling prolificacy was unimpeded even by rheumatoid arthritis (which disease, by the way, also afflicted Morton Gould). Milhaud’s close friend Kurt Weill was not so lucky. Endlessly writing out full score after full score for Broadway by hand, without arrangers’ help, on three hours’ sleep a night in the 1940s arguably helped kill Weill, who had hypertension, at 50.

It goes without saying that many great composers produced their output in spite of all manner of physical impairments, we all know that. But could we all function better and longer, both creatively and mechanically, if we had our bodies “tuned up” the way we have our automobiles tuned up? I for one suffer from the redoubled wear-and-tear of a lifetime’s double occupational exposure: I’ve always been both a writer and a musician. I have used my hands daily for both typing and playing the piano since I was a little boy, and now I’m in my fifties and my body has started to cry uncle. One experienced physical therapist in 2005 alarmed me by announcing, as she palpated, that there were bumps and nodules all over the tendons and fascia of my forearms (until she calmed me by adding that many professional musicians she had treated had the same invisible nodules). Though I’m an irregular piano practicer at best, I don’t know anyone else who has, cumulatively over decades, compiled as many keystrokes of both the typewriter and the piano keyboard as I have. I have typed both my books and innumerable published and unpublished pieces of writing going back to the 1970s. Many pianists who aren’t also writers have suffered tendinitis; I come to it through a triple physical insult, since I’m not only a writer but for some 30 years I composed entirely in longhand. As if this weren’t enough, in my early adult years I studied with a composer who was also an accomplished painter and whose breathtaking musical calligraphy with a dip fountain pen infected me with a compulsion to emulate him. I then attempted, despite being left-handed, to become a professional music copyist (copying was still by hand in the 70s), and to avoid smudging the ink with my southpaw moving left to right on the page I adopted a tight, twisted hand posture which somehow became permanent. Eventually I developed ulnar nerve syndrome and by the 2000s could no longer endure the longueurs of copying parts by hand, my own or others’.

I’ve also injured my hands through various non-music-related accidents (broken fingers, etc.) over the years. Yet I am typing this article and still playing the piano and working weekly as an organist and using my hands in the extravagantly labor-intensive task of composing and notating music, both by hand and by Sibelius, as well as writing prose (maybe 50,000 words in the last year) and doing the daily websurfing-by-keystroke-and-mouse we all do. How do I keep going? I get my body tuned up. By physical therapists and, occasionally, complementary medicine practitioners. It works. Acupuncture, for instance, substantially reduced my ulnar nerve pain and has even helped the early arthritis I have in my finger joints.

There is a Manhattan physical therapist named Shmuel Tatz who actually calls his method “body tuning.” Tatz’s work is premised on the idea that the entire body, like a single musical instrument or ensemble of instruments, must be “in tune” in order both to heal and to prevent injuries of chronic overuse. His system is self-evolved (over 40 years), intuitive, and eclectic—it is neither osteopathy, nor chiropractic, nor Feldenkrais, nor any other “brand name” of holistic body treatment. I went to him for treatment of a knee injury, and found in the very first session that he can “read” a person’s gait and physical mechanics in an uncanny way almost instantaneously, then manipulate your joints, tendons, and fascia with his bare hands to “retune” you according to this “reading.” Believe me, this is not mumbo-jumbo. In one session I mentioned in passing to Shmuel that while riding a bicycle my right arm was going numb. He immediately found a few points along my upper back and shoulder and pressed here and rubbed there. An unexpected by-product occurred that night, when I sat down to play the piano at home: my playing was suddenly like greased lightning. I had technique I never knew I had. Shmuel had truly “tuned” my body.

Shmuel says we musicians, for all our years of training and practice, have not properly learned how to live in our bodies. He doesn’t mean just the correct hand position or arm position you learned from teachers, he means the total body—your carriage, your hip, and other body areas remote from the actual scene of battle, so to speak. He uses many different machines to help reduce inflammation and pain, but his primary technique is to discern, with his eyes and hands, a lifetime of dysfunctional postures, gaits, and muscular imbalances you didn’t even know you had, then retrain you how to rebalance them. His principal therapeutic tools are his own hands. His hands are magic manipulators. He feels surgery is a “racket” and should be used only as a last resort. Treating carpal tunnel syndrome nonsurgically is “easy,” he says. He also says everybody, even world-class professionals, has physical problems, and if they say they don’t, they’re lying. Inasmuch as he’s personally treated musicians like Isaac Stern, Christa Ludwig, Rostropovich, and Penderecki, one takes him at his word.

Shmuel Tatz has just published a book entitled Hands on a Keyboard: A Guide for Musicians and Computer Users, co-written with Vladimir Mayoroff, a Lithuanian M.D. who is also a musician. “Both intense concentration and pure physical strength are required for public performance, and the musician is expected to have more stamina that many athletes do,” the authors write. The book explains several hand and arm ailments so you can really diagnose yourself, and then it describes many excellent self-treatment techniques that you can use for them at home, techniques new to me despite my many previous experiences in physical therapy. As a bonus, it also is a fine primer on hand anatomy for both keyboard and string players.

There are many clinics around the country that specialize in performing artists’ injuries and medical issues, such as the Performing Arts Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston or the UCSF Medical Center’s Health Program for Performing Artists in San Francisco started by the late Dr. Peter Ostwald, a biographer of Schumann and Glenn Gould. To locate similar clinics in your area of the country try these two excellent links: www.lunnflutes.com/hophc.htm or www.yourtype.com/survive/clinics_for_performers.htm (—a caveat: some listed contact addresses may be out of date). But to find a complementary healer in your local area who can address musician’s body tuning issues may be a harder task, though some of the doctors at the performing arts medicine clinics may refer you to good alternative practitioners. Then again, you can always buy Shmuel’s book, or if you’re in New York City, you can make an appointment to see Shmuel.

But the question remains, can this kind of “body tuning” therapy also help a composer become a well-oiled mental machine—a better mentally and physically lubricated creator? Can parts of the body that are out of joint because of the stresses of composing music be adjusted so that composing will become smoother and more creative, too? Does the body really reflect our minds more than we know? Maybe the longevous Elliott Carter is just naturally tuned-up? If one can learn to be less physically tense, will the creative ideas issue forth more profusely? Or if not, if the creative act necessarily induces a certain a priori tension, then can one learn to cope with one’s physical tension better so as to access the muse more efficiently? Actors learn various techniques to explore their deepest emotions so as to liberate energy and improve their powers as actors. Some of these are physical disciplines, some are emotional release techniques. Could it work for composers as well? Maybe the secret of facilely prolific composers like Milhaud, Villa-Lobos, Hindemith, or Schubert is that they were able to carry states of mental tension without becoming physically tense. They didn’t even realize they were mentally tense because they never felt tense physically. They were, in short, in a natural state of good “body tuning.” They were good composing athletes.

For my part, physical therapy, in restoring my ability to work with pencil freehand, has thus also been psychologically liberating. Though I use Sibelius now (an older edition which I need to upgrade), I have a love/hate relationship with it—it affords me greater writing speed and the ability to extract parts automatically, and permits me to engrave large works in defiance of my ulnar nerve problems, but it also feels like wearing socks in the shower. Computer engraving is de rigueur now everywhere in our field, but there’s just no replacement for the unfettered creative freedom and sensuous hands-on experience of making that pencil (or ink) draft with your bare hands like a painting. Recently I returned to sketching and drafting by hand using green Aztec paper, Archives soy ink recycled paper, and my favorite pencil since the Eberhard Faber Blackwing was scandalously discontinued: the Mirado Black Warrior No. 1. (Not long ago a Carnegie Hall exhibit of Leonard Bernsteiniana displayed several sharpened-to-the-eraser Blackwings Bernstein evidently saved for posterity. “My soldiers,” he called them.)

But the final test will be to go back to Shmuel and see if further body tuning will help promote further creative liberation. I hope to “stay tuned,” in more than one sense.

***

Mark N. Grant composes in all forms, especially music theater: he won a special Friedheim Award in 2006 for his cantata The Rose of Tralee. He is the author of two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award-winning books, The Rise and Fall of the Broadway Musical (2004) and Maestros of the Pen: A History of Classical Music Criticism in America (1998), and wrote a biweekly column for NewMusicBox’s Chatter in 2007-2008.

Shhh! Body Tuning in Progress

Jason Alan Griffin, teacher of Nia, Yoga Tune Up®, Strength and Toning, actor and model shares his early views of his apprenticeship with me. His observations have been condensed here for your interest.  For more information from Jason, see: jasonalangriffin.blogspot.com

“I have been a fitness professional for 20 years. I work with people who are exercising and want to improve their bodies. And in this process, I’m often stunned by how little conversation there is going on. At no time is there much inquiry on the part of the client; and if there is, it is usually an inquiry of me, not of their own body. Most people want to be told what to do and then they may or may not do it. But if they took the time to listen to their own body and then responded to what the body was saying, they wouldn’t need to ask me anything; they’d already know the answers. Or at least they’d know where to find the answers.

A simple thing like gentle, flowing movements of all the joints is something that your body will likely ask for every morning. Are you listening? That creak. That staggered movement. The stiffness. That is the language of your body. This is the language a Body Tuner speaks. By being alert to the sounds and sensation of your body, a Body Tuner hears your body’s request loud and clear.

Today, as I was watching Shmuel work, I was struck by how often people are wrapped up in their stories. They love to describe everything that was or currently is going on in their bodies and to relate a total history, complete with the opinions and ‘diagnoses’ of other professionals. Shmuel asks the clients to stop talking. “I only want to know what’s going on right now,” he says. He asks, “What are you feeling right now?”

The work of Body Tuning has no use for all the information clients want to give.  It serves as nothing but a distraction. “Please listen to the guitar,” Shmuel will say, referring to the peaceful classical music playing in the office. When the client is finally quiet and relaxed, Shmuel can better ‘hear’ the body. The body will ask for what it needs, and it will clearly and precisely describe what is wrong. A Body Tuner listens by touching and moving the body. It is an intimate relationship between body and hands.

The techinique of Body Tuning seems to be one that would be very hard to teach, and I admire Shmuel for endeavoring to teach me.  The work itself is powerful in its simplicity. As I watch, I sometimes think, ‘that’s yoga. If this person had been doing yoga, then they might not be here in this office.” But then there are other times when he uses reflexology, or deep, constant pressure or traction.

Today, as he was working on a famous dancer, Shmuel was mobilizing his hip and as he worked, I could hear him repeating “relax, relax, relax, relax.” At first, I assumed Shmuel was speaking to the person, but the dancer was lying on the table and seemed utterly relaxed. His right hip, however, was telling a different truth. I finally suspected that Shmuel’s mantra was directed to the body, rather than the mind. “Relax, relax, relax” was what he wanted the muscles of the hip to do.

When I first started to watch Shmuel work, my big question was “how do you know what to do?” But after only two days, having observed his work on about ten clients, I think I know how he knows what to do. He asks the body, and the body answers.

And isn’t that how it should be? If he sat me down and told me, “First, you pull this, then touch that, making sure you always turn this that way first,” I’d glaze over from the dullness. But Body Tuning is exciting in that it is alive. It’s fresh. There is no pattern, no system. It’s a communication and allows the body to do its best. We all have the capacity to self-heal, and Body Tuning sets that capacity free.

Today I was given the opportunity to assist manually. I was stabilizing the lower leg of a client while Shmuel was pulling the thigh. At first, I didn’t feel anything happening, but after a minute or so, I started to feel the tissue of the leg shift and change. I could swear I felt it moving around, adjusting, making itself more aligned. And then I heard (or did I feel?) a few, very tiny popping sounds. Intuitively, I knew that felt good. Moments later, the client said, “that feels good to turn my hip that direction.”

How did Shmuel know? The client didn’t tell him. The client never would have known that’s what he needed. But this client was lying quietly and letting his body tell us what it wanted.

If you made a lifetime practice of listening to your own body, you’d be in great shape. But if you, like many people, have some pain in your body that doesn’t seem to be going away, that’s your body saying, “This is wrong! Do something different.” My recommendation would be to try Body Tuning. And perhaps I’ll see you in the studio so I can learn more from you and your body as it is tuned up.”