Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2020

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80 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j u l y / a u g u s t 2 0 2 0 technique THE SOMATIC EDGE Talking to Fascia Changing the Brain, 20 Years Later: A Conversation with Robert Schleip By Til Luchau Our field is in the midst of a slow and sometimes tumultuous sea-change, and many of us are collectively reexamining the conventional narratives and assumptions about how hands- on work produces its beneficial effects. Fascia frequently takes a highly polarized role in these discussions—depending on which social media forum or professional subculture you follow, fascia can be portrayed either in an almost- heroic role (Tensegrity tensioner! Plasticity provider! Sensory strata!) or as a quasi-villain (Inert! Irrelevant! Overhyped!). These symmetrically emphatic polarizations and paradigm clashes echo debates that have been going on in our field for decades now: How much of manual therapy's effects do we owe to the mechanical properties of the tissues? How much to the nervous system? And is there a more useful answer than just leaving it at "both"? Though probably best known as a fascial researcher, networker, and teacher, Robert Schleip, PhD, has been questioning our field's conventional assumptions for much of his distinguished professional career. Earlier this year, I spoke with him at length. In this first of several planned excerpts (which have been lightly edited for clarity and context), Dr. Schleip talks about raising questions as a teacher at the Rolf Institute (now the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute of Structural Integration), his surprising findings during his early work with clients under anesthesia, and more. Til Luchau: Robert, thanks for joining me. You've been a mentor, an inspiration, a fact- checker, and a friend for many years. Your various internet biographies describe you as a "human biologist and psychologist with an area of expertise in fascia." And you are the director of the Fascia Research Group at Ulm University and also research director of the European Rolfing Association. So people know you as a fascial writer, thinker, and networker. Some people also know that you have a background as a hands-on practitioner. You've put many impressive people together and catalyzed some influential work over the years. What did I leave out, or else what would you like people to know about you? Robert Schleip: Well, first of all, I've been a mutual inspiration-exchange partner of you, Til Luchau. So, I wouldn't say I have been your mentor. If so, we have been mutual mentors, and both of us have been associated with Robert Schleip, PhD

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