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C h e c k o u t A B M P P o c k e t P a t h o l o g y a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / a b m p - p o c k e t - p a t h o l o g y - a p p . 81 Watch "Massage Techniques for the Neck!" can forage. We can have whatever we want, whenever we want. And the result is not good. The dilemma of what to choose offers no solutions. No simplicity. No peace. TURNING KNOWLEDGE INTO UNDERSTANDING The process of learning bodywork can be equally as overwhelming. We learn in school, for example, that the neck has seven vertebrae, 26 muscles, six movements, and a handful of other anatomical parts that we swear we will learn more about later. Then, we learn about eight or nine dysfunctions that occur in this area. And, if we are lucky, about seven techniques we can apply and use once we have graduated and on our own. Now, raise your hand if you have done an online search for "neck anatomy." Or "how to work on the neck." Or "what is really happening with chronic neck pain." (Yup, me too.) We didn't learn everything in school. And the magic key to all that knowledge is right there. So we pick it up. We use it . . . and we freak out about how much we really don't know. We wonder how we are not paralyzing our clients with compression. We question who is correct in their approach—and also who is throwing meteors into a black hole with a blindfold on. I call this "The Anatomical Dilemma." Our current understanding of anatomy is shifting all the time, which means the list of questions keeps growing. Is it a pinched nerve or a connective tissue The question is not what we know, but how we know. Turning knowledge into understanding shifts the chaos into forward movement. disorder? Is it a "crick" in the neck or an ancient family curse? Is "text neck" really a thing? The competing views of "what works when" are enough to make your head spin, which will assuredly cause neck pain. Maybe, just maybe, we are searching in the wrong place. The deeper question is not what we know, but how we know. Knowing a fact and understanding a symptom are two very different starting points. Turning knowledge into understanding shifts the chaos into forward movement. It seems humans are exceptionally good at figuring things out. We can categorize, classify, sort, and label until the stars dim in the sky. But we still can't fully explain neck pain. Sometimes it causes headaches. Some neck pain causes numbness and tingling down the arm. Sometimes it has a specific onset. Sometimes it pops up unexpectedly. Sometimes it lasts a day. Sometimes it lasts an eternity. The variables are infinite, and so, it seems, is the knowledge. We do, however, understand pain. We understand that things don't always work all the time. And we understand that it is important to try. Remember that you know things. You know enough things. You learn how those things operate with other things. Then, you start to understand. You start to see the human being and not just the parts. The lessons are endless. And the journey is a lifetime. So . . . have patience, breathe deep, pour yourself a cup of tea, and lie under the stars. You might just understand more than you think. "The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter." —Malcolm Gladwell Allison Denny is a certified massage therapist and certified YouTuber. You can find her massage tutorials at RebelMassage. She is also passionate about creating products that are kind, simple, and productive for therapists to use in their practices. Her products, along with access to her blog and CE opportunities, can be found at

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