Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2016

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108 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j a n u a r y / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6 technique MYOFASCIAL TECHNIQUES Sequencing Your Techniques A Three-Phase Approach to Bodywork By Til Luchau Knowing how to do a technique is important. Perhaps even more important is knowing when to use it. This means not only knowing techniques to address the condition at hand, but also how to sequence these tools into a cohesive whole, with a coherent beginning, middle, and end. One way to accomplish this is to follow a sequence or protocol (such as those we teach in our Advanced Myofascial Techniques videos and trainings). But, just as techniques are not all that is required for good hands- on work, recipes and routines also have their limits. At some point in their professional development, many practitioners look to move beyond the scripts and routines that originally helped them learn and apply their work. Different contexts, styles, and methods call for different ways of sequencing the tools we choose. Here are some general principles that can guide your technique selection and sequencing, whatever your context or method. PREPARATION, DIFFERENTIATION, AND INTEGRATION Ida P. Rolf, PhD, the originator of Rolfing structural integration, taught the sequencing of her work via a recipe of 10 basic sessions that progressively addressed the body in its entirety. 1 The logic of her original 10-session series has been analyzed, reinterpreted, and hotly debated among various schools that continue her structural integration lineage. One way her 10-session series can be understood is as a three-phase progression of preparation (the theme of the first three sessions), differentiation (sessions four through seven), and integration (the final three sessions). 2 Without trying to replicate Rolf's recipe, we can respectfully adapt her general principles of preparation, differentiation, and integration to inform any approach. This progression can be applied to all scales and levels of our work—from an individual technique, to a session, to a series of sessions (Image 1). This micro/macro repetition can be compared to a self-similar fractal-like design, where the same patterns are visible at all scales of magnification (Image 2). Each technique needs an "easing into" phase (i.e., preparation); a working phase (in our method, this is usually differentiating one structure from another); and an "easing out" phase—integrating the learning and changes with the rest of the body, with other sessions, and one's daily life. This same beginning-middle-end rhythm applies to the session as a whole, where the first techniques are preparatory (e.g., "Preparing the Neck for Deep Work," Massage & Bodywork, January/February 2009, page 124), the middle techniques focus on differentiation (e.g., "Working with the Scalenes," Massage & Bodywork, January/ February 2011, page 108), and the last techniques are integrative, emphasizing the whole rather than the parts (e.g., "Working Preparation, differentiation, and integration as a repeating cycle that applies a single technique (large triangle) as well as to a session or series (smaller triangles), each of which is composed of smaller versions of the same beginning-middle-end cycle. Image courtesy Advanced-Trainings.com. Smaller Koch snowflake images used under CC BY-SA 3.0. The three-dimensional self-similarity of Romanesco broccoli is one of the many examples from nature that illustrates how smaller units (e.g., techniques) make up similarly patterned larger units (sessions), which in turn make up the whole (a series of sessions). 1 2

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