Reflections and notes from the road

by Walt Fritz, PT on February 26, 2017

Just finished teaching my Foundations Approach Upper Body class this weekend in Las Cruces, New Mexico and have a few hours of free time at the airport before the flight home. Reflections on a class are best stated immediately, as memories fade quickly.

  • The professions of participants in my classes vary widely, with interest spread across the professions of massage, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. I get occasional MDs, naturopaths, acupuncturists, and voice professionals as well. The class this weekend had a remarkable near even split of MTs, PTs, and OTs, plus one naturopathic physician. I had a number of therapists new to MFR, but a great-sized number of therapists who have considerable MFR experience, trained both by myself and others. With such a diverse group, the narratives that are relied upon to explain the work they do was large, as is typical. If you spend enough time in the manual therapy field you observe a huge number of variance in the presented narratives, even from within the field of MFR itself. Science has yet to progress to the point where it (or we) can explain everything that occurs in the body and under our hands during treatment, but this fact leaves a lot of openings for poor narratives to take root. Narrative-truth is in the eye of the beholder, at least that is what it would seem if one spent any time eavesdropping on the various therapy groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. “I’m entitled to my opinion,” walks alongside alternative facts, in terms of credibility, so common in the news today. Opinions are fine, but they should be lower on the scale of explanations than accepted facts.
  • Therapists come to continuing education for a wide range of reasons, but most expect a certain level of (indoctrination) in narratives and fascial narratives are expected to be dished out at an MFR seminar. Participants in my seminars are either very disappointed or very excited to hear that I will not give them my version of the Secrets of the Fascia. They were impressed upon me throughout my original MFR training, along with a heavy dose of energy medicine/emotional-fascial-holding-pattern narratives, but I do not perpetuate them at all. We start each class with some gentle deconstruction of myofascial release and manual therapy in general, not to squash beliefs and experiences, but to show the potential flaws and limitations of the inherited narratives so common in manual therapy and MFR today. My MFR narrative was crushed back in 2005 and it took me a long time to recover, so I try to be gentle. We then build a hypothetic model of acceptable (less-wrong) science, using narratives of neuroscience and related concepts. I am brutally honest when I say that I do not know exactly what is happening under my hands, but I know that we can have great effect (affect?). While most teachers sound solidly assured of the accuracy of their model, how can all of those models be correct? We can only touch in a limited number of ways, though the recipes presented make it seem like each modality’s followers can somehow isolate and treat one specific tissue or pathology in isolation to all others. Maybe I am missing something, but I don’t think so.
  • I love feedback (who doesn’t, especially positive feedback) and I take each comment into considerations for changes to my classes in the future. I love it when a seasoned therapist, a veteran of dozens of CEU experiences, comments on how they loved the fresh, humble approach I use. How the work can be put to immediate use in not just MFR, but in all that they do. That is a pretty cool aspect of being a teacher.
  • Some therapists get my approach pretty quickly, while others it takes the better part of the weekend class. My goal is to present a method of engagement that bring the patient into awareness of their issues (pain, etc., etc.) through manual touch and allow a slow, steady stillness with that sensation, allowing their brain to process and, hopefully, allow dissipation of the issue. We do this in a wide variety of ways, many resembling MFR as I was taught, at least the physical representations of it. I do with my hands what I have always done (plus more), which is why I call my work myofascial release. I simply no longer believe the narrative I was taught. The student moves beyond the teacher, only to have another student move beyond them.
  • Being a lesser-known entity in the national continuing education world, I am always grateful when someone takes a chance and decides to study with me. I am equally grateful to those therapists who return to take whatever I am teaching when I return to their part of the country. That is very gratifying and I thank you all.
  • My MFR for Neck, Voice, and Swallowing Disorders has certainly become a favorite, in terms of numbers attending, but I love returning to my roots (The Upper Body class and the Lower Body class). In those classes, we scratch the surface of the potential number of techniques possible in any area of the body. Those seeking additional tools for therapy, or more and more techniques to add to their tool bag are at times mildly disappointed. We certainly work through a lot of techniques, but they are not the important aspect to this work. Establishing a meaningful relationship with our patients and the issues they are seeking help with is the focus of the classes. We talk a bit of diagnoses and what technique is appropriate for each, but I downplay this, as how we touch and engage is applicable to any sort of technique, whether it be MFR or other work. To me, being able to touch and make a relevant connection to and with our patients pain/dysfunction and to be able to make a change is what I teach. Techniques are simply the medium used to make meaningful change, but without a framework for this, they are simply a bunch of tools/techniques that have no use.
  • Three classes completed in 2017 and many more to go. If you want information on my various classes or approach, I invite you to move over to the Foundations Approach website. 

Thanks for reading and see you down the road.

What we do, ultimately, is help people feel more comfortable in their bodies so that they can move more easily and, in effect, heal themselves.

For Now,

Walt Fritz, PT

Foundations in Myofascial Release Seminars

 

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