Walt’s U.K. MFR Teaching Tour (And a Monty Python Geek Moment!)

by Walt Fritz, PT on September 17, 2017

For those of you who may have missed my countless tourist photo posts on Facebook, I was recently in the U.K. to teach two workshops. The classes were 2-day, whole body classes and it was an incredible experience for me to travel and share my views on manual therapy, myofascial release, and plausible narratives of what we do with some really great people. Both the Letchworth Garden City, home of the very first roundabout/traffic circle in the world (more about that later), just north of London, and Bathgate Scotland, situated midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow, workshops were lovely, small group classes, which makes for a really nice opportunity to learn and share. A number of the therapists who took each of the classes had prior training in MFR, which made the compare/contrast aspects of the lecture and labs quite interesting. Still others had heard of me and my approach through the various pain science-related groups on Facebook, while the rest were simply seeking more learning. I really love teaching this work, but I love traveling too, so this trip was really great. In between workshops my wife and I had lots of time to explore England and Scotland and after nearly two weeks behind the wheel of my Peugeot car hire, I think I maneuvered through those thousands of darn roundabouts quite well, manual transmission stick shift in the left hand, all while on the wrong side of the road, thank you very much. A big thanks to Karyn Clark (Letchworth) and Lisa Beveridge (Bathgate) for patiently facilitating my workshops and an even larger thanks to everyone who took the workshops.

Most of my workshops are held in the United States, though I’ve taught a few times in Canada (and again in two weeks) and once in Jamaica, so this was a really special event for me.

Despite warnings to the contrary before I left the US, the food was really great and the only way I managed to not gain weight was by walking endlessly up and down the stairs at every castle we visited. We even managed to spend one night in a castle.

Not being a well-known name in the U.K., I hoped my simple message would be well received; that most, if not all, of manual therapy (including myofascial release) consists of nearly identical things that we do with out hands. We may work dry or with lubricants, we may work with slow, still holding of the body, we may use quicker, deeper/more aggressive strokes, or we may slide/glide. We may use our hands or tools to coerce things into ways we see them working. We tell tales of what we feel is the cause of dysfunction, based more upon our training and experience than actual supported evidence, even though most of us feel our work is entirely validated by science. Now someone selling/teaching continuing education should not be saying such things. I am supposed to try to convince each of you that my form of myofascial release/manual therapy is unique and special, and is more effective than the other guy’s teachings. But this just isn’t so. We all do really incredible work that improves with experience. Additional training seems to help, though it may be more about reinforcing the narrative than actually learning more skill. Continuing education is about teaching recipes. Even those modalities or versions of a modality that advertise themselves as having a non-protocol basis teach recipes, and I do not use the word recipe in a negative way. By recipe, I mean the manner in which we are made to understand a view and narrative, as well as how to apply it. Outcomes tend to improve, or at least from the very biased and limited manner in which we can self-report, as the recipe is more deeply ingrained. Repetitive learning of the narrative and the recipe of the modality improves the narrative we speak to patients, which in and of itself can improve outcomes (indirect/placebo effects), but tricks us into believing our hands-on skills are improving. Those of you who have worked their way through one or more long modality training series may take issue with these statements and I respect your opinion, even if I do not agree.

So why do I teach if there is such remarkable similarities in all of the work we do and the teachings that are given? I teach to share my views. I like to talk and tell stories, most of them related to our therapy. I like to share my views on what I feel to be the most important aspect of manual care, which is not what we do with our hands, but how we engage the patient in a model of evaluation and treatment that they control. My work and brilliant findings mean nothing if it has no meaning to them. I teach to share a view that we can provide positive changes with nearly any manner of touch, but if the patient does not have a stake in the process we are simply pushing our beliefs upon them. I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about my patient-directed model, but each time I teach my workshops the message becomes clearer and more received. So, I continue to teach (and travel), both in the US and Canada, but also in Australia next February. I hope to return to the U.K. very soon and probably will, as well as in other countries (invite me, I just may come!). By the time I reach the U.K. again my message will have deepened and changed somewhat. Growth and change are good. Myofascial release is the thing I do with my hands, but working from a pain science-informed patient-directed narrative is what has become my passion. I hope you join me someday so that I can share my passion with you.


Walt Fritz, PT

Foundations in Myofascial Release Seminars

An addendum

As a Monty Python fan since the mid-1970’s, I had my inner-geek satisfied while touring a castle in Dunblane, Scotland. If you’ve watched, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” enough times you will remember the scene where guards were told to not let the prince leave the room.

Most of the interior shots for this movie were shot in Dunblane Castle (along with the pilot for Game of Thrones and some of The Outlander series), with the above linked scene filmed at/in this doorway. The crew built doors around this opening for the scene. Terry Jones, one of the original members of Monty Python, is tjhe commentator for the audio guide that one lists to as you make your way through the castle. Geek addendum over.

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