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Review of Walt Fritz Myofascial Release Seminar

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Review of Walt Fritz Myofascial Release Seminar

Walt Fritz’s Myofascial Release Seminar for Neck/Voice/Swallowing disorders

Before I get into the meat of this, there are a few things to note.  This class, ‘Myofascial Release Seminar for neck/voice/swallowing disorders,‘ is named for the conditions that may occur in the area being treated, as well as how the touching is done. While the title is ‘neck/voice/swallowing’  you can use many of the cervical techniques with any patient who has neck discomfort.  To further the point about the course name, it also is named for Myofascial release.  However Walt is not suggesting that this modality is meant to replace whatever intervention you are already using or that you should just go pulling on skin.  We frequently have a description problem when it comes to manual therapy and courses that operate within the realm of scientific reality.  The question becomes, what do you call things when your tag is “this may help some people, some times, in some way, with some things…but it also may not”.  So if you are fine with the spirit of this, keep reading.

Two other staff members (Tommy and Sylvia) and I attended this course in April of 2019.  It is a two day seminar.  This particular one was at the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center of Mount Sinai near Union Square.  The attendees were mostly speech pathologists, with a smattering of other professions, including massage therapy.  I will get back to who is in the course, but one of the reasons I have admired Walt’s classes is that he has taken the time to get his classes approved for New York State Massage Therapy continuing education credits.  In New York State, it is super hard to level up your skill set when the same information is being taught and re-taught by the same professionals, over and over again.

Walt’s class was well attended and well organized.  He utilizes helpers to make sure you get real feedback ,even though you are in a large group.  Snacks and coffee were provided, although we did not need the coffee to keep us awake.

If research is your thing, Walt does provide it with his materials, but

you are not going to go into a deep dive in this class.  He will give you an introduction and you are welcome to proof on your own.  The assumption is that you are a professional and as such, it is your job to review this information.  A small amount of time was spent on this.  In this way the class was pretty neutral in the “how we think this works” department.  It is not likely to radically change anyone’s mind on the function of manual therapy.  That being said, I am not really sure anyone’s mind can be changed unless they want to.  That is another topic entirely.

The same goes for anatomy in this course.  Walt provided some information in the form of his manual, but the goal is not to teach you anatomy.  If you are a little rough on what goes where in the head, face, neck and jaw, I would recommend flipping through your anatomy book before attending.  You will get a lot more out of the course by being able to connect the dots.  Keep in mind that he is not trying to reinvent the wheel, just showing you different ways you can roll it.  If you are struggling to find a touch that feels safe and appropriate due to anatomy, you might be slowed down.

This class follows the fairly typical pattern of  the presenter talking about what you are going to demo, then performing a demonstration on a willing subject, before you split off and practice on each other.

There are three things Walt does that I like:

  1. He utilizes technology to solve the issue of everyone standing around him, blocking the view of those behind them, while he demos.  One of his helpers was present at all times to get a live feed video on the manual actives that he is showing.  That video was then projected onto three screens so that everyone in the conference hall could access it as if they were in the front row.  The space we were in was well set up for that, and other spaces may not be, but I can only assume if he took the time to do it thoughtfully this time, he probably does in most spaces if there is need. (Maybe he will chime in on an answer for us post, post 🙂
  2. Walt gives his interview process with a patient equal weight to the hands on that he is doing.  In most classes, manual or otherwise, teachers often jump to new technique.  The format becomes ‘for this problem use this thing”.  Not so here.  Walt lets you sit in on his client/patient interview.  If you are a massage therapist, who wants to improve quality, booking, professionalism etc, this is 100% the area that you need to work on.  Sitting in on this is gold.  What he is showing is a conversational health care format of “ol’ dr fricara” interview (if you do not know what that is here is a link) and an adapted motivational interview strategy that continues on to the treatment in the form of feedback (remember consent is an ongoing process).
  3. He has a mixed profession class. For many of the speech path professionals manual therapy was new. They got to work with massage therapists. I think they learned a lot from them. For the massage therapists we got to work with speech pathologists….same story. Both sets came away with great referrals and a really good understanding of how we might work together to better care for people. Rather than pair off into our professions, we sought out the other for their expertise. It was a unique opportunity.

As to the things I did not like. To be honest I would have to be super nit-picky about this. It is a great class. I would say if you are really comfortable working cervical spine in multiple ways manually, or intra-oral treatment is in your wheel house already, it might be a little slow for you. Both Sylvia and I spend a fair amount of our days in working with TMD, so much of this was review. Even so, we managed to come away with some good take aways. Even if this is the case, there is HUGE value in watching how someone else problem solves the same problems. This course assisted us in the decision to add ‘dycem’ as a home care tool for our population, as they often struggle to figure out how to self treat at home in a way that feels good.

Walt also provides ongoing support in his facebook groups (invite only) and his YouTube channel for Myofascial Release.

So to wrap it up: If you are a speech pathologist, much of what he teaches will give you a fresh approach and more options, if you are a massage therapist, this is right up your alley, and will be a detailed course getting you comfortable with helping cervical/jaw/neck pain and problems.

Additionally, if you do find that you NEED more and this was basic, Walt also has an advanced MFR for Neck, Voice, Swallowing class you can check out.<—-I just found out about that from his mailing list.

Body Mechanics NYC

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New York, NY 10001
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Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

What I did not learn about fascia work and massage

UNLEARNING

This blog was inspired by the fact that we spend a lot of time trending hard and obsessing over modalities. We debate whether they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and what we as therapists should be doing now.

Recently I talked with a very aggressive young therapist who was willing to alienate many of his current peers and deprive himself from the benefit of their experiences by defending a modality he in fact had no training in, simply because some of his previous peers had deemed it ‘right’. And shortly before that, while training another young man, I told him he might want to do some more research on some of the modalities he was using simply to ensure that they actually did what they said they did. At that point, he became completely confused, afraid to treat, thinking he might be doing something wrong.

It leaves me wondering if, as experienced therapists in the age of easy communication, we are really doing our parts by telling younger therapists what to value and what not to, without letting them see how we got there – because the process is just as important as the result.

With that I give you  ‘What I did not learn about Fascia work 2005’


I did not learn about Rolfing or Tom Myers

I did not learn that it was tearing, stretching or re-modeling

I did not learn to use heavy pressure

I did not learn to go in any one direction or follow a track

I did not learn it as a passive activity

I was not told that it would solve any one problem or kind of pain

I did not learn that it would hurt

 

In fact, what I learned did not have much theory behind it. What we had learned about fascia was imparted to us in anatomy and dissection, where it was labeled ‘the packaging’.

Our instructions and week of practice were demos of our teacher accessing different areas of the body, with different holds, based on the shape of the body, the clients’ complaints, and instructions that our work did not have to look like hers. We were just to find a comfortable way to hold, to move in the direction of ease with the biology, to move slowly and gently, and to ask for feed back.

When the demos were over, we were set free to work on our own. Our instructor went around and helped us with body mechanics for staying in one place for a long time, and showed us how to keep our fingers from digging in and pinching skin.

Some of the work was feather light, as it was around the face. Some of the work was broader, as it was on the leg or arm. None of the work was particularly deep. The methodology she gave us was “see what works for your client, given their comfort, and the shape of the structure or how you can access it.” It was simply another way to ‘get in’ based on the needs of the client.

At the end of the class, when we had worked every part, she added to the list, “Next time you practice, experiment with having the person tense a little under your hand, and then relax. And see what that does….see if that changes things.”

I think that was probably the most important part of the class.

I have been working this way since 2005. I also imagine everyone who was in my graduating class is working that way, and that our instructor learned to work that way from someone before her, and that she had a community of peers that supported her in that work.

It is fantastic that we now know the tensile strength of fascia, but modalities have never been what drives good treatment, they are ONLY an extension of a communication process. I do not know that we are doing young therapists any favors by debating what is right and wrong as far as modalities. In fact it gives the impression that things are black and white, which they are not. There is ONLY what works given the circumstance, and it requires a lot of thinking outside the box often. Young therapists need to be taught to think for themselves about what is plausible, and to listen. I am not so sure that is the impression we are leaving.

 

View a shortened demo of our TMJ treatment

A short demonstration of the intra-oral massage therapy treatment on TMJ for Tempro-mandibular Joint dysfunction at Body Mechanics Orthopedic massage NYC. The treatment combines fascia work , massage, active releases and trigger point. The intra-oral work does not stand alone but is meant to be part of a full upper body treatment in order to adress all the symptoms.