Complementary Medicine

Complementary medicine is the term I would choose for what I do. There are many reasons for this but one major factor is that I don’t feel I’m in competition with the predominant western model of healthcare. Before we get too deeply into this discussion I have to set the record straight. Western medical doctors have done nothing to help me heal. I’m not saying they can’t help you I’m saying they haven’t helped me. All of the damage I sustained was made worse under their care and I had to drop out of school and go my own way to find people who could help me.

Most of those who did help me are quite frankly considered snake oil salesman. A cranialsacral therapist, a yogi named BKS Iyengar, a yoga teacher in the U.S. named Bikram Choudhury and a Thai massage teacher doing some odd stuff I now do for a living. I got more help from asian bodywork and care than I ever did from western doctors after a horrible whiplash. Drunk drivers aren’t on my love list.

Within this complementary medicine that I’ve tried over time there’s been a whole list of things that have not been studied my western science as it should. I’m not saying that it has Not been studied but the depth just isn’t there. There’s a reason I take antibiotics if I have a root canal needed, antibiotics work. I’m not interested in the slightest in inefficacious medical care. When I was 22 I had a choice, I could figure out how to get better on my own, or I could become a junkie. Think about that for a minute and how my life must have looked. Chronic pain, every day, intractable and the people who presume to know the human body look at me and say, “You look fine according to the x rays. We can’t give you pain medication because you will become addicted. You’re too young.”

All these years later I still ache. I work on it, I’m better, my health is better than most I know but it’s taken years of hard work and dedication, not to mention sampling what others consider snake oil. The only thing I did pick up as a philosophy student was looking at the big picture and asking questions. When it comes to our current medical model let me explain this so you understand. There are two major issues when it comes to what is considered science. The scientific method works, there’s a reason we hold it in such high regard. When we study something we can prove and show repeatedly that something works then delve more to find out why.

The gap is that on the one hand we only know so much so we need to look at specific things. What we Choose to study is just as important as the results. The other factor and hold onto your hats, medical research must be funded. Funding=$. Do you or I have money to dedicate to the study and research of complementary medicine? Homeopathy, acupuncture, Thai massage, massage, cranial osteopathy, yoga, tai chi? These things are difficult to study but not impossible. The catch is who will pay to have them studied? In the U.S. alone we spend more money dropping rockets and bombs on other countries than goes into research on these things. Maybe they don’t work and if they don’t, let’s find out and move on with life.

The fundamental issue is that insurance and pharmaceutical companies now own medical care in this country. They pay for research. Does anyone care to prove that I can within a single session help someone feel better for an entire week even if they suffer chronic low back pain? There’s no money in it for anyone but me. Pharamceutical companies have no interest in my helping people because they can’t profit. Please remember, I Love western medicine, our emergency care is superb and if I get hit by a bus please rush me to the ER. Afterwards, I’m seeing all of the complementary medical personnel who’ve kept me off of the needle.

The questions are: What do we study? Why do we choose to study it? That’s science and science is ruled by $. The $ is in the hands of insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies who have a vested interest in you taking more of their products and sealing the deal on their market.

If you see me and have back pain, try a few sessions. I’ve been conducting “research” for 11 years. 😛

Back Pain

I’ve seen so much back pain over the years it’s become a joke. I don’t take others pain lightly but having had so many structural issues myself then seeing clients complain about being in an office chair for 60 hours a week becomes tedious. If I could do anything for middle America, it’s showing them how to use gravity to help open their rib cage while back bending their thoracic spine. I see too many office warriors collapsed and growing old before their time.

The above video shows you how to use a foam roll to help you passively back bend through this area and soften the stretch. If done daily, what back pain? will probably become your mantra. Correct the posture, pain often goes away. We don’t cure things but what if you’re symptoms go away?

It’s so simple most people miss it. Correct the posture, align your body, physical freedom happens. Gravity is your friend in this back bend.

Learn Massage Techniques

Anyone can learn massage techniques. You don’t have to be licensed and what’s good for you, is good for your family and friends. The Austin Thai massage group has been so active recently that we’re drawing attention from locals and others online via facebook. A licensed therapist was asking questions and trying to figure out what was up with the group because it didn’t resemble anything she’d ever seen before. The group has slowly turned out 20+ people every Thursday for the last several months and as we grow, we diversify and things get louder. There’s acroyoga in a corner, some flirting going on in the other.

It’s taken time for me to grow accustomed to what we do. In all honesty I’m a licensed therapist and teacher in TX so I began joining the group in a teacher/mentor role and taught little bits. Now it’s been so long I can watch people I taught teaching new people who come in. In some ways it’s a much more traditional model than the spa/client industry and marketing we do in the U.S. It’s starting to ruffle feathers. People aren’t licensed, don’t know contraindications or medical history and have never attended massage school.

When we work I usually look around the room to see if anyone is doing anything that could do harm. If so I stop, go chat with whoever is working and guide them. For the most part the acroyoga community has enough intuitive sense to avoid things that don’t feel good and based on that response to pleasure, they do really wondeful intuitive work. At the same time this open space allows for the most interesting improvisation I’ve ever seen. Acroyoga and Thai massage mash together with friends in something that’s akin to the anarchy at Burningman, all for free.

The form this takes looks nothing like the formality of going to see a massage therapist. That is where I think the problem or in my opinion, the solution comes in. What if massage becomes fun? A group activity? That last part, a group activity is what I’ve been pondering more and more on many levels. Thai massage, because you’re clothed can be done publicly. Think about that for a minute, let it marinate. Public massage where other people are around giving and receiving work. That one point is so contrary to our dominant model is it any wonder we’re ruffling feathers.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”~~Jesus

Thai Massage Is The Best!

I’ve been doing lots of promotion on various facebook groups related to massage and Thai massage in particular. One of the things I’ve noticed is that other massage therapists talk about Thai massage as a modality. For the life of me I can’t fathom what they learned or were talking about. A modality seems to be something you add to your massage like Reiki, hot stones, reflexology and trigger point therapy. To me that’s akin to saying you learned this little thing that’s an add on.

Big Twist Robert Gardner Wellness

Thai massage is The Best Bodywork I’ve Ever Had. I’ve looked under every rock, nook and cranny for more and I’m still practicing it 9 years later. Thai massage is So vast I find it never ending. Much like Chinese medicine you become a master after years of work with people and developing pattern recognition. People seem to think that Thai massage is just some stretches and that is completely not the case.

Heel Push Robert Gardner Wellness

If you’re a client with back pain, it can help. If you’re a therapist trying to avoid burn out this is how you do it. Thai massage is deeper than any other massage I’ve ever had. I can, if I wish lean 185lbs of heel into you. Thai massage…is the best.