CORE Structural Integration and Myofascial Therapy: A Lifetime of Improving Structure and Function George P. Kousaleos, LMT

CORE Structural Integration and Myofascial Therapy:
A Lifetime of Improving Structure and Function
George P. Kousaleos, LMT

It is interesting that a cervical injury during a college rugby match lead me to my first Swedish massage. After four weeks of treatment the massage therapist sent me to my first Iyengar Hatha Yoga class, where I experienced more discomfort during exercise than I had ever felt in my lifetime. Six weeks later the Iyengar teacher gave me an article on Rolfing, and in a few short weeks I received my first session of Structural Integration. Each step of the way I experienced significant improvement in decreasing my pain levels, improving my overall flexibility, and becoming more aware of my optimal physical alignment and balance. It took three years to realize that I was ready to change my life even further and started my training as a professional massage therapist and Structural Integration practitioner.
From the earliest days of my study of the disciplines of Structural Integration and Myofascial Therapy I was fascinated with the importance of recognizing the foundational relationships between structure and function. Indeed, over many years and decades of practicing and teaching this incredible work, I never lost sight of those relationships that not only improve structure and function, but increase neurosomatic awareness and restore a sense of physical and mental confidence.
From the early 1980’s I worked in New York City with leading ballet dancers, opera singers and classical musicians. They quickly appreciated the performance benefits of this precise work and cherished the added level of skill mastery they acquired through regular clinical treatment.
Later that decade I practiced and taught in Germany, applying this work to patients at a holistic center for homeopathic medicine and psychiatry. Through various seminars I taught Myofascial Therapy to European massage therapists and physiotherapists in 13th Century Bavarian castles, on the Greek island of Santorini, in the oldest yoga school in Vienna, Austria and at the healing warm springs of Passau. I appreciated even more the effects of slow, powerful, and carefully orchestrated pressure that changed the pliability of even the densest tissues, the most hardened of bodies.
After opening the CORE Institute in Tallahassee, Florida in 1990, and creating an entry level professional massage therapy program that included structural and myofascial education, I looked for opportunities to help prepare my students for the day that each of them would embark on their professional journey. I was thrilled when the British Olympic Association decided to hold their warm-weather preparation camps at Florida State University to prepare their athletes for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. British Olympians from 13 sports received regular treatments from CORE students during three weeks of strenuous two-a-day practice sessions during the summers of ’95 and ’96.
The Atlanta Olympics lead to my involvement as a Co-Director of the International Sports Massage Team of the 2004 Athens Olympics & Paralympics. One hundred and eighty therapists were chosen from 18 countries to provide therapeutic massage to over 15,000 athletes and coaches. Many athletes had never experienced massage therapy in their home country and relished at the improvement to form and function at the most meaningful time of their life. An Italian gymnast, who came to the clinic daily, won the gold medal in the horizontal bar in one the biggest upsets of the Athens Olympiad. The next day he came to the clinic to take photographs with the therapists who helped him prepare for his “lifetime moment”.
Later that decade I began teaching in England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland from 2009 to 2011. Many of those students from London, Manchester, Chelsea, Bath, York, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Galway and Dublin assisted their Olympic teams at the 2012 London Games. Each of them took their place with those who preceded them in offering a sports and performance therapy that increased balance, responsiveness, ease of movement, and kinesthetic agility.
At the same time I was engaged in creating Myofascial Therapy protocols for the leading athletes of the Florida State University Football Team. From 2011 to this day these athletes receive twice a week treatment from 10 CORE Institute graduates during the regular season as well as during all spring and summer training camps. During this time, soft-tissue injuries decreased by 75% and FSU won three ACC Championships and the 2013 National Championship. Over 30 of these athletes are now playing in the NFL, with many of them continuing their commitment to regular myofascial therapy.
Last Fall I was honored to travel to Sydney, Australia and teach leading sports therapists from all across Australia and New Zealand. Many of these therapists work in allied medical fields, including physiotherapy, podiatry and acupuncture. On the ninth and final day of the intensive seminar we invited current and former professional and Olympic athletes to a special clinic. Each athlete responded favorably to their sense of improvement from a 90-minute full body session, with several emailing us later in the week with amazing stories of how their training had improved. The common theme we heard was “I feel more awareness of my body and how integrated my movements have become.”
I am more than satisfied that during the past four decades I have represented one of the finest approaches to structural and functional improvement from the disciplines I studied 37 years ago. Each year I look forward to introducing this work to curious and dedicated therapists who are searching for the keys to providing long-lasting health and wellness to those they serve each day. Each day I enjoy my clinical sessions with professional and amateur athletes who want to maintain elite athletic levels, with clients rehabbing from serious injuries and disease, and with those who simply yearn for a deeper sense of self. Each day I find happiness.

Join us at the Downeast School of Massage to welcome George at his Core Myofascial Therapy Seminar on July, 10, 11, and 12, 2015. See description of his workshop at:  Register on line or call 207-832-5531.

Adovacy for Client Health

Advocacy for Client Health
By Nancy Dail

When I graduated from massage school in 1974, I came back east with every intention of returning to the Southwest to work with Dr Scherer at his massage school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Life and changes got in the way, the death of my mother on the heels of my return home, and somehow I melted into the Maine landscape and built a massage practice here. Jay, still directing me from the Southwest, expected me to explore emergency medicine and so I became an EMT. I actually had a “red emergency phone” in my house that was hooked up to the town of Waldoboro. This was even before pagers! I was glued to that phone and could only go as far as I could hear it when I was on call for the ambulance service.

I learned a lot being an EMT. I saw first-hand what trauma would do to the human body and how necessary immediate emergency care can make the difference between life and death. I performed CPR on human beings sometimes saving lives, but always working within the scope of emergency medicine. I got to know all the trauma physicians, respect emergency medicine in general and befriended RNs and the medical community. Our team would assist the physician if necessary in the ER and on several occasions with the permission of the patient, I was able to observe the subsequent surgeries in the operating room. Truly, this was the start of my thirst for anatomical knowledge.

Emergency medicine is where I first started taking blood pressure readings. So when I started a school in 1980, it made sense to me that massage students should know First Aid, CPR and should learn to take blood pressure readings. As an EMT, I did not diagnose. The blood pressure reading was an evaluation that was noted at the scene of the accident or trauma. A health professional or anyone for that matter, cannot tell if someone has high or low blood pressure by looking at the individual. Truly, the blood pressure reading may vary the very next time you measure it. Medication usually normalizes blood pressure readings so they do not vary much from each time it is measured. Individuals who have high blood pressure but who are on medication, need to be referred back to their physician. All clients who have multiple signs and symptoms, like headache, edema, and high blood pressure, need to be referred to medical.

Part of what we do for our clients is to help them help themselves. My Anatomy Coloring Book that I colored with my first class is held together with duct tape from showing clients muscles and bones in living color in those early years. Later on, I graduated to Travell, the Atlas of Anatomy, and to my own text Kinesiology for Manual Therapies. Knowledge is power, and the client is better able to advocate for themselves with more information.

In my practice, I strive to integrate with the health professional community around me. In our student clinic, we have clients who are seeing physicians, PTs, acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc who are more than willing to see the combination of massage therapy and health care for the benefit of their patients. I do take blood pressure readings in my practice and our students provide that service in the student clinic. We have been known to refer clients to their physicians for evaluation and diagnosis. Recently, we had a client who had just been in the hospital for low blood pressure. The bottom line is that our clients are not coming to us all normal and healthy. They are coming in with their new normal which may include diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia, and a slew of other pathological conditions. We, the massage therapists are the ones who will have to come up to speed.

If we are going to accept clients who walk in the door, then it is our responsibility, with this direct access, to decide who has the ability to benefit or not. The BP cuff is a simple tool, easily mastered, that is another way to give information back to the client. We do seem to all agree that there are benefits and that there are contraindications for massage therapy and for bodywork. If those statements are true, than simple assessments to provide information would add to our tool belt. Science is the foundation of your art. Taking a blood pressure reading should just be part of our process to advocate for our clients.