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.

A Labor of Love by Nancy Dail

A Labor of Love
By Nancy Dail

Thirty-three years ago we started our school around our kitchen table. It was a labor of love to develop an art and science that has transformed into the residence of our 8,000 square foot building. As an independent massage school owner, we are now a minority. Now the market is shared with community colleges, trade and technical schools, beauty schools, and corporations with multiple campuses. Many independent schools have sold to the larger corporate businesses. Education and its venue have changed. Technology allows online courses to be the normal avenue to project information. Massage therapy classes have a practical component that has to be experienced in the class room. Technology can not replace the experience of touch – receiving and giving. Independent massage schools still provide that type of education.

In some ways the comfort zone of the kitchen table education is the experience of the independent school owner. One-on-one teaching is not unheard of and the individual is not a number but a name in the class room. Massage Therapy education is not just about the ability to provide services for the public. It is taking the sense of touch and developing an understanding of why we need to experience close human contact. It is about learning the benefits of touch and massage for each age group in almost any circumstance from birth to old age. It is about intent and realizing the potential for accelerating healing energies.

When I think about all the safe touch that our graduates have provided over the last 33 years, it warms my heart and continues to promote our mission here at the Downeast School of Massage: to train individuals in the art and science of therapeutic massage for and entry-level professional career, for continuing education and for personal growth. The personal growth part is not what adults usually sign up for. It comes irregardless of plans but as a part of the process of becoming a massage therapist and in-class-room course work.

Self-care is not part of the education of all health professional fields. As care givers, health professionals are often taught to expend their energies at the expense of self and not reserve stores to replenish healthy stock. This leads to unhealthy practices and eventual burnout in the form of depression, disease, or even injury. Massage therapy can not afford to not teach self-care as the therapist will otherwise not last in the profession. The independent school owner embraces this need as the focus of the school is about the student and his/her success.

The Downeast School of Massage starts its Fall classes next week. It is not too late to enroll and become part of the rewarding career field of Massage Therapy. This career needs individuals to perpetuate growth and provide services to people of all ages. Massage Therapy is not an obscure profession anymore but an accepted part of health care. Our complete integration is upcoming and part of the near future. After being a massage therapist for almost 40 years I choose to be part of the future of this great career field and will continue to provide safe touch for my clients and touch education for my students. Join us in this adventure!

Nancy W. Dail, BA, LMT, NCTMB has been a professional practicing massage therapist and a member of the AMTA since 1974. She is the founder and director of the Downeast School of Massage in Waldoboro, Maine (USA) (1980). A leader in her field, Nancy presents workshops internationally, is certified in Orthopedic and Sports Massage, and has developed the working philosophy of Dimensional Massage Therapy as lead author in Kinesiology for Manual Therapies published by McGraw-Hill. Her BA in Health, Arts, and Science from Goddard College helps her balance her administrative duties as Director with teaching Dimensional Massage, Advanced Skills, Kinesiology, Ethics and related subjects at DSM.

Graduation Speech for Massage Therapists

Graduation Speech Downeast School of Massage January 2011 Class

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money, then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

As a massage therapist then, I would say that we have our work cut out for us. When we advocate for man and woman we can present a reasonable positive perspective of prevention that includes holistic health, compassion, referral, and quality care. We can give our clients opportunity to change and/or relief from pain and stress. It is after all, their treatment, their time on the table, their choice in direction. Our responsibility lies in our representation of ourselves and our profession. Now as graduates, you represent the profession of massage therapy. This is now your vocation – as Thomas Moore says: “In a sense all work is a vocation, a calling from a place that is the source of meaning and identity, the roots of which lie beyond human intention and interpretation.”

We always ask perspective students why they want to come to massage school. Mostly students will say it is because they feel called to this service; they want to help people directly through touch and not just through paperwork. In a way touch releases the work and transcends it to a source of meaning and identity. But there are many paths that you can choose during and after massage school. DSM has provided the experiences to shape your future choices; we have given you a foundation to build on. Education is the concrete you needed – the foundation of your practice. The paths you choose back and forth to the foundation will be up to you.

Whatever path you choose make sure that your soul is involved in your choice.

Quote: Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul: “When the soul is involved, (or inner self), work is not carried out by the ego alone; it arises from a deeper place and therefore is not deprived of passion, spontaneity, and grace.”

If we can but help to reverse the direction of man we have to look at how we practice our work, that we are intentful and present with each client and represent passion and caring. We need to gently help clients to help themselves, reduce their stress so they can take time to assess life and its meaning. Reducing pain, stress, and discomfort is a noble path. Helping man and woman to recognize that they have a whole body, mind, and spirit is a calling.

What path will you take?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Graduates, I hope that when you assess what you have accomplished at DSM that you have created your own experiences to reflect upon. Your bodies will always remember the hours of sincere intent you have each put into this course and the massage you have received as a result of your class work and each other’s skill. Your experiences in school will help you choose your path for your future and carry you forward to your aspired goals. Although the future is unpredictable, you are not alone. You have bonded with each other with your experiences here. You have a physical and energetic link to each other and to the school. You could no more separate yourself from your memories than a wave could separate itself from the ocean and still be a wave.

Treat your practice and therefore yourself like every day is the dawn of a new day. Let it continually revive your soul and inspire your heart. Anything less is beneath your capabilities. Trust yourselves, your skills and listen to your instincts. Listen to your inner truth that you have been cultivating here. Have confidence in your abilities, you have proven yourselves here. Experience will now be your teacher. I trust that should you need our support here at DSM, you will reach out to us. Graduation is a beginning, not an ending. It is time to share your gifts with others. Good luck. It has been a privilege to work with you. May the path you choose make all the difference.

Congratulations graduates!!
Nancy Dail
Director Downeast School of Massage