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.

Short Upper Arms

Often in a practice we run across individuals with similar problems in a series that can sometimes be blamed on the season or weather. Certainly clients with back issues come to us after shoveling snow or during gardening season. For what ever reason, however, lately, I am seeing several clients with short upper arm structures and resulting issues from their genetic frame. Normally, if you measure the arm or humerus in our upper extremity it expands from the glenoid fossa of the scapula superiorly to the distal end (olecranon process of the ulna) inferiorly to the waist and iliac crest. Individuals with short upper arms have humeral bones that do not measure down to the iliac crest. Usually they have no idea why they have leaned forward their entire lives or why they may not have been able to reach something on a top shelf when someone the same size can. Often these folks will have more trouble with work stations and are likely to develop carpal tunnel-like symptoms.

A medical history and a visual observation will reveal clients with short upper arms present with over pronated forearms; very hypertonic pronator teres and resulting numbness and tingling to wrist and fingers. The structure itself lends to abducted scapulae with prominent medial humeral rotation, more so on the dominant upper extremity. Add repetitive actions and non-ergonomic work areas and you have a laundry list of muscles to unravel and release entrapments and a recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome, pronator teres syndrome and possibly double crush syndrome.

A Dimensional approach begins the sequence in a supine position with techniques to release hypertonic trapezius, SCM, posterior cervical muscles and pectoralis minor and major muscles. Active engagements techniques help to pin and stretch pectoralis minor and subscapularis. Both muscles are usually very tight on these types of frames. Moving on to the upper arm, release and stretch arm muscles with elliptical movement and dual-distraction moves. Release the elbow joint with movement and techniques. Elliptically move the forearm muscles and release the pronator teres. Sidelying is next with serratus anterior as a star target. Position the client prone lastly to release the soft tissue of the back. Exercises are suggested.

There are a wide variety of techniques massage therapy uses on clients with all kinds of structural issues. The above is my approach for short upper arms and clinical issues that often present themselves to this target group. Other considerations could be hip and pelvic positions, gait, and lower extremity factors. One fact remains apparent that the structure we have contributes to a reaction to our repetitive activities. A wise massage therapist will see beyond the repetitive action!

Nancy Dail teaches courses in Dimensional Massage Therapy and is the co-author of Kinesiology for Manual Therapies published by McGraw-Hill. For more information about Dimensional Massage see other pages on this site. See her schedule for workshops in your area on this website or contact her at