Hello everyone and welcome to today’s podcast with my guest, Julie Sargent. Hi Julie!

Hi there, Trish.

Welcome. The title we’re going to work with today is “Body Work is an Important Part of Optimal Health.” Julie has been a massage therapist for over thirty-one years, folks. She studied at the Myotone Institute a number of years ago in Wakefield, Massachusetts. She’s been a massage therapist and a body worker through the Boston Athletic Club for thirty years. She more recently moved up to the White Mountains where I am and is renting some space in the building that I own up here in the White Mountains. She also has been up doing zero balancing – another form of body work for over ten years.

Julie, tell folks what brought you down this path of doing body work? 

It’s been an interesting study. I really wasn’t even planning on going into medicine or studying body work. One time I ended up helping someone who was having kidney stones. She was in excruciating pain and I put my hands on her while she had to go to the emergency room, she was waiting for a room and I didn’t know what to do. I put my hands on her, just instinctively. So, I saw what the power of touch can really do and then that’s when I started to take classes and learn more and just was always amazed at the power of touch. 

So, this was like a close friend that was having pain or something from the kidney stones?

Somebody I worked with.

Oh, somebody you were working with.

Exactly.

Okay. Wow! What exactly are the forms of massage or types of body work that you do? What are they? Again, for folks to just let them know when you say massage, meaning that there’s many different massage modalities out there and they can be confusing. What would you say are the different ones and the ones that you focus on.

Sure. So, most people when they think of massage they think of a classical style of Swedish massage and that’s usually what people learn in school initially. That includes localization exercises, includes circulatory massage, lymphatic massage – all things that are going to bring the body into more fluid motion to help remove toxins.

Okay. And then are there other modalities out there?

Yeah, there’s sports massage. That’s been one of my main focuses as I was at an athletic club, and as we know athletes like to play hard and oftentimes hurt themselves, so massage really is a complement to their wellbeing before and after exertion.

And how about others? Are there others that you don’t focus on but are out there as far as isn’t there a neurological form or something?

Neuromuscular.

Neuromuscular – how’s that different from Swedish or sports massage?

Yeah, it’s more specific, deeper. It really uses more specific movement with the hands, cross-fiber friction, trigger point – there’s a whole variety of different modalities that can be used to help the body recover.

Okay so these are three, if you will, of the top or most typical massage techniques that are out there you’d say?

I’d say so, sure. Yes.

And then, you do a whole other modality you’d say over the last ten years called “zero balancing.” How is that similar, how is that different from what people are commonly familiar with, this concept of body work from massage.

Yeah, zero balancing is more of a body-mind therapy. A client is more of a participant and indicating how they want to feel when they come in. Then rather than disrobing and having oil they keep their clothing on and the practitioner will provide fingertip pressure and traction to the body to help the body to move more freely.

How does one decide? A client or someone listening to this is like, okay there’s sports massage and there’s Swedish massage, there’s neuromuscular massage, and zero balancing. Those are only four body work type techniques that we’ve even talked about so far and listed off here in this podcast. So how does somebody decide. How does a client choose which will best meet their needs?

That’s a good question. Basically, it’s nice to sit down even before having a session and talk about them and see what that person wants. How can that session best benefit them? Do they have anxiety? Is it more of an issue with how they’re feeling within their mind, or is it in their body, or is it both? That’s where the zero balancing bridges both of those indicators.

Okay. So, you’re saying that pretty much getting to know…either they could talk maybe to their medical provider or the medical provider may make a suggestion. Like I’m an osteopathic specialist. I work with people all the time, and I do manipulative medicine where I move the body around. But, for example, sometimes my modality may not be working possibly or it’s working but I also feel they need more focus on connective and soft tissue work. Maybe to improve like you say circulation more than what I’m able to optimize. So, then I may say to someone…or their tissue is so hypertonic and tight that for me to align their spine or pelvis is not really getting to the answer of why or helping them release the tissue enough. I may suggest a form of massage or something like that. So, you’re saying that people really do need to start asking or talking about their symptoms and asking either a medical provider or seeking out a massage therapist or other type of body working therapist and ask and talk and see if that person meets their needs and then hopefully, if the person’s open-minded, make other suggestions. Is that kind of what you’re putting out there would be the best way for people to consider doing this?

Yes, yeah. And for sure just trying some of the different things as well. To say, “Okay, well I tried that Swedish massage. It was okay, but it didn’t seem to really help my condition. Maybe we can use something a little bit different.” Going through the options and talking to their therapist to see, “Oh, well what else do you do and what have you trained in?” And yes, talking with their team of professionals to see how best to help them.

Okay. And do many massage therapists, for example, have training in multiple of the different types like Swedish vs. sports vs. neuromuscular or is someone trained and focused more on one than another? How does that work?

Usually with the basic curriculum in a 500-hour program there’s a small amount of time given to each of those things. Beyond that, with the continuing education requirements in the field, people tend to specialize. And 24 hours continuing education to stay licensed in the state of New Hampshire.

Okay. So, what you’re alluding to is the fact that the massage and body work profession has become more regulated and people have to get a license within each different state and then there are requirements for their licensure and also their continuing education and then their original education. So, the amount of hours for a certificate or become licensed, to be eligible for licensure in massage is how many hours?

Actually in New Hampshire it’s 750. 750 hours.

Okay. And how long, in time, how does that work out? Does that take about a year?

Roughly a year.

About a year of training in full. Basic full-time classes of some sort?

Usually full time, yes.

Full-time classes of some sort. And then as you say, what are the requirements for continuing education? I think you may have mentioned like 24 hours every…

Two years.

Every two years. Obviously, it’s become much more regulated than it used to be.

Right. Yes.

Okay and what you’re saying is that people are usually trained in these different categories such as sports or neuromuscular or Swedish and then they may find themselves gravitating more towards one or another?

Right. Yes, exactly. And then taking classes along that line in of the interest that they find.

And then they specialize. Okay. Now let’s talk about this other issue that many people out there tend to regard massage as a luxury or an extravagance. What does the research indicate as to how massage therapy can help alleviate various health complaints or serve to prevent injuries because there must be research out there to show that this isn’t just going to a spa to get a massage on a vacation or something.

Exactly, yes.

There’s no doubt that the feel-good massages are wonderful and some people that have disposable income might do it regularly. But for people who just need to address medical issues, it’s something that’s more a necessityClick To Tweet. In fact, insurance is starting to cover some massage therapy when it’s prescribed by a physician. The research is starting to be more comprehensive as far as the studies to show that the actual stress reduction which is the main benefit is the reduction of stress. That leads to all the other benefits. You have less stress, you have less illness, you have less pain. So that kind of thing.

Yeah, absolutely. There’s been a definitive study and numerous studies in the osteopathic world around osteopathic manipulation, but I know of one that definitely was doing blood pressure, for example. They would take the people in the study’s blood pressure prior to an osteopathic evaluation and treatment and then after. There was a significantly standardized statistical result in that the blood pressure reduced regularly for the people in the study, and over time, it stayed lower. Has massage had research studies in that regard?

There have been some regarding blood pressure, yes.

Great, great. Now, what’s a typical session like for people? How often do you suggest people go for a massage?

Optimally, I would say probably once a month. When they come in for a session we go through their medical history and really, it’s their time for them. Time for them to just unplug from the daily busyness, quiet the mind, take some deep breaths, it’s all very professional. I leave the room if they are getting disrobed. If they are disrobing I leave the room. They are professionally draped and yeah, it’s an enjoyable experience. Most people who haven’t had one before say, “I’ve never experienced something so relaxing.” Often people are really surprised. They learn more about themselves. Sometimes people have trouble relaxing. They might say, “Gee I don’t think I’m good at this!” or something. But it’s a practice and

as our minds get busier and busier sometimes it is harder to just really let go and unwind.Click To Tweet

Okay. And what are the top clinical complaints that you see people come with?

 

Yeah – cervical pain, headaches, those are some of the big ones.

 

Cervical pain is the neck.

The neck area, yes. Especially with people on computers and smart phones. The repetitive motion of that position has caused a lot more issues in the neck. Headaches as well. Carpal tunnel syndrome over the years from people being at computers. Just strain from being at desk jobs. Back, neck, shoulders are probably the big three. Back, neck, and shoulders. But then people have their favorite areas. They love their feet, or they love their head. Yeah.

Being worked on, yeah.

Really a holistic therapy and that’s the beauty. You really get to feel good from head to toe. 

So how would you say the title of your “Body Work is an Important Part of Optimal Health,” what is it that makes this so important for people and how should it be ingrained or how do people start getting involved? What should they look for in the paper? What should they look for in a therapist they’re considering going to see?

I’d say have some interviews with different therapists. Talk to them and make sure you have a good sense of where they went to school, what kind of things they’ve trained in. Let’s see…what else would they look for? A professional atmosphere, somebody who does do a medical intake to make sure they don’t have any allergies, no contraindications. That kind of thing is important as well. Just a professional – they want somebody that’s very professional in the field.

Okay. And sometimes I’ve noticed in the massage world there’s these different types we’ve talked about and there’s also sometimes other aspects like hot stones or other things. Hot stones are pretty commonly known of. Can you explain what the purpose of that is? Are there other accessories, I’ll say, that you may use with people or how that fits in?

Sure, yes. The hot stones are a really beautiful therapy and many of these come from Asian therapies five thousand years ago with the Chinese and so forth. They’ve really just been brought back into current use. They really help with the circulatory system, that’s the main thing, and they can also just reduce tension in the musculature by loosening it, and they feel really good! Sometimes people say, “Forget your hands – just give me the hot stones!” They’re really relaxing.

Right! Are there others like that?

Yes, there’s warm bamboo which is also another ancient Chinese technique that’s lovely and which uses the bamboo soften wooden pieces that you use on the body to get into tight areas. That’s quite nice. Rosewood and bamboo. People do other spa treatments like exfoliation with body scrubs and body wraps. I’ve only done part of that therapeutic process with massage therapy.

I went to Turkey and I was teaching in Turkey at one time. Of course, the Turkish baths and I had a Turkish bath experience in a spa followed by a massage, but that exfoliation with kind of a granular soapy experience and then the water and you feel so clean and tingly and pure and then I also followed that up with a regular type of massage. Oh my goodness! You explaining just reminded me of that! That was kind of the best two hours of my life right there!

That’s amazing!

Just how relaxed I was afterwards and how my skin and my whole being tingly and alive as a result of that.

Yes. And to allow oneself to feel like that and not feel guilty about it!

Right!

It’s important, you know. We work hard. I think maybe it’s a puritan ethic sometimes that, oh, I’m allowed to feel good.

Feeling good is so important whether it’s body work or listening to music or whatever it is. Finding that way to enjoy our lives more fully.Click To Tweet

The other thing I would bring up is that what I talk with people about a lot with body work and the work that I do with people is that the connective tissue of the body is a holistic system. The fascia and the fact that it’s a holistic system and the idea that our body based on our habitual movements in our life, based on our job or how we sleep, and how we interact with our environment on a daily basis, many of us have very definitive routines for example. Our body learns patterns and the patterns are not balanced and the patterns can set us up, if it goes on too long, for injury or pain that develops as a result of these patterns that can be impinging one area of blood flow or musculature and fine in another area. Do you find this in massage and your zero balancing? Is that kind of a focus for you? Do you see that with people?

Absolutely, fascia is fascinating! It really is that connective web that covers our body from head to toe. Around the bone, the periosteum which is alive. Where the restriction happens in the fascia sometimes I think is overlooked with different body work methods. Massage and osteopathic, I think, really addresses it in a very important way.

What do you notice over time? Let’s say some clients you’ve had that do make a point of making body work a part of their lives and maybe when they first came to you you noticed these patterns we’re referring to in certain areas of hypertonicity and tightness and other areas of suppleness. What do you notice about their life, their body, everything about them over time if they’re utilizing body work as part of their overall health plan?

Yeah

over time the transformation is remarkable. Even after a few sessions they start to feel differently in their bodies.Click To Tweet Then those restrictive patterns start to change. They think, oh I now should sit up a little. They say, “Oh I feel a little better. I should do this.” It’s a nice snowball effect into gaining more mobility and body awareness.

In how many sessions would you say you start to see these changes in people?

I’d say probably five to ten sessions.

Five to ten. And again, like once a month or something like that?

Yeah once a month is good. Sometimes maybe a little more at the beginning. A few in a row just to get things to change. Working to warm the body, get the changes to happen within the tissue so that they will stay without going back to the way they were. Re-education of the body.

Right, right. Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about zero balancing. Can you tell us about zero balancing, what it is, why you feel it is beneficial, and how it’s different from massage?

Yes, yes. The founder of zero balancing, Dr. Fritz Smith, is an osteopath and an M.D. He studied in traditional medicine and then in the 1970s he went on to study acupuncture. Then he brought the two sciences together – our sciences of energy and structure. The meridians that are used in the Eastern part of medicine with acupuncture and the traditional training that he had as an osteopath. He came up with this beautiful system. At first, he didn’t know what to call it. They called it Fritzisms and people would get off the table and after a few sessions feel very different. Because it’s a body-mind therapy, they found that their lives were just running more smoothly. It included some meditation. You go into a meditative state, really, when you have one of these sessions. It allows your body to drop deeply in and the neuroplasticity of the brain to change maybe some concepts that you had. You might come in saying, “I’m never going to get better.” Okay, that’s what you thought before, now what about the possibility of feeling better? Then you imprint that into the brain and then you have the body work. It’s a transformational type of work that has really been gaining popularity around the country, around the world. He’s still teaching at age 91 and it’s just phenomenal with his passion about this work as I am.

How was your training in that? What’s the training in zero balancing?

That required…let me think now…I had to do 115 write-ups on different cases. I had a mentor that I worked with that checked out all the different ways. It took about two years to get that certification.

Interesting.

Yeah and I still keep up and take at least one or two classes a year with that from different teachers.

Okay. What would be the number one thing you would say to someone of why they would want to consider zero balancing over other body work?

Yeah. A lot of people after they try it they say, “I like it better than massage because of the clarity of it.” You stay fully clothed, there’s no oil, it’s distinct, it has to do with building these beautiful fulcrums. The working tool is a fulcrum. You’re allowing…you’re not forcing anything. Massage you get in and you’re kind of muscling things around. Zero balancing is a little more elegant. It just really allows change and allows a person to change without force.

What directs you while you’re doing the therapy of zero balancing?

An awareness of where they’re going. I’m just more of a witness to their state observing their breath pattern their working signs as they go deeper into this experience of themselves.

Okay. How does energy fit in with zero balancing? Is there a definitive sense of this movement of energy in the body when you’re working on them? Or is this something that’s just part of the whole package?

You definitely are aware of the energy. Yes, the subtleties of energy moving. Something that may freeze up or the energy of someone who just has a large release with big sighs or something. Or changes in skin color or temperature. There’s a lot of energy shifts that happen.

One thing with body work, one other point I’ll bring up and ask about, is we talk about consciousness and consciousness science has already always said it’s in our brain and who we are and how we’re conscious of our being and what we’re conscious of is all in our brain. Well I’ve had many experiences in my life when I’m doing some sort of yoga or having had body work and all of the sudden I have memories of things, for example, I wasn’t thinking about or I may break out in laughter or I may break out in tears. I’ve seen that in patients I’ve worked on as well. Have you had that experience and does that fit with the zero balancing or the massage or both? In the idea of consciousness and emotions and the fact that in our connective tissue we may be holding these things.

I would say many times people do have emotional changes. In zero balancing there usually are not those types of major changes, more so in the myofascial release or the craniosacral therapy that I’ve studied, sometimes there can be more emotional releases. With zero balancing there might be a recognition but usually it’s more like seeing a movie or it’s a little bit more of just letting it go in a different way without an emotional experience.

What would be your major message to folks and the theme or the message you’re trying to get across to people about body work today with this podcast?

Allowing yourself and your loved ones to be touched in a safe, healthy environment can really enhance your life, makes you feel good, helps with sleep, helps with managing stressClick To Tweet, and it just really is a nice way to experience usually an hour away from the day-to-day grind.

Yeah. We’re all caught up.

It’s sometimes a reset. We forget, oh I needed that. A change of pace let’s say. An effective change of pace.

Many of us, we know we need to get our physical exam once a year and then of course if we develop more conditions or pathologic issues then we need to see medical providers more frequently. We know we need to see the dentist – God forbid!

My least favorite place to go, sorry!

But also, the dental hygienist. We know we need to do our exercise and we know we need to eat right, but it sounds like wow body work sounds like the fun part! All those others we have to do, but what about what we want to do! The idea of wow, something that can optimize my health and that I actually want to do!

Exactly. It feels good, and it’s good for you. Yeah, it’s a win-win.

Absolutely! This has been awesome, Julie. One question I always like to ask my guests at the end to have you share with people is if there was one secret to live an optimal, healthy life what would that one secret be?

Good one. That’s a good one. Stop and smell the roses.

Yeah, and what does that mean? That’s a saying, of course, that all of us have heard, but to you what does that mean?

It really does mean to take stock of your lifestyle. How do you really want to spend your days? Do you want to be running around and fatigued and exhausted at the end of the day or do you want to just have more of a harmonious way where you can live more in balance? Just take an active role in your health to feel better.

Awesome. The other thing with stopping to smell the roses would be more mindfulness.

Yes.

The idea of well what does the rose really look like and what does it really smell like? Take note of the beauty of it. So many of us see these things and just take note for a split second and then it’s already gone and we’re already onto the next task. It’s sort of a smell the rose, feel the rose, see the rose, and maybe even taste a petal or something. The idea of what are all the senses of this plant and this beautiful item. Think about the romance that’s behind it and has become the myth of the romance and the beauty in our lives. It’s…wow! It can become an hour worth of contemplation. But the idea of stopping, stopping and taking that into consideration.

Well, awesome! Thank you, Julie, for coming on the show today. I hope everybody has enjoyed it! Everybody take care. Take care, Julie!

Thanks, Trish. I appreciate i

Connect with Julie

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

 

Join the Discover Health Community today: