I am writing this blog at the start of the lunar year, as celebrations are underway for the year of the rat. A new moon is a good time to set intentions and clear out the old. As we begin anew, I was gifted a beautiful piece of art by a client a few weeks ago, and today I found its new home in my office. I have the feeling that it is helping me welcome a new phase of my work.
We have been working on a new piece of writing about Touch Matters that has been bringing further clarity to our work and exploring the importance of attuned touch. This kind of touch can listen to the information that our hands receive on a subtle and nuanced level. With this skill comes an ability to respond, adapt and refine our touch in real-time. The other week I saw a client whom I have been working with over many years. More recently she had been getting referred pain down her right arm along with numbness into her hand. After seeing her doctor, she was referred to Physical Therapy. The Physical Therapist carried out a standard evaluation and assessed the range of motion of her cervical and thoracic vertebrae. All seemed to have gone well during the evaluation. However, the following day the whole upper half of her body started to become painful with the muscles tightening and creating a loss of movement. This created an understandable alarm, as there was nothing remarkable that seemed to happen during the PT evaluation. My own sense is that the touch that was used missed the more subtle cues the body was showing. As a PT, I was trained to look for and measure the range of motion available with the assumption that the muscles would spasm or guard against too much movement. Since becoming more skilled in listening to the more subtle changes in the tissue, I am able to stop before there is a lot of guarding or spasm. Fortunately, we were able to release the excess tension and excitement of the nervous system and decrease the level of pain and increase her range of motion. My client and I discussed how sensitive her nervous system is and how the overwhelm had triggered a strong protective response in her body. Importantly, my client is more informed about her own unique body and how listening to those early cues is necessary to take good care of herself.