I’m relatively new to the massage therapy world, having only experienced your standard Swedish and chair massage before I started working at ABMP. That being the case, when I lie down for a massage, I’m typically not expecting to get stepped on. But that’s exactly what happened when I met Richard Rossiter, creator of the Rossiter bodywork technique. I guess “massage” is a misnomer here, because what Rossiter does is less therapeutic massage than it is serious clinical bodywork done with the intention of addressing issues with pain and mobility.
I had a little trepidation when I lied down on the yoga mat and Rossiter proceeded to squash the biceps of my right arm between his two feet. It didn’t feel great, to be honest. He then had me hold all of my extremities in a locked position to engage the fascia throughout my whole body.
In Rossiter, the client is the person in charge, and it’s on you to move the limb being worked on into the resistance applied by the therapist. You find the areas that need attention, and you work to find the position that administers the pressure you want.
As I rotated my shoulder on Rossiter’s instructions, grinding my arm muscles into the sole of his foot, Rossiter maintained the pressure, and I breathed into the resistance, doing my best not to grimace against the pain. More pressure … more movement … more pain … and then … release. On an exhale, I felt my fascia loosen and my arm lengthen away from my shoulder. I didn’t even know I had been holding tension there.
I stood up and walked around, shaking my arms out. I don’t know if the difference was visible, but it felt like my right arm was hanging two inches lower than my left, as if I was hunching my left shoulder up toward my ear. My right shoulder felt totally loose. Not wanting to walk around unbalanced, I went back for more, and he did the same thing with my other shoulder. The work might not have been relaxing, but it was definitely effective.
My session with Rossiter was a good introduction into bodywork that focuses on releasing connective tissue and a good reminder that there are all types of bodywork out there. I’ve heard it said that sometimes the most growth happens outside your comfort zone. If a soothing Swedish massage is the embodiment of ultimate comfort—and to me it is—Rossiter’s work definitely put me outside my comfort zone. And judging by how loose my shoulders felt after less than 10 minutes of work, I’d say the theory holds true.
—Brandon Twyford, Assistant Editor