Ep 252 - Clint Chandler: Blending Education with Practice: “The Rebel MT” with Allison Denney

An image of practitioner, educator, researcher and entrepreneur Clint Chandler.

Even if you have never heard the name Clint Chandler, there is a good chance you know his work. The voice, the hands and the mind behind ABMP's 5-Minute Muscles, Clint has laid the groundwork for education in the field of bodywork and massage. He has written elaborate curriculums, worked with some of the leading minds in our industry, developed ground-breaking methods of pedagogy, and is a voice for the importance of palpation. I am lucky enough to have studied under his tutelage when I was in school and recently had the honor of sitting with him to talk about his extensive career. A gentle giant, Clint Chandler is a wealth of information and wisdom. 

Author Images: 
Allison Denney, The Rebel MT.
Author Bio: 

Allison Denney is a certified massage therapist and certified YouTuber. You can find her massage tutorials at YouTube.com/RebelMassage. She is also passionate about creating products that are kind, simple, and productive for therapists to use in their practices. Her products, along with access to her blog and CE opportunities, can be found at rebelmassage.com.        


Rebel Massage Therapist:

My name is Allison. And I am not your typical massage therapist. After 20 years of experience and thousands of clients, I have learned that massage therapy is SO MUCH more than a relaxing experience at a spa. I see soft tissue as more than merely a physical element but a deeply complex, neurologically driven part of who you are. I use this knowledge to work WITH you—not ON you—to create change that works. This is the basis of my approach. As a massage therapist, I have worked in almost every capacity, including massage clinics, physical therapy clinics, chiropractor offices, spas, private practice, and teaching. I have learned incredible techniques and strategies from each of my experiences. In my 20 years as a massage therapist, I have never stopped growing. I currently have a private practice based out of Long Beach, California, where I also teach continuing education classes and occasionally work on my kids. If they’re good.

website: www.rebelmassage.com

FB: facebook.com/RebelMassage

IG: instagram.com/rebelmassagetherapist

YouTube: youtube.com/c/RebelMassage

email: rebelmassagetherapist@gmail.com

The Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS) promotes the quality and integrity of continuing education to practitioners in the field of lymphedema and edema management. Manual lymphatic drainage helps to reduce edema of various genesis, including posttraumatic and post-surgical edema, as well as several pathologies, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, and chronic pain. Highly skilled manual lymphatic drainage therapists with advanced training are instrumental in supporting the healing process in patients recovering from oncology treatments as well as cosmetic, reconstructive, and gender affirming surgery. ACOLS offers Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) Certification and Complete Lymphedema Therapy Certification courses in both in-person and hybrid options. With 150 annual course offerings all over the country, students can find the right course for them. 

Website: acols.com

Facebook: facebook.com/AcademyofLymphaticStudies

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/academy-of-lymphatic-studies-llc

Instagram: instagram.com/lymphaticstudies

Email: admissions@acols.com

Full Transcript: 

0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: This episode is brought to you by Rebel Massage Deep Tissue Body Butter. Crafted because oil is too slick and lotion absorbs too fast, these organic professional grade body work butters give you the grip you've been looking for. The best techniques in the world can get lost without the right product to support them. Try the Get a Grip version for a more specific focused work or the Total Meltdown version for that grip with a little extra glide, made by a massage therapist for massage therapists. Head over to rebelmassage.com to get your grip today.


0:00:48.7 S1: You know you had a great education when one of your teachers from massage school wrote multiple elaborate curriculums, was a contributing editor for the book The Trail Guide to the Body, helped to pioneer and stars in ABMP's Five-Minute Muscles and laid the ground work for the importance of palpation in the field of body work and massage.

0:01:09.3 Clint Chandler: I don't care what anybody says, you need those foundational skills, you need to understand how joints move, you need to understand where the muscles are, you need to understand what they do what their function is... That's the... People can say that they don't like that, but you're working on the human body, it's human anatomy that you're trying to change or you're trying to effect some kind of change.

0:01:31.8 S1: Clint Chandler has been studying and practicing body work for four decades, I was incredibly lucky to have learned under his tutelage at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy back in 1999, and now today, I had the privilege to sit and listen to the story of how it all began, the bumps along the way, and his thinking on what it means to be a strong body worker.

0:02:00.0 CC: Yeah, my name is Clint Chandler. The name of my business is Corrective & Restorative Massage Therapy Services. I still operate a private practice in Boulder, I've got some clients that have been with me, if I just was looking back, about 25 years now. I've been in practice for 32 years now, and teaching most of that time except for the last 10 years. And then I worked eight years before that in physical rehabilitation, so almost 40 years in healthcare-related or wellness industry.

0:02:33.1 S1: A person can learn a lot in 40 years of working in an industry. And so my first question for Clint was, what are some of the bigger things that he has gleaned from his time in this field?

0:02:44.0 CC: I've learned so much. Yeah, I've learned... I learned the most from other people, I would say. My career, when I graduated from college, I started out in the physical rehab hospital, 58 bed free standing as a part of a multi-disciplinary team approach. So we had physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language, physiatrist, neuropsychology. And that I learned a lot about a team approach and trying to help set up rehabilitation programs for people. My undergraduate degree, I wanted to do physical therapy, but they didn't have it at the college that I had a scholarship to play football. That was at Mesa State University, well, now it's called Mesa University over in Grand Junction, but they had a degree called Therapeutic Recreation and that seemed to resonate with me. So I became a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, and I did my internship at this hospital, 500-hour internship, and then I graduated on a Friday, and I went to work on a Monday for them, one of their first employees in that department, so... Yeah, that was exciting 'cause we had a therapeutic pool, I did a lot of aquatic therapy, teaching people how to walk again, working with spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke, chronic pain, so it was this model of in-house rehabilitation and a multi-disciplinary approach to the care of these folks.

0:04:13.6 S1: On paper, all that experience sounds fantastic, but for Clint, he quickly noticed that there was a lot that was missing.

0:04:21.4 CC: I became disappointed with the outcomes that were happening. Well, one day I walked into the billing office at the hospital, and I saw one of the patients that I was working with, I saw... I'm probably not supposed to see this, but I saw the bill being printed out and these folks were going through all these therapies that I mentioned, like eight hours a day, and at that time, the charges... Most of the charges were $100 an hour. I saw the monthly print out for one of the patients that I've worked with, and I saw where he was at after a year of being there, and it was disheartening, to be honest with you, it really was. And I watched families give up their homes, take these young people back into their homes and try to manage them, it was difficult as a young person. I was right out of college, and so I'd been working with people that were paralyzed from the waist down, I worked with a five-year-old boy that was paralyzed from the neck down. So that's kind of a reality check for you in your life and where you're at, at that time, these people were the...

0:05:23.9 CC: My age, most of them, 25 to 30 years old. And then I went to work for the Washington State Hedinger Foundation as a case manager. And once again, I just observed the kind of challenges that the permanence of these people's conditions and that it doesn't end it where the rehab stops... The insurance stops paying for rehab, these people go home and they still have struggles and there's challenges, but particularly when you talk about traumatic brain injury. So I think that was really hard because of the cognition, the cognitive changes that happened with people, and not only the physical changes, but their capacity for memory and speech and language, all that stuff, changes for most of those folks. So I felt like I needed to shift, I was gonna go back to PT school. I started the pre-requisites, but it was like every time I turned around there was a new pre-requisite, and I'm like... I saw this ad for Seattle Massage School. I'm like, I can either go back to school for four years or I can go to massage school for a year and a lot less money, and in the end, it all worked out really for me, for the best.

0:06:35.0 S1: So in 1989, Clint made his way to Seattle and started at the Seattle Massage School. Like many of us though, managing work life and going back to school was not easy.

0:06:46.9 CC: So this was a nice new fresh start in Seattle and working with the Foundation was a great experience. I was on that vocational grant, so that only lasted for two years. Yeah, and then I just moved into the... Going to school at night, I went to school at night. I worked during the day, and then I went to school at night. So from 6:00 to 10:15, I think, 5 days a week. It was a year-long program and in those days, their program was really geared towards passing the state exam, so the State of Washington had a written exam as well as a practical exam, so they really prided themselves on like a 97% success rate of people passing that exam. Their curriculum was really... I think it was 680 hours, it was 700 and something with student clinic, I think at that time, that was back in 1990. I wasn't able to do the student planning because I didn't have... I worked during the day, and the student clinics were operated during the day, that was part of my challenge as I got out because the only people I worked on at that time, my girlfriend and my neighbor, I hadn't worked... And my classmates and my class...

0:08:00.8 CC: My class was probably maybe eight people, I think, eight or nine people, there wasn't very... We started out with more, but people, they worked out that some of them wasn't for them, so they quit.

0:08:13.2 S1: Well, the curriculum itself was invigorating, the lack of hands-on experience led to more problems when he started to look for a job.

0:08:21.6 CC: That was a problem in my first interview that I had good technique and good hand... But I didn't have flow, I think is what the woman told me. She said, "You need to work on a lot more bodies," and so that ended up hurting me not having that student clinic, so I would always say that you know, now, practice is what makes perfect, you're asking, "How do you embody this knowledge and skill," it's from practice, repetition. You continue to work in the area that... The things that you wanna do. And so for me, I was like, "What do you mean? I got As in school," I... For a student. I had 100% on the practical exam, it's like, "I wanna get in this job," but it was a good lesson, it had nothing to do with all that other stuff. It had to do with my capacity to stay in flow and transition, and so she gave me some great feedback, even though it was hard to hear at the time, but it was great feedback for me that you gotta work on this thing, of transition and flow, you can't just go in there and at that time, you know, coming out of college, and I was like, "Get in there and work at all PTs that I've been around."

0:09:36.3 CC: It's like you get aggressive, you get in and work something, so having the capacity to do feel good things and to make things feel better after you're doing that stuff, I think that's the skill set that I lacked. I also modelled my teachers, which is what we do, I modelled my teachers, and some of them were... At that time, weren't in practice, they were just teaching, and so I find that they were good teachers, but they maybe lacked some of that... So how do you make this flow from start to finish? Not just work in the shoulder, but how do you tie in the back and how do you tie in the neck? Those were some of the things that I think were missing from my education, and I might have learned that stuff in the student clinic, I'm sure having more experience would have really helped, and then working on different body types, I had... My neighbor was a plumber, he was a short heavy set guy, and then my girlfriend was this little athletic, so I had no experience with any other body type either. So I mean, that piece of advice is huge, getting a wide variety of experience with different body types and knowing how to position people on the table, knowing how to do sideline in some cases, learning how to work sitting on a ball, learn how to work standing up, make sure you have the table at the right height, all those things that seem fundamental now, are probably... I could have used more training, probably in those areas for sure.

0:11:06.2 S1: While most of us struggle with our flow when we graduate from massage school, Clint took that good advice and started practicing as much as he could, but he also took some powerful continuing education courses, which dictated the direction of his path.

0:11:21.5 CC: I think where I really got a lot more confident in my hands-on skills is when I took Judith Walker Delaney, her neuromuscular classes. So she came to Seattle and I was coordinating the continuing education at that time, and so my payment was taking all these classes, so I took both of her three, I think she has three modules at that time. I took those twice, and I really got good palpation skills from that. Those guys teach specificity and thoroughness, that's the name of that game. And that changed things a lot for me, and then I went to work for Dr. Dan Bruce down south of Seattle, and he was an osteopath. And I just got my hands on so many people, I used to treat five people in a row, and they were all... Most of them were motor vehicle accidents or back pain, or some chronic pain situation, and so through that, I think... And I was being paid $15 an hour, by the way, but I got some great hands-on experience, I would see... I would teach a class in the morning, I would drive down there in the afternoon, I teach from 8:00 until 12:00, I drive down there and start people at 1:00 till like 5:00, drive back to Seattle and teach a class from 10:00. So 6:00 to 10:15.

0:12:49.5 S1: And in the midst of all of this intensity and because life is never easy, Clint got some news that made him shift gears yet again.

0:12:58.2 CC: Oh, well, it's a tough story. My brother got colon cancer, and I realized how far away I was from my family, most of my family's here in Colorado. So I took a month off, came back and was with him and trying to help him with his situation, and he ended up passing away at age 30, and I still knew that this is what I wanted to do, so I did a bunch of interviews on the front range here, and the Boulder School of Massage was the place that I had landed. It made the most sense to me. They had a very... Thousand-hour program, they're known all over the country for one of the best educational institutes, so it was a good fit for me to come back and be back in my home state, Colorado is where I grew up.

0:13:48.6 S1: So Clint landed at the Boulder College of massage therapy, which is where I met him, but to hear his humble version of his story does not do it justice. The directors of the school at the time recognized his gift for knowing what the industry needed, and he soon began writing curriculum.

0:14:07.0 CC: My private practice kinda went on the back burner when I got here because they had me in a role of developing a new curriculum, and so that was pretty time-consuming. I ended up with a team of people rewriting... Well, the 120-hour NST class, normalization of soft tissue class, a palpation, 30-hour palpation class, a 30-hour clinical kinese class, 30-hour sports massage class. So there was a lot of work in doing curriculum development and design. So I spent a lot of time doing that development and then teaching those classes and refining those classes and getting those honed in, and I was the department chair for that department, and so I was responsible for hiring teachers, training teachers, supervising teachers, evaluating teachers. All that stuff as well. Yeah, it was a lot of responsibility and it was... And I loved it, I loved that phase of my career, to be honest with you. I think I like creating things. That's kind of my forte. I like innovation, I like thinking about how to make things better, how to... At that time, I think I designed a class that is something that I would wanna take myself, you know?

0:15:23.7 CC: And I like the interaction with the students. The student interaction is the most powerful learning tool really, that really... That participatory environment is great for your own learning. And then if you're in charge of a subject, then you really have to take that on, and that's how you learn it, it's to do... It's standing up in front of somebody not knowing everything, but trying to do the best you can to convey concepts, topics, sub-topics, all that stuff.

0:15:54.3 S1: From 1995 to 2004, Clint focused his energy on elevating the field of body work and massage by continuing to push for a deeper understanding of anatomy and strive towards creating a four-year massage therapy program at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. In that same time frame, Clint was contacted by Andrew Biel.

0:16:15.4 CC: Yeah, let's see, Drew contacted me, and Drew was a student of mine in Seattle, actually. At that time, he was teaching at the Seattle massage school, he was evolving this content from that book, and he had put it all together and he wanted to come out here and teach a class on that. So I had hired him under my department, under the clinical... I think... It might have been palpation class, and so Drew, that's where he launched his book was out of the Boulder College Massage Therapy, and we had a book store at that time, so what a great place, it was a good... I think it was a good stepping stone for him, for sure.

0:16:50.2 S1: So Clint may not have written the book, but he definitely helped with the editing.

0:16:54.5 CC: A lot of that came from that class called Kinesiology 1, 2, 3 and 4. So Drew had that background and he was teaching it and there was no... At that time, we did handouts, we had handouts, and we were using Kindle, which was over most people's heads. It was mostly just handouts. There were no... At that time, when Drew wrote the book, there was nothing on palpatory anatomy, and there wasn't that many massage books, there was things on how to do general massage, but his timing was impeccable. It was a really good timing.

0:17:25.0 S1: The visual aids in the book, The Trail Guide to the Body had become irreplaceable for massage therapists. The book was successful and Clint's work with Drew did not end there.

0:17:35.6 CC: Well, we approached Drew on the idea of doing a video, a video for the content within his textbook, and we ended up licensing agreement with him to do that, and so we created a three disc set out-patient videos, instruction on how to palpate those... The main muscles, I think there was 83 of them, I think is what we did. So Christopher and I filmed that ourselves, edited and did all the green screen stuff, but the books of discovery promoted it through their... As a publisher, and it was a hugely successful. Things went really well. It was a really good adjunct to the book, the textbook, because it actually showed the hands-on component of... It was illustrated step by step in the book, but for a lot of people they are kinesthetic learners so it's easier for them to visually watch it and then do it.

0:18:35.4 S1: By this time in his career, Clint had established himself as a palpatory anatomist and soft tissue expert. There are a lot of sub-divisions under the category of massage therapy and a lot of ways to learn how to practice. I asked Clint to elaborate on his opinion about the importance of palpation.

0:18:55.2 CC: That is the foundation for the actual technique application, if you don't understand the contours of the body, where the boney landmarks are, how to use the bone as a backdrop for pressure, how the joint moves, those things are fundamental to every technique and understanding any kind of pathological problem that they might have. So I think we probably underestimate the amount of time that you need in those... In that discipline, really. A lot of schools don't even have a palpation class. They think you just learn it from doing the hands-on technique, and I think you need a specialty class in that. I would say that that's a must, figure out how to locate these things specifically, take an anterior scalene muscle right? The Infrahyoid muscle. Learn how to... It's like, wow.

0:19:50.7 CC: It's one thing to understand the lat... It's one thing to understand the glute max, but when you start going into intrinsic muscles that are a lot smaller and delicate areas like the front of your throat, you really... That's when you... I think repetition from that rehearsal and demonstration and practicing with people, and that develops the confidence, as you said, you really wanna feel a certain level of mastery, but I would say it was so much time in the classroom, but then I was going from the classroom into my practice and I was applying these things directly that I was teaching, and so that blend is so powerful.

0:20:30.1 CC: I think that's what I would say is, you become a better teacher when you practice and you become a better practicer when you teach. For me, I had a great balance for a long time, I was working in both of those areas, and they strengthened each other and they built upon each other, and I would say that palpatory anatomy, you can't get enough of that, to be honest. I'm still working on that to this day, and I've been in this profession for 32 years, and I'm still refining my skill set and how... And everybody's different, everybody's body's different. Everybody's sensitivity level of pressure as you know, so you have to have the capacity to adjust, how do you adapt, how do you adjust to this body type, to this situation? So it's not just working on a healthy young person, how do you do this on an 85-year-old, who's got osteoporosis and who has osteoarthritis, and who's had... There's all those factors now that we're working more and more with people with pretty extreme situations really.

0:21:34.5 S1: Clint is absolutely right. Palpation is one of the most important tools a massage therapist can have, understanding this, and partnering up with Ann Williams, he helped all of us gain access to his own palpation skills through the ABMP's Five-Minute Muscles.

0:21:50.8 CC: She is really... The Five-Minute Muscles is her inception, she's built off of my... She involved me just on the basis of my... Well, that was from the... Those clips are from the MyoFinder app, that video that I shot years ago is from the app and shows that we were one of the first people to put the overlaid muscle on the human form and the overlay skeletal system on the human form using the green screen technology.

0:22:19.9 S1: The MyoFinder app that Clint is referring to, may not be around anymore, but it was a brilliant idea developed by Clint that at the time may have felt like a failure, but in hindsight, opened a lot of doors.

0:22:33.0 CC: It's not for sale anymore, so it's really hard to... Yeah, I wanna... I can't even promote it, but the idea was to have a mobile muscle mentor, right. That was the idea. So you have this on your phone that you could look up... I got a guy coming in with the rotator cuff and he's got an infraspinatus tear, I forget where that muscle originates, what does it do? And so the idea was that you can go to that muscle on the app, see how to palpate it and see what it does, and have all that video right there in front of you, so it wasn't streamed, this was downloaded in the app itself, which took like 45 minutes when you bought the gap to download it, much video content. At that time, they were talking about medical schools requiring iPads, so I'm thinking this is a natural fit, and everybody needs to know anatomy and they need to know palpatory anatomy from all these different disciplines, it doesn't matter, you're a PT, PT assistant, you're a PA, if you're a massage therapist or any kind of body worker, so it seemed like a larger target audience to do that subject matter.

0:23:41.4 CC: Yeah, so that took off and it was going pretty well, but I didn't understand... I was sharing with you earlier, I did not understand that screen sizes on the iPhone were gonna change, I didn't understand that software change so frequently, and I ran into the first hiccup with... When they changed the screen size. I tried to stay in the game, I tried to hustle and try to make it happen, but just realizing that with that constant change within the technology itself, that it's really hard to stay on top of how you make your apps work. It still bothers me. I keep thinking, trying to think of ways to repurpose it, well, and that's... Luckily, I met Ann because then she helped me figure out a way to re-purpose the videos, so we re-purposed those videos in the five-minute muscle, it's a natural fit, and I guess people are very happy with it, and I'm glad to hear that. It's a tough lesson. It's a tough lesson to learn. It was... Some of it was my naiveness around technology, and I can't claim to know that I would have done anything different, but I think the good news for me is that I feel like I got an opportunity to express my own creativity, something that was originally developed from my ideas about learning, from teaching, from being in practice, it was a reflection of all those years, accumulative years of working in this industry and trying to share that with other people and providing a useful learning tool.

0:25:21.5 CC: Learning is the best thing, continuing to learn and so... Yeah, I've been trying to figure out, continually, how do you shift from that? What do you do? And Ann gave me an opportunity, that really helped me a lot in so many ways, just because that content is out there and people are enjoying it, it helps people learn something, and particularly in our profession, we need those things to keep us motivated, we need tools like that to keep us going and something that gets you excited again about working on your clientele, and I think the five-minute muscle does that. And it helps people look at things more... With more specificity, with more insight, and then the idea that Ann had to then show how to work that muscle, not just how to palpate it, but then how do you work it doing a massage technique? So she was brilliant, I think, in the way that she formatted all that, I can't take credit for that. I was just... I was the hired gun.

0:26:19.1 S1: He may not be taking credit, but there is no doubt that his hard work led him to opportunities that are innovative, educational, and that we as a profession continued to benefit from. I asked Clint if he could look at his own life lessons and offer up any piece of advice to new therapists, what would it be.

0:26:37.9 CC: Well, I think the biggest thing, you have to strike a balance, a balance between your own self-care and delivering this therapeutic care to other people, you really have to find that balance and how you're taking care of yourself and not giving too much of yourself. I think message therapists have a tendency to be givers and not takers, so they don't take as good... I hear people all the time, I don't get body work, it's like if you're a body worker... And I did that for years, I have to confess to being guilty of that as well. And then this stage in my career, I cannot afford to do that, so regular body work yourself and learning from other practitioners and how they approach the body is sometimes it's a great learning experience for sure. But more importantly, just understanding the value yourself of what that feels like to get a massage and the transformative aspects of it, feeling better mentally, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I think continuing education's critical, take classes. I used to take two classes every year, and I enjoyed those, I like being in that learning environment, I think that... Like I said before, I think it really, it re-motivates you to what we're doing, and it excites you, it's good to be around your colleagues.

0:27:52.0 CC: I think massage can be kind of isolating, you go into a room and you have your client, but... And that's what I miss about teaching, the collaboration with colleagues and having that conversation and dialogue and explaining things and learning from other practitioners and different philosophies, those things are critical. So continuing that, I would say that you can't get enough of it. You really can't. There's always more to learn.

0:28:17.4 S1: Indeed, there is. Clint Chandler is a humble storyteller, but his stories offer us insights and wisdom of what it takes to be strong in ourselves, strong in our skills and strong in our careers. A gentle bear as a teacher, Clint Chandler carries that persona in everything he does, and his clients are undoubtedly lucky.


0:28:44.0 S1: Members are loving ABMP five-minute muscles and ABMP Pocket Pathology, two Quick Reference web apps included with ABMP membership. ABMP five-minute muscles delivers muscle specific palpation and technique videos plus origins insertions and actions for the 83 muscles most commonly addressed by body workers. ABMP Pocket Pathology, created in conjunction with Ruth Werner, puts key information for nearly 200 common pathologies at your fingertips and provides the knowledge you need to help you make informed treatment decisions. Start learning today. ABMP members log in at abmp.com and look for the links in the Featured Benefits section of your Member Home Page. Not a member? Learn about these exciting member benefits at abmp.com/more.

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