Ep 33 – Touching to Inform Your Massage Techniques with Anatomy Trains Creator Tom Myers

Sculpture of a man's body deconstructed into layers on top of each other

Tom Myers joins the podcast to chat about his bodywork background, extending the longevity of your bodywork career (“pay attention!”), kicking clients out of your practice (seriously), remaining invigorated, the value of dissection labs, and working with the originals.

Author Images: 
Tom Myers of Anatomy Trains, massage and bodywork educator
Author Bio: 

Tom Myers directs Anatomy Trains, which offers certification in structural integration in the United States, Australia, and Europe, as well as short courses in manual therapy and functional anatomy worldwide. Tom is the author of Anatomy Trains and co-author of Fascial Release for Structural Balance. The Anatomy Trains myofascial meridians, which connect the muscles through the fascial fabric, is increasingly employed in a wide variety of rehabilitation and performance enhancement modalities. Tom studied directly with Ida Rolf and Moshe Feldenkrais, as well as Buckminster Fuller, movement luminaries, and European osteopaths. He has practiced structural integration for over 40 years in a wide variety of clinical and cultural settings. Learn more at www.anatomytrains.com.


This episode sponsored by Anatomy Trains.

Full Transcript: 

00:00 Speaker 1: Anatomy Trains is excited to announce a new on-demand video course with Tom Myers coming soon, Deeper Ground: Restoration and Vitality for the Female Pelvis. Reach your deeper ground of embodied awareness and strategic confidence with this four-hour tour of the female pelvis, including its key points and unique challenges. Course highlights include hands-on, palpation certainty and technique review for the major muscle groups, assessments and techniques for posterior and anterior pelvic floor, psoas complex and diaphragm, common perinatal biomechanical issues explained and much more. Sign up for the Anatomy Trains newsletter at anatomytrains.com to be notified when the course is available.


01:00 Darren Buford: Welcome to The ABMP podcast. My name is Darren Buford. I'm the editor-in-chief of Massage and Bodywork magazine and Senior Director of Communications for ABMP. I'm joined by my co-host, Kristin Coverly, licensed massage therapist and Director of Professional Education for ABMP. Her goal is to connect with luminaries and experts in and around the massage, bodywork and wellness profession in order to talk about the topics, trends and techniques that affect our listeners practices. Our guest today is Tom Myers. Tom directs Anatomy Trains, which offer certification instructional integration in the United States, Australia and Europe, as well as short courses in manual therapy and functional anatomy worldwide. Tom is the author of Anatomy Trains and co-author of Fascial Release for Structural Balance. The Anatomy Trains myofascial meridians, which connects the muscles through the facial fabric is increasingly employed in a wide variety of rehabilitation and performance enhancement modalities.

01:51 DB: Tom studied directly with Ida Rolf and Moshé Feldenkrais as well as Buckminster Fuller, movement luminaries and European osteopaths. He has studied structural integration for over 40 years in a wide variety of clinical and cultural settings. Learn more at anatomytrains.com. Hello, Tom and Kristin.

02:10 Tom Myers: Hello Darren. Hello, Kristin.

02:12 Kristin Coverly: Hi, Tom. Thanks so much for being with us. We're thrilled to talk with you today. I think our listeners are gonna really enjoy this. Thanks for taking the time.

02:18 TM: Oh, thank you.

02:19 DB: Can you tell us a little bit about Anatomy Trains and just to understand the philosophy behind it and how that might be different from some of the training they may have in a typical massage school.

02:31 TM: Well, the typical experience of massage is closer to the anatomy of the Anatomy Trains than the anatomy that you're going to get it in the books that you're likely to have at your massage school. The books that you're likely to have at your massage school right up to the Trail Guide to the Body, which is a book I love, endorse, have contributed to, but it is still... The body is analyzed muscle by muscle. And the presumption in that is that we have a solid skeletal frame and that each muscle is on that frame and each muscle is doing what? It's pulling its one end toward its other end. So we talk about origin and insertion and action. And that is one way in which muscles work, but it's only one of the ways in which muscles hook up to each other. So we have since through the research learned a great deal about the other connections of muscles. And it's not that you don't need to learn the origin and insertion, but it simply isn't the whole story. So the Anatomy Trains is... It's got a retro name because of train tracks and never mind the whole story of how it got its name, but it's stuck with it now. But we're essentially making train tracks through the muscles that are going in straight lines through the body.

03:49 TM: And if you're a massage therapist, you have that feeling that as you go down the back, you can connect right over the sacrum, under the butt muscles into the hamstrings of the legs. That is in fact a connection anatomically that you will never see in the anatomy books because they say, "Oh, the hamstrings are here on page 164, and then the sacrotuberous ligament is here on page 72. And the erector muscles, oh no, that's 125." But those are all part of one structure, and so it was at first seeing them in the body and seeing them in my practice and then later on going into the the dissection lab and actually dissecting them out of the body. So I'm pretty well convinced that they're there by now. It's not just a figment of my imagination that these connections are there. It's another route map. Your Anatomy Atlas is a route map. It's got wonderful things about it. It's got limitations. Anatomy Trains is another map, a map of connection and it's got its strengths and its limitations.

04:56 KC: And Tom, for listeners who have never seen your work or looked at your courses or your books, I really encourage them to do that. The visuals are so intriguing and so interesting. Did those develop over time or did that all sort of come to you at once as you were developing the Anatomy Trains concept?

05:14 TM: No, the Anatomy Trains concept and the visuals have been a constant puzzle and [05:22] ____ to me to try to figure out how to present these concepts in a way that are both accessible, but stretch the mind of it and get the practitioner to start thinking in different ways. So I started with this, I think somebody pointed out to me that in the late '80s, I was thinking in this way, but it was not until '97 that I put it on paper in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies and then shortly afterwards in your magazine, I think. But then the Journal asked me to write a book, the publisher of the journal asked me to write a book, which I hadn't really considered, but that came out in 2001, and I've been really putting my back into it since then to visualize this and dissect the things out to give as much reality to it as I can.

06:11 DB: Are you a massage therapist? Are you trained or were you introduced into the field through Rolfing.

06:16 TM: Yes, to both of those, because I needed to become a massage therapist in order to have a ticket to become a Rolfer. I was a massage therapist exclusively during the time I was training as a Rolfer, which was about a year or so in between the time I finished my massage license and the time that I entered Rolfing training. And I must say that I am a terrible masseur. I love massage. I go for a massage every week, and I love the idea of sort of hanging my mind up on [chuckle] the door, leaving my body there, picking it up again in an hour and a half, and it feels much better, thank you. But the work that I do is more bodywork or somatic, just not massage in the sense of a soothing kind of thing, but massage in the touch, in the sense of touching to inform and touching to shift. I would regard myself now, after 45 years in the business, as somewhere between a massage therapist, a trainer, and an osteopath, a manipulative osteopath, obviously, not a medically trained one.

07:17 TM: But that's kind of the domain in which I'm working and also the domain in which I think in the future, practitioners are going to need training skills as well as massage skills or at least access to somebody who's a trainer so that movement and massage go together in your practice. I would argue for some osteopathic ideas too, but that's a little more down the road for some of us.

07:41 KC: I love those phrases, touching to inform and touching to shift. I think that's beautiful. I think so many therapists will resonate with that. When we think about the typical student in your courses, are they majority massage therapists or do they come from a variety of fields, including physical therapists, chiropractors, yoga instructors?

08:01 TM: All of the above. We started out very much... And back, I think when I was writing the first series of articles for Massage and Bodywork Magazine for which I've been very grateful over the years, and thank you for your work and your organization. That's great. I really appreciate the leadership that both the magazine and the organization have taken over the years. That the majority of our students were massage therapists, but we now, especially since we've moved into Asia, we have a lot more doctors in Asia. We have physiotherapists and doctors in Asia and Europe, in America, we are coming, as well as from massage therapy, from pilates, yoga, a lot of movement people who want to add to their hands-on skills. This is difficult sometimes because they need the hands-on skills. Our classes are not basic classes. We expect people to already have a license in touch, so those people who come along from the movement professions need to step along quickly to get those skills in their hands.

09:04 DB: And can you explain a little bit about Anatomy Trains structural integration? It's a 12 series, correct?

09:09 TM: It is. It's very much based on the work that I got from Ida Rolf. I always feel in a funny position relative to this, because without her, I would not have... [chuckle] She took me off the streets and gave me something useful to do, and I worked in the Rolf Institute as a teacher until '98. And then, as I said before, Anatomy Trains was a slow growth for me, a very accumulation. But there was one moment when I had a "Saul on the road to Damascus," "hit by lightning" moment where I realized I could reconfigure Ida Rolf's recipe, which is her 10-session process that a lot of people have heard of and many people have done and some massage therapy programs include an introduction to that kind of thinking. But it hit me that I could reconfigure this in terms of the Anatomy Trains and that this would be a way of objectifying. When I was a Rolfer, when I was in Rolfing school, somebody would say, "Well, why do you do this first on session one?" And really the only answer was, "Well, Ida said [chuckle] do this on session one and do this on session two and it works."

10:19 TM: But when this idea came of putting the Anatomy Trains frame over these sessions, it wouldn't be because Ida said and not because Tom said either. It would be because there is a sheet of fascia going up the front of the body from just behind your ear to the top of your toes, and that those are all demonstrably connected, and that that is a long fascial piece of fabric. In a human being, your base of support is very small. You have two small feet or one small foot if you're just standing on one foot in a tree pose or something like that. You have a very small tripod underneath your body as opposed to a dog with four legs, and you have a very high center of gravity. So these long strips, these long guy wires of myofascia are more important to humans than they are to a dog, cat, cow or kangaroo because we took our spine from a segmented ridge pole across the top of the body and we turned it into a segmented tent pole.

11:22 TM: That's an amazing thing to do with the spine. The spine is really designed to work horizontally. It's not designed to work vertically the way we ask it to do, but we make it work. But the trouble comes for humans in that the balance is so delicate that in my own case, I was short-sighted and very myopic. And in the third grade in my school, I was straining my head forward to try to see the board to try to get closer to see things. And that began a series of postural faults for me, and once you start that, well, you've just taken 12 pounds and put it in front of the... So these Anatomy Trains map how the body shapes itself, how the skeleton shapes itself according to who you imitated, what happened to your body like for me with the myopia. I could start it with myopia. I could say I was also scared of my father and I was walking around the house with my head retracted, all of these things. I don't know whether one was more than the other, but they all came into shaping me. And the Anatomy Trains, these long ribbons from head to toe are a great way to map what's happened and therefore to map the way out.

12:38 DB: And have you had to adjust training because of COVID? Has it been online only?

12:43 TM: Have we had to adjust because of COVID?


12:47 TM: I have a company in which we just find great joy in bringing to people together from all different nations and having them touch each other. This was not the business to be in this year, [chuckle] among a number of businesses not to be in this year like owning a bar. But all of our classes stopped absolutely dead on March 12th, and that happened worldwide. I really thought... We are on three different continents as you mentioned in the introduction, and I really thought, "Well, no emergency is gonna take over all the [chuckle] continents, so I'll be able to go to Asia if I can't work in America." And this one took them all out, every one. And so with the help of Mel Burns, on staff, whom I think you've been talking to, we were able to convert over to being an Internet education company. We are not going to offer certifications over the Internet because this is a kinesthetic skill, and the Internet is an audio-visual medium.

13:53 TM: And so I don't feel comfortable about that at all, but I do feel comfortable taking the intellectual part of the courses that we have, which include our visual assessment skills and all the anatomy lectures and all the background material. And we're putting that up online, and I must say that that's met with a good deal of success. And we have not had to lay anybody off or any of that. The difficulty has come, of course, for our practitioners and our teachers. They are also having to modify their practice. Some people have been able to make the conversion and they do sessions online in which they're directing people to use a ball or to stretch as in yoga in certain ways, and they've been able to make that run quite successfully. Other people, it just... The nature of how they touch people and how they make sense out of touching people requires touching people, and they can't do it visually.

14:48 TM: And I number among one of those. I'm very glad that I make my living jabbering like this for a living rather than actually doing sessions online, because... I do assessments online for people. That's something that we do, but then I refer them on to somebody else for the actual work. And I don't mind doing the assessments online, but I'm glad I don't have to work through this very thin slip of the Internet. It's bad enough even lecturing [chuckle] on the Internet, let alone having to do bodywork. So it's just beginning now that people are going back to work under particular conditions in various places, but this wave of the pandemic is... There's the wave of the disease and there's the wave of the economy and there's the wave of everybody's emotions about it. And people in different parts of the world are in different parts of that wave, and it's interesting to watch the world recover from this very strange event.

15:46 DB: Let's take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors.

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16:30 DB: Now, let's get back to the podcast.

16:33 KC: We know you've been passionate about increasing the longevity of those practicing the profession. Our research often shows though that the tenure for a massage therapist and bodyworker can be as short as three years, and we've heard... You have said in the past that it can take up to five years to be good. How can we increase that tenure? What can we do as therapists to just keep doing what we love longer?

16:55 TM: Let me answer that question of what we can do, but I also just wanna say that massage therapy, personal training, pilates and yoga teaching and similar kinds of things were such popular professions and looked so attractive. "Oh, I can run my own business and things like that." And then people do it and realize, "Oh no, this is hard work, [chuckle] and I actually have to run my own business, which nobody's running it for me. And so I think it's inevitable that in all these professions, there was a group of people who came in and came out again as quickly as they came in. That's just what happens when something gets popular. [chuckle] We'll see what the next thing is that comes out of COVID and everybody will run in and try to be that, and only a few people make it as life coaches or these things that look so attractive. Now, what can people do to increase their longevity in work? Well, the first thing is pay attention.

18:02 TM: The more attention that you can put into your work, the more that your work will reward you. And the more your work rewards you, the more you wanna do it and stay there. I am very fortunate. I have been 44 years in this, and I don't think there's been a day where I've woken up and said, "Oh, [18:19] ____ I have to go to work," because engagement with people is just so much fun for me. So the second thing that people can do to increase their longevity in their work, and they're not gonna like what I'm about to say, is kick people out of your practice. People will have learned what they can learn from you within X number of sessions. You're gonna have to decide what that is. I have a program of 12 sessions. I rarely see somebody for more than 15 times unless I am engaged with them on some kind of psycho-spiritual level, and we really need to do a long journey. But mostly they've learned what they can learn from me for now, not forever, but for now. And I don't think this is... I think this is a failure of massage schools, but it's also a failure of psychotherapy schools and chiropractic schools and other schools is to teach practitioners how to successfully graduate their clients, successfully graduate.

19:21 TM: Mostly we just let it go until they run out of money or they get bored or they find somebody else that they think is gonna be better, and then you lose that client. I start at about session nine... Say, I'm gonna see them for 12 times, the meat-and-potatoes program, I start at session nine, I say, "This has been really fun working with you, and we really have done well with your shoulder and not so well with your leg," or whatever the truth is of that. "And we're coming to the end of our journey now. What do you think is the next step for you?" And you have this whole... We train... It's a lot longer than this, but we train this in so that people are by the time they graduate, they feel, "Oh, I've been so well-served." And you know what they do? They send you three more people. So kicking people out of your practice is a way to augment the amount of money you have, number one, but number two, it keeps your interest.

20:15 TM: If you keep working with the same person, what happens is your sessions start to look the same, the results start to look the same. You're holding this person up, but you're not really advancing them. And you're certainly not advancing yourself doing the same thing with them week after week, and your spirit starts to die. And you start looking for something that would be more interesting. It has to be you that pays the attention and you that makes it more interesting. Now, I'm of the opinion that there's nobody more in need of my work than human beings. I've worked on dogs and I've worked on horses, and they seem to me to be quite healthy. It's human beings who are screwed up, and I really like going into working with human beings. I count myself among them. [chuckle] So my going into work helps me get less screwed up, and it helps them get less screwed up. And that seems like we're working in the right direction [chuckle] although the world at the moment seems to be going in the screwed-up direction. So I'm not sure that we're doing enough healing right at the moment. I hope the world turns around soon.

21:15 DB: Kristin, that's probably a really difficult message for massage therapists, right? We're always training them marketing-wise to build this clientele, keep this clientele. It's easier to maintain the clientele than it is to go get new clients.

21:29 KC: Exactly what you said, Darren. In my head, it's not echoing, and I'm sure I can imagine all the listeners walking along, listening to the podcast, like stopping in their tracks [chuckle] and saying, "But Tom... But Tom... " But it's such a valid point. When we think of massage therapy, it's a little different than a more structured 12-session program. We think of that monthly wellness, but it is an important message that people need to pause and evaluate from time to time. Too often we are on cruise control, and we are just doing the same thing, seeing the same people because that's the momentum that's built. I think it's a great message to pause and evaluate your client roster, evaluate where your joy is coming from.

22:12 TM: Isn't that Marie Kondo or somebody like that, who says, "Hold up everything you own. If it's not giving you joy, then throw it out." The same thing goes with your client list. You take a look at your client roster as you begin the week, and which ones are you really looking forward to and enjoying? Keep those. And what you do with the people that you dread or feel tired at the end of that session or it's just the same thing week after week, is you say, "I met this really good, fill in the blank, Feldenkrais practitioner, pilates teacher, Tai Chi teacher, dadadadada. Not somebody who's competing with you, not another massage therapist. Something else, something different 'cause you want them to come back to you again in six months or so. Now, I understand many, many massage therapists are tied in, and if it's that once-a-month thing, well, you can put up with anybody once a month. But if you are breeding a class of client...

23:18 TM: Let me we put it this way. When I'm out speaking, people come up to me and say, "Oh, well, I'm lucky, I have a full... My practice is closed. I can't be... I don't have any openings for new people." And I go, "Oh, you poor person. You're stuck with those people forever? What about the really interesting young people who are just waiting to get into your practice or that retiree who's just full of really interesting insights that could come in to your practice. You're holding them out by holding on to these people who are filling your bank account but emptying your coffers." It's worth it to get rid of clients.

23:54 DB: Let's transition here. I had the good fortune in Boulder many, many, years ago, to attend one of the dissection classes that you put on. Can you tell me a little about, where did your interest in that begin? And why is that so valuable for bodyworkers to take part in a class like that?

24:13 TM: Yes, if I were gonna promote anything, it would be this. And ours are not the only dissection courses, but I will try to explain why I think ours are the best [chuckle] or at least worth going for. I did my first dissection in 1974 when, or no, '75, when I was training to be a Rolfer and took an anatomy class in something, Walnut Creek, I think, outside of Berkeley. And the guy who had the anatomy department had a cadaver, and this was a terrible, old, beat-up cadaver I have to tell you. But it was my first encounter with this, and I thought if I was gonna put my hands on the body that I in addition to taking the anatomy course that I had to take, should if I had this opportunity to get in there and see what was actually inside the body, I should. And I did very little dissection until after that. While I practiced, I was practicing around Europe. And in those days, we had... All the cadavers there were, all the donors there were, were reserved for doctors and for medical training. It was very difficult for somebody who was just a massage therapist to get access to the dissection.

25:24 TM: And that changed because more people started donating their bodies to science, number one, and number two, now medical schools stopped doing so much gross anatomy. They don't do so much dissecting. It's so much chemistry now and so much computer stuff that they're not using as many donors. So they became available that increase in people being aware of it and thus donating their bodies and the lessening of the need in medical school that we were able to get first preserved cadavers in the late '90s, and then, and I'll come back to this, unpreserved cadavers starting in about 2010. Any form of dissection is that old Greek thing of know thyself. So we're literally looking inside to see how these things are, and what I wanted to do was connect up with what my hands felt with what I could see inside the body.

26:18 TM: And as we got into the dissection, this was right about the time that I published the book and one of the critiques of the book is, "Well, this is nothing to do with the inside of the body. This is all just your imagination of your imagined functional connection." So I thought, "Well, I'd better demonstrate what I'm doing." And so with the help of Todd Garcia whom you met when you came to the dissection, he had labs in Boulder and in Arizona. So I've worked at both of those, and since I've visited a lot of other labs around the world as I became better known and was able to be in contact with Carla Stecco and Hanno Steinke and other people in China and that's just a really interesting world, a little macabre, but an interesting world just the same.

27:04 TM: But the classes that we do now are done on cadavers, on donors who are not filled up with formaldehyde but are frozen shortly after their passing and thawed out for the dissection. So if you'll forgive me, the metaphor, your real living body is a real living pea in a pea pod. And a preserved cadaver is like... A frozen cadaver is like a frozen pea, and a preserved cadaver that most medical students get to work on and that most anybody who's done dissection has probably seen is like a canned pea. Well, the difference between a canned pea and a fresh pea on a garden is very big. The difference between a frozen pea and a pea in the garden is still, birds eye isn't fresh, but it's a darn sight closer, right? So for instance, the cadavers that we use move through the normal range of motion. They are not stuck stiff so that you can see where the tissue is that's restricting the joint. You can see the postural pattern that the person is in, and often as we go through the layers of the fascia, we find out about the history of surgeries or broken bones or joint replacements or stents that are put in, operations on the digestive system. These are all which show up scar tissue and things. It's very realistic evocation of the kinds of things that would be going on in the living bodies under your hand.

28:33 TM: So I can't think of anything, and I get this from all the people who come to the dissections, that has changed how their hands touch their body than doing these dissection classes. It doesn't matter whether you know exactly where pectoralis minor goes versus the subclavius, you can get that kind of information out of these classes. But usually it's a much more dream body, psychic change that comes from having attended these courses because just confronting your own mortality and looking inside, what an amazing... I'm gonna say machine, but it's not a machine. What an amazing set of thoughts [chuckle] are conveyed inside your body.

29:16 DB: I was so impressed in the class that I only attended a day, but I was just... For listeners who are thinking about studying or participating in a dissection lab, I was so impressed at the honoring of the body. And perhaps that's because I was in a room full of bodyworkers versus a room full of medical students, that there was this beautiful attention to and honoring of this person's life that went into it before I even walked into the room. So I just wanted to thank you for that.

29:43 TM: The thing that we could just make a distinction is that medical school, is really invites you to objectify yourself from. And therefore, there are lots of medical school jokes and things like that that occur over this that we really... We're not prudish about it. [chuckle] We have a sense of humor too, but we have no desire to objectify ourselves. I invite our students to, "Yes, this looks like your grandmother or the year my mother died, it was very hard for me to go to the dissection. Everything reminded me of her, but like a tea bag steeping in the hot water, yes, it allowed me to go through my mourning of my mother in a deeper and maybe quicker way than I would have otherwise if I were just out in the world."

30:35 KC: And Tom, you and Todd are doing some of these live online right now, is that right?

30:39 TM: We are. If there's a blessing of the COVID era, it is that the donor programs, because of the unique circumstances, allowed us to put this out online, which is not allowed in the usual thing and presumably will be shut down again when somebody declares this over. But for now, they're allowing us as an educational bit to for people to come in, and we do a four-day dissection, two hours, four hours each day broken into two two-hour segments. And it is a dissection and it's right there on camera and there's no escaping the confrontation about it. I realize it's not everybody's cup of tea, but it is an amazing experience in its own right. Now coming into class, you learn how to dissect. You do the dissection yourself. You have your own projects. You learn... We just learn a great deal from that kind of thing. Here, you're looking over the shoulder of a master dissector. Todd is just amazing in dissection, and I've watched a lot of people whose names I could name. But he is just an amazing practitioner of the art.

31:47 TM: And so I'm offering color commentary like the football commentator up in the box because I'm stuck here in my library in Maine, but I've done it so often with him, I know pretty much know exactly what's going on, and I offer stuff that applies to practice for people in the bodywork trade. And it's really turned out to be, if the expense of going to Boulder and leaving your practice and things like that has made it prohibitive for a lot of people to attend one of our dissections. So if that's true for you, I just would recommend jumping on this while it's still here. It's not very expensive, and compared to what you get, it again is not the same life-changing as when you have your hands on it. But the one that we finished this weekend had a rotation in the spine, and just to see how the two psoases were so different on the two sides and how they would feel different to your hands as you approach this, and to be able to see how the fascia had changed in the muscles around the spine, it just makes it real in a way that otherwise it's just talking about it.

32:55 TM: So I should say something promotional like, "Yes, and I really encourage everybody out there to sign up for one of these... " It's so difficult with this kind of thing, I'm not a promoter and don't like to tell people that... Gil Hedley is also out there doing amazing dissections, and he's doing some dissections online, and I don't know who else, I think Carla Stecco might have done some on online, and she's really good to watch. I'm not saying ours exclusive of others, but we are very oriented to the fascial body and how all the other physiology is happening within that. And so those are the kinds of things that make our particular dissections unique.

33:40 DB: One of the other things that we've seen, having close ties to recently having been on your site, I've seen Zoga being promoted. Can you tell us the ties into your work and how that may relate to body workers and why you got involved with Zoga.

33:54 TM: Yeah, sure. My involvement with yoga comes all the way back to being with Iyengar in Pune, India way back when, for a little bit. And also Ida Rolf a lot of Rolfing came out of her experience of yoga, in fact, her original work was to put people into the Yoga asanas and seeing where they weren't getting there, grabbing their tissue and stretching it out in the yoga asana. That was how Rolfing got started, it's different now. But yoga wasn't readily available on every street corner and then every Y in the 1920s and 30s in the US. So I've had that connection to yoga for a long time. But I'd rather frame the answer differently here, which is, "My approach to the Anatomy Trains, my therapeutic application of the Anatomy Trains is through Rolfing, through structural integration, through Anatomy Trains structural integration. But people are taking the Anatomy Trains map, just the map and applying it to other things. So Zoga is stretchy, like yoga, but the findings in the fascial research are not talking much about lengthening. The ability to lengthen fascia is dubious.

35:08 TM: Can you lengthen your plantar fascia, can you do that with a few swipes down the foot or putting a ball under your foot where you've been stepping on it for X number of years, 70 years in my case and it hasn't fallen in, so a few strokes is gonna make a big difference? So what we're seeing now, I applied the Anatomy Trains to structural integration. Other people have applied it to yoga, other people have applied it to Pilates, we have a thing called Anatomy Trains in motion, which is kind of an evolved Pilates approach to myofascial movement. So I'm very, very happy to see these things where I don't particularly have these skills, and others of my teachers having been through the program are taking this out now to other bits and Zoga is one of those. What we do see is that it is able to glide and that a lot of the movement restrictions that we have is the inability, not of the fascia to lengthen or even the muscle to lengthen although both of those, I think can happen, but the ability of one fascial plane to glide on the other, they get adhered to each other, densified as Steccos would say, and therefore you don't get that glide.

36:17 TM: So Zoga is particularly using a driver, so it makes a difference if you're stretching the quads, whether you're taking the knee away from the hip or the hip away from the knee, to what part you're trying to get the glide to happen in. So Wojtek Cackowski, who is our teacher, our main teacher in Poland has developed this and as these things develop and we are kind of being an incubator for them, trying to get them mature to get the good materials to go along with the courses, and then we're putting them up on our platform as they become ready for prime time, so that people can come in.

36:53 TM: This would be Anatomy Trains as applied for people in the yoga world who had kinda hit the top of what they're doing. Structural integration is Anatomy Trains for people in the massage world who hit the top of what they're doing and want something, you now, wanna jump for something different. There's lots of things you can do, by the way. Structural integration isn't the only one, but we are hoping to attract enough people to keep our school open for those people who want to do that particular form of work. But as I say, we've got applications to Pilates, we've got applications to Yoga, we have a woman who's doing really great work on freeing the fascia that holds the arteries, veins and nerves that that fascia can get stuck to, which we haven't really been thinking about much. This is the work of [37:37] ____ and a few other people out of Australia, and so she's applying that via the Anatomy Trains and getting great results with that. So we're really just looking forward to merging cranial work and osteopathic work and the work of rehabilitation, obviously physiotherapy.

37:58 TM: That's kind of the end of that question, but there's something else I wanna tell you, which is each one of these groups has their mind set. The yoga folks want everything to be connected, and there's a mood. And the physiotherapists, for instance, it's got to be evidence-based and it's got to be an if/then statement. If you have sacroiliac pain then you should do this. And so I have to fight that kind of thinking in the physiotherapist, you don't have to fight that kind of thinking in the massage therapist, they're not stuck into that kind of thinking, but the physiotherapy world has been beaten on the head so much about being evidence-based that that's what they come out of. Physiotherapists who are coming into my world are really into evidence-based practice, and I'm going back at them with practice-based evidence.

38:46 KC: Tom, shifting gears a little bit, but still along the same train of thought, how has the recent fascia research changed the way you approach your own work?

38:54 TM: The main thrust of research that appeared in the Berlin conference of two years ago was that a lot of the things that we thought of as being old age are in fact, and this is... Everybody's been saying this, but this is now in... Really well-documented in the research. Is simply a result of not moving. You don't get old and stop moving, you stop moving and get old, you've heard it before. But it's really coming in now, where, for instance, fat invasion into muscle, which we thought was an inevitable part of aging just turns out to be in an inevitable part of not moving your muscles. And the second thing that is a little bit back in the research, but I think that the modern massage therapist needs to get on top of, which is that fascia is elastic, and that you can train elasticity into the fascia. So I'm a couch potato or I was a couch potato up until I was about 55, and then I read this research, which has been developed since, but essentially what it was saying is, If you're not exercising, if you're not loading your tendons in an elastic way, they're a little bit like a TempurPedic bed, you press into it and it's gonna be a while before it comes back. And you don't want your tendons to be like a TempurPedic bed, you want them to be like a springy bed, a spring.

40:17 TM: So I did do that, I started bouncing on my forefeet, which I've been doing ever since, and I just feel so much better at 70 than I did at 50 that... I don't recommend this to anybody else, but I recommend looking into what will keep you in a bouncy kind of way, because we associate bounciness with youth and you can train bounciness into your tissues. I don't think that the modern massage therapy profession has really taken that piece in of the research yet.

40:50 DB: Bouncing on your forefeet, do you mean like jumping rope?

40:52 TM: Yeah. Skipping rope... But if you have a very old client, they can just stand a foot away from the wall and bounce off the wall, that is a very, very low impact thing. And I'm still too uncoordinated to skip rope, but I do just run, I run four miles most days, but my heels never touch the ground. I just bounce on my forefoot. They say toe running, but it's ball of the foot running. I'm doing that.

41:23 DB: Then the last thing I wanted to ask was, with regards to working, and you've worked with so many influential people, luminaries in the profession who have greatly affected where we are today. Is there a case to be made to working with "the person" in whatever field it is and what's the value of working with Tom Myers right now? Or working with a writer directly. Do you know what I mean?

41:43 TM: You're making me one of those people, I don't think so. I absolutely recommend, if you think of me as an original, then get to me, but if you can get to the original, it is worthwhile because they're often their own best critics. They often have the best critique of their own ideas because they've been subject to those critiques, and have had to make an answer to them. Very rarely do I get to a Feldenkrais or a Rolf and have them crow about how superior their work is to everybody else. But if you get to the chief Lieutenant, the first person who was the da da da da, whoever it was, they often are sort of jingoistic and go with the party line and all of that kind of thing. I recommend getting to the original, 'cause the original usually has done the hard work.

42:36 DB: We wanna thank our guest Tom Meyers for joining us today. Tom, where can listeners find out more information about you?

42:41 TM: Anatomytrains.com, just like everybody else. We have a website. I really... If you like this form of thing, we have tons and tons of webinars, which are sort of cheap and easy access, even a few free ones. We keep posting freebie things on Facebook, etcetera. So all the usual social media channels, I think we are up on.

43:06 DB: Excellent, thank you so much for joining us today, Tom.

43:09 KC: Thanks, Tom.

43:10 TM: It was a pleasure to talk to both of you. Thanks a lot.

43:16 DB: This has been a production of associated bodywork and massage professionals. ABMP is the leading association for massage therapists and bodywork professionals in the United States and beyond. From liability insurance to Professional Advocacy, award-winning publications to the world's largest continuing education library for massage to this podcast, no organization provides more for its members and the profession than ABMP. ABMP works for you.

43:48 KC: Thank you for listening. If you haven't already done so, please subscribe to The ABMP Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you find your favorite podcast.


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