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Ep 411 -The Sticky Truth About Respiration and Resolution:"The Rebel MT"with Allison Denney

A woman standing by a lake with her eyes closed deep in thought.

Breath is powerful for a lot of reasons. But if we get down to the sticky details about the lungs, the important components of our soft tissue and how they interact, we could make a lot of comparisons to how this is similar to our abilities of resolution. In this episode of The Rebel MT, Allison does just that. Respiration and resolution, it turns out, have a lot in common.

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Allison Denney is a certified massage therapist and certified YouTuber. You can find her massage tutorials at 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        




Zibby Media:

Elements Massage:

Susan’s CBD:


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.







Anatomy Trains is a global leader in online anatomy educationand alsoprovides in-classroom certification programs forstructuralintegration in the US, Canada, Australia,Europe, Japan, and China, as well as fresh-tissue cadaverdissectionlabs and weekend courses. The work of Anatomy Trains originated with founder Tom Myers, who mapped the human body into 13 myofascial meridians in his original book, currently in itsfourthedition and translated into 12 languages. The principles of Anatomy Trains are used by osteopaths, physical therapists, bodyworkers, massage therapists, personal trainers, yoga, Pilates,Gyrotonics, and other body-minded manual therapists and movement professionals. Anatomy Trains inspires these practitioners to work with holisticanatomy in treating system-wide patterns to provide improved client outcomes in terms of structure and function.




Zibby Media is a women-led company dedicated to deepening the connections between readers, authors, and each other. We do so by offering many ways to connect—even for those who don’t have time to read. Founded by Zibby Owens, author, podcaster, publisher, bookstore owner, CEO, and mother of four, Zibby Media includes a publishing house, a magazine, podcasts, retreats, classes, a book club, salon events, and an independent bookstore with frequent author events. If you have ever loved a book, you’re in the right place.

Learn more at

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Founded by a massage therapist for massage therapists, the Elements Massage brand is a network of independently-owned and operated studios dedicated to changing lives--including yours!  The Elements Massage brand believes massage therapists deserve a supportive team, business and marketing resources, and the chance to learn as much as they want, so many Elements Massage studios offer and reimburse continuing education on an ongoing basis. It's no surprise Elements Massage therapist and client satisfaction leads the industry. That's because from day one, the brand has kept an unmatched commitment to deliver the best therapeutic massage experiences possible for both clients and massage therapists. Elements Massage studios expects the best. So should you. If this sounds like a fit, reach out. Studios are  hiring! 






Each Elements Massage® studio is independently owned and operated. Franchise owners (or their designated hiring managers) are solely responsible for all employment and personnel decisions and matters regarding their independently owned and operated studios, including hiring, direction, training, supervision, discipline, discharge, compensation (e.g., wage practices and tax withholding and reporting requirements), and termination of employment. Elements Therapeutic Massage, LLC (ETM) is not involved in, and is not responsible for, employment and personnel matters and decisions made by any franchise owner. All individuals hired by franchise owners’ studios are their employees, not those of ETM. Benefits vary by independently owned and operated Elements Massage® studios. Elements Massage® and Elements Massage + design are registered trademarks owned by ETM.


Founded in 2017, Susan’s CBD is a woman-owned business that manufactures high-quality, high-milligram CBD and CBG massage products for the massage and wellness industry. Located in Boulder, Colorado, we handcraft our massage and topical products using all-natural ingredients and effective amounts of hemp CBD because we believe milligrams matter. Elevate your client’s experience and build your practice by using our wide range of massage and topical products. Licensed massage therapists can try eight different CBD and CBG massage products with our free sample pack (one per customer). Contact us today by visiting and clicking on the Professional Pricing tab to get your free sample pack! Licensed therapists also receive 50 percent off retail pricing with a wholesale login.




Full Transcript

0:00:00.0 Speaker 1: Are you looking for a company that empowers your growth and development? Look no further than the Elements Massage brand. Where all massage therapists have the opportunity to thrive through the Elements Massage Career Advancement Program. In the Elements Massage Career Advancement Program, Elements Massage studios recognize, reward and uplift their massage therapists, rewarding continuous learning, commitment and growth. The Elements Massage Career Advancement Program includes Professional, Elite and Master levels where massage therapists will enjoy higher commission rates, access to continuing education and development opportunities and unique career growth opportunities to propel them toward a successful future. Evaluate your career and apply to an Elements Massage studio today. Visit, and take the first step towards a fulfilling journey. That's 


0:01:06.4 Speaker 1: At Susan's CBD, we make high milligram CBD massage products to bring your clients effective relief. Our premium CBD massage products are handcrafted in Boulder, Colorado from natural ingredients with the highest milligrams on the market, because we believe milligrams matter. Try it before you buy it. Licensed Massage professionals enjoy a free sample pack of eight different CBD massage products to evaluate. Licensed practitioners also receive 50% off retail pricing. Go to and click on the professional pricing tab to get your free sample pack today. 


0:01:53.0 S1: 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 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 to get your grip today. 




0:02:41.3 S1: If you are listening to this podcast, perhaps you are a massage therapist or a hands-on practitioner of some sort. And perhaps also along the way towards your career or your own health, you have discovered the importance of breath, you have learned about how breath can help us relax, how it can ease tension, and you have most likely contemplated how breath works it's magic. It's a very cool trick. I mean, it may not land with the immediacy and acuteness of a steroid or an antibiotic, but if used properly and consistently, it certainly creates some profound changes inside. It is also, it goes without saying, but I'm gonna say it anyway, a body worker's best tool. I wanna explain why breath is so powerful on an anatomical level. But before I dive into the sticky details, I wanna relate our abilities of respiration to our abilities of resolution, it is January after all, and even if you didn't make any New Year's Resolutions, it's pretty hard to be a human this time of year and not be faced with the idea that we should be making some sort of promise to ourselves that we will shift in some way. 


0:03:48.0 S1: So take a deep breath, shake off the shoulds and let's dive in. A resolution in simple terms is a firm decision to do or to not do something. The word has Latin roots meaning to loosen or release. So when we make a resolution, a firm decision, an ease of our grip or an effort to gain clarity, we are letting go of a perspective and setting free the parts that make things muddled or fuzzy. What happens with resolutions though, is that commonly, we are very motivated at the start to get better or to be better, and for a bit, we have no problem doing the new thing that we think will help, and then we get tired. Gym memberships notoriously skyrocket in January, and those gyms make a lot of money from the people who get fired up to get ripped, use the gym for a month and then pay for a year-long membership that they never use. The motivation wanes, why? Because it often takes more energy to keep going than it does to start going. 


0:04:53.0 S1: This attempt to become unstuck and stay unstuck from what is creating chaos is in and of itself enough to invoke a sigh. Our lungs and the incredible collection of soft tissue components that help them assimilate air very often fall victim to the same downward spiral. Well, they don't sign up for a year of free breath and then forget to breathe, but they become the quietest casualties of our habits. It is easy to take a deep breath when you feel down or someone suggests it, but keeping a resolution to incorporate breath into your health plan is like that gym membership card collecting crumbs in your wallet, sticky and forgotten. This is a good moment to take a look at what the heck actually happens to our anatomy when we breathe. 


0:05:38.4 S1: I'm not gonna walk you down the path a molecule of air takes as it goes from atmosphere to inmosphere, make no mistake that is some fascinating stuff for sure. Instead, I wanna draw your attention to how big the lungs are and how we most commonly don't take full advantage of them. The lungs are these immense mucous spongy organs that eat up a lot of space in our thoracic cavity, wherever there isn't a heart or a tube or a vessel, there is a lung. Like if you were to insert a giant deflated balloon into a warehouse and then you blew up said balloon and it filled every empty inch of that warehouse, kind of like that. 


0:06:14.7 S1: The left lung is a little smaller than the right lung to make room for the main machine in that warehouse, the heart. But if you look at how far back they go, all the way back and how high up they reach, way up to our first rib, you realize how much air we could actually breathe in if we were to utilize their full potential. Clearly though, when our lungs deflate, they don't separate away from the walls of the warehouse or our ribcage and collapse into emptiness because that would be weird. They stay connected to the ribs and the soft tissue that lives here, they do default to a smaller size though, unless they are pushed and challenged a bit. As is true for all the parts of our anatomy, they remain in a state of habitual automation, of breathing just enough to keep us alive. And when this happens, the downward spiral of limitation begins. 


0:07:07.5 S1: Here's why this is important with breath. The lungs are covered with epithelial tissue, makes sense, right? Epithelial tissue is the linings and coverings in our body, here it is called the visceral pleura. Visceral meaning, of the internal organs and pleura meaning, of the side or rib. Then the inside of the rib cage has an epithelial lining as well called the parietal pleura, parietal meaning, relating to the wall of the cavity. And those two linings are great for well, lining and covering, but not so great at sliding around each other. So the body, as it does, has slated that in between space, the pleural space, with a slimy fluid called serous fluid, like from the word serum. So when we take a deep full breath in, the diaphragm contracts with a little more force to pull more air into the lungs, the lungs expand out, they push on the rib cage, the rib cage opens up, the ribs get a little more space from each other, the intercostal muscles get a nice stretch, the costovertebral joints get a little movement, the sternum gets lifted away from the heart, the blood, lymph and nerve vessels, yes, including and especially that famous vagus nerve, get a little massage and that serous fluid gets unstuck. 


0:08:26.8 S1: Let's take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors. Anatomy Trains is thrilled to invite you to our four-day in-person Fascial Dissection Intensive, April 16th through 19th, 2024, with Master Dissector Todd Garcia and Anatomy Trains author Tom Myers at Todd's brand new Laboratories of Anatomical Enlightenment in Westminster, Colorado. Discount offered for upfront payment in full, and payment plans are available for this life-changing educational experience. Don't miss it! Learn more and sign up at 


0:09:10.8 S1: Zibby books is thrilled to bring you Everyone But Myself by Julie Chavez, an honest account of love and loss, featuring husbands who can't read minds and disastrous family outings. Funny and inspiring for readers who feel overwhelmed by life, Everyone But Myself is like a best friend's story of how one woman returns to solid ground while embracing the chaos along the way. Learn more at 


0:09:42.0 S1: Let's get back to our conversation. Serous fluid, like all fluid in the body is an incredible component to our health, the synovial fluid in our joints, the interstitial fluid between our cells, the mucus in our lungs, they are all necessary for our tissues, organs and joints to do what they do. When they don't get used, they become more viscous, and when they become more viscous, we get sticky like a hip after sitting for too long or like digestion without hydration or like a resolution, not kept. We find ourselves stuck in a pattern that limits us. The more we consistently breathe deeply and fully, the more our serous fluid stays fluid, the more our lungs can expand, filling our rib cage, the more the surface area of the alveoli increases, the more we can exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide, which as you know, is awesome for a lot of reason. But also the more we consistently breathe deeply and fully, the healthier our muscles of respiration are. The intercostals that run from rib to rib, the quadratus lumborum that anchors the lower ribs down, the scalenes that lift the upper ribs up, not to mention the diaphragm. Muscles and soft tissue need movement to stay healthy. And if we get stuck in a shallow breathing pattern, we might as well walk around wearing corsets. 


0:11:02.0 S1: It only takes a little extra energy to take a deep breath, which in the long run, gives us more energy to keep whatever other resolutions we may have made. So, how do we do this? Barring the presence of a disease or a degenerative disorder, it comes down to the basics, plenty of water, plenty of rest, feeding yourself foods that are good for you, but also creating patterns of healthy breathing. In the same way that moving your knee after an injury or surgery is gonna help it heal faster 'cause it needs to stay lubricated, breathing helps breath because it keeps that pleural space slippy. 


0:11:37.8 S1: By now, hopefully, you are feeling the need to take a full breath, go ahead and do so if you haven't already. But this time, while you d, follow these steps. Hold both hands at your clavicle, both sides and breathe in, directing your breath all the way up to your hands, exhale. Move your hands to the top of your shoulders towards your back, breathe in again, sending your breath up and back, exhale. Hold your hands on either side of your ribs, breathe in so that your hands move away from each other, rounding out your ribcage as much as you can, exhale. And then hold one hand on your belly and one hand on your low back and get your breath to go all the way down into every inch of your lower digestive system, exhale. This is a great way to find out where your breath is short and to think about how the muscles in that area could use a little help. This is also a great method of measuring breath and muscle function for your clients. 


0:12:38.6 S1: Get them on the table and ask them to breathe, do this methodically, place your hands where you want them to send their breath and wait for their complete inhale and exhale. Walk them through how expensive the lungs actually are, how many muscles need to move to help that breath reach its potential and educate them about their pleural space. Your work here is all about helping them dust off the cobwebs and resolve the sticky stuff. Wherever their breath falls short, drop in and apply whatever technique you deem appropriate. Soften the muscles that have clamped down. Friction the tissues that have become stuck and sort through any trigger points you find. Helping the muscles that help the breath launches the upward spiral of freedom. Resolving to breathe with intention is a resolution to let go. Deciding to loosen the grip of unused muscles and stiff epithelial tissue sets free a whole series of events that generates change. So, if there is any promise you are going to make to yourself this year, start with this one, wake up the far corners of your lungs, loosen up the stuck space inside of your rib cage and release the grip that has limited your internal processes from fully doing what they are capable of doing. This resolution will make all the others you face a little easier. 


0:13:57.7 S1: And here we are, the end of the episode. Thank you to the extraordinary crew over at ABMP for helping me get my words into your ears. And if you wanna get any of your words into my ears or more accurately into my brain via my eye balls from a computer screen, drop me a line at, that's I always wanna hear your questions, comments, suggestions, or salutations. Also, if you're interested in checking out anything else I'm doing, head over to where you will find all sorts of fun things to click on, like homemade organic products for your practice. Cool links to continuing education classes, thoughts I have typed up and posted here and there, and other Rebel Massage dabblings. 


0:14:48.8 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 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