I have been a professional massage therapist for 37 years and developed The Finesse Massage Technique to answer the need for a gentler and more effective way to transform chronic pain and contribute to client and therapist pain-free living.
As a former industrial designer, I was always posing the question, “How can I help clients become pain-free simply, elegantly and efficiently?” There was always that main question also, “How can I really help this person feel good longer?” The result is a deep method that effects pain-free living by directly accessing the fascia with light pressure.
Fascia is filmy tissue that surrounds and supports all the organs and muscles, nerves and bones. It forms tunics or tubules that sheath all tissues. This filmy tissue gathers and transforms into sinewy cables that can withstand 200 pounds per square inch at the origins and insertions of muscles to bones.
By using finesse instead of force with The Finesse Massage Technique, restrictions in the fascia can be released, which then frees the movement of organs, muscles, nerves and bones. The result is a pain-free process that lasts a long time. Coordination and control are greatly enhanced to produce a feeling of lightness and ease for the client.
Be a Detective
When chronic pain has settled in, then the focus is on whole-body fascia. With an acute situation, a practitioner may be able to limit his work to one body part that is in acute need of pain relief. Chronic pain demands a more global or full body solution.
This is because larger areas of tissue and fascia are involved in overlapping patterns. It requires the practitioner to be a detective to find the crucial key releases that will allow the restrictions to fall away.
Fascia patterns must be known and addressed by the therapist in order to discern what tissues are guarding the injury and what tissues are needed to support and strengthen the weaker area.
For example, I worked on a client with chronic neck pain. The first place I have to check is the fascia pattern that passes from the fingertips of both hands through the shoulders and neck, chest and arms. Did the chronic pain begin with an acute episode in the neck? There are many such questions before I would settle into a treatment plan.
I would investigate the fascia that connects from under the heels up to the occipital ridge as part of the movement patterns in the neck.
From my way of thinking, each treatment plan would include a full-body massage. I work down through the layers of fascia, resetting the tissue as we go along.
This reset has a strong effect that lasts. Each area of kinetic tissue is carefully palpated and assessed to decide what is necessary to treat.
Also, The Finesse Massage Technique training is especially useful to therapists who have hand or back pain. It can save their careers as massage therapists, because there is so much less strain involved in treating clients with The Finesse Massage Technique.
Chronic pain usually has a component of fearfulness, as the client is afraid of more pain and cannot tolerate painful treatment. The gentle aspect of The Finesse Massage Technique is a great help in this kind of situation. The treatment is done with only 8 ounces of pressure. This is reassuring to the client, so they are able to relax and reduce some of the guarding.
The guarding and other forms of automatic tension found in certain locations is seen by some therapists as resistance. I prefer to call it chronic tension, and I see that it is invisible to the client. He has had to ignore pain in order to compensate and continue to function.
During the treatment, the therapist brings the awareness of sensation back into the hands, arms, chest and shoulders. Then the client’s internal body map begins to change back into full-body awareness. Once he has this sensation back, he is better able to coordinate movement—and it follows that he is more relaxed.
There is no use barking at someone to relax when he doesn’t know how or where to relax. The Finesse Massage Technique includes this relaxation coaching to create the conditions for letting go of pain.
The most important governing principle of The Finesse Massage Technique is to shorten or compress the area being treated. Whether it is just two fingers or the precise angle to lift the arm to compress the shoulder or the pectorals, the treatment is always to shorten.
I can only speculate why shortening has such a profound effect. One possibility is that when the tissues are placed in a position where all the pulling or pushing on the tissue is neutralized then the natural ability to return to normal just pops into the treated tissue.
I experience this phenomenon with each placing or shortening from the treatment. The overall result is a large change in the client’s experience of his body: The creation of pain-free living.
Deborah Bruce, C.M.T., L.M.T., is a therapist and educator with 37 years’ experience in the massage field (thefinessemassage.com). She is a lady of many parts: National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved continuing education provider, healer, inventor, pioneer, teacher, business manager and roadie, and catalyst for transformation.