Integrated Modalities Bodywork (IMB) is a Bodyworking technique that its founder, George Davis, has developed over the past 20 years. With its focus on holistic pain management, IMB combines Western manual modalities with aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Energywork.
At the core of IMB, or any effective bodyworking technique, is the absolute necessity of a solid working knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology (APK), which enables bodyworkers to understand exactly how the body works.
Anatomy gives us a roadmap of the body; it helps bodyworkers know where they are when they’re working and gives them a way to communicate with clients, doctors, and other Bodyworkers. Kinesiology teaches how the body moves, which helps us devise ideas on different ways to use movement in the process of resolving myofascial issues. Physiology shows how all the systems in the body work together and gives us an insight into some of the less obvious factors that may contribute to myofascial pain, or pain that originates in the muscles and connective tissue.
While there are a host of tools at our fingertips, IMB primarily focuses on Trigger Point Therapy and Myofascial Release (MFR) techniques. Trigger Point Therapy targets focused areas of hyper-irritability that develop within tight muscles bands and can cause both local pain as well as pain that occurs in seemingly unrelated places. The key to effective Trigger Point Therapy is to find the primary point that is creating the complaint (there can be numerous secondary points that contribute to the pain but are not directly responsible for the pain) and applying just the right amount of pressure to deactivate the point.
MFR techniques work directly with the fascia, the thin sheath of fibrous tissue that surrounds everything within your body. It provides a framework of interwoven connective tissue that supports, protects and allows every component of your anatomy to move against each other. But since it is not firmly attached to any structure, it’s able to move and, either as a result of injury, overuse, or gravity, becomes distorted and can cause pain, restricted range-of-motion, poor circulation, and even blocked nerve signals.
Trigger Point Therapy and MFR are powerful tools. Add Eastern and Energetic components and you have Bodywork that can transform lives.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is over 2,5000 years old, and despite the fact that the language of TCM may sound quite fanciful to Western ears, it remains a powerful tool in our healing arsenal.
TCM is a broad term that includes various modalities, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise, and other techniques. The cornerstone of every TCM theory is Qi – the body’s life energy. Qi circulates in a pattern through channels, or meridians. When the Qi is in harmony and balanced, the body has good health; when there is disharmony, the body will experience disease. According to TCM then, pain can be a manifestation of either a deficiency or excess or Qi, and recognizing the imbalance is an important part of IMB’s ability to manage pain.
This idea of balance is based on the theory of Ying and Yang, the concept that everything in the universe can be divided into two opposite – yet complimentary – aspects; light and dark, hot and cold, or weak and strong. In order to understand one aspect, it is necessary to understand the other. For example, you can’t grasp the idea of cold (or how cold something is) without also understanding hot (or how hot it is). Perceiving the subtle differences between yin and yang symptoms helps the practitioner determine the most appropriate treatments for that person.
Two ancient TCM techniques that are effective in helping to manage myofascial pain are Gua Sha and Cupping. Gua Sha is a technique that uses jade, horn, wood, or even metal tools to scrape lubricated skin. Abrading the skin is a way to improve circulation, release stagnant energy, and decrease inflammation. It is used for easing muscle tension, helping nerves and muscles work better, pulling lymph out the area (which reduces swelling and edema), and to remodel scar tissue. Cupping uses small cups as suction devices that are arranged on the skin – the skin is then sucked up into the cups, which remain in place for several minutes. TCM theory explains that pain results from the congestion, stagnation, and blockage of Qi; cupping helps to break up and disperse the blockage, restoring the body’s natural flow of energy.
As Bodyworkers who believe we’re all more than just physical beings, we understand that there are always energetic components to pain – regardless of its origin.
Our bodies are powered by energy – from the physiological and biochemical processes that keep us alive and moving, to the more spiritual, psychological, and emotional attributes that make us who we are. Disrupt any of these and your body will have some sort of reaction. Injury, trauma, stress, anxiety, emotions… they can all have negative impacts in their own specific ways.
At The Pain Relief Center we look at all aspects of a person’s pain, both physiological and energetic. We treat physiological components like trigger points and restrictions in the fascia with hands-on methods. We treat the energetic components with two different energywork practices – Reiki (a technique of Japanese origins) and Ho’omanaloa (of Hawaiian lineage). Together they are an integral part of IMB and enables our work to be extremely effective and have a longer lasting effect.
What Does This All Mean For You?
The amazing thing about IMB is how truly versatile and individual it is; what works for one person may not work on another. Some people have a low tolerance and require a light touch; some have a higher tolerance and like really deep, intense work; one person’s idea of deep work may be another’s idea of gentle work.
Regardless of what you can tolerate, one of the key elements of IMB is finding just where your own “edge” of too much is, and holding you there while we coach you on breathing and unclenching. It’s absolutely imperative that we find that place for every client (and it can change from session to session) because it’s only at the edge of too much where real change happens.
IMB uses massage as our base modality, but we have an entire toolbox of Bodyworking techniques that really get to the core of managing your myofascial pain. Plus, if you’re looking primarily at deep relaxation, we have techniques like Hot Stone Massage that will make you feel like Jell-O.
And now we’ve incorporated technology into the mix with an Erchonia XLR8 Handheld Laser. Used either independently or in conjunction with hands-on work, the laser is able to affect change within the cells themselves, which enables them to heal, rejuvenate, and communicate in a way previously unavailable to Bodywork alone.
Whether your goal is to find a way out of the cycle of pain, or simply to relax and feel better in your body, Integrated Modalities Bodywork has something for you.
Give it try! After all, you have nothing to loose but the pain.