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When Do Bodyworkers Address Trauma, Anxiety, Fear, Worry, and Inner Judgment?

( Hint: It's every session)

There is no separation between your emotional state and your physical tissues. As anxiety, fear, worry, and inner-judgment course through your nervous system, your body reacts. Women store tension in various soft tissue structures, fascia, muscles, organs, and various areas of the body, the jaw, the neck, the colon, the pelvic floor

Most physical complaints are multi-causal, a woman with functional anxiety who works out often, takes care of her family, has a busy work life, and then develops rotator cuff pain. Could her new pain be--in part-- from carrying her child around? Sure. But what set her up for that specific injury? To heal and prevent future injury, you must look deeper.

Unfortunately, in a culture obsessed with body image, and quick fixes, we are trained to only look at the surface. We assume we just need to "fix" the shoulder and because of this cultural misinformation, most women don't get the chance to address the underlying cause of tissue weakness or inflammation.

As a manual massage therapist, I do very specific healing, targeted work that restores soft tissue vitality. The mechanical loading of soft tissue changes the region's biochemistry and facilities slide and glide. PHYSICAL MEDICINE restores biomechanics and PHYSICAL MEDICINE is as important as eating healthy or your daily workout routine.

But as an Eastern medicine practitioner, I don't stop there. Having trained in Eastern medicine (clinical Ayurveda) I not only recognize the emotional impact on physical tissues but I'm trained to address it. Each session with a woman is different because each session addresses her unique needs and I am working within each woman's comfort level. Some women immediately want to talk, release, and cry and with other women, it takes time, effort, trust, and reflection after the treatment.

With some women I use breathing techniques, others positive affirmation and healing lifestyle goals. But the one thing I don't do is just push on tissue. It is well established that just pushing on pelvic floor tissue is not going to get you long-term results. Even if it takes away the pain (and for many women it does not) your pelvic floor will tighten up again. Or your jaw, your neck, and your shoulder will still be vulnerable. Another structure will be waiting for its turn to express your nervous system's hidden emotional pain. Addressing the cause of stored tension is essential for long-term health.

The women I work with suffer from physical pain, yes, but they also suffer from body-image issues, shallow breathing, digestion issues, inner judgment, worry, stress, anxiety, and past trauma.

It is also true that many people that do manual therapy don't yet realize they are dealing with more than physical tissue. There is not one group that is above cultural misinformation, there is no one group that hasn't been affected by misinformation or the pressure to achieve quick results.

And manual massage therapists face extra pressure, although what "massage therapists" do should be considered primary care, manual massage therapists struggle to get their message across: If you are in pain, we are the ones you should come see. What we do is direct PHYSICAL MEDICINE and is essential to your overall health and well-being.

Often, manual therapists and physical therapists are competing in a sports-driven, quick-fix, injection-fueled world and are afraid of slowing down and addressing emotional health concerns and being seen as "not medical enough." And many manual therapists and physical therapists lack the training that your nervous system needs.

So when do manual therapists deal with stress, anxiety, and trauma? The answer is every day. Whether they know it or not. It is inside the tissues that they are working on, it is the underlying cause of the headache or "frozen shoulder." Emotional pain or stress of any kind, and certainly a chronically upregulated nervous system, is the underlying condition that connects most women's health concerns.

To heal, find a therapist that understands and has the tools that produce meaningful change and learn healing lifestyle techniques. Your wise female body can heal and is guiding the way.

Peace & love,


*Author Tara Lee Clasen is a manual massage therapist specializing in women's health and pain conditions related to the pelvic floor, neck, jaw & shoulder. She also trained in clinical Ayurveda and has authored a book on Ayurveda called The Elemental Woman.


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