Mary Ruth combines a traditional physical therapy perspective with alternative/complementary treatments that aim to calm the nervous system and promote healing. She is a Reiki master with training in holistic bodywork such as Myofascial Release (John F. Barnes Approach) and CranioSacral Therapy (The Upledger Institute). Before working in this area of practice, Mary Ruth specialized in the treatment of adults with neurological disorders, taught at several universities, and published research in the journal, Experimental Brain Research.
Mary Ruth also worked for over five years to heal from debilitating pelvic pain using methods from Western, Eastern and alternative sides of medicine. She is the author of the book “Healing Through Chronic Pain” and continues to write and speak on the topics of healing and the body/mind/spirit connection.
What Can I Expect in a Session?
During an initial evaluation, we will review your current condition, past medical history, the general state of your body/health, and your treatment goals. I will then evaluate your posture and how you move, and perform specific tests/measures based on these findings. From all this information, I will provide you with specific activities, exercises or recommendations.
For Holisitic Bodywork:
Clients lie fully clothed on a comfortable treatment table, and usually wear a t-shirt on the top and either shorts or loose fitting pants on the bottom. Usually the person begins lying face-up with pillows on a padded treatment table, and if this is not comfortable other positions are fine too. I then gently apply different manual techniques that can feel like light touch, comfortable heavier pressures, gentle stretches, and guided movements.
What is Holistic Bodywork?
Holistic Bodywork is a general term describing hands-on techniques that are complementary to traditional physical therapy. The foundation of this type of work is that we all have an inherent capability to heal ourselves and aid each other in healing. In general, holistic bodywork is very calming for the nervous system, which helps to move the body from the fight/flight mode and sympathetic nervous system activation to the counter balancing relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system. It is postulated that the body’s innate self-repair mechanisms are most effective in this relaxed state.
The rationale for Reiki is that Universal energy moves through the body of the Reiki practitioner and through their hands to another person for healing. This energy is seen to accelerate the natural healing process. I think we all have this inherent capability, but many of us do not perceive it. Before my illness, I did not consider there was anything more to the physical body than its physical structure. However, as I went through my healing journey and practiced with clients, my ability to pick up on more subtle changes in the body increased.
CranioSacral therapy and Myofascial Release approaches both combine work at the structural level of the body with an awareness of this subtle, energetic flow in the body, and an appreciation of the inter-connection between the body/mind/spirit.
CranioSacral Therapy (The Upledger Institute)
With CranioSacral therapy, the practitioner applies very light pressure to the skull and the spine, and these gentle motions are used to subtly alter the alignment of cranial and spinal bones as well as the underlying membranes and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Therapists feel for restrictions and perform gentle tractions and techniques to restore optimal movement within the system. It is postulated that immobilization of any part of the craniosacral system can result in illness, chronic pain, and dysfunction of the nerves surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Myofascial Release (John F. Barnes approach)
Fascia is the collagenous (elastic) connective tissue that envelops all our internal structures, providing support and separation for the structures and decreasing the friction between them, which is necessary for movement. It is postulated that past trauma—like surgery, physical injuries, and even unexpressed psychological trauma—can create restrictions in the fascia, which eventually can lead to abnormal stresses and ultimately to pain and dysfunction. Applying tension to the fascia at one part of the body can affect remote body sites because the fascia throughout the body is all connected. As the body responds to this light work, there are often signs that the person is releasing tension at the body level such as increased blood flow, softening and lengthening of the tissue, spontaneous movements, and occasionally the release of emotions.
Who Can Benefit from Holistic Bodywork?
People who are open to a holistic approach to healing physical pain.
People who could benefit from a gentle treatment approach such as: children, the elderly, and adults who are fragile or who are experiencing acute pain.
People actively involved in a personal healing and growth who want to work with their physical and/or emotional symptoms in the context of that healing process.
How Often Should I Have Treatment?
Length of treatment depends on the nature of the disorder being addressed and the goals for healing. For example, patients who want to relieve acute symptoms may require fewer sessions than those with chronic, debilitating disease or severe injury. Clients with the goal of relieving an acute injury of a specific body part may need fewer visits than those who want to address the effects of long-standing physical or emotional trauma that is reflected within the structure of the body as a whole.
The recommendation is to try three to five sessions initially to evaluate whether this type of work is beneficial for you. If you feel no change (and this is extremely rare), perhaps this type of holistic bodywork isn’t your healing avenue. If you are partially better, we can try a few more sessions to enhance the healing. If your problem is resolved or at a level you wish to manage independently, our work is done!