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On this episode of The Truth about Massage Therapy Podcast, Krzys interview Bernard Porter
BHP020 -Structural massage
Bernard journey into bodywork began even before he was born, through his family. From a young age he began to cultivate a knowledge of differing alternative therapies and after extensive, worldwide travel he returned to the UK and train at London School of Sports Massage. He is a registered therapist with the Institute of Sports and Remedial Massage (ISRM) and this training offered him the fundamental knowledge and skills on which to build the more holistic and balanced approach to working with people’s bodies that he call Structural Massage.
He is passionate about the benefits that can be brought about by truly inhabiting our bodies – physical, energetic, psychological and emotional.
“We often talk about how we come into this world when we’re born, And actually more appropriately is the other way around we come out of this well we’re all products of this world”
Tag a Guest Game:
KRZYS: So welcome Bernard, and thank you for joining me here at Busy Hive
BERNARD: It is my pleasure!
KRZYS: So here at Busy Hive we like to start every show with our guest favorite quote it’s kind of our way to get everybody motivated, and excited for the rest of the show, and we can find out bit more about you. So can you tell us what your favorite is quote, and why?
BERNARD: Yeah sure. There are a couple actually which I believe were both from Alan Watts British Philosopher and it is very exonerative request, and I can’t remember everything exactly word for word but am paraphrasing, but one is that “We often talk about how we come into this world when we’re born, And actually more appropriately is the other way around we come out of this well we’re all products of this world”. And I like this one, because it really speaks about how we are essentially entwined with our environment (Inaudible, 00:59) one in the same, and Throughout life we have a tendency to see ourselves as separate and isolated and (Inaudible, 01:11) So that’s for that one and the second one is “There’s no difference between being and becoming” and again am paraphrasing and the reason I like that is because again in saying this in a way to how we can see ourselves isolated we can also see ourselves as finished products And that’s also not the kind of stuff this process of constant change and things no matter how much they seem like they can be that way forever they can always be otherwise and obviously we see ourselves as we see with people’s bodies and That initially, clients come to us pass (Inaudible,01:58-02:00)
KRZYS: But they say “Life is a journey, not a destination” isn’t it?
KRZYS: So you just say you know to enjoy and kind of you know have that time to
enjoy the viewing stuff kind of aiming just that
BERNARD: Yeah, exactly.
KRZYS: Cool thank you for sharing that. So here at Busy Hive we really focus on
the beginning of our journey, so can you tell us how did you get started and
how did you get to the point where are you today?
BERNARD: Yeah, sure it’s quite a long journey, I think it really began with my own mother, so before I was born when she was in her late twenty’s my mother had really debilitating back pain and ended up in hospital and incapacitated for weeks at a time, and I think she had a slipped disc, the diagnosis was in the end and she had to start looking into alternative health care you know making out for yourself. Can’t say that And she found chiropractic, and that did wonders for her at the time and couple of years later she had many things carried on she went to see the Chiro every so often and stayed there for health IT and then when I was growing up the parents got a bit concerned about how they could see I was coping with the most patterns and rather than allow me to get to a point where I had to go to hospital and become incapacitated somehow and I got taken to see chiropractor first of all and then visited Alexander practitioners And then I got introduced to roughen because I came down to Bristol to see how they are (Inaudible, 03:52) And that was the start of the journey and that was when I was thirteen I suppose and so between thirteen an hour and thirty two there’s quite a lot of other things that happened. But that really sparks my curiosity
KRZYS: And interest…
BERNARD: And interest Yeah and it’s something that I take for granted but a while I have this grounding essentially and in these different therapies it’s a very relatively young age though many people don’t have and I Suppose that that’s influenced my outlook on all sorts of things
KRZYS: So where did you study, where was the first of all what did you study?
BERNARD: The first type of body was studied formally was time massage in Whirlpool Island in Bangkok I’ve just been travelling I don’t know I had no idea for a long time since my late teens that weekend is body work When I was in Bangkok and I was in my mid to late twenty’s And Just ended up spending a bit more time there met someone who fit into this school and he really recommended it so I thought I don’t need to move I’ve stayed here for long and that was my first introduction and I came back to England I stayed there and I started time massage in there and then move to London and started Sports Massaging and that was the…….
KRZYS: Structural work and different that’s another part of the journey?
BERNARD: Yeah it was the more In-depth power. Yeah, that’s why most of the in-depth
stuff that well (inaudible, 06:08) stuff used for us today has confirmed.
KRZYS: Awesome! So when did you start…. when you open your own practice?
BERNARD: Well the other system I was there studying in 2012/2013 so I started working in 2013 straight after that. I was actually working worst I was there doing relaxation, share massage. Less of contracting with other people, and then after (Inaudible, 06:37) when I started seeing private plans since 2013 here in London.
KRZYS: Great so can you share with us in your minds one of the challenges as a new therapist?
BERNARD: Yeah, I mean Trapped in kinds is one of the big challenges. There are also lots of other things but that was the main one.
KRZYS: So how did you overcome it?
BERNARD: It’s a process isn’t it?
BERNARD: Always trying to be engaged with Population at large using advertising, using social media that is a great tool for that And then it gets to a point where There’s enough people who know of you that people start talking and then you start getting word of mouth. This is what everyone said since I was studying, word of mouth is the best things about this thing I think, yeah, of course, it is perhaps I get word of mouth and it’s just a matter of well for me it’s just a matter of time and exposure and likely another point now about when they have a people to talk to….
KRZYS: I remember when I was in school my teacher directly says Krzys “just be patient it will come just take a time to build their build client base”. it’s going to happen and you just need to be patient and just try and go out there and just see treat people and people start talking you know and instead of what I started that’s what I did I started talking everywhere first you know how I just I didn’t shut up. I was just am a massage therapist by the way and that’s kind of strategy to take. It took quite a long time when I actually start feeling yeah it feels like yeah word of mouth working.
BERNARD: So being a very good talker is very useful skills to have (inaudible, 08:44), yeah!
KRZYS: Just introduce yourself and talk to people what you do? Just don’t shut up.
BERNARD: Yeah! (Laughter)
KRZYS: I’m a Massage Therapist; Great thank you for sharing that. So the next parts is basically we choose the topic of the conversation, we just relate very closely to the work of our guest. And what would Bernard do if something called structural massage and I just want to bring a bit more information to our listeners? Would this because he sounds really interesting and I read a little bit more and I just talk to Bernard before the hunt and so you can explain to us what his structural massage?
BERNARD: Of course Structural massage Well structure is in this context the underlying patterns that we have in our body. The underlying arrangement of our skeleton and of our body and I Make a difference from posture is something that we call posture you know Krzys has this has this posture and those characteristic posture is really what structure is for me. Posture is something quite short you can move into and out and quite easily of (inaudible, 10:09) and structure is the underlying pattern and what give us those shapes physiologically is the tensions and you know, (Inaudible, 10:22- 10:29) And those tensions change they change over a period of time and we’re talking about a long period of time that must intentions hinge in which obviously very quickly because something let go of something you know. We see that you know if you imagine knowledge pensioner the Stereotype you know knowledge pensioner else it’s not everyone is someone who has it’s of curling for a bit hunched over, And not the shape is not something that’s happened one day as they’ve come to pick something up and get backup that was a cumulative process over time where they have that that’s a gravity is pulling forward on them and then their body responds accordingly in those conditions get set in. And so a structural message what we do it look at those patterns that is underlying patterns and we can change them they are all challengeable go through manual intervention in this case and through engagement with the, with the client and they are all changeable through manual intervention and through engagement with the client.
KRZYS: Yeah there is something well I came across or what we do as a massage therapist with the support from middle stuff something like a bad blood firing system which is very common and there is something like a basically there’s a fire in pattern in the glue it’s in the muscle and because we tend to sit all the time and the glue doesn’t work as much and you know some of the muscles have to overtake so this you know pattern of arm strings and lower back pain. Because they get really hard because some of the part you know part of the muscle doesn’t work so you know our body adapt through time and other muscles have to work much harder because the other part of you know all the muscle doesn’t work and that’s exactly to me which doesn’t as you mention doesn’t happen. Overnight you know something we just slowly developing for overuse the use of our body you know our side I wouldn’t say the wrong way and the way we live.
BERNARD: Yeah, there are so many things that can influence it. we Think broadly speaking there’s like occupational things who’s this physical trauma certainly specimens that’s emotional traumas and also copying just copying role models you know people we look up to we want to emulate and we’re not consciously or unconsciously
KRZYS: That’s interesting!
BERNARD: Yes really I think for me it’s very interesting and it’s also endless an infinite question. why it can be useful to change those patterns like you’re saying is that if for instance the way we using our body is expresses the more we get away from our natural patterns through more Strain of what it comes under Whether we feel it or not listen more to your gloomy sirens and whether there’s necessarily feel pain in that glue they might do they might have tension feel something in the lower back. Who knows but it can be stressful at that period of time when it comes out that way.
KRZYS: But our body is incredible it always set. I remember every time in Muscle School we learn anatomy and we’re good friends. Charlotte she knows and she always we’ve been you know when we learn something in anatomy Charlotte always says “this is just bonkers”. You know what I mean this is just so incredible and amazing what’s happening in our body or how Warrick and you know our body is incredible in adopting whatever we going to put the fruit. And sometimes you know and you know however relieved and everything everybody adopts sometimes she can tell us straight away you know you did out what’s patterns happen not always but usual pattern we can see just you know body tell you some aches and pains but what we don’t do we just ignore them and you know because we are alive and then you know things build up build up and that is becoming a problem you know.
BERNARD: Yeah, exactly really the pain is like the highest, the analogy I use sometime is the part which I respect is how the water was going on under a lot worse still you know People often need it to motivating factor to look into something in pain is a very good motivator.
KRZYS: So how different it is from you know the structural massage how different is it from let’s say holistic stuff one-time massage or sports massage Deep tissue stuff
BERNARD: Well, I don’t know exactly how to quantify that but I can spend a bit about what structure massage is like you say firstly we work in other structure so many ways We were definitely working for more permanent change that I think is possible and If we’re concentrating only on muscles or the soft contact that we’re using is…… How do I describe it through the skin to you know for instance that deep tissue? Which I think sometimes uses oil as well it might be a deep pressure but the contact is still soft on the skin and pushing through to get that deep. Where how well I work is much more of sinking through those outside tissues to get to the deep thing underneath. So it feels very different for, from the same point of view.
The facts also very different I think there are couple different things one of them is. The more….. This theory that I write
KRZYS: Go on!
BERNARD: That is we asking body what to do or are we telling the body what to do? And it’s a large spectrum and so very often…. Again I had to confirm because I don’t know or (Inaudible 17:19) practitioners I don’t know entire practitioners but if we have a list of massages using oils is (Inaudible, 17:29) based squad relatively fast strokes and I don’t mean seventy miles an hour yeah I just mean compared to how…. On that level it is much more
KRZYS: Let’s don’t compare just tell us how you work.
BERNARD: Okay, yes that’s probably an easier thing. Asking what the main changes are so with the contact the slow and gentle and with much engagement, conscious engagement with the client as they are allowed to find those areas that are restricting them, what is holding them back or they’re preventing them from only permeating the body. Going in these contacts and then asking their body he wants to change and is it so feel safe to change and then hopefully they say so. Yeah that answers the question
KRZYS: Yea it does!
BERNARD: Come and see me it’s easy and straight to understand.
KRZYS: A finger work. So because you do lots of posture assessments in structural massage so can you explain in a word how important it is or what are the things….You know how important is postural reading?
BERNARD: Yeah, sure. It’s quite important so the main two types of assessment in use are looking at people in standing and looking people walking And There is mainly the observation I mean that suppose in a broad sense as that is the method. And they’re very useful I mean we need to know in order to know How to take someone to a place of more ease. But I would say we need to know what’s going on in that body and which place is or how it could be different and so through… Without observing them it’s very difficult to know becomes more difficult to know what, which areas are holding them back which back areas that they could feel.
KRZYS: So how much time of the whole session you spending on postural assessment?
BERNARD: Oh! That depends I think with new clients it’s more I mean the more you get to know someone then the more you have familiarity
KRZYS: With their patterns yeah!
BERNARD: Yeah with their patterns just with them I mean really looking at the body though also living a whole person so just knowing that person’s personality is also and So The stars are not coming to see me it’s slightly to be more than that if I had to take photographs on my drawings and then check the Actual shape of that spine rather than just relying on that on the thing that controls the body And then as we go through there someone can see me regularly we’re going through and there’s always a period of assessment at the start which is always useful for me to refresh to see what’s been the most. Pressing to work on that day and it’s also useful for me to refresh and to see what is going to be the most a person that has come that day and I also like it for clients because it gives them the opportunity to take a breather and tune into their body to know how is it at that moment. And then at the end of the session to check for both of us to check back and see if things are happening and what’s happening?
KRZYS: And change. So one of the difficult things in the beginning when you do assessment is….. Because you know when people get…..Okay you know we are going to do the assessment and everything and usually, straighten up and making them so feel better. You know I mean like kind of okay. Look straight you know just relax and you know just you know have a few steps and just relax and they usually. Thanks for correcting us. So how do you approach them? What do you say to them?
BERNARD: That’s a good question. We will first make it clear why it’s useful to do this assessment just like you say sometimes people are tensed I think because they feel like I want to see them in good posture and good posture and sometimes people tense and nervous and those that support that Is perhaps less obvious for them. So I don’t know what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. May I encourage you to cross and shake their body and take a few breaths just feel the way in which they are fit. Very often when I just chat with them just have a chat, talk about you know I mean anything it could be anything just to have them relax a little bit and then very often the things We do when we’re occupied with something else or we’re occupied with talking for instance we’re both sitting here people one by waiting are going to the white House and these are both characteristics of us and it is sort of characteristics show themselves when we rap for a while so we know when we are occupied with something else so just getting the state of mind off the paths that the message play to get out of ice
KRZYS: So that’s the beginning of the session so let’s talk about your after care can you explain to us what’s your aftercare how do you what you do you advise clients to do?
BERNARD: Well that can vary a lot. It’s the way I like to encourage, by the way, I like to work is that is to Work out is to realize that this is their journey and then to assist them like maybe help them I can certainly help them on the couch and I can recommend things for them and then at the end of the day it’s up to them whether they want to do them or not that’s their choice. I don’t recommend them because I really want them to do them because they could potentially be useful And sensations of what those things could be could be many different things for some people or structures much rather than Structures without bias against Some people meditation exercise it bodies scanning in very slowly and it’s a great work because. You would have to practice embodied the culture and.
KRZYS: So what is it body scanning?
BERNARD: What is body scanning? I guess is a useful question as well. I suppose it’s an exercise is the name given to an exercise bringing one’s attention internally Running through the whole body, or different parts of the body specific parts of the body it can marry and just learning to, to feel what our bodies is like from the inside very often especially in parts of profound same. Perhaps you find the same With only noticed that shoulder’s it shows a red came rushing out of there all the time and there are lots of nerves in there all the time presumably there’s a feeling there And learning to tune into that feeling and then possibly articulate why this is a great step very useful stuff as well and towards letting go of any tensions that once you bring thing into our awareness then that much or easy to let go or you know to use in a beneficial way. So the precise body scanning is really to go inside and discover what these parts of our body feel like.
KRZYS: So basically it is something you just sit down in a kind of how do I feel? You are asking yourself how I feel. How’s my neck feel? How is my shoulder feels? How do my hands feel? How do my forearms feel? My arms on my chest and my sitting. Whenever I’m sitting now, am I my comfortable?
KRZYS: Things like that and so on just go through all of the body.
BERNARD: Yeah that’s exactly right you know people do that sitting people do lying. I mean lying very good because you can be you can let everything go and sit in your, you know to adjust to the time. That inside of lying of people can sometimes fall asleep. This is the opposite side of its useful
KRZYS: Because that’s what your body needs.
BERNARD: Yeah what you just described is exactly like how my feeling right now is very good growth very good food for many things I think it’s just a process of getting ourselves thing done
KRZYS: I think that’s a really good thing for not even clients even for ourselves as a therapist because. Before the session, before the client arrives it’s kind of look at your space are you ready just base are you ready and not only have your sheets ready you know. put into consideration for the thread, business cards, or whatever but you just actually look at yourself you know yeah spend a couple of minutes to actually read from your body know how do I feel How’s my mind just get this clear and ready and open. You know how was my body feeling? How are my shoulders and my you know I don’t tension going to shake a home with a couple of BRAF so something you know
BERNARD: Yeah definitely I think there’s Because of our senses essential as a therapist and it’s one of the things I really think is I why I’ve found it’s being catered to transform how I work is this question of how I my engaging with my client? Am I engaging from a place where I’m so over a bit stressed and happy and don’t know what that’s doing or am I engaging from a place of Yeah am heal my body or what it’s like this way My body is like this that’s fine I’m proud and It’s just I think observing the difference between those two Is Almost palpable These people respond and
KRZYS: I think we can do one challenge for our busy Hives listeners or followers so now even this week or just spend one day or a couple of days before we start a session just do your body scan
BERNARD: Yeah great!
KRZYS: Do your body scanning see how you feel and just try it and count that day is like you know what is it and how just how to pay attention to your body before each session
BERNARD: Yeah I think that’s great
KRZYS: So everybody let’s do this
BERNARD: And there are lots of resources online where you can find out a little bit more about it’s essentially more prestigious and maybe even things that we can write something on the site
KRZYS: Or maybe we can meet another day and have a different interview when you run through everyone all the whole body scanning for everyone
BERNARD: Yeah possibly
KRZYS: Why not? So the next question I have for you because a lot of our real listen out are just starting out or maybe they just been in the business for a while but they’re still struggling. You know the work it builds their own businesses so the next question for you if you will come tomorrow morning but do you because that is all the experience and knowledge you currently have, but your business completely disappear forcing you to start from the scratch what would you do?
BERNARD: Panic a little bit why is everything gone? And then after that, I think quite a pragmatic way out find a space to work from some sort of basic website and then start advertising and sucking one of the names of that yeah start talking telling everyone that I’m a Massage Therapist.
KRZYS: That’s good answer. So the next part a little bit about you just to promote yourself will give you a little bit of the free stuff time. Just promotion and I think you want to know if your practice you can you know what any courses or books or anything you like to share so we give you know that a first on time a guy.
BERNARD: Oh! Oh!! Thanks well, my name is Bernard Porter a practice structural massage in Bristol and come and see me if you’d like I’m sure Krzys is going to put the contacts in the show note. I will possibly assist with anatomy courses in Bristol it will start next year if you’re interested in that sort of thing I think probably The best way it stay in touch probably on Facebook so if you go on Equipoise Therapy Massage is the name my page and then you click, follow or like and then when the time comes up and in terms of books, there are heaps out and I’ll let you use your own devices to find your own.
KRZYS: Oh! Great advice! So the next part is our game which is called, Tag a Guest Game (yeah) that applies only you end up talking to me.
BERNARD: So thanks Sophie. (Laughter)
KRZYS: Thanks Sophie and so we would like to ask you who do you admire and why? And can you help us get a recommendation for an upcoming interview with me?
BERNARD: Sure, there are many people that I admire in this world. So if tag me, anyone of them who I like to tag is one called Natalie Young, who practices a nice blend of Sports and Holistic Massage and she’s got fantastic energy and is real. Just put a lot of effort into helping people that she works with. So Natalie you have been tagged.
BERNARD: She works in Bristol and in Devon by the way.
KRZYS: Okay, perfect! So thank you for joining me here today Bernard and thank you know give us lots of inspiration, advice and knowledge. So let’s finish this show with the last piece of advice to Busy Hive listeners and then we will say goodbye. If you had just one thing for our listeners to take out of this episode what would it be?
BERNARD: This, there have been so many good parts. I’d say another thing and stay curious and your clients are the best teachers.
KRZYS: Brilliant, thank you. Stay curious that’s a good one! So how can you connect with the online? You have the same …
BERNARD: Yeah, my website is at www.structuralmassagebristol.co.uk. As I have said before I’m on Facebook at Equipoise Massage and I’m also on Twitter’s, the link to that is on my website.
KRZYS: Brilliant, thank you. So thank you for joining me here and all our listeners are interested in learning a bit more, even trying your sessions you are in Bristol so we going to put all the information in our show notes for our listeners at busyhive.co.uk/community./podcast. It’s a pleasure to meet you, and it’s a pleasure to chat with you today Bernard, and hopefully we will chat very soon. Bye for now!
BERNARD: Thanks, Krzys! Bye for now.