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What I learned at San Diego Pain Science Summit

Pain sucks, and it drives many of clients to me for relief.  

In February, I took a break to advance my understanding of new pain research and how to apply it in my massage studio. 

The purpose of the San Diego Pain Science Summit is to bring new pain science into practical, clinical application for manual therapists (massage, chiropractors, physical therapists).  Here are my main take aways I am now using in my massage studio: 

1) The nervous system makes the body like a cloud, not an engine.  Clouds are unpredictable, engines follow clear rules.  Despite our attempts to understand biomechanical causes of pain and aches, many times our ideas based on anatomy and physiology are the starting point, not the solution.  Often the ache or pain comes from a cause that is too complex to give a clear diagnosis, and the nervous system should be our focus.

The nervous system, not the tissue is the target for healing and change.  However, the nervous  system is more like a cloud than a car engine.  It is soo complex we don't always know how working on one part will affect the whole.  Hence, I focus much of my massage on the nervous system.  Many say that massage provides the relaxation 'space' to make changes and pain reduction to heal more comfortably.  

2) Muscles and tissue act like an engine that can be assessed and treated.  Although the nervous system has new importance in pain science, anatomy and physiology are still important.  Great anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology are an important part of my work.  The current model for understanding and resolving pain now emphaisizes pyschological, social, and nervous system.  The physical perspective is still essential for assessing the cause of pain and using terapy that help.  This is great since I continue to invest time learning anatomy with my mentor Whitney Lowe and his well recognized Orthopedic Massage Program.  When clients come with pain, I assess the client history and physical body to determine a likely tissue cause of the pain, and then select massage techniques that will help that specific tissue.

Ask me about an assessment for your pain complaint.   

3) Science over marketing.  Ongoing neuroscience and pain research is creating new findings and demonstrating the lack of evidence for old ideas.  This community of massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors is really working to use clinical techniques informed by science.  Additionally, we keep our marketing in line with research to stop perpetuating ideas that science does not support.  

This is why my marketing is a bit sparse on making promises compared to other therapists.  I don't like to regurgetate massage marketing messages and promises that are not supported by science.  Of course, my clients are convinced by my work, not marketing. 

Most importantly, I met a new circle of colleagues and joined an international community who will raise my awareness of science and clinical application, as well as my overall level of knowledge.  These are really sharp people always debating new ideas and keeping me on my toes to become a better therapist.  

Be well, Jesse