I’ve had the honor and privilege of teaching creative movement and writing in women’s prisons for the last twelve years. (Wondering what this has to do with massage therapy? Read on!)
One of the units I volunteer in is the Female Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP). Yes, there are female sex offenders. When I first learned about SOTP I was immediately drawn to facilitate workshops there.
I approached the program director and she loved the idea. Since most Texas prisons have a strict “No Touch” policy, The SOTP program is strictly cognitive based therapy. The program director knows that these women hold tremendous trauma in their bodies and fervently believes that creative movement classes allow their bodies to speak. . (Nearly 100% of female offenders have been sexually abused in childhood.)
I always start my classes with fun icebreaker exercises. I put on some fabulous African drumming music and have them write their name with their tail bones, their belly buttons, elbows, nose, chin – anybody part will do! Before long, everyone is smiling and laughing and magic is happening behind bars.
Create some magic in your office/clinic! Encourage your clients and yourself to move in novel ways like I described above. The body loves circular and spiral movement which stimulates different parts of the brain and gets us out of linear, sagittal plane movement. When we move in a variety of ways different parts of our nervous system are stimulated, giving us a new sense of ourselves, a fresh identity.
I regularly suggest to my clients to put on their favorite music and imagine there’s a paint brush attached to the body part we’re working with and do the following:
- Rotator cuff/shoulder injuries: write your name in script with your elbow. Bend elbow and Place fingers lightly on shoulder. For those with limited ROM, start in the pain free range (example 30 degrees of abduction).
- Neck: write your name in script with your chin and top of head.
- Hips/lower back: write your name in script with your belly button and tail bone.
- Stay in the pain-free range until the body feels ready to perform the movements with more volume
- If it hurts, make it smaller. Micro-movements are a great start.
- It should feel good and be fun!
- Increases range of motion
- Introduces novel sensations in the body
- Increases proprioception
- Releases endorphins
- A wonderful alternative to traditional exercises