Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Body Tuning Toy Box

The work of Body Tuning encompasses more than just manual therapy. In a typical session Shmuel Tatz will spend a great deal of time touching and mobilizing the body. But in many cases, there is another element. I love it when Shmuel reaches into what I call the “Toy Box” and uses another modality.

I don’t mean any disrespect. I’m sure they are highly intricate pieces of expensive equipment, but I like calling them toys. I’m going to describe what I’ve seen so far. These may not be the official names of the pieces of equipment, but just what I call them:

MAGNETS: They call these ‘the magnets’ but to me they look like ping pong paddles for a Wii. One has a little red plus sign and the other has a little blue minus sign. You can set the intensity in increments of 10 and Shmuel usually uses about 60 or 70. When you hold the paddles up to someone’s body, it sends an electrical impulse about every three or four seconds. Often it will cause the underlying muscle to quickly contract. It reminds me of an extremely low-powered defibrillator. It seems to me that this action can stimulate contractions in muscles that are either outside of the conscious control of the person or that have been in such a state of disuse for so long that the person seems to have lost access to them. If you’ve ever had a ‘twitch’ in your muscle, the feeling is similar to that. Shmuel will usually use this on areas that are flaccid or paralyzed with tension.

ULTRASOUND: This is the same technology used to look at fetuses in the womb. But in this case, there is no monitor. The sound creates vibrations that effect the tissues. This machine looks like a flat circular metal disc, about the size of a quarter, with a long handle on it. Before using the ultrasound, a water based gel is applied to the skin. This serves to contain the sound vibrations, which would otherwise dissipate into the air. From what i understand, the vibrations create heat in the tissues and can reduce swelling and inflammation and begin to loosen and break down scar tissue.

EAR POINT FINDER: I’ve already blogged about this one. This looks like a big plastic electronic pointer. It, like many in Shmuel’s toy box, is emblazoned with what looks like Russian. I can’t read a word, so I don’t know what all the buttons do. But when turned on, this miraculous gadget makes a beeping sound that, when pressed into the skin, may or may not change in pitch. According to Shmuel, when the pitch rises, this is an indication of an Ear Point and the practitioner will stay on that point until the pitch lowers again. Read more about the Ear Points.

SCANNER: This isn’t a razor, but it looks and sounds like an old fashioned electric razor. Remember these?

The scanner is a rectangular plastic casing and on the ‘business end’ there are two metal plates. When turned on, this makes a buzzing sound, like an electric razor. I’ve seen Shmuel use it and he drags it over the body part over and over again. As it glides across the skin, the sound changes slightly as if the razor were cutting whiskers. But there are no blades; only two flat metal plates. The client will report a feeling like ‘pins and needles’ as it drags over their flesh. I was using this one a client once and what I found most fascinating was the way it would ‘drag’ when I was sliding it over inflamed tissue. My guess is that it seems to be attracted to excess fluid. As the swelling goes down, the dragging lessens. I was using this on a woman’s leg and after sliding it on her for about four minutes, it stopped dragging and just easily slid over her thigh. That’s when I knew the swelling had gone down. You can also hold the scanner on an inflamed area and it will signal with a chirp when it detects a change in the swelling. It's a fascinating machine.

GOLD PRICK EGG: One woman who came in with severely deformed thumbs was given this toy. It looked simply like a metallic egg shaped devise covered with prongs. She was told to squeeze it and to let the prongs stick into her flesh. This was intended to stimulate the region that appeared to have no life.

VIBRATION PLATFORM: I have been put on this one and I’ve seen one other person on it. It looks like a step you’d find in an aerobics class at a gym, with one important distinction: this vibrates. It feels incredible. As I described in my blog post, it really helped me feel my heels when I was afraid I was numb. It was profoundly relaxing.

RELAXER: This looks like a steering wheel with a square block behind it. On the other side of the block are four metal bumps. When this machine is turned on it vibrates. Pressing the metallic bumps on the body will send a wonderful relaxing vibration into the tissues. When I use this machine, it vibrates so much that just by holding the steering wheel part, I get a nice relaxing vibration in my whole upper body. It's becoming one of my favorite machines.

INFRARED: The infrared machine looks like a plastic microphone but instead of having the mesh it emits a red light. From what I understand, the light waves are so small that they penetrate our tissues easily and get deep inside to increase the internal heat. This is useful for pain and inflammation.

WALKING STICK: One of the more impressive toys in the box, this is simply the same type of walking stick you’d see paired with a top hat and monocle, or being used by someone who needs assistance walking. Only Shmuel has developed a whole new use for it. He has shown lots of people how to use what he called the Baby Boomer Stick for Stixercise. It can be used as a tool for giving self massage, or to help strengthen the grip or stretch and strengthen the arms, wrists, hands, elbows, shoulders and more.

There are many more toys. Some that I haven’t even seen him use yet. The point is that Body Tuning is more than hands on, it uses many different modalities to get the job done. And being a boy at heart, I’m excited that we get to use all of these toys in our work. Plus they seem to enhance the work and that’s a good thing.

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