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Finding The Godfather of Organized Pain

When I was growing up, we lived on a farm with 6 kids. Pop’s brother, Gene, would say, “Y’all could tear up an anvil bare-footed.” Pop picked up that expression faster than a shiny dime. We would always hear it as he was fixing whatever mess that we just created. There were a lot of us kids and it seems like Mom and Pop were so busy putting out fires while they worked to rehabilitate us little arsonists.

Sometimes, therapy can be that way. In 1995, I was writing the neuromuscular manual for the ASHA School of Massage and studying craniostructural techniques with Dallas Hancock. I was working at a small practice with a chiropractor in a tiny north Georgia town. I had a watershed moment about putting out fires.
fi-pain-behindthe-shoulder-when-throwingI had a client with a rotator cuff problem. Subscapularis. Pain in her shoulder. An aggravated wrist. Ewww. It isn’t any fun for the client as you work in their armpit. So I worked there for a while, just like I was taught. I didn’t really get the results that I wanted. I was stumped, so I brought Dr. Pruitt in to take a look. As I described the problem, he put his knee in the gal’s armpit and popped her on the front of the shoulder. I ran my hands up in there after he did that and those trigger points were quick and easy to release. That really got my attention. I figured out how to release restrictions in that shoulder using gentle massage techniques, instead of popping it. I was learning that sometimes I couldn’t put out the fire, or kept putting out the same fire, when the arsonist was still at work. I had to hunt down the arsonist.

Eventually, I figured out that there were restrictions in the neck that perpetuate restrictions in the shoulder that perpetuate the trigger points in subscapularis. THEN I found that there are restrictions in the cranium that perpetuate restrictions in the neck that perpetuate restrictions in the shoulder that perpetuates the trigger points in subscapularis. If I fixed those cranial restrictions, the client usually gets off the table with no shoulder pain without ever having to actually dig in the armpit or mobilize the shoulder or address the neck directly. Amazing, and a lot less bothersome for both of us. Better yet, the problem seldom comes back. The body becomes rehabilitated and better at correcting itself. I hadn’t just found and rehabilitated the arsonist, I had found the kingpin, the Godfather of Organized Pain.

“Integrative” is an adjective that describes something that integrates itself.  Integrative bodywork changes your body so that it is better at fixing itself. Craniostructural therapy is crowning approach in Integrative Bodywork. Integrative Bodywork is my therapy of choice because it gives the therapist and the client choices about putting out fires, hunting down arsonists, or taking down Godfather of Organized Pain.


Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients.

He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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