Zero Balancing brings you back to center

by Tasha Snedaker

11.01.ZBThe modality is like a tree that just got out a wind storm and is now… still.

It balances you like a pendulum, that, once it’s experienced the very edges of balance, and being unbalanced, it comes to center and… rests. This “center” enables the person to feel “lighter” and taller in their body. The person feels younger in their body with the weight of time appearing to have been lifted. It lends itself to allowing the body to be at ease on the earth rather than being weighed down by it.

I had the privilege of taking the Zero Balancing I class recently at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School and my world, as a bodyworker, has gotten a lot bigger, or deeper, as some would say. My world has gotten deeper in that the body isn’t just as deep as its muscles, stressors, and skin texture; but it is also its structure. That structure is what gives ‘ground’ to the muscles and the stressors. And when that ground can be aligned to its highest potential, then the muscles will naturally follow suit. A certain negative holding pattern may shift. A certain hindering physical tendency may go away.

I used the word ‘privilege’ earlier in reference to the way that the class was taught. The course proceeded in a very methodical manner, teaching each of the steps of the protocol in a variety of learning styles: a brief lecture and diagram, use of a skeleton to demonstrate the points. The instructor demonstrated the technique on a student. Students practiced on their partners and then a touch comparison was given from the instructor or assistant. This all culminated in a full ZB I practice session between 2 students. With one instructor and three assistants there was always a chance to get your question answered. The 3-1/2 days of the teaching were interlaced with full sessions by a trained “Zber” working on participants, many of whom had never received a ZB session before. These sessions brought life to the modality and clarified through experience why it’s so effective .

It was wonderful to learn Zero Balancing I at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School because of its diverse, thorough, and integrated teaching style. From the simple and in-depth look at its history to the practical approach of working with a variety of clients I highly recommend taking Zero Balancing 1 at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School.

Learn more at the Zero Balancing 1 workshop with David Lauterstein on March 26-29. CLICK HERE to register today!


Let’s be honest. Humans are self-lubricating entities.

We have sebaceous glands whose sole purpose is to lubricate and waterproof the skin. These glands are associated with hair (we have about 5 million distributed over the whole body).

Then we have perspiration, a brilliant method of thermoregulation. We can sweat off as many as 14 liters per day! We also have apocrine glands that respond to hormonal effects of change and stress.

So why all the oil, people? I know most of us learned that way, largely because many of us start with Swedish and then get attached literally to our bottles and pumps. Certainly some modalities won’t work well without at least some oil or other lubricant – Swedish, Lomi-lomi, some vigorous circulatory Sports Massage, etc.

However, for many ways of working, especially if you want to get a grip on the skin, superficial fascia and/or deeper myofascial tissues, and thus perhaps a clearer communication with the nervous system, working with little or no lubricant oil bottlemay give you a distinct advantage in promoting change.

Have courage! Lay those bare hands upon the body and feel, without the insulating layers of oil, who this person is. Then engage the tissues and nervous system with clarity.

Save yourself unnecessary work and unnecessary expense. Wean yourself from your bottles ~ PEOPLE ARE SELF-LUBRICATING ENTITIES.  :)

Grad Chronicle – James Uhl

PastedGraphic-1 copyby James Uhl

After graduating TLC in 2011 I immediately began gaining experience by working on my own practice as well as doing chair and sports massage for different events around the city. In July, 2012 I received my NASM Personal Training certification in attempt to bridge two aspects of care to help my clients. Still trying to round out my practice I received an advanced certification with Precision Nutrition as a Fitness Nutritionist, an Upper Body certification with ART (I will be certified for Full Body by the end of the year), and my certification of Applied Functional Sciences.

After working beginning positions as a therapist I have now settled into a wonderful dual practice of massage as well as personal training. I currently work at the Austin Massage Company specializing in sports rehabilitation as well as the newly open Max Training facility as a personal trainer. I hope to bridge my skills as a therapist and trainer to provide my clients with unique rehabilitative strategies to recover from their injuries and achieve their goals.

In my spare time I have created a service project called One Touch Forward as a way to give back to the community with free massages to the inspiring individuals in and around the city. I am so thankful for my time at TLC as it provided me with a wonderful foundation to explore education in the healing arts as well as a form of expression to learn more about myself.

One year at Massage School can change everything!

11.01.AnatomyClass.MuscleModelingby Shannon Young

I have been working in school admissions for years. In that time one thing I have found to be true is that there is never a perfect time to go back to school. There is never the perfect amount of money, time, or energy to make the decision super easy. Thing about it – you will be adding a new responsibility to your plate… and that means change.

So, how do you make school work? First and foremost: choose a schedule that sets you up for success!

The Saturday Only class allows you to dedicate one day a week to your future success. This gives you a week between classes to be prepared for the following week of homework and study responsibilities that come with this outstanding education.

You get to focus your energy in a way that you can still give what you need to keep your outside life running smoothly. Yes, it is a commitment to dedicate your Saturdays to your education for  year, but you will wake up each Saturday excited and ready for your work ahead to achieve your goal of a new rewarding career.

If you have always wanted to go to massage school, it will be worth it to have one day in your week dedicated to reaching that goal instead of dreaming of it.

So, I ask you – what is loving what you do worth?

We want to answer your questions and offer guidance into the best schedule to not only help you start your training but to GRADUATE and begin your new career as a Massage Therapist.

One year can change everything!

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Saturday Only class!


11.01.ZB.David.groupYour body is composed of layers. Each one has a relatively soft, connective tissue associated with it. Generally called “fascia”, these connective tissue layers act somewhat like a series of living saran wrappings around all the tissues in the body.

The layers overall are:

  • The skin with its associated superficial fascia
  • The organs and muscles with deeper fascia around and within them
  • The joints, connected by the fascial ligaments
  • The bones with a fascial skin on them called the periosteum

Healthy movement requires that all these layers move in a coordinated fashion with each other. If the superficial muscles move, but the deeper don’t, that sows the seeds for too much tension becoming chronic in the deeper muscles. If the muscles are freely moving, but the bones and joints aren’t, that may sow the seeds for ligament damage, resulting muscle spasm, and ultimately osteoarthritis.

Therefore, a massage therapist, to fully help clients, needs to facilitate freedom within and between all of these layers. If even one layer is under-addressed, then the body’s health, balance and movement will be compromised. Ultimately this imbalance can begin to affect organ function and can lead to disease.

The superficial layers of the muscles and fascia just under the skin are well addressed by Swedish massage, hydrotherapy and various spa therapies that concentrate on the body’s surface.

The middle layers respond well to deep massage and other therapies that systematically free and organize the muscles and the fascia that lie nearer our body’s core.

The deepest structural layer is the bone and joints. This is best freed through Zero Balancing or other therapies that systematically facilitate balance and healthy function at that level.

Since the soft tissues associated with the bones and joints lie in the deepest structural layer, when imbalanced or holding chronic tension, they affect us profoundly.

A good case can be made for systematic balance in the body needing to be created from inside out.

11.01.ZBFinally there yet another “layer” that we are communicating with as we help balance these various structures. That is the nervous system, particularly the brain and the more widely distributed intelligence including the whole body that can be considered as the “mind” within the body. This nervous system is conjoined by the endocrine as well – giving us both an electrical and chemical source for deep organization of function and structure.

In Zero Balancing we recognize that this neuro-endocrine mind, the intelligence embodied in each part and layer of us, is most accessible through a systematic touch that honors in turn each of the body’s layers. This awareness – that every touch to some extent affects many layers of mind as well as body – makes this a very special and exciting modality to practice.

When we have a good idea how to touch mind as well as body, then we can usefully integrate concepts from Asian medicine that have long recognized the unity of these two – often using “energy” as a synonym for mind.

With Zero Balancing we want to balance the fascial layers and facilitate coordinated movement through enhanced proprioception and awareness, through overall a balance between and within our structure and energy. This is in some sense the Holy Grail of bodywork – because when we release only one part or aspect of the self, we have in effect created only a new kind of imbalance. The word and fact of health derives from the word and the experience of mind and body’s unity and harmonious function.

Therefore, the study of Zero Balancing is ultimately at the very core of what we need to know to fully help our clients integrate their structure and energy.

It is a great joy of mine to teach this modality which I’ve studied and practiced now for over 25 years. I invite you to explore this fascinating understanding and technique on March 26-29. CLICK HERE to register today!

Stiff Neck – Un-puzzling the Problem

by Nancy Dail

Clients regularly complain of having a “stiff neck”. It may hurt to rotate, flex, extend or laterally flex the head or just feel like the head does not respond to movement well. Complaints may also include pain or discomfort on top of the head, general headache, or specific headache pain patterns. Discomfort may run from the back of the head through to the front, and include the entire superior area of the scapula to between the scapulae medially. Multiple complaints may also include upper extremity pain in the shoulder or elbow joints and/or hand and wrist.

The medical history form and interview will help to answer many questions – occupation, repetitive actions, injuries and accidents, sleep patterns, pain patterns, activity and response to other types of care both medical and holistic. What aggravates the condition? What relieves it? Observation will answer postural questions. Is there a head forward posture, protracted shoulders, short upper arms, and a marked handedness? How much pressure is on the posterior cervical muscles based on the head forward posture?

Posture is a repetitive action, and can over time, cause as much discomfort as a sudden injury. The constant head forward posture and position of the shoulders, causes isometric holding patterns for the head extensors, and puts additional stress on the deeper suboccipitals. What other repetitive actions (shoulder girdle and shoulder joint) the individual has, determines what other muscles will play a part in the dysfunction. Muscles work in groups and in paired opposition. This is the aggregate muscle theory – a kinesiology theory that pairs agonist and antagonist action. So, when analyzing and unraveling the stiff neck, the massage therapist must determine active and passive range of motion for the head, neck, shoulder girdle, and shoulder joint. What contributes to the discomfort? Does the individual elevate the shoulder with actions? For example, have you ever tried to shovel snow without lifting the shoulder?

nancy dail pic1Armed with action information, determining which muscles are culpable is next. Muscles work as agonists, antagonists, synergists, stabilizers, and neutralizers. Some muscles may be primary, but others assisting in the action may also have to be treated in order for the issue to be resolved. There is also order involved. What muscles do you work on first and in what position? In the case of the stiff neck, the sternocleidomastoid, is a primary muscle. It is often shortened because of posture or my personal favorite when I travel, “hotel pillow syndrome”. Passively shortening this muscle is key to unwinding it quickly. Flex the head and lateral flex the head. Short strip the muscle off the mastoid process while rotating the head toward your thumb. Grasp the length of the SCM with a pincer palpation and work towards the sternum and clavicle. Deep transverse friction the sternum and clavicular attachments.

Working on the SCM before you begin releasing the longissimus dorsi and splenius capitis will allow a more efficient treatment plan. These muscles assist in lateral flexion with SCM being a prime agonist. With SCM’s release, the lateral flexors palpate easier than before SCM’s treatment.

Releasing the SCM may also assist the relaxation of the trapezius. The two muscles share the same nerve – the accessory nerve. Bilaterally, the trapezius is the antagonist for flexion of the head – the prime action of the SCM.

nancy dail pic2Of course this is only the beginning of unraveling the stiff neck and solving the puzzle of the involved muscles and actions. There are many more muscles to visit in a specific order to release the stiffness, increase range of motion, and relieve pain from lack of movement, headache, or posture issues. Levator Scapula, splenius cervicis, specific suboccipitals, and even the scalenes play important roles in contributing to the common “stiff neck”.

Sternocleidomastoid diagram by Barbara Cummings illustrator; Myofascial Pain and Dsyfunction, Trigger Point Manual, Travell and Simmons

Technique picture from Kinesiology for Manual Therapies, McGraw-Hill, Dail, Agnew, and Floyd.

Learn more at the Dimensional Massage for Neck and Upper Extremity Pain with Nancy Dail on April 17-19, 2015. CLICK HERE to register today!

5 Reasons the Saturday Only class is great!

  1. 11.01.AnatomyClass.MuscleModelingYou have more time between classes to absorb information.

    The Saturday Only class meets just one day a week. This means students have more time to not only absorb the theoretical parts of the curriculum, but they have more time to practice and develop their hands-on skills as well!

  2. You can keep your job and go to school!

    By having class only one day a week, Saturday, you can keep your full time job while you are in school to start your new career in Massage Therapy!

  3. It only takes 1 year

    In 1 year, you give yourself the opportunity to begin a new career in a field that is flexible, rewarding, and challenging. Think about it? This time next year, you will be about to start your new career as a Massage Therapist! Wow!

  4. The Saturday Only class has AMAZING teachers

    Instructors Christopher Fritel and Kazuko DeVirgilio are experts in massage therapy. Together they will provide you a comprehensive education in anatomy & physiology, practical hands-on massage work, business, and more!

  5. This class schedule is offered only ONCE a year!

    Don’t miss out!

The March Saturday Only class starts March 14, 2015. CLICK HERE to learn more today!

I first met the founder of Zero Balancing…

11.01.ZB.David.groupI first met the founder of Zero Balancing, Fritz Smith, MD, in 1986 at the AMTA National Convention in Washington, D.C. At that time, I was a therapist, instructor, and the editor of the Massage Therapy Journal. I had heard of Dr. Smith as teaching, at the Esalen Institute and elsewhere, this modality called “Zero Balancing”. I had traded with a few of his students but I still wasn’t at all sure what Zero Balancing was and I wondered what its founder would be like.

The name “Fritz Smith” and visions of Esalen evoked for me the association of a big woodsman, stomping-through-the-redwoods-Paul-Bunyan kind of guy. I expected a tall, plaid-shirted, new age mountain man.

We met for breakfast and I was surprised. Here he was – bright, friendly, open, looking more like a young Burgess Meredith than Paul Bunyan! Over lox and bagels we conversed and I was delighted that he was so personable, not one-up, seemingly as interested in me as I was in him. I walked away with a refreshed feeling and very positive impression.

At that time I was in a curious place in my bodywork practice. I had studied and practiced many modalities – Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, Structural Bodywork, and cranio-sacral therapy. Nonetheless, I had come to an impasse, where I felt there was something in my clients that I wasn’t touching at all, yet I had no idea what it was!

11.01.ZBThat afternoon Fritz was to give a talk on Zero Balancing, that I now looked forward to even more having met him. There were perhaps 200 leaders in our field there.

Fritz began talking about his realization, over 30 years of studying, medical practice and teaching, that the anatomical layers of the body also corresponded to layers of energy flow. He briefly expounded on this anatomy of energy movement and correlated them with the anatomical layers of skin, muscles/organs, and bones.

I had never heard such an intuitively believable link-up of energy and anatomy. Then he began to explore the characteristics of these layers. When he came to bone, he noted that, since it was the densest, deepest tissue, it conveyed the densest, deepest energy currents – like a 220 electric line carries more voltage than a 110. It was this skeletal armature, the deepest, densest structure and energy flow in the body, he said, that was the focus of Zero Balancing.

As he spoke, I had a sudden revelation and literally felt that a light bulb had lit up about six inches above my head. I realized what had been missing from my work. I had learned to work on the skin and the body’s superficial layers through Swedish massage, and, from Structural Bodywork, on the middle and deep layers of muscles and fascia, even on the meningeal layers through cranial work. But I really hadn’t been touching bone! I had not been conscious of accessing its living structure, this most deep, supportive layer of being. And I had had virtually no sense of its being energetically significant.

At that moment I knew I wanted to find out more about this man, what he knew and what Zero Balancing was. From this start I was filled with the new yet obvious revelation that bodywork, to be truly complete and optimally effective, must address this deepest layer of structure and energy. It seemed this was the missing piece.

Learn more at the Zero Balancing I workshop with David Lauterstein on March 26-29. CLICK HERE to register today!

Pediatric Massage

Sinclair cover mechby Marybetts Sinclair

Sensitive massage is a unique type of therapy that can speak directly to many of the greatest needs of children. It is stimulating, relaxing, emotionally nurturing and feels terrific. It can help children release tension, become more aware of their bodies, and form a body image that is positive and strong. When there are periods of rapid brain growth and the child’s self image is being formed, massage can be especially significant. For many kids, their childhood can have stressful times, and massage is a great way to learn to deal with stress.

Recent research on massage for children with a wide range of disabilities, including hospitalized newborns, children with asthma, autism, severe burns, visual impairment, rheumatoid arthritis. and other special groups has documented many of these benefits. For example, hospitalized newborns who are receiving gentle daily massages gain more weight on the same amount of formula and have decreased levels of stress hormones.

But we never force massage on children, instead we make it fun! In the pediatric massage class we will learn how to make massage more interesting and enjoyable, using novel toys, balls, items of different textures, heat and cold and more. (These are also forms of sensory stimulation which will help kids be more comfortable being handled.) For example, a little girl named Molly, who had Behr’s Syndrome, was treated in a fun way in massage class.

Normally, this inherited neurological condition meant that her hands were so sensitive she could not pick up anything, and had never been able to feed herself. First, we let her play with bathtub toys in a pan of warm water, then in a pan of cold water, and finally we managed to massage her hands in the water while she was distracted and paying no attention.. Then gradually, as she could tolerate more stimulation, her hands were massaged out of the water. Her mother followed up at home, massaging Molly’s hands every day, and in two weeks her occupational therapist reported Molly was finally able to tolerate holding a spoon. Now she could begin to learn to feed herself.

Learn more at the Pediatric Massage Therapy workshop with Mary Betts Sinclair on February 28 – March 1, 2015. CLICK HERE to register today.

New Year, New Career

Welcome to 2015. This is going to be the year you find a career that give you both passion and success!

We say it year after year, hoping the right career will just pop up and snatch us from our current situation. Maybe you hate your 9 to 5 hours or sitting at a computer all day or feeling like you haven’t done any good in the world. Now is the time for you to actually do something about it.

Resolutions always seem impossible to keep, so let’s think of this career change as a goal instead. But how do you achieve that goal of a new, fulfilling career?

Step 1:

Work Life Balance signpostAsk yourself: What do I want out of a career? Do I want to help other people? Do I want to make my own schedule?

Finding a career that fits your desired lifestyle and purpose is just as important as finding one that fits your desired income. With a career in massage therapy you can have all of them. You can make your own schedule, help others feel better through your work, and be fulfilled.

11.01.Anatomy.BookCloseupStep 2:

Research! Do you need training to achieve this career? Do you need additional skill? Where can you go to school?

Most new careers will require some additional training, whether through college, trade school, or certificate programs. The important thing to remember is that while this takes time and effort on your end, it is an important step on your way to the destination of your new career. Make sure you find the best possible training – that will help you find the best possible job in your chosen career!

Step 3:

Train. Learn. Prepare.

11.01.MassageThis is the time for you to open your mind and learn. Learn all the skills necessary for your new career. Make this your passion and completely engulf yourself in education!

Step 4:

Start your engines!

You have your education, your training, your vision of what you want to do. Now is the time to get motivated to make it happen. You have all the tools! Do the leg work to apply and impress or even start your own business. You have a world of options and opportunity available to you, especially in massage therapy! Go for it!

Thinking about your future and making your future happen are two different things. Let this year be the year the doing beats out wishing!

Learn more about starting your career in massage therapy with an education at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School – CLICK HERE.

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