Workout of the week
Workout of the week:
Aimee Heckel Camera Staff Writer Boulder Daily Camera
Posted:03/06/2012 04:20:44 PM MST
Push Therapy of Boulder, North Boulder Physical Therapy, 3000 Center Green #160, Boulder, 303-437-8932 pushtherapyofboulder.com
Marcia “Moe” Skaro performs push therapy on Crystal Brinkman. (CLIFF GRASSMICK) Instructor: Marcia “Moe” Skaro, of Boulder. Skaro taught and coached skiing for 30 years and ranked high on the U.S. Women’s cross-country ski team as a professional skier. Then eight years ago, she had a serious and near-fatal ski accident at Eldora that left her with a broken pelvis, ankle, torn ligaments on her knee and head trauma, among other injuries. She couldn’t walk and was in chronic pain. She says she tried all kinds of bodywork and physical therapy to find even a flicker of pain relief. A Push Therapy worker came to town, and she says she thought, “What the heck.” As she lay on the table — feeling true relief for the first time in a year — she says she decided she wanted to learn how to do this kind of therapy herself. “This changes people’s lives,” she says. She has now been doing Push Therapy full-time for five years — and she lives relatively pain-free. What is the workout? A form of bodywork that aims to not only find and relieve the pain (chronic pain and chronic body tension), but treat it. Push Therapy works the soft tissue, layer by layer, in such a way that it confuses the neuropathways and patterns, interrupting the cellular memory of pain or tension. The tissue has time to relax and reprogram itself to function the way it did when we were younger, Skaro says. “Push” is an acronym for Power Under Soft Hands, designed to represent the concepts of Tai Chi. No force or resistance, but moving with the energy to create change. Skaro says she looks at the body as a whole and works with the imbalances that occur on a subtle level, such as the muscles that have stopped functioning because of an injury or sickness. She sees a wide variety of people, from athletes with a sprained ankle or aches to people with life-threatening injuries. She says she does not replace doctors, physical therapists or medical practitioners, but she does make referrals. Skaro says Push can help with muscle pain, joint pain, muscle spasms and headaches. With older athletes, she works on many shoulders, backs and legs. “There is a cultural belief or acceptance that we have to hurt and get stiff in the tissues of our bodies as we get older,” Skaro says. “You know the commercials that talk about those stiff and achy joints — take a pill. By keeping our bodies loose and limber through bodywork we don’t have to work with those aging issues and pharmaceuticals.”
What’s different: Unlike massage, Skaro works muscles against the grain, or across the fibers, which feels significantly more effective and makes even the best traditional massage feel boring and average. She also uses her forearms and the flat part of her elbows to activate and hook onto your muscles and move them. By repeating the movements layer by layer, she gets down deep, where she says most tension is stored. Results tend to last three to five days after the first visit, with the intention to eventually become pain free after three to five times, Skaro says.
She says Push Therapy is similar to Structural Integration, but she seeks out places of acute pain that may vary from body to body, whereas the other bodywork follows more of a system. Plus, she says, “I bring myself into my work. I have a vast understanding of the body and pain, and I can explore and find the pain in people’s bodies.” Skaro says there are several other people in Boulder County who use Push techniques.
What does it cost? 90 minutes cost $90 and 60 minutes cost $75, but she also has package deals. She typically recommends 90 minutes for a first-time client. When: By appointment. Level: Depends on your own pain level and needs. If your muscles are already tight, you may experience discomfort.
As Skaro says, this is not a “fluffy and buff” experience, or a gentle massage. The focus is to help people get out of pain, and that’s not always easy to do.
She says she works as gently as possible. “I like for patients to understand that we have control over our own healing process,” she says. As for me, I experienced zero discomfort and only total and pure bliss the entire time. It was a zero on a 10-point scale, in terms of the physical exertion it required of me — although I bet Skaro got a good workout extracting the stress rocks from under my scapula.
What to prepare: Come well-hydrated. Wear comfortable clothes. No jeans or shoes, please. You do not remove any clothes during a session, which some clients find comforting.
Muscles worked: Depends on your needs and injuries. The work can be deep tissue or superficial. She also tries to get you moving your joints, although she is not a chiropractor. Because I didn’t have a specific injury, she worked my muscles from head to toe. Push Therapy also helps circulation, the joints, organs, lymph drainage — everything. Everything. Halfway through the session, she had me stand up to feel the difference between my left side (which she’d worked on) and my right side.
The difference was mind-blowing. My left side felt warm, fluid, longer, relaxed and energized. My right side felt like it was covered in a mud mask. The skin down to the deepest muscles felt tight, constricted, dry, achy and dull. Feeling the comparison to the Pushed-on side, I felt shocked and kind of repulsed that this is how I have been walking around every day. Throughout the session, Skaro brought my attention to the various shifts in my body. She also has a background as a teacher (15 years), so she explained what she was doing and why it worked, which (as a nosy journalist) I obviously enjoyed.
What I loved: Every once in a while, I experience something that leaves me beyond giddy and elated and dancing on clouds. This is even beyond that. Skaro is a magician. I feel like I am in a completely different body (like 15 years younger).
What I didn’t like: In the words of one of Skaro’s clients, “You ruined it for me. I will never be able to get a regular massage again.”
How I felt after the class: I drank a lot of water, but it did not ward off the inevitable soreness. Skaro warned me that the next day I would feel like I’d lifted weights all day. Yup. But it was worth it. And I’d rather be sore for one day than carry all that junk around with me every day.
– Reported by Aimee Heckel. Know of any interesting workouts? Tell us about them so we can check them out: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-473-1359. download PDF