Massage Hack #1

Massage Hack #1 Lower Leg Congestion and the Mobility of the Fibular Head



As a massage therapist, there is nothing more frustrating than working on a person’s body and not being able to make a difference in the tissue.

  • Maybe it’s because the joint isn’t as neutral as it could be, making the soft tissue have to stabilize instead of mobilize.
  • Maybe something on the opposite side of the body or joint is pulling making a tug of war situation limiting mobilization of a joint.
  • Maybe the person is holding on to an emotional pattern which won’t allow a shift in soft tissue or causing chronic lymphatic congestion.

There could be dozens of reasons why a person’s body isn’t responding to treatment.  Over thousands of clinical hours and two decades studying human movement and bodywork, I have developed certain protocols in dealing with acute and chronic musculoskeletal dysfunctions in the body.

In this series, I will provide you with quick, concise, and accurate information on how I have successfully treated certain conditions in the body over and over.  I am making this intellectual information available free of charge because I believe in inclusivity instead of exclusivity, and I want the most number of people on this earth to be able to be helped with this knowledge.

Disclaimer: It is YOUR responsibility to adapt this information to the training you have received and are qualified to do, and work within your scope of practice and laws in your area.

Problem: Massaging lateral half of lower leg prone or supine, distal to proximal, perhaps a deep stripping effleurage, and when you get to the upper 2/3 of the leg, just below the knee a few inches you run into a wall of congestion that can’t get out of the way. Perhaps it’s a ball of stagnant lymph, or it’s short, dehydrated, immobilized fascia, or it’s that the fibular head can’t get out of the way…Or all three and more… It’s painful to the client if you just bulldoze your way through so what do we do?


Treatment: Mobilize the fibular head by whatever scope of training you have had and available techniques in your ‘toolbox’. My training is in Ortho-Bionomy (O-B), positional release of joints, and neuromuscular re-education. So my first technique is the least invasive O-B/positional release to help the fibular head’s reflexes to self-correct, move into neutral, and start to mobilize in both directions equally and easily in relationship to the tibia.


Re-Check: Go back to the original massage technique and check to see if the congestion now has a place to go, the fibula will get out of the way and there will be a clear channel for lymphatic drainage to occur as well as allowing the fascia to stretch into more space. Now there should be less intensity for the client when you repeat the original massage strokes and a shift in tissue can occur.

For massage/career training and CE’s in Indiana visit

For Ortho-Bionomy training near you , visit


Joint balance + Soft Tissue Release = Marriage Made in Heaven

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WARNING: The Following post contains some totally geeky bodywork stuff and jumping right in…


Chiropractors know that releasing soft tissue in conjunction with correcting joint mis-alignments allows the body to stay in alignment longer than without soft tissue release.


Massage therapists know that the muscles won’t loosen up if they are supporting a joint mis-alignment, and so mindful bodyworkers know that it is a marriage made in heaven to receive both joint balance and muscle balance at the same time, or as close to the same time as possible.


Unless you have a chiropractor who works inside your massage practice and schedule your treatments back to back, you probably won’t be able to gain the same amount of benefit that you would if your chiropractor is also a trained massage therapist, or vice versa. For many people, this combination of treatments is not feasible.


However, as MT’s we DO have tools available to us through continuing education. Through CE’s I have found the perfect way of helping set up the conditions for the body’s joints to move more toward neutral, by applying Ortho-Bionomy® techniques. Then, as a trained massage therapist, I can then reassess the tissue and soften any restricted tissue that might pull the joint back out of alignment.


What’s Ortho-Bionomy? GREAT question! It can be described in many different ways. It was founded by a British Osteopath, Arthur Lincoln Pauls, and is based off of Osteopathy. Osteopathy is a branch of medicine that believes the body will heal itself given the right conditions. Ortho-Bionomy® (O-B) is a system/modality of bodywork that sets up the conditions for the body to self-correct. Yes, I said SELF CORRECT.


The way my brain understands it is that O-B works on the level of the nervous system and the fascial (connective tissue) communication network. Parts of the system of this exquisite bodywork involves gentle positioning of the body, and engaging the tissues either energetically, or physically through traction or compression. It takes many hours of training to become proficient at applying the principles and techniques, but well worth the effort!


If you only know me through reading my blogs, you might think all my clients are black and blue when they leave my office, but that’s not usually the case. In fact because I use O-B techniques in my treatments, my clients experience MUCH LESS soreness than with just deep tissue techniques. They tell me all the time, “I thought I would be WAY more sore than I was.”


Learning to use the O-B principles has also changed the way I apply deep tissue techniques. Gone are the days of plowing through restrictions as a more ‘green’ deep tissue therapist. I now honor what the body is trying to support with that restriction, try to understand why it’s there, and figure out a way to relieve the CAUSE of the restriction (instead of just relieving the symptom). This is done through observing joint alignment, reading the body’s posture, asking questions about lifestyle, injuries, applying O-B, etc. Then as a last resort, going into the restriction if absolutely necessary to relieve the pain caused by restricted tissue.


In addition, because of Ortho-Bionomy training, when I apply the deep tissue techniques, it is done with more finesse. I go slower. I put my mind into the tissue and visualize it opening up and letting me in.   I move with the body more, and less against it. Work with nature, not against it. O-B has given me a vehicle with which to work WITH the natural rhythms and cycles of the body in order to help create a state for healing to occur.


Allowing joints to move toward neutral alignment through Ortho-Bionomy® techniques and combining that with adhesion release as needed has allowed my clients to stay pain free longer and has created a niche market for my practice.


For more information on Ortho-Bionomy® please visit


If you want to take classes in Indianapolis, contact the Carmel School of Massage & Healing Arts and visit our website at for our Ortho-Bionomy Class schedule.