Do you wanna touch????
When Bonnie and myself sat down to thrash out what we wanted to share with Pilates teachers on our courses we both agreed that the most fundamental thing was touch, getting hands-on, how to use your hands when teaching clients in effective, appropriate, informative and transformative ways was the top of the list of skills we wanted to share. Being hands-on and using touch was integral to my Classical Pilates teacher training with Kelly Kane in New York nearly two decades ago. Our Twenty Touches for Pilates teachers comes directly from what Kelly taught me all those years ago. What Bonnie and I also realised was that the basic massage skills we had learnt on our Sports Massage Therapy courses were safe and straightforward to use, in fact, I had been using them since studying with Kelly without ever having attended a ‘Massage’ training course.
So why is touch so important?
The skin is the largest organ in the body. We focus so much on the breath, muscles, bones and nerves we forget that the skin is the outer surface of the brain, the container of all these other elements. Dean Juhan says that ‘touch is one of the principle elements necessary for the successful development and functional organisation of the central nervous system, and it is as vital to our existence as food, water and breath’.
So my question to you is, do you ‘touch’ your clients and what is your intention when you do?
Did you know that as embryos our sense of touch develops first?? Before we have eyes, ears, tongues or noses, we can feel a touch on our brand new skin. It’s how we explore our environment and learn, and our need for touch is a vital part of being human. Sorry for the rant. I’m big on touching, what can I say.
Why come on our Pilates therapy Touch course?
We are the first (that we know of) offering a course that will insure Pilates teachers (through Balens) to use basic massage skills when teaching their clients. On our one day Touch course, we explore what happens when we touch eah other, why our intention matters. What it means to use your touch in an informative way, a supportive way, how to locate a trigger point and how to facilitate releasing it, all of this contributes to a positive movement experience for your clients without having to speak. Our Twenty Touches for Pilates teaches specific hands-on techniques to use when training on the equipment and mat to facilitate release, support change and guide clients into a more optimal movement experience,
Three to ten second delay between thought and action.
Did you know our brain makes up its mind up to ten seconds before we are conscious of the decision? Let that sink in, your brain will have decided between three to ten seconds before you do anything what is about to happen. That is a long time. That means how your client’s brain will have decided how they are going to execute their pilates exercise up to 10 seconds before they move. Our minds are like jugglers, trying to determine what information to act on first, which is most important. Touch is perceived by the brain within 2 seconds. When are speaking to our clients, giving them verbal cues, it can take time for their minds to translate that instruction into action. When we use our tactile cues, we can cut down on the mental chatter.
The science of touch tells us that there is more to touch than a general sense of what we can ‘feel’ on our skin. It goes much deeper than that. Touch includes sensations within our body (heat, pressure, pain, stretch) below the surface of our skin, in our muscles and joints. It is a vital part of knowing if we are doing what we think we are – is that shoulder relaxed – place your hand on it and suddenly it falls down away from the ears. We can use our hands, our touch as another communication tool with our clients helping them reconnect with their body and their awareness of where they are in space, what the tone of their tissues are as well as how well they are performing their Pilates exercises during their sessions with us. One of our twenty touches is ‘Femoral monitoring’ – palpating and feeling where our greater trochanter is while we move. Is it centred in the joint? Putting a finger on it can help our clients find the centre of their hip joint and get a sense of how they are moving in their hips.
Who doesn’t like a bit of a massage.
If these aren’t reasons enough to learn more about how to use your hands during your sessions we are also going to teach you the basics of massage and trigger points. Chronic tissue tension stops being recognised by the brain, so our clients are often unaware of how much stress they are holding in their tissue. Finding this tissue tension with a light, well-intentioned hand can be transformative. I often seem to identify areas of importance or from my clients perspective, sore spots, that they were totally unaware of. How can we let go of stress we don’t know we have until someone (you, once you’ve taken our course) helps them find it?
Where was I?
What is clear to me now that other than giving me a piece of paper that said I could now call myself a ‘sports massage therapist’ I wasn’t really doing anything that different with my clients having attended a massage course. I’ve always taught with my hands as well as using my verbal cues and demonstrating visually for my clients during their sessions. What having that piece of paper did mean was that Bonnie and myself were now able to attend courses that would not have been open to us with only our Pilates teaching qualifications such as the Bodymaster courses with the osteopath John Gibbons. In fact, when you have completed our Pilates Therapy Bridging course, you will also be able to attend John’s courses too.