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Meet the Practitioner – Steph Varney, Realign Myotherapy

I’ve been a Myotherapist for 8 years. Initially I studied at Endeavour College of Natural Health, where I completed my diploma of remedial massage then I went on to do an advanced diploma of remedial massage at Melbourne Institute of Massage Therapy.

Myotherapy is essentially a Melbourne branding of the advanced diploma of remedial massage. The difference between remedial massage and Myotherapy is the dry needling component and the fine tuning of further skills such as exercise prescription, nutrition and postural assessment. The dry needling component is perhaps the biggest difference. That’s where you take an acupuncture needle and apply it directly into the tissue for trigger point therapy or into tendons for tendinitis. The needle is used like an extension of the finger to massage.

Myotherapy dry needling differs in philosophy and technique to Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture treatments. In Myotherapy we use the needles more as a tool to work into areas of tightness or trigger points in the body. We don’t use needles in relation to the meridian lines as in traditional acupuncture. They are useful tools for treating certain textures, tight muscles or in some tendonitis you can apply them to specific tendons.

Cupping doesn’t come with the diploma but it can be added on to the Myotherapy qualification as a short course, which I have completed. I tend not to do a lot of cupping, but cupping is good for some conditions because it is a lift rather than a push down. You are lifting the tissues up and creating a space between the layers of skin and tissue. It’s a different sensation and lot of people like it so if they want to have a cupping treatment I will include it.

The reason I studied Myotherapy is because I wanted to get into massage but more of the remedial or the medical side. I wanted to treat conditions. As I went through the course I learnt that many of the subjects were quite medical. I like the pathology as well as the hands on techniques. I’ve always been good with my hands and have a natural sense of touch. If you can feel what’s going on in the body and you fine tune those skills you can get so much out of it.

I was in Marketing before I trained in Myotherapy. When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do, it seemed like the options were business, law or medicine. I thought I’d do a business course and see how I’d find the corporate world. I only lasted a couple of years! Originally I wanted to get into psychology which I am still thinking about down the track. I would like to incorporate Myotherapy with psychology somehow.

Myotherapy can help a range of conditions. There’s so much in our bodies that comes into play through sports injuries, for example. There’s past injuries that can play up and develop into present problems. Someone might come in with hip pain and I’ll say, “well what happened to your ankle? What’s going on there?” and that’s where the hip issue began. I like to work out the chain of people’s history. Everyone’s had a fall, or an injury, or a broken bone, or a sprain and how that plays out over time can differ from one person to the next.

Myotherapy covers a  really  broad range of physical issues. There’s the general aches and pains just from being human on earth with gravity, postural problems, ageing and pregnancy which causes changes in the body. The general perspective is that Myotherapy is mostly a treatment for sports injuries but the sports side of things is really only a very small component. It is, however,  where all the research is conducted. Myotherapy is an excellent treatment technique for everyday people who want to keep their bodies fit and in good shape.

The benefits of Myotherapy cover a broad age range. I’ve treated patients from 3 years of age with growing pains ranging up to a 90 year old with arthritis. Everyone’s got something, even if they don’t know it – I’ll find it! (And will you fix it?) It’s all about maintenance before things get out of hand.

Depending on your condition the frequency of treatments can vary. If you are doing lots of activity then it’s nice to come in for one treatment  every 4-6 weeks for general maintenance, and that’s just about checking in really. But for any injury like a tendon tear for example, you’re looking at one treatment every couple of weeks for a 7-8 week period. I facilitate and get the ball rolling but it’s a what you do at home that’s going to maintain and help the injury to heal. If you keep coming for treatments I will support the injury and adjust the treatment as things change and improve. It’s a holistic approach.

I had a client who had was experiencing headaches so I wanted to investigate where they was coming from rather than just treat the symptom. I was treating his neck and he was very tender, then he started talking about a childhood experience where his brother used to come up behind and grab him around the neck. He’d been taking headache medication almost every night for 20 years for headaches which had very little to do with a physical issue. There was some tension  on a muscular skeletal level but really it was the psychology that was bringing him into this physical pain. Working through the root cause  allows the body to come into a more relaxed mode.

Childhood traumas will play a part in the body in how you move through the world. That’s what I’m treating first, and then there’s often an opening up as I get to know my patients and we can talk about some of the deeper levels. If I feel like I can’t get into the tissue you can tell when the body is not allowing you to come in – it will feel like a spring. As I’ve built experience over my years of practice I’ve developed an understanding of tissue texture and how there’s an interplay between the mind and the body.

It’s all moving parts.

Steph is available for bookings at Four Seasons Wellness Centre on Wednesdays and Thursdays .

For more information and bookings contact: Realign Myotherapy mob: 0433 820 194