KEYS TO FITNESS: What Is Integrative Manual Therapy?

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By SHEILA YONEMOTO, PT

There is a truly remarkable system of hands-on techniques for treating all kinds of body parts and systems.  When I first encountered the founder of this work and heard the description of the philosophy behind the treatment, I knew this was what I had been looking for my entire professional career.

Sharon Weiselfish-Giammatteo, the founder of Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT), has spent countless hours explaining her work and trying to come up with a concise description.  Manual therapy is a classification of treatment rendered by the hands.  Many different healing fields use hands to make people feel and function better. IMT was developed with the philosophy that different “tools” are needed to treat different things in the body, similar to a carpenter using a variety of tools for building a house.

Different techniques work better for certain problems than others, but in combination they give a very complete result. The common denominator of all these techniques is to improve the potential for movement and function. This differs from other forms of medical treatment that get you to a functioning point, not necessarily maximizing your potential.

The major assumption taken with IMT work is that the body has its own wisdom and strategies for keeping itself functioning with the least amount of danger and compromise. For example, after a flu shot, the muscles around the injection may spasm to keep the vaccine containing the flu virus from spreading too quickly throughout the body. This allows time for the body to build up the necessary defenses to fight the flu virus, keeping the body healthy and functioning.

IMT uses the approach that the body is protecting vital structures and IMT doesn’t try to force change. Rather, it uses gentle forces, usually 5 grams of force, about the weight of a nickel on your finger pad, to encourage the body to make a change. It then offers support to the body with some unique techniques to help the body heal the primary breakdowns that signaled the protective modes in the first place.

IMT has its roots in osteopathy, a form of manual medicine using gentle forces to stimulate healing. It also utilizes energy techniques similar to Eastern medicine. More answers can be found in physics to explain how it works, rather than biochemistry, the foundation of much of Western medicine.

How does IMT work? Ask yourself, what keeps the two bones comprising your hip from touching one another when you stand? In other words, what maintains the space of a joint? You can’t see it with the naked eye, but it’s there. It’s energy or quanta as Sharon calls it, and that is what IMT manipulates.

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Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for over 30 years, specializing in Integrative Manual Therapy utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100, Alhambra, CA  91801. Call (626) 576-0591 for a free consultation and free insurance evaluation, or visit  www.yonemoto.com for more information. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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