KEYS TO FITNESS: Integrative Manual Therapy

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By SHEILA YONEMOTO, PT

Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) is a hands-on approach to healing and recovery from a variety of conditions. One aspect of IMT is the palpation and normalization of biological rhythms in the body.

These rhythms may reflect how the body functions or they can indicate disease or body dysfunction. IMT therapists treat many rhythms in the body using precise pressure in specific locations to normalize the rhythms and body functions, thus improving health and quality of life.

A trained therapist can feel different biological rhythms, called motilities or circadian rhythms, much like a wine connoisseur tasting a glass of wine who discerns the kind of grapes and where they were grown, the bottler and the year.

The wine connoisseur takes the sensory information, taste and smell, and translates it into something else: a date, a location or a winery. The IMT therapist takes sensory information such as touch and sight and translates it into a tissue type, an age and a type of dysfunction. The therapist may find a bone bruise in the thigh or compression in the anterior-cruciate ligament of the right knee. 

An MRI would likely show the bruise or the damaged ligament. But is it worthwhile to undergo invasive medical tests to confirm what the therapist is saying? If the patient feels, functions and looks better, does it really matter whether the theoretical basis for IMT is accurate?

Another way to view IMT is a bio-mechanical approach where therapists use pressure in specific ways to help the tissue and joint surfaces shift, decompress and unwind, allowing more space and better movement. When the tension on blood vessels, nerves and other tissue is released, fluid and information flow better and facilitate recovery.

IMT therapists also use reflex points to expedite healing, much like acupuncture, shiatsu and reflexology, to create a change in the pressures and tensions in the tissue.

A person with left hip pain walks differently from someone with right hip pain. Most people can see the difference but pick up the information unconsciously. They might not be able to articulate that the sound of his footfall is heavier on the right or that he grimaces slightly as he lands on the left foot or that his knee doesn’t fully extend or his shoulder dips slightly more on the painful side. The trained IMT therapist consciously makes more of this information and can articulate it more easily.

As Arthur C. Clarke put it, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Integrative Manual Therapy is advanced technology.

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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 verification, or visit www.yonemoto.com for more information.

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