How the pieces fit: Naprapathy & Other Connective Tissue Specialties

I lucked out in massage school. Not only did I go to a school that encouraged my understanding of the body as a whole (rather than parts mysteriously divided and separated along imaginary boundaries), but they initiated my education of connective tissue dynamics.


If you aren’t familiar with connective tissue, or fascia, I’ll take a moment to explain, as easily as possible, what it is. I’ll assume you’re at least casually familiar with the circulatory vessels, the nerves, the muscles, and the organs. Imagine, then, that these things that weave among each other are surrounded in a saran-wrap like covering. This is the fascia. Not only is it sticky, but it’s continuous. One large sheet is responsible for containing tissues (giving organs and muscles their shapes), attaching structures together (muscle tendons and bone are forms of fascia), and generally instilling the body with integrity and keeping it whole. If you took away all the other structures in the body, the fascia would leave behind an easily recognizable form that maintains the outlines of what we know to be human. (*image link:


Now think about this: It is ONE continuous sheeth that touches ALL systems of the body. This means that is an obvious link between the respiratory system and the skeletal system and the circulatory system and the digestive system and the nerves. This means that if fascia is restricted in one area of the body (say from a fall or surgery), the implications for your overall health and well-being are potentially very great across all systems.


Now, fortunately, myofascial therapies have gained great momentum over the past few decades. You can see a practitioner of Rolfing, KMI (that’s me), or Hellerwork. Your PT is likely trained in working with trigger points and techniques known to release the fascia around muscles. There are even workshops for therapists to learn how to release the organs, the circulatory vessels, and the nerves from their strangleholds. It’s incredible work with inspiring results. I’ve been blessed to be a part of it.


So why am I, already trained in this work, spending more time, money, and energy to pursue a title of doctor? I make good money, I affect great healing, and I don’t really feel unprepared. The answer is that, in my opinion, any good education leaves you with more questions than answers. I’m trained in manipulating the fascia of muscles. But knowing what we know, that means that I’m also directly affecting every other system. And I’ve learned that the opposite is true. Every other system is affecting my ability to manipulate the muscles with lasting effect. I’ve supplemented my knowledge through workshops, to include visceral and some neural work. They’ve been powerful and helpful, but I crave much more. Here’s what I expect from SUNM:

  • I expect to fill in holes of uncertainty where my education was informative but brief (trigger point therapy, for instance)
  • I want to incorporate a knowledge of some movement therapies (MET, PRT)
  • I look forward to learning methods for evaluating dysfunctions
  • I want deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology to lead to the tools of being able to empower my clients with strengthening exercises, healing nutrition, and a broader understanding of treatment options
  • I anticipate a great shift in my ability to affect all the systems of the body through having a greater understanding of the nervous system and spinal balance
  • I am thrilled at the changes I can incorporate into my practice: sessions can be a half hour, clients can be treated easily through clothing (for the shy and resistant this could be a new selling point), my ability to be more specific will condense healing rates, and I will be able to take insurance.


The realm of fascially oriented therapies has exploded in the last 10 years alone. It’s becoming more scientific and more respected by established medicine. Though there are plenty of manual therapists who have spent lots of time, money, and energy who have cumulatively earned the title of doctor, there is nowhere else to claim the benefits of being a connective tissue specialist other than as a Doctor of Naprapathy. I fully expect that I will be left with more questions than answers at the end of my time at SUNM, but at least I will have answered some pretty important ones along the way.

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