Principles of Therapy
at NC School of Advanced Bodywork

Based In Part on DSL Edgework,
the Methods of David Scott Lynn (DSL)

The NCSAB has a Range of Unique Principles Foundational to Our Programs. Kyle C. Wright originally learned several of these Groundbreaking Principles & Techniques at a Workshop in Sarasota, Florida in 1993. The workshop was taught by David Scott Lynn, who developed most of these principles in the 1980s.

Kyle had recently opened his first massage school in Jacksonville, Florida. He incorporated what he learned from David into his own extensive knowledge and experience of soft tissue therapeutics, and into his personal Therapy Practice and the Core Curriculum of Kyle’s first massage therapy school, the Southeastern School of Neuromuscular & Massage Therapy.

Kyle went on to found four more schools thought the Southeast, then sold them in 2007 to Keiser Career Colleges. Before selling the schools, Kyle and his instructors trained in the neighborhood of 12,000 students in these methods.

We are borrowing a long page from David’s website describing some of the basic principles of these methods here. David has modified the below text to be more representative of the Schools of Advanced Bodywork in Charlotte NC and Jacksonville, FL.

An Advanced, Clinical / Medical Massage Therapy System,
with Myo-Structural Bodywork & Balancing

The Methods we teach at the Schools of Advanced Bodywork were rooted in David’s years of practicing & teaching Physical / Mental & Relational Yoga and Postural Yoga Therapy. Going beyond “Conscious Stretching” into therapeutic, David became a bodyworker, and developed his own methods of  Clinical / Medical Massage Therapy & Myo-Structural Bodywork …

Combined with Kyle’s extensive clinical experience and wide range of trainings in various modalities, you now have access to a Soft Tissue Educational System covering a wide-range of challenges most Clients present with.

Our focus, while applicable to nearly any of a Clients needs, we are primary focus on Clients who have very complex, long-term soft tissue issues that have been unresponsive to other therapies. Our students have a very high track record of successes with Clients who had nearly given up on ever finding relief or correction of their neuromuscular, myofascial, and musculoskeletal issues.

Principles of Therapy - working the shoulder bladeDSL EdgeWork, as David calls his work, is a comprehensive, integrated system of principles, practices & preventive therapeutics with a strong scientific & philosophical basis. As a therapeutic system, it has very often found and resolved sources of a wide variety of musculoskeletal, neuromuscular and myofascial issues other practitioners and physicians, using a wide range of orthodox or alternative modalities, had given up on.

[insert quotes]

Dissolving C.E.M.&.N.T. with
Yoga & Yoga-based Bodywork

The Primary Purpose & Focus of DSL EdgeWork was originally to find and relieve chronic, excess muscle & nerve tension & stress (or C.E.M.&.N.T. for short because for some people, that’s what their muscles feel like) through a “Conscious Stretching” practice. Then, based on many principles & techniques he learned from a man named Joel Kramer. Joel was considered a leader in the field of physical & mental yoga and produced a number of innovations in the practice.

After several years as a yoga teacher, and moving toward therapeutic practice, David became a massage / bodywork practitioner in 1981. This was after several years of working informally with some of the leading muscle therapists in America.

David’s system of advanced yoga therapy and myo-structural bodywork (mindful medical massage therapy) dissolves C.E.M.&.N.T. more thoroughly than most systems we are aware of. We will explain much of that in a moment.

Many aches and pains, afflictions and dysfunctions of the body have their roots in this excess muscle tension, yet it goes to a great degree unacknowledged, sometimes unnoticed. Even many massage therapists, bodyworkers and yoga teachers, those you would expect to know, are unaware of just how significant C.E.M.&.N.T. is in the many specific as well as overall issues of life, nor really what to do about it.

With DSL EdgeWork, and the teachings of the Schools of Advanced Bodywork, overall neuromuscular and myofascial tension, physical and mental stress, and negative habit patterns are directly addressed, reduced, and if possible, eliminated by the soft tissue techniques, the Primary Tools employed.

The Primary Tools of DSL EdgeWork Are …

… the EdgeTouch™ Manual Technique: Mindful, Medical Massage — hands-on, manual pressure (similar to “regular” massage, with significant nuances and differences) and DSL’s unique system of …

… Let-Go Yoga: Learning How to GET CONTROL of muscles, nerves, fascia & joints by LETTING GO of tension, stress and negative habit patterns with Modern Postural Yoga (Conscious Stretching).

HOWEVER, the word YOGA means, according to Joel Kramer, “the quality of attention you are paying to whatever it is you are doing.” Meaning the hands on massage or bodywork technique is in itself a “yogic” practice. So you don’t have to do physical yoga postures (although that’s not a bad idea!).

In fact, when David first began developing his bodywork principles & techniques, he designed the manual massage & bodywork techniques to be an “externally applied form of physical & mental yoga.”

Getting Mind & Body Working Together

Bodywork, medical massage therapy and such tools operate under David’s principles of Psycho-Muscular Release (short for Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial Release) dealing with relaxing musculo-fascial tensions, physical, mental & emotional stresses, negative habitual tension patterns and other metabolic restrictions (such as “gluing” in the fascia) in the psycho-muscular system.

Psycho-Muscular Release is achieved with (optionally) Let-Go Yoga and Yoga-Based, hands-on Myo-Structural Bodywork. Both tools follow the basic rules of paying close attention to the sensation and movement of the body while Playing the Edge of Pain, Fear & Resistance.

This means No Pain, MORE Gain!

As already mentioned, much of the DSL system is derived from the pioneering teachings of Joel Kramer. DSL began applying Joel’s principles to massage and bodywork in the late 1970s and has been developing and refining them ever since. One of Joel’s primary teachings was going up TO but not into pain, up TO the edge but not over it.

That is NOT how much the Client can TOLERATE. It is what they LIKE, or are perfectly NEUTRAL about.

Rather than the Client being a more-or-less passive recipient of the work, a EdgeWork trained practitioner, whether using hands-on work or stretching, or both, strives to more fully engage or involve the Client’s MIND directly in the tension release process.

This is about Participatory Health Care, not Spectator health care.

The first level of this is to establish a communication system where Client keeps the Therapist well informed, in as close to Real Time as possible, as to what they’re feeling & experiencing. This is especially important relative to their sensation or pain levels.

NO Pain Means MORE Gain

Again (and this cannot be emphasized too much) whether receiving medical massage therapy, myo-structural bodywork, or structural yoga therapy (conscious stretching), the Client should always LIKE or be completely NEUTRAL about what they’re feeling. They should not be tolerating any sensations. (A so-called Good Hurt is not really a hurt or pain in the strict sense of the word. It may be a moderate to very intense yet pleasurable or emotionally neutral sensation.)

Put another way, the Client should, ideally, be inviting the sensations, not fighting or resisting. The old No Pain, NO Gain philosophy might work well enough in professional football or boxing, but does not work very well in therapeutic endeavors or tension release practices.

Minimum to Maximum Edges of Sensation

In fact, in most cases, the more acute or chronic trauma, stress or injury a Client presents with, the less pressure or stretch is initially applied to the involved myofascial units to prevent negative reactions, many of which are non-conscious and can go unnoticed by an insufficiently trained therapist or even the Client.

This approach is about working toward the Minimum Edges, the lower, sometimes MUCH lower, levels of intensity of sensation. This is an application of the Low- or Micro-Dose principles of Homeopathic Medicine. (See Special Note below on the words Medicine and Homeopathy.)

A very healthy Client can work with, or closer to, their Maximum Edges, higher levels of intensity, as long as they invest some time in working with or near their Minimum Edges, to most efficiently and effectively Let-Go of their inevitably accumulated tensions & stresses, at a fundamental level, on a regular basis.

Letting Go of Tension, rather than forcing it, is an element of Volitional Release, where you are intentionally looking for ways to release tension by consciously relaxing.

More typical approaches to hands-on bodywork and yoga therapy give the impression that tension is “pushed out” by the therapists finger or hand pressure, or “pulled out” by stretching as if tension were a “thing” that needed to be removed. That model of therapy often leads to much more aggressive work, usually pushing the Client over their Edge, very often causing negative reactions.

Such aggressive work can in many cases help matters quite a lot, despite the pain or discomfort. Yet with more traumatized, or long-standing, chronic tensions, or tissue injuries, Less Really Can Be More.

SPECIAL NOTE: The term Client, as used in the DSL Method of Yoga / Bodywork / Whole Health Therapeutics, is defined as:

One who is under the protection of another.
(From Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.)

This way of defining a Client implies a higher level of relationship and responsibility on the part of the Physician, Therapist, Trainer or Coach than is ordinarily observed. Compare with the term Patient:

1. an individual awaiting or under medical care and treatment.
2. the recipient of any of various personal services.
3. one that is acted upon.

The implied attitudinal difference toward the Client versus the Patient should be obvious. The term Client, as we described, is found in the Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary. The otherwise very progressive Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary defines a Client as merely: The patient of a healthcare professional.

Steady, Specific Manual Pressure
Minimal Lateral Movement

Generally speaking, our muscle realist technique is generally minimal movement as far as lateral movement goes. WE do very little or no cross fiber, WE do not glide the length of the muscle fibers.

We find a “tight spot” in the muscle and hold steady pressure on that specific spot and allow the nervous system to produce the relaxation response we are looking for.

Our focus is NOT primarily on “treating the muscle.” A muscle is held tight or hyper-active by nerves sending motor signals to the muscle (or organ) which initiate and maintain contraction. As long as that nerve activity is too high, the muscle cannot relax, the organ can ont calm down.

Principle of Therapy - Manual pressure in muscle belly versus stretching

In a Passive Stretch, the Muscle Fibers are Stimulated by “Pulling on the Ends” at the tendons. With Manual Work, the Muscle Fibers are Stimulated by Pressing in the Middle of the Muscle Belly.

We apply pressure to the muscle fibers in order to stimulate certain nerve endings in the muscles. That sensory stimulus sends specific, non-invasive “signals” into the central nervous system (CNS) and brain. Then, if the brain is not perceiving intrusions or danger, the brain and CNS will begin “resetting” the degree of nerve firing. Done properly, the nerve firing is rest to a lower level of activity, reducing how many motor nerve impulses are sent to the muscle or organ.

When we press into the muscle belly, that stimulates the Golgi Tendon Organs (GTOs) where the muscles meet the tendons. That sends signals to the Central Nerve System. As long as there is no protective action stimulated, the CNS then turns off motor signals to the Muscle Belly, allowing the muscle to relax.

As the number and frequency of nerve impulses decreases, the muscle or organ begins to relax. And generally speaking, LESS manual pressure on the muscle works better than MORE pressure.

As the muscle relaxes, our fingers or hands will sink into the muscle as it softens. Our job is NOT to “PUSH” the release, but to FOLLOW the release of tension. We might be “adding energy” to the relaxation process, but we are NOT forcing the process.

Muscles are highly sensitive, and very responsive, and it is very easy to trigger negative reactions. Often times, the Client or Therapist will not even feel or notice those reactions. Yet to get the MOST out of the “tension reset process,” we want to have the least amount of negative reactions.

What we just described is very often the hardest thing for a Therapist to learn and apply. It is almost programmed into our systems to push harder when the muscle starts to give. Or if it does NOT give, we push even harder! Therefore it takes a high degree of conscious attention on the part of the therapist to monitor what’s happening in the Client’s tissues, and in the Therapists own body.

I often point out that the problem with a lot of therapy training (such as in massage school) is the Student is taught to Deliver a Technique to the Client’s body. As a result, they are more focused on their own activity, rather than the Client’s body. … Yet the best use of any “technique,” whatever it is, is as a method of FEELING what is happening in the Clients’ soft tissues. … It is that sensitivity to the changes in the Clients tissues that the Real Action happens. But that is something difficult to understand until you’ve had some experience.

~ David Scott Lynn

So, we’ve discussed HOW to work with a Client’s soft tissues. Now, we’ll discuss WHERE to work.

Myo-Structural Balancing:
DE-Compressing & Aligning the Human Structure

Decisions on which myofascial units to work on and when, and in what sequence, are made with DSL’s system of Myo-Structural Balancing. The system includes:

  • BIO-Structural Analysis: Study of the physical structures & mental & metabolic forces of the human body. (BIO refers to the many factors beyond just the physical posture.)
  • Postural Assessment: Using the alignment or misalignment of the bone structure to determine what muscular tension patterns are interfering with proper posture and function.
  • Myo-Structural Balancing Strategies: Determining the sequence in which to release tension patterns.

The BIO-Structural Sciences employed are:

  • Advanced Structural Anatomy: Detailed location and dimensions of the various parts of the body
  • Postural & Functional Kinesiology: How those parts interact with each other
  • Physics & Geometry of Structures: Natural Forces acting upon and within the body
  • Neuromuscular / Myofascial Physiology: How the systems work internally
  • Neuro-Logical Physiology: Body-Brain-Mind Integration, especially Sensory-Motor feedback
  • Dynamics of the Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial System: Putting it all together

The Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial System
in Myo-Structural Bodywork & Balancing

The term BIO-Structural Bodywork is a general term including musculoskeletal, psycho-muscular, neuromuscular, myofascial and other bodywork systems and principles, yet implying a system applicable in a wide range of potential situations.

We developed our system of bodywork / massage / yoga therapy with these principles in mind:

The prefix BIO- is short for a wholistic approach to analyzing the bodymind.

Biologic (meaning Living) and Bioenergetic (referring to the interaction of mental, emotional and physical aspects) … Integral (all things working together at a deeper, more complete level), and …  Organon and Optimal (the body of knowledge utilized to achieve the optimized results of Myo-Structural Balancing).

The prefix MYO- reminds us that it is the musculo-fascial system, acting as one synergistic system, that holds and moves the body. And of course, the nerves tell the muscle(s) what to do or not do.

As utilized in The DSL Method, it is, potentially, a more preventive & integrative system, a generalized approach to working with and normalizing the whole human structure toward a more harmonized and integrated function.

Rather than being about tracking down specific symptoms or illnesses, aches or pains, or dysfunctions, the whole structure is assessed for its long-term accumulations of muscular tension and stress. We’re looking to more accurately find: psycho-neuro-musculo-fascial tensions that have been and are pulling the overall structure out of proper balance. Within that overall structure, localized imbalances occur as well.

For Example, after detailed discussions with a Client, we might discover they had an accident many years, even decades ago, but they thought, or they were told, something that long ago could not be the problem. We, on the other hand, understand that once a particular protective or compensatory pattern of action is integrated into the bodymind, it will often NOT “let go” until it is addressed properly.

These patterns of action lead to imbalances, in turn causing inefficiencies of movement and action and increase of physical tensions and stresses interfering with various functions in day-to-day life.

One common error is to assume the imbalances or postural distortions themselves causing pain. Yet we sometimes must use the opposite idea. It is more or most often the C.E.M.&.N.T. (Chronic, Excess Muscle & Nerve Tension & Stress) causing the imbalances. Attempting to push bones or fascia back into place, or realign the joints, or get more flexible, is not our objective. Those are by-products.

Our main objective is to use structural analysis / postural assessment to tell us which musculoskeletal-facial units are must hyper-contracted. When they are released, the human structure very often just goes back to “normal” without having to “push it into place.”

Gravity is NOT the Enemy

The primary focus of the work is Structural De-Compression and Balancing the Body Structures in the field of gravity. By releasing tensions that are compressing and interfering with proper function of the body, hands-on work brings the body back to balance.

Natural Forces built into the body by nature, at birth, are restored to proper or full function, providing the body with effortless good posture; energetic, fluid movement; and a pain-free existence.

The term Clinical Massage (or Bodywork) Therapy is a more specifically targeted system designed to track down and resolve discrete pain patterns and can work in a more targeted, specific way. It is directly targeted toward immediate resolution of very specific pains and dysfunction.

Yet it is quite often the case that if the more global approach of Myo-Structural Bodywork is applied, many, and sometimes all, of the specific issues will clear up on their own without “chasing the pain.” The choice of which two approaches to use, although there is much overlap, depends upon the goals and objectives of the Individual Client.

SPECIAL NOTE: Historically, especially in modern, orthodox medicine, the term structure has tended to imply (although not by strict dictionary definition) JUST the bones and joints of the body, ignoring the part muscle play in just about everything. This can lead to significant blind spots toward the importance of muscles and fascial sheaths in many conditions, especially postural issues such as functional scoliosis. (Orthodox medicine, especially Orthopedics, generally does not consider scoliosis to be a “postural” problem.) Since the advent of Rolfing® (Structural Integration) and Classical Osteopathy before that, the term structural has been more widely used to imply the entire musculoskeletal and fascial system.

From Merriam-Websters:

Structure: The aggregate of elements of an entity in their relationships to each other.

* Rolfing® is one of the grand parents, and probably best known, of the forerunners of modern structurally oriented approaches to musculoskeletal issues. [Osteopathy is much older, yet generally does not pay as much attention to the soft tissues as do the more recent iterations of structural therapy, such as Rolfing. Modern Naturopathic Medicine embraces soft tissue and manual medicine to increasing degrees as well.]

With Rolfing® the focus was put on soft tissue as the primary force affecting the structure. However, Rolfing put most of their focus on the fascial, connective tissues, and much less on the muscles. The DSL Method considers this near exclusive focus on fascia to be a substantial error, especially when considering the well-established sciences behind the issues. The primary difference is fascia has minimal capacity to “contract” to anywhere near the degree, if at all, that muscle fibers do.

While muscle can shorten up to 150% of their resting length, most fascial & ligament structures have about a 4 to 7% of extensibility. Meaning they can only change length about 4 to 7% without strain, sprain, or tearing of the tissues.

The primary focus of BIO-Structural Balancing is on learning to observe the various physical structures and forces within the human body — which can even include how a person thinks — and how they relate to gravity and other external pressures and forces, as well as internal, psycho-emotional forces.

Then, Psycho-Muscular Release is employed via the EdgeTouch™ Manual Technique or Let-Go Yoga to relax the muscular tensions that distort posture and function and interfere with movement and action.

DSL’s Yoga-based, Hands-On Bodywork:
Based on Physical / Mental & Relational Yoga

The DSL EdgeWork, Hands-On Bodywork System is based solidly on basic principles and insights of physical, mental & relational yoga as well as perspectives, principles & sciences from myofascial, neuromuscular & structural bodywork. (Yet there are many VERY significant differences and some controversies in philosophy, principles, & techniques between the DSL Method and the more commonly known bodywork and yoga systems.)

The basic DSL Let-Go Yoga principles are derived primarily from Joel Kramer, whom many people call the Father of American Yoga and the First American Yoga Master.

yoga therapy, structural bodyworkThe Let-Go Yoga System has, in turn, been extensively modified by many years (beginning in 1981) of professional experience in private sessions of hands-on bodywork & therapeutic yoga, and extensive cross-training working with physicians and practitioners of a wide range of orthodox and wholistic medicine/natural healthcare modalities.

SPECIAL NOTE: On the word Medicine and the Big Picture of Yoga in Eastern & Western Thought:

The DSL Method takes a yogic* attitude toward the practice of “medicine.” As described by David Bohm in his 1983 book Wholeness and the Implicate Order*, the word medicine is derived from the Latin root mederi, which translates into to measure, to moderate, to mediate, to meditate … and also medicine.

All of these are also the root of the term to cure.

As Bohm states:

” … ‘to cure’ is based on a root meaning ‘to measure’. This reflects the view that physical health is to be regarded as the outcome of a state of right inward measure in all parts and processes of the body. … the word moderation, which describes one of the prime ancient notions of virtue, is based on the same root, and this shows that such virtue was regarded as the outcome of a right inner measure underlying man’s social actions and behavior. Again, the word meditation, which is based on the same root, implies a kind of weighing, pondering, or measuring of the whole process of thought, sensing, feeling and being, which could bring the inner activities of the mind to a state of harmonious measure.”

The larger point Bohm was making is that medicine, in ancient times, was more about an Inner Measure, a more internally meditative, self-aware function. Yet in modern times, medicine is more about external measuring devices (blood pressure cuffs, MRIs, X-rays, EKGs, etc.) and our inner, meditative, more wholistic* sense of ourselves is often completely over-run or altogether missing from the modern medical “measure.”

This is not to say the modern, outer measure approach is of no value or use. It is immensely valuable for certain processes and needs. It is only to say that it has lost much in the transition … and the translation!

* Wholistic is here written with a *W* rather than as in holistic. To some, the word holistic implies the terms “holy” and/or “holographic,” interpretations the DSL approach does not fully subscribe to in such cases.

Physical/Mental & Relational Yoga is an Inner Measuring of a subjective sense of self, which includes how we relate to other human beings and our environment, with an objective of Optimal Internal and External Health:

Therefore, IF one ascribes to the term Yoga the meaning Awareness in the Inner Measure or meditative sense, then we see this ancient derivative of the root word mederi as the foundation of real medicine in a fuller, deeper, more humanistic and less mechanical way. We also see an ancient root meaning opening doors to yoga and medicine as a physical, mental & relational system.

On the Term *DSL* . . .

The acronym DSL is, on one hand, the initials of David Scott Lynn. … On the other hand, David wrote a small book titled DSL: The Dynamics of (BIO)-Structural Learning©.

Dynamics: The Physical, Intellectual, and Moral (!!!) forces producing motion, activity, and change in a given sphere.

(See Century Dictionary & Cyclopedia, 1911 edition. That definition could be considered “out-of-date,” just as my use of the word medicine could be considered out-of-date. However, it figures perfectly in a more wholistic view of the sciences of being human.)

DSL EdgeWork studies a wide range of the Dynamics of Being Human. You can learn to more fully study and experience your internal physical and mental dynamics via your own human structure, powers of observation, and Beingness, a process called phenomenology. In short, how objective can you BE in your subjectivity?

Physical, Mental & Relational Yoga, as well as Yoga-based, Hands-on Bodywork, are excellent systems by which to study those inner dynamics. We also recognize that while more often than not the function of a mechanism or entity follows or is determined by its structure or form, there are also times when the function significantly influences or modifies the structure.

BIO-Structural: The interrelation of parts or the principle of organization in a complex, living unity.

Having to do with the psychological, emotional, metabolic (organs) and neurological elements, as well as the muscular, skeletal and fascial components, which drive and/or participate in, and are reflected in, one’s overall structure, posture, function, digestion & elimination, mobility and the creation of Purposeful Action.

Learning: To cause to understand, to lead someone on his or her way, to lead out.

In its more profound sense, real learning is NOT just data accumulation, rote memorization, or behavior modification, although it can include those to varying degrees. Real Learning is about developing a capacity to See Anew, to FEEL Reality, to integrate Reality into One’s Self, and vice versa.

On Discipline: As Joel Kramer has said, one of the many things yoga is, is a way of learning. To that effect, real discipline is not about a militaristic conformity to a system or a norm. … A disciple is one who learns, who is deeply interested in, is committed to going to the depths of what a subject or object has to teach us or that we can master.

Please see the e-Book What Is DSL? on the e-Books Page and Please see the Free Article on Old versus New Paradigm Learning.

Thank You For Reading,
David Scott Lynn (DSL)

Check Out the 500 Hour Medical Massage Therapy Program at NCSAB

DSL is Your High-Touch Uplink to Your Inner-Net