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Joseph talks to Jeff Rioux about Massage Therapy

I've known Jeff for years. He's a relative of my brother's wife's family and is always an easy guy to talk to. We talked about a ton of stuff but a lot related to his profession -> massage therapy. Unfortunately the first few minutes of the conversation were not recorded as my h4n crashed. The rest I simply recorded from my laptop speakers.

Recorded on 2018-08-14

Speakers: Joseph Weidinger and Jeff Rioux

So we were just talking just to catch up where he left off about the nature of conversations and conversing with clients. When you're practicing and and safe spaces and all that good stuff. So let's start here. Where were you born? In nice to get out. Big plans. I was born and raised in new york less suburbs of chicago. Born in north lake, illinois. Grew up mostly paddle. It's just up there this past weekend, visiting family today re union.

It's food and drink and conversation. And so I still have five civilians up in the chicago area. I'm the youngest of eight. Yeah, I didn't know. Or at least I forgot that you came from a big family to hear inlaws earth. A huge families. Well, but and you just spent, like, a week down there with all of them, with all those your in laws and then you, you guys went to your family's house for actually was just changed.

Oh, that chicago. Because sue is getting ready. Heard started the school year this weekend. She had an open house last night, and she had, uh, it's her first day of class today, so she is fit the ground running and she needed that weekend. Mechanical things gone, and anna was working this weekend as well. So james and I just ended up there for a couple of days in sister in town, in chicago, from seattle and her son, my nephew and their kids.

So, aside from all that family was already in chicago. Siblings, nieces, nephews. I got this time with some folks from seattle area. Had a great time. Oh, and what kind of kid were you, jeff? What activities were you involved in? Um, well, we didn't have a ton of money, and back then, you know, organized sports centre of the kid's universe, like they are today. I I was sent off to basketball camp a couple of summers between seven and sophomore year, seventh grade, sophomore year in high school, and I played school based sports, and I did a little bit of junior organized football they call the path of palestine amateur football association and as a kid.

Fine. Mostly back then, no life flees. Just pick up line five hundred in the street. You are playing catch with the football in the backyard or whatever. So you are not funny guy from day one. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I had a lot of energy. I wasn't exactly hyperactive, but but I benefited from that physical outlet, baby faces. And back then, you know, they had done away with shim class, like they have these days.

So I actually in school, got more opportunities. Two move my body and it's always been important to me. I'm not a real sports junkie like I can't quote statistics on various baseball football basketball players. Back then, I might have a little bit, but it was more just about fun getting out there doing and I've always had that. I always felt the poll of physical activity. What if it's manual labour? Or sports.

I'm getting on a fight, riding on the trail to the next town. I just love that sort of stuff and have always been oriented that way. And I've had enough experience with best jobs to know that they were killed. No. So I think that I was always that way. I just tried as a young adult tried to do the square peg in a round hole. I tried to be, you know, I was I was a decent student, but I attention issues and I was unmedicated, so I fled italy.

So what do you mean by square a round hole like you are? Maybe a parent's one you'd be more academic but you're focused on other things yeah well I think you know we're we're tuned in more now pedagogic, too. The notion of of learning styles and I was what would be called today, though they didn't use the term. I was a kinesthetic learning. I learned best by doing and moving, manipulating with my hands and and sitting at a desk with a book because we didn't have computers in our guest.

Back then, sitting at a desk for the book, I had a little pretty low talents for it was that's the square peg in a round hole s so traditional pedagogical thinking wass kids had been able to sit there but still a chair that a desk to focus them. That did not come naturally to me, but tonight tried it as a young adult. I got minutes to get through college. I loved. What did you study? Sociology and history.

Really? So when did your career as a massage therapist? Well, so when I first entered college, they didn't very good success in science classes in high school. Unlike you, y dingers, science did not come easy because mass did that. So I didn't have a good foundation of mathematical thinking. And that tripped me up when it came to science based classes into the harder sciences. Uh, I struggled. So, yeah, I didn't have a lot of success in chemistry and physics in so long.

So when I went to college, I wanted to be a physical therapy because I love the idea of working with my hands. I knew back then that I wanted to. I have. And I was fascinated with bob and I. So I knew I had to have a job. I was manipulating things and trying to figure out what was going on with a person. Soft tissue issues, mechanical problems there need ankle, whatever. So I'm gravitated toward that until I ran into the brick wall.

Part sciences. Really? So all and in the process, I have been getting some free rex and particularly dialled in to sociology, psychology, history classes. We was like, oh, I love this, too. And so I just took the path of least resistance relevant, getting extra help in my heart science classes. And I switched gears, and I became a liberal arts major. And I don't regret it for a minute. Uh, no, it's I think sociology is giving me through, which I kind of viewed the world I think about institutions and family units and things like that and roll.

They playing his lives. And all of that was great, but I really in the big picture off their senses where I was going with my sociology degree of light. My history minor. Sure, I just studied them because I was interested in. And so instead of getting advanced degrees, aye, I got into the work world primarily because someone I just adopted a couple of kids. How this's twenty two. No, I was soon. I got married.

I was twenty seven. Okay, by the time we have a way had some tell additions, by the way, about jason. I was in my early thirties, thirty two, and I was working in social s o. I was I was a teacher, counts here with working with adults and adolescents with development disabilities. And, uh, and after a few years of that, I took a position, actually, maybe just a couple of years of that, my supervisor left her position and I took her position is a client services coordinator with local agency.

And so that meant less work in the field directly with the clients that I love on more work at the desk. And that was sort of the tipping. Like time to do something totally different. I began to realize that it was, I was I was not good for my mental health. And and I was struggling. So I began taking classes evenings, weekends. I heard from a friend of life at the time was the manager of my cross could be, like, on the end to campus.

And she was like, oh, you know, I'm studying the south's therapy therapy. It's just great experience. Thank you, elizabeth. You ever hear this? And she kind of pointed me in that direction. And so I I looked into I got my first massage in my life. The guy who ended up being right, one of my main mentors may be the main mentor instead, on ruvalcaba, he was one of the directors co founders of the school, and he was.

He introduced me to what? The clinical terms. And it was revelatory. There were no cucumbers on the eyes. There was no cucumbers on the actual flawed reference to spa treatments there. Okay, look slices of cucumber on your eyes, too. Get off puffiness or wrinkles. There was sure there were. There's a long list unnecessarily, garrison. It's just not what I would be interested in a massage therapist. So thankfully I got my first massage was experience because I think walked away and never got back.

But I got this terrific, interesting massage combined with a very interesting conversation with a step on about he was. Brilliant really knows his anatomy understands the way the body works inside. And it was a revelation for me like that. Yeah, I could see myself doing this, so I I began taking coursework. Misunderstand, too. And how only at this point? Exactly. Exactly. I don't know are just twenty two years ago, twenty years ago.

It's something I am fifty. Okay, so thirty three? Yeah. And that was never looked back. Just kept on the past and, uh, love in my work ever since. So you live in colombia for most all that time. What about colombia? Have you owned the business? That one for twenty two years, right there. Probably I had that practice. What seat? No. So it took me on a lot to get through school twenty five. Been in practice twenty years.

Nineteen years ago, about a year after graduating, I that space came available. It was right down the hall from where I was going to school. Them thia used to be at the end of the hallway, which is now occupied by the true false fun festive offices. Yeah, I just thought it was a great location, and I was already getting they were putting a bug in my ear to teach a soon as I am eligible. So after two years of experience, is a therapist.

Clinical coursework. After one year, you can teach classroom non clinical courseware s o. They asked me to begin teaching them, and, uh, so it was very convenient. I had an office just five paces away from easy job of two. Two classes, secrets and weak. And so I did that for eight years and worked part time. I actually have only been working full time office that I have for years. For the last five years, I'm usually in order to get benefits or in order to build my client base early.

I had to split my time between my private practice and wilson's total fitness and worked with them for several years. Use a broom hospital. They're well aware. Program. I worked with them for several years and then university. They're they're wellness employee wellness program. Elsie, sir. Life worked with that program for seven years. And in the meantime, I began working with us. So that became another sort of tacked on mean in this field, especially as a male therapist.

I think you kind of have to cobble together practice from multiple pieces. You can't simply hang out. It's it's unusual for somebody that's simply hang out a shingle and everybody pizza past your door. Well, that's just about being self employed, right? Right, like you have to go out. We got to shake the bushes that it was just lying face somehow. And so that's it that most therapists choose early on is to spread themselves around.

And there are a lot of massage therapists in town in this town. Yeah, I believe they're still our five fifteen. I have no oil, no, no, nothing like that. I think there's a sustainable you know the concerns as a student at auntie. I am then, as a teacher is what can the market sustain? So typical typical classroom size for any co port. Any group of students going through course work together was no more than twelve somewhere, typically between eight and twelve students going through coursework together than they would start a new co op board every six months.

So that's anywhere from sixteen to twenty for therapists entering the market every year. Granted, a number of those people may be more than happy are actually from neighboring communities. Or they're young people who like students at m, you're stephen's college, columbia college. I'm not going to stay in colombia once they graduate anyway, but there there is a concern for home. How much the market can sustained?

No, but and it sorts itself out. Well, there's probably does. Sounds like, yeah, I don't get points right. And they you know, if you're smart about your practice, you find you find the niches that need no more therapists. So, uh, you can only be a therapist in us off for so long. I think unless you happen to be one best spot there, surrounds your typical goingto have to diversify. Figure out your niche by saying, well, I want to try energy work where I want to learn how to do my fashion energy work.

Well, energy work is, you know, there's different forms of energy work that based on principles of chinese medicine will say we have four for your vedic india east trying okay, that is the basic philosophy says that we have energy centers for energy pathways or readings running through our bodies, and that illness and disease is a manifestation of energy packages on so many people. Two different forms of energy work.

Pardon. Trying to prove that you're human. Tector areas of blockage and get energy flowing to the body. That's that's even a lot of those modalities. Actually, don't you don't even send a touching the person who put hands over them because you're sensing energetic field as much as you are more than you are fishing. What would you say? You're just clinical massage in sports and political means? Does that just mean, like, more western?

No, no, because you can have clinical forms of asian or eastern modalities as well. That I think of clinical massaged, being more problem solving. People come with us. Think, issue a specific injury. Postural distortion, gate distortion, asymmetry, some something, that is that is manifested pain in specific areas, and you're trying to help them by applying in. In my case, I tried to use assessment methods.

One of my certification is one of my advance certifications is in orthopedic massage that I got through the old marion's, too, and that the basis of that is that we use different specialized tests. Orthopedic tests, manual resists resistive tests to determine the nature of the injury and the type of tissue that's injured. So is it isn't a muscle and tendon is fashion. A ligament isn't nervous punishment, is it, uh or articular surface cartilaginous?

You get their various tests, you could apply to narrow down what the source of the problem is and to rule out certain things and cut to the chase. So it's like, sine more effectively. It's a more it's engineering and engineers approach to tio. It's less intuitive, more process based, right? Uh, logic based it is and inexact science and in perfect science, but of science in them. Less because bodies were complex.

Then say, you know, if you want a stress test a certain metal, I think iron steel. I mean, you know, you could get a pretty definitive answers if you want to stress tests tissues. There are compensatory patterns that person may have developed that might obscure result, so we might have to apply multiple tests in order to determine, uh, h ribbon injury. Sometimes it from injuries around long enough you get a layered effect.

So the original injury was ignored or shrugged off, thinking it which is resolved itself, and the person went about their running more. They're walking whatever their life tales, assuming it would go away. Instead of problems resolving itself, you get a layer of the fact you get compensatory patterns you get it? The bodies developing worker. Right. All right. I think my uncle for president, I can't remember who exactly.

But I had a it was my uncle, and he learned to walk, like, a different way for so long because he just had dealt with. And, you know, I even have things that I just feel like I'm I sometimes wonder why just dealing with this life, well, there's go ways, you know, it just don't seem to think, you know everything because their bodies are amazing hearing themselves, right? But sometimes I just don't know if they're preparing themselves in a row or not.

So ideal way exactly. And you know, it's funny because my dad pool our two miles in the course of his lifetime big cow are fools and likely both had the same problem. They both broke their way for something like this. He had two bowls of dying. Sorry, it's more than that to that passed and and they both the bull had an ability to heal itself properly or to heal itself would have been too great a mission because of it's simpler just can't say take to bed.

Yes, weeks, exactly. It's an impossible is not on some level, it's not worth that sounds probably weird, but, you know, so it just has to die, basically. And it's, you know, because what human beings are more of flexible in our lives that we can actually address for six weeks for something like that? But there are probably limits, like when something is beyond repair. You encounter that lot like when you have this layering and you're like, sure, it's too far.

You know, I don't tend to think that way, but I do try to. I mean, there are situations where a person came about an injury due to a sport or a passion. You know any any fielder or court sport for rock climbing or whatever, and this is sort of, you know, the reason for living. It's a big part of our identity, and it's a big setback. Sometimes if they have a significant injury, that's telling them what I may have to do that that's one.

But that doesn't mean that you can't mediate or manage an injury. So you can't. I think that's, uh it's wrong headed to, you know it. You can you can tell a person well, they never want. It may never be a distance one get due to severe angle fracture that needed to be reconstructed. It certainly makes sense. You know, maybe maybe come up with a bottle and they'll be they'll be able to walk fairly more moment.

But the idea one. That probably stretched so they might meet dysart. Those modifying approaches to their daily lives. But in terms of no, just because somebody's ankles fused doesn't mean they should deal with paint some of that paint, maybe, due to scar tissue. Some of it may be due to muscle spasms occasions, so even in significant, um, problems, people have been through car accidents been a lot put in.

Its fuse. Even in severe situations like that, there are ways of mediating through rehabilitation, working with physical therapy, strengthening certain losses, eliminating spasm, another mobilizing scar tissue that we get a level of functionality and the level pain reduction pain elimination back that gives them a better lease on life. I don't want it reminds your count like larry bird situation are on the I was putting it driving for his mom, and I was doing it all himself because it's late.

That's right, does when he hurt his back severely the process, I believe. And, uh, you could never play basketball the same, basically. And no, you give a basketball, but it's been decades ever since he's he's perfectly fine. Or at least it appears now that is laid on the floor. It comes and accept some of war, you know, like he's just a normal person. So you might lose that top knot or that then requirement to perform at a top level athletically.

But, uh, doesn't mean you're all the life can be better. And teo even large degrees afterwards, after the sow, we got about ten more minutes left, and so I wantto rush on to some of these other questions of more. One more question about your profession come. What are some of the tools? Besides your hands. What a good question. Yeah, because it is still after twenty years, very much hand center work, but you can use your hands and variety of ways.

And there are techniques that air, yeah, that are more sustainable over a lot long career than others. And you have to be, you know, when you first started your career kind of field to some extent ten foot tall, full of priests. So you're not getting the early warning signs the first five years of your career that you could wear you, uh, your hands out your joints, out that you've been slacking. The ligaments that support your thumbs were not careful.

Um, so you tend to be a little more cavalier, but but I was taught good body mechanics in this school and and gradually, in the beginning, I kind of put the idea of using hand tools. It was appearance. Just please, I believe that, you know, I got all these nerve endings in my fingertips for good reason. He's here the most sensitive tools you have, and therefore, I am going to use that as long as I possibly can.

But you do have to recognize, uh, number one that other parts of your body you could develop sensitivity to develop sensitivity. I would like you to develop sensitivity sensitivity in your elbow like the same sensitivity that would be in your finger tips. No, I mean I mean, if you dissect if you look at the skin in the elbow. There's a job, yushin of nerve and this's nothing near what you're what you're saying is like something you just you could detect with your elbow that you would otherwise right.

It's your all those never going to be a sensitive is your finger checks. But with practice we developed, we can feel with any, and we can even feel through help tools. So I have recently began begun to, uh, use tools she's got her hand held that allowed me to work in concert. Areas of the body with tools have a variety of shapes that engaged tissue in different ways, and some of them are kind of angular.

And they allowed me to work in looks in crannies around spine or around the shoulder blade. Others are broader, more designed for working large muscle group. Would you say that's like your biggest evolution as a massage therapist in recent years? No, but it is definitely something that you have to come to terms with. If you plan on doing this, the rest your life. And I do know I love my work and I don't want to cut it short by the cavalier being macho.

You're trying to be a purist. I can be just as effective, in some cases more effective through the use of tools. In the last say, fifteen years, modality has come around where they use whose it's gone by a number of trade things that they use a scraping, too. It was originally a method that was developed in chinese called shot and where they would use a piece of bone or shell with with us a fairly aggressive edge to it.

And they scrape the superficial tissues of the body and they began to see results. You hard to replicate with other methods with other tools with your hands, well and so. I've been using scraping tools they call it, asked him. Instrument assistant, soft tissue mobilization. There are other names for it, but the basic concept is there that that the body responds well to this kind of. So, yeah, it has been a key piece in the evolution of my practice, but maybe not a flaw.

You. A lot of times we we start off doing things because we have a certain notion about the mechanism of action. This is working applause. So, for instance, if I if I find a trigger point on your shoulder blade and I cross on that trigger point holder with static compression, I typically get that trigger point two bullets on dh. There will be the sense of no, this is relaxing and perceived reduction. The mechanism of action, I long assumed was sort of a mechanical.

Basically, just smush it the hell off it goes away. But that's really the reality of it is much more neurological camera. So there's nothing I want or even tears with science. But weak is that that research comes out and informs will do, and it causes us to maybe not throw out the baby after water, not abandon what we're doing but simply have a clear understanding why. What we do is I mean, if you've been in practice for ten years, you have, you can operate on the assumption enough people like your work with your support on they like that work because it works for them.

On some level, it may be that you have to throw up the explanation for why it works, but that's that's part of the fun of being in this field is, you know, having bubbles burst and having to rethink why I do what I do and gradually building born more subtle and more and more accurate understanding of why soft tissue mobilization, wide massage therapy you're different manual therapy help there. That's it.

It's kind of thrilling. Well, said. So we got some closing questions here. Let's keep these short. Other just go with your gut on these, jeff. So do you or pursuit happiness or meaning? And so how much time do you have? That. It's a big question. My mantra for my kids. No. Excuse me. It's wonderful pizza in my mouth. Something that rustled with myself. It's for my whole life and tried to kind of pass along, kids.

Is that it's ah it's a fool's errand trust happens without me you know if you if you think you're going to shop on the way or drink your way or or eat your way to happens so you think my meaning of happiness find happiness in me mother you know helping others doing work that matters two in a bigger picture within your community uh sort of think globally act. Quick, you know, even if it's even if if it means you're here simply with a street sweeper around.

If that's what gives your life meaning, that's what's gonna make you that's a big piece of cool. Please tell me something good you've never had and you never want use it. Tell me a good thing that you've never had and never once. I really don't. It sounds like everything good. You've had everything good that you had or everything good that yu wanted. You have oh, that that you said that I don't you don't want to write something good.

Well, I'm sure you know, I've never been debates, and I'm sure it would be a cool experience, but I don't want okay? That's the best they could come up with. And the last question. How did you find jeff? Peace of mind. Election? Uh, yeah, I don't know. I mean, yeah, I think through through family. That was a smart that's answered. But here's the one you know, through meaningful relationships through good conversation.

Help. More through, you know that. And and purpose and relationships. Elsie evolution. Awesome. Thank you very much. Thanks for joining me. Great takemitsu. Joseph is always looking forward to our next a conversation recorded or otherwise.