Category Archives: Messages from Darren

Where’s Waldo?

For those who know me or who have booked time with me for one ache or another, you have heard me refer to my first session as “Where’s Waldo”. For those unfamiliar with the kids book series ( where you look for Waldo in a sea of similar, but unrelated images. Waldo has a red and white striped shirt and hat. That should be easy… right? Well this is one analogy that I use to help clients understand anatomy, fascia, and the work I do to help them feel better, and manage pain and discomfort. Not everyone is a “body geek” and is as curious about how it all works like I am, and as such I have found many ways to describe this so that most can understand. Quite a few teachers have contributed to my analogy bank, such and friend and teacher Walt Fritz who’s similar approach and use of analogies have greatly influenced what I do.

So why Waldo? Quite simply looking for the cause of discomfort or pain can often be like looking for Waldo in the pages of a book. On some pages you can search for some time, and other times you turn the page say “There he is!”

To me, myofascial release has always about finding connection; connection with the tissue in distress. For years I believed that when I found tightness in the body I was finding fascial restriction, as that was what I was taught. But with a greater knowledge of science and anatomy, I am reasonably sure that what I am effecting is much more than just the fascia. I now know how the nervous system drives much of what I do with my hands.

Whether it is the nervous system/fascial system/muscular system/skeletal system creating the pain, it matters little if we have no way to connect with the pain and dysfunction. This is where engaging hands-on, evaluating the response, and together determining the relevancy of the contact in relation the pain is paramount. The feedback loop we engage in as client/therapist directs our work. All the while remaining open to the possibility that “Waldo” may not be in the obvious spot.

So where does this lead you as a client? Well essentially it means that together we will work in a way that will possibly be very unfamiliar. Notice I said together. You are an active participant in finding the source, and together we’ll work to address it for relief.

How do we do this?  By engaging the tissue in distress. Tissue in distress is the term I use to describe how the body reacts to injury, trauma, or surgery. I believe it is primarily a function of the nervous system, rather than blaming the fascia being the primary culprit. As distress or injury affects the nerves, it seems that a characteristic density or tightness envelops the area, creating pain or other dysfunction. This is the felt-sense that I seek out when evaluating and treating and this is the tissue in distress or “red and white” while searching for Waldo. Once we locate tissue in distress, we narrow the focus on it, snagging it, so that both you and I are in connection with it. Then, I ask for feedback from you the client, to determine if this tissue is part of the pain/problem. If you affirm the sensation, I stay in contact with the snagged tissue in distress until we note a change in tone of the area. As the tissue softens, so to speak, the normal effect is a lessening of the pain or dysfunction. We continue to seek out the tissue in distress until the area feels clear and loose. Simplistically, we are engaging the nerves and its surrounding tissue in distress and creating a sensory feedback to the brain, which in turn signals the affected area to change its tone, reducing tightness/pain. While not an explanation to satisfy a neuroscientist, it meets my needs while treating.

So if you are interested in “Finding Waldo” give my call, or drop an email, and we’ll book a session.