Rick Delgado: Welcome to All Business Media, where it’s all business all the time, I’m your host Rick Delgado, joining us on the show today is a gentleman based out of Denver, Colorado, he’s the owner of Vital Touch, reach out to him by phone at 303.819.0097 or you go to the website vitaltouchmassagedenver.com, that’s vitaltouchmassagedenver.com, I’m talking about my guest Mr. Mark Holmberg. Mark, welcome to the show. How are you?
Mark Holmberg: Very good Rick, thanks for having me.
Rick Delgado: Thank you taking time out of your day to join us. Now before we get started, do me a favor and tell everybody a little bit about yourself and what you do as the owner of Vital Touch.
Mark Holmberg: Well, I’m listed as a Massage Therapist, so my main credential I have is that I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist. But really my work exists on a spectrum. Massage Therapists touch people for a living, but not all of my work involves touch. I do have ways of working with people that do not involve touch.
Rick Delgado: Tell us a little bit about that. What do you mean “it doesn’t involve touch?”
Mark Holmberg; I work with people who have been traumatized. Originally I set out to work with people who have been abused. So I work with things like Domestic Violence, I work with Sexual Assault, I work with Incest. I work with people who have a limited experience with safe touch. There are people inside that population who would prefer that I do not touch them. Part of that is because I’m a male.
Rick Delgado: Right.
Mark Holmberg: And if and when that’s the case, it’s critical that I respect that. There’s nothing to be gained by violating somebody’s boundaries once they have established them. So in addition to the Massage Therapy that I do, I have other touch modalities. I have Cranial-Sacral Therapy which involve 5 grams of pressure, which is the weight of a nickel.
Rick Delgado: You know what, I’ve heard of that and I still don’t understand how that works. I mean, how do you know? I mean the weight of a nickel, it’s barely nothing.
Mark Holmberg; It is barely nothing. Cranial-Sacral Therapy does not work with muscles. Cranial-Sacral therapy works with a fluid called cerebral-spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. The fluid does not really have a pulse per se, but it does have a rhythm. It flows cephalicly into the head, and caudally towards the feet. It flows back and forth. Your cranium, or head, is made up of a series of bones that move in relation to each other. It’s a very subtle movement. But it’s a movement I can read, it’s a movement I can find.
Rick Delgado: Right.
Mark Holmberg: Cranial-Sacral does work with that movement, and that flow.
Rick Delgado: So how did you get working in this capacity? People hear massage, they think massage therapy, it’s a lot of rubbing, it’s a lot of pushing, it’s a lot of force used so to speak. But you’re talking about other things that are basically light touch or even no touch, as you mentioned.
Mark Holmberg: Absolutely. I also offer meditation classes that enable people to get underneath the trauma. There’s a stillness that’s underneath all the pain, underneath the questions, underneath the “what ifs.” And there’s a very deep sense of peace that can be accomplished through meditation.
Rick Delgado: What drew you into working with people who are victims of the trauma that you described, and also stuff like PTSD?
Mark Holmberg: I read a magazine article in Massage Magazine. This article was about Domestic Violence, and it was about massage clients who had experienced abuse. So these clients would go to a female therapist for a while, and eventually “graduate” to a male therapist, which when you think about it can be a very powerful experience for them. They’re in a very vulnerable position, generally the client has disrobed, they’re not wearing any clothes, they’re lying on a massage table, covered with a sheet, and the therapist is in complete control of the situation. So for somebody to be in that situation, to be that vulnerable and to experience safe touch from an ethical practitioner, can be a very big step in their recovery.
Rick Delgado: When you start working with these people how do you go about determining their boundaries?
Mark Holmberg: I don’t determine the client’s boundaries. I let the client determine their own boundaries. This is often an inquisitive process, and it can be a torturously slow process.
Rick Delgado: So you’re able to treat what, when you’re doing this type of therapy for these types of clients, maybe the Post Traumatic Stress, maybe they’re a little antsy, they’re not very comfortable., right?
Mark Holmberg: Not initially. The thing about PTSD is one of the main symptoms out there is hyper vigilance. The hyper vigilance comes from trust issues, they have a hard time trusting people and it’s completely understandable. I work with a client’s boundaries as they have established them. Yes, I have clients who disrobe. I have clients to don’t disrobe. I have clients who don’t take anything off at all. I have clients who don’t get on the table. I can work with clients seated.
Rick Delgado: So what you’re saying is that you have different ways to help these people that don’t necessarily mean it’s what you typically expect from somebody who’s versed in massage, right?
Mark Holmberg: Exactly. Exactly right. This is a different experience. It’s a much gentler approach called Trauma Touch Therapy, which is a bit of a misnomer because it doesn’t always involve touch.
Rick Delgado: Now what about the nervous system? Of course it’s very complex, the way it works, right? And you have to be mindful of that.
Mark Holmberg: The human central nervous system is a complex thing, especially when we consider different sections of the brain and how they work together, but there is one way to simplify how the nervous system works, which is to consider two “settings” of the central nervous system.
Rick Delgado: What are those two settings?
Mark Holmberg: The “sympathetic” nervous system is what we commonly call our “fight or flight” response. When our brains perceive a threat, the nervous system is wired to have an instantaneous response. This causes our adrenal glands to secrete a hormone called epinephrine, the pupils of our eyes to dilate, and blood flow diverts away from the digestive system and into skeletal muscles which are the muscles that move the body. The body primes itself for action. It’s getting ready to fight off an attacker or run away. Realistically, if I feel threatened, I may hit, punch, kick, but my main priority is to get out of the situation. It’s an instantaneous response that happens in less than one second, so it’s pretty quick.
Rick Delgado: So how does that translate into the work that you do?
Mark Holmberg: Well there’s another setting to the central nervous system, where we would rather be. What I just talked about was the sympathetic nervous system. There’s also the “parasympathetic” nervous system, which is what we call the “rest and digest” setting. This is when the endocrine system secretes a hormone called norepinephrine, which counteracts the effects of epinephrine, which was secreted by the adrenal glands during the sympathetic response. Blood flow in the body goes back into the digestive tract and breathing becomes much deeper and more relaxed. My work really helps people to shift into that parasympathetic setting, the rest and digest setting. And with any luck, I can help people shift between the sympathetic and parasympathetic settings, which is what most of us do.
Rick Delgado: Now is that something that we do naturally? I guess some people have that problem.
Mark Holmberg: I’ll explain it to you this way. Both of those settings, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic responses, both of them have their place. So these are both very normal parts of the human experience. But people who are traumatized, people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, have difficulty shifting back into the parasympathetic mode. This is where we get the hypervigilance, we get the insomnia, some of them turn to alcohol and other substances, which is a coping strategy. It’s not the healthiest coping strategy, but it is how they force themselves into the parasympathetic response. So I try to provide a substitute for the substance abuse.
Rick Delgado: Again, we’re talking with our guest Mark Holmberg who is the owner of Vital Touch out of Denver, Colorado. vitaltouchmassagedenver.com is the website, or reach out to him at 303.819.0097. We’ve gotta take a quick break, we’ll come back with more on All Business Media.
Welcome back to All Business Media, I’m your host Rick Delgado, sitting with our guest Mr. Mark Holmberg, he’s the owner of Vital Touch out of Denver, Colorado, vitaltouchmassagedenver.com is his website, or reach out to him by phone at 303.819.0097. Again Mark, thanks so much for joining us today, we appreciate it.
Mark Holmberg: Thanks for having me.
Rick Delgado: You offer things that other Massage Therapists don’t really do, I’ve never heard of the way you do your work for some of these people who are victims of trauma, PTSD, and what about people who are victims of violence like fights or maybe gun violence and stuff like that? Is that something you can address as well?
Mark Holmberg: Absolutely. I mean, trauma is really expanding in our world right now. I really set out to help people who had been abused, domestic violence, sexual assault, incest, situations out there, I’ve also started working with another population that’s known for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, namely the military, and I have a discount program for them, but now there’s other forms of trauma. There are these shooting incidents in churches and schools and shopping malls, and there’s the First Responders who respond to these events and get overwhelmed. So these are all people that I can help.
Rick Delgado: Now when you’re dealing with the first responders, talking about fire, police, you know those types, the doctors, the nurses, how do you help them in dealing with what they’re experiencing sometimes on a daily basis, right? Between car accidents and stuff like that, there’s all types of ways they can be effected.
Mark Holmberg: It’s true. The thing is I work with trauma in the body, so I hope nobody comes to me for talk therapy, because I’m not a Psychotherapist, I’m not a Psychologist, I hope people don’t expect talk therapy from me, it’s outside the scope of my practice and there’s really no point in waking up the client anyway. But work with populations like that is not that much different from working with people who have been abused. So it’s a very gentle approach; sometimes it involves touch, sometimes it doesn’t. And it could be that people’s boundaries are shifting, and I have to respect that, and to work with their boundaries as they change. A lot of it is about listening to the body, and responding to what the body presents.
Rick Delgado: So now how are you listening to the body? I’m assuming that when you say something like that, you’re not getting direction from the patient. As you are doing your work, you’re noticing things, right?
Mark Holmberg: Oh this is very much directed by the clients themselves. A certain degree of intuition is helpful, but I have to be very careful not to override what I’m hearing from the clients themselves. So it’s very much client directed.
Rick Delgado: So then as they’re directing you, are you offering those different types of things that you do, ‘cause you mentioned the cranial-sacral, and were there other modalities that you can work with?
Mark Holmberg: Well deep tissue is not usually called for in these situations, though I’m capable of that; I often change between modalities. I might do some deep tissue, until it does not seem appropriate, and I can easily shift into cranial-sacral and some of the gentler modalities that I use.
Rick Delgado: What are some of those gentler ones?
Mark Holmberg: Well I mentioned the cranial-sacral, there’s a form of work called Reiki which is a healing energy, it’s the laying on of hands, and it really has it’s own intelligence, but of course, again, the client may not be receptive to touch, at which point I recommend they attend a meditation class. I don’t mix meditation and bodywork together in the same session. That seems inappropriate.
Rick Delgado: OK now from what I understand Reiki can also be done without touch.
Mark Holmberg: That’s correct. That’s one of those modalities where I don’t even have to touch them.
Rick Delgado: What else to you offer people here?
Mark Holmberg: I think that’s about the gamut of what I offer. Trauma Touch Therapy, and Cranial-Sacral, basic massage, Reiki which doesn’t turn off, and the meditation classes, really.
Rick Delgado: Now can you assist people who are suffering from chronic pain? Like I know Fibromyalgia seems to be a big thing, I see that on TV, they’re advertising drugs for that all the time.
Mark Holmberg: Yeah, I work with some people with Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a different ball game. These people have chronic pain, but it shifts around. It’s not consistent. It’s not like somebody who consistently has a sore back. Sometimes it’s their back that hurts, sometimes it’s their lower extremities, sometimes it’s the neck, sometimes it’s a combination, they need varying levels of pressure when I work with them. Some say that Fibromyalgia is a manifestation of PTSD. I thought that was interesting.
Rick Delgado: Now have you come across people that have had PTSD, and now all of a sudden they are complaining of what looks to be Fibromyalgia?
Mark Holmberg: I have worked with a client who had Fibromyalgia, who explained to me that there was a traumatic event that preceded the Fibromyalgia. So I thought that was curious.
Rick Delgado: And what about physical, like broken bones and stuff like that? I’ve heard that massage therapy can be helpful in assisting with recovering from those types of things too.
Mark Holmberg: I don’t work with fresh fractures, I have done a lot of work with people who have been in car accidents, so I see a lot of neck and back injuries, the so-called “whiplash” injury, I’ve worked with nerve impingement, people who have numbness and tingling in their hands, and there are several video blogs about that on my website.
Rick Delgado: Now what is that all about, the tingling in the hands?
Mark Holmberg: Well that’s all about the impingement of a nerve or a bundle of nerves. There’s a bundle of nerves called the Brachial Plexus that comes out of the neck and goes down the arm and into the hand. So when the nerve is pinched off, it’s kind of like an electrical wire being smashed between two pieces of lumber. So you get the numbness and the tingling, and this can happen to the whole hand, the whole arm, or it can happen to just specific parts of the hand, which means you’re looking at a specific nerve impingement. It can be between the hand and elbow, things like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Rick Delgado: That’s another one of the things that you can help address with people. Again, we’ve been talking with our guest Mark Holmberg, he’s the owner of Vital Touch out of Denver Colorado, vitaltouchmassagedenver.com is the website, or reach out to him directly at 303.819.0097. He can work with you in terms of massage, light touch, other types of modalities that include light touch or even no touch at all, taking care of people with trauma, dealing with that, PTSD, you name it. It’s a complex thing, some of the stuff he does, but reach out and see how he can help you. Again, the phone number if you want to reach out to him directly, 303.819.0097 or vitaltouchmassagedenver.com. Mark, thank you so much for joining us today, we appreciate it.
Mark Holmberg: Thanks again for having me.
I operate in the Denver, Colorado area. I can be reached at 303.819.0097.
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