NATALE RAO RMT
   Home      BMM EXPLAINED - RMT MATTERS INTERVIEW 2014

First of all, I wish to thank you for taking the time and effort to interview me.

To condense a 35 year period, has been a challenge. Completing my massage therapy training was probably one of the best things I could have done. Until then, I had no idea of what hands were capable of doing OR of how my life as it was then, would change radically. Good fortune has followed me in my life and career, and as a result, I have had mentors, colleagues, and teachers in the field of massage and teachers outside of massage, that encouraged and inspired me in so many different ways that to speak briefly about them would be an injustice to them all.

I grew up in T.O. and in 1979, at the age of 29, I graduated from the CCMH campus in downtown Toronto – the college then relocated to Sutton Ont.

After passing the BC boards, I settled into the Interior of B.C. where I lived in a few different places for 10 years. During that period, the major therapeutic influences came from what I had been able to digest at college; my yoga practice; and a Chiropractor who was very willing to “mentor and guide me” by teaching me connective tissue massage techniques – we did this with treatment exchanges on the weekends. I learned a ton and for that I WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL TO HIM.

Another source of inspiration would come from attending courses & workshops – not a lot to choose from in those days.

When the MTA began in the early ‘80’s, I volunteered as the Regional representative for my area – this helped keep me in touch with the profession.

I moved to Vancouver in 1989 – probably one of the best things I could have done at that time. Clinic space and work was plentiful, and again by good fortune, I worked in massage therapy clinics where it was a JOY to work.

In the fall of 1989, I was employed initially as a clinical supervisor at WCCMT. This became a great opportunity for me to use what knowledge and experience I had accumulated over the years while honing my skills as a therapist in the interior.

During my entire instructional career, including the present, I have always maintained a clinical practice – it would ebb dependent upon my teaching commitments, but I never let it go.  To this day I maintain that my practice helps my teachings and my teachings help my practice.

I have changed over the years and my work has followed; I have learned that I do not have to impress anyone and as a result I have been able to spend time on furthering my skills, which have evolved and grown over the years. For that, I can only be grateful for ALL the under grad and post graduate students who have been under my hands; for ALL manner of clients, people, and events in my life that have led me to where I am now.

2) Let’s talk about Biodynamic Myofascial Mobilization (BMM): when did you first learn of it and how/why did you become an expert?

BIO = living things

DYNAMIC = potent; energetic; active

My first –ever course and introduction to myofascial therapy was a 3 day workshop conducted by Claudia Scrivener (MSPT) in the fall of 1996. Shortly afterwards I enrolled in a 2 week course with John Barnes (PT) in Sedona, Arizona.

I “fell in love” with myofascial release therapy, and since I decided to continue my myofascial learning, I narrowed my choices to be either Claudia or John.

My decision to continue with Claudia was based on a few factors: a) she did not hold back on her instruction. Her style of teaching was to encourage, inspire and motivate us to WANT to learn MORE about the “fascial body” and fascial anatomy  in its 3 dimensions;  b) she did not charge an exorbitant amount of $; c) as a group, we were constantly reminded about the fascial anatomy, and the layering of the tissues;  on how to “work with  the body”,  to help free it from restrictions in 3 dimensions – from the outside to the inside (eg. viscera).  As you might suspect – the 3 dimensionality “thing” was very important to me!!!

These views have helped me acknowledge and understand (a little better) the systems and other tissues to include along with myofascial therapy – thus the term “Biodynamic”.

I am not sure I would use the term “expert” – I don’t consider myself an expert per say; but I DO KNOW for a fact, that I am quite good at releasing / treating / and working with restricted myofascia (muscle – in layman’s terms); after all, I have spent a lot of time doing it!!!    I became good at it for a number of reasons:

I was READY!!! To learn something that I innately knew, “was the approach that I had been waiting for”.

I had a knowledgeable teacher, who presented an aspect and view of anatomy and therapy, in an entirely different way in which I had been taught.

Integrating what one is taught,is very important. While learning this “new approach”, I applied the principles and techniques, literally “the next day” following each course, on my clients. I knew that my clients and I would benefit greatly in various ways.

I constantly practiced on myself; a) so that I could learn to distinguish depth and pressures on myself;  b) so that I could locate and define the structures that I was “looking for”, and  c)  because I was in pain.

AND, my wife says I have “a perfectionist quality” – not with everything, of course, otherwise I would be really messed-up –  I would never give up on trying my best, knowing that the client leaving my clinic was changed by the treatment session.

In detail, can you please describe what BMM is/how it works?

BMM is a unique approach to myofascial therapy. BMM is the name that I have given it in order to distinguish it from other myofascial release instruction and courses that are currently available to RMTs. I believe that its uniqueness deserves recognition within the realms of massage therapy and myofascial therapies.

BMM is applied to the “soft structures” of the human body that have a fascial or connective tissue component (i.e.) muscle, tendon, ligament and the structures inside  joints. Anatomically, all of these tissues are interconnected – they are contiguous.  Through my learnings and experiences, I believe that all of these tissues should be addressed in order to have positive change.

The fascia is responsible for a number of things, and for now, I will simply state that it helps provide the “slide n’ glide ability” of virtually ALL of our tissues / structures.

Prior to any form of therapy, a proper assessment to locate and define restriction is in order.  I prefer to instruct RMTs to observe first (keenly with their “soft” eyes), to view the BIG PICTURE; then to manually assess / palpate (with as much kinesthetic awareness as possible), to locate and define restricted tissue; restrictions may present in any number of different ways; movement can also be implemented to help the practitioner identify where there is an obstruction OR pain with movement.

I could literally go on & on & on etc……..

BMM takes into account the manner with which the tissues of our human anatomy are “layered”. It also takes into account the importance of the 3 dimensional environment of, for example, a muscle unit (i.e.) that each layer is dependent upon the layer above it, below it OR beside it, in order for it to slide and glide smoothly. The inner most environment of a muscle unit is of equal importance – the fibrils MUST also slide and glide smoothly. Helping the entire environment of the 3 dimensionality of a muscle unit in this manner will have a direct effect on the nervous system VIA mechanoreceptors that are situated within the all of the fascial sheaths and tendon.

BMM also works at the level of the Extracellular Matrix (ECM). The ECM can be described as the “liquidly” environment for the cells, fibres and water that are necessary for the nutrition / health, function and stability of our fasciae (plural form).

Releasing a restricted structure in 3 D has a profound effect:

the nervous system acknowledges the change

pain can noticeably disappear

blood vessels within the area will be freer to slide and glide

the ECM will have the opportunity to “be refreshed” and return  to a more healthful and stable environment.

In following this approach, the hydration factor of the fasciae, and its ability to respond can be detected by the practitioner.

The practitioner should note change almost immediately, and the client will also acknowledge the difference. There are a few theories that explain fascial release phenomena, but the most accepted one by researchers is acknowledging the presence of mechanreceptors.

I would also stress the importance of accuracy (i.e.) correct placement of hands; the importance of engaging the tissue at the correct depth / level AND, not forcing the tissue to release.

Please understand that fascial therapies have their origins / roots in Osteopathy. The particular style of myofascial therapy that I instruct, originated from my teachings from Claudia; whose education included Osteopathic educators of various sorts.

I DO NOT claim ownership of this style; from my perspective, learning this form “was a GIFT”; it helped me to use both aspects of my brain simultaneously.

This form was taught at WCCMT and when Claudia left, I “took up the torch” so to speak and continued instructing this at the under grad level.

In order to discuss the virtues of BMM, it must be said that it is a “fascial modality”.

And, for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to BMM strictly as a modality to release fascial restrictions as they might present within the muscle unit and / or the fascia of the structures surrounding a restricted muscle.

In order to understand the principles that underlie fascial therapies and its behaviour, we need to know a few things:

What is fascia?

What is its anatomy & physiology? (i.e.) make up

What are its functions?

What mechanical properties does it have?

What does it respond to? And what does it require?

Understanding the “theories” that can help us understand WHY fascia restricts and WHY it releases in its own special manner?

The theory that researchers say “appears to be the better explanation of response to treatment” is the Sensory Receptor / Autonomic Nervous System Theory. It informs us that fascia is replete with mechanoreceptors and other receptors that connect to the autonomic nervous system.  RMTs should know what mechanreceptors are, so I will not go into any detail. These receptors are scattered along the fascia of a muscle fiber, along the fascia of a muscle bundle along the fascia of an entire muscle and (most importantly in my humble opinion) within the fascia of the periosteum – most fasciae find their way to attach onto periosteum.  These receptors constantly relay information of the “activity” OR non- activity that is occuring with the muscle unit, firstly to the tendinous junction and then to our nervous system (brain).

A few reasons why BMM works are:

Releases the fascial wrapping / envelope of a muscular tissue – be it muscle fibers, muscle bundles or the entire muscle.

Restriction at the level of the periosteum can be identified. The bone itself may also be restricted and not mobile.

Freedom of “a muscle” from its surroundings gives that muscle unit, and area,  slide n’ glide; an increase in vascularity and nerve supply; better capacity to stretch OR strengthen.

Once the above have occurred, pain is decreased, movement is increased etc…..

BMM basically has a very direct effect on facilitating the “slide n’ glide” ability that ALL structures should have in relationship to each other.  The techniques that I employ are ones that engage the tissue / structure at its barrier of restriction, in 3 dimensions – usually an adhesion or fixation.

4.     If you haven’t explained it already, what is the connection between BMM and massage therapy?

GENERALLY SPEAKING:

Connective tissue massage and / or myofascial release techniques have been taught at the massage therapy college level for many years – even when I was in training – it was different, but none the less C.T. was acknowledged.

Presently in the colleges, students receive a “more inclusive” approach to myofascial release, and are encouraged to apply those techniques so as to help increase manual skill at releasing “muscular tissues”.

BMM can easily be included within a therapeutic massage session, as it is a modality that is known to enhance change more rapidly than ordinary massage techniques. The “trick” is not to use lubrication.

Clinical applications are similar to the manners in which treatments for musculoskeletal pathologies are taught.

RMTs are instructed in the necessary musculoskeletal anatomy, which makes them prime candidates for applying the principles and techniques of BMM.

  1. Who/what type of condition could benefit most from BMM?

A case history of each client must be taken. “Conditions” categorized as  systemic are contraindicated;  systemic conditions usually inform us that a person’s body is “somehow lacking” the ability to re - produce the cells or fibres necessary to maintain the integrity or stability of fascia and other connective tissues.

Saying that, conditions that would benefit the most from BMM would be those clients that exhibit “common musculoskeletal disorders”-  the patient that is either referred by their M.D., the person / athlete that is seeking relief from:

Decreased joint range of motion issues.

Common muscular aches and pain.

Low back pain and dysfunction.

Neck issues; Headaches.

Syndromes: Thoracic outlet; Compartment; Carpal tunnel and Iliotibial Band

Postural issues.

Frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis, chronic trigger points,  etc. etc. etc…….

6.     Can you give an example (or two) of an especially poignant BMM success story?

Before I answer that, I should say that this approach has helped me significantly to identify tissues that have issues; I was always instructed to proceed slowly into areas that were sore, vulnerable OR an area that I knew little about – I continue that procedure as it is always a valuable “working tool” / principle.


There are a few clients in my practice that have “osteoporotic – type” conditions, and their ages are in the late 50’s and early 60’s group. Their stories were similar in that it did not matter WHAT they did or HOW they performed their normal activities – they would get themselves into “trouble”. Prior to knowing of me and my work, they received little benefit and not much success with manual and physical therapies. Over a short period of time, the therapeutic sessions I provided enabled them to exercise more and with less repercussion.

I think though that one of the most significant  stories, are the ones to help correct leg length and pelvic issues. A number of people with low back pain, hip joint issues, knee issues and sometimes chronic neck issues, present in this manner.  BUT, I recall  2 people in particular – whose legs had been measured and “diagnosed” with one short leg OR one longer leg (depending on how it is translated). Each client allowed me to work with them after I had discussed with them what my assessment was.

Within a few treatment sessions their body, from the feet and upwards, began to display signs of solidity and stability.

7.     If you had to name the top 3-5 benefits of BMM, what would they be?

For this answer, I will take into account that a person has received at least 3 or 4 treatments. I could then state that the benefits would be:

Increased stability (could be a specific area OR general)

Enhanced quality of movement.

A lot less pain / discomfort.

An increased capacity to exercise, therefore healthier.

AND a better quality of Life – I can’t count all those people that I meet and remind me of how much my work has helped them in their life.


8.     Do you have any courses planned in 2014 (mid-February on)? If you would like, I can mention the details (what/when/where), as well as who should attend and what the key takeaways will be.

YES, I do have a number of courses planned for 2014. I co-instruct 2 day courses with Heather Gittens. She and I have taught together for at least 10 years.

February 16 to the 28th, I will be teaching 2 courses that are full, in Mexico. I plan on doing a Mexico trip every 2 years from now on.

The BMM courses that I co-instruct with Heather and the dates are:

March 29 & 30 – The Extremities

April 26 & 27 – The Lumbosacral region

June 20 & 21 – The Shoulder

October 18 & 19 – The Cervical Region

The above courses will be held at the WCCMT campus in New Westminster and are listed in the RMT Matters magazine in AD form. All RMTs are welcome to participate, BUT I especially would like to see those RMTs who have recently graduated from college; the information and the techniques given in these courses will continue to help them discover patterns of restriction that tend to emerge in “all of us”; AND we take time in the courses to help each individual therapist with identifying the tissue correctly, with hand skills and placement and depth of pressure. We are very good at that!!!

Since I live in the North Okanagan and close to Vernon, I instruct courses at the OVCMT campus. The 2 courses that I have scheduled there are:

The Extremities – June 7 & 8

The Shoulder – Oct. 4 & 5