Fitness Career Spotlight on Kristen Greco, CMT SE
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA, RD on DECEMBER 12, 2012
Meet Kristen Greco, massage therapist and movement re-education specialist, who uses NeuroMuscular Reprogramming, Pilates, myofascial release and other techniques to relax her clients, ease their pain, and help them heal faster. – Sarah
Sarah Koszyk, RD: What attracted you to the field of fitness and exercise?
Kristen Greco, CMT SE: I became interested in bodywork when I was offered the opportunity to work three times a week with a man who had multiple sclerosis. I was trained in something called OrthoBionomy which is a gentle release technique based on Osteopathy. This taught me so much about listening to the body. With MS, if one does not pay careful attention, the body goes into spasm. With deep listening, the body can release and find ease.
I am an artist, fascinated by the human condition and how we respond, interpret and make meaning out of our lives. I have a background in both visual art and dance. I became interested in NeuroMuscular Reprogramming, somatics, and Pilates rehabilitation when I myself had two serious knee injuries from dancing. I was amazed at the amount of recovery that was possible for me and this gave me an incredible belief that the body can heal, re-pattern and has the possibility to become even stronger than prior to an injury. I trained extensively at this point to hone my skills in understanding specific musculoskeletal imbalances and how to address them.
Your Job Title?
Massage Therapist and Movement Re-Education Specialist
Company you are with now:
Psoas Massage and Bodywork
A typical (or not so typical) day in the work-life for you?
I work with someone twice each week who has had a stroke. We begin with some medical qi gong exercises. We work on proprioception and balance to challenge her left side which has been inhibited by the stroke. She takes these exercises into a movement improvisation designed to open up her functional choices. We follow this with strengthening exercises for her lower leg, hamstrings and gluts and do some focused walking instruction. Range of Motion exercises follow for her neck, shoulder, arm, and hand along with hands on bodywork to release the high tone in her muscle tissue. We end with a guided meditation working with imagery from qi gong.
I see someone with a history of disc herniation. I do a postural assessment. We work on trigger points for the low back. I do some muscle testing to understand what muscles are giving positive test results with appropriate firing patterns, and which one are giving ‘weak’ signals. I work with the body to balance out these firing patterns. I show the person some exercises and stretches that they can do to improve the overall balance of their structure. This includes releasing their IT bands and abductors, and strengthening their abdominals and adductors. They report feeling a major reduction in pain when they stand back up. I assign them homework and schedule a follow up session for a few days later.
Someone comes in for a deep tissue relaxation massage and wants their neck and shoulders addressed. I work with them applying deep tissue, myofascial, and trigger point work. I end the session with some cranio sacral deep relaxation and recharging time. I give them some stretches and range of motion exercises for homework. They smile. And say, “that was wonderful, I feel so much more relaxed and at ease”. I think to myself how happy I am to have a job which gives people tools to take care of themselves and leaves them feeling good. They schedule a session for 2 weeks later for ongoing care.
I have an appointment with a person who wants to address some emotional stress and how it is impacting their body. We work with tracking the sensations in the nervous system and separating out the layers of thought and emotion. Tracking the nervous system allows it to reset, activating a strong calm resource base for the client. Their nervous system begins to unwind and they report that the contraction they were feeling in their chest is easing up. We track the breath, and the heat and tingling sensations they are experiencing in their arms. This brings the person to an emotional release and the use of their hands to engage in a pushing away/stating a boundary action. We slow this action down and work with the breath and the tension in the shoulder that the client has been experiencing. Certain muscles are released and others activate others to balance out the system. Homework is given and they schedule a follow up session for the following week.
How did you get your current job in fitness and exercise?
I got my current job in health and wellness by going through an extensive interview process at Psoas Massage and Bodywork. Their interview process includes a preliminary ‘quiz’ where they email 10 clinically based questions for practitioners to answer in their pre-screening process. This was followed by a phone interview, a group interview, a one on one interview with the owners and giving a bodywork session to one of the owners. The rigor of the interview process gave me further interest and inspiration to work at Psoas. I really enjoyed the people I was meeting, and the high standards to which they hold their employees to.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born with an inclination towards caring for people’s health. I grew up in a family that was very close with its extended family and modeled a lot of care towards its members in all stages of the life process. I enjoy people. I enjoy contemplative reflection and quiet. I was born an active person who loves running, ice skating, gymnastics, dance, theater, skiing, hiking, and swimming. I have always taken care of my physical body. Skills I have learned along the way include scientific approaches to understanding how the body works. I have done deep inquiry into bio-mechanics, somatic movement re-education, deep tissue techniques, NeuroMuscular Reprogramming, Pilates and myofascial release. I have studied meditation and trauma resolution/nervous system re-patterning (Somatic Experiencing) which has added a rich dimension to my bodywork practice.
What I really enjoy is building relationships with people and working with them over time. This allows a co-creative exchange to take place. The client can participate in their own health program by receiving regular bodywork and being given ongoing exercises to stretch certain parts of the body and strengthen parts of the body. With time, I often widen my scope of practice with people, including medical qi gong as well as the somatic work which engages the whole mind/body relationship.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Plane tickets for vacation travel to Morocco, India, Cambodia or the Pacific Northwest.