I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was the spring of 2002.
I had been struggling with helping this lady who wanted to be able to dance at her ONLY daughters wedding. And it was less than 2 weeks away.
She was a mess!
She had severe back pain. She couldn't reach down to touch her knees or extend backwards more than a few inches. She had 3 vertebra that where rotated and tender to palpation; couldn't raise her left arm beyond shoulder height; couldn't get out of the chair without pushing off the arm rests and hadn't taken a step up a stair leading with her right foot in 3 years.
Sure she was improving... but not much or enough to enjoy the Big Day.
After trying countless techniques like...
--> Mckenzie extension & lateral shift exercises
--> Manipulation to her spine
--> Mulligan Snags & Nags
--> Myofascial Release
I needed to figure out what was going to work for this lady.
So, as I lay in bed late one night...
Losing sleep over how to help her
And an idea hit me like a ton of bricks,
"Move Into What Works To Fix What Doesn't Work."
But why wasn't anyone else doing this as a regular routine?
It made sense to me.
Do what the body liked to do, instead of what it didn't like to do.
I ran downstairs and flipped on the light to my basement studio where I liked to work out.
For years I had left SI (low back) & left shoulder issues. Significantly restricted for at least 10 years. I was the perfect candidate to test this on.
I began testing myself left side versus right side.
I was looking for where I was out of symmetry.
I tested my neck, arms, trunk, hips & legs.
I tested in standing, sitting, kneeling, on all 4's, on my belly, back and in side lying.
Instead of going into what didn't work... I exercised only into the directions my body liked and I tracked what this did to my motions that were painful and restricted.
The crazy thing was my good leg motions fixed my shoulder issues and good arm motions changed my SI issue. What???
By the time I stopped it was almost 2 am.
I was exhausted yet my body felt more flexible and stronger than it ever had and I couldn't find any pain or restriction in my left shoulder & SI joint.
I told myself, this wouldn't mean anything unless it lasted for me & I could use it to help this lady.
When I woke up a few hours later and checked, what were the bad motions, I still felt awesome.
I couldn't wait to get to the clinic because this lady was the first one on my schedule.
I was all smiles when I walked in.
I wanted to keep it as simple as possible for this lady and I wanted to see if just one exercise could change all her symptoms. And if not one, then how few did I need to use to make a change.
I put a 8 inch wooden step next to one of my walls in my office and asked her to test going up left side versus right side.
Going up the step, leading with the left leg was easy. Doing the same on the right was impossible.
She just couldn't place weight on it and swing her left leg up.
I said... "do you trust me?"
She was a sweet lady and gave me a little smile and said sure.
I had her do 3 sets of 15 reps on the good left leg.
When she finished I asked her to retest her right leg step up.
When she did she went up the step so fast she hit the wall I had put the step in front of.
We both laughed and she said what was that?
I told her I was calling it Total Motion Release (TMR).
What was cool is I had her retest her back flexion and she could touch her ankles. She bent back without pain. Her left arm was able to raise up to her ear and she could now get out of her chair without pushing off the arm rest. I sent her home with just that one exercise. To my delight she came back 3 days later feeling better than she had in years.
I used TMR the rest of the day.
A lady who was wearing a boot had severe plantar fasciitis for the past 3 months and had just ended 3 weeks of therapy with a friend of mine who was the premiere plantar fasciitis therapists in our area. We tested motions in her whole body. The biggest restriction was in her left shoulder. We exercised for 6 sets to the good direction of motion in her right shoulder and she took the boot off and walked without pain.
The coolest one that day was an anterior disc derangement (bulge) that came in leaning way back. This type of disc problem only a few therapists see this in their career. It is rare. It was a Monday and she was headed for surgery on Friday. Just testing her body left side versus right side and treating into 2 good sided motions we got her 90% and she cancelled her surgery.
By the end of the day I had done this on a total of 9 patients and was starting to observe cool patterns.
Total Motion Release (TMR) was born.