Functional Range Release for the Spine: Course Review

In the past year I have made an effort to become more informed with the time I have.  Like everyone else having a baby, buying a house and the craziness of work can dominate your schedule and virtually lead to no time to accomplish anything.  I began using my time on the train to and from Long Island to read instead of nap.  As a result I have been able to read more books, more research and yes even blogs.  I used to think that if I read something once it was “enough”.  Why would I need to read something again or go back and re-visit old information.  What I have come to realize is that if you read something once you can say you “know of” it, if you read something twice you can “understand” it, and if try to read it 3+ times you can probably “teach” it.  I am sharing this because last year we had the pleasure to host our first Functional Range Release Course with Dr. Andreo Spina.  (You can find that course review here at  This past weekend we had the opportunity to host a second Functional Range Release Course, however this time our focus was on the Spine and it was taught by Dr. Michael Chivers.  

So why did I share the fact I read on my commute?  Simple.  Refreshing the concepts I “knew of” helped me better understand them.  Furthermore simple advice or tips on application and technique were refined thus making my ability to perform the treatment that much more effective.  It is invaluable to get the input from 1 expert in the field let alone 2 (such as Dr. Spina and Dr. Chivers).  Any good continuing education course should challenge your thought process and expand your abilities as a person and a healthcare professional, however with the allotment of information coming at you it is easy to see how a concept or approach can be missed or misunderstood.  I have taken a lot of continuing education, most of which are built on systems or levels, however many professionals I talk to simply do not think there is value to taking “everything” since it is all the same.  I admit there were at times I thought the same thing.  This could not be further from the truth with our experiences in the FR Courses.  I thought I would pick up a few tricks here or there but instead my entire thought process and treatment was again challenged.  Do you think you can palpate the Trapezius?  Yeah I thought so too until this weekend.  We have said numerous times to be the best you must learn from the best, but there was yet another layer this weekend.  You need to surround yourself with people who want to get better, are not scared to ask questions and who check egos at the door.  A group of some of the best 13 healthcare professionals I have had the pleasure to take a course with came from all over the Tri-State area, Maryland and even Florida.  We did not come to count CEUs, we did not come because it was convenient, we came to get better and improve patient care and outcomes.  The results and feedback from first time attendees was nothing short of what I felt last year.  “Why did I not know this sooner?”  “Why doesn’t anyone else seemingly take the time to understand research, neurology, biology and manual therapy like they do.”  And lastly, “What the heck did I just do in school for the past 3 years?”

I once attended a lecture in which an MD said, “Research is sort of like a light pole to a drunk, it is there for support not illumination.”  We also know that we can “make” research say or support anything we want – however a lot of these answers lie outside of our typical journals we go to or even have access too.  I have heard the debate for awhile that manual therapy is not effective since we simply cannot know what we are doing to the underlying tissues.  Many of these questions are seemingly answered by attempting to understand histology of cells and tensegrity of tissues as the FR courses do.  (A poor attempt to explain tensegrity can be found here at  I completely understand that most of our limitations to getting research is access, which is exactly why you should take courses such as FR to challenge what is accepted as common practice.  As Dr. Chivers points out if we say we are truly “evidenced based” we are probably practicing 5-10 years behind.  In order to be truly cutting edge or innovative we probably have to ask questions or perform treatments that few others are doing.  Some of the principles and biggest takeaways we received this weekend in FR for the Spine include:

– How manual therapy effects the body at a micro (cellular level), but our therex and movement assessments effect the body at a macro (systems level).

-Identifying motor control strategies and effectiveness of the Transverse Abdominis and Mutltifidus

-Evaluation of segmental control of the spine

-How to treat headaches and jaw pain with precision and effectiveness

-Understanding neurological tightness (that does not respond to manual therapy) and mechanical tightness within tissues which does respond to therapy such as FR

-True palpation strategies for the QL/Psoas/Multifidus to name a few, structures that many people argue are “impossible” to feel, as well as things that are truly impossible such as the lateral ptyergoid

– How to layer your palpation to the level you need to be treating, to ensure you are palpating the correct structures and not a more superficial one. 

I would like to say the course was “game changing” but in our opinion the FR courses thus far are simply in a league of their own.  We are also proud to be co-hosting Functional Range Conditioning in April with Crossfit Union Square.  Reach out if your interested in experiencing the system first hand!  

Until next time Happy Rehabbing!  

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