Valerie Ford, LMT CLT

​​What is the difference between Massage and Manual Therapy?

Manual therapy is precise and based on detailed deep anatomy.  I use functional method techniques of osteopathic listening to tissues and patterns of strains.  That listening leads to places where a small amount of gentle cooperative work can bring the body a great possibility of balance and freedom. 

Tissues can be stuck.  Tissues can lack blood flow.  Tissues can have a build up of cellular wastes when the lymphatic system is not flowing properly. Tissues can be stiff or contracted that are supposed to be supple and flexible.  Nerves can have impingements in various places in their pathways.  Arteries can acquire twists or have a lack of glide in protected pathways.  The good news is that our bodies are amazing and capable of changing.  Sometimes they just need some help. 

 Sometimes a session may be helping to free adhesions of the lung to the surrounding tissues.  At once, breathing is easier and your shoulder can move freely instead of being painfully locked down as your body attempts to provide stability for the vulnerable lung tissues that can’t move in their lubricated glide planes.  Other times a session may start by stimulating the deep pathways of the abdominal lymphatic system to help with sluggish drainage of the legs and feet, which allows work on the joints, nerves, arteries and veins of the leg without the overfull tension.

Each session is driven by what is on the top of your body’s list today.  3D anatomical understanding of the structures of the whole body is the center of my work.  Whether it is muscles, joints, nerves, organs and their support structures, fluids and their networks of vascular and lymphatic tubes and channels or skin, bones or brain, they all contribute to patterns that sooner or later ask to be changed.

Manual Therapy at Full Circle Fitness   

Specialty Lymphatic Therapy

In addition to traditional lymphedema therapy of MLD and compression, I do lymphatic treatment work that utilizes my light touch osteopathic skills and knowledge of the deep pathways of lymphatic flow in the body and works with drainage in the areas around and within organs and the cranium.  

My work with the glymphatic system of the brain to assist your body with its fluid cleaning processes within the brain itself is a great application for people with brain trauma or degenerative diseases.

Brain, cranium and cranial membrane work

This therapy uses light touch ostepathic manipulation to generate possibilities for change in systems and structures.


Brain reflex work

Many children and adults have neurological disorders, learning disabilities or cognitive challenges. Studies show these individuals often have retained reflexes or may have reoccurring neonatal/primary reflexes. Optimally, these reflexes are inhibited/integrated in the first months of life. Children can keep their primary reflexes for longer than necessary for optimal development. Neonatal reflex inhibition allows for more sophisticated neurological structures to develop. 

Adults can see the reoccurrence of these neonatal / developmental reflexes in many pathologies, including trauma, whiplash, PTSD, Parkinson’s, stroke, dementia, etc.

Retained and reoccurring reflexes can create numerous neurological dysfunctions, learning disabilities and sensory integration dysfunctions.

In children, these primary reflexes can be found in learning disabilities, processing disorders / sensory integration dysfunctions, trauma, PTSD, cerebral palsy, ADD/ ADHD, problems with focus and concentration, vestibular integration issues, balance issues, poor postural control, social skills issues, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia / developmental coordination disorders, speech development disorders, speech language delays, auditory and visual processing, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome (trisomy), etc.

What is Manual Therapy?

Manual therapy is hands on work done in cooperation with your body's various systems with the intent of allowing change to happen.  

I use a combination of techniques to provide a session appropriate for your body and situation:

Functional method listening & treatment

A hands on way to let your body lead the session by designating what it is working at changing as the highest priority.  These highly effective, light touch treatment methods come from both classic osteopathy ala  AT Still and William Sutherland and the best of the discoveries since and provide the structure to the sessions I provide.  

Visceral manipulation 

Working with any and all of the organs in the body to help restore natural movement and function and tissue health.  This is gentle manual therapy that assesses the structural relationships between viscera (organs) and their fascial or ligamentous attachments to the various systems in the body.  Visceral manipulation assists with structural and functional imbalances throughout the body including musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urogenital, respiratory, digestive, eliminatory, neuroendocrine and lymphatic dysfunction.

See some of the conditions that may be helped 

Neural manipulation

Light touch hands-on treatment that releases local nerve restrictions while at the same time examines the effect these local fixations have on the rest of the body, and by accessing this relationship, changes the more comprehensive (global) dysfunctional patterns.  Neural manipulation enhances proper functioning of the nervous system - one of the communication highways throughout the body.

See some of the conditions that may be helped

Manual articular approach

Precise gentle engagement and soft tissue manipulation that applies a comprehensive approach to the treatment of the whole body and its relationship to the problematic joint, and not just the localized dysfunctional joint.  Manual articular approach to therapy integrates all aspects of the joint including the nerve, artery, bone, capsule, and ligaments as well as viscera and emotional connections.

See more about this and some of the conditions that may be helped

Classic lymphatic therapy

Manual lymph drainage (MLD) relieves symptoms  of post-surgical or traumatic edema/(swelling) as well as chronic high-protein lymphedema.  MLD is a specifically delivered form of very mild skin surface level bodywork that targets the lymphatic system, but carries a wider effect to the nervous and muscular systems.  MLD can be beneficial in relieving pain for people whose conditions like fibromyalgia may not otherwise tolerate hands-on massage.

Complete Decongestive Therapy is also available.