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[André Dekker, certified massage therapist in Oulu]

About me

My inexplicable pain

In 1997, I started suffering pain in one of my fingers. The occupational health physician said the finger was inflamed, probably because of working at the computer. She prescribed me an anti-inflammatory cream. Initially, it looked like the cream, together with a few ergonomic adaptations, cured the finger. However, occasionally the pain came back. Later it became stabbing, like nerve pain. Thus, the physician prescribed me pills against nerve pain, but they barely provided relief. In 2004, during an intercontinental flight, the pain became excruciating. I kept on rubbing cream, but it did not do any good. However, walking made the pain disappear completely. After a walk through the airport, even taking a fingerprint did not hurt, even though it was taken right at the spot that had been hurting most in the aeroplane. Immediately after returning home, I demanded referral to a specialist. The hand surgeon suspected there was a small tumour in the finger pressing on a nerve. Indeed, the pain was provoked by tapping exactly the right spot, e.g. with the blunt side of a knife. But strangely enough, the pain could also be induced in many other ways, which apparently had nothing to do with the finger. It seemed like the main cause was at another place than in the finger.

Relief through massage

For several months the pain remained so bad, that I had great difficulty to fall asleep and often the pain woke me up at night. I searched on the internet for everything that could be related to finger pain. When my ailment started, only very little information was available from the web, but this time I finally found the explanation for my symptoms. Muscles can send their pain to other places. That pain can be very intense and imitate the pain of much more serious conditions. But the internet did not provide enough information to find the involved muscles and to treat them effectively and safely. Thus, I purchased books about the subject. Finally, I found a whole chain of muscles between finger and neck, which all sent their pain to the same place. By massaging certain spots in those muscles, so-called trigger points, the pain disappeared, at least for some time. This massage worked better than any medicine I had ever tried and it worked instantly. It was a terrific feeling. No longer was the pain my master, but I was the master of the pain. But after all, the tiny tumour from my finger had to be removed before the trigger points were willing to quiet down for a longer time.

Fuga Massage Therapy

The beneficial effect of massage on my finger pain motivated me to keep reading on massage and to practice it on every possible occasion. I attended an evening class at a massage school in Oulu. After my certification as a massage therapist, I started my own practice, which I called Fuga Massage Therapy. Fuga is the original Latin word for fugue, a musical composition in which the same theme is passed on from one voice to the other. Similarly, in the human body each movement needs the cooperation of many muscles in the right rhythm. If this cooperation is disturbed, this leads to pain and reduced range of motion. I hope that my clients will benefit from my special knowledge and skills and that I can continue to develop myself via the interaction with my clients. For almost 10 years I have practised massage alongside my first job, but since 2019 I have been working full time in my own practice.

Lifelong learning

My first education was at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Initially, I worked for five years as an engineer in the Netherlands and in 1986 I got a job with Nokia in Finland. I am used to learning. In engineering, today’s knowledge is not enough for tomorrow. Also in massage and manual therapy there is always more to learn. It is like peeling an onion. Everybody knows the outer skin, where you feel the pain or other complaints. In the basic massage training you learn to treat pain in this skin and only in the muscles. This treatment distracts the nervous system, so that the brain forgets the pain for a moment. To treat my own finger pain, I had to find the next skin, where the pain hides itself at a different place then where you feel it. When you drive the pain away from this skin, the effect lasts for a longer time. For a still longer lasting improvement you must treat a third skin. Here lies the hidden tension that overloads the body. Much of this tension is contained in the fascia, that is the connective issue that covers all structures in the body, like muscles, tendons, joints, nerves, bones and inner organs. Via the fascia, all parts of the body are connected to each other and react to each other. The fascia requires quite different massage techniques than the muscles. In 2011, I started studying fascial techniques in courses of the Anatomy Trains institute. Two years later I enrolled in a training in Finnish bonesetting in the Kalevala style. There, I learned new fascial techniques, which were more gentle than those taught in Anatomy Trains. I also learned there gentle mobilization techniques for a number of joints. In 2016, I completed the second phase of the Structural Integrator training with Anatomy Trains, equivalent to the current ATSI Part II. In the same year I also qualified as Kalevala bonesetter. Meanwhile, I had also got interested in gentle osteopathic mobilizations. Thanks to the hundreds of Kalevala bonesetting treatments I had given, my hands had finally developed enough sensitivity to feel the movements in osteopathic mobilizations. And in the Anatomy Trains training I had learned to safely contact deep and sensitive structures in the body with my hands, at places that are forbidden area in Kalevala bonesetting. During the Corona pandemic, I was introduced to several masters of manual therapy online, among them Jeffrey Burch. After the pandemic, in workshops under his guidance, I further developed the ability of my hands to sense and correct disturbances of natural mobility in almost all structures of the body. This way I found the fourth skin: all sensitive structures in the body that for some reason have lost their normal mobility and which the body tries to protect with extra tension in muscles and fascia. When you are able to find and mobilize that fourth skin, you can work wonders.