Softening Tissue with Therapeutic Touch: Helping with Choking and Other issues

 By Barbara Janelle M.A.

A common reaction when an injury occurs is that the person holds the area with her hand. This seems to reduce pain and help the person to breathe. From an energetic perspective, the hand is putting energy into the injury site and this can reduce swelling as well as minimizing pain.

In Therapeutic Touch, a general guideline is that we keep our hands moving to support energy flow and reduce the chance of building up energy and congestion. However, there are short periods when holding the hand(s) still can effectively energize the field and even break up congestion.

Preparation for a Back Lift with Horses

Twenty years ago, Tony Gonzales, a second generation blacksmith from Hawaii, showed me how to soften a horse’s back in preparation for lifting it from the concave state that is often caused by riding. Tony had me hold my hand over the lowest part of the back for 10 to 15 seconds to soften the tissue, and then reach under the belly and push up on the centerline with my hooked fingertips (the Tellington TTouch Back Lift). This always worked even with horses whose backs were rigidly set in a concave state.

Dealing with Choking in Humans and Animals

When choking occurs, the tissue in the throat can swell and reduce airflow. (1) While I have used downward unruffling to reduce the swelling, I find it faster and more effective to simply hold my hand still over the throat area for 10 to 30 seconds. This offers energy to the area that quickly softens tissue and reduces swelling. The person or animal can breathe better very quickly. Following this with gentle unruffling prevents energy build-up and supports normal energy flow.

Shoulder Issue

Last week, a friend made a sudden unusual movement and put her shoulder out of place. This was something she had done several times in the past and knew that it could take hours before the shoulder moved back into proper position and during that time she would be in considerable discomfort.

I put my hands around her shoulder and held them still for 15-20 seconds until her face began to relax and the field reduced its intake of energy. Then, I used an outward unruffling movement at the shoulder joint for another 30-40 seconds to pull off congestion and pain. The shoulder loosened and went back into place. The pain stopped.  A few days later, I received a note from my friend in which she said the the work “felt so amazing afterward…warm, and there was a strong sensation I could do anything.” I saw her again some days after that and she added that after the work, her shoulder stayed warm and very comfortable for many hours.


In using still hands to offer energy to the field, monitoring the field’s response is important. There is a period when the field will easily accept this additional energy, and then a moment arrives when the field reduces its intake and eventually blocks incoming energy. In my experience, energy acceptance usually continues for 15 to 30 seconds and then a “stillness” in the field occurs. That is the signal to start gently unruffling to dislodge any congestion and to support normal energy flow through the area.

When the field is taking in energy, the receiver starts to breathe better and facial muscles relax. Pain seems to diminish too. The period for holding the hands still and offering energy to the field is usually under 30 seconds.

If hands are held still too long in the field, or if energy is strongly directed (versus offered), the field will start to block it and the receiver will become “antsy.” The field accepts offered energy more easily than energy that is pushed into it.



  1. In humans, if there is something lodged in the throat, it is important to use a modified Heimlich maneuver to clear that first. A quick up thrust with hands on the person’s lower belly will usually dislodge the item.


BJ/October 2011