The Berry Method Muscle Management
The Berry Method
The Berry Method

Lauren Berry Sr.

Lauren Berry Sr. was born in Oakland, California, 1917.

Lauren's legendary career as a body worker began at an early age when his next-door neighbor, a retired Finnish physician, took an interest in Lauren and showed him several Swedish gymnastics techniques that he could use to help his ailing mother. Over time he counseled and guided Lauren as he continued to help his mother recover and regain her health.

It wasn't long before word spread and people started showing up on his door step eager for him to "work his magic". Often Lauren would come home from school to find a house filled with people waiting for him to help them.

Later in life, Lauren often would jokingly refer to his practice as a "ding joint", as his mom had taken an empty fishbowl in which people would leave money as their form of donation and support. As coins were tossed in the bowl, it would make a "ding" sound. A number of events and coincidences helped shape and guide a career in bodywork and alternative health that grew to be legendary .

Among those coincidences...

One day a mother brought in her son who had a condition referred to as St. Vitas Dance. Lauren performed his series of Swedish gymnastics stretches followed by relevant specific soft tissue work and the boy's symptoms disappeared. A few weeks later, the boy's father arrived to visit and discuss what Lauren had done for his son. Apparently the mother had heard about Lauren and had not confided in her husband how she had taken their son to see Lauren until after the boy's symptoms had disappeared. Evidently the parents had taken him to numerous Physicians with no positive results.

The father was profoundly curious as to how his son had been "cured" and wanted to know how this uneducated young man had attained such dramatically positive effects for his son where modern medicine had fallen short. He came to express his gratitude and support for what Lauren was doing.

As fate would have it, this father just happened to be the Coroner for the county and arrangements were made for Lauren to have access to the autopsy room. This is where Lauren was able to study fresh anatomy and answer his growing questions concerning how and why these gymnastic movements and stretches worked so amazingly well. From here he went on to develop many of his foundational premises and concepts instrumental in his understanding and working with the human bodies' built-in intelligence and repair mechanisms.

In the autopsy room, as Lauren was working with bodies and performing the gymnastic stretches, he witnessed tissue distortions correct and realign themselves in relation to the surrounding regions. This helped him to realize how the positioning played a fundamental role when performing the stretches to correct distortions in the lower back and throughout the body. Subsequently, he developed his "patented" stretches as a foundational starting point to correcting physical distortions and problems all over the body.

Another important event evolved around the arrival of the friendly newspaper vendor that Lauren had often helped hand out newspapers at his corner stand near Broadway in Oakland. The man had been hit by a car and killed. The vendor had been handicapped since birth with a dislocated hip that had turned almost 180 degrees relative to where healthy normal should be. Imagine one of your feet being turned so as to almost face backwards.

According to his friend, his leg had been that way since birth. Lauren knew that the ball of the femur had never been in the socket. With a curiosity of young man, Lauren set out to see how the ball would fit in it's socket after all these years if they were re-united. Please understand that from Lauren's early childhood he demonstrated a high degree of mechanical aptitude. He had been allowed to work in his stepfather's machine shop after having proven his competence by building a working model of a wind up clock. So when his old friend showed up, he set up a bluing test, which was commonly used in machine shops to test clearances within one-one\thousandths of an inch. Lauren performed this test and found that this ball & socket joint fit together perfectly. This was amazing to him since these two anatomical structures had grown independent of each other since birth and had never had any direct "functional influence" on each other.

This understanding was a revelation for Lauren and was pivotal to his developing appreciation for the human bodies built-in "intelligence". From this time on he viewed his role as assisting and helping the body to use its own intelligence to maintain and repair itself. He concluded that a good body worker would not interfere with the bodies' ongoing processes so much as they would assist those abilities by correcting and reducing the interference from soft tissue distortions, adaptations, and spasms.

Tools and information continued to arrive in some unexpected ways. One event had Lauren watching a prize fight in Oakland and somehow he ended up working on a fellow spectator's neck. The man was grateful and returned the favor by showing Lauren several East Asian/Indian family "secrets" for understanding and working on the bodies' visceral and hydraulic systems. Lauren went back to the autopsy room to verify and further understand what he been shown.....

This amazing story will be continued...

Look for a more in depth article in an upcoming issue of Massage Magazine, 2002.

Learning from the Masters

The Institute of Integral Health Inc. continues to teach and certify practitioners of the Lauren Berry Method®.