It is said that water heals and is like breath. This Breaking Free Show focused on our bodies and how therapeutic and rejuvenating water is. We chatted with one of the only water therapist is the country: Michelle McLafferty. To watch the recorded show, click here:

Marilyn – Introduction of guest Michelle McLafferty.
You are a therapeutic water chiropractor. What does that mean?

Michelle – I went to chiropractic school and started working with a physical therapist. I have always loved the water. It’s always been my place where I feel my best. After finishing school and a string of coincidences, I met a talented water therapist. There are people who work in the pools – speech therapists, etc. Not many chiropractors are in the pool with patients doing the hands on therapy. I do assessments, exercise, therapy and then the last part of the session I spent time assessing for pain. Then I do some subtle adjustments. It allows for better range of motion. The water helps me do what I need to do. The water decompresses the joints. There is natural pain reduction in the pool so people are more relaxed too and more receptive. It’s not just for people in pain. It’s good for athletes, too. It’s great for general relaxation as well. Water is so healing. You don’t need to have an injury! I don’t do many of the types of manipulations that you’d see in a traditional chiropractor’s office. It’s physical manipulation but it’s slower and more controlled. Sometimes my patient’s joints pop, but it’s a build up a gas in the synovial joint. You are relieving pressure. I don’t force those adjustments. I will gently bring the joint into a stretched range of motion and sometimes, people will hear an audible sound.

Caller Madge – Michelle is my trainer! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I had some pain in my foot. I tried everything. The swimming has been the best relief. My pain is basically gone. I also use a BMR, an electrical current mat. The swimming is most wonderful. We swim outside all year round here in CA. We used to swim in the ocean until there was a shark sighting!
Michelle and I do a lot of exercises in the pool. We have a whole routine. We do jumping jacks, etc. I probably tread about 40 minutes out of every hour!
You can march, bike, ski in the water. It puts a lot of effort on the core.

Marilyn – No matter what I do in the pool, it’s exercise! I can play and do all kinds of things! Water is healing.

Michelle – We have resistance equipment, noodles for pilates to work on the core or a kickboard. We use the noodle for balance, too. I think the water exercises are better than just swimming. Classic swimming is mostly upper body. What we do uses your entire body. You can burn a lot of calories in the water.

I also do massage while my clients are floating on their backs. There is a special floatation pillow that we use. You can wear a buoyancy belt that you wear and as a practitioner, I will hold the body too.

We use warm water and it’s emotive. The ears submerge. There’s a swooshing sound. It activates the old brain. It’s womb like. When a person is able to surrender to the water and trust that I have them. Cradling someone is very emotive.
The tense areas of the body start to relax and loosen. Many of those with chronic pain hold an emotional connection to the pain. It’s been shown that the Watsu work assists in that release.

Madge – That’s the time when Michelle massages me and moves my body in the water while she supports me.

It can be an emotional relief.

I work with a patient who had rheumatoid arthritis as a child. She was in water treatment as a child, like you, Marilyn. She runs a support group network. Any inflammatory illness such as fibromyalgia can be stressful to the patient’s body and emotions. In the water, they can let go of the pain in their body and the attachment to it. Some people are able to get several days of relief.

Water is the most resonant medium. When you give an adjustment or light massage, it’s received by the body with more sensitivity than if given on the land. There’s a higher transference of energy. It’s subtle but it’s definitely there.

Suziani – Use a small ball to roll through your hands in the water, swish back and forth, etc. to loosen your hands.

Marilyn – There’s an instinct to move in the water. There’s freedom, sound and joy and playfulness. And there are no phones, etc. You don’t have to be in pain to benefit from being in water. What makes people stop swimming in the first place?

As a child, I had arthritis. Many years ago, I had to do water therapy for it. I still love the water.

Michelle – At the end of the day, our patients are all weightless. It’s less effort than when you’re working in a traditional clinical environment.

I saw someone who could only be brought into the pool with a mechanical lift. He was unable to walk. Another person had a disease that attacked his ability to walk. The third person was pronounced dead due to a brain aneurysm. He was told he wouldn’t walk again. These three older men were unable to walk. Each had spent a # of months in the hospital. All of them are now walking. Two are back to work. It’s just an indescribable experience to be a part of that.

Below are Guests, People & Resources Referenced During the Show:

Guest: Michelle McLafferty
Dr. Michelle McLafferty received her medical training at Southern California University of Health Sciences, earning her Doctorate of Chiropractic degree in 2005, followed by a 2 yr Residency in Radiology/Diagnostic Imaging.
A Southern California native, and the oldest of 22 grandchildren, she has always been a natural caregiver.
Dr. McLafferty graduated from UC Berkeley in 2000. Her honor’s thesis for her bachelor’s degree was on stress and its effects on mind and body.
Dr. McLafferty is one of few Chiropractors in the United States with an expertise in aquatic therapy, helping patients overcome a multitude of injuries both in the pool and out, while reducing physical stress and tension on the body.
She advocates an integrated approach to care, working with other health care providers to comprehensively address the health care needs of each patient.
Specialties: Gentle chiropractic adjustments of the spine and extremities, massage, nutritional consultation, and functional rehab instruction.
Advanced technology (such as vascular therapy/BEMER Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, LED light, and low level laser therapy) is also integrated to synergistically support the healing process.

Network of aqua practitioners:
ATRI – Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute. You can find a lot of people who do similar work, using water.
Watsu Practitioners –
Join the YMCA and get in the water!

Chris Rinehart
Co-Producer/The Breaking Free Show– Online Television

Marilyn Shannon
Coach – Life/Business/Children/Teens/Adults
Host – The Breaking Free Show – Online Television
Superior Court Mediator
Co-founder Women’s Power Networking
Marilyn Shannon is the founder of Dialogue, Inc., her highly regarded private coaching practice dedicated to helping people explore and expand on every facet of their lives and guiding them to new levels of creativity, intellectual vitality, emotional well-being, and personal freedom. Marilyn is also the host of her Internet TV show, Breaking Free.
Marilyn also is the founder of ReEnchant Planet Earth. ReEnchant seeks to simplify the way we live and do business. It does so by highlighting, sharing, creating and honoring programs and projects that will return the planet to its natural state of tranquility and beauty already present on earth. Reenchant celebrates the awakening of each global citizen who endeavors to build effective, peaceful and loving connections with others and for our planet.
Contact Marilyn at: or by phone: 919-362-7133
Phone: 919-362-7133


marilyn shannon

As a coach, business women, talk show host, advocate, mother, wife, and grandmother I have a lot of interests and passions. I wanted to take all of what I do and put it under one roof so to speak. That is why I created a web site in my name. As we all the know the internet is confusing at time and so so big. I have other sites but I figured it would be easier to find me by my name and then my other sites would make more sense. This site is more like an aggregate. a directory of all that I do. I will show snippets of my work. Thank you visiting, I look forward to knowing you.


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