Many people today suffer with chronic pain and have tried many modalities to rid themselves of this suffering. I have noticed more and more clients coming in for massage who have tried “everything else” for pain relief. Many people think of massage as something luxurious or pampering. However, massage can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including chronic pain from overuse, trauma, fibromyalgia, arthritis and terminal illness.
Massage can reduce pain in a number of different ways. One way includes addressing the pain cycle. This cycle begins with extended muscle contraction due to strain on the muscles. This, in turn, causes a lack of blood flow. The lack of blood flow causes pain and reduces the amount of oxygen available to the muscles. Receiving a massage treatment will stimulate blood flow, reduce the muscle contractions and improve range of motion so that muscles don’t start to contract (spasm) again. Pain reduction can also be achieved by reducing the amount of fibrosis and adhesion in muscle tissue and alleviating trigger points. Trigger points are painful spots located within “tight” muscles that cause a shortening of the affected muscle.
Another cause of pain in the body is fascial restrictions. Fascia is a connective tissue layer between the muscles and the skin that is located throughout the body. In its natural state, it is a thin fluid. However, when extra strain is placed on the body from incorrect posture, the fascia resembles more of a gel consistency, making it more restricted, inflexible and stiff. Having restricted fascia in the shoulder can cause pain in the shoulder, neck and back.
Swedish massage, the traditional massage, increases blood flow, flexibility and length of muscles. Benefits include flushing out toxins, creating more oxygen for the muscle and softening the superficial fascia. A Swedish treatment usually involves some gentle stretching to increase range of motion and create more length within the muscle. Having length in a muscle simply means it does not get as “tight” and pulls less on the places where the muscle attaches. Adhesions are loosened with a pressure based on the client’s pain tolerance and preference. Swedish massage is generally considered a relaxing type of massage, while still delivering a significant amount of treatment for your muscles.
Deep tissue massage involves a variety of different techniques, and each therapist performs it a little differently. Two of the basic techniques involved in this treatment include connective tissue work and trigger point release. Connective tissue work is performed to release the restrictions in both levels of the fascia, superficial and deep. A light amount of lubricant is used, since the fascia is located above the muscles. The pressure is not as much downward as it is side-to-side, smoothing out the fascia. TP release focuses on certain points within muscles that pull on the areas where the muscle attaches. An example is your rhomboid muscles, which are commonly tight, are located on your upper back, and attach from the spine to the shoulder. If you were to have a trigger point in that muscle, it would pull on your shoulder and back, causing much discomfort. In addition, TPs frequently sit on top of nerves, causing even more pain. To release them, pressure is applied for a few seconds at a time while the client breathes deeply.
The modality of massage performed for chronic pain depends on the client, the goal and the cause of the pain. The style of massage can be discussed with your therapist at the time of your visit. You can talk to your massage therapist freely if you have any questions, concerns or interests so that your treatment is tailored to you.
by Angelina Breen
Swe-Thai Massage is a unique style of massage that combines the ancient eastern knowledge of a highly revered form of medical massage with the western knowledge of specific and advanced soft tissue therapy. It is a comprehensive routine blending many Thai massage techniques such as forearm rolls, elbow press and open and yoga-style stretches, with proven and highly effective western treatment philosophies. Swe-Thai Massage addresses general neck and back disorders using biomechanics which are based on Traditional Thai Massage techniques.
Come try it out at Master Therapy Massage Center. 90 minute session is suggested for this type of massage.
Patients struggling with chronic pain have a new treatment option. Chiropractor Dr. Kirby Gengler announced that massage therapy has helped hundreds of his patients regain a full range of movement in the body, while easing chronic pain and promoting internal healing.
“Massage is one tool we use to help patients enjoy immediate back pain relief,” said Dr. Gengler. “This natural treatment helps patients by stimulating internal healing. Massaging the skin stimulates the flow of oxygenated blood, which flushes out these toxins and helps the body heal.”
“During a treatment session, important physiological changes occur inside a patient’s body,” said Dr. Gengler. “Blood pressure and heart rate decrease, helping patients to relax. At the same time, the level of cortisol — a stress hormone also associated with weight increase — drops. In its place, the levels of endorphins, a natural ‘feel-good’ hormone, increase. Patients leave our therapy sessions feeling relaxed, calm and centered. Whether a patient is coping with pain or stress, a treatment session helps the mind clear out clutter and refocus.”
According to Dr. Gengler, treatments like deep tissue massage are also important for releasing tightly-locked muscles. “After an accident injury, muscles may be strained, torn or pulled,” said Dr. Gengler. “The body may cope with this injury by shifting movement to other parts of the body. This can cause muscles to become rigid or stiff, losing flexibility. Deep muscle massage unlocks pain trapped deep inside the fascia, providing relief for chronic back pain and other injuries.”
by Thrive Chiropractic
Why get a massage? Well, because it feels good, for one thing. But many people also hop on the table with the hope that massage therapy can help promote muscle recovery after a tough workout or provide other benefits.
No one has looked closely at what massage does to muscle at a cellular or molecular level, however. Researchers set out to do just that, and their findings are published in Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers exercised 11 young men to exhaustion over about 70 minutes, then massaged a single leg (determined randomly for each man) for ten minutes. The subjects received a muscle biopsy in both quad muscles to gather samples for massaged and non-massaged legs. The biopsy was repeated after a 2.5-hour rest period.
Researchers analyzed the samples from the different legs to see what was going on after the massage. They found two major changes: reduced signs of inflammation, and an increase in production of mitochondria, the cell’s energy factories.
Curbed production of inflammatory molecules “may reduce pain by the same mechanism as conventional anti-inflammatory drugs” like aspirin and ibuprofen, the authors write.
The authors say that an increase in the number of mitochondria can promote better recovery after a tough exercise session. That finding also means that massage after exercise could help enhance endurance, says Mark Tarnopolsky, an author of the study and a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ont. Nailing down that link would require further research, says Tarnopolsky.
In addition to boosting circulation, easing stress and relieving aches and pains, all important physiologically for people who don’t move around much, massage bestows a basic need the elderly often go without: touch.
A study published in 1998 in the Journal of Applied Gerontology found that elderly people who massaged infants experienced less stress, improved mood and fewer trips to the doctor.
Researchers believe massage, and touch generally, can strengthen the immune system by stimulating pressure receptors under the skin, which in turn reduces the stress hormone cortisol, the chief culprit in killing disease-fighting cells, said Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
But elderly people, who could use the immune-boosting benefits of touch the most, are getting it the least.
More than chatting, playing games or holding hands, giving focused, attentive touch establishes a nurturing bond that expresses caring, Nelson said. She has seen it ease symptoms of touch deprivation, such as irritability and a lack of interest in life. In people with dementia, she said, it helps ground them in reality.
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