Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy addresses a variety of health conditions, the most prevalent being stress-related tension, which, experts believe, accounts for 80%-90% of disease. Massage has been proven beneficial in treating cancer-related fatigue, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, low back pain, immunity suppression, spinal cord injury, autism, post-operative surgery, age-related disorders, infertility, eating disorders, smoking cessation, and depression, to name just a few. Massage has many physiological effects, such as:
" Increased circulation to all areas of the body. This means that more oxygen goes to the tissues, enabling them to function more efficiently.
" Removal of toxins and waste products that build up in the tissues.
" Reduction in recovery time from certain injuries.
" Softening of the connective tissue that permeates the body, resulting in more relaxed muscles and more efficient organ function.
" Breaking of the pain-tension cycle, which helps prevent muscle strains and aches.
" Increased flexibility and joint mobility.
" Better muscular balance throughout the body, resulting in effective support for other healing modalities, such as chiropractic manipulation.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are accumulations of waste products around a nerve receptor. Often times they feel like nodules or taut bands of fibers within the soft tissues. Trigger points form in muscles which have been overused or injured due to an accident or surgery. Common characteristics are increased muscle tension and muscle shortening. Increased muscle tension is the primary side-effect of trigger points and pain is the most common secondary effect.
Trigger points can present themselves as referred patterns of sensation such as sharp pain, dull ache, tingling, pins and needles, hot or cold, as well as can create symptoms such as nausea, ear ache, equilibrium disturbance, or blurred vision. Trigger points can exist in two states, either active or latent.
Active trigger points are those which cause discomfort. Latent trigger points wait silently in the muscle for a future stress to activate them. Aches and pains which began in the past become more frequent and severe in intensity as we age. It is common to attribute this discomfort to arthritis instead of our tight muscles which harbor trigger points.
Trigger points are not visible with traditional medical testing such as MRI or X-ray. 80 % of the trigger point locations are common with acupuncture treatment locations. When trigger points are not treated, they will create satellite trigger points in the affected area. For instance, a trigger point in the trapezius may cause a trigger point to appear in the temple. The trigger point in the temple then may cause a trigger point to appear in the jaw. And, voilą! - a case of TMJ.
To diffuse a trigger point, static compression (pressure) is applied for 10 seconds, released, then pressure applied for 10 more seconds in a pumping action while the client breathes deeply. This action flushes the toxins and calms the nerves. (see pictures on right showing treatment of a stiff neck and as part of a Sports Massage for a runner). Releasing trigger points releases endorphins so the result is elimination of discomfort as well as being energized.
Trigger point massage is not a relaxing, "fluff and buff" technique. It requires the participation of the client to communicate the presence and intensity of pain and discomfort. The therapist and client work together as a team to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment.
It is common to find great improvement after one treatment. Repeated treatment may be necessary for those with chronic trigger points. Stretching should be done as "home work" to encourage the muscles that have been treated to stay in a lengthened position.
Myofascial Release is a deep tissue massage that uses sustained pressure on myofascial restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. The theory of Myofascial Release is a technique that works on the fascial system (or connective tissue). The fascia is a specialized system of the body that has an appearance similar to a spider web or a knitted sweater.
Fascia is very densely woven and it covers and interacts with every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein as well as all of our internal organs including the heart, lungs, brain and spinal cord. It is one structure that flows from head to foot without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by the fascia, like the yarn in a sweater.
In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. However, when we experience physical trauma, scarring, or inflammation, the fascia loses its pliability. It becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body.
Traumatic events, such as a falls, whiplash, surgery or just habitual poor posture over time and repetitive stress injuries have a cumulative effect on the fascia. The changes they cause influence the comfort and the functioning of our body. The fascia can exert excessive pressure producing pain or restriction of motion. They affect our flexibility and stability, and are a determining factor in our ability to withstand stress and strain.
The use of Myofascial Release treats each patient as a unique individual. One-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which the therapist uses a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. This type of treatment promotes independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, through the enhancement of strength, flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.