How Sitting Can Damage Your Health

The key to a healthy lifestyle is making healthy food choices and staying active, right? While that seems like an easy goal to achieve, we all know that life gets in the way. If you work at a job that doesn’t allow you to get enough movement or your schedule doesn’t make time for working out, living an active lifestyle can be difficult. You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking, but just how does sitting affect your health? 

There are a few issues that immediately come to mind and, if you keep up with any health news, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, such as a decrease in metabolism and increased risk of obesity; but there are other health issues associated with prolonged inactivity that you need to be aware of as well.  

When you sit for long periods, your blood pumps slower, and your muscles tend to burn less fat (which also depends on your normal activity level, by the way). This can increase the risk of fatty acids building up in your cardiovascular system. Prolonged periods of sitting can also affect your body’s ability to respond to insulin, increasing your chances of developing diabetes. Excess insulin production encourages abnormal cell growth, which may be linked to an increased risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. Sitting for longer periods of time can also lead to poor circulation, specifically in the legs, which can result in swelling, varicose veins, and even blood clots. 

While all those side effects may not be immediately noticeable, there are some more obvious benefits you’ll see if you change up your habits and get moving more. For example, the first thing we often want to do after eating a nice meal is sit down and relax; but sitting down directly after eating can slow down digestion and lead to bloating, heartburn, and constipation. Getting your blood pumping after a meal, even with just a casual walk, can improve digestion and prevent many common complaints associated with it. 

The more you sit the less blood flow and oxygen you get to your brain, which you need for the release of mood enhancing chemicals as well as, of course, cognitive function. In other words, get up and move every once in a while, to get a mood boost as well as to keep your mind sharp. 

Let’s not forget what we often work with in the massage industry, the direct muscular effects of sitting for prolonged periods; like shoulder, neck, and jaw tightness which can lead to headaches, nerve impingements, and any number of other pain complaints. Your back, legs, and hips are greatly affected by that stationary position as well. 

While at first glance the effects of sitting seem to be very minute, when you look at the bigger picture there is a lot to consider. This isn’t to make you terrified to sit, or to make you think that if you have a job that keeps you in a static position that you’re guaranteed to have problems. Instead, I hope you’ll take this information and keep in mind ways to get more activity into your daily life wherever possible. You don’t need to be walking and running all day every day to be healthy. Let’s face it, sedentary jobs are far more common at this point in time. But there are ways to get more activity throughout your day and stay healthy without changing jobs or rearranging your entire schedule. 

1) Park your car further away from the entrance: This will give you a few extra steps which will be useful if you sit most of the day. 

 

2) Take the stairs instead of the elevator: Get your heart rate up and those feel-good endorphins pumping while climbing the stairs.  

 

3) Deliver messages directly instead of emailing your co-workers: Interacting directly with your co-workers will not only give you the mental benefits of socializing, but it will also help you to step away from your desk a little more frequently.  

 

4) Set a timer for every half hour to hour and a half: Have a timer that you can set to go off every 30-90 minutes; whatever is best for your type of work and schedule. You don’t have to go run a 5k when it goes off, just get up, stretch, walk a lap or two around the office, go outside for a few minutes, or anything else to just take a break from your work and move your body a bit. Just 5 or 10 minutes can have a major impact. These types of breaks not only get your heart working and break up those periods of sitting, but studies have shown you’re actually more productive in your work as well. 

 

No matter what your job entails, if it leaves you sedentary for long periods, find ways to get moving! Just implementing a few of these practices can get your body moving more and decrease the risks associated with prolonged sitting. 

Can Massage Help High Blood Pressure?

Did you know that one in three adults in America have high blood pressure, or hypertension? While the majority of those diagnosed with high blood pressure are 65 years or older, those under 65 are not immune. There are certain behaviors that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, and being overweight. While blood pressure normally increases in stressful situations, chronic stress seems to be even more of a contributing factor to developing high blood pressure. Depending on the severity of your hypertension, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and/or prescribe medication to lower it. Even if you’re prescribed medication, lifestyle changes are still recommended to get the most benefit and get your body in control of your blood pressure instead of solely relying on the medication to do so. 

The obvious first course of action is to take any of those high risk, contributing factors out of the picture. If you smoke, find a plan to help you work on quitting. If you drink excessively, work on decreasing your alcohol intake. Look for ways to increase your exercise habits and aim to eat healthier when possible. While these changes can take time to implement, small steps are better than no steps. If you stress yourself out in the process of making these changes it will defeat the purpose, so get help from your doctor and other medical providers when necessary to make these changes easier for long-term success. 

The next line of defense that you can take is one that many wouldn’t expect. Massage! A study conducted at the Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine in Liverpool, United Kingdom showed a significant decrease in blood pressure following massage. The study also showed a decrease in muscular tension and heart rate as a result of massage therapy. Another study published in the Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies also asserts that hypertension and its associated symptoms were reduced with massage therapy. The subjects in this study were provided with 10 30-minute massage sessions over the course of five weeks. The subjects, all of whom suffered from hypertension, experienced reduced blood pressure, reduced feelings of depression, less hostile behavior, and reduced levels of cortisol in their urine and salivary samples. They concluded from this study that massage for hypertension may be beneficial to reduce blood pressure and lessen the symptoms associated with high blood pressure.  

Regardless of how you and your doctor are working to treat your high blood pressure, adding regular massage therapy into your routine may be the answer. Before trying any form of treatment, you’ll need to consult with your doctor to take the proper channels to track your progress and ensure your body is handling any changes well. 

 

¹ Delaney, J.P., Leong, K.S., Watkins, A., and Brodie, D., 2002, Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine: The effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy for people with hypertension 

² Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., Theakston, H., Hossain, Z., and Burman, I., 2000, Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies 

Demystifying Bulging and Herniated Discs

You’ve probably heard the terms bulging disc or herniated disc at some point, whether it involved you or someone you knew. While those words can strike fear in a lot of people, it’s important to understand what they really mean, and remove the scary presumptions we have about them, as well know what’s “normal” and what’s not when it comes to our discs. 

Within the spine you have numerous structures, but the two we’re focusing on here are your vertebrae (the individual bones of the spine), and the discs (the cartilage ‘cushion’ in between each of those vertebrae). These discs act as shock absorbers that allow your spine to move in different directions and deal with regular impact without damaging the other spinal structures.  

So, what is a bulging disc and what is a herniated disc?  

bulging disc occurs when the entire disc bulges out of its normal space. Think of it like this; if you were to put a chunk of playdough between two plates and squeeze them together evenly, the playdough would act as a cushion, with the full weight being distributed throughout the entirety of that playdough. But if you squeeze those plates together on one side only, you’d see the playdough protrude, or bulge, out the side that has the largest opening, right? This is essentially what’s happening with a bulging disc. Most of us have posture and movement habits that put an uneven pressure on those discs on a regular basis; that’s perfectly normal. And while that itself is not quite enough to cause any major issues, over time this can create weakness in ligaments and other stabilizing structure, allowing more of that disc to protrude out. 

herniated disc is a bit different. For simplicity’s sake, let’s compare your disc to a jelly donut. You’ve got this tough outside portion that holds in the filling. That’s pretty much how your disc is made; a tough cartilage “donut” filled with a softer gelatinous component. That tough outside keeps the jelly from leaking out. Now imagine that with wear and tear over time and a lot of uneven pressure applied on that donut, the outer layer starts to stretch and thin, allowing some of that jelly to push out. This is essentially what’s happening in a herniated disc. The outer portion thins and allows part of the inner structure of the disc to push out of the normal disc space. 

While this may all sound a little scary, I mean, discs coming out of their normal space, AAAAHHH…studies have shown that many people with bulging and herniated discs have absolutely no pain associated with them. The discs themselves have no nerve ending where you could even tell there’s a “problem”. The only time you’d even recognize that there may be something going on would be if you started to experience pain, and that only happens when the disc puts pressure on a nerve. And while that’s absolutely possible, it’s just as possible to live a normal pain-free existence with a bulging or herniated disc for years. 

In fact, these bulging and herniated discs tend to happen as a completely normal part of aging. While some bulging and herniated discs can be caused by poor posture and movement patterns or injury to the spine, most cases are just what happens as we get older. Again, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a painful or even noticeable condition, but if it does, patients can experience pain, numbness, and tingling within the low back, hip, and down the leg as well as a loss of range of motion. While not the only way to feel this, one of the most common and obvious is if you’ve ever “thrown your back out”. If you’ve felt this, you’ve likely irritated one of these disc issues you may not have even known you had. That sudden inability to stand up straight after bending forward along with pain or tingling, are classic signs of a sudden nerve compression due to a bulging or herniated disc. Rest and extension exercises are some of the best quick fixes to get you standing up again at least, but it’s still important to seek out treatment. 

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, whether it’s that sudden unmistakable type, or the slow, only occasional bout of symptoms, it’s important to seek proper imaging and testing from your doctor and/or physical therapist to get you on the right track for therapy. This is not something to put off. The sooner you can manage this, the better the results of treatment. 

The key to treatment is to take the pressure off of the nerve, since that’s what’s causing the pain. To do this, physical therapy is often recommended to not only learn movements and positioning patterns to take that pressure off ASAP, but also to teach you new ways of moving that can prevent that nerve pressure from being applied by the disc again. 

While these terms may sound like a dreadful diagnosis, many people never experience pain or recover from short periods of pain with the right treatment protocols. Others, with more severe symptoms, require more invasive treatments like nerve blocks and surgery. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s important to get under a doctor or physical therapist’s care as soon as possible to correct the issue and prevent any worsening. 

Why You Shouldn't Roll Your IT

Foam rolling for recovery is something you see quite frequently when at the gym and is often promoted in workout videos, blogs, and magazines. Almost as soon as someone completes an intense lifting session or workout, it’s not out of the ordinary to see them run over to their foam roller in an attempt to prevent soreness the next day. While foam rolling certainly does have its benefits such as shortening the recovery time and increased range of motion, there are a few things you need to be cautious of before pulling that foam roller out.  

If you’ve seen anyone using a foam roller, you’ve likely seen them turn to their side and start rolling the outside of their thigh, the iliotibial (IT) band. That wouldn’t be an issue were the IT band muscle tissue. However, the IT band isn’t muscle, but rather a very tough, thick tendon that runs from a few hip muscles down to the knee. 

The point of rolling your muscles is to loosen those that are tight so they can relax; breaking down the tension, for lack of a better term. Because your IT band doesn’t contract and doesn’t respond to pressure in the same way as muscle tissue, regular rolling doesn’t really have much benefit and can actually cause damage and inflammation to the area. What about stretching it? A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy suggest that the IT band with enough stretching may be able to increase its length up to 2.75%. While lengthening the IT band may sound enticing, it may defeat the purpose of it. Increasing the length of the IT band can lower its ability to keep your lower body working properly and keep your body safe.  

Many people blame the IT band for hip, thigh, and knee pain, and while that may be somewhat justified, the IT band isn’t usually the initial culprit, but a victim itself. The structures that are often to blame are in fact the muscles that attach at the top of the IT band; the two primary being the gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae (TFL). These muscles work together to perform hip abduction, hip extension, and external rotation; think moving your hip out to the side and back slightly while rotating the foot out. IT band issues are often a muscular imbalance involving these two. Due to a weakened gluteus medius, the TFL must compensate, taking over almost entirely for that hip abduction and extension, and overall stabilization of the hip during movement. The reason is that not many of us regularly work our hips in those actions, but rather only work in a single plane; hip flexion and hip extension. That outward movement, especially in complex forms, isn’t performed on a regular basis, resulting in a weakening of the associated muscles. If the gluteus medius is weak, the TFL is forced to compensate, putting all that work on this relatively small muscle which attaches to the top of that IT band. Due to all that extra work, it pulls significantly more on the IT band, causing a feeling of tightness and possible strain and inflammation to the area. In some cases, this can even begin to cause abnormal knee tracking leading to knee pain and potentially more significant knee problems. 

To test if this weakness is the potential culprit for your IT band issue, lay on your side with your legs straight, so you’re in a perfect line. Now lift your top leg up and back, and rotate your toes to point out slightly as well. You may find that it’s hard for you to balance in this position. If you fall toward your back, twist your upper body forward to compensate, or otherwise can’t hold this position while keeping your upper body completely neutral, that’s a good indication that your gluteus medius is weak, and may very well be the cause of this IT band tightness. 

How do you strengthen that gluteus medius to correct this? Do that exact motion as an exercise regularly. Lay on your side with your legs straight, then lift that top leg up and back, and rotate the hip out slightly. Come back to neutral and do it again. Repeat several times each day, and be sure you’re working both hips so you’re not creating more imbalance; even if your IT band issue is only on one side. 

While I’m not saying to throw out your foam roller, let’s reserve it just for your muscles and leave that poor IT band alone. 

How Sleep Affects Muscle Growth

It seems no matter the time of year, we’re all bombarded with tips on eating right and working out; advice on everything from what you need to eat to lose weight, how many times a day you need to eat, the perfect time to work out, or what exercises you need to do to gain muscle. But one thing you will rarely hear about is how important sleep is to almost every aspect of your health. Sleep is vital for physical and mental recovery, but did you know it also plays a major role in your muscle growth? Yes, one of the most important parts of gaining muscle has nothing to do with the gym or your diet. And remember, muscle growth isn’t just about bulking up, but rather building strong, healthy muscles, regardless of size. 

When training, your muscles will develop microscopic tears. In order to repair these tears, you must have proper nutrition as well as proper sleep. While you’re dreaming, your body enters repair mode where HGH, or human growth hormone, floods your blood stream. In addition to helping the body to repair, HGH also helps your body use the amino acids that are in the proteins you eat; one of the most vital components for muscle growth. To increase HGH release, it’s recommended to eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of a resistance training session. Then, in order to aide your body in repairing your muscles after that resistance training, you should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep. Non-training days, you can do a bit more or less, but be careful not to get too much sleep anytime, as that can reset your body’s natural clock, affecting the next night’s sleep.   

Another bonus you are missing out on when you aren’t getting enough sleep is maximum replenishment of muscle glycogen. When you’re sleeping, glucose transitions from the blood to get stored in your muscles as muscle glycogen. This is actually the preferred location of glucose because it produces more energy than blood glucose.  

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of sleep in aiding the recovery of your muscles, it’s important to understand the results of not getting enough sleep. In a study conducted in 2011 it was shown that those who received less than 8.5 hours of sleep showed 60% less muscle mass. Poor sleep can also result in poor performance. When you don’t get enough sleep, your energy levels drop and your mood suffers. Not only is it physically harder to perform, but your emotional mindset can directly affect your performance as well. 

While it may seem like you just can’t miss that next episode of that great Netflix show you’ve been binge watching, or scrolling through social media for far too long right before bed, remember that your physical and mental health are on the line. Getting a good night’s sleep is not only going to keep your energy levels up so you can perform well the next day, but it intensifies the results you’ll see from all that hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym. And who doesn’t want to see results faster? 

Sciatica - Piriformis Syndrom or the Low Bak

When seeking answers for low back, hip, and leg pain, you may have heard the term Sciatica. This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body) is irritated or inflamed, causing pain, tingling, and/or numbness felt along part or all of the nerve path; most often starting in the low back or the buttock and traveling down the outer leg, even all the way down to the foot in some cases.

This irritation of the Sciatic nerve is actually quite common, and is often attributed to one of two causes, Piriformis Syndrome or a spinal abnormality in the low back; with a pretty even 50/50 split between the two.

Piriformis syndrome is when your piriformis muscle, a small muscle located deep in the buttock that starts at the lower spine and connects to the upper surface of the thighbone, irritates your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs directly under this muscle, and in some people, it actually runs right through the muscle itself.

The upper portion of the nerve, as it comes out of the spinal cord, is also prone to irritation from the spine. This could be due to stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or a disc issue such as a herniated or bulging disc. Any of these spinal conditions could result in pressure on the Sciatic nerve creating that pain and irritation felt in the hip and leg.

When it comes to treating your Sciatica, the key is for your healthcare provider to understand the cause of it, because treatment plans will differ tremendously. While imaging tests may help, most often you’ll start with simple mobilizations, stretches, and exercises to see what exactly helps your pain or makes it worse. Then a treatment plan will be developed which may include things such as hot or cold therapies, massage therapy, low back and hip stretches, low back and hip exercises, spinal mobilizations, posture and movement re-education, pain medications, and even injections or other more invasive forms of treatment.

While differentiating and diagnosing sciatica and piriformis syndrome may be difficult, paying close attention to the what you feel and being honest with your healthcare providers can make all the difference in the world.

The Six Types of Headaches

At some point in our lives, we all experience a headache. There are some people who get headaches quite frequently, and others who very rarely experience one. If you find that you’re getting headaches on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth your time to find out why and what you can do about it. Did you know there are different types of headaches, and different causes and treatments for each? Let’s look at each. 

 

Tension headaches 

This type is quite common and it’s likely that you’ve experienced this at one point or another. Tension headaches are often felt as a dull pain throughout the head, especially through the forehead, behind the eyes, at the base of the neck, and even in the jaw and cheeks. Tension headaches usually last from 30 minutes to several hours and you should be able to proceed with your daily life, albeit with some adjustments. Tension headaches are often attributed to a decrease in blood flow to the head due to increased muscular tension and restriction through the neck, head, face, and jaw; usually triggered by stress, anxiety, dehydration, lack of movement, poor sleep, abnormal posture, and eye strain. Some gentle to moderate pressure massage along with stretching and mobilizations will often ease the tension and give you relief. If you can’t get in for a massage right then, you can massage the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and face yourself, or have a friend or family member help. Light exercise and stretching can also help, along with over the counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. If you find that you’re experiencing tension headaches often, regular massage sessions can help to decrease the frequency. 

 

Migraines 

While many people claim to experience frequent migraines, these are often confused with severe tension headaches. The true differentiating factor is the neurological symptoms associated specifically with a migraine. While tension headaches, especially when severe, can be debilitating and very painful, they come without the neurological symptoms associated with a migraine. A migraine not only causes severe pain in the head, neck, and face, but is often accompanied by an abnormal sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, along with nausea and vomiting. About a third of migraine sufferers experience an aura (visual and sensory disturbance) prior to an incident which can last anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. Auras include seeing zig-zag lines, flickering lights, spots, or partial loss of vision. Migraines can last a few hours to a few days, and are three times more likely to develop in females than males due to a possible connection with hormone fluctuations. The frequency of a migraine can be anywhere from several times a week to once a year. Triggers of a migraine can range from stress, dehydration, sleep disruption, and even certain foods. Some people find relief with over the counter medications, while others may require prescription level drugs. For many, a dark, quiet room and a few hours of sleep is often the only way to find relief. If you find that you’re having frequent migraines, a visit with your doctor may be necessary. While regular massages have been shown to decrease the frequency of migraines, a massage to the head and neck is not advised while you’re experiencing a migraine. Instead, if you want to get a massage while you have an active migraine, the massage will be focused on your legs, feet, arms, and hands to counter the abnormal blood flow causing the migraine. 

 

Cluster Headaches 

This type is defined as severe, recurrent headaches that are experienced as an intense burning or piercing pain on one side of the head and behind or around one eye. Other symptoms associated with cluster headaches are eyes watering, swollen eyelids, runny nose, and restlessness or agitation. There is generally no warning and it may feel like the headache attacks out of nowhere, peaks within 10-15 minutes, and then is gone within 2-3 hours. Unlike many other types of headaches, cluster headaches are the only one that is far more prevalent in men than in women. Most of the time these attacks occur quickly and in clusters, anywhere from 3-8 times a day over a period of several weeks. What causes cluster headaches is unclear, however they seem to be triggered by smoking, alcohol consumption, strong smells, and may be linked to a genetic predisposition or previous head trauma. Over the counter and prescription medications are often the go-to treatment, but regular massage may also help prevent the frequency of these attacks.  

 

Exertional Headaches 

These headaches are triggered by sudden, strenuous, physical exercise like running, jumping, weightlifting, and even sudden severe bouts of coughing or sneezing. These are generally over almost as quickly as they come on, however they can last for several hours or even a few days. Exertional headaches are felt as a throbbing pain through the head and tend to be present in those with a family history of migraines. These headaches are usually extinguished with rest, over the counter medications, and massage. However, taking plenty of time to warm up prior to exercise will often help to prevent these headaches.  

 

Sinus Headaches 

This type of headache is common and occurs due to inflammation of the sinus cavities of the head. The pain is often felt in the forehead, around and behind the eyes, and along the cheeks. Because of the location of the pain, many people may confuse a tension and sinus headache, but they are quite different. Sinus headaches specifically will often be accompanied by congestion or a runny nose, along with tenderness over the sinus cavities, just above and below the eyes. Over the counter anti-inflammatories are a common treatment, as are massage therapy and steam treatments. If a sinus headache persists, especially with congestion and significant tenderness, you may need to see your doctor to rule out an infection or other condition. 

 

Cervicogenic Headaches 

This term encompasses any headache caused by an abnormality of the neck. Oftentimes this is due to some ligament laxity or misalignment of the cervical (neck) vertebrae causing pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that travel to the head. These are often felt along one side of the head and follow a pretty distinct pattern from the base of the skull, wrapping over the top of the head, and ending just above or behind the eye. These seem to be more common in those who have a history of whiplash or other neck injuries, and are often triggered by abnormal posture. Massage and retraction exercises can allow the proper movement of the vertebrae, reducing the pressure on those nerves and blood vessels, and alleviating the pain. 

 

While those who suffer from headaches are surely appreciative of medications, there are many who would like to find a way other than medicine to correct their issue. There is an answer that may seem easier than expected, massage therapy. Not only does massage seem to have a direct impact on the muscular tension associated with many of these types of headaches, but it also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system; the part that calms us. This portion of the nervous system is responsible for regulating our breathing, slowing our heartrate, returning our blood pressure to normal, decreasing muscular tension, and overall keeping the body relatively stress-free. By keeping us and our nervous system calm, headaches can often be avoided.  

While medications are sometimes necessary, wouldn’t a massage be so much nicer? And it seems that massage acts not only as a treatment, but as a preventative form of therapy, stopping many of these headaches from even starting. 


Cupping - What it is and why you should try it.

Cupping is a traditional Chinese therapy that’s been used for thousands of years, but it gained even more popularity in 2016 when everyone noticed that Michael Phelps had large perfectly round discolorations on his back while competing in the Olympics. Many people before that had never heard, or never been exposed to this type of bodywork. During a cupping session, the therapist may use cups made of glass, silicone, or plastic. The vacuum pressure is created with either a manual pump, electronic pump, or even fire. Every therapist is different in how they approach cupping and will adjust treatment to the needs of their client. Some prefer stationary cupping which means leaving each cup in place for several minutes. Others prefer to keep the cups moving to get a broader effect and reduce the likelihood of marks being left on the skin. And still others prefer a combination of both stationary and moving cupping. 

Cupping can be used to decrease swelling by stimulating lymphatic flow and increasing superficial blood circulation. It creates negative pressure instead of positive pressure; so instead of pushing into those tight tissues in an attempt to separate and realign fibers, those tissues are being pulled apart. This offers a far less intense feeling of pressure and discomfort than a typical “deep” massage, but with similar effects. There are also many health claims in the world of cupping that say cupping can help get rid of cellulite, cleanse your body of toxins, help with fertility, and even help with wrinkles when used on the face. It is hard to confirm these claims as there hasn’t been much reliable research on the subject. Cupping is also difficult to run an experiment on, because it would be difficult to have a true control group. This would help to see the effects on those who have received treatment versus those who think they have received the treatment. When something has gained such popularity it’s hard to get down to the root of what it really does or can achieve.  

Now that we’ve gotten the history of cupping and the claims made, let’s get down to why you should try it. Cupping is great for several reasons: 

  • It gets the blood flowing. 

  • It can help target a specific area of need. 

  • Those who struggle with the pressure of a normal massage may like the alternative of cupping because although it’s still pressure, it’s felt in a different way.  

  • Countless individuals (including me!) swear to the benefits of this therapy because we’ve seen the results over and over in ourselves and others. 

Whether you are wanting to try cupping for the health benefits you feel it will bring you, or because you just want to see what all the hype is about, let’s talk about your goals and what you’re comfortable with when you book your next session. You may be pleasantly surprised with how much you enjoy it!

Relief for PTSD Found in Massage

Life is such a peculiar thing. We experience moments of joy, beauty, happiness, strength, sadness, pain, and fear just to name a few. We never know when our lives can change whether it be for the better or for the worse. Within that there are people who have survived some of the most traumatizing situations, some on a literal battlefield some on a very different kind of battlefield. Years ago, PTSD wasn’t recognized or really understood. People went about their days putting on a brave face while dealing with something internally on their own, because that is what they were taught to do. Showing that you were struggling was considered a sign of weakness. What we didn’t know then was that being open and honest about your struggles is the complete opposite. Being able to open up to another about an experience that you have went through, that caused you harm, pain, or fear is one of the hardest things a person can do. Opening yourself up to show your vulnerabilities and fears takes a lot of guts and shouldn’t be looked upon lightly. According to the National Center for PTSD, 7.7 million people in the United States alone suffer from PTSD, and that is just the cases that are reported. PTSD can impact one’s life causing them anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts. It’s almost like being in a jail where the worst moments of your life continue to be replayed repeatedly and you have no control over the television.  

There have been many recent studies that show how massage therapy can help those diagnosed with PTSD tremendously. The stress relieving factors involved with massage therapy can help to decrease anxiety and depression as well as helping to improve personal mood and decrease irritability. Another benefit of massage therapy when helping to treat PTSD is the reduction in physical pain, and tension. Many of those dealing with PTSD who report dissociation may experience a better sense of self. It is still very early in the studying stage due to the small sample groups involved which make it difficult to foresee the impact on a larger scale, but results so far are very promising. 

The process in which the massage therapist handles their session sometimes has the most powerful impact on one dealing with PTSD. The massage therapist not only asks consent for the therapy session but also goes into detail with their client about the specific wants and needs of the client, giving the client a deeper self-awareness and sense of control over their body than they may have had in a while. This is the part where communication is key to ensure a positive session for both the massage therapist as well as the client dealing with PTSD.  

While these benefits are wonderful, it is always important to talk to your health provider before seeking treatment. If you, or anyone you know is dealing with symptoms of PTSD it is always best to seek help. You aren’t alone, and you shouldn’t go through this alone.

Pain, Injury and Imaging

Many people would assume that when something hurts there is an injury; and when there is an injury it would be painful. But research and new scientific discoveries are putting a new spotlight on pain and injury, and even the methods we use to diagnose such injuries. While it’s a complex discussion with many facets, let’s keep this brief and simple.

Pain is a good thing in many ways. It is a warning that something is wrong; a survival mechanism our brain and bodies use to alter behavior and movement in order to stay alive and well.

Just because something is painful, does not mean there is an injury or dysfunction within the body. And just because there is an injury or dysfunction of some sort, does not mean you will experience pain.

Pain can be perceived when there is no physical cause for it. The brain, for any number of reasons, can interpret a sensation of pain even when there is no injury, or even when there is no body part to be painful. For example, as many as 80% of amputees report phantom sensations and pain. Even after a limb is removed, the person can still experience pain and sensation as if the limb is still there. This inexplicable sensation of pain with no cause isn’t just reserved for amputees though. Many people experience pain with no physical explanation. This may be due to physical or psychological malfunction in which the brain is interpreting something as a threat when it really isn’t.

On the flip side of this, people can have an injury or dysfunction within the body and experience little to no pain. For example, one study¹ had some surprising results when MRIs were conducted on seemingly healthy people. In this study, 98 people who had no back pain or other symptoms of back injury were given an MRI.

  • 52% had a bulging disc
  • 27% had a disc protrusion
  • 38% had abnormality in more than one disc

That means that many of these people were walking around with, what most people would consider, substantial injuries/dysfunction with absolutely no symptoms of such a thing. Why? Because, more than likely, these injuries weren’t putting pressure on nerves or otherwise sending any signal to the brain that there was something wrong. Does this mean they need to rush to get these things ‘taken care of’. No! If it’s not causing pain, what would be the point? Suddenly changing behavior and the normal movement your spine is accustomed to, may actually make things worse or cause an entirely new set of problems.

Plus, there’s another side to all of this…

People assume that medical imaging such as X-rays, MRIs, and the like are reliable tests that show irrefutable evidence of a problem within the body. But did you know that studies are showing more and more that medical imaging is extremely subjective; or more specifically, because those images must be interpreted by a human being, the diagnoses associated with such images are not as reliable or irrefutable as once thought.

For example, in a study published in The Spine Journal², a patient was sent for MRIs at 10 different imaging centers over a 3 week period. This patient was a 63 year old woman with a history of low back pain and radicular (radiating nerve pain) of the right side.

The incredible but rather discouraging part of the whole thing, was the outcome.

  • 49 different diagnoses
  • 0 Diagnoses were consistent across all 10 reports
  • Almost 1/3 of those diagnoses were reported only once

This tells us that MRI findings, and more than likely the findings of any kind of imaging, are extremely subjective and consistency of diagnoses is disheartening at best. Does this mean to ignore any findings of imaging? No. But does it mean to be cautious about jumping to conclusions and invasive or extreme treatment options? Yes.

Pain is a funny thing, and while injuries and dysfunction within the body are nothing to ignore, we also have to be careful and ask ourselves just how accurate our understanding of the problem is.

 

 

¹ Jensen MC1, Brant-Zawadzki MN, Obuchowski N, Modic MT, Malkasian D, Ross JS. “Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine in people without back pain.” New England Journal of Medicine. Published July 14, 1994 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8208267

² Herzog, R., Elgort, D.R., Flanders, A.E., Moley, P.J. “Variability in diagnostic error rates of 10 MRI centers performing lumbar spine MRI examinations on the same patient within a 3-week period,” The Spine Journal. Published online Nov. 17, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2016.11.009

5 Top Reasons to Receive Massage Cupping

Cupping is defined as a vacuum of negative pressure applied with flexible silicone cups that bring circulation and remodel Myofascial tissue below the skin to generate physical change. The silicone cups are flexible and easy to apply and do not require heat or flame as compared to glass cupping to create a vacuum.

The cups can be applied to different areas of the body with a small application of oil to get a proper seal and the suction can easily be adjusted to the client's comfort level. After sitting on the skin for a while, the cups can then be moved very slowly over the area of pain to create a “stretch” in the fascia and to focus circulation to that particular area, drawing out toxins and releasing stagnated blood. It can create circular marks called petechie that may last up to a week. This is normal and should not be cause for concern.

How many times have you felt so tight that the massage therapist could stand on the table and it still would not feel deep enough? That is because the only way to truly affect the tissue on a deeper level is not with more pressure. It comes with working on the connective tissue that wraps around every organ, muscle, nerve and blood vessel – the fascia. As one continuous sheet that encapsulates every part in our body gets “tangled and tight”, it becomes like plastic wrap around a roll that gets bunched up. Cupping is one way to experience deep tissue massage more comfortably with greater benefits to the deeper layers. It literally unwinds the fascia, giving you more flexibility and less pain – which is the ultimate goal.

Here are the top 5 reasons to add Cupping Massage to your regular massage treatment;

  1. Is comfortable to receive as compared to other Myofascial stretching techniques
  2. Brings circulation to an area of poor circulation or ischemia
  3. Creates a healthier skin tone and strength to the tissues
  4. Releases blockage of cold stagnated blood from deeper layers that can be a source of pain
  5. Increases flexibility and reduces pain by properly aligning fascia and creating balance internally

You will see better results in less time after only a few treatments, depending on the severity and length of time of the condition. Hydration, stretching and soaking in magnesium bath salts will help diminish any soreness or discoloration.

The Importance of Your Breath

We've all been breathing since the moment of our birth, but did you know that we're often doing it wrong? While the way you typically breath will keep you alive, it's often not as efficient at keeping you at peak performance. That's because we all leave it up to our unconscious brain to keep up this basic function without thought, which is fine for the most part. However, if you take the time to think through your breathing and practice new ways to breathe, you can often alter how your brain and body work.

Depending on what you're doing, or attempting to do, you may need to alter your breathing in order to achieve it. Try one of these techniques the next time you need to be more alert or you need to calm down.

WAKING BREATH
Whether you're struggling to wake up in the morning, hitting that afternoon lull, or sitting through some long boring presentation that has you nodding off, instead of immediately reaching for a caffeine boost, try changing your breath. Take very quick, shallow breaths in and out through your nose for about 20-30 seconds. Think of a child getting ready to cry or throw a tantrum. Those short fast breaths stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, working to get your blood pumping and make you more alert.

RELAXATION BREATH
If you're trying to calm down after a busy day and fall asleep, or just find a sense of calm in a stressful situation, a few deep breaths can help. While we often think we know how to take deep breaths, you may not be giving your lungs enough credit. Sit or lie still and take a full, deep breath until you see your stomach rise, then release slowly. Repeat and continue for at least 2-3 minutes, being sure that your stomach rises fully with each inhale. The exhale should take about twice as long as the inhale.

FOUR SQUARE BREATHING
After working with me for a while we, at some point, have done this. Breathing in for a count of four, holding that breath for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four and holding that exhale for a count of four. "Four Square". This style of breathing assists distracting the brain and body from, stress, anxiety and even discomfort. This deep, diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering blood pressure, and calming the body and mind.

Taking just a little bit of time to focus and concentrate on HOW you're breathing can alter how your body and mind function in a variety of situations. Next time you need to wake up or calm down, try these breath exercises and see the difference for yourself


The Diaphram and Breathing
Maybe you feel like you just can't get a deep breath. Feel restricted in your breathing. Ask me how and why we should release your diaphram.

Massage Etiquette - Questions you may be to embarrassed to ask.

 

There seems to be a lot of unspoken etiquette involved when receiving a massage. For those who've had numerous massages, this may be well understood. However, for those who haven't received massage regularly, you may feel a bit intimidated or overwhelmed by all the questions running through your head about it all.

So, instead of leaving these to be ‘unspoken' etiquette, let's rip back the curtain and talk about some of the questions you may have, but you're just too embarrassed to ask.

What if I fall asleep?
Great! Most people arrive for their massage having been stressed, in pain, sleep-deprived, or otherwise unable to deeply relax for a while. It's no surprise that many massage clients tend to fall asleep. Some may sleep through most of the session, while others only doze off a little here and there throughout. No matter what you do, this is the time to take care of yourself, so don't try to fight what your body needs. If you drool, snore, pass gas, twitch, talk, or do anything else in your sleep, we won't think twice about it. A large reason for your appointment is to get you to relax, so why shouldn't you sleep if you want to?

What if I forgot to shave?
I promise, I really don't care! For many women, the idea of having someone massage your legs when you haven't shaved in a while can be a bit embarrassing, but there's nothing to be worried about. As massage therapists, we massage both men and women, hairy to clean-shaven, and everything in between. There's no need to be concerned about whether you shaved that morning or not. My focus is on your muscles, not on your hair.

What if I don't want you to touch a certain area?
Whether an area is too painful to touch, you're ticklish, or otherwise just don't want anyone touching you in a certain area, that's perfectly fine. A typical full body massage would include your scalp, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, stomach, back, hips, legs, and feet. Some people don't want their hair messed up since they'll need to return to work or go out; others are too ticklish on their feet. Whatever your reasoning, it's your body and the session is all about your needs. If you don't want any of those areas massaged, all you have to do is tell me.

How much do I really have to take off?
The quick answer is, it's completely up to you. Yes, to have the most effective full body massage, you'll need to remove most or all of your clothing, but it's your time and it's your body. While a standard full body session is best done with no clothes, if that makes you uncomfortable, I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise. There are ways to work with a client fully clothed, and that is a possibility, but please understand, that regardless of how much or how little you take off, you will always be covered in a modest fashion.

Should I tip?
Every therapist and establishment may have a different opinion on this, but the simple answer is, if you want to, sure. Tips are never expected but always appreciated. Just as tipping isn't set in stone, neither is the amount. Do what you feel is best for the service you're getting…period.

Should I talk to you?
This is, varried per session. As you work with me talking get's less and less. As we begin working together we do communicate a lot to address all that is needed in an Orthopedic session. And of course, when you need to just relax on a session just speak up before hand. And relaxing you will have. 

What if I get an erection?
This is a fear for many men concerning massage therapy. Physiologically, it is not uncommon for men to get an erection during a completely non-sexual massage; it is simply a matter of the parasympathetic nervous system relaxing the body and blood flow going where it may. Draping (the covering of the body with linens and blankets) is done in a way that usually prevents your therapist from even noticing such a thing. As long as there is no intent behind it or action upon it, it is a normal physiological response of the body that will be ignored

What if I have to go to the bathroom?
There's nothing that will snap you out of a deep relaxation like the sudden urge to use the restroom. While it's always advised to go before your massage session to prevent this, sometimes bodily functions don't cooperate on our schedule. If you need to go, simply speak up and I will step out so you can get dressed and go to the restroom. Once you're back on the table, we'll resume right where we left off.

What if I don't like what you're doing?
PLEASE Tell me! If the pressure is too much, too little, you're ticklish, or something just doesn't feel right for any reason, speak up. I can change technique, pressure, or end the session completely if you'd like.
I hope this answers some of your questions and if you ever have any others, please don't hesitate to ask.

Post Workout Massage - the science behind it

While many people think of massage as just a feel-good sort of luxury, there are actually numerous health benefits, one of the many being post-workout recovery. Massage therapy has long been used as a recovery method for athletes, but there was little science to support it. While many athletes have known for years that massage can help to reduce soreness after an intense workout, science is suggesting there’s much more to it than just making us feel better.

Over the last several years, as more studies have been done in the field of massage, the reasons are becoming more and more clear.

Muscle damage from exercise isn’t just relayed to us through pain, but also through subtle clues that may be hard to detect for many people. Through certain testing, researchers were looking to see when an athlete’s muscles were truly ready to return to activity, and how massage affected that. So, in a 2015 study¹ they wanted to see if massage could increase post-workout strength and body awareness (proprioception). To do this they focused their testing on the gastrocnemius (the large muscle of the calf). Each participant ran up and down a 5 story building twenty times. Following this, half the subjects received a 15-minute massage to the lower legs and the other half did not. What they found was that the subjects who received massage had more strength and improved proprioception and muscular architecture. While massage isn’t going to replace lifting weights, the return of strength and the expression of strength and technique is increased when massage is applied directly following an intense workout; all of this to say, that means you’ll not only feel better quicker, but you can also get back into the action much sooner.

Another study² gives a bit more explanation to this as they discovered that massage decreased the activity of a protein called NF-kB, which causes exercise-related inflammation, and increased the activity of a protein called PGC-1alpha, which spurs the production of new mitochondria. What does all that mean? Basically, that on a cellular level, massage is decreasing inflammation and increasing cellular repair after exercise. Again, suggesting that massage doesn’t just make you feel better after a workout, but truly helps your body repair itself much faster.

Notice that none of this had to do with lactic acid! In fact, these and other studies have shown that massage does not “flush out” lactic acid at all; a misguided reason often given for post-workout massage. Instead, the reason you feel better is because massage is causing structural and cellular changes to the muscles, speeding recovery and rehabilitation.

So, if you love to push yourself at the gym, be sure a schedule your next massage right after to get the most benefit!

References: ¹ Effects of Massage on Muscular Strength and Proprioception After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Shin, Mal-Soon; Sung, Yun-Hee. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2015/08000/Effects_of_Massage_on_Muscular_Strength_and.22.aspx

² Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Justin D. Crane, Daniel I. Ogborn, Colleen Cupido, Simon Melov, Alan Hubbard, Jacqueline M. Bourgeois, and Mark A. Tarnopolsky. http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/4/119/119ra13

Massage and Migraines

Let’s just say it…migraines are awful! They’re a painful, debilitating, and all-too-common problem for many people. It’s estimated that up to 13% of the US population suffers from migraines. While many people seek over-the-counter or prescription drugs to ease their pain and prevent migraines, you may want to consider adding massage into your regular routine instead. Research has shown that massage can improve headache pain and decrease the frequency of migraines.

But what exactly is a migraine and how can massage help?

Migraines are typically felt as a severe pain in the head accompanied by light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and visual disturbances. For many years, migraines were believed to be vascular in nature. It was thought that the blood vessels in the head and neck would spasm or dilate excessively causing significant decreases and/or increases in blood flow, resulting in migraine symptoms. However, in recent years, studies have shown that migraines are much more likely neurological in nature.

Now that we understand there is a major neurological component to migraines, it’s easier to understand how massage can benefit those who suffer from this debilitating condition. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, the part that calms us. This portion of the nervous system is responsible for regulating our breathing, slowing our heartrate, returning our blood pressure to normal, and overall keeping the body relatively stress-free. By keeping us and our nervous system calm, migraines can often be avoided. In a 2006 study¹, weekly massage sessions were shown to decrease migraine frequency and improve sleep quality. A gentle, yet focused massage to the back, neck, shoulders, scalp, and face seems to be the most effective in helping those who suffer from migraines.

While massage during a migraine may seem out of the question, as most people experience intense touch sensitivity and aversion, when massage is performed only on the feet or hands, symptoms can decrease. This is thought to be due to the calming effect on the entire nervous system, thereby decreasing the abnormal neurological signals that are being perceived.

So before your next migraine hits, schedule regular massage appointments and let us help keep them at bay.

References: ¹ A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Lawler SP1, Cameron LD. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827629

Copy of SPORTS MASSAGE: INJURY + RECOVERY

Did you know that Orthopedic massage is an elite form of Sports massage? Orthopedic and Integrated therapies can help by going deeper into the issues of posture and muscle activity to optimize performance, prevent injury, recover from injury and feel better long term!

SPORTS MEAN INJURIES

The very nature of sports means that the athlete's body will undergo rigorous activity during training and competition. Muscles, tendons, joints and bones will be taxed, sometimes to their limit. Inevitably, injuries will occur. These injuries will range in severity from those that cause mild discomfort to those that hinder an athlete's ability to compete. Injuries will occur despite preventative efforts. Sport injuries bay be a result of accidents, poor training practices, the use of improper equipment, lack of conditioning of insufficient warm-up.

Sports injuries typically involve damage to the musculoskeletal system, although traumatic injury to the organ system can occur, too. Injuries occur when there is a force great enough to disrupt the internal structures of the body, causing damage or destruction to that tissue.

Traditional classification describes injures as either:

  • acute - a sudden injury that occurs when playing sport or exercising, or
  • chronic - injuries that develop slowly and last a long time

Most sports injuries, however, can be better described by mechanism of injury - either trauma or overuse:

  • traumatic injuries - a physical injury produced by an external or internal force
  • overuse injuries - a result of repetitive activities or a result of recurrent traumatic injuries

MUSCLE STRAINS

If a muscle is overstretched by tension or forced to contract against too much resistance, the resulting stretch, tear or rip of the fibers of the muscle or it's tendon is known as a muscle strain. Muscle strains are typically a result of dynamic overload, wherein the involved muscle contracts eccentrically while the antagonist force attempts to lengthen the muscle. Muscle strains most commonly occur at the musculotendinous junction of a muscle.

There are three grades of muscle strains:

  • Grade 1: Some fibers stretched with few torn; palpable tenderness; full active range of motion is possible, but may be painful
  • Grade 2: a number of fibers torn with a palpable depression in the muscle belly or tendon; active contraction, strength and range of motion are limited and painful
  • Grade 3: a complete rupture at the musculotendinous portion of the belly or at the tendinous attachment to the bone; deformity, loss of function, including strength and range of motion; intense pain that diminishes because of nerve fiber separation

MUSCLE OVEREXERTION and CONTRACTION INJURIES

Muscle cramps, muscle spasms, muscle guarding and muscle soreness are other forms of muscle injuries that are defined as:

  • muscle cramps - the involuntary contraction of a voluntary muscle
  • muscle spasmsa reflex reaction caused by trauma
  • muscle guarding - a muscle contraction in response to pain and injury in an area as an attempt to splint or self-protect the involved area
  • muscle soreness - pain caused by overexertion in exercise, typically caused by an activity to which the person is unaccustomed

There are two types of muscle soreness acute-onset muscle soreness and exercise-induced muscle soreness, also know as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Acute-onset muscle soreness is typically accompanied by fatigue. Exercise-induced muscle soreness usually appears 12

Did you know that Orthopedic massage is an elite form of Sports massage? Orthopedic and Integrated therapies can help by going deeper into the issues of posture and muscle activity to optimize performance, prevent injury, recover from injury and feel better long term!

SPORTS MEAN INJURIES

The very nature of sports means that the athlete's body will undergo rigorous activity during training and competition. Muscles, tendons, joints and bones will be taxed, sometimes to their limit. Inevitably, injuries will occur. These injuries will range in severity from those that cause mild discomfort to those that hinder an athlete's ability to compete. Injuries will occur despite preventative efforts. Sport injuries bay be a result of accidents, poor training practices, the use of improper equipment, lack of conditioning of insufficient warm-up.

Sports injuries typically involve damage to the musculoskeletal system, although traumatic injury to the organ system can occur, too. Injuries occur when there is a force great enough to disrupt the internal structures of the body, causing damage or destruction to that tissue.

Traditional classification describes injures as either:

  • acute - a sudden injury that occurs when playing sport or exercising, or
  • chronic - injuries that develop slowly and last a long time

Most sports injuries, however, can be better described by mechanism of injury - either trauma or overuse:

  • traumatic injuries - a physical injury produced by an external or internal force
  • overuse injuries - a result of repetitive activities or a result of recurrent traumatic injuries

MUSCLE STRAINS

If a muscle is overstretched by tension or forced to contract against too much resistance, the resulting stretch, tear or rip of the fibers of the muscle or it's tendon is known as a muscle strain. Muscle strains are typically a result of dynamic overload, wherein the involved muscle contracts eccentrically while the antagonist force attempts to lengthen the muscle. Muscle strains most commonly occur at the musculotendinous junction of a muscle.

There are three grades of muscle strains:

  • Grade 1: Some fibers stretched with few torn; palpable tenderness; full active range of motion is possible, but may be painful
  • Grade 2: a number of fibers torn with a palpable depression in the muscle belly or tendon; active contraction, strength and range of motion are limited and painful
  • Grade 3: a complete rupture at the musculotendinous portion of the belly or at the tendinous attachment to the bone; deformity, loss of function, including strength and range of motion; intense pain that diminishes because of nerve fiber separation

MUSCLE OVEREXERTION and CONTRACTION INJURIES

Muscle cramps, muscle spasms, muscle guarding and muscle soreness are other forms of muscle injuries that are defined as:

  • muscle cramps - the involuntary contraction of a voluntary muscle
  • muscle spasmsa reflex reaction caused by trauma
  • muscle guarding - a muscle contraction in response to pain and injury in an area as an attempt to splint or self-protect the involved area
  • muscle soreness - pain caused by overexertion in exercise, typically caused by an activity to which the person is unaccustomed

There are two types of muscle soreness acute-onset muscle soreness and exercise-induced muscle soreness, also know as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Acute-onset muscle soreness is typically accompanied by fatigue. Exercise-induced muscle soreness usually appears 12 hours after exercise and peaks 24 to 48 hours post-exercise.

Many of these issues, if left untreated can lead to more complicated chronic conditions. Such as tendinitis, joint adhesions, sprains, bursitis, plantar faciitis, compartment syndrome, sciatica, nerve compression, carpal tunnel and so much more.

Orthopedic massage may be a solution when Sports massage has not taken you as far as you hoped. With posture analysis and assessment tests, both on and off the table, we dive deeper in the what may be causing pain, lack of range of motion and performance. Treatment doesn't end there. With corrective stretching and strengthening exercises we work together to find a long term solution to living pain free. 

Typical treatment plans consist of 3 - 90 minute sessions every two weeks then plan according to your needs. I have openings this week. Call/text to book now at 916-757-2976

SPORTS MASSAGE: INJURY + RECOVERY

Did you know that Orthopedic massage is an elite form of Sports massage? Orthopedic and Integrated therapies can help by going deeper into the issues of posture and muscle activity to optimize performance, prevent injury, recover from injury and feel better long term!

SPORTS MEAN INJURIES

The very nature of sports means that the athlete's body will undergo rigorous activity during training and competition. Muscles, tendons, joints and bones will be taxed, sometimes to their limit. Inevitably, injuries will occur. These injuries will range in severity from those that cause mild discomfort to those that hinder an athlete's ability to compete. Injuries will occur despite preventative efforts. Sport injuries bay be a result of accidents, poor training practices, the use of improper equipment, lack of conditioning of insufficient warm-up.

Sports injuries typically involve damage to the musculoskeletal system, although traumatic injury to the organ system can occur, too. Injuries occur when there is a force great enough to disrupt the internal structures of the body, causing damage or destruction to that tissue.

Traditional classification describes injures as either:

  • acute - a sudden injury that occurs when playing sport or exercising, or
  • chronic - injuries that develop slowly and last a long time

Most sports injuries, however, can be better described by mechanism of injury - either trauma or overuse:

  • traumatic injuries - a physical injury produced by an external or internal force
  • overuse injuries - a result of repetitive activities or a result of recurrent traumatic injuries

MUSCLE STRAINS

If a muscle is overstretched by tension or forced to contract against too much resistance, the resulting stretch, tear or rip of the fibers of the muscle or it's tendon is known as a muscle strain. Muscle strains are typically a result of dynamic overload, wherein the involved muscle contracts eccentrically while the antagonist force attempts to lengthen the muscle. Muscle strains most commonly occur at the musculotendinous junction of a muscle.

There are three grades of muscle strains:

  • Grade 1: Some fibers stretched with few torn; palpable tenderness; full active range of motion is possible, but may be painful
  • Grade 2: a number of fibers torn with a palpable depression in the muscle belly or tendon; active contraction, strength and range of motion are limited and painful
  • Grade 3: a complete rupture at the musculotendinous portion of the belly or at the tendinous attachment to the bone; deformity, loss of function, including strength and range of motion; intense pain that diminishes because of nerve fiber separation

MUSCLE OVEREXERTION and CONTRACTION INJURIES

Muscle cramps, muscle spasms, muscle guarding and muscle soreness are other forms of muscle injuries that are defined as:

  • muscle cramps - the involuntary contraction of a voluntary muscle
  • muscle spasmsa reflex reaction caused by trauma
  • muscle guarding - a muscle contraction in response to pain and injury in an area as an attempt to splint or self-protect the involved area
  • muscle soreness - pain caused by overexertion in exercise, typically caused by an activity to which the person is unaccustomed

There are two types of muscle soreness acute-onset muscle soreness and exercise-induced muscle soreness, also know as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Acute-onset muscle soreness is typically accompanied by fatigue. Exercise-induced muscle soreness usually appears 12

Did you know that Orthopedic massage is an elite form of Sports massage? Orthopedic and Integrated therapies can help by going deeper into the issues of posture and muscle activity to optimize performance, prevent injury, recover from injury and feel better long term!

SPORTS MEAN INJURIES

The very nature of sports means that the athlete's body will undergo rigorous activity during training and competition. Muscles, tendons, joints and bones will be taxed, sometimes to their limit. Inevitably, injuries will occur. These injuries will range in severity from those that cause mild discomfort to those that hinder an athlete's ability to compete. Injuries will occur despite preventative efforts. Sport injuries bay be a result of accidents, poor training practices, the use of improper equipment, lack of conditioning of insufficient warm-up.

Sports injuries typically involve damage to the musculoskeletal system, although traumatic injury to the organ system can occur, too. Injuries occur when there is a force great enough to disrupt the internal structures of the body, causing damage or destruction to that tissue.

Traditional classification describes injures as either:

  • acute - a sudden injury that occurs when playing sport or exercising, or
  • chronic - injuries that develop slowly and last a long time

Most sports injuries, however, can be better described by mechanism of injury - either trauma or overuse:

  • traumatic injuries - a physical injury produced by an external or internal force
  • overuse injuries - a result of repetitive activities or a result of recurrent traumatic injuries

MUSCLE STRAINS

If a muscle is overstretched by tension or forced to contract against too much resistance, the resulting stretch, tear or rip of the fibers of the muscle or it's tendon is known as a muscle strain. Muscle strains are typically a result of dynamic overload, wherein the involved muscle contracts eccentrically while the antagonist force attempts to lengthen the muscle. Muscle strains most commonly occur at the musculotendinous junction of a muscle.

There are three grades of muscle strains:

  • Grade 1: Some fibers stretched with few torn; palpable tenderness; full active range of motion is possible, but may be painful
  • Grade 2: a number of fibers torn with a palpable depression in the muscle belly or tendon; active contraction, strength and range of motion are limited and painful
  • Grade 3: a complete rupture at the musculotendinous portion of the belly or at the tendinous attachment to the bone; deformity, loss of function, including strength and range of motion; intense pain that diminishes because of nerve fiber separation

MUSCLE OVEREXERTION and CONTRACTION INJURIES

Muscle cramps, muscle spasms, muscle guarding and muscle soreness are other forms of muscle injuries that are defined as:

  • muscle cramps - the involuntary contraction of a voluntary muscle
  • muscle spasmsa reflex reaction caused by trauma
  • muscle guarding - a muscle contraction in response to pain and injury in an area as an attempt to splint or self-protect the involved area
  • muscle soreness - pain caused by overexertion in exercise, typically caused by an activity to which the person is unaccustomed

There are two types of muscle soreness acute-onset muscle soreness and exercise-induced muscle soreness, also know as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Acute-onset muscle soreness is typically accompanied by fatigue. Exercise-induced muscle soreness usually appears 12 hours after exercise and peaks 24 to 48 hours post-exercise.

Many of these issues, if left untreated can lead to more complicated chronic conditions. Such as tendinitis, joint adhesions, sprains, bursitis, plantar faciitis, compartment syndrome, sciatica, nerve compression, carpal tunnel and so much more.

Orthopedic massage may be a solution when Sports massage has not taken you as far as you hoped. With posture analysis and assessment tests, both on and off the table, we dive deeper in the what may be causing pain, lack of range of motion and performance. Treatment doesn't end there. With corrective stretching and strengthening exercises we work together to find a long term solution to living pain free. 

Typical treatment plans consist of 3 - 90 minute sessions every two weeks then plan according to your needs. I have openings this week. Call/text to book now at 916-757-2976

Sciatica - Nothing Helping?

At one point, most, if not all reading this post have suffered from sciatica. A sharp, sometimes debilitating pain shooting down your glutes, your hamstrings, maybe even your shins and down to your feet! 

The question is where does sciatica originate from? What are some causes to this pain? What are some symptoms that are not commonly known?

Most know that sciatic pain originates in the back. More specifically nerve communication is cut off in the lumbar vertebrae between, typically, L4, L5 and S1. The majority of sufferers have typically been diagnosed with either a herniated disc or disc compression. For some this may feel like a life sentence. And it doesn't have to be, there are treatments with manual therapies that can aid you.  But what are the underlying root causes of of herniated and compressed discs?

 We live in a society of flexion. What do I mean by that? We sit at desks, we drive our cars, we sit at home. Our entire front muscle structure is flexed forward. Over time this becomes our muscle memory and causes tightness in our muscles that end up putting strain on all of our joints in our body. More specifically pulling our vertebrae forward and possibly causing the disc to herniate or compress.  

Sciatica not only can cause pain, weakness, numbing and burning down the back side of your leg and shin it can also appear as plantar fasciiitis. If you've tried all the inserts and treatments and still have that heel pain, there could be another issue going on. 

The good news is these are treatable conditions to live with less pain, if not pain free! By opening up the lines of communication in the nerve and getting the nerve to move more freely in the body, you begin to live more freely. Call/text any questions you may have to see if we can get you living more comfortably in YOUR body! 

 

Source: https://www.spine-health.com/video/sciatic...

How Often Should You Get A Massage?

How Often Should You Get A Massage?

Every day! Well, maybe that’s not practical, even though it would be nice. This is one of the most common questions clients ask about massage therapy, and it really all depends on WHY you get massages. Do you get massages for health benefits? Or, to help you relax and handle the stress of everyday life? Most likely it’s a combination of the two, so let’s look at some of the most common reasons to get regular massages:

Relaxation & Stress Relief
One of the very best reasons to get a massage is for relaxation. Relaxation massage helps to support your body, including blood circulation and flexibility of joints. Regular massage can help prevent pain, muscle tension, and stress points from building up and causing problems. Why wait until you have a problem to get a massage? Massage is perfect for preventing issues with your tissues. Relaxation massage is usually recommended at least once per month, or as often as you want!

There may be times in your life where you experience higher levels of stress and more muscle tension than normal. It is especially important to practice good self-care during these times. When we “don’t have time” for a massage, is usually when we need one the most. Make yourself a priority even during stressful times, your health is worth it.

If you are in a high-stress job or you work in an environment where you stay in a certain position for a long period of time (at a computer for example), you may begin to develop tight or “knotted” muscles. This will frequently occur in your shoulders, arms, and back. All of this increased muscle tension will make movement harder and can cause a great deal of pain. Regular massage can help to keep you loosened up and will help to prevent pain and stiffness.

Living with high levels of stress for a prolonged amount of time increases the risk of contracting heart disease and other diseases. It has been estimated that 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. The good news is, massage can help! Just knowing your massage is coming up in a few days can help to relieve stress, and a massage every 2-4 weeks will help with stress related tension.

Sports Recovery
Are you a weekend warrior, or do you just like to stay in shape? Either way, massage can help with sports performance and recovery. Many athletes and physically active people receive sports massage because it enhances their performance, prevents injury, and speeds up their muscles’ recovery. Competitive sports can put a lot of stress on a person’s muscles! Research conducted at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University in Ontario shows that massage reduces inflammation and stimulates the growth of new mitochondria, the energy-producing units in the cells, after strenuous exercise. This means that massage can help relieve pain, build muscles and help with muscle recovery too! For these benefits it is recommended that you get a massage up to three times a week or at least three times a month.

Chronic Health Conditions
People with ongoing health issues often find massage very helpful to alleviate symptoms. Chronic health problems that greatly benefit from massage therapy include back pain, joint pain, and localized inflammation. If you get therapy for specific issues, the frequency of getting massage therapy varies with the type of condition you have and how severe it is. Relief from pain can usually be achieved with 2-4 massage sessions per month. Your massage therapist will work with you to help you get on the best schedule for your body.