Category: Massage Therapy

News and articles related to massage therapy including techniques such as thai massage, athletic/sports massage, deep tissue massage, swedish massage, and more.

Types of Massage

What type of massage is best suited for you? There are hundreds of modalities to choose from. Massage Therapy is as much of an art form as it is a science. Light, palliative care has as many benefits as deep, specific ‘ “hurt so good” work does. Sometimes an hour of being stretched leaves you feeling like you’ve had 2hrs. of a table massage. Do you ever feel like an hour of work on just your head and feet would be all you
need? Why not get just that? Who’s to say you need every body part worked? Maybe you’d like your neck and shoulders have a deep treatment and for your low back you would like to be stretched.

As mentioned there are hundreds of massage Modalities out there. Some of them take years to master and the practioner usually just uses those techniques. Active Release Techniques (ART) uses movement based techniques that have over 500 different protocols to address soft tissue injures. CranioSacral Therapy is one of the gentlest forms of bodywork. The therapist uses pressure no greater than the weight of a nickel to improve the flow of craniosacral fluid. It can take years to develop those techniques and often the practitioner uses those techniques exclusively.

Some modalities can be used alone or add ons to a massage treatment. Aromatherapy uses therapeutic essential oils in addition to gentle massage strokes. Oils have long been used to treat common conditions such as :
-Digestive problems
-Headaches
-Sleeping disorders
To name a few. Reflexology concentrates on the feet, hand or ears, working on points that directly correspond to other areas of the body.

Interesting but less well known forms of massage like Watsu that takes place while in a warm pool or hot tub while the practitioner supports the client and takes them through passive stretching, make an interesting addition to traditional massages.

Some massage is for the dogs…literally. Canine massage is becoming more and more popular. They receive the same benefits as humans do from massage. Equine massage has long been used for racehorses to enhance their performance.

Reiki, Rolfing and Trager… oh my! So much to choose from!

Often stepping outside of your life for a short time….being in a quiet room, music playing is in itself beneficial. Find a therapist with some diverse training, explore the options. Adding variety to your massage will allow you to get what you need when you need it.

How Often Should You Get a Massage?

How often should you get a massage? Bob Hope and Lance Armstrong were said to
get a massage nearly everyday! Bob Hope lived to be over 100 and Lance won the
Tour de France seven times! Hmmmmm, maybe there is something to massage?!!

Investing in ones health is not easy for everyone. Some people are busy with seeing
to the needs of others that they neglect their own needs. Remember when you fly
and the flight attendant is showing you how to put on the oxygen masks? They
remind you to secure your own before you help anyone else! Taking care of oneself
enables you to better care for others.

Massage can help reduce pain and reduce stress. Those are two of the most common
complaints. Pain and stress can lower the quality of your life; can make you irritable
and depressed. Massage is one of the oldest healing techniques and when performed
by a Licensed Massage Therapist can do wonders for the body and mind.

Can one hour a week or even month make that much of a difference? Yes! Often
times we find ourselves in a cycle that we can’t get out of.

Stress=muscle tension.
Muscle tension=pain/discomfort.
Pain/Discomfort= increased stress.

It can be maddening. Stress related disorders are many; some of the more common
ones are:
-Anxiety Disorders
-Chronic Pain
-Sleep Problems
-Colds/Flu
-High blood Pressure
-Digestive Problems

The stress of dealing with these conditions can….well, start the cycle all over again!

Can massage cure a common cold? Well no….However, if you are more prone to
sickness because you are under stress, massage can certainly help with that. When
someone is under stress “not so helpful” hormones are released. Epinephrine,
Norepinephrine, Cortisol. Massage reduces the production of those “not so helpful”
hormones. At the same time massage increases the production of the “oh so helpful”
hormones: Dopamine, Seratonin and Oxytoxin.

I say-see to your needs, take care of yourself. Invest in your health. You are worth it!
If it was good enough for Bob Hope and Lance Armstrong then it’s good enough for
you!

And your loved ones will thank you.

Athletic Massage

Massage Therapy has long been known to have amazing benefits, most notably the ability to initiate the
relaxation response in our bodies. Recently it has become more popular among athletes. Most athletes
want to reduce muscle soreness and increase healing. Runners in particular are on the lookout for ways
to train more effectively, improve performance, prevent injury and recover quickly.

For the past 19 years massage therapy has been available at one of the most prestigious sporting events
in the world, the Boston Marathon. A team of over 175 therapists give up to 1,200 massages on race
day. They are considered part of the medical volunteer team and deal with foot issues, tight muscles,
spasms, and cramps. Most people train for the better part of the year to participate in the Boston
Marathon, and the massage therapists job is to play a roll in the success of the participants.

Runners who use massage therapy to help keep their muscles loose and flexible experience fewer
injuries. However, when injuries occur, massage can dramatically speed the healing process. Let’s talk
about some of the more common running related injuries:

Illiotibial Band Syndrome- The IT band is a fibrous band that spans from the hip too shin. ITB Syndrome
is caused when the band becomes inflames and tender

Shin Splints- Usually describe a set of symptoms. Can be due to problems with the muscle, bone or
attachment of the muscle to the bone.

Plantar Fascitis- A syndrome of heel/foot pain. A tight, inflamed fascia can cause pain when walking or
running.

Strains & Sprains- Muscle/tendon strains and ligament sprains are common injuries experienced by
runners. Early detection and treatment can help speed recovery.

Most of these injuries can be attributed to overuse, inconsistent training, and lack of stretching
or improper stretching. Massage can aid in recovery by relieving muscle tension and soreness by
improving circulation. Increased amounts of oxygen and blood flow to injured tissue will bring nutrients
and remove waste products. Massage therapy increases and restores range of motion and flexibility.

The field of massage therapy is extremely varied and therapists can specialize in one or more types of
massage. Several modalities are particularly suited for athletes:

Swedish Massage – A full body massage that increases venous and lymph flow, promotes realization and
improves cell nutrition. The depth of pressure can be adjusted to meet the clients specific needs.

Neuromuscular Therapy – Applies pressure to specific points (Trigger Points) to relieve spasm and pain in
the muscles.

Thai Massage – Can help the athlete as it stretches and softens the muscle by passive stretching and
compression, and allowing each muscle group to be brought through its full range of motion.

Sports Massage – Not a particular form of massage itself, but rather an integration of techniques and
modalities tailored to suit the athlete’s needs.

And here’s the rub, no pun intended. The effects of massage are cumulative. Just as stretching your
hamstrings once before a race not as effective as regular, consistent stretching, one massage prior to a
race will not give you the same benefits as a regular, consistent program of massage therapy.

How often should you receive a massage? That can vary greatly. Working with a therapist you can
determine the type of modality and frequency to suit your specific needs. A qualified therapist will
take note of your training schedule, long runs and races. Scheduling what is best suited for your needs
including pre race and post race massage. A competitive athlete might see a therapist 1-2 times per
week where a person putting in less than 20 miles a week can do fine with 1-2 times per month.

Integrative therapeutic bodywork can work with all fitness levels, from beginners to professional.
Massage is a necessary component of every active person’s health and wellness plan.

Thai Massage for Athletes

Thai Massage for Athletes

Traditional Thai massage is performed on a mat with the client dressed in
comfortable clothing. The purpose is to initiate the relaxation response thereby
stretching and softening the muscles and increasing range of motion. Traditional
Thai massage also focuses on energy flow-Sen lines. Acupressure is used along the
sen lines to help release blocked chi and restore the body to its healthiest state. Thai
massage adapted to the table is a great addition to the athletes wellness plan. You can
have the same benefits and can adapt most techniques to fit the table.

Thai Massage is extremely important to athletes.

1. Injury prevention
Many factors are used to keep an athlete in top shape. Proper training,
nutrition, rest and massage. Thai can increase range of motion and joint
flexibility; key factors in preventing sprains and strains. Thai massage can
passively take the joints through their normal range. The therapist will
quickly be able to detect tights spots and positional problem areas.

2. A relaxed mind
For an athlete having a “busy” and stressed mind can have damaging effects.
Starting with tight contracted muscles. If you’ve ever tried to run when you
have tight muscles you understand how much energy can be consumed.
Relaxed breathing in conjunction with the rhythmic movements allows the
client to completely let go and rejuvenate.

3. Success
Top athletes envision success before it happens. They have desire and
determination. Most of all they practice practice practice. What does that have
to do with Table Thai? Good question…participation. When working with
someone on the table you are working as a team. The therapist works with the
clients non-verbal cues as well as breathing patterns to take the client to their
comfortable stretch….and then just a bit more. The compression on tight tired
muscles begin to soften and stretch with the gentle one two three two one
count as the therapist moves up and down the extremities of the client.

Thai massaged can be used to compliment an existing program for athletes.
It can be used as pre and post event massaged. Can be performed within
hours before an event and within hours after. Find a qualified therapist
with experience in Thai Massage and in working with Athletes for best results.

Shin Splints

Shin splints

Dreaded Shin Splints, every runner is familiar with them. The term “shin splints” is
actually a group of symptoms that can involve pain on the medial side or lateral side
of the lower leg. They don’t go away with activity and tend to get worse the more
you try to ignore it. They are terribly painful and can be agonizingly slow in healing.
The cause of the pain can range from a tight calf muscle to a stress fracture. It is
important to be properly diagnosed. This is NOT something to run through. Running
on hard surfaces, or uneven ground, running a lot up hill or down hill and flat feet or
over pronation are common culprits of shin splints. People wanting to get into shape
quickly and do to much to fast to soon often suffer from shin splints. Shin splints
need not be the end of your running. There are solutions that can get your feet back
to the pavement pain free!

Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation.

Prevention of shin splints include:
*Proper footwear—It is important to be fitted properly for running shoes, this
includes being sized properly and using inserts if necessary.
*Warming up before exercise-agilities before just walking out your door and
running will help the muscles prepare for the chore ahead.
*Massage-regular massage can help keep the muscles healthy and flexible.
*Proper coaching on running form-practicing with bad form is just bad practice.
Find a qualified coach and get the proper guidance to get you started.
*Stretching-Warming up before exercise is important, stretching after is just as
important. Five to ten minutes after a run can help you with prevention of shin
splints. Focus on all muscle groups of the legs, find a routine and stick to it.

Treatment of shin splints include:
*Rest-This means “no” running. Often athletes just slow down the running or run a
little less. Rest means just that…rest. Running can resume when you are pain free.
*Ice-Ice is best used for no longer than 20 minutes on 20 minutes off. The cycle can
be repeated several times throughout the day. Ice in the early stages helps with pain
and inflammation.
*Heat-Heat can be used after the initial stage to relax the muscles and to help with a
stretch.
*Stretching-Since tight calf muscles are often associated with shin splints, stretching
is often part of the treatment.

Rehabilitation of shin splints include:
*Coming back to activity slowly-Start with walk/jog and increase gradually to short
runs. Pain should be your guide. Only you know how it feels, no exact formula works
for everyone.

*Massage-As in prevention and treatment, massage helps stretch, elongate and bring
fresh oxygenated blood to the tissue. Find a qualified Massage Therapist who is
familiar with shin splints and other common running injuries
*Stretching-as you work yourself back stretching after even the shortest of work
outs is important.
*Cross Train-Not being able to run does not mean not being able to exercise. Biking
and swimming are great alternatives for a great cardiovascular workout.

Self-care for Therapists

Should a massage therapist massage with an injury. The answer is “it depends.” Every
Joe has an opinion on if you should massage with an injury. Whether an injury was
directly related to massage or due to outside factors. There are three rules to keep in mind
before deciding to massage.

1. Do no harm
Usually we think of do no harm to the client/patient when we hear that term. We
also have a responsibility to ourselves. A therapist who sacrifices their own well
being to work on a client isn’t doing the client any favors. If your body or your
Dr. is telling you not to massage…don’t. Clients will wait for you, especially if
you explain your reasons. They will see you as “practicing what you preach” and
appreciate your openness.

2. Use different tools
If you have a thumb that is injured, replace that tool with another. A knuckle or
fist or even elbow. Nothing gets the creative juices of a therapist flowing more
than “not” being able to use a tool.

3. Train in different modalities
If you’re a Thai therapist with a knee injury, perhaps instead of getting on a mat
you can adapt your treatment to fit the table. Reiki, cranio sacral and reflexology
are modalities you can add to the mix to keep your treatment interesting, useful
and safe.

It sad to hear that some therapist’s work right through injuries directly related to massage.
When asked why they are working with the injury they say they don’t want to lose a
client and don’t know of any other options. Unfortunately many massage schools only
have a single class (or a small part of a class) on “body mechanics” but not even a
mention of injury prevention or what the possible alternatives tool or techniques to use
when they have injuries. Even though many students will experience pain and/or injury
during their massage training and career they are not taught how to keep themselves
injury free and keep their clients happy.

With the proper knowledge and techniques massage therapist can expect a viable long-
term career in massage. The number one thing a Massage Therapist can do for them
selves is get regular massage. It will help keep them healthy and relaxed as well as have
the ability to learn a thing or two!