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Deep Tissue Massage Targets Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and fascia which make up the connective tissue of the body.

It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.

It has some similarity to classic  massage therapy,  but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.

How does deep tissue massage work?

When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.

Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the practitioner  often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.

Will deep tissue massage hurt?

At certain points during the massage, most people find there is “strong sensation” and discomfort.

It is important to tell the practitioner if the sensation is outside  your comfort range.

 

What conditions is deep tissue massage used for?

Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Postural problems
  • Ostearthritis pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle tension or spasm

According to the August 2005 issue of  Consumer Report magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.

Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain.

People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.

What can I expect during my visit?

Practitioners may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the deep tissue massage.

You may be asked to breathe deeply into certain areas.
It is important to drink plenty of water as you can after the massage to flush metabolic waste from the tissues.

Precautions

Deep Tissue massage  is not recommended for certain people:

  • infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
  • immediately after surgery
  • immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
  • people with osteoporosis should consult their doctor before getting a massage
  • prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage
  • pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
  • massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.

Additional tips

  • don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage
  • if it’s your first time at the office, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.

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WHAT DOES ANDREW WEIL, MD HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ROLFING?

Four Reasons to try Rolfing  – Andrew Weil, MD   10/10/2010

Do you suffer from chronic stress, pain or bad posture? You may want to consider Rolfing. Named after Dr. Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing is often referred to as “structural integration.” It is not simply massage, it is a system of deep manipulation of the connective tissues that aims to restructure the fascia (the sheath of tissue that surrounds a muscle) and relieve physical misalignment.

Basic Rolfing consists of a series of 10 sessions, each focusing on a different part of the body. The practitioner applies firm, and sometimes even painful, pressure via fingers and elbows. The result? You may become more in touch with your body, experience less pain and stress, improve your posture, even release repressed emotions and diminish habitual muscle tension. People who have experienced Rolfing often find an improvement in their professional and daily activities.

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Are you curious about Neuromuscular Therapy?

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) was made popular by Paul St. John and it is a massage modality that focuses on the treatment of trigger points.

If you are like the thousands of other people in this world who have turned to massage therapy in an attempt to ease pain, then you have probably stumbled across the words “neuromuscular therapy” or “neuromuscular massage” in your research.

The two terms – therapy and massage – are interchangeable and refer to the same practice. Neuromuscular massage is an intense form of bodywork that consists of focused, concentrated pressure on one specific area of the body. The pressure may continue for a period of up to thirty seconds at a time, and is designed to alleviate tension that extends from a “trigger point” into an entire muscle.

The theory behind neuromuscular massage is that when a muscle spasms – due to one of any number of stimuli – it is not caused by a spasm in the entire muscle, but by a spasm in a very centralized area of the muscle, which may then reverberate to other areas of the muscle, causing pain.

This small area is called a trigger point because it is the area that “triggers” pain in another area of the muscle, sometimes called referring or transferring.

When a muscle (or trigger point) spasms in the body, blood flow to that area is severely decreased, sometimes ceasing altogether. When the blood flow is diminished, oxygen necessary for the muscle to work properly is also decreased, causing a buildup of lactic acid. This causes a sensation similar to the one felt after a long workout – muscle soreness.

The problem is that this can turn into a vicious cycle of soreness and pain because the buildup of lactic acid combined with the body’s desire to compensate for the pain will inevitably lead to less blood flow, less oxygen, and the continued production of lactic acid. This is why muscle soreness and pain can continue for years unabated.

This effect is exacerbated when a muscle spasm places pressure on a nerve or series of nerves. This causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms, which are all common side effects of muscle soreness and pain. And because nerves carry sensations throughout the body like a pulse, it is possible to feel these numbing sensations in areas of the body not associated with the original muscle spasm.

Pain is relieved when the spasm is neutralized by pressure, and blood flow is once again restored to the area. Other benefits can include increased flexibility, wider range of motion, more balanced posture and increased energy. Neuromuscular massage is used primarily to treat the lower back, the neck and arms, repetitive motion injuries, headaches and reported numbness and tingling in the limbs.

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HOW CAN I SAFELY USE MY BACKPACK TO PROMOTE GOOD POSTURE?

Below are helpful tips to insure you know how to safely use your backpack in order to promote good posture.

Step 1: Choose Right.
Choosing the right size backpack is the most important step to safe backpack use.

Tip: Bring a friend to help you measure your backpack properly.

Step 2: Pack Right.
The maximum weight of the loaded backpack should not exceed 15 % of your body weight, so pack only what is needed.

Tip: If the backpack forces the wearer to move forward to carry, it’s overloaded.

Step 3: Lift Right.
Face the Pack -Bend at the Knees – Use both hands and check the weight of the pack. – Lift with the legs – Apply one shoulder strap and then the other.

Tip: Don’t sling the backpack onto one shoulder.

Step 4: Wear Right.
Use both shoulder straps – snug, but not too tight.

Tip: When the backpack has a waist strap – use it.