Massage for Fibromyalgia

Pain can make it difficult to enjoy everyday activities, but for fibromyalgia patients, pain can be constant, interfering with sleep, work and daily tasks. According to the American Chronic Pain Association, fibromyalgia affects more than 6 million Americans. The origins of this disorder are still relatively unknown.

Though there is no cure, massage therapy may be one way to make life a little easier for people with fibromyalgia.

In 2010, Adelaida Maria Castro-Sánchez led scientists from the University of Almería in Almería, Spain, to consider the effects of myofascial therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression and quality of life in fibromyalgia patients.

Using a randomized-controlled study, researchers assigned 64 fibromyalgia patients to receive one of two types of therapy treatments over the course of 20 weeks.

The experimental group received myofascial release therapy for 90 minutes once a week. The control group received a therapy that used a disconnected magnetic therapy machine for 30 minutes once a week.

Their pain was assessed at baseline and at the end of the 20-week period, and then again at one and six months following the study’s completion.

Researchers found the experimental group experienced significantly improved anxiety, sleep, pain and quality of life—both immediately following the treatment and up to one month after. The control group did not reap any of these benefits. The six-month follow-ups, however, showed that improvements in sleep were the only difference between the two treatment groups.

A similar study led by Castro-Sanchez in 2011 further examined how fibromyalgia patients respond to massage therapy and found reductions in sensitivity to their pain. Additionally, these results showed many improvements that lasted as long as one year after the study’s completion.


“mtj/massage therapy journal winter 2012”

Massage Modalities

Basic Massage Therapy Modalities

Massage Therapy covers a broad range of modalities, or styles, practiced by massage therapists. While there is no official list of modalities, the number runs into the dozens. One Web site lists 160 modalities.

Following are brief descriptions of the most common types of massage therapy modalities.

Swedish massage is the best-known of the modalities. It is known for long, sweeping strokes up and down the body and kneading to deliver alternating relaxing and energizing impacts. It increases the flow of oxygen in the blood and improves circulation. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 84 percent of massage therapists provide this kind of massage. (AMTA, 2010)

Deep tissue massage features slow and deep manipulation of contracted muscles and connective tissue to break up areas where muscles have tightened, causing pain and tension. (Lane, 2010) AMTA says that 77% of massage therapists provide this kind of massage. (AMTA, 2010)

Sports massage was developed to prevent or reverse strains and injuries caused by intense sports or exercise, but it is beneficial for just about anyone. It can be provided before or after an event. Pre-event massage increases blood flow and loosens muscles to help prevent or minimize injury.  Post-event massage reduces soreness and restores the body to its pre-event flexibility. (Lane, 2010) AMTA reports that 45% of massage therapists provide this kind of massage.

Pregnancy massage can help relieve the strain caused by pregnancy. It can boost posture to reduce neck, back, and shoulder strain; relieve sciatic pain and cramps in the calves; and prepare the muscles used in childbirth. It also helps relieve insomnia some pregnant women experience due to increases in certain hormones.

Widdoss Therapeutic Massage, conveniently located minutes off 65 South in the Birmingham, Hoover, Pelham area. Not far from Riverchase, Helena or Galleria Mall area.

Visit our website for more information or contact us at 205-394-5900

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“2010 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet.” American Massage Therapy Association. AMTA, 2010. Web. 21 Dec. 2010.

Lane, Richard. “Introduction to Massage and Bodywork Techniques and Modalities.” Web, 6 January 2010. 21 Dec. 2010.

What is a Swedish Massage

Swedish massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body.

While a Swedish massage is very effective at relieving anxiety, it is often used to help alleviate the symptoms of stress and depression as well. The gentle steady pressure this is applied during the massage relaxes tight muscles and naturally relieves tension. The stimulation to the skin helps a client to relax and rejuvenate.

At Widdoss Therapeutic Massage, located in Hoover AL, we focus on the overall well-being of the client. Each client is special and different and no two massages are the same.

Give us a call today at 205-394-5900 or visit our website at to learn more about us, our specials, packages, and modalities.

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What is a deep tissue massage?

What is deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue.

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

Some of the same strokes are used as 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 massage therapist 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 usually some discomfort and pain.

It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you ecperience is outside your comfort range.

There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage.

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 Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, 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.

Massage Pressure – The Good

More about this whole “good pain” business

Good pain is an interesting subject because it’s a contradiction that somehow manages to make perfect sense when you experience it.

And it comes from inside of people. Therapists have not imposed the idea of good pain on patients the way that they have imposed many other common therapy ideas. Even massage newbies recognize the sensory paradox clearly. It’s always quite interesting to listen to an inexperienced patient discovering good pain …

Oooh, wow … oh, that’s sensitive … but it’s good … but it’s definitely pain … but it’s definitely good …

typical patient discovering “good pain”

The contradiction between the good and bad parts of pain can be very strong. Good pain may involve an undeniably nasty or gross or sickening competent, a truly unpleasant quality, and yet still be accompanied by a distinct sense of relief, like an itch being scratched.

So, how can a painful pain be so good? What’s going on? It’s all about trigger points. The secret to pain’s goodness — like so much else about massage therapy — probably mostly lies in the nature of trigger points, or muscle knots. They are an “itch” that we cannot easily “scratch” on our own. In particular, we try to stretch them out, and it usually doesn’t work all that well. They are probably 80% of the reason why a good massage is both intense … and an intense relief.

Trigger points are fairly well-defined physiologically. We know what they are, and we know where they live. They are essentially a miniature spasm, a small patch of a muscle tissue that is super-clenched. They are common, and responsible for most of the garden variety aches and pains of humanity, ranging from mild to crippling. And we know that they can, sometimes, be relieved simply by “ironing them out” with skillful thumbs.

When you press on a trigger point, it’s going to feel painful because it’s a swampy little patch of muscle in metabolic overdrive, its sensory nerve endings bathed in junk molecules. But it’s also going to feel like a relief to have any of that problem taken away! As discussed above, relief from trigger points may occur simply through crushing and destroying the cellular machinery of it. But there are numerous other possible mechanisms, such as a tiny, localized stretching of the spasm — a miniature version of what you do when you stretch out a big leg muscle to ease a charlie horse. Another likely mechanism is that the pressure squishes stagnant tissue fluids out of the spot, allowing them to be replaced by fresh circulation.

Referred pain spreads the goodness. Undoubtedly another reason that massage pain can be good is the phenomenon of referred sensation. If you stimulate internal tissues anywhere in the body, muscle or otherwise, the brain really has trouble telling quite where the sensation is coming from. The net effect of this is that, when you press hard enough on your muscles, particularly on sensitive trigger points, the pain is often experienced throughout a much wider area.

There are many important clinical implications of this interesting neurology, but as far as the good pain thing goes, it basically just makes trigger point release feel bigger, more important. Press on a small spot … feel it down your entire arm. Wow! Impressive! Even though it’s just a thumb on a trigger point, it feels as though that “itch” is being scratched throughout an entire region. Referred pain essentially amplifies the good pain effect — or the bad pain effect, if the pressure is too intense!


Excerpt taken from Paul Ingraham -

Massage Pressure – the bad

More about bad pain, and when it might be justifiable

The reason for the Pressure Question is that it’s hard for patients to tell the difference between nasty pain that might be a necessary part of therapy, and ugly pain that is simply abusive. How do you know if a particular intense massage technique is therapeutic or not? If it is therapeutic, then we would call it “bad pain” — unpleasant, but worthwhile. If it’s not therapeutic, and you are paying to experience pain with no benefit, then it should be considered ugly pain — both unpleasant and pointless!

But how do you know?

For starters, you bear in mind the things described above that tend to cause ugly pain, and you avoid that kind of therapy. Now we’ll try to learn some clues that painful pressure is okay. Here are at least three reasons why unpleasantly intense pressure might be therapeutic — “bad pain,” but not ugly. In each of these situations, it might be acceptable to tolerate sensations so intense and painful that the only thing about them that is pleasant is the part where it stops.

Motor end plate destruction. Myofascial trigger points — muscle knots — are a ubiquitous muscular dysfunction, causing most of the aches, pains and stiffness in the world, and complicating virtually every other injury and disease process. Most massage is focussed on them, directly or indirectly. To the extent that massage therapy is an effective and evidence-based form of therapy, it tends to be so because it relieves the symptoms of muscle knots.

Thanks to quite recent research (see Simons), we now know that muscle knots are caused by something that goes wrong at the “motor end plate” — where a nerve ending attaches to a muscle cell. We don’t know why this happens, or what exactly goeswrong, but we do know that if you paralyze the motor end plate (with botox, say), the trigger point completely vanishes. The motor end plates are unquestionably the immediate cause of the problem.

Some research has suggested that it may actually be possible to physically destroy the motor end plate with strong massage, thereby inactivating the trigger point (see Danneskiold-Samsoe). When it regrows — these are microscopic structures, it doesn’t take them long to heal — the trigger point may be gone.

To the extent that massage therapy is effective, it is effective because it relieves the symptoms of muscle knots

No one knows for sure if this is actually effective. However, it could explain why so many massage patients experience a “gets worse before it gets better” response to quite painful treatments: motor end plates are painfully destroyed by strong pressures, the tissue is quite sensitive and a bit weak as it heals over a day or two … and then you finally feel much better after that!

Maybe. But I repeat, no one really knows — and there is also good evidence that intense pressures, which cause a fight-or-flight reaction in your nervous system, almost certainly can aggravate trigger points. There are dozen variables that could affect which of these two theories alone might be more relevant to a given person on a particular day … and there are most assuredly other factors, other theories, that we don’t yet know anything about.

Therefore, the most we can know is that there is some reason to believe that painful pressures on muscles might be therapeutic for some people, some of the time. Pretty decisive, eh? This is why it kind of drives me nuts that so many therapists insist that strong pressures are “essential” to achieve “a complete release.” It really isn’t possible to know. It really does depend. And the final decision has to be up to you.

Connective tissue stimulation. A lot of therapists are keen on stretching connective tissues — tendons, ligaments, and layers of Saran wrap-like tissue called “fascia.” I’m not a huge fan of these techniques, not so much because I don’t think it works, but just because I think trigger point therapy works much better — much more bang for my patients’ buck. However, I can imagine a number of reasons why intense manipulations of connective tissue might be therapeutic. So, as long as the sensations are not like skin tearing (that’s an ugly pain for sure), you might choose to tolerate this kind of massage if it seems to be helping you.

Somatoemotional release. Mental and emotional context is an important part of how we perceive pain. Undeniably painful sensations can help to stimulate cathartic emotional releases (and I’m assuming here that emotional releases are valuable). Physical pain can strongly resonate with emotional pain. Often the two experiences are intimately related: for instance, the pain of an injury may be interwoven with the emotional frustrations of rehabilitation. That is quite a rudimentary example, and much more complex interactions between emotional and physical pain are obviously possible. Whether it is the clear goal of therapy, or simply a natural side benefit, experiencing strong sensations can certainly be a meaningful part of a personal growth process “just” by changing your sense of yourself, how it feels to be in your skin, and perhaps bumping you out of some other sensory rut.

Sometimes regular massage therapy involves a bit of this kind of thing. And when it does, “bad” pain may be justified … but, again, only if you feel there is a net gain.

The choice is yours

All health care practices must be justified by clear benefits. As risk increases, the benefit must get even clearer. So much can be achieved inflicting only good pain on patients that bad pain must be justified by extremely vivid, quick, and somewhat lasting benefits — anything less than that, and you should definitely consider shopping around for another massage therapist. There is simply no point in tolerating — and paying for — truly painful treatment without a good reason.

But you should never tolerate bad pain unless there are clear signs of therapeutic benefits within three appointments. A persistent lack of results should make you question any kind of therapy, of course, but especially a very painful therapy.


Excerpt taken from Paul Ingraham -

Massage benefits for improving your life

Massage Therapy is a clinically proven effective treatment for stress and pain relief. Therapeutic massage is increasingly being recommended by doctors and other health care professionals as research continues to document that it is powerful and cost effective.

Here are some of the many ways massage can help improve a person’s health:

  • Increases Blood Circulation and Lymph Flow
  • Reduces Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
  • Reduces Stress and Tension
  • Relieves Chronic and Temporary Pain
  • Improves Flexibility
  • Increases Levels off Serotonin, Protecting Against Depression
  • Increases Endorphins, the Body’s Natural Painkillers
  • Strengthens the Immune System
  • Premature Infants Gain Weight Faster When Massaged
  • Prevents Sports Injuries And Increases Athletic Performance
  • Helps Relieve Tension, Sinus And Migraine Headaches
  • Alleviates Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Asthma, Bronchitis, Arthritis and more

Massage pressure – the ugly pain

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Painful experiences on the massage table can be divided into three familiar categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Good pain is intense but somehow welcome, a paradoxical feeling, and probably what you mostly want out of therapy. Bad pain has no component of goodness in it, but is not necessarily incompatible with therapy. Ugly pain is particularly extreme and a bad idea in every way.

Good pain. In massage, there is such a thing as “good pain.” It arises from a sensory contradiction between the sensitivity caused by various types of muscle problems, and the instinctive sense that pressure is a source of relief from some of it — from trigger points (muscle knots) in particular. So pressure can be an intense sensation that just feels right somehow. It’s strong, but it’s welcome. Good pains are usually dull and aching. It is often described as a “sweet” ache. The best good pain may be such a relief that really the only bad thing about it is just that it is breathtakingly intense. The worst may be truly unpleasant: more like having to vomit to relieve a stomach ache!

Bad pain. Bad pain comes with no apparent benefits. If there is anything good about it, there is no way to tell from the sensation. Bad pains are usually sharp, burning or hot. Such pain is usually caused by excessive but harmless pressure. As bad as it feels, it probably won’t hurt you — maybe a little bruising — but there’s also a good chance that it won’t be therapeutic either. The big question about bad pain is whether or not it is ever justified.

Ugly pain. This is a type of pain in massage therapy that is, by my definition, never okay. Ugly pain is often caused by things that aren’t likely to offer even a delayed benefit, and may even be dangerous. Let’s look at ugly pain

Ugly pain

Let’s deal with the subject of ugly pain first, because it’s important to completely eliminate it from therapy. Once you’ve got a clearer idea of what kind of pain is totally unacceptable, it’s easier to wrap your head around the other kinds of pain. So, what kinds of situations involve “ugly” pain?

  • fingernail digging or skin tearing sensations, very common in “fascial release” therapy
  • nerve pinching or gland compression in one of the body’s “endangerment zones,” vulnerable spots where sensitive tissue is exposed
  • disturbing infected or inflamed tissue
  • truly excessive pressure or overstretch that is simply way over your personal pain threshold for that day, location or situation

“Ugly” pain is something inflicted only by careless, incompetent therapists. Ugly pain should simply never happen. Yet it does happen, and a shocking number of therapists will actually attempt to justify it or minimize the concern.

For instance, many poorly trained therapists do not know the endangerment sites, and will carelessly dig their thumbs into that hollow between your jaw and your ear, where there are exposed nerve bundles and salivary glands that can really smart when poked — and, no, they do not get the slightest benefit from being mangled. There are no trigger points there! Yet that therapist may well put out a “no pain, no gain” message or try to justify it as a crucial part of treating jaw tension, which is simply ridiculous. Jaw tension is treated by treating the jaw muscles, not the salivary glands!

Another alarmingly common example is the sensation of skin tearing, there is no likely therapeutic benefit to stretching the skin so hard that it feels like it is going to tear — and it is a completely different and uglier sensation than how fascial stretching can feel and should feel (more like a good massage).

There also seem to be therapists who believe that any painful sensation is simply part of the process, and if they poked you in the eye that would be “ocular release therapy.”

Ugly pain can be a sign of real dangers, one more obvious than the other:

  1. Direct injury.
  2. Sensory injury. A painful, alarming experience can actually dial up pain sensitivity — even long term.

Consequently, ugly pain in massage therapy is all too common and tragic. If you have a therapist you suspect of carelessly or deliberately inflicting ugly pain, just say no!

Excerpt taken from Paul Ingraham -

Don’t mask the pain, fix it with massage!

Health issues affect all of us and most people would rather pop a pill or try to forget about it until it strikes again. Massage might not be the first thing to come to your mind as a way to deal with the pain or illness, but the fact is that a majority of medicines do not deal with the root cause of a health problem but rather masks the problem. This is where the benefit of massage therapy can be helpful in fixing the problem rather than covering the symptoms.

Massage can offer multiple benefits that are good for you both mentally and physically. A therapeutic massage offers more than the typical feel good factor, and when done by an experienced massage therapist the results are incredible.

Below are some of the many reasons quoted from different internet websites and are some amazing motives as to why you should come for a therapeutic massage in Hoover AL, from Widdoss Therapeutic Massage.

#1. Helps you lose weight and look good

Massages can help you lose some weight and look good. The soft, gentle strokes by a massage therapist enable the lymphatic system to release toxins from the body, the release of toxins has a firming effect on your body.

Massages helps to increase blood flow in the body, and some specific ones can even help to breathe life into your dull complexion and lackluster hair. Massages are known to be great for those who are looking for ways to tighten their loose skin after weight loss. Keeping in mind, you have to follow a healthy lifestyle too.

#2. Reduces chronic pain

Lots of people complain about shoulder, neck and back aches. Regardless if it is chronic pain due to some illness, incorrect body postures, or cramps from strenuous exercise, a good massage can help ease and release the tight muscles.

Massages bring relief through muscle relaxation, applied pressure and improved circulation. Talking about this, researcher Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., says, “We found that the benefits of a massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise and yoga.”

#3. Helps relieve depression and stress

It is believed that a good massage can help to relieve stress, tension and anxiety which are often associated with depression. Physical touch boosts the release of happy hormones, endorphin, in the body. It also decreases the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high, it can disturb your system and lead to depression.

Massage therapy is a wonderful way to regulate these hormones!

#4. Promotes better sleep

The kneading and rubbing of muscles helps to decrease the tension in the body, thus providing relaxation. Massages help in releasing serotonin and endorphins in the body, which affect your sleep positively.

Studies have shown that massage therapy helps to enhance delta waves in the brain, which are known to encourage deep sleep.

#5. Boosts immunity

A massage may be your answer to those common colds and other ailments that strike often. Researchers say that massages increase lymphocytes, a type of white blood cells that prepares your immune system to fight diseases.

A strong immune system keeps you healthy and energetic. Add to this the fact that it curbs depression and stress, giving you all the more reasons to indulge in a massage for the sake of your health.

 #6. Reduces blood pressure

Regular massages can bring about a significant change in the blood pressure readings of people who are diagnosed with hypertension. When blood pressure is lowered, it translates to lower anxiety, depression and stress, and helps stave off kidney failure, stroke and even a heart attack.

#7. Sooths headaches and PMS

Regular massages work wonders for people suffering from migraine and other kinds of headaches. And, if you are one of those who struggle with those awful pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS), this therapy is a great solution to banish them all for good.

Relaxing the muscles through an invigorating massage is a surefire way to do your body and mind a whole lot of good.

If you have never gone for a massage you don’t know what you are missing out on!