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 - http://saveyourself.ca/articles/pressure-question.php

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 - http://saveyourself.ca/articles/pressure-question.php

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 - http://saveyourself.ca/articles/pressure-question.php

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!

Surprising Health Benefits of Massage

It goes without saying that massages feel pretty darn good, whether they’re coming from a trained licensed massage therapist or your significant other. Unfortunately, professional massages come with a hefty price-tag, one that most of us aren’t willing to shell out on a regular basis. But far from being a frivolous luxury reserved for the rich and famous, massages actually come with a litany of proven health benefits. Still not convinced? Read on!

The first, and most well-known, benefit of massage is the relief of muscle tension and, beyond that, injury prevention—which is why elite athletes flock to the massage table in droves. What’s more, massage might boost the immune system, manage chronic pain, and alleviate anxiety and depression. Furthermore, research over the past ten years confirms that massage is also considered the perfect antidote for stress. To that end, and in the right hands (pun intended), the recuperative and pampering powers of massage make it the perfect gift for such special occasions as birthdays, anniversaries—and, of course, Mother’s Day!

Today, massage therapy continues to impact people in positive ways and comes with a raft of research that confirms its ever-expanding role in our overall well-being. Says Nancy Porambo, President of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA): “Professional massage therapy is being increasingly viewed by physicians and their patients as an important component of integrated care. Nearly 9 of 10 American consumers we surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain. And, a growing body of research continues to validate that.”

According to Dr. Keri Peterson, a board certified internal medicine physician affiliated with New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Medical Center, “There is more and more clinical evidence that shows that massage therapy can be effective for a variety of health conditions, and massage is rapidly becoming recognized as an important part of health and wellness.” To illustrate the doctor’s point, here are nine additional health and medical benefits that you might not be aware of, and the studies that back them up:

Helps lower back pain. In a study conducted through Group Health Institute and published in the February 2014 edition of Scientific World Journal, researchers investigating whether chronic low-back pain therapy with massage therapy alone was as effective as combining it with non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, found that patients receiving massage were twice as likely as those receiving usual care to report significant improvements in both their pain and function. Massage patients also reported that they were able to reduce the amount of OTC anti-inflammatory medications they were taking.

Lessens inflammation after exercise. Research through the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, indicated that massage therapy lessens inflammation of skeletal muscles acutely damaged through exercise.

Alleviates the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Research published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice3 showed that adults with rheumatoid arthritis may feel a decrease in pain, as well as greater grip strength and range of motion in wrists and large upper joints, after receiving regular moderate-pressure massages during a 4-week period.

Relieves the pain of osteoarthritis. Research supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) showed that for those with osteoarthritis of the knee, sixty minute sessions of Swedish massage once a week significantly reduced their discomfort.

Improves balance, neurological, and cardiovascular measures in older adults. Research published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork found that older adults who receive massage therapy for up to six weeks could benefit from decreased blood pressure and improved stability. This study suggests that regular massage therapy can produce several advantages for the older generation, including a relaxation effect for the entire body, lower blood pressure, decreased stress and improved balance.

Decreases stress in cancer patients. According to research published in BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, massage therapy can have a positive influence on the quality of life of people suffering serious illnesses such as brain cancer. These study results suggest that massage therapy can improve physical as well as emotional well-being in patients with late stage disease. When used in combination with standard care, massage can also help reduce stress, anxiety, pain and fatigue.

Reduces anxiety in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Studies published in Applied Nursing Research5, shows that back massage given during chemotherapy can significantly reduce anxiety and acute fatigue. This research demonstrates the potential value of massage therapy within the full cancer treatment spectrum, particularly during the often mentally and physically exhausting chemotherapy process.

Alleviates pain from fibromyalgia. According to the AMTA’s own 2011 study, myofascial release techniques (often called deep tissue massage) improve pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic disease characterized by generalized pain, fatigue, and depression.

Reduces burn scars. In a study published in the March issue of the journal Burns, researchers concluded that burn rehabilitation massage therapy was effective in improving the pain, itching, and scar characteristics in hypertrophic scars after a burn.

Now this is news that rubs us the right way!

Massage and Summer Activities

Many of us are now eagerly harvesting our gardens planted, mowing our lawns and keeping our flower beds free of weeds.  You may also be experiencing new aches and pains from muscles and joints that haven’t been utilized in quite this way for many months.  This is a good time to consider massage therapy to keep you going and to keep your muscles, bones, and connective tissue in good working condition.  Here are some of the many benefits massage therapy provides.

  • Relieves stress, pain, pain induced anxiety, and muscle congestion
  • Improves range of motion increasing flexibility and muscle tone
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Improves metabolic waste removal strengthening immune function
  • Improves alertness
  • Reduces swelling
  • Clears thinking
  • Encourages faster healing time
  • Relieves tension headaches
  • Provides a sense of well-being
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Supports white blood cell proliferation aiding our immune system
  • Reduces depression
  • Relives symptoms of nausea and vomiting for the cancer patient
  • Enhances body image

Equally important as the season changes is to maintain adequate hydration.  Muscles and tissues require lots of fluids as well as good wholesome nutrition to function properly and to avoid spasms and sprains.  When we work or exercise hard our muscles build up lactic acid.  This is normal, but often can become lodged within the tissues when spasms or strains occur.  This creates those painful “knots” we often experience that can shorten our range of motion as well.

Massage therapy can release these pockets of lactic acid and return muscles to their optimal best functioning.  If left unattended, lactic acid can become more toxic to the body.  This causes an inflammatory response by the immune system and the pain cycle advances.

A professional massage therapist will apply the right kinds of techniques to muscles and joints to release tightness, cramping, spasms, and knots.

Keep yourself going great all summer, consider regional or full body massage to be your optimal best and complete all your summertime tasks with ease and comfort.

Contact Widdoss Therapeutic Massage to schedule your appointment next time you are in the Birmingham AL area.  Call 205-394-5900 or visit our website at www.wtmmassage.com for our current specials.

Benefits of Massage

First time massage is often motivated by a stressful or painful condition, but the benefits of massage go much deeper and offer you far more than you may have ever suspected. Regular massage can greatly benefit your overall health and well-being.

The most obvious benefit is that a massage makes you feel great! The stress-relieving, soothing results alone are enough for many to include massage as a regular part of their lives. What of the less obvious benefits?

The first sense to develop is your sense of touch. It’s not surprising when you consider that each square inch of your skin contains roughly 50 nerve endings. With as many as five million touch receptors in your skin relaying messages to your brain, your body’s initial response to massage is to relax, lower blood pressure and reduce the heart rate. Massage also signals the brain to produce endorphins, your body’s natural pain suppressors.

Going deeper, massage helps restore suppleness and strength to your muscles, improving their overall function. Massage is the ideal treatment for releasing tension or muscles in spasm and helps to release the toxins produced by muscle tissue during exercise.

Proper circulation is vital to continued health. Your blood and lymph carry nourishment to the trillions of cells throughout your body and then carry away the waste. Massage encourages a better exchange of nutrients at the cellular level.

The nervous system is your internal communication network, sending messages constantly that determine proper functioning throughout your body. Stress affects the ability of the nervous system to do its job. The many nerve endings found in the skin and muscles are soothed by massage.

Massage also aids in maintaining flexibility in your joints, such as the knee, hip, spine, shoulder, and neck. These joints are thoroughfares for nerves, veins and arteries, so their freedom of movement allows energy and blood to flow unimpeded.

All forms of massage therapy and bodywork can be therapeutic when applied by a skillful and knowledgeable therapist.

Some of the more common massage techniques include, but are not limited to: Swedish Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, Positional Release, Trigger Point Therapy and Rehabilitative Stretching Procedures.

It is common for some to play down the effects of so called Relaxation Massage and to even call it “Fluff,” however, as we learn more about the stress response and it’s role in creating disease, we see a definite need for this type of service.

The capacity to combine intuitive and scientifically proven principles defines the art and science of massage therapy.

What are the benefits of massage therapy?

• Releases tight and sore muscles which can cause ischemia, a lack of blood supply to soft tissues, which causes hypersensitivity to the touch and allows for further injury to the tissues.

• Helps relieve nerve compression or entrapment. (Pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone, which can contribute to muscle atrophy and referred pain.)

• Deactivates myofascial trigger points. These are areas of high neurological activity, which refer pain to other parts of the body. Research has shown, trigger points may be responsible for as much as 74 percent of everyday pain.

• Decreases pain and inflammation. Massage can restore suppleness and strength to your muscles, improving their overall function. It’s the ideal treatment for releasing tension or muscles in spasm.

• Alleviates stress and improves circulation. Proper circulation is vital to continued health. Your blood and lymph carry nourishment to the trillions of cells throughout your body and then carry away the waste to be eliminated from the cells. Remember, the future “you” is determined by how well your army of cells regenerate themselves, so this is indeed a critical part of remaining healthy. Massage has been practiced for thousands of years and is one of the earliest health treatments known to man. That is why it remains one of the best ways of dealing with everyday stress.

• Aids in Digestion. Massage can improve digestive motility.

• Increases flexibility and range of motion. By reducing hypertonicity and hypotonicity the muscles allow for normal ranges of motion to be restored. This also reduces the forces being applied to the joint capsule and diminishes the potential for joint and disk degeneration.

• Calms the nervous system. Stress can affect the ability of the nervous system to do its job. The many nerve endings found in the skin and muscles are soothed by massage, and this contributes to keeping your internal lines of communication open and operational.

• Alleviate headaches. Frequent headaches are not normal and, with a little proactive planning, there is something that can be done to manage and even prevent them. Headaches come in many varieties. Following is a short list of the most common types.

Migraine headaches occur when the blood vessels in the brain become dilated, usually due to a chemical reaction, such as food allergies or a stress response. They often start with visual disturbances and quickly develop into severe head pain accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. They’re usually felt on one side of the head, but can be on both sides. Migraines are often managed with medications and avoidance of foods known to trigger them. However, some bodywork techniques can also be effective in easing migraines or decreasing the frequency.

Tension Headaches, exaggerated by stress, are related to poor posture, jaw problems, and neck pain. Tension headaches are most often caused or exacerbated by poor posture, work station positions, and body mechanics, creating undue stress on the upper neck muscles.

Mixed Headaches is used to describe a tension headache that leads to a migraine. Typically, the tension headache starts first and the chemicals produced from the pain of it create conditions for a migraine to develop. In people with patterns of mixed headaches, the best way to avoid the onset of a migraine is to treat the tension headache.

• Improves posture and coordination

Massage is cost effective. By assisting the client towards a quicker recovery from acute headaches, neck and back pain, skeletal muscular strains, sprains, etc. he or she is able to return to a normal productive life more quickly. Massage can also help to prevent future chronic pain conditions by effectively dealing with the cause of the problem and eliminating it. It is shown in scientific literature that over 80 percent of the pain comes from soft tissue injuries, and over 74 percent is directly attributed to trigger points.

A massage does not have to be painful to be beneficial. On the other hand, you may enjoy a really hard massage. And you can continue having massages even after your muscles have totally released the memory of injury.

There is something particularly satisfying when your massage therapist locates the exact place where your pain is, and you can really feel that part of you being released. After a while, your muscles and joints feel so much better.  A good massage is just amazing – You walk in, lie down, and walk out feeling so much better.

Sciatica Pain associated with Pregnancy

Some lucky women breeze through pregnancy with hardly any physical discomfort. But for others, unexpected aches and pains become a constant part of the nine-month journey. One of the most common complaints a massage therapists hears about relates to sciatica pain. Fortunately, one of the most effective treatments for this issue is massage.

The sciatic nerve runs from the neck through the midsection of the back of the body and into the leg. As a woman’s pregnancy advances, this nerve bears the brunt of the growing fetus and expanding uterus. Additionally, swelling from water retention can increase pressure on this nerve, contributing to inflammation. Pregnant women who drive long distances or have jobs that require sitting for long periods of time may have a higher risk of developing sciatica. And, of course, the position of the fetus significantly affects sciatic-related pain.

Sciatic pain typically affects only one side of the lower body and may extend from the lower back into the back of the thigh and down the leg. In some cases, the pain may also radiate into the foot or toes. As the fetus moves, the pain may subside or worsen. Unfortunately, sciatica is fairly common during the second and third trimesters.

However, each woman has a different pain threshold and will experience different symptoms. In some cases, sciatic pain can be quite severe and debilitating. In others, the pain could be fleeting and mildly discomfiting. Some women report a pinprick sensation in the leg, foot or lower back. Others experience mild numbness and tingling, a dull ache or burning sensation. In extreme cases, the pain can be incapacitating. Sciatic pain is unpredictable and could resolve on its own.

Before beginning massage, the therapist needs to identify the severity and point of origin of the pain. Bending the knee and lifting the foot will help to lengthen the piriformis muscle. A professional massage therapist will warm up the area with a series of passes using your fist, forearm or elbow, followed by static compression with the elbow or a loose fist. Constant pressure on the piriformis and gluteal muscles helps them relax and reduces spasms.

Pain associated with sciatica may continue after the baby is born, since the rate at which the uterus returns to its normal size varies from one woman to the next. Regular massage post delivery can help relieve discomfort and allow the new mom to enjoy her infant. As a reminder, a sciatica injury that was present before you became pregnant, will eventually go away.

Therapeutic Massage can relieve sore muscles

A new study shows that massage therapy can help ease sore muscles as well as improve blood flow for active and non-active individuals. The positive effects can last for more than 72 hours, and those with poor circulation or limited ability to move may benefit the most from massage, according to researchers. For the study, researchers asked 36 healthy but inactive young adults to use a leg press machine until their legs became sore.  Half of participants were given a Swedish leg massage after exercise, and all participants rated their muscle soreness on a scale from one to 10.

A third comparison group did not exercise but received a massage.   A HealthDay news report notes that although both exercise groups were sore right after their workout, the persons who got the massage said they had no soreness 90 minutes later.  However, those in the group that did not receive a massage said they were sore 24 hours after they exercised.

The research team also measured the participants’ brachial artery flow mediated dilation in their arms, which is a standard measure of general vascular health, that was taken 90 minutes as well as 1, 2, and 3 days after exercise. The people who received a post-exercise massage had improved blood flow at every testing interval and the benefits of the massage didn’t dispel until after 72 hours had passed.

Nina Cherie Franklin, PhD, first author of the study, says, “We believe that massage is really changing physiology in a positive way. This is not just blood flow speeds — this is actually a vascular response.” The research team also found that the control group who received massage only showed virtually identical levels of improvement in circulation as the exercise and massage group.

Franklin states, “Our study validates the value of massage in exercise and injury, which has been previously recognized but based on minimal data. It also suggests the value of massage outside of the context of exercise.”