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!

Benefits of Massage

Massage therapy is the best possible form of relaxation, and it improves general health. While massage is a form of relaxation, it also improves circulation as well as treats various diseases.

The human body is closely related, so the massage helps the body as a whole and no matter what massage you receive, its action is always multiply. By applying pressure a therapist expands the capillaries and lymph vessels, leading to better secretion, which restores and refreshes the skin and subcutaneous tissue, promoting regeneration, removing wrinkles. Any good therapist will consider the body as a whole and work to improve their mental and physical state of the patient or client. Regardless of the technique used, the effects of massage will be good for the skeletal system, which will reduce the stiffness and pain, especially in the joints. It will increase the elasticity of muscles.

Massage affects the nervous system. It pleasantly stimulates the nervous system by acting on the pituitary secretion of the hormone endorphin, the hormone of happiness. Massage is the oldest form of therapeutic healing. It is a therapeutic method that simultaneously provokes a feeling of comfort, relaxation and harmony of the entire body and achieves positive changes in the physical body. In addition to the physical, massage gives positive mental effects – relaxation, pleasure, unburdened, peace of mind.

Massage is an excellent form of therapy for all ages – babies, children and adults. Massage can be a primary or adjunct treatment for certain disorders / diseases, and is always useful for healthy people. It is useful in case of painful muscles ( back, neck, arms, legs ), headache, indigestion, limited joint mobility, tendonitis, muscle atrophy … Relieves rheumatic pains and circulatory problems, edema, ” heavy legs,” helps to reduce the amount of adipose tissue and cellulite.
Massage can be received at any time except when the following conditions / diseases occur:

– Increased body temperature ( running a fever )

– Inflammatory, purulent processes in the skin

– Skin burns

– Bleeding, hemophilia

– Inflammation of veins

You should inform and consult your doctor if you want to go for a massage, and you have the following symptoms:

– Cardiovascular or circulatory problems (thrombosis, varicose veins, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.)

– diabetes

– epilepsy

– malignant processes

– HIV

Massage during pregnancy should be practiced very carefully and with the approval of a physician. After a doctor approves massage, pregnant woman can undergo a massage with complete confidence.

Pleasant massage is the best thing you can do for yourself if you feel exhausted or you just want a little reward. Scientists have, in fact, found that a good massage does for the body a lot more than just relaxes the muscles. Massage reduces inflammation at the molecular level and in some ways mimics the actions of painkillers. It addition it stimulates the growth of new mitochondria, the creator of energy in cells.

Easing the pain that is associated with massages probably involves the same mechanisms that are triggered by inflammatory drugs. The many benefits of massage are useful for a wider range of individual therapy especially in elderly people with muscle or bone injuries and patients with chronic illnesses

Given the pressures of modern life and increased occurrence of stress-related illnesses, massage therapy plays an important role in everyday life. Make the time for yourself and enjoy a nice foot massage for example.  It is meant to alleviate at least some tension in everyday life so you could come back again in touch with yourself and your priorities in order for your body to be in sync with your mind.

Thank Dad with a Father’s Day Massage in Birmingham AL

Father’s Day is quickly approaching, and finding a gift that truly shows how much you care about the special Dad in your life isn’t always easy. But what if you could give Dad something that would soothe him, calm him, and quite possibly improve his general health and well-being? At Widdoss Therapeutic Massage we offer convenient and affordable massages.

Dads work hard 365 days a year, and Father’s Day is a great time to show him how much you care! A massage with one of our licensed therapists is the perfect way to help the Dads in our lives relax and de-stress.

Massage therapy can be an important part of nearly anyone’s personal wellness regimen. Besides relaxing muscles and relieving stress, massage therapy offers other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, improving flexibility and range of motion, alleviating headaches and managing pain. Massage is increasingly being used in conjunction with traditional medicine to offer a drug-free, non-invasive, and humanistic approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Give Widdoss Therapeutic Massage a call today at 205-394-5900 to schedule an appointment for you, and while you are there, you can pick up a gift certificate for Dad.

Do you tip a Massage Therapist?

There is always a controversy about tipping in the massage field. Some therapists don’t accept tips at all…many medically-oriented massage therapists who have the attitude that “you don’t tip your doctor, so don’t tip me.” Others may be employed in spas where a tip is automatically added to the bill, or a salon, cruise ship or other environment where it’s expected.

When a client asks, we tell them we would rather have them come back more and reap the benefits of massage if it means not tipping or tipping less.

A tip is something that is given in gratitude for great service.  We want the therapists in our office to give great service to everyone, whether they tip or not, and they do.  We like the old saying, “Never expected, always appreciated,” and think it should apply to everyone who does accept gratuities.