When receiving a massage, especially a therapeutic one, you may have heard the therapist talk about fascia. It is hard to understand what that is unless you have studied the anatomy or fascia therapy for that matter. Here is a brief definition of what it is and how it works in your body.
In my line of work, there is nothing more explanatory than show and tell.
Here is a photo of some work I performed on a client's knee that was not functional after the surgery she had. She had constant pain in her knee, and had difficulty in bending down and doing very simple exercises. After only two sessions of lymphatic drainage and light massage to loosen the scar tissue (scar), we could see the knee cap (patella) where it was lost in the swelling beforehand, and there was definite improvement in her knee. She felt she could move her leg easily, the swelling decreased and the mobility restored was enough to allow her to go back to the gym and work out in a regular manner. There may be more sessions required in the future but after two, she was already very pleased.
Moral of this story: sometimes after surgery, the area requires a little more work in order for the body to adapt to the physiological change. With a little help and patience, there is definitely a chance that you can get back into doing the activities that you were doing before the event happened that caused the surgery.
When most people decide to make fitness a vital part of their lives, the process usually begins with a focus on action. After all, the things we define as fitness are typically actions in and of themselves. For instance, among the actions that often fall into the category of fitness are jogging, jumping rope, biking, lifting weights and taking exercise classes. However, it is important not to limit one's view of fitness to these sorts of actions, for a narrow view of fitness does not always bring about the best results.
By opening our minds a bit and taking a broader view of fitness, we begin to see that many other actions can contribute to one's overall fitness, which includes well-being of the mind and body. With this larger view, we can begin to see how something as passive as massage therapy might play a crucial role in achieving overall fitness, even though massage therapy is not nearly as active—for the recipient, at least—as an activity like lifting weights or taking an exercise class.
The reason massage therapy can fit in so well with a person's push toward fitness is because massage can help round out the experience, balancing all those actions that can take a toll on both the body and mind, and helping to alleviate any issues that may crop up as a result of one's fitness program. For example, the man who lifts weights five days a week
In an effort to pack on more lean muscle and gain strength may benefit from regularly booking sessions with a massage therapist to help ensure he stays healthy enough to stick with this intense fitness program. Of course, the concept of "healthy enough" may be a subjective one, but in the aforementioned example, it usually means massage therapy can help to release any knots or other areas of tension within the man's muscles, which are being stressed, pushed and torn each day in effort to make them larger and stronger. Without regular massage sessions, this man may be more prone to injuries associated with such intense and frequent weight lifting.
Massage therapy can help make fitness-oriented individuals less sore, so they can feel more motivated and able to get back out there and do what they love, whether it be lifting weights or attending yoga classes. Going beyond this basic benefit, massage therapy can also help athletes and other fitness fanatics avoid overuse issues, heal faster from existing injuries and even access the kind of mental calm and focus that can boost fitness performance.
As far as the mental or emotional benefits of massage therapy, you can think of your next massage session as recovery time for not only your body, but also your mind. By reducing mental stress and tension, massage therapy can help you access this less tangible side of overall fitness.
Fascia may be the missing piece for your lingering injury By Julia Lucas Published June 10, 2011.
You've got this injury you just can't shake.You take time off. You ice and stretch and do all the right things but you're still limping home. You spend too much time trying to articulate your particular brand of hurt to those loved ones who still put up with you. You follow referrals to physical therapists and massage therapists and you'd go to an aromatherapist if it'd help you run again, but nothing does. You diagnose yourself on WebMD: You're a structurally flawed human being for whom recovery is impossible.
DON'T GIVE UP YET
The answer may be right under your fingertips. About 2mm under your fingertips, to be precise. Under your skin, encasing your body and webbing its way through your insides like spider webs, is fascia. Fascia is made up primarily of densely packed collagen fibers that create a full body system of sheets, chords and bags that wrap, divide and permeate every one of your muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organs. Every bit of you is encased in it. You're protected by fascia, connected by fascia and kept in taut human shape by fascia.
Why didn't anyone mention fascia earlier? Because not many people know that much about it. Fascia's messy stuff. It's hard to study. It's so expansive and intertwined it resists the medical standard of being cut up and named for textbook illustrations. Besides that, its function is tricky, more subtle than that of the other systems. For the majority of medical history it's been assumed that bones were our frame, muscles the motor, and fascia just packaging.
In fact, the convention in med-school dissections has been to remove as much of the fascia as possible in order to see what was underneath, the important stuff. That framed Illustration hanging in your doctor's office of the red-muscled, wide-eyed human body is a body with its fascia cut away; it's not what you look like inside, but it's a lot neater and easier to study and it's the way doctors have long been taught to look at you. Until recently, that is.
What exactly does it do? It wraps around each of your individual internal parts, keeping them separate and allowing them to slide easily with your movements. It's strong, slippery and wet. It creates a sheath around each muscle; because it's stiffer, it resists over-stretching and acts like an anatomical emergency break. It connects your organs to your ribs to your muscles and all your bones to each other. It structures your insides in a feat of engineering, balancing stressors and counter-stressors to create a mobile, flexible and resilient body unit. It generally keeps you from being a big, bone-filled blob.
"Fascia is the missing element in the movement/stability equation," says Tom Myers, author of the acclaimed book Anatomy Trains. Myers was among the first medical professionals to challenge the field's ignorance of fascia in the human body. He has long argued for a more holistic treatment, with a focus on the fascia as an unappreciated overseer. "While every anatomy lists around 600 separate muscles, it is more accurate to say that there is one muscle poured into six hundred pockets of the fascial webbing. The 'illusion' of separate muscles is created by the anatomist's scalpel, dividing tissues along the planes of fascia. This reductive process should not blind us to the reality of the unifying whole."
BUT, THAT'S THE OLD NEWS
What rocked the medical community's world was this: Fascia isn't just plastic wrap. Fascia can contract and feel and impact the way you move. It's our richest sense organ, it possess the ability to contract independently of the muscles it surrounds and it responds to stress without your conscious command. That's a big deal. It means that fascia is impacting your movements, for better or worse. It means that this stuff massage therapists and physical therapists and orthopedists have right at their fingertips is the missing variable, the one they've been looking for.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOU?
Grab hold of the collar of your shirt and give it a little tug. Your whole shirt responds, right? Your collar pulls into the back of your neck. The tail of your shirt inches up the small of your back. Your sleeves move up your forearms. Then it falls back into place. That's a bit like fascia. It fits like a giant, body-hugging T-shirt over your whole body, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and crisscrossing back and forth and through and back again. You can't move just one piece of it, and you can't make a move without bringing it along.
Now, pull the collar of your shirt again, only this time, hold onto it for eight hours. That's about the time you spend leaning forward over a desk or computer or steering wheel, right? Now, pull it 2,500 times. That's about how many steps you'd take on a half-hour run. Your shirt probably isn't looking too good at this point.
Fortunately, your fascia is tougher than your shirt is, and it has infinitely more self-healing properties. In its healthy state it's smooth and supple and slides easily, allowing you to move and stretch to your full length in any direction, always returning back to its normal state. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely that your fascia maintains its optimal flexibility, shape or texture. Lack of activity will cement the once-supple fibers into place. Chronic stress causes the fibers to thicken in an attempt to protect the underlying muscle. Poor posture and lack of flexibility and repetitive movements pull the fascia into ingrained patterns. Adhesions form within the stuck and damaged fibers like snags in a sweater, and once they've formed they're hard to get rid of.
And, remember, it's everywhere. This webbing is so continuous that If your doctor's office were to add a poster of your true human anatomy, including its fascia, fascia is all you'd see. Thick and white in places like your IT band and plantar fascia, less than 1mm and nearly transparent on your eyelids. And within all that fascia you have adhesions and areas of rigidity. You likely have lots of them.
But, this isn't bad news. Every bit of the damage you've caused your fascia is reversible, and every one of the problems it's caused you were avoidable. You take care of your muscles with stretching and foam rolling and massage. You take care of your bones with diet and restraint. You never knew that you needed to take care of your fascia, but now you do. You may just shake that nagging injury after all.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR FASCIA
MOVE IT OR LOSE IT: Sticky adhesions form between fascial surfaces that aren't regularly moved, and over time these adhesions get strong enough to inhibit range of motion. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning to roll around in bed and really stretch out, head to toe, just like a cat after a nap.
STAY LUBRICATED: Just like every other tissue in your body, your fascia is made of water. It works better, moves better and feels better when it's wet. So, drink!
STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES: When your muscles are chronically tight the surrounding fascia tightens along with them. Over time the fascia becomes rigid, compressing the muscles and the nerves.
STRETCH YOUR FASCIA: Once your fascia has tightened up, it doesn't want to let go. Because the fascia can withstand up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, you're not going to force your way through, so stretch gently. Fascia also works in slower cycles than muscles do, both contracting and stretching more slowly. To stretch the fascia, hold gentle stretches for three to five minutes, relaxing into a hold.
RELAX! If you spend all day tense and tight at a desk, ice baths may not be the best thing for you. Fifteen to 20 minutes in a warm Epsom salt bath can coax tight fascia to loosen up, releasing your muscles from their stranglehold. Make sure to follow it up with 10 minutes of light activity to keep blood from pooling in your muscles.
USE A FOAM ROLLER: Like stretching, using a foam roller on your fascia is different than on your muscles. Be gentle and slow in your movements, and when you find an area of tension hold sustained pressure for three to five minutes. You may practice self-massage with the same rules.
RESPECT YOUR BODY: If you're attempting to run through an injury, or returning from one with a limp, beware: Your fascia will respond to your new mechanics and, eventually, even after your injury is gone, you may maintain that same movement pattern. That's a recipe for an injury cycle. It's better to take some extra time than to set yourself up for long-term trouble.
SEE A FASCIAL SPECIALIST: If you have a nagging injury, or just don't feel right lately, see if your area has a fascial or myofascial therapy specialist. There are also different philosophies and methods, ranging from Rolfing, which is very aggressive, to fascial unwinding, which is very gentle. Some methods are similar to massage, while others concentrate on long assisted stretches. Talk to the therapist to see what you need and want. Some osteopaths, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists are beginning to embrace fascial therapies, so ask around.
or SEE A MOVEMENT EDUCATION THERAPIST: The Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method are the two best known of this sort of therapy, long embraced by dancers and gymnasts. They use verbal cues, light touch and simple exercises to lessen unconscious destructive movement patterns that may be irritating your fascia.
Source from Runnersworld
When the sun starts to go down earlier in the day at this time of year, the lack of sunlight can affect us in different ways. Some find themselves feeling blue for no particular reason, and it is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
Massage is touted as one of the first treatments available for depression. However, with the advances in science and technology in the 1940s and beyond, the treatment of massage for depression soon became replaced by drugs and other more scientific therapies. While massage is still an option, it lacks the same caliber of attention in comparison to pharmaceutical treatments.
The Touch Research Institute has conducted the majority of the studies investigating massage for depression. These studies have shown that massage reduces depression and anxiety and leads to a decrease in the levels of stress hormones in the bodies of participants. A study into the effects of massage for depression and anxiety conducted by Field in 1998 suggests that increased activity of the parasympathetic system may be the cause of these changes. However, a psychological component may also make a contribution.
In 1996, Field, Scafidi, Grizzle and Schanberg examined the effects of massage for depression on 32 depressed teenage mothers. The mothers each received either ten 30-minute massage sessions or ten 30-minute relaxation therapy sessions over a course of five weeks. Both groups reported reduced anxiety following the initial and final sessions. However, the women in the massage group showed additional changes in behavior and stress hormone levels. The results of this study suggest that massage therapy had a beneficial effect on reducing stress hormone levels and improving behavior in this particular group of individuals.
Further research into massage for depression has been conducted by Dr. Wen-Hsuan Hou. Dr. Wen-Hsuan Hou sought randomized controlled trials, where a total of seventeen studies including 786 patients were identified by the researchers. Four of these trials compared massage therapy with a control group who received no treatment while thirteen of these trials compared massage for depression with an alternative treatment such as rest or relaxation therapy. A range of methods were used to evaluate levels of depression in the studies and each study was rated according to their quality. Overall, it was shown that massage therapy could potentially be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms depression.
Andrew Vickers, a former researcher for the Research Council for Complementary Medicine, has conducted extensive research into the benefits of massage for depression. Vickers claims that while massage is unable to cure depression, it can aid people in coping better and improving the quality of their lives, such as reducing stress, aid relaxation and cause the release of the hormone oxytocin.
Muscle Spasms, Cramps, and Charley Horses
You could be out for a run or drifting off to sleep when it happens: The muscles of your calf or foot suddenly become hard, tight, and extremely painful. You are having a muscle cramp.
Sometimes called charley horses -- particularly when they are in the calf muscles -- cramps are caused by muscle spasms, involuntary contractions of one or more muscles. In addition to the foot and calf muscles, other muscles prone to spasms include the front and back of the thigh, the hands, arms, abdomen, and muscles along the rib cage.
Almost everyone experiences muscle cramps, which come without warning. What causes them, and what can you do to relieve them?
Possible Causes of Muscle Cramps Muscle cramps can have many possible causes. They include:
Muscle cramps can also occur as a side effect of some drugs. Medications that can cause muscle cramps include:
Treatment of a Muscle Spasm When muscle cramps occur, there are several things you can do to help ease them, such as massaging, stretching, or icing the muscle, warming the muscle, or taking a bath with Epsom salt.
For a charley horse in the calf or a cramp in the back of the thigh (hamstring), try putting your weight on the affected leg and bending your knee slightly, or sit or lie down with your leg out straight and pull the top of your foot toward your head. For a cramp in the front of the thigh (quadriceps), hold onto a chair to steady yourself and pull your foot back toward your buttock.
To help reduce the risk of cramps in the future, try the following:
Thai Foot Reflexology
Is commonly referred to as Thai Foot Massage and is a relaxing yet invigorating treatment of the feet and lower legs It was greatly influenced by China and India, whose reflexology systems are thousands of years old. The Thais softened the technique with a wide variety of relaxing techniques to offset the deeper techniques of the Chinese approach.The result is a blend of Chinese Reflexology and Thai acupressure point and "Sen Line" work.
Reflexology is a natural healing art based on the principle that there are points in the feet which correspond to every gland and organ of the body – by stimulating the points on the feel, the organs are stimulated as well.
What are the benefits? ·
-Relaxation/ stress relief
-Release of tension and anxiety
-Improves oxygen and normalizes glandular function
-Improves blood and nerve supply to all areas of the body
-Stimulates the lymphatic system, which boosts the immune system
-Improves circulation to aid the elimination of excess waste products and fluids
-Increases oxygen flow from the lungs to all tissues
-Energizes and re-balances the body
-Helps to balance the endocrine (hormonal) system
-Promotes the natural function of the body.
Thai Reflexology can be used for all ages as a holistic non-invasive therapy that aids in balancing the body and calming the mind. Thai reflexology can be its own treatment, or in conjunction with a full body massage.
CST is a complete gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the tissues of the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance. Using a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel – practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. involves working with the core of the body, (the cranium, the spine, the spinal fluids, the sacrum, etc). Why is it called "Cranio-sacral"? In the philosophy of CST (Craniosacral Therapy) the health or lack of, will be expressed in this area of the body (nervous system, cranium, vertebral spine, sacrum). The therapist can make adjustments through subtle palpations and trained energetic movements, creating a balance. This system, once working efficiently as a unit, helps the body restore health on it’s own. For more information and when it can be helpful, please see my "treatments" area on the website.
Many clients ask me to define Craniosacral Therapy. This is one of the best explanations that I have seen in a video and I feel it gives a clear idea of how it works..please see the youtube link below..
When driving for prolonged periods the lumbar curve is all but lost, placing extra strain on the vertebrae and discs.
The spine is subjected to considerable vibration and jolting.
Modern cars have a lower roof line and so reduced internal space.To allow this the seat is often lowered and tipped back which causes the legs to be straighter, placing strain on the hamstrings, in turn pulling on their pelvic attachments and resulting in the pelvis rolling backwards.
Strain is also placed on the cervical spine (neck) due to the seat being tipped back and the driver having to flex the neck by up to 20 degrees in order to look straight ahead.
What is the best driving position?
Ensure as much of your thighs are supported by the seat as possible.
Don't sit too far away from the pedals as this may put additional strain on the upper back and neck.
Adjust the steering wheel so that you can reach it with bent arms with hands in the 10 to 2 position.
If you have a lumbar support adjust it so it presses gently on the lower back at belt height.
What can help ease low back pain when driving?
Lumbar support is important. If your car seat does not supply enough lumbar support then an in-car lumbar support can be purchased.
Automatic cars place less strain on the back as constant clutch use in a manual places pressure on the lumbar discs.
If you only find you get back pain on longer journeys, don't try to complete the journey in one go.
Stop regularly, get out of the car and move around.
After long periods of driving your back is weaker and more susceptible to injury, so resist the temptation to bend and stretch.
Regular massage therapy can help correct and alleviate back pain.
As I continue to work in this expanding field, I myself grow every day with lessons and information that can be helpful to many people. This indeed, is why I am here to share..