Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular therapy is a bodywork technique used primarily to asses and correct postural distortions within the body and retrain the muscles on correct alignment and movement patterns. This type of therapy is utilised by massage therapists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and osteopaths to correct postural distortions and bring relief of chronic pain for clients.
A neuromuscular massage as performed by a Licensed Massage Therapist varies in depth of pressure, passive and active movement (client moving the muscle or therapist), and what other modalities are used in conjunction with NMT (neuromuscular therapy). Each school of massage has their own way of teaching NMT; however, every therapist should know the basics of NMT and how it can benefit their client.
Neuromuscular therapy can also be described as a deep tissue technique because it works through the layers of muscle and fascia (a thixotropic connective tissue that wraps around muscles, individual muscle fibres and layers between muscle and skin) to bring deep relief to chronically tight or taught muscles.
While the basic Swedish style massage focuses on relaxation and flow, a neuromuscular massage will feel deeper and include focus on muscles that can contribute to a postural distortion rather than just the muscles that are in pain. If a client presents with rounded shoulders and just wants work on their understandably painful back and rhomboids, a neuromuscular therapist will also suggest working on the front to the body to relieve the tension on the back of their body.
In the case of a rounded forward posture, contributing muscles can include pectorals,coracobrachialis, diaphragm, iliopsoas, and the scalene/ scm neck muscles. All of these muscles contract and tighten down on the front of the body during daily activities of sitting, typing, carrying, reaching, driving etc. to give a chronically rounded posture and thus cause pain between the shoulders, neck, and mid to low back. It is a Licensed Massage Therapist’s job to understand this relationship between the front and back of the body and take a holistic approach in their clients care rather than treating them as separate entities.
A relaxation massage is a wonderful thing to receive but if you are suffering from a chronic issue or you can never seem to get relief from your painful shoulders, back, neck etc. then think about asking your Licensed Massage Therapist to add in some neuromuscular techniques to correct these issues and bring your posture back into alignment.

Rotator Cuff Stuff

The rotator cuff is a group of 4 muscles in your shoulder that rotates your humerus: the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Subscapularis, and Teres Minor. This muscle group is essential to healthy shoulder range of motion. You also have ther muscles that help move and stabilize the shoulder: deltoid, teres major, corachobrachialis, latissimus dorsi, and pectoralis major, but we aren’t focusing on those.

In an article by Massage Today, Joel Schwartz, DC states 5 interesting facts about the rotator cuff:

  • Despite their small size, these muscles provide the primary means of stability to your shoulder joint. They are working hard with any movement your arm makes.
  • These muscles are inadequately strengthened by most fitness and sports exercise regimens, thus they are not properly conditioned.
  • Most of us lack coordination in the joints of our shoulder, neck and upper back region as a result of poor posture and repetitive motions. This results in a continual friction and abrasion to the rotator cuff muscles and tendons.
  • Previous shoulder injuries treated only with rest and medication were not properly rehabilitated and are prone to re-injury until properly conditioned by corrective exercise and deep massage.
  • The blood supply to the rotator cuff muscles starts to atrophy somewhat in people over the age of 40.
    rotator cuff

So what are the actions you do that utilize these muscles?

  • Throwing a ball
  • Picking anything up
  • Driving
  • Pushing a grocery cart
  • Carrying anything
  • Washing dishes
  • Taking a shower
  • Any shoulder exercise
  • So much more….

We use our rotator cuff every day! It’s been my experience that the rotator cuff can be a huge culprit in your shoulder pain. When your rotator cuff muscles are tense, they pull on everything else in you shoulders, which then radiates pressure and pain throughout the rest of the shoulder girdle. Rotator cuff pain can radiate between your shoulders and even down your arm, depending on which of these muscles is the main culprit.

Because of how often we use these muscles, they are very prone to injuries. The three most common types of injuries for the rotator cuff are an impingement, a tear, or overuse / tendonitis. The Mayo Clinic has a great video and further explanation of the main injuries. Each of these injuries can benefit from massage.

Impinging on a joint prohibits and limits the abilities and range of motion of the joint. Movement is life, so you can see where an impingement might be a problem. Limited range of motion is a breeding ground for tension and muscular dysfunction. Muscles tighten up and can’t loosen, which then pulls the joint closer together. You do not need your joints closer together! Impinging on the joint can cause a lack of blood flow, can put pressure on your nerves which would eventually cause nerve damage, or just rub your bones together too much and cause more joint issues that eventually would need surgery.

A tear cannot be fixed with massage, so don’t think that’s what we’re saying; however, with a tear comes tension in the muscle to compensate. By reducing the tension, the effects of the tear might not be quite as bad. A tear can happen in the muscle or in the tendon. A tendon tear is much worse–it takes longer to heal.

Massage Today also has a great article that outlines tendonitis and how it affects you. It also talks about how tendonitis isn’t always what’s going on with that tendon. It says, “… most tendinitis complaints have been found to be devoid of inflammatory cells. … The main problem in these overuse tendon disorders appears to be collagen degeneration from overuse. It has also been suggested that this would explain the frequent lack of success in treating tendinitis complaints with anti-inflammatory medication. Numerous authors and clinicians have suggested that the term “tendinosis” (literally meaning “pathology of the tendon”) is a much more appropriate term than “tendonitis,” which specifically indicates inflammation.” If you have been dealing with any kind of tendonitis and it still give you problems, try out massage to help with it. You’d be surprised at what we can do.

With any rotator cuff issue, Dr. Joel Schwartz, DC stated at the end of the Massage Today article how to correct rotator cuff issues:

  • Use neuromuscular and myofascial techniques to treat adhesions and trigger points in the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. (See a Licensed Massage Therapist for these techniques.)
  • When these muscles and tendons are free of adhesions and trigger points, they will be stronger and function much better in their important job of stabilizing the shoulder joint. They also will not be a source of pain.
  • Learn techniques to increase the flexibility of the shoulder joint capsule itself.
  • Comprehensively strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and also the key scapular stabilizers such as the lower and middle trapezius, the rhomboids and the serratus anterior. Strengthening the scapular stabilizers will prevent a secondary impingement, which results from a lack of the control of the scapula as it glides along the chest wall.

Keeping your rotator cuff healthy can prevent so much pain and so many possible injuries. These are smaller muscles, yes. But they are so important!

Young Living with … PanAway

One of the most popular blends Young Living has to offer, PanAway reduces pain an inflammation. It can also increasecirculation and accelerate healing. The mix of wintergreen, helichrysum, clove, and peppermint make for a very fresh, clean scent that immediately calms the body.
PanAway can be applied directly to the temples, back of neck, or forehead for decreasing headaches. Applied directly to the spine can help alleviate discomfort within the spine. It can also help alleviate deep muscle pain, at least until you come in for a massage.
Because of the amount of menthol and the intensity of this oil blend, there is a risk of skin sensitivity. If you find that there is a skin sensitivity, please dilute it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, apricot oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil.
Order directly online or send an email.
You can also sign up to be a Young Living Distributor.

Disc – O – Tech

It’s been a theme recently that I’ve been working with a lot of people with disc issues. Serious disc issues. When you have a disc issue, it can cause pain, stiffness, even numbness and tingling. If you’ve experienced disc dysfunction, you know how agonizing and painful and relentless it really is.

 

A disc is the spongy donut, essentially, found between each vertebra. This provides not only a cushion between each spinal bone, but also a larger opening for your spinal cord nerves to come out and provide that neurological stimulation for your body. These discs are important and necessary. They also receive almost no blood. Blood is what keeps everything new, fresh, and healthy. Your discs pump water with the movements you do with your spine, so movement is insanely important for disc health.

 

Picture found on wikipedia

The construction of the vertebra-disc-vertebra has almost no horizontal movement for fear of the disc slipping. Two of the most common types of disc slippage are a bulge and a herniation. Each one of these cause tremendous amounts of pain, but not all require surgery.

Randy A. Shelerud, MD stated on WebMD:

“A bulging disk extends outside the space it should normally occupy. The bulge typically affects a large portion of the disk, so it may look a little like a hamburger that’s too big for its bun. The part of the disk that’s bulging is typically the tough outer layer of cartilage. Bulging usually is considered part of the normal aging process of the disk.

 

“A herniated disk, on the other hand, results when a crack in the tough outer layer of cartilage allows some of the softer inner cartilage to protrude out of the disk. Herniated disks are also called ruptured disks or slipped disks.”

 

While surgery for a bulging disc is rare, surgery for a herniation still isn’t 100%. Each of these have the ability to heal with regularalternative therapies, such as massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and physical therapy. So many discs have the power to heal without surgery if just given the right opportunity. It takes consistency and a team of well trained professionals who are all working for the same goal.

 

Surgery is not the only answer for many herniations, but there is a time and place for it. Oftentimes, after a back surgery for a disc issue, many patients have to do the same physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care anyway to gain the healing it needs. So unless your doctor really advises you otherwise, try alternative therapies first. I am not saying that if your doctor has suggested surgery to ignore it. Please do not read this and disregard what your doctor has said. It is important to listen to your doctor. Most importantly, have patience. It takes time to heal.

101 Ways Massage Will Improve Your Life

Massage really has a million benefits, but here is a quick list of 101 ways massage can and does improve lives every day.

Psychological:

1. Reduce Stress

2. Reduce Anxiety

3. Reduces depression

4. Can help to gain new perspectives by relaxing the mind which can help create new neuropathways

5. An escape from life / mini vacation

6. Helps you become more self-aware by knowing what is going on in your body

7. Increase mindfulness

8. Boost mental health and wellness

9. Increase vitality

10. Increases sense of well-beingSpaFinder

11. Increases productivity

12. Can help increasing reaction time

13. Can increase alertness

14. Increase mental clarity

Physical:

15. Improves posture

16. Increase range of motion

17. Decrease chronic pain

18. Decrease tension headaches and frequency of migraines

19. Hydrates and revitalizes skin

20. Reduce spasms and cramping

21. Keeps discs healthy

22. Decreases pressure on the joints

23. Decrease stiffness

24. Help manage carpal tunnel

25. Decrease jaw pain

26. Help manage chronic jaw issues

27. Ease sciatica

28. Reduce tender points

29. Increases metabolism

30. Reduces lactic acid build up

31. Lower Blood pressure

32. Reduce acute pain

33. Increase blood flow

34. Increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues

35. Can aid in elimination

36. Ease pain in stomach from food poisoning

37. Ease chronic symptoms for post-polio sufferers

38. Increases blood flow to organs, allowing them to function better

39. Early detection of skin cancer

40. Help ease pain in clients in hospice care

41. Help ease painful oncology treatments

42. Reduces nausea in chemotherapy patients

43. Decrease and in some cases eliminate scar tissue

44. Strengthens immune system

45. Decreases recovery time post-surgery

46. In some cases, prevent surgery for tendonitis

47. Help decrease pain for sufferers of plantar faciitis

48. Lessen the effects of rheumatoid or osteoarthritis

49. Decrease numbness or tingling in extremities

50. Decrease the pain associated with scoliosis, lordosis, or kyphosis

51. Aid in recovery from strains or sprains

52. Decrease the pain from upper crossed syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome

53. Aid in sinus health

Athletics / Fitness:bigstock-athlete-running-sport-feet-on-44182534

54. Decreases recovery from workouts

55. Decreases recovery time from an injury

56. Makes exercise easier

57. Helps with exercise gains

58. Reduce muscle tension

59. Help athletes monitor muscle tone

60. Promote relaxation

61. Reduce muscle hypertonicity

62. Improve soft tissue function

63. Support recovery from the transient immunosuppression state

64. Support the recovery of heart rate variability and diastolic blood pressure after high intensity exercise

65. Decrease muscle stiffness and fatigue after exercise

66. Improve exercise performance

67. Decrease DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

68. Reduce serum creatine kinase post exercise

69. Reduce swelling

70. Reduce irregular breathing patterns

71. Enhance athletic performance

72. May help prevent injuries when massage is received regularly

73. Is the most efficient self-care regiment tor maintaining maximal athletic performance

Sleep and breathing:

74. Improve sleep

75. Increase sleep hours

76. Improve quality of sleep

77. Overcome feelings of fatigue

78. Practice deep breathing

79. Practice breathing

Pregnancy / women’s health:

80. Decrease discomfort during pregnancy

81. Assist in shorter, easier labor for expecting mothers

82. Decrease bloating, cramping, mood swings, and other PMS related symptoms

Hormones:

83. Balance hormones

84. Decrease urninary CRF-LI (a biochemical marker of stress-related symptoms

85. Decrease cortisol levels

86. Releases endorphines

Infants (Results of a case study):

87. Massage is a cost-effective therapy for pre-term infants.baby massage

88. Pre-term infants gained more weight with just 5 days of massage

89. Massage therapy by mothers in perinatal period serves as a strong time cue, enhancing coordination of the developing circadian system with environmental cues.

90. Over the 6-week period, the massage therapy infants gained more weight, showed greater improvement on emotionally, sociability, and soothability temperament dimensions and had greater decreases in urinary stress catecholamines/hormones (norepinepherine, epinephrine, cortisol).

91. Infants receiving massage showed fewer sleep delay behaviors and had a shorter latency to sleep onset by the end of the study

92. Massage may have a stress reducing effect on pre-term infants in the NICU.

93. Reduction of illness and diarrheal episodes in orphaned children in Ecuador

Medications:

94. Decrease use of analgesics

95. Ease medication dependence

Overall:

96. Great place to start for making changes

97. Improve health status

98. Improve quality of life

99. Work well in an integrative treatment plan

100. Increase the improvement when paired with other alternative health regiments (chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, and more)

101. Valuable component of your wellness program

Sources:

MassageTherapy.com

Mayo Clinic

WebMD

Huffington Post

MedicineNet

American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)

Better Your Massage Experience

Massage therapy isn’t just a service that you get when you come in for a massage. The benefits, effects, and sometimes the side-effects last much longer than that hour or hour and a half. Sometimes, I will get people asking me if what they have been feeling is normal. Most of the time, it is.
After a massage, you can feel relaxed, clear headed, rejuvenated, or energized. Sometimes, you just feel the pain you’ve been feeling before you got there. It does not mean that the massage did not benefit you. In the article below, it states many of the benefits of getting massages. I’m here to tell you some of the feelings you may get that aren’t mentioned.
Soreness is very common after a massage, especially if you are receiving a deep tissue massage or a massage to reach a specific goal

like increasing range of motion or decreasing pain. This happens because the therapist is squeezing out built up lactic acid, which is what makes muscles sore in the first place. By releasing this build up, it can easily go back into your blood and dissipate itself through that muscle. Lactic acid is a toxin and can leave you feeling nauseated or even cause vomiting. These are less common, but can happen. With deep tissue massages, your therapist can also bruise you. It is not the goal of the massage, nor the intention of the therapist. But it is important to know that bruising can happen on occasion. I have bruised 4 people in my 3 years, and one of them neglected to inform me that she was an a major pain killer, which is why the bruising happened.
A few things you can do to better your experience:
  • Drink water before AND after your massage
  • Stretch
  • Ice sore muscles (you can do this before and after as well)
  • Be present for your treatment–leave your troubles behind
  • Try not to drink alcohol after your massage
  • Eat wholesome foods
  • Take what your therapist suggests to heart
  • Take off as much jewelry you can
  • Silence your cellphone
  • Most importantly: communicate
It is important to communicate with your massage therapist. If you need or want more or less pressure, SPEAK UP! It is YOUR massage experience, not the therapist’s. The therapist has gone to school and knows a good track of what to do to help you the most, but you need to let him or her know if pressure is too much or too little. If you’re too cold, each table at Under Pressure Therapeutics has a table warmer. If you’re too hot, we can take the blanket off. Your therapist wants your experience to be a memorable one, but your therapist is not always a mind reader.

Keep Your Head On Straight

Posture is often defined as being the relaxed state of your spine. So if there is one form of “good” posture, why are there so many people with “bad” posture? Because personal posture is not predicated upon the textbook definition of posture, but what is comfortable to you. So why is it comfortable for you to have bad posture? Because through years of repetitive motions, prolonged exposure to a certain posture, and the way we hold ourselves within our society, muscles and ligaments stretch or shorten to make it easier to hold that bad posture.
This does not dismiss the fact that you, likely, have bad posture. This does not make it okay to continue to have bad posture. By continuing to have bad posture, you open yourself up to a whirlwind of problems. Our spines were meant to be in a certain order with certain curves in certain directions. Our joints are constructed in a certain manner to allow us to function as best we can. Most of what we do makes us crouch forward into this fetal position (ie. driving, texting, playing video games, typing on the computer, etc.) which over stretches most of our back muscles and tightens and shortens most of our front muscles. This makes that posture best designed for optimum function to lack, which causes degeneration within our bodies.
poor-posture-sequence1
Here is a simple rule: Keep your head on straight, and the rest will follow. It’s difficult to have your head on top of your shoulders with your ears in line with your shoulders but have bad posture through the rest of your spine. Keep your head on straight! Relax your shoulders–don’t wear them as earrings. It’s not fashionable. Remind yourself to fix your posture, and you will begin to reteach your body how to hold itself. If you’re sitting, sit up straight. If it hurts after 5 minutes, keep doing it. Remind yourself to do it as much as you can. The main reason it hurts is because you’re not used to it. By continuing to sit and stand in better posture, you will strengthen the muscles that have been weakened by years of malpractice.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Most people don’t like ice. It’s uncomfortable. It’s cold. It’s wet. After a while, it makes you ache. We try and protect ourselves from ice and cold as much as we can. So why, oh why, would you let your Massage Therapist put ice on you for part of your massage!?!?
Especially with chronic issues, cryotherapy (Ice massage) can be better for you than heat. Heat will increase inflammation, if any is present, which would exacerbate the pain-causing issue.
The way it works: your therapist takes some ice and rubs it on the area he/she wishes to massage. There are stages of ice that you have to bear through in order to get the most benefits from it: cold, burn, ache, hurt, and then finally to the numb stage! Getting your body to this point is where you will have the most beneficial factors for cryotherapy. It usually takes around 7 minutes with the ice cube (usually 20 if you are icing yourself with an ice pack or a bag of peas) for the area to get numb.
Then the fun begins! The therapist can then dig in on the area and break up scar tissue, tight fascia, or knots that won’t go away, while you are getting the benefit of icing the area, which calms everything down and allows the body to really take a look to see what’s going on with your shoulder, or your lower back, or whatever your issue is.
Ice is not fun to get, but I promise you that it will help you get greater relief from certain aches, pains, and limited range of motion.

Hurts So Good

“If this whole massage thing doesn’t work out for you, you could get a job with the CIA torturing people.”
“You have elbows of a sadistic angel!”
“This is rough, man! And I’m paying for this pain!!”
These are only a few of the things I hear from clients when I’m causing a bit of pain. I know that many of you might dread coming to see me or you might not tell me things that hurt for fear of grinning and bearing the imminent pain that I would be causing.
I’m here to tell you that pain is a good thing!! Now, I want to make something clear: I want to cause pain, but I do not want to hurt! There is a difference! Pain tells your body that there’s something not enjoyable going on and you should be aware of it. Hurt tells your body that something isbreaking down or degenerating in your body!
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Pain is important! It tells us that the burner is hot. It reminds us that we can’t lift a car with one arm. It tells us when something isn’t functioning right! So why pain when receiving a massage? Because your Massage Therapist is preventing it from feeling that way all of the time!!
The human body has only 13% of nerves that feel pain! This is one reason why I think that it “hurts so good” when I’m pushing on you. The pain sends receptors to your brain telling it that something isn’t quite right. Your brain, then, sends in more blood to take care of the problem! When you have a knot or a trigger point, it is preventing fluid, effective blood flow to that area of the body, making activities or tasks difficult. The blood helps eat away this build up and allows for an easier flow of blood.
But here’s a key that you all need to know: If it is too painful for you, you HAVE to let us know! It’s okay to need less pressure or take a break. It’s okay if an area is too tender for that amount of pressure!
That’s it in a nutshell! So next time you’re thinking that a massage is the most painful experience in the world, just remember that it’s not stepping on a Lego kind of pain.