5 Ways Massage is Like Exercise

 

I know what you’re thinking: Massage is NOTHING like exercise! Exercise makes you sweat, gets your heart rate up, and it’s something a lot of people don’t enjoy doing–at least not nearly as much as getting a massage. And while the obvious differences are true, the two have more in common than you might think.

 

  1. Frequency and Consistency: If you go to the gym once or twice a year, that’s awesome! That’s better than not going at all! However, if you complain about not meeting your fitness goals and you only exercise once or twice a year, it’s kind of a no-brainer as to how you aren’t reaching those goals. Massage is the same way. If you have back pain, headaches, limited range of motion, and the like, and you only see us “when it’s really bad,” don’t expect us to be able to fix you in one go. The more frequent your bodywork is, the more results you are going to see from it. The American Massage Therapy Association said, “Massage has its greatest benefits over time. The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so the more often you get a massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond.” So if you came in once because you have back pain and you didn’t get the results you were looking for, you need to come back again! Talk to one of our Licensed Massage Therapists to know how often you should be coming and what your goals are.
  2. Lactic Acid: When you workout, your body will releaselactic acid, a naturally occurring substance that your body creates when it has a low oxygen level and breaks down carbohydrates for energy. A knot is built up lactic acid, and a massage will squeeze that build up out of those muscle fibers. This is why you can become sore after a massage, but usually feels more like a workout kind of sore. You get these buildups from overuse or repetitive motions and eventually, those buildups prevent your muscles from contracting the way they should.
  3. Drink Water! With knowing what lactic acid is and how it can affect your body during a massage, it would be ludicrous to think that you could do a strenuous workout and not drink water. So why would you do that after a massage?!? While there have been studies showing that increasing your water intake after a massage doesn’t specifically affect your body as much as we used to think it does, it’s always a good idea to drink more water. It takes a LOT of water to overdose (which is actually a thing–check it out). You’ve been laying there for an hour; it’s good to replenish your water and hydrate your cells.
  4. Metabolism: Much like exercise, massage can boost your metabolism. Please note: Getting frequent massage, while can and does boost your metabolism, is not a viable option for weight loss. You must do so much more than just massage for weight loss. And much like exercise, you need more than just exercise for weight loss. “There is a cumulative improvement in metabolic function. Massage has no known effect on blood pH, oxygen consumption, pulse rate or blood pressure except indirectly as a result of relaxation.” This means that there is an overall benefit, mainly due to the fact that you are actually taking time for yourself and allowing yourself to relax, which initiates more of the digesting and metabolic functions within the body. With our society being so go-go-go, we need some time for ourselves to allow our metabolism to function as best it can and for our parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and decrease our cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increase and promote a more restful state.
  5. Listen to your “trainer”! If you’re paying a lot of money for your training sessions with a personal trainer, but you don’t listen to anything they actually say (“Stop drinking soda.” “Eat more leafy greens.” “Make sure you’re exercising 3 times a week.” etc.) then you aren’t going to be making the gains you want. Same with massage. If your Massage Therapist tells you to drink more water, or stretch certain muscles, or something like that, then listen to them! If they want to see you once a week until you’ve made some headway in your back pain, do it! When you work with a Licensed Massage Therapist (which if you see us at Under Pressure Therapeutics, you do) you are working with someone who has the knowledge, skill set, and experience to help you with your pain. Not only are we trained to know how to help the muscles, we actually feel what’s going on in your muscle systems. We can tell if you are wearing your right shoulder high and what muscles are tight and possibly causing that. We analyze your posture. If your Massage Therapist tells you to stretch a certain muscle, do it! It will help.
Sure, massage and exercise are different, but both play a huge role in your overall health and wellness. Both can help with limited range of motion and postural deviations, and both require commitment to see results.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

June is the official Bike Month. So get out and ride your bike! Cycling is a great way to enjoy the sun and get exercise, and you can ride your bike to work, so you don’t have to set aside a ton of extra time to do it.

 

One of the main reasons cycling is great is because it targets some of the largest muscles in your body–quad muscles, hamstrings, and glutes, just to name a few. This cardio exercise also targets different muscles during each pedal stroke. Each portion of the pedal stroke engages a different muscle or set of muscles to complete.

 

With how much your legs are worked, it leaves you open to stiffness, soreness, and strains. Massage helps reduce the effects of all three by pushing lactic acid out of your muscles, allowing your tissues to function better. The position your body is in for extended periods of time for cycling can also cause neck and back pain. We’ve talked about neck pain and disc issues in your back before. Massage again reduces the effects of strained muscles in your neck and back from holding your body in that specific position. The American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine talks about how important it is to have your bicycle fit your body correctly to prevent neck, shoulder, back, and other pains that can easily be avoided.

 

Cycling, as with any sport, also comes with its own set of injuries. Some of the obvious ones are knee pain or foot and ankle numbness. However, one of the most common is head injury. This can vary from a small bruise on the cheek to a serious brain injury.  In that same article, the AOSSM talks about quite a few possible injuries and they talk about when to seek the help of a physician, which you should with any major injury. However serious or minor an ache, pain, or injury is, your Licensed Massage Therapist can help.

 

After a long bike ride, it’s important to get massaged. It helps to push that built up lactic acid out of your muscles and allows your tissues to be more hydrated and oxygenated. It allows those muscle fibers to recover quicker. It prevents tensions from building up, which can also prevent sprains, strains, and other injuries. CyclingTips.com even wrote an article about When to Get a Massage, and the first sentence is, “Massage is as integral to a professional cyclist’s daily routine as riding the bike is.” It goes on to say, “The massage is actually pushing out the muscle’s carbon dioxide rich blood to the lungs and heart which is then filtered to come out as oxygen rich blood that goes back into the muscles.  The body will do this naturally but massage drastically speeds up the process.  In addition to this, massage prevents injury with the help of stretching.” (emphasis added)

 

If you’ve been in an accident on your bicycle, whether it’s falling off your bike because you just switched to clipless pedals and forgot your feet were attached to your bike, or you were hit by a car and had to get surgery to fix broken bones, massage reduces recovery time. After a serious injury, please consult your physician before you come see your Licensed Massage Therapist–we DO NOT replace your general practitioner, and it’s important to know that you don’t have any complications that would be worsened by massage. However, once you’ve received the clear from your doctor, receiving massage to help your body recover is necessary to ensure your body is functioning and performing without compensating for your injury. If you just fell off and hurt your wrist, again, come see us. We can make sure your wrist and the muscles in your forearm are functioning better to ensure you can break properly. A Personal Injury Lawyer office in Oregon posted a whole article about the benefits of massage after any accident. If it’s important after a car accident, it’s even more important after a cycling accident.

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.

Stress Kills; We Can Help

Many people might think that massage is too expensive or just a luxury, not a necessity. Some might say, “Only people with butlers and maids who send their clothes off to be dry cleaned and buttons sewn back on can afford it. Besides, it’s only good to relax, and I don’t have an hour to sit with cucumbers on my eyes!” Well, stress kills, and we can help.

With the every-day stresses that accompany our daily lives, stress can be a really silent, slow killer. The only way you can escape it is if you are a care-free three-year-old only playing and eating what you want! We, as a society, tend to over-stretch our glutes and back muscles while shortening our pecs and hamstrings, just to be very general. We have forward head posture, which causes Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which can cause headaches and does cause numbness in our hands. We spend hours at computers working and Facebooking and watching TV or YouTube in awful positions that end up causing us pain or muscle strain. We spend loads of time texting and on our phone and while we are talking about phones, we still try to hold our skinny smart phones between our ear and shoulder while we are talking on it. We get in car accidents, slip on ice, fall down stairs, stub our toes and run into things. And that’s not even getting into the psychological stresses: deadlines, weddings, divorces, kids, no kids, kids sports and activities, church or other volunteer opportunities, pets, significant others, roommates, parents, siblings, extended family, in-laws, job changes, job promotions, new managers, new co-workers, losing jobs, sleep deprivation, sickness, technology not working, phone contracts, internet installation, turning 50, pluming issues, car work, and the list goes on.

 

Stress of any kind raises cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Cortisol is good. It’s that feeling you get that lights a fire under you so you do what you need to do. It regulates your metabolism and blood sugar levels; it’s anti inflammatory and helps with memory storage in your brain; it regulates your blood pressure. So you can’t just remove it from your body and call it good. If you were to do that, you would have all sorts of other bad symptoms. Too much cortisol can lead to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, weight gain, mood swings, and muscle weakness.

 

You can regulate its production by one of many de-stressing ways:

  • Go for a walk
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn how to say no (especially when your plate is full)
  • Voice your feelings, in a healthy, respectful way
  • Do yoga
  • Accept things you cannot change
  • Write in a journal
  • Listen to music
  • Be less busy
and, of course….
  • Get a massage
Massage can lower cortisol levels. An old CNN article pointed out many benefits of massage, so this is not some new study you’ve never had access to. Massage works in helping with stress–physical, emotional, psychological, and sometimes even spiritual.
We also have some great essential oils that you can take with you everywhere you go. Check out our post about Stress Away.

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.

Insurance Can Cover Care

That’s right! Under Pressure Therapeutics is officially billing insurance! However, it is only currently for car accidents and workman’s compensation cases. We will slowly be introducing more insurance coverage throughout the year.
Everyone knows someone (or has been that someone) who has been in a car accident. If you are among the fortunate, you walk away from it. However, many don’t realize the long-term issues that come from even an impact as little as 10 mph! It only takes that much to cause soft tissue damage. Doctors at the emergency room will check for breaks, bleeding, etc, which is great; but they don’t pay much attention to your muscles and what they went through for that “little” fender bender. If you do damage at 10 mph, imagine the damage your muscles, tendons, and ligaments go through at higher speeds.
Good news: In the state of Colorado, it is required to have MedPay on your car insurance. Why is this good news? Because whether or not it is your fault in an accident, there is a minimum of $5,000 of coverage just for your physical care. This means that if you (or someone you know) were in a car accident, GET INTO MY OFFICE!! We can help you take care of your whiplash so it doesn’t snowball into you not being able to turn your head 15 years down the road! We can prevent your lower back from seizing up and causing pain down your legs in 5 years! We can get you healthy so you don’t have to know what it’s like to wake up with severe pain! Whiplash, especially, is a musculoskeletal condition that lies dormant and waits to rear its ugly head!
If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask! I am happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have about insurance.
Be well.
Marissa Orchard, LMT
Written May 14, 2013

The Many Unexpected Benefits of Massage

There are many standard benefits that people associate with getting a massage:
~Relaxation
~Stress relief
~Decrease in mental and physical fatigue
~Decrease mental strain, improving productivity
However, there are many more benefits to massage, if you find the right one for you! Because I specialize in rehabilitative massage, I can decrease scar tissue from overuse of a muscle, past injury, or over-stretching of a muscle, which thereby increases the range of motion. This means that your flexibility will increase by receiving massages. By limiting the amount of scar tissue in a body, it prevents pain and muscle spasms as well as increasing joint mobility and relieving aches.
Massages also boost your immune system and circulatory system. This means that your immune system will be working better and more efficiently, and your heart will be easier to manage. Your immune system, or lymph system, doesn’t have a pump, like your circulatory system does. However, it needs to flow through your body. Your lymph gets pumped by your skeletal muscles, meaning if you don’t move around enough, your lymph doesn’t move, compromising your health. Because the vessels of your lymph system are rather superficial, massages really get things pumped through!
The most important benefit to massage is the fact that it allows your body to heal more efficiently. Your cells have to regenerate every day; however, stress of everyday life can stop it, delay it, or not do the best job of it until and unless you relax. Many people don’t take the time to relax, so their bodies rely on sleep to regenerate and heal. If you aren’t sleeping well, this will also take a toll on your body’s ability to heal itself. Massages (even painful ones) help the body to relax, allowing optimum healing to occur! Because of that, many other “regular” symptoms will often disappear, such as headaches, lower back pain, and stiff joints.
 
All benefits of massage can only be felt to their greatest potential based on the frequency of massage. Each person is different, however. Some people need to see me twice a week! (Not all of you are in that situation.) Others come once a month. But many of you don’t come enough! The average massage client gets 6 massages a year! Once a month to once every 2 months should be the least you should come in for a massage, and that’s if you’re feeling fantastic! But remember that symptoms are never first–they’re always last. If you wait for symptoms to come, it will be harder for me to help you when you come in hurting!
I have had the opportunity to work with many different situations and issues, and I love figuring out how I can help each of you! I really do love what I do, and I have you to thank for it!
Be well!
Marissa Orchard, LMT
Written March 5, 2013