holistic health

Remedial Massage Therapy – Not just your regular massage!

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I am not sure about you, but for a very long time the only massage that I was aware of was relaxation massage.  I knew that remedial massage could help with tension, stress and backaches, but I had no idea that there was so much more to it than that.

Generally massage practice in Australia is divided into two levels based on the level of qualification – Relaxation/Swedish massage therapy and Remedial massage.   Massage falls under the “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) umbrella, and so is a great therapy to complement other therapies including your regular primary care from a GP or other health professional.

The role of a Remedial Massage Therapist (RMT) is to assess and treat musculoskeletal and other system disorders. (1)  So it’s not (always) just a case of show up, hop on the table, treat and off you go.   There are various assessments and techniques that are available to provide a holistic treatment in order to get you well and more importantly KEEP you well.

Below I’ll discuss what to expect during your remedial massage treatment, what techniques are offered as part of your treatment plan, and what you may expect with regards to long term prevention strategies.

First things first….
If it is your first time coming for a remedial massage treatment or you are coming in because of a new injury or problem, then I’d strongly recommend booking in a 90 minute appointment instead of a 60 minute appointment.  The reason for this is because in order to come up with a suitable treatment plan both for that day and long term, I may need to do some musculoskeletal assessments or screening processes in order to determine what is causing the problem and how to provide the best treatment for you.  Sometimes we will re-assess during the treatment to determine the outcome of some of the techniques, however in most cases they’ll be done again after the treatment to compare pre and post treatment range of motion and/or pain levels.

I’ll also take a thorough case history to get a general idea of your level of health, the history of the complaint and any other relevant health history details.  Depending on the problem that you are presenting with, this can take anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.  If you’re just after a relaxation massage, the health history interview will be brief – however the treatment will only consist of relaxation massage which is of course beneficial for stress and tension reduction but may not specifically address your health concern.

A remedial massage treatment may consist of a combination of techniques including relaxation massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, stretches, myofascial release and kinesiology taping.

Deep Tissue & Trigger Point Therapy
Deep tissue massage consists of strokes similar to relaxation or Swedish massage, however they are deeper, firmer, and can feel more intense depending on the area being treated.   Deep tissue massage is intended to reduce pain, lengthen and stretch muscle fibers, improve lymph and blood flow, separate adhesions and deactivate trigger points.  Trigger point therapy will generally be incorporated at the same time as deep tissue techniques, as usually the trigger points are found during the massage.  A trigger point is a localized area of hyperirritability within a muscle that can be extremely tender when touched or compressed.  In some cases, you may not know you have any until the massage, but in other cases they can be what’s causing your pain.  Trigger points usually have a “referral pattern” of pain, that feels like a dull ache or a pain that you can’t quite work out how to describe or know where its coming from.  Once trigger points are deactivated, pain can be reduced or eliminated completely. (1) When working on a trigger point I’ll ask you to let me know what level the pain is (on a scale of 1-10) to determine how much pressure is used.

Myofascial Release (MFR)
Myofascial release works within remedial massage to reduce adhesions and restrictions in the connective tissue throughout the body.   The fascia within the body connects everything together – and is spread throughout the body as a single structure.  If you can imagine a knitted jumper – if you were to pull on one sleeve it can affect the whole jumper.  The analogy relates to the human body in that if there is a restriction or adhesion within the fascia in one area of the body it can potentially affect other areas.  This can contribute to pain and postural problems.  The techniques used in MFR are aimed at lengthening the fascia, improving fluid flow in the areas, increasing range of motion, and reducing adhesions.  They are slower than deep tissue and trigger point therapy, and the pressure can vary between light and firm/deep.  In some clients, MFR can cause an emotional release either during the treatment or after treatment. (1)

Stretching & Taping
Stretches may also be incorporated as part of your remedial massage treatment in order to lengthen the muscles and improve range of motion.  Stretches may be passive, or may include your participation via your resistance to further improve range of motion to specific muscles.

Rocktape application may be recommended to further enhance the treatment, provide relief or improve posture in the days following the treatment.  Rocktape is a hypoallergenic and water resistant brand of kinesiology tape that is used toprovide functional support to the body during and post exercise, decrease pain, swelling and bruising and improve posture. (2)

Post Treatment
Post treatment you may be prescribed stretches or strengthening exercises to address the issues that are causing your pain or discomfort.  Stretches will be prescribed to further lengthen tight muscles, and strengthening exercises will be prescribed to improve weak muscles.  These two issues together are a big contributing factor to pain and injury.  The exercises prescribed will accommodate your level of fitness and exercise knowledge – both gym exercises and home exercise can be recommended.

So as you can see, remedial massage is more than “just massage”!  If you’re ready to book in your treatment then call 9293 2999 or visit the “Book Online Now” button below to make your appointment.

 

 

References:
1.         Grace S, Deal M. Textbook of Remedial Massage: Elsevier Australia; 2012.

2.         Rocktape n.d. [Available from: https://rocktape.com.au/.

 

Winter Wellbeing - Children & Immunity

Children & Immunity

Anyone with children knows that as soon as Autumn starts to roll around, all the kids at daycare or school start turning into snotburgers and inevitably your child ends up sick too.

So why do kids seem to get sick more often than adults?  The short answer is simply that children have not had as much time for their immune system to mature, and as adults we have been exposed to more germs & viruses (pathogens) than most kids have.   Therefore kids are more easily affected by the pathogens that they’re exposed to as their immune system works to fight (and remember) them. (1)

Another key point to remember is the role gut health plays in immune function.   Living in the gut are tens of trillions of microorganisms, including over 1000 different species – and that’s just in one human! (2) These microorganisms (known as your microbiota) play an important part in maintaining your immune system balance and act as a first line defense against invading pathogens.   There are many factors that can affect the balance of your microbiota, ranging from diet, medications, to even the birth process. (3)

So what can be done by you to improve your child’s ability to fend off bugs and germs this winter?

1. Diet is Key!
As we’ve mentioned above, your gut health and microbiota plays a key role in how well your immune system functions.   And the food you eat can determine how well populated and diverse your microbiota is.   The “food” that your beneficial bacteria eat are known as prebiotics.  Prebiotics can promote the growth of many of your beneficial bacteria – and so it is important to include prebiotic containing foods in your child’s (and your!) diet.  Luckily, this can be achieved just by including fresh fruits and vegetables as part of your daily diet.  Examples of foods that are high in prebiotics include asparagus, garlic, beetroot, sweet corn, kidney beans, chickpeas, watermelon, nectarines and white peaches. (4)  Another benefit of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is that many of them contain other key nutrients essential for immune function including zinc, vitamin C and antioxidants.  Finally, foods high in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna are also beneficial for the immune system not only helping to reduce inflammation in the body, but by potentially enhancing the activity of some white blood cells. (5)

2.  Sleep (HA!)
If you’re a parent, then it’s quite likely that the mere mention of children and sleep sends you to the corner curled up in a ball rocking to and fro in a twitching frenzy.   However, as I discussed in my last blog post, sleep is an important requirement for overall health and wellbeing, and it is also very important for immunity.  Lack of sleep can suppress immune function and affect how our bodies fight infections. (6) This is true for both adults and children and so it is important to try (as best you can) to ensure that you child gets the amount of sleep for their age.  According to the Raising Children Network, children aged 3-5 years need around 11-13 hours sleep per night, children aged 6-9 need around 10-11 hours per night, and from 10 years they will generally need 9 hours sleep per night. (7) Some ideas for the evenings to help wind kids down include;

·      Turn off electronic devices 30 mins – 1 hr before bed time and have some sort of quiet activity to help ease them into bed time;
·      A warm bath with some Epsom salts and/or bath oils such as the Children’s Blend by Tinderbox to calm their mind and relax their body;
·      Flower essences such as Bach Rescue Sleep in the bath or under the tongue;
·      Diffusing essential oils in the house or in the bedroom, with calming scents such as Lavender and Chamomile (I personally love the Plant Therapy KidSafe blends);
·      Chamomile tea or extract (I love Kiwiherb Kids Calm) is also a nice choice to help unwind at the end of the day.

3.  Exercise
With the risk of sounding like a broken record, we come again to the importance of exercise.   As a rough guideline, children under the age of 5 should be getting a total of 3 hours of physical activity spread throughout the day, and children aged 5-17 should be getting 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day. (8) People who are physically active have been shown to be less likely to develop a cold, and those who did recovered much faster than those who were less fit.   One theory is that exercise may increase the number of white blood cells which act to reduce a person’s susceptibility to certain diseases. (9) The other advantage of being physically active outside during the cooler months is that being in the sun can help the body make vitamin D, another another nutrient which is essential for immune function. (10)

There are of course many other actions you can take to help your kids get through the winter with minimal sick days – there are some beautiful herbal remedies available for kids that work well to improve symptoms of colds such as congestion and runny noses, and kids supplements that can be used in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle measures to help with improving nutrient intake over the cooler months.

If you would like to find out more about any of the oil blends, essences or extracts mentioned above, or feel you need a little extra help with improving your children’s health then please call 92932999 or email alexia@holistia.com.au to find out more or book your appointment.

 


References:
1.         Simon AK, Hollander GA, McMichael A, editors. Evolution of the immune system in humans from infancy to old age. Proc R Soc B; 2015: The Royal Society.

2.         Health GMf. Gut microbiota infon.d. 29 March 2017. Available from: http://www.gutmicrobiotaforhealth.com/en/about-gut-microbiota-info/.
3.         Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14.
4.         University M. Dietary Fibre and natural prebiotics for gut health: FAQs2017 29 March 2017. Available from: http://www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/gastro/prebiotic/faq/ - 6.
5.         Gray N. Omega-3 backed to boost immune response, not just battle inflammation: Study2013 29 March 2017d. Available from: http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Omega-3-backed-to-boost-immune-response-not-just-battle-inflammation-Study.
6.         Mann D. Can Better Sleep Mean Catching Fewer Colds?2010 29 March 2017. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/immune-system-lack-of-sleep - 1.
7.         About sleep2016 29 March 2017. Available from: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/sleep_the_hows_and_whys.html/context/730.
8.         Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. In: Health Do, editor. 2014.
9.         Lavelle P. Study proves exercise boosts immune system2010 15 March 2017. Available from: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/11/02/3054621.htm.
10.       ScienceDaily. Vitamin D crucial to activating immune defenses2010 29 March 2017. Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100307215534.htm.
Photo credit: Janko Ferlic, www.unsplash.com

Spotlight On: Massage

Hands up if you’ve ever had a massage?  Did you love it?  Never had one before?  Massage has so many wonderful benefits for both the mind and the body.  But what IS it? And what does it actually DO?  Read on to find out…..

Massage is considered a “complementary therapy” in that it can be used alongside other traditional therapies and allopathic medicines or treatments.  I personally do not use the term “alternative medicine” (though some people do) as this implies that it is an alternative to western or allopathic medicine, and I’m a firm believer in collaborating with health practitioners to get the best outcome for a client.  

One of the core principles of complementary therapies (or natural medicine) is that as practitioners we look to treat the whole person and not just the presenting symptoms.  We also believe that prevention is better than cure, and that it is our job to teach you how to lead healthier and happier lives.  We don’t want to just fix you up when you come in and leave you to go back and break again.  We want you to get better!

So what is massage?  Massage is a tactile therapy.  Tactile refers to the sense of touch – and it can be defined as the physical manipulation of a body’s soft tissues to improve a person’s health and wellbeing.   The benefits of massage are numerous, and they include reducing stress and muscular tension, improving vascular and lymphatic circulation throughout the body, reducing pain, and improving mental and emotional wellbeing.

There are two types of massage that people are generally familiar with. 

Remedial Massage:  Remedial massage is usually aimed at addressing a specific area of tightness or pain in the body.  The treatment consists of assessing for neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunctions, and then formulating a treatment plan where a variety of advanced techniques are utilised.  The primary aims of remedial massage are to reduce or prevent pain and restore or promote motion of the affected areas.  You may also be given stretches or other aftercare suggestions to further reduce your pain or tightness and prevent the issue from recurring.

Relaxation/Swedish Massage: The main purpose of Swedish massage is to relax the body and mind, improve your mental or emotional state and reduce stress and overall body tension by soothing and loosening the soft tissues.  The techniques used in Swedish massage are firm but gentle, with slow gliding strokes and light to moderate pressure depending on the client’s preference.   The lighting is kept low and quiet music may also be played to aid relaxation.   If at all possible, it’s a great idea to go home and chill out after a massage to really get the full benefit.

Think about the people closest to you, in your family or workplace.  How many would you say are experiencing some form of stress?  Most?  Massage is a therapy that can be helpful for almost everyone, and is very beneficial as part of a long term treatment plan to manage stress levels and improve mental and emotional health.

Is your body telling you that it could benefit from some de-stressing and tension-easing? Email alexia@holistia.com.au or phone 9293 2999 to book a relaxation massage right away!

 

 

 

References:
Casanelia L, Stelfox D. Foundations of Massage: Elsevier Australia; 2009.
Photo credit: Hernan Sanchez, http://www.unsplash.com