massage

Passive Superficial Front Line Stretch

If I’ve sent you the link to this page, chances are that I have recommended this stretch for you to help open up the front of the body, especially through the chest and the front of the shoulders.

In this day of desk sitting and technology, the majority of clients I see who come in for remedial massage or structural integration work have the typical head forward, shoulders rounded posture. This posture is problematic because it can create tension and pain in the back, shoulders and neck. And that’s where most people feel it so assume that’s where the problem is.

I love this stretch because its easy to do, and that makes it doable. For most people, in the evening when watching TV or winding down for bed can be a great time to do this. To start with you may only be able to do it for 3-5 minutes, and that’s ok! As long as you do it consistently, every day. Chances are, if you’re shoulders are pulled forward and down, or your head is drawn forward, it’s something that has been building consistently over many years - and so it will take time to counteract this. And, once things are aligned a bit better - this can be a great way to help prevent the problem in future.

How to do the stretch:

1. Use either a rolled up yoga mat or a half foam roller for this. Either works, it depends on how much of a stretch you need. For many, rolling up the yoga mat can be enough to begin with. I would not recommend using a full round roller for this as it will be way too high.

2. Lie on the foam roller or yoga mat as pictured below. You will want to try and get your back nice and flat by tucking your tailbone under, and dropping your chin towards your chest a little more than is pictured below, to give you some flatness in the upper neck (but only go to where is comfortable). Have your arms out at 90 degrees (or less, if needed) with palms facing upwards. The amount of stretch and how comfortable you feel depends on where you move the arms - and you can have them wherever works for you.

3. Hold this position for however feels comfortable for you. You can start with 3-5 minutes, and then work up towards 10-15 minutes. The more time you spend at a desk or in a position which encourages your shoulders to round forward, the more important this will be for you.

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Structural Bodywork & "The 3 Series"

I am so excited to be back in Perth after 11 days in Sydney doing some further education training in the field of Structural Integration, and am now offering Structural Bodywork sessions as part of the Holistia remedial therapies.  But what is it?  Read on to find out more!

What Is Structural Bodywork & The 3 Series?

Photo by  David Hofmann  on  Unsplash

Structural Bodywork is a manual therapy that focuses on releasing restrictions in the fascia of the body.  Fascia connects the whole body, covering every organ, muscle fibre and bone, continuing right down to arteries, veins and nerves. 

Since the whole body is connected, it makes sense that tension in one part of the body can have a profound effect on other areas of the body.

A good way to imagine how it works is this: grab the bottom corner of the front of your t-shirt, and scrunch it up in one hand.  Now observe what happens to the rest of the t-shirt.  Can you see or feel the pull in other areas?  This is a great way to imagine how a fascial restriction in the hip could be creating tension in the opposite shoulder.

The work aims to identify and release postural and movement patterns that may be contributing to chronic pain, restricted movement and tension.  The sessions help to bring the body back into balance, creating more space, awareness and ease of movement.

The 3 Series works through the body in a series of three 90 minute sessions.  The first session starts with the feet and legs to create grounding and support from underneath you, with the second session following on with the upper body and arms.  The final session completes the series by balancing the spine, neck and head.  The series is done in such a way to provide you with grounding, support and balance – you cannot have one without the others!

How can Structural Bodywork help me?

Structural bodywork is ideal for those who have chronic pain, reduced movement or mobility through the body, or areas of general tension that create discomfort.  It is aimed at finding the cause of the problem, so you may find that during treatment the focus may be on an area that is different to where you are experiencing pain or tension.

By easing the restrictions and adhesions in the fascia, your body will start to move differently – you may feel a sense of more space, or even just become more aware of parts of your body that you didn’t realize were not moving freely.  You may feel more connected to your body and find new ways to move. 

How does Structural Bodywork differ to massage?

There are a number of ways that Structural Bodywork differs to massage, but the main difference is that it is a more collaborative approach between client and practitioner. 

During the session, your posture and movement will be assessed - not only at the start of the appointment, but you will be regularly re-assessed throughout the session.  You will be asked to move and feel the work being done, to help create more awareness of your body, its posture, and how it moves.

Compared to massage, the draping is minimal, and so clients are advised to wear comfortable shorts or underwear, and women are advised to wear a sports bra or two piece bathers.

Some of the work may be done while seated rather than lying on the table, and throughout the session you will be asked to walk and/or move to integrate the work.

I am constantly amazed at the changes that are experienced by this work – if you’d like to know more then please don’t hesitate to contact me and ask – and if you’re keen to give it a go then head over to the booking page and book your appointment today!

Spotlight On: Manual Lymphatic Drainage

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Manual Lymphatic Drainage (or MLD) is a therapy which can be extremely beneficial for many people, however it is not always very well known.  It is used to reduce symptoms of a number of specific conditions such as lymphedema, chronic sinus congestion and swelling from acute injuries.  Manual lymphatic drainage has numerous health benefits, some of which include reducing pain and oedema, improving general health and wellbeing, stimulating the immune system and reducing congestion. (1)

MLD is very gentle, using a light touch that is designed to promote the flow of lymph throughout the body.  The reason such a light touch is used because we only want to stimulate the superficial lymphatic vessels just below the skin’s surface.  By stimulating these superficial vessels, the body can increase the rate at which the fluid in between the tissues can be cleared out and move through the body.  The technique is different to other styles of massage which work to manipulate the soft tissues such as muscles and fascia, meaning a firmer touch. (1)

Your lymphatic system is complex and integrates with other body systems such as the circulatory system and urinary system.   It has three main functions – maintaining the balance of fluid within the body, helping the body defend itself against foreign particles (such as bacteria) and facilitating the absorption of fats and fat soluble nutrients in the digestive system.  The lymphatic system also facilitates the removal of waste at a cellular level.   When fluid moves from the spaces between cells into the lymphatic system, it takes with it waste products such as dead cells and pathogens.  These then can be recognized by the immune system which allows for better protection in the future against those particular pathogens.  This system also helps to drain excess fluid from tissues that cannot be returned by veins. (2) 

Manual lymphatic drainage plays a role in improving the movement of lymph throughout the body and increasing the rate at which the fluid between cells in the body enter the lymphatic system.  Because this system has no pump (unlike the cardiovascular system) it relies on movement of the body to circulate the lymph through the system.  Deep breathing, movement and digestion are all ways your body pumps the fluid around the lymphatic system. MLD, exercise and skin brushing are all excellent ways for you to promote lymphatic flow. (3)

Who is Manual Lymphatic Drainage suitable for? 
MLD is suitable for most people and a number of situations and may help reduce symptoms of:
·      Sinus congestion/hayfever/chronic sinusitis/sinus headaches
·      Tension headaches
·      Stress
·      Menstrual pain
·      Chronic pain conditions
·      Assisting with detoxification programs
·      Post injury swelling (for example sprains, strains, dislocations)
·      Post operative oedema (with clearance from your surgeon)

If you would like to book your manual lymphatic drainage appointment please follow the link below to book in.  If you would like to know more about MLD please don't hesitate to call 0410 259 273 and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that MLD is not suitable for everyone, and with all clients a full case history is taken prior to treatment to determine if it is suitable for you.  If you have an acute infection/fever or systemic illness then it is advisable you remain home until you have recovered prior to any form of massage treatment.  Massage treatment when you are unwell can exacerbate symptoms and so is not recommended. (1)

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

2.         MacGill M. Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions and Diseases. Medical News Today [Internet]. 2016 01 November 2017. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303087.php.
3.         Willis A. Manual Lymphatic Drainage and its Therapeutic Benefits. Positive Health Online [Internet]. 2004 01 November 2017; (104). Available from: http://www.positivehealth.com/article/manual-lymphatic-drainage/manual-lymphatic-drainage-and-its-therapeutic-benefits.

 

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/.

 

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