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21/Jul/2018

Recurring Pain Doesn’t Need To Be Unmanageable

Recurring pain can be managed through massage and many people seek massage for help dealing with consistent problem areas.  Repeating an action over and over stresses the muscle and leads to tension. Continuing the same repetitive motion disallows the muscle to heal properly.  Over time, the body reacts by tightening everything up in that area in an attempt to give it needed support. Which often leads to recurring, and sometimes chronic, pain and tension– sometimes referred to as a repetitive stress or repetitive motion injury.


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21/Jul/2018

A Pain in the Neck

As the name implies, tech neck is the result of spending too much time engaging with technology. Have you spent the latter part of your career hunched over a screen only to get off work and go hunch over another screen? Do feel an anxious twinge every time you hear a ping that sends you lunging for your phone to furiously reply to whatever has hit your inbox/social media/text messaging? Perhaps hours of binge-watching “Stranger Things,” or Buffy (again), has you glued to your device … We have myriad fun, and less fun, device diversions these days that have us craning forward to stare deeply into the back-lit blue light. And our necks hurt.

Your momma was right, you shouldn’t slump. Unfortunately today’s tech world often lures us into a hunchy bunchy bad-for-your-posture slouch that puts a lot of strain on our necks, upper backs, and shoulders (and really the rest of us, too). Add to that the fact that a lot of people tense their neck and shoulder muscles (shoulders down!) when under stress, and we’ve got a recipe for tech neck. Chronic pain in the neck, back, and shoulders.

Massage Can Help Ease Neck Pain from Tech Neck

More people come to our massage team seeking relief for tech neck than any other pain complaint. We literally see this every day, usually multiple times per day. Repeatedly jutting the head forward, rounding the shoulders, and holding the arms out in front of us, puts a lot of strain in the back; and most of us live perpetually in this forward posture. Desk, car, couch– even doing “active” things like household chores or eating can put us into this position.

 

A good massage therapist can methodically work through your neck and shoulder girdle to relieve pain from tense knotted muscles. By working though each muscle group thoroughly, we can find tender points and apply techniques to work out the soreness and relax the muscle tissue. We typically ask for more feedback than we would in a relaxation massage to ensure that you get better results– especially if you have long-term or more intense aches.

 

To fully eradicate pain from tech neck you will likely have to do some PT and make some lifestyle changes (and rule out underlying conditions with your medical team). However, massage can make an immediate difference in your pain and tension. For stubborn, long-term problems, a series of sessions will provide more benefit than a single session. Or, if you cannot take steps to change your patterns, a routine of on-going massage can help mitigate your pain until you get to a different place in your life.

Using a Targeted Approach

With a case of tech neck, we recommend trying a targeted approach in which we focus solely on your neck, back, and shoulders for the duration of the massage so we have more time to spend working through your taxed muscles.  Spending more time addressing these areas and layering down through your muscle tissue, can make a big difference in your results. Once we get this area feeling better, we can zoom out and address other contributing factors.

 

Massage is definitely worth a try to ease the pain in your neck. You get to disconnect from the wired world for an hour or so and reconnect with your body. And come out feeling less tense, less in pain, and maybe even a little taller.


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21/Jul/2018

In 2016 the Massage Therapy Foundation & American Massage Therapy Association jointly commissioned the Samueli Institute to perform and independent review of the current research on massage for pain management. After extensive review of the literature, the researchers confirmed the practical experience of massage therapists and clients. Massage Therapy relieves pain.

What this means for consumers

Now massage consumers can have even more confidence in their choice to use therapeutic massage for muscular pain and for chronic pain. As the number one reason people go to a primary care provider, pain is a major health concern. The medical community now has stronger reasoning for recommending massage as a means to manage pain to their patients. Although massage helps people in many other ways, it now has solid scientific backing as a safe and effective method of controlling pain.

What this means for the massage industry

This landmark study provides the massage industry with better credibility as a treatment option for pain management. It opens the door for more medical professionals to recommend massage to their patients. This has long-term potential to lead to more massage therapists working as a part of an integrated care team. Or, for the optimistic, even some increased opportunity for insurance to cover medically recommended massage. Some people also see massage as fitting in as an option for helping reduce opioid dependence by potentially leading to less reliance on medications for pain management. Furthermore, new massage research funding could follow this positive review.

More details on the pain management research

Having research independently reviewed and verified by an unaffiliated scientific organization signifies quality and integrity in the work. The Samueli Institute applies a rigorous academic approach to research in, among other things, complementary therapies. They work with the US Military, the medical community, and private businesses who have an interest in complementary and integrative approaches to wellness. For this meta-analysis, they formed a team comprised of researchers, massage therapists with a background in research, and organizational leaders with a background in research.

In order to form their conclusions, the research team began with thousands of articles and then used a systematic process to find the most relevant research. They then condensed the findings from 67 research articles on the effects of massage on pain levels and analyzed the data collectively. The research covered multiple different styles of massage, so it speaks to the efficacy of massage in general. It looked at pain management in multiple categories including chronic pain, fibromyalgia, headache, and muscle pain. It also covered quality of life. The researchers additionally looked at the effect of massage on activity, but found that there were not enough quality studies to make a determination.

Overall, based on the effectiveness and safety of massage therapy, the study recommended the use of massage as a way to manage pain.

Read the full study in the journal Pain Medicine.


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21/Jul/2018

Help headaches and migraines with massage.

Throbbing, aching, pounding, stabbing, squeezing … we do not want these things done to our heads! Headaches and migraines can make us want to make the whole world disappear. For those of us who struggle with chronic or recurring headaches, well, it just plain sucks.

Many massage clients who suffer from tension/muscular headaches and migraines indicate that regular massage reduces the frequency and severity of their symptoms. Sometimes, it can also diminish the pain associated with an active headache. Massage is particularly good at helping if there is a stress or muscular component.

When working to alleviate headaches, massage therapists work through the muscles of the scalp, jaw, face, neck, shoulders, and upper back to find and relieve trigger points, taut bands, and tight areas. Your therapist may also blend in general relaxation work, aromatherapy, craniosacral therapy, heat or cold, or stretches to help get you back into shape.

Some common culprits leading to headaches include stress, TMJ, poor posture, trigger points in the neck and shoulders, sinus pressure, vascular issues, and nerve issues. Massage therapists learn techniques designed to work directly or indirectly on most of these underlying causes.

A medical study on massage for migraines seems to support the anecdotal evidence with positive preliminary results. Participants reported reduced frequency of migraine following massage (plus improved sleep). One preliminary study on massage for tension type headaches (TTH) found that Trigger Points “are important components in the treatment of TTH…” but that the placebo also led to people feeling better. Other studies (according to Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual by Travell & Simons) have found similar conclusions and have further linked some migraines, and other types of headaches, to Trigger Points.

Not all headaches are created equal. The ones that, so far, seem to have the best chance at responding to massage include: tension headache, migraine, TMJ-related headache, and cervicogenic headache. In our experience working with people with each of these types of headaches, we have seen good results in lessening the frequency and severity of headache-related pain. Typically, a series or regular routine of massage has a better chance at helping people with chronic headaches.

We can work with you to see if massage or a massage program can work for you.

Schedule A Massage


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21/Jul/2018

Living with fibromyalgia can be disheartening, depressing, and, while in the depths of the worst days, downright bleak. No one wants to lose the ability to conduct a normal, pain-free, easy-functioning life. To worry whether they will have enough energy each day to get dressed and go downstairs. To have to routinely say “no” to a lot of life’s little pleasures (and routines!). Although not an easy process, most people, with physician-guided trial and error, can find a set of management strategies that help them minimize the chronic widespread pain, fatigue, and other symptoms that go along this syndrome.

While not a magic bullet, to be sure, routine massage has emerged as one management tool that seems to really help people who suffer from fibromyalgia get back to fuller, more pain-free living. Partnered with the right diet, pharmaceutical, and exercise program- a well-tailored massage program can aid people in reclaiming some of what is lost to fibro. However, no two people are alike, so part of finding the right massage for fibromyalgia is creating a partnership with a massage therapist who understands fibro and working together to discover what works best for your body.

Generally speaking, myofascial techniques, stretching, and the feather-light lymph massage have gotten some good press for helping alleviate the tight muscle feeling and fatigue associated with fibro. Massage also appears to improve pain, depression, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and overall quality of life. One review, interestingly, found that the only style of massage (that has been studied, many haven’t) that appeared to have little clinical effect on fibromyalgia was the most common, Swedish. One study found that longer-term programs seemed to optimize the effects of massage. Unfortunately, the study of massage for fibromyalgia is still in its infancy. The gist of the data is that massage can help, but how or to what extent and in which exact applications is still unclear.

Since over-stimulation can cause flare-ups, people who receive massage for fibromyalgia often have to start “easy” and habituate to the work. If you have never had massage for fibromyalgia before, or had one that caused a flare-up, a 30 minute lighter pressure massage is a good place to start. Most find that they become less sensitized to massage over time and that the pressure and style of massage that works for them becomes slightly more aggressive. Some even ultimately do well with very deep pressure trigger point work. Keep in mind that sometimes you need to go back to a lighter pressure if you have a set back or if you begin reacting differently to deeper pressure work.

Some key things you may encounter during a massage for fibromyalgia include:

  1. Lighter pressure (at least to begin with).
  2. Slow work, often with long holds on areas of taut tissue, that gently work into the layers of muscle.
  3. Gentle stretching with long(er) holds that wait for the muscles to relax.
  4. Some focused work on tender points and knots as you become used to massage, or if you already know that deeper pressure works well for you. (Slow often still works better.)

Make sure you have an in-depth intake conversation with your therapist discussing how you experience fibro and your goals. Let your therapist know if you have sensitivity to cold, skin reactions, fibro fog, insomnia, IBS, etc… Also discuss your general wellness, other health concerns, and past history with massage. Once you get into the session, expect to give some feedback so that the therapist can adjust to what you feel. Finally, pay attention to how your body responds to the work in the days following the session. Did you flare up? How much? What type(s) of relief did you notice? How long did the relief last?  Give that feedback to the therapist who will use it to tailor your next session.

If you have received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and have not yet tried massage as a complementary therapy, it is worth seeking out a qualified provider to try a few sessions. If you have tried once or twice and had a flare up, it may still be worth finding a therapist who has specific experience working successfully with people who have fibromyalgia– interest, training, and experience on the part of the therapist can make a big difference.

And remember, you can do it!

 

 


We help people get back to the business of living their lives a little bit better through targeted therapeutic massage sessions and programs.

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