I recently attended the AMTA-KY state conference and came away with a lot of great new information and renewed enthusiasm for body work. Over 200 people from Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and even Georgia attended. The Board did a great job attracting nationally recognized educators Susan Salvo, Debra Korener, Gloria Coppola, and Eric Stephenson. They raised the level of the conversation and energized the group. Topics included Massage for Special Populations, Massage and Medications, Lomi Lomi, Self-Care, Lower Extremity Injury treatment, Shoulder Injury Treatment, TMJD treatment, Professional Ethics, Deep Tissue Techniques and Practice Development. It was an enjoyable and informative experience and bolstered my respect for my fellow Massage Professionals in Kentucky and the Profession overall. Please ask your LMT about his/her professional development activities. We should never stop learning and sharing our knowledge with our clients.
When I hear people discussing their various pains and ailments, and ask whether they have tried massage their most common response is something like “I went to my chiropractor and that helped for a while, but now it hurts again”. Huh? Massage and chiropractic are not the same. They are different modalities practiced by different professionals. The same goes for physical therapy. The intention in massage practiced by PT’s is very different from that of a LMT.
My theory on why people get confused is because they automatically turn to modalities that their health insurer will pay for rather than modalities that work for their condition. That’s the same reason someone will subject themselves to surgery for carpal tunnel when in the majority of cases it is not effective in resolving the symptoms. Insurance will pay for surgery but not therapeutic massage by a LMT. I’m actually glad the high deductible plans are becoming more prevalent because I hope people will begin to evaluate their treatment options based on efficacy instead of insurance coverage since they will have to pay a bigger share of expensive procedures. No more MRI’s for a sprained ankle. No more CAT scans for simple muscle tears. MD’s should start to improve their palpation and diagnostic skills and rely less on costly technology to CYA. People might begin to understand that a less invasive more gradual treatment is cheaper and more effective in the long term.
Why do you think people resist getting massage?
There are many potential causes for shoulder pain, but unless you had a specific event like a car accident, sports injury or serious fall, the odds are good that a short course of massage therapy can help relieve your pain. Some initial assessment is advised to determine whether massage can be helpful and which muscles are involved.
A lot of shoulder pain arises from the muscles that make up the rotator cuff. It is made up of 4 muscles: the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis. Assessing each of these 4 muscles independently can identify the source of the problem. Three of the 4 muscles are very accessible and are easily treated with friction and gliding massage strokes along with stretching and strengthening. The subscapularis is a bit harder to reach because it attaches underneath (on the anterior side) the shoulder blade, but it’s still reachable and treatable. There are additional muscles in the upper back and chest that can contribute to shoulder pain so these should be assessed as well.
If you have shoulder pain, before you consider any invasive treatment, give 3 sessions with a therapist trained in massage for injuries a try. If you don’t see improvement in 3 sessions, you might have a more serious injury that could require more invasive treatment.
Because of the nature of our society and working environments today, more and more people are suffering with wrist and arm pain and numbness. Often, this is diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a compression of the median nerve which passes through a structure in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. There are however, other causes which could result in the same or very similar symptoms.
If you suffer from these symptoms or have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome, try a short course of massage therapy before you pursue more invasive therapies. Nerve compression could be happening in a different nerve, farther up your arm and even into your shoulder which then manifests as arm and hand pain and tingling or numbness. With just 3-30 minute sessions with a massage therapist trained in injury work, you might start to feel relief and save yourself from having a surgery that is often not successful in relieving the symptoms. It’s worth a try!
Many people think massage is a luxury reserved for wealthy people with lots of leisure time. I would argue that busy moms and dads with small children need to make massage part of their monthly routine and household budget – especially during flu and cold season.
When children are bringing home who knows what germs from school and stress levels are high is just when you need an immune booster. What’s the best breeding ground for illness? Stress. What are the signs of stress? Shallow breathing, tight muscles, lack of sleep, digestive problems, headaches…sound familiar?
How does massage help?
- Slows and deepens breathing,
- relaxes muscles,
- improves ability to get to sleep and stay asleep,
- moves lymph (critical to immune function),
- stimulates digestion,
- relieves headaches…
If you can’t afford to miss work, you can’t afford to neglect your health. Massage can be a key component of your overall health and wellness.
For more information about massage and immune function:
If you’re one of those people who try to start off the new year with a resolution to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, etc. etc., why not try something easier and more effective to improve your health? Sleep more!
Sleep reduces stress levels, allows your immune system to work more effectively, let’s your body digest food more completely, let’s your muscles recover…the list goes on.
Here are some links to articles about the relationship of sleep to good health: (more links below)
http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicId=38 (includes references to primary research)
Fall asleep during a massage? Good for you! Don’t feel guilty or uncomfortable. It just means you need the sleep. The quiet and relaxing atmosphere of the massage room gives you permission to get the sleep you need. In fact, if sleep is a primary objective of the massage session, let your therapist know so he/she doesn’t try to talk to you or ask you to move too much.
- How Sleep Deprivation Decays The Mind And Body (wonderfultips.wordpress.com)
- New Resolve for the New Year: Seven Resolutions for a Healthier Lifestyle (omimattress.com)
- Make a new kind of New Year’s resolution (q13fox.com)
- Sleep for Rest and to Protect your Brain (scienceworldreport.com)