When we are injured, our soft tissue heals it lays down a fibrous connective tissue called scar tissue. The good, bad and ugly of scar tissue is it’s ability to stick to everything……everything! Not only the soft tissue it’s intended to knit back together. It sticks to skin, fascia, old injury sites, surgical sites, organs, nerves and blood vessels. It is not uncommon for scar tissue to constrict nerve pathways, restrict circulatory or lymphatic flow, and reduce range of motion. Also due to the reduction of circulation, it can trap metabolic debris within the injury site creating more pain and dysfunction. If the scar tissue is left untreated it can create adhesions to the healthy tissue around it, creating an additional layer of dysfunction.
The more superficial fascia and soft tissue respond well to almost all therapies (heat, manual therapy, etc). The deep fascia does not. In order to restore function, the dehydrated scar tissue needs to be rehydrated, separated from the surrounding structures and realigned with the muscle fibers. This is especially important in the deep postural muscles. Manual therapy (like massage) can elicit changes, cupping therapy has been shown to be effective up to 4 inches deep! When the tissue is separated, hydration floods the tissue and beneficial blood flow is increased. This allows the body to bring fresh oxygenated blood to the soft tissue and remove any biproducts of metabolic activity. When the tissue layers are separated, the manual therapist can now go in and help realign the fibers and improve function. The most benefits are seen within the first 18 months of healing but cupping therapy is still very effective for more mature scars.
Myofascial cupping is a soft tissue therapy that encourages healing by creating a negative pressure or suction on the skin using plastic or glass cups that pull up underlying tissues, blood, and other fluids close to the surface of the skin.
While many assume that cupping originated in China with traditional Chinese medicine, the earliest records of cupping date back to Egypt in 1550 BC, where it was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus. Egyptians are believed to have introduced it to the Greeks around 400 BC. The earliest recorded use of cupping in Asian medical systems dates back to a Taoist alchemist and herbalist who lived from 281 to 341 AD. Eventually, cupping was spread to the Americas and to Europe. Cupping has increased in popularity and is used as an integrative therapy in modern medicine. Myofascial cupping is often incorporated into other manual therapy techniques such as massage therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and other injury rehabilitation techniques.
A myofascial cupping treatment uses a combination of massage strokes and negative pressure to lift, separate, and stretch underlying soft tissues. Cupping is typically applied on the neck, shoulders, back, sacrum, hip, abdomen, thigh, calves, and upper arms. Areas of musculoskeletal tension or congestion are located using massage techniques, and cups may be applied on an affected area and moved over the surface in a gliding motion, or possibly put on a fascial adhesion or trigger point for a short time to reduce or eliminate it. I will be using silicone cups. These methods avoid the danger of using heat and fire to depressurize the cups. Cupping procedures may leave light to dark red marks on the skin that disappear in 5 to 10 days.
Myofascial cupping can help treat soft tissue conditions and musculoskeletal tension, pain, and common sporting injuries. It can also create relaxation by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Massage and Knee Injuries
Ouch! What did I do to my knee?
If you’re experiencing knee pain, you’re not alone. Most Americans will have knee pain sometime in their life, whether from an accident, overuse, or general wear and tear as they age. Besides being uncomfortable, it’s often debilitating and holds you back from doing the activities you enjoy most. That’s why it’s important to seek prompt treatment.
There’s as many different types of treatment for knee pain as there are types of knee pain, and in many cases the best treatment is surgery. It’s ironic, however, that while surgery is meant to cure the cause of your knee pain, recovery from the procedure will itself be painful. So what do you do with the pain that comes from fixing your pain?
For many people the answer is massage therapy. This is an all-natural and proven method of pain management that more and more knee surgery patients are seeking. And when you see the benefits, it’s no wonder why.
Let’s look closer at why knee pain happens and how massage therapy can aid your recovery and help you get back on your knees, er, feet, and doing your normal activities again.
What’s wrong with my knees?As part of your legs, your knees are pretty important. Without them you can’t walk or run, kneel to pet a cute dog, kick a ball with the kids, climb into bed after a long day, or embarrass your friends with your dance moves. So when they start giving you pain, it can be debilitating and frustrating.
Pain is your knees’ way of communicating that they are injured. Knee injuries may come from an isolated event like an accident that tears a ligament or breaks a bone, or as a result of wear and tear if you play a sport a lot or participate in other frequent, repetitive physical activities. Wear and tear may also be a result of age. It’s just a fact of life that our bodies weaken over time and our tissues become more fragile.
Additionally, some medical conditions may also cause knee pain and affect mobility. The most common of these are:
Fixing the knee painSo now you’re at the doctor and you have a diagnoses. What comes next? Treatment. The cause and severity of your knee pain will determine the treatment you receive.
Minor strain and injuries will probably just require rest at home. You may be advised to reduce swelling by icing your knee, wrapping it in compression bandages, or keeping it elevated. Minor aches and pains can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication, or your doctor may prescribe something stronger for more intense pain.
Some knee injuries will require some sort of physical therapy. This may be stretching and strengthening exercises you can do on your own at home, or you may be required to see a physical therapist.
The most severe knee injuries will require surgery, but not all knee surgeries are equal. Some are more invasive than others. These require a longer, more arduous recovery. Here’s a few examples of the most common knee surgeries:
You probably already know that a professional massage feels good. Even when it’s just for fun, massage loosens your muscles, leaving your body feeling calm and relaxed. This is exactly what your body needs after undergoing invasive surgery.
Knee surgery requires cutting into the muscles and tendons around your knee joint. This kind of trauma causes painful inflammation and muscle spasms. A deep tissue massage focusing on the quadricep and hamstring muscles in your thigh, however, can relieve the tension that causes spasms and reduce inflammation. Ahhh...
Sound good? Well it is.
Massage in post-operative care is good for you and has benefits beyond just pain relief. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science about the effects of massage therapy on pain, swelling, and range of motion after total knee replacement surgery found massage to be a comparable alternative to physical therapy in post-operative recovery.
Immediately following any operation, your tissues are basically freaking out and it is common to have swelling and inflammation. Massage has long been recognized as an effective treatment for swelling, as it provides counter pressure that forces the body’s fluids back into the blood vessels where it belongs.
For long-term recovery, a massage therapist can help improve alignment and train all the parts of your knee to work together effectively after surgery and prevent future pain. This is especially important in reconstructive or knee replacement surgeries. Physical therapy will help you learn to use and control your newly repaired knee, but no amount of strengthening exercises will help if things are out of alignment. A massage therapist can make sure everything stays in their places as you recover and that each is practiced in its own small movements. This will prevent long-term pain and improve range of motion and overall function so you can go back to regular life.
Massage is also used in scar tissue therapy. After surgery, scar tissue forms at the incision, including in the cut muscles and tendons around the knee. However, this scar tissue can be more rigid than the mobile tissues around it, so it needs to be “remodeled” or worked over and moved around to train it to tolerate the stress and forces endured by the body. A massage therapist has the training to do this for you, further improving knee function after surgery.
It’s not just about pain reliefDon’t get us wrong, pain relief is a great reason in and of itself to receive post-operative massage therapy, but it’s also proven to improve your entire recovery experience. No surgery recovery will be complete unless you can regain a reasonable, if not full, amount of prior mobility and function of your knee. Massage therapy can help you get just that by reducing side effects of surgery and preparing your knee to be a fully working part of your body again so you can go back to chasing your dog, dancing with friends, or kicking your feet up and relaxing with no discomfort..
If knee pain is getting you down, talk to your doctor soon about treatment. And if surgery is the prescribed treatment, ask about implementing the magic of massage therapy into your post-operative plan so you can make the most out of recovery and quickly go back to making the most out of life.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a focused, therapeutic massage that targets muscle knots (also known as "adhesions") and specific problem areas in the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
This type of massage is particularly beneficial for people with chronic pain or lingering injuries that cause limited mobility. It's effective in treating repetitive stress injuries such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome and can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
If you or someone you love is in pain, a deep tissue massage can help relieve the discomfort.
Do you have to be a hard core athlete to get a sports massage? No. The idea behind sports massage is to manipulate the body's soft tissues, and focus on certain muscle groups depending on which sport someone is playing. This type of massage can help with increased blood flow, increased range of motion, and increased flexibility. Designed to prevent and treat injuries, improve flexibility, and enhance athletic performance, sports massage can be used by athletes of all abilities to prepare for or recover from athletic or sports events. Even if you aren't an athlete, sports massage may help muscle pain or restricted range of motion.
How does sports massage differ from a regular massage? In sports massage, the strokes are generally faster than a typical Swedish massage and may also include compression, pressure point therapy, friction, and joint mobilization.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your next massage appointment. This will help you continue to feel relaxed after your massage and make the process of undressing easier prior to your massage.
Wearing many layers with lots of buttons and zippers is probably not the best option. Instead, try your favorite t-shirt with yoga pants or comfortable sweats.
If you are coming straight from work, pack a bag and bring something comfortable to slip into. Struggling back into a suit or uncomfortable shoes after a massage is a quick way to reduce the relaxation benefits of massage.
This can be a hectic time of year for most people. It's easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle. Sometimes it's hard to remember to be fully present. Try this breathing exercise I learned from Dr. Weil. It's called "4:7:8"
1. Exhale completely through your mouth. As you do make a "whooshing" sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose and count to 4
3. Hold your breath for a count of 7
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound,
to a count of 8
5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of 4 breaths.
Massage Gift Baskets
You've bought a massage gift certificate for your loved one. Now what? Make that present extra special with a massage basket. Assemble a basket full of goodies designed to promote relaxations. Here are 10 suggestions for what you can include along with the massage gift certificate.
2. Bath salts/bubbles
4. Slippers / socks
5. Comfy pajamas
6. Essential oils
7. Neck pillow
8. Soothing music
9. Herbal tea
10. Soft blanket
Guide to Gifting Massage
When you’re relaxing on a massage table, it’s easy to see massage as a gift. Whether you’re there to reduce pain, to ease anxiety, to help you recover from the physical and mental stresses work or athletic training or parenting or simply being alive, massage is a moment of freedom in an occasionally crushing world. If you’re thinking of sharing the gift of massage with someone else for a special occasion or “just because,” you are almost certainly doing so from a place of love and generosity.
Obviously, I’m a big fan of giving massage as a gift! But just as with choosing to visit a massage therapist yourself, there are some considerations when offering this kind of gift.
How to (successfully!) give the gift of massage.Massage is an amazing gift! But there are a few steps to think about in advance.
Think about the best way to deliver your gift. Gift certificates are the easiest way to give a massage as a gift, as it allows the individual to schedule on their own. Scheduling on their behalf can sometimes work as well, although this can require additional strategic planning.
Look for genuine excitement. When you mention massage are they enthusiastic about the idea? “Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing!” is what you’re looking for, not a polite “Yeah sure, I guess I would go if it were free.” If you can get a more excited response by offering new socks, go with the socks. But many people are thrilled by the idea of getting a professional massage as a gift.
Plan WELL in advance if you want to make the appointment for them. Massage openings fill quickly, especially around holidays! Don’t assume that spaces will be available on a particular day just because you’ve got a month to spare.
Massage should never come as a surprise.Massages are great! (For many people.) Surprises are too! (For some.) But if you’re cooking up a surprise outing for a loved one, consider something else. There are a few reasons for this:
The solution to this? Talk about it in advance. It’s better to take some of the mystery out of a surprise and know that it’s welcome than to end up with the Worst Gift Ever trophy.
What if they love it?This has been an awful lot of what-if-ing. What if they don’t want a massage? What if they can’t get to their massage? What if they’re just being polite, and get a massage but kind of hate it? But there’s another important possibility to consider: what if they love it?
For starters, you won’t hear anything about it from me. It doesn’t matter if the recipient is your spouse, sibling, parent, or anyone else super-close to you. If they really enjoy their massage, if it eases their pain, if it helps them to relax … you can ask them all about it. The fact that it was your gift doesn’t make a difference. Once you give that gift, it belongs to them, and their experience is just as private as though it was all their own idea.
What if they decide to come back as my regular client? You still won’t hear it from me. If you happen to chat about it, great! (And if you’re comfortable doing so, I always appreciate it when clients share their positive experiences with others.) But while I’m always happy to chat about whether the Eagles will make the playoffs or the latest episode of the Game of Thrones, my client list stays private.
Don’t forget the most important gift recipient: yourself.You can’t pour from an empty cup. Rest matters. Peace matters. Sometimes, one of the best gifts you can offer others is to take a moment away from the chaotic world, so that you can be a better spouse, parent, colleague, neighbor, or friend. Sometimes self-care can feel like a strangely radical act, but it’s a vital one. When we have good examples of people who know to care for themselves before running themselves ragged, it’s a better environment for everyone.
Giving the gift of massage is easy! There are two ways to do that. First is online from my website. Please click the link that says “Purchase Gift Certificates”. These gift certificates are electronically delivered. You can choose to have it delivered right to the recipient which is great if you won’t be seeing them. You can also have the gift certificate emailed right to you. Simply print it out and put it in a card. If you would prefer a more traditional gift certificate, please email or call. You can either pick the certificate up from the office or I can mail it.