Archive for February, 2012

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
Benjamin Franklin

Writing is a great way to express information and educate many. I enjoy educating the masses about massage therapy. I don’t believe that there is enough understanding and I believe that there are too many misconceptions about the profession. My writings are designed to help people understand the need, benefits, and details of massage therapy and how it should be a component of regular healthcare.

Blogging is a great way to get the word out, but so are newsletters and featured articles in magazines. I try to Blog every other week and compose a newsletter on weeks in between. The articles that I write for several magazines in the addition to my other writings  all have the intention on getting out as much education to the public out as possible.

If you enjoy the writings on the Blog here then you should check out the Media Room on my website (www.definedmassage.com) to view articles that I have written as well as past issues of my newsletter, ‘getting: DEFINED’. You can also sign up to be on the mailing list for the newsletter. Thank you for reading and your desire to learn!

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons  of preaching”

Mahatma Gandhi

 

This day in age the benefits of massage have been proven more and more to help people to reduce stress, recover from injury, and overall just feel better. These simple facts help to promote myself as well as other massage therapists out there as “healthcare providers.”

Many people will come into our offices or spas to seek relief, achieve better overall well-being, and even ask for our advice on health care topics and other related subjects.  Now it’s not in our Scope of Practice to  diagnose problems,  write prescriptions, design fitness routines and so forth; we leave that to the other healthcare professionals. We are here to treat the discomfort in muscles, reduce stress, improve overall wellness and we do that by treatments, education, and leading by example.

As therapists, it is important for us to educate ourselves on the latest healthcare topics and how they can impact us all. This education will assist us,  the therapists,  in providing the best treatments for you  as well as give us knowledgeable information that you  can utilize as advice in creating the best healthcare plan for yourself.

It is in my opinion, as well as many other’s, that the best way to promote health and wellness it to exude health and wellness. How do we exude it you  may ask? Following the old adage of “Practice What You  Preach!” I don’t know about you but it’s always been difficult for me to listen to a healthcare professional talk to me about being healthy when they are overweight,  have poor eating habits, drink often, smoke, and the list could go on. This is like getting pulled over by a police officer for speeding then being issued a ticket right before he speeds off for not particular reason. There are so many other metaphors out there that we could use, but  for time we will limit it. Feel free to leave your best examples in the comment spaces below. Sorry, I digress, but to me these situations just don’t make sense and almost seem hypocritical.

I love to write about health and wellness as well as suggest simple tips to achieve these goals as well as promote my profession and skills. You can rest assured that all of these things I have at least tried and experienced or still practice on a regular basis.  Back in 2005 I decided to lead a StraightEdge lifestyle which simply means that I don’t drink, smoke, or use an unnecessary drugs. This decision was based upon the fact that if I was going to talk about and urge others to be of a healthier lifestyle, I needed to follow it myself. I stretch daily, use dynamic warm-ups before activities, get massage at least once a month, and workout at least 3 times a week. These activities help me stay at the top of my game so that I can provide the best treatment for my clients. I have been vegetarian, vegan, tried many different workouts including P90X, practiced yoga,  meditations, and so much more all in the desire to see what works best for me as well as understand them more to see what may work best for YOU!

Call it leading by example, inspiration, or whatever you will; I feel that in order to help others you have to be the best you can be first. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Over my career I have had the opportunity to work with many sports of which I study the movement patterns needed for each specific sport. As a Sports Massage Therapist, one on the most important responsibilities is to identify postural imbalances and what muscles are limiting full range of motion that  would impede the needed movement patterns to be successful.  The next step is to treat the limiting muscles with appropriate flexibility training and therapeutic massage to restore and optimize the proper movement patterns that will improve the athlete’s performance and better achieve their goals.

One sport in particular holds a special place in my heart and that is wrestling. In my high school years, I wrestled for 4 years and because  of that I understand the needs, desires, and movement patterns better than any other sport. Recently, I have been asked back to my Alma Mater to utilize my skills to help the wrestlers recover quicker and improve their performance. I look at two main things that produce challenges for proper movement patterns for these wrestlers; posture and joint range of motion.

Next to Gymnastics and Dancing, I believe wrestlers have the greatest need for proper posture and increased flexibility. If a wrestler has poor posture it will lead to an unfavorable stance making it more difficult to both defend and attack as well as making it easier for the opponent to overcome and score. When a wrestler has limits in their joint range of motion, not only will it be difficult to get in to a solid stance, but it makes it much more difficult to execute moves as well as increasing their chances for injury. If the wrestler sustains a severe enough injury, it calls from immediate removal from competition which adds and unwanted amount of psychological stress that can further effect their performance. How do we easily avoid situations like these? Identify the main culprit; tight unconditioned muscles.

Treating tight muscles to release adhesions and increase flexibility of the muscle fibers will in turn lead to smother movement because of less restrictions and scar tissue that  cause muscle to “stick”.  Treatment will also increase recovery because as muscle tissue becomes looser,  blood flow increases to the local area and it is in the blood where nutrients responsible for recovery are held. Performance is also increased due to proper treatment because as you add the previous results, when there less pain then there is less physical and psychological limitations.

The amazing part of treatment like the treatment that  I use with the wrestlers is that it can be applied to any sport! The only aspect that  has to be modified is that the intention has to be shifted to the specific needs of the  restrictions to movement patterns for the specific sport being assessed.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
– William Arthur Ward

In the massage therapy profession, as with many other professions, continuing education plays an important role in technique development and improved results. A massage therapist usually chooses their continuing education based on their interests, the skills they would like to enhance, and the goals that they would most like to achieve with their clients.

My greatest interests in developing my skills are movement patterns, biomechanics, weight training, nutrition, and most importantly how to efficiently treat conditions that limit the function and healing. This weekend I had the privilege and honor to take a Comprehensive Sports Massage CEU(continuing education unit) class by my mentor and renowned therapist Steve Jurch. With almost 20 years experience in the field, Steve is an athletic trainer and massage therapist who taught me in college and helped to develop me into the therapist I am today.
The course that I took this weekend taught me many things that will definitely produce better results, as well as help prove the legitimacy of this profession as a vital part of the health care field. If you are a therapist, I highly recommend expanding your knowledge on how to treat conditions that are more commonly seen in the sports field but can be applied to people in everyday situations. If you are a client and you are looking for results in treating conditions that have been debilitating and negatively effecting your everyday functions, then I highly recommend seeking a therapist with a background in this training or training that is similar.
Some of the interesting concepts that were taught in this weekends course that may be of interest to you:
  • Studies have show that static stretching before activity reduces power and output, instead consider dynamic warm-ups and stretching at the end.
  • Ways to prepare the body for activity and recovery after activity through massage therapy.
  • Understanding of how Scapular motion is important in prevention of shoulder and neck conditions.
  • More effectively treating low back dysfunctions, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff injuries and so much more…
  • For more information, please visit www.jurchperformanceeducation.com

“Colors answer feeling in man; shapes answer thought; and motion answers will.”
– John Sterling


    I spend a good amount of time working in conjunction with chiropractors, physical therapists, and personal trainers. These movement specialists all seem to agree that if proper motion isn’t established then proper function of the body will diminish as well. What is it that limits our movement and restricts our normal functioning. Aside from a small handful of obstructions such as bone growth, tumors, and other space occupying lesions, tight muscles are the main culprit.

    The interesting thing about muscle tightness is that it can span the full spectrum of causes, meaning that muscles can become tight and “stick” together from overuse or by under use of the muscle. With overuse, the muscle fibers become stressed and tear due to activity. In most cases, we engage in activity before the muscle has had time to fully recover, so the body lays downscar tissue to prevent movement and help with healing. If there is any lack of proper nutrients in the body, reformation and reintegration of the scar tissue becomes drastically diminished.This leads to the muscle fibers not moving properly or “sticking.” In the case of under use we consider the old adage: “If you don’t use it, you lose it, ” referring to movement in this case. Imagine gears to machinery and how if they aren’t moved frequently over time and not well maintained, movement will become much more difficult or may even seize up. Muscle fibers will almost start “fusing” together if the muscles aren’t being stretched or activated on a regular basis.

    Proper nutrition, adequate hydration levels, as well as regular treatment and stretching will promote quicker recovery from activity as well as avoiding the under use side effects. Therapeutic massage helps to remove toxins and metabolic wastes that increase the “gluing” between fibers. Another way therapeutic massage stops the unwanted stick of muscle fibers is by breaking down the scar tissue that caused the adhesion then helps to reform the muscle and reintegrate the nerves.

    If you think you are having any “sticking” issues with your movement or maybe certain movement don’t seem quite as easy anymore, you may want to seek out professional assistance to get you back to proper moving order.

“The greatest evil is physical pain.”
Sa
int Augustine


Have you ever found a bruise, cut, or even abrasion on your body and don’t know how it got there? Maybe you have had a massage in the past and your therapist worked on an area that you didn’t think was sore until there was pressure applied? For some this happens quite often, but why is it that we can avoid pain so easily sometimes, but other times we can’t?

    When we get injured or hurt there is a stimulus, the thing is, is that stimulus has to be strong enough to illicit a response from our nervous system. On the downside if the stimulus is too much, not only do we feel pain but our body responds by shutting down the injured area so that we don’t feel the pain anymore. Good thing right?! Not necessarily. If the area isn’t rehabilitated properly then the nerve signals stay shut off or distorted causing compensatory patterns to our muscles.
    Compensatory patterns are when the body recruits nearby muscles to assist with the movement and duties of the injured area and muscles. For the short term this is a good thing because it allows to injured area to start the repair process, but if left untreated and properly rehabilitated it will continue to hide the pain and cause an overload of work to the recruited muscles. The overload on the muscles will cause pain and additional recruitment and so on and so forth. You can see how this cycle can repeat until the body is in disarray.
    Just as you would go to your dentist for a check-up to find cavities or other issues that you can’t see or feel on your own, a licensed massage therapist is trained to find the imbalances in muscle tone and assist return proper posture and muscle tone. This is yet another benefit of regular visits to your massage therapist!

“Never confuse movement with action.”
– Ernest Hemingway

    Have you every had your coat caught in the door causing you to pull you back or maybe had the cord from the vaccuum caught on the table and when you pulled on the cord it caused the table to move or knocked something off the top? This is a scenario that can be frustrating and disruptive. Now what if something like this happened in the body?

    In our bodies we have connective tissue that links everything inside of us together and should move smoothly for normal functioning. Imagine a suit of spandex material that is extra tight that runs in between the skin and the muscles and wraps around every muscle, every muscle fiber, every organ, down to every cell. Now think about when an injury occurs in a muscle, when it starts to heal it will attach itself to the connective tissue for support. This is a good thing in the fact that it helps with recovery, but it’s a bad thing because it will limit the fluid movement of the connective tissue and cause other adhesions throughout the body which causes a disruption in the normal function of our body. If the adhesions persist without treatment, the disruption can become worse and affect other parts of the body and even lead to “dis-ease” of the body’s functions.

    There are several ways to prevent the connective tissue from getting too limited and in turn causing additional problems to your body. The first is fairly simple; stretch! Stretching allows the muscle fibers to break free of the connective tissue. If you aren’t sure what stretches would be best for you, seek the assistance of a professional. Second is a form of therapeutic massage calledMyofascial Release. Myofascial is a fancy way of saying connective tissue and muscle area. Myofascial release involves deeper more focused application of pressure and slower movements that allows not only the connective tissue to break from from the muscle but helps to flush out toxins from the adhesion site, which aides in the recovery of the muscle. Nutrition and hydration levels also play a role in reducing the adhesions and increasing muscle recovery.

    With these treatments in mind, you now have a way to decrease the limitations in your muscles, allow you to function easier with less frustration, and move, feel, and BE better!

Giving Thanks Where Thanks are Due

Posted: February 9, 2012 in Ethics
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“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Oprah Winfrey

This was originally written this past Thanksgiving:

The majority of blog entries on this page are for educational purposes, but every so often, I like to take the time to write something more personal. This time of the year inspires me to take an opportunity to give thanks where thanks are due.

I began the journey into this profession over 9 years ago facing much adversity as to the nature of the business and whether it was the best choice for my future. In the back of my head, I always knew that I wanted to help people feel better and make a difference in their lives. It was the unconditional support of my loving family that kept me driving forward and persevere, so I’d like to extend a huge “thank you” to my awesome family for helping me to start my journey.

In any journey there are hills, valleys, uncertainties, and challenges. There are also tough decisions that have to be made and A LOT to learn. It was the combination of my amazing mentors and instructors as well as my wonderfully loyal clients that have supported and fueled my desire to learn so much and provide the best quality work possible. Because of the terrific people, I will NEVER stop learning, so “thank you” to you all.

There is a huge list of people that I could not include or this blog would go on forever, but they know who they are. These people have stood behind me since day one and relentlessly inspired me to follow my dream of opening my own business where I could educate and make a difference through Therapeutic Massage. These people have been guides to me and helped in showing me the ways to become the best that I can be. A short list of these people must be included or I just wouldn’t feel right. A very heart-felt, warm, and neverending “thank you” goes out to the following people for their selfless support, belief, and unconditional love/friendship to me and the work that I do:

-My future fiance’: Kitty Rodgers

-My Mother & Father: Laurie and Mark Fritz

-My Grandparents: Fred and Nancy Chevalier

-D. Loy Stwart Sr.

-Steve Jurch

-Chef Brett McKee

-John Ford Sr. aka “POPS” (1950-2011)

In closing, be sure to thank your body for the amazing creation it is and everything it does for you; as well, take a moment to thank whatever divine power(s) you follow in your own faith for your life and remember to live it to the fullest and enjoy every moment!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FOLKS!!!

 

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
– George Burns

    Everyone knows that massage has a very relaxing effect on our bodies and minds. This is one of the many reasons people come in for massage on a regular basis. When we are relaxed, we are less stressed and we feel better overall. Howis it that massage’s magic relieves stress?
    First and foremost, massage is passive stretching of the muscle fibers; therefore, relieving tension and scar tissue that limits proper motion and function of the body. Tight muscles also reduce blood flow to the brain and when the brain doesn’t recieve enough nutrients from said blood, then we think less clearly and become more irritable. These benefits are the ones we see and feel immediately, but that’s only half of it.
    Behind the scenes, hormones work diligently to make us feel better. Through a positive calming touch, our body reduces “stress-causing” hormones such as Epinephrine, Norepinephrin, and Cortisol. The decrease in these hormones is a great thing because not only do the cause stress, but they also lower your immune system, disrupt your digestion, and inhibits tissue repair. As the bad hormones are lowered, the “feel good” hormones are increased. “Feel good” hormones such as Dopamine, Seratonin, and Oxytoxin. These hormones are responsible for improves normal brain function, enhances your emotional state, and give you an overall euphoric feeling.
    Massage has many benefits for the body and mind and now you know on of the most important in relieve your stress!

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
– Maya Angelou

There are many therapists out there that like to expand the services they offer and reach many different client bases. One of the common modalities that therapists venture into is Deep Tissue Massagebecause of it’s effects to reach the root of the conditions with more intention. Deep Tissure simply refers to the depth of the tissue reached not nessicarily just applying more pressure.The problem the I consistently find is the overuse of the old saying “No Pain, No Gain.” This phrase seems to be overused with not only massage, but stretching, weight training, & other forms of exercise. Without the proper warm-up and the gradual application, there can be disaterious effects.

 

I have personally encountered many people’s resistance to the type of therapy that I integrate into my treatments because of their fear of pain. In the past they may have had or have heard bad stories from friends or family about “deep tissue massage” and how it was extremely painful and how it may have even made the problems worse.

 

“No Pain, No Gain” is a phrase that was started back in the 80’s that exercise enthusiasts use to ensure the promise of awesome results throught hard work and endurance through pain. This theory has been transfered over to stretching and even into therapeutic massage. Fitness.com defineds Pain as the body’s warning signal. The idea that when we feel pain there is something going wrong in the body and we should stop whatever it is that is causing that pain, i.e. exercise. The same can be held true about massage and flexibility training.

 

If massage or stretching techniques are being administered with too much pressure then there is too much damage being done to the muscle fibers. It is true that through massage and stretching,  you want to break up adhesions in the tissue and lengthen the muscle fibers by separating the myofascial connective tissue from the muscle. The problem becomes that if too much pressure is applied too soon and too consitantly, the body does not have the ability to adjust and adapt to the treatments  therefore the body will not reap the beneficial results of the treatment.

 

The end result if “deep tissue massage” or overstretching is applied is that the muscle become a major trauma rather than a microtrauma and requires more recovery than perhaps even the discomfort and condition that was the starting cause for treatment. The body responds more immediately to the most recent injury and limits recovery to the intial injury or condition. If this happens then the client will feel more pain and feel that the condition is “worse than before.”

 

It is important as client to research the therapist that you work with and understand their background in therapeutic massage techniques and make sure you that you give your therapist proper feedback before, during, and after the session as far as how the pressure feels to you and your pain threshold. A good rule of thumb is that on a painscale of 1 -10 where 1 is very little pain and 10 is the most pain you’ve ever felt, that your therapist’s pressure stays between 6 and 7.

 

Deep Tissue Massage and Flexibilty Training has many effective benefits but only when applied properly. So if you have had a bad experience or are weary about it, just do your research, ask questions, and give great feedback and I’m sure you will have some of the best therapeutic treatment there is to offer!