Posts Tagged ‘Touch’

Have you ever wondered how it can be so easy for some people to do certain motions such as holding proper posture, swinging a golf club, or speaking a different language, when it seems so difficult for you? Maybe you are curious about how workouts become easier after a short period of time? The body has a process called Muscle Memory. Does this mean that each muscle has it’s own memory?

Muscle memory refers to brains ability to learn how do a movement, then recall those actions and send the correct nerve impulse down the spinal cord  to the neuromuscular junctions where the nerve meets the muscle telling it how to move. Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at Quincy College in Massachusetts explains that “your brain creates pathways through your central nervous system, and movements become automatic.”
Nerve impulses follow the path of least resistance and this is why it can be difficult and even painful to learn new movements. As muscles weaken, become injured, or are put in compromised positions such as bad posture, they become bound by toxins and scar tissues that limit movement. The fewer resistance in the muscles the easier it becomes to retrain muscle memory and less painful the process will be.

A NeuroMuscular Junction is where the nerve meets and muscle. This is where the brain tells the muscle when and how to move.

A NeuroMuscular Junction is where the nerve meets and muscle. This is where the brain tells the muscle when and how to move.

Most people suggest working through the pain and difficulty, but you don’t necessarily have to take that route. Therapeutic massage and proper flexibility training helps to break down scar tissue and assists in removal of metabolic waste build up in the muscles. This allows for easier training of the muscle memory, so if you are starting a new workout, wanting to optimize your performance, or more importantly improve your posture try adding regular massage therapy and a good stretching routine into your regiment to improve your memory!

 

“A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence”

David Hume

I know that I write and post a lot about the benefits of massage and how it is great for general health and well-being. It’s easy to assume that when reading this it’s biased and swayed because it’s my business and I am a massage therapist, but the real truth is that I never believed that massage was anything more than just a luxury. That statement right there is blasphemous to my fellow therapists I’m sure, but I have to be honest so that you understand that Massage Therapy has truly changed my life!

Like many of people who only understand massage from what they see in the media, I really thought that massage was all about relaxing with candlelight, incense, and ambient music. It wasn’t until I applied for the Physical Therapist’s Assistant program at my local community college and was denied due to a lack of volunteer hours, that I was introduced to the clinical side of massage. I decided it would be worth my while to at least give it a shot, so I applied and was required to take several medical pre requisites. Pre requisites for a massage class? I knew at this point massage therapy had to be more serious than what I interpreted.

After getting accepted into the program, I was introduced to the program director and future mentor Steve Jurch. From day one Steve took a very scientific and clinical approach to how massage, or soft tissue treatment, can really make a difference in overall health and wellness. Throughout the program, which was almost 2 years long total, I learned more about biomechnical movement, muscular anatomy, and kinesiology than I had ever thought I would. I was also able to see and experience first hand how different the therapeutic approach really was and how immediately the results could be. It changed the way I felt, moved, and even perceived my environment.

My belief in massage therapy became greater and greater over the years, but in the early stages of my career I was still reluctant and somewhat skeptical. I had to ask many questions and do significant continuing education before I started seeing my treatments really effect people in a positive way. There have been many clients that I have worked with since then that have avoided surgery, regained range of motion, reduced painful and stressful symptoms, and so much more! Massage therapy has been around for many years and has been used to treat people for all kinds of aches, pains, disorders, and illness with great results. How can I not believe in this after seeing first hand many different times!?

It may have taken me some time to convert my skepticism, but I have been a massage therapist for over 10 years and let me tell you…if it can change my mind, I’m sure that it can change yours as well!

“The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days.”

-Lao Tzu

the new primal games

Two weeks ago, I participated in the 3rd annual Primal Games which is an event that tests your strength, endurance, skill, and drive.  It’s commonly referred to as “The Caveman Olympics” because it is full of events that we as human beings should be able to accomplish because they stem from functional primal patterns. However due to evolution and modernization such as office jobs, computer interaction, texting, and much more,  many people have forgot how to facilitate these innate patterns. Participating in the games got me thinking about 2 things:

1. Do people realize how primal massage therapy is?

2. Why wouldn’t people be more apt to utilize massage therapy to help and restore these primal patterns?

Interesting thoughts I know, but let me explain my thought process here. Anyone who knows me knows that movement patterns and fitness are always on my mind and in one way or another lead to how massage could influence everyday matters such as these ideas.

Plain and simple, massage is as primal it gets! Think about it, when you hurt yourself what is the first thing you do? You rub the area to ease the pain…massage! When a child or even young animal is upset what do the parents do? They console them and pat their back or rub their head….both essence of massage. And if you want to go as far as to ask what is one of the first things we experience when we are brought into this world? The muscle contractions utilized to deliver young are a form of massage! Massage has been used all over the world dating back thousands and thousands of years because it is innate and instinctive. Touch, when applied correctly and in a positive nature, helps to heal and optimize the functions of the body. Now due to certain stigmas and taboos, massage gets a bad rep and many people avoid it like the plague not understanding that it is primal and can benefit us greatly.

Now that we understand that massage is primal lets understand how it can help return us to our primal patterns more efficiently. Posture and movement are everything in the human body. When looking at movement there is nothing more true than the old phrase, “use it or lose it.” If you do not actively move your body in the primal patterns then over time the brain will forget to maintain them as well as letting proper posture slide into a decline. Once your posture is compromise the body starts tightening up muscles and laying down scar tissue to protect itself from getting any worse, but yet if nothing is done to prevent it or reset it it will get worse. We are seeing this situation more and more everyday as people invest more time playing video games, watching TV, or stuck in an office all day and less time being active and addressing their over all physical fitness not to mention an abundance of stress coming from all aspects of life.  Enter massage! Massage at it’s simplest form acts to calm the muscular and nervous system to release tension. Massage is also utilized to break down scar tissue and align muscle fibers to promote healing, optimize posture, and restore function in the body. Seems a little to easy and to good to be true, but it’s not. As I stated before civilizations around the world have been administering massage therapy techniques to recover warriors, prepare athletes, and nurture their fellow man for centuries.

primal movement

It seems very difficult to believe that people would be be so timid and reluctant to utilize massage therapy when it is so primal and can help us get back to our functional nature. It’s easy, fairly painless, and best of all it’s drug free!

To learn more or if you have any questions, just comment below…

#liveprimal

“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
– Charles Dickens

Whether it’s  from my students, my clients, or my friends and family, I often get asked  how do I know how much pressure is the right amount of pressure to use when applying massage therapy? The easy answer to the  question is an understanding of Tactile Sense.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word Tactile as “perceptible by touch”. What this means to us  is the ability to identify the smallest changes in the underlying muscle tissue by simply using our touch receptors. This concept is important for both therapist and client. Always remember that the client controls the depth or distance into the muscle fiber that is allowed during a massage session. The therapist is responsible for the amount of pressure used during the session. If too much pressure is used by the therapist, the client’s nerves respond in pain and cause a recoil  causing the muscle to tense. A tensing muscle and causing pain is the exact opposite of the goals we are trying to achieve through massage.

Developing Tactile sense isn’t always the easiest task, but it is very important to have a successful massage treatment. In my 9 years of treatment, I have noticed that certain therapists have the “knack” and some don’t. For the ones that can’t get a grasp of the sense, there  are a couple tips I always suggest. The first is to close your eyes then continue the massage at a slow rate really paying attention to the composition of the muscle texture and making note of even the slightest changes. The other tip is to pay  attention to the body language of the client to notice if they are holding their breath or tensing up other parts of the body. These actions will limit the “change” in muscle texture making it much more difficult for the muscles to shift from a tense state to a relaxed state, if any shift at all.

When developing the sense it is also very important to keep your client included. Any changes that are noticed should be legitimized on both ends. If a client seems to be too tense, then the pressure by the therapist may need to be reduced or the client may need to take several deep breaths and focus on relaxing the muscles by letting the “fall” away from the body. When the client is able to identify muscular changes then the treatment will become more effective and longer lasting because they are noticing and allowing the change rather than resisting. Whatever position you may be in, be sure to pay attention the the muscular changes. I like to compare the texture changes in muscle fibers to subtle changes in pressure when you opening a bottle of soda slowly. You notice how as the built up pressure is released slightly as you carefully open the top, the bottle itself becomes more pliable and easy to move just  like muscle tissue during a massage.

Whether you are a therapist or a client, the fine tuning of Tactile Sense is a key part of achieving the  desired results in a therapeutic massage session. If you are a client, don’t be afraid to discuss this concept with your therapist to better your treatment. If you are a therapist and are having troubles with the sense, I suggest asking other therapists for tips, or trying the tips I listed above so that you can provide the best result for your clientele. Feel free to leave any other tips you may have in understanding tactile sense. Questions are always welcomed as well!