This is the perfect time to reflect on the past year of what worked well for you, and how to make the New Year even better! I am passionate about helping my massage clients achieve their health and wellness goals, and for my students to succeed at becoming future RMT’s. I will be honest, I feel like I lost the balance in life over this past year by taking on a bit too much. I think everyone can relate to feeling overwhelmed and trying too hard to do the best job at everything. I started this blog as a way to build an online presence and to highlight the latest health research. Assessing my past year, I did find it difficult to come up with, and write, about a new and interesting idea for my monthly blog posts. My new goal is to write when I feel inspired, not feel that I am required to post every month. I wish you all a fantastic 2017 with less stress and more time to enjoy outdoors!
The most common type of headache is a tension headache. The dull achy pain is caused by tightness of the muscles around the head and neck which makes it difficult to perform regular daily activities. Massage therapy is an effective way to treat headaches by helping to release the constricted muscles. There is a group of four muscles called the sub-occipitals found at the base of the skull. These short muscles are related to vision and posture and they are frequently the cause of tension headaches. Interestingly, the sub-occipitals are directly connected to the tissue layer that surrounds the brain. There are specific massage therapy techniques to decrease sub-occipital muscle group strain, as a result dissipating headache pressure. Fresh air and exercise are also good ways to treat tension headaches. Managing stress with outdoor activities!
Proprioception is the fancy term for knowing where our body is in space. There are receptors in our joints that send signals to the brain to sense what is going on without having to look. Balance relies heavily on proper proprioception, allowing us to move fluidly without falling down. If you have ever sprained an ankle, you will notice that balance is tricky even weeks after it has healed. This is due to the change in sensory input to the brain, therefore restoring proprioception after an injury is a vital part of the rehabilitation process. Massage therapy is an effective way to treat the connections between the nervous system and the joints and muscles. RMT’s use specific techniques to integrate the joint receptors and develop better movement patterns. Hands on massage therapy improves and maintains balance, regardless if you have sustained an injury or not. Once you have trained your balance, climbing over rocks and up mountains is a lot easier!
This summer I will be running in the Knee Knacker trail race that goes from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove on the North Shore. The course is a daunting 50 km of trails with over 16,000 feet of vertical climb and descent! It is exciting to have a challenging goal to reach towards, the race organizers and fellow runners are exceptionally friendly and supportive. Part of my training plan includes weekly 45 to 60 minute massage treatments for myself. I figure I better follow my own advice for preventative and restorative purposes, helping ensure I get through race day without any injuries. In my own practice as a RMT I see a lot of athletes who come in only when they are hurt, however it is easier to fix an issue before it gets to that painful stage. Pain will change how we run and move, thus creating compensatory issues and a lot more to address with rehabilitation. Before an injury fully flares up, it is best to seek out help and develop a comprehensive plan together to maintain healthy function. Looking forward to some awesome runs out on the trails!
Recently I joined a group of amazing athletes for a training camp held in Thousand Oaks, California. B78 coaching and Human Powered Racing organized a challenging start to 2016 with miles of hills to cycle up and down! I rode with the group, then set up my massage table for a few treatments at the end of the day. One important lesson from the camp was that your body is your most essential tool when it comes to training. It doesn’t matter how fancy your bike gear is if you are dehydrated and fighting through chronic injuries. Massage therapy helps with recovery from workouts, especially if you are pushing the limits of your physical capabilities with an Ironman triathlon training plan. I recommend taking care of your hard working muscles by scheduling regular massage sessions, not waiting until you feel too sore. Working with a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) to develop a treatment plan is the perfect way to maximize your training and racing results!
Recently there has been more attention given to concussion research and treatment. Concussions are a serious injury and symptoms may last for years. Most likely the person will not lose consciousness or have any visible injury, however it should not be considered a mild incident. There is a cascade of events that happen with a head injury, blood flow to the brain is disrupted and nerve cells may be damaged. Registered massage therapists (RMT”s) are trained to assess and treat head and neck injuries, thus helping to alleviate accompanying symptoms. Your RMT can help develop a detailed plan for return to full function, never rushing back into activities too soon. There are also fantastic online resources for more information, such as the site: Concussion Awareness Training Tool. Your first defence should be to seek professional help and exercise caution.
The SI joints are located between the sacrum, (bone connecting the low back and the tailbone), and the two ilium, (hip bones). The two SI joints are a common cause of hip pain, either on both sides or just one. At the beginning of a massage session I assess and compare the movement on each hip/leg, typically I find there is a slight imbalance in mobility. Strong ligaments and muscles help support the SI joints, however they can become compromised due to our daily activities and habitual postures. There are many sports that favour one foot forward, or even just sitting with one leg crossed over the other can create a twisting and shift of the hips bones. Massage therapy is effective at restoring balance by drawing the hips back into alignment using subtle contractions of specific muscles. Reinforcing good alignment and biomechanics will help prevent future SI joint pain. Core stability exercises, such the plank pose shown below, builds strength and postural endurance for the hip and low back areas. It is possible to incorporate preventative exercises anywhere and everywhere!
We have had a phenomenal summer so far on the Westcoast, perfect for outdoor activities and vacation time! Typically, our regular routine is less consistent in the summer months, work and family schedules are more variable. I find clients are less frequent with their massage appointments, however when they do come in they have multiple issues. For example, a client will come in with tight calves from wearing flip flops, achy forearms from playing golf, and a sore low back from sitting in a car for a long road trip. I work my massage magic during the treatment, but it would be more effective to plan ahead and allow for more time for each issue. Even in the summer time, my calendar books up at least a week in advance. I would recommend planning ahead and making the most our summer, staying healthy for outdoor adventure time. Perhaps I should move my massage table outdoors to encourage clients to maximize the hours of sunshine and receive a treatment!
I recently joined Magic Places cycling adventures through Europe providing massages to a group of road bike riders. The cyclists were competing in the Tour Transalps, which is a seven day stage race through the mountain passes from Germany to Italy. It is a very challenging event with a total of 880 kilometers and 20,000 meters of elevation gain! My RMT colleague Lesley White and I gave massage therapy treatments to the athletes at the end of each day. We helped speed up their recovery with massage sessions focused on their hard working cycling muscles to get them through the race feeling good. It was a fantastic experience working with such driven and fit individuals, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Magic Places cycling adventures and Lesley White RMT. Looking forward to next year!
You may have seen some athletes with brightly coloured tape on their bodies, what is it? There are a few different types of tape, a popular brand is called Rocktape. As a RMT I have been trained to apply Rocktape when I think it could be beneficial for my client. The tape works by gently lifting the skin, thus changing the nervous system awareness to the area. Studies have shown the skin lift increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage, therefore decreasing swelling. The purpose of placing tape on the skin is to alleviate pain, promote postural awareness, and enhance performance recovery. Rocktape does not restrict movement, it allows for stretch and guides the body into functional motion. It is not the answer for everything, however it can be quite effective for specific cases and it is another tool I use in my massage therapy practice!