The popliteus is a muscle found at the back of the knee that can become strained and cause pain. The main action of the popliteus muscle is to unlock the knee, helping bring a straight leg into a bent knee position. This muscle links closely with other structures of the knee, such as the meniscus, ligaments and hamstring muscle group. As a RMT, I frequently meet clients that come in complaining of chronic knee pain. A popliteus muscle strain is one of the many possible causes, typically presenting as a deep ache in the back or inside of the knee. Long distance running, tight hamstrings, and hyperextending the knee are some of the similarities I find in my clients who develop this issue. In a massage treatment, I would help release the adhesions between the popliteus muscle and it’s neighbouring structures to allow for smooth function. After the massage I give stretches and exercises to facilitate further healing with the end goal of stopping pain caused by the popliteus muscle.
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!
We are fortunate on the West coast that spring has arrived early, however that means allergy season for many sufferers. Hypersensitivity reactions to pollen in the air causes sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing and congestion. Massage therapy treatments can provide some relief from these allergy symptoms. Our sinuses are designed to lighten the weight of the skull, help with immune function, and can hold 70-90 mL of air. The mucus membranes lining our four sets of sinuses can overreact to allergens, leaving you feeling like your head is going to explode with extra pressure! Specific massage techniques promote drainage of the sinuses, increase circulation to balance pressures in the skull, and decrease muscular tension. Seeking massage therapy can minimize your discomfort due to seasonal allergies, thereby allowing you to get outside and enjoy the spring weather!
Clients come into my massage clinic with their minds buzzing with thoughts from their busy lives. Prioritizing time to take care of your body is an important first step, the next level is to slow the mind down and allow the nervous system to relax and rejuvenate. There is fascinating new research highlighting the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, we can alter the nervous system connections to our brain! Other benefits include decreasing blood pressure and heart rate, improving immune function, and improving emotional health. During massage therapy treatments I often cue my clients to tune into their breath and guide them through a few simple body awareness exercises.This taps into the potential of mindfulness while receiving a massage. I would recommend giving meditation a try and see how you feel, even a couple of minutes a day can be beneficial!
With the New Year rolling in people are kicking off juice cleanses and detox diets to lose a few pounds and feel healthier. I am not a big fan of extreme anything, limiting calories and following a restricted diet can be detrimental to your health. It is out of my scope of practice as an RMT to prescribe a specific eating plan, however nutrition is well connected and pertinent to massage therapy. For example, feelings of tingling and numbness could be related to B12 vitamin deficiency, not just from muscle tension or a neurodegenerative disorder. Another example would be clients that bruise quite easily from massage pressure, possibly due to iron deficiency anemia. RMT’s use critical reasoning skills to assess the signs and symptoms clients present with and refer them to other health care professionals when needed. My personal advice is to adhere to a lifestyle and diet of balance, moderation and variety. Your RMT can work with you to help you reach your 2015 health goals!
This can be a busy and stressful time of year for many, regardless of whatever holiday traditions you partake in. Holiday preparations, work deadlines, social commitments, family expectations…we could use more hours in the day! There is no magic answer to the time crunch and higher stress levels. It is a fine balance between your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Increased SNS firing is a state of fight or flight. Short term adrenaline rushes are fine, however days of rushing around can result in muscle tension, headaches, sleep disturbances, digestive woes and overall exhaustion. In contrast, our PNS correlates to a state of rest and digest. This is the time when our body and mind rejuvenates. Massage therapy is an effective way to tap into your PNS recovery time, reducing the overstimulation that goes with fight or flight mode. Realistically a massage a day is not possible, however scheduling in a few minutes to focus on slowing down and breathing fully can be quite beneficial. Self care and maintaining a healthy routine throughout the holiday season is a great way to finish off the year!
One of the most common complaints I receive at Yaletown Massage Therapy is a sore achy back. There are many possible causes and it is not always a quick fix. I come from a personal fitness training background and typically I recommend developing good stability to take the pressure off of the hard working back muscles. I work with clients to help them engage their deep core muscles to help build their strength and stability. For home care, my favourite exercise is the plank and it’s many variations. It can take less than 3 minutes a day to really wake up your core! On the other hand, sit ups or crunches are not necessarily the most effective exercise since we spend so many hours in our day sitting and tightening up the hips. Core stability means more than just six-pack abs, it includes the back and glutes to balance everything out. A personalized treatment plan including appropriate home care recommendations is all part of my massage therapy sessions. I help clients create a stable core to alleviate and prevent future back pain!
This month’s blog post I would like to write about an amazing inspirational athlete, Lina Augaitis. Lina is a friend and massage client of mine, who challenges herself to compete internationally in stand up paddle boarding (SUP). Her race results are amazing, over 15 first place finishes this year! She is ranked number one in the world for flat water SUP racing, all of her hard work has paid off. I can relate as a former elite athlete that leads a very active lifestyle, it is important to train hard, but also incorporate rest and recovery. Massage treatments are beneficial for preventing injuries and facilitating muscles to recover between workouts/events. Even if you are not a high level athlete, a balanced fitness program is essential and recovery with massage therapy is very effective. For Lina, we have also developed a restorative stretching and fascial release plan to use when she is travelling around the world competing. I am proud to be a part of Lina Augaitis’s healthcare team, check out her great blog here: http://linaaugaitis.blogspot.ca
There is quite a bit written about pregnancy massage, but what about once the baby is born? With postpartum massage therapy there are so many factors to consider, not just physical, but also emotional. As an RMT, I help women transition into the life of taking care of a new baby, and anything that is outside of my scope of practice I refer out to other health care professionals. For example, there are specialists for urinary incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunctions, which are common and treatable. Massage therapy does help with the aches and pains of carrying and lifting a newborn. Perfect posture is difficult, but helping strengthen the core and stretching specific muscles is all part of an RMT massage treatment plan. Frequently parents sustain injuries bending and twisting to place a baby into a carseat, crib or high chair. Prevention and rehabilitation are key. It is an exciting time to have a new addition to your home, however repetitive strain injuries can occur. Fitting in massage appointments for continued care is a good plan for your life with a new baby.
Our feet are quite complex as they are comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, 100 ligaments and 20 muscles in each. Foot pain is quite common with a multitude of possible causes. There are a disproportionate number of nerve endings in our feet compared to their size, similar to how sensitive our face and hands are. Health care professionals such as podiatrists, physiotherapists, and RMT’s, can help assess the specific irritating factors and mechanisms of foot pain. It is important to fully assess and create a personalized treatment plan to be safe and effective. In some cases, pain may be caused by a stiff high arched foot with tightness in the calves and intrinsic muscles of the foot. For these clients, it may be effective to roll the bottom of the foot on a tennis ball for a few minutes to warm the tissues up. In addition, massage can help release the specific muscular trigger points and improve mobility of a rigid foot. On the other end of the spectrum, foot pain may be due to an instability and over-pronation. In this case it may be appropriate to strengthen the specific muscles that are inhibited and weak, the photo below illustrates toe spreaders that are designed with this purpose in mind. To properly prevent and treat foot pain it depends upon the causes and underlying factors. It may be as simple as releasing the tight muscles and strengthening the weaker ones. At the end of the day a foot massage always feels good!