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!
The human body does not like to be static for too long, we are not made to sit all day! With inactivity, blood flow and nerve supply can become compressed and joints stiffen up. Muscles are designed to contract and relax, helping with mobility and stability of the body. The majority of my massage therapy clients could benefit from more movement and stretching in their daily routine. I do not necessarily mean they are required to go to a structured yoga class everyday, but to incorporate little stretch breaks and posture checks frequently through their day. I recommend getting into the habit of taking a couple of minutes to tune into your body and breathe with whatever movement feels good. This will make a difference by calming the nervous system and engaging your major muscles to promote blood flow, There are many different types of stretching techniques and yoga styles, the absolute best type is the one you actually do!
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!
It is a brand new year, perfect time to set some goals for the months ahead. I like to focus on goals versus resolutions, following the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Targeted). This provides direction for my efforts, developing a game plan of what I want to achieve and when with short and long term goals. Writing down intentions and reassessing throughout the year is a great way to stay on track. Scheduling in events and mini goals is motivating and helps avoid procrastination. For example, this past December was very busy with massage bookings as clients were trying to maximize their extended medical benefits allowance. Ideally, spreading their appointments out with a session every couple of months could be more effective than six treatments at the end of December. Massage can be a great reward for reaching your goals, what do you want to challenge yourself with this year?
The winter season is here and for the West coast it means time to play in the snow on the mountains! This is also the time of year when I see many clients limping in for their massage appointments with injuries from their winter activities. Two simple ways to prevent aches and pains are warming up and staying hydrated. Typically warming up is non existent for snow sports, however even a few bodyweight squats or yoga postures beforehand are beneficial. Waking up your nervous system and getting the blood flowing to your muscles will help your body perform the movement patterns you want to do on the slopes. Also, drinking water throughout the your day is important for keeping you hydrated and proper muscle function. For example, you wouldn’t go for a four hour hike without drinking water, so why would you try to snowboard all afternoon without water?!? If you do happen to sustain an injury from your snow sport adventures, massage therapy will help relieve pain and restore function. In my sessions I will create a personalized treatment plan to help get you back out there having fun on the mountains!
It is common that a client will come into my massage clinic complaining of an achy low back. Typically they have not been doing any heavy lifting or experienced any trauma, but it hurts and can even keep them up at night. I would perform an assessment to rule out possible disc herniation, facet joint issues or other vertebral dysfunctions. The pain description of dull and achy leads me to think it might be muscular in origin, basically it could be from sitting for too many hours. Knots in a muscle, aka trigger points, are irritable spots that can elicit pain when direct pressure is applied and sometimes cause a twitch response. Trigger points are fascinating in that they follow a distinct pain referral patterns for each specific muscle. For example, the diagram below outlines the trigger points in the gluteus medius muscle and the corresponding red pain pattern. I find this gluteus medius pattern often and massage can be very effective at releasing the painful points. My client will comment how they feel their low back ache dissipate after I use massage techniques on their glutes/hips, everything is connected! At home you can help minimize the pain by avoiding aggravating factors such as poor posture, dehydration, cold drafts, and not enough stretching or physical activity.
When a client lies down on my massage table I observe their breathing patterns as a clue to their stress level. Rapid, shallow breaths are typical of a higher sympathetic nervous system firing, also know as fight or flight mode. I find an effective way to get into a more relaxed state quickly is to invite my client to take longer and deeper breaths. Full inhalations feed the cells oxygen to boost energy levels, while full exhalations release toxins and rejuvenate. Increasing awareness of the breath can be very powerful and enhances the effectiveness of the massage treatment. During a more intense technique, I may ask a client to bring their breath into where my hand is placed on their body. It may not technically be possible to breathe into one’s foot for example, but the imagery helps to mentally let the tension go and relax the overstimulation of the nervous system. Incorporating breath work into a massage brings a mind-body connection that lasts beyond the session and becomes part of my home care recommendations. Mindful breathing is a simple form of meditation and can decrease stress levels significantly, even a couple of minutes a day helps. Now take a moment to focus on your breath…
A few years ago I purchased my first road bike and joined in with the many recreational cyclists. I find it is a great activity for keeping up my fitness level, but without the impact on my joints that I get with running. That isn’t to say cycling is always an injury free sport, it should be balanced with an overall strength and flexibility fitness plan which includes recovery massage. Two common areas of discomfort that I see as an RMT are the upper back/neck area and the low back/hips. Massage helps decompress the restriction of blood flow, stimulate the nervous system and restore circulation to the muscles. During a massage treatment I incorporate stretching techniques that target specific segments of muscles that are tight. For example bringing your chin to your chest will stretch all of your neck extensors, but not necessarily the tighter aspects at the base of your skull unless manually isolated. Releasing the trigger points in the affected/shortened muscles results in decreased discomfort as well as increased endurance and power on the bike. In the photo below, my friend and Iron-woman inspiration Steph Corker demonstrates great bike posture and the joy of smooth cycling!
“Riding 180km during Ironman can be joyful! Outside of ensuring my bike was fit properly, getting frequent massages ensured that long miles on the bike I was relaxed and getting every ounce of power out of my body. With small tweaks, we really can ride forever……so bring on the gran fondos + massage appointments” Steph Corker
I was a personal trainer for many years and always noticed a lot of new faces in the gyms at this time of year. Some of the best intentions to get fit as fast as possible inevitably led to quite a few injuries. Sore knees from ramping up running miles, tweaked shoulders from one too many pushups, achy low backs from sit ups, and many more common and annoying little injuries. It was enough for new participants to quit on their goals, but the great news is that an RMT can help! Instead of giving up on your healthy resolutions, little adjustments can be made to your fitness program to rehabilitate and prevent further injury. Massage treatments begin with postural and functional movement assessments to develop a plan for which areas are tight and would benefit from massage and stretching. Basically, if you are feeling sore and sluggish, massage can help bring circulation to your hard working muscles to help you get back out there being active!
Hello! My name is Barb and thanks for visiting my blog site. I wanted to create a place where people can learn about who I am, and how I can help them with massage therapy. I have updated my bio page, okay I will admit I cheated and it is the same as my bio on the Yaletown Massage Therapy website. Basically I just wanted to say hello and I promise more exciting posts as I venture into the world of blog creation!