It has been a common practice for many years to use cold therapy for injured joints and muscles. There is new research that shows applying ice to an injury may slow down the healing process. Localized increased blood flow and inflammation is the body’s natural response to an injury. Inflammatory cells release hormones and other mediators to help with tissue healing. Ice application impedes circulation to an injured area, thus slowing down the recovery process. The latest research recommends only an initial protocol of short duration applications of ice, mainly to help with minimizing the pain. Depending on the injury and specific situation, recovery may be expedited with movement versus rest and ice. If you do sustain an injury, always consult a health care professional as this is a very general guideline.
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!
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!
It is difficult to go a day without a lot of typing and texting, which can lead to repetitive stress injuries of the hand and wrist. One common injury I frequently see with my massage clients is carpal tunnel syndrome, aka your forearm feels terrible. The median nerve travels between the forearm flexors and the wrist bones, but it can get compressed and angry with repetitive actions. Carpal tunnel syndrome may begin as an achy pain in the forearm/wrist, and progress to numbness, tingling and weakness. Aside from repetitive strain as a cause, this condition can arise due to fluid retention (pregnancy), rheumatoid arthritis or other structural anomalies. When a client comes in with suspected carpal tunnel syndrome I assess with special tests to help differentiate from other possible sources of pain. For example there is a similar issue called pronator teres syndrome (a specific muscle in your forearm), that mimics carpal tunnel symptoms. To relieve pain, massage treatments can be very effective at decompressing the median nerve and increasing circulation to the area. Treatment outcomes are enhanced when supplemented with a good self care plan. I work directly with clients providing posture tips, simple stretches, quick strengthening exercises, and hydrotherapy recommendations (ice or heat). It is possible to treat and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that is becoming more prevalent as we all type and text much more often than in the past.
The cherry blossoms are out and it is inspiring to see so many people out running, biking, hiking and playing sports in the fresh air. It is also a time that as an RMT I see an increase in injuries; mainly hip, knee and ankle issues from jumping into activities a bit too hard too soon. Sustaining an injury can be very frustrating and limiting, but massage therapy helps with the healing process. During a massage session I treat the specific area in pain as well as addressing compensating areas that you may not even realize are sore or tight. Everything is connected and one little injury can develop into nagging back pain or chronic gait dysfunction. For example, a tight glute muscle can cause the opposite side low back and groin area to tighten and compensate. Massage helps release adhesions and trigger points within and between muscles to get everything moving fluidly again. After a treatment I give personalized recommendations for therapeutic exercises and home care hydrotherapy. There is more to injury rehabilitation that just rest, ice, compression and elevation, massage is a big part of a recovery game plan. The goal is to get you back out there enjoying your athletic endeavors and avoiding re injury!