Massage and fascia work diminish pain by reducing muscle spasms, opening up restrictions, and restoring the natural movement to the affected area. The work identifies places in your body that are not freely moving and separates out the places in your body that are creating this restriction. This allows your natural ability to heal from:
Deep Tissue Massage
When muscles are tight, a deep massage both feels good and supports the return of the muscles their normal state. This is very useful work with athletes and people who are physically active in their job. For people who have muscles in spasm who are inactive it is often a different situation. These are deep long term muscles spasms. Doing deep work in this situation feels good, but often creates an inflammatory response. In addition the muscle often tightens and pushes back to protect itself. To continue working in this problem area, we need to work with the fascia and the surrounding muscles to calm the area down and allow the spasm to dissipate.
When muscles get defensive, a typical solution would be to move onto a different area of the body. To continue working to resolve your specific concern, my focus shifts from muscles to fascia. I had a client come in whose back felt like a piece of solid wood. There was no movement or separation of the muscles at all. It was as if all the muscles were locked together as one. As I worked with the fascia the muscles began to let go and soften. Over a series of sessions I continued layer by layer to soften and open the muscle groups and watched her back return to normal with definition, flexibility and form.
A Different Feel
Instead of feeling the sensation of “good pain” clients have a sense of the muscle group relaxing and letting go. The hands stay still on the body and work with micro movements on the fascia. As the area softens there is a separation of fascial relationships to other parts of the body as well. Fascia is interconnected and physically extends to every part of the body. I find by including this type of work in your session I can often triple the amount of work that gets done and increase the length of time the results hold.
When working with pain issues I work on the specific areas of the body contributing to the problem. It is not a full body massage. It takes time to get a muscle out of spasm. Often there are layers of tension that need to let go. Each layer may have a past relationship with a different part of your body. A lot of the “memory” is held in the fascia. Sessions often combine massage, trigger point therapy, and fascial release techniques to calm the muscles down and bring them out of spasm.
I am already in pain, does it have to hurt?
No. I only work within your threshold of pain. Some people have no tolerance for pain and that is totally workable. I work with a man with down syndrome who needs a gentle productive strategy when he comes in with hip pain. It is the same working with children. I am good at solving problems, I know where to begin and can adjust not only to your specific needs but to your style of touch. I also have a number of clients who typically do not like to be touched. I work with these people fully clothed. This style of touch is not the broad long sweeping relaxing stokes of a Swedish Massage.
What is Fascia
Fascia surrounds every muscle, bone, organ and cell in the body. It’s a continuous sheath of connective tissue that runs throughout the entire body. If you can visualize a skinned piece of chicken, fascia is the white film that still holds it together. Fascia is separating everything, connected to everything, shaping everything, and gliding in fluid. When fascia gets stuck, or shortened, or pulled it restricts optimal function of organs, the nervous system, and muscles.
What is a myo-fascial restriction?
Through falls, injuries, surgeries, repetitive motions, and the inflammatory process, fascia can become solidified and shorten. Fascia will thicken or reinforce in areas of stress and, in turn, shorten the connective tissue. This shortening or thickening is a fascial restriction.
Pulls and Strains in Fascia
A force that hits the body continues to move through the body as it is absorbed. It translates thought the fascia connecting the place of impact to a secondary place along the way that absorbs the impact. This might be the source of the pain. For example, a jolt in the hip can translate to the neck creating a strain that is only felt in the neck. If the pain in the neck is addressed but continues to come back then there is likely a secondary strain that has it’s origin in the hip. Since the hip doesn’t hurt no one is looking at the hip to resolve the problem. This is where fascial work is phenomenal as these relationships are found and resolved.
There are often times when the pain goes away but the underline strain is still present. When the next impact occurs it will have different directional forces and creates a new set of pulls and strains on top of the ones that are pre-existing. This is why over time pain can show up with no sense of what you did.
Strategy for Resolving Pain
The goal is to combine massage, trigger point therapy, and fascial release techniques to both open up the muscles to heal, and to find and resolve any restrictions in the fascia that may be the greater source of the problem.
Headaches, Migraines, and Concussions
Chronic headaches usually occur when there is overdue stress on the muscles that attach to the base of the head. There are a lot of demands at our work place that create typing with a head turn or tilt that we are not aware of. Imagine tilting your head down looking at your phone or inputting data on the computer. Your chin is constantly tilted down and the neck muscles that attach to the skull pull on the bones of the skull. This extended activity creates tension in the fascia of the head and causes headaches.
With migraines it is possible that the bones of the head become stuck out of alignment independent of daily activity. Even if you have had migraines for years, Craniosacral therapy has lots of techniques to identify and resolve this type of restriction. If you have tried everything, it is worth exploring these gentle techniques with an experienced therapist.
A concussion is individualized. It can be simple and require just a re-alignment or it can be like a migraine from an outside force. There can be individualized complications in addition to headaches such as vision, balance, or cognitive dysfunction. An experienced therapist with good listening skills has a lot to contribute to the healing process