So I have written a couple of blogs describing what I do, but I was asked this question recently so I felt I needed to explain further. The other question I was asked was what types of massage do I offer? Well the most common types you will have heard of are sports, deep tissue, swedish, shiatsu and relaxation. There are upwards of 200 different types of massage out there that have different effects on the body.
I use a combination of many different types to get the desired result for my client. My favourite forms and the ones I find most effective for pain relief are myofascial release, trigger point, swedish and some acupressure along with some stretching.
Myofascial release sounds scary but is actually a wonderfully gentle way of relaxing deeper layers of connective tissue and warming up the area that requires work. Imagine a slow, gentle sinking into a muscle and putting a very gentle stretch on it. This is a very effective and relaxing
treatment and a great way to assess the area as you can feel resistance in the tissue and pinpoint areas that need work.
Trigger point put simply is finding those knots in your muscles and trying to make them smaller, no gun required! Yes I’m from Texas but I promise I don’t use my clients for target practice! With this I glide deeply and slowly along a muscle’s fibres looking for trigger points and trying to release them. Think of bunched up muscle fibres that need loosening and that is what trigger point work is.
Swedish is the lovely long strokes that create that relaxed, high post massage feeling. I always use these throughout the treatment, this is what separates a massage therapist from a physiotherapist or an osteopath. We all use similar techniques to treat injuries and chronic pain but your massage therapist adds a lovely relaxing massage on top.
Acupressure, well I use this definition loosely as while I do work some true acupressure points it is mostly a way for me to explain putting pressure on attachment points to create more space in a joint.
Stretching, stretching and more stretching! I do this for you! I will put your muscles into a gentle stretch to try and get a release from a spasm or a muscle that has been guarding an area of pain.
So I will use all of these techniques plus some heat to treat an injury. So let us take low back pain as an example of how advanced clinical massage therapy works. So a client comes in with low back pain they have had for a couple of years.
I will ask questions and perform an orthopedic assessment which will involve taking them through a range of movements to pinpoint the muscles, ligaments or tendons involved in the pain. When I am confident I have pinpointed the main culprit I will form a plan for the initial treatment. I will warm up and try and relax the area before looking for trigger points that may be adding to the pain. Even in the case of having just the one muscle causing pain I will work all the attachment points and surrounding areas as we are attached from head to toe by our fascia or connective tissue, so by having an injury in one spot you will normally find other areas are affected so essentially I will treat the whole body to ease low back pain.
So let us take the most common cause of low back pain, the good old quadratus lumborum or QLs as I prefer to call them as it’s just easier to say lol. These guys have a tough job as they act to stabilise your spine in your lower back or lumbar region. They attach from the bottom of your ribcage down the lumbar spine and end at your pelvis and boy do they do a lot of work! On top of keeping you upright, they help to move the pelvis, hip and spine. Where they connect with bones there are other muscle groups heading off in other directions so if your QLs are suffering this can have a knock on effect so hence the glutes and legs and the upper back will have some treatment. Quite often clients are surprised when I find other areas of pain associated with their lower back. If you think it through you can see how that pain in your lower back is causing you headaches. You will be hunched over as standing up straight increases the pain, so your neck and shoulders are rounding over in this position so the muscles that essentially hold your head up are getting an extra workout so hello tension headache.
(best picture I found to show how the whole body is connected by fascia)
So head to toe massage to treat what you called a pulled muscle in your back that you hurt gardening or picking something up off the floor ages ago that just hasn’t healed.
I wrote this for someone I treated this past week who was amazed by what I did and was able to release, plus all the other issues I found and treated. I call it sorcery but actually it is just putting into practice the amazing training I have had and all the anatomy and physiology studies I have done. It was to help people like this particular person, you know who you are, that I got into this line of work. Although I don’t see massage as work, it is an absolute pleasure to work through and find what is causing pain and treat it.
Oh and the third question I was asked by this same person, No I do not have x-ray vision! lol