Many think of massage therapy as a tool for relaxation and stress management, and that’s absolutely the case. Today, though, I’d like to discuss the benefits of massage as part of an overall personal training package. The combination of fitness, conditioning, stretching and rest with professional manual therapy has enormous benefits for mobility and performance.
It has long been assumed that massage helps reduce muscle soreness after a hard workout – the kind that literally feels like muscles have been “shredded”. Thee has, however, been a lot of healthy kepticism about the contribution of massage to relieving DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
We have long known that vigorous physical exercise builds physical and emotional resilience but not much has been known about why. On an emotional level, overcoming obstacles builds self-esteem and “mental toughness” but genetic changes also occur at the cellular level when our bodies build muscle.
I just read about this study which shows that medication for moderate high blood pressure (140-149/90-99) may be less effective than previously thought and also highlights the importance of lifestyle change to mitigate the risks and severity of hypertension. I have had high normal to moderately high blood pressure at times of my life (exam time definitely knocked me into the latter for a while) which I control by regular exercise and tracking my calories to keep my weight down (even a small decrease in extra fat can make a difference).
So called patellofemoral pain syndrome is a condition that shows up a lot in the clinic. It results in pain around the kneecap especially in loaded positions such as stair climbing and squatting, or after long periods of exertion. The condition, although still poorly researched, is usually attributed to wear and tear in cahoots with dysfunctional development of the quads, which due to varying fibre direction and obliquity guide the patella laterally and medially through its range of motion. We often talk about the “VMO”, the teardrop shaped medial belly of muscle that pulls medially on the knee. Frequently, the medial muscle is weaker than the lateral and the kneecap is pulled outwards while gliding on the femur, causing compression and erosion of the patella’s cartilage (chondormalacia patella).
In my last post I spoke about the “internal movements” of joints and how significant they are to mobility. These movements, often referred to as “accessory movements” are collectively referred to as arthrokinematics, which is quite simply means “joint movement”.
It can be quite tricky to visualize the internal movements of joints unless you spend quite a lot of time with a skeleton model or cadavers, but a new project by Cameron Drake and Orthopedic specialist Dr. Noah Weiss has produced some beautiful animations of X-rays allowing us to clearly see these movements.
A 2013 study in co-operation with Khon Kaen university, Thailand has demonstrate effectiveness of Traditional Thai Massage on patients with systemic scleroderma, one variation of a pathology that can cause severe contracture of the body’s connective tissues, particularly in the hands and forearms. The condition can vary from mild to severe and deforming and is often difficult to treat because it is considered an auto-immune reaction somewhat similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
Over the last ten years as a Thai Massage practitioner in Ottawa and Montreal, I’ve gotten a lot interesting reactions when I try to explain what I do. The first question I get is usually “how is it different that traditional massage?”. I try to resist the urge to talk about how Swedish massage is a relatively new massage system, drawn from Chinese Tui Na Massage, a much older tradition. That usually just gets blank stares and makes me seem pretentious. I decided to make a list to share with clients and others. Makes for great elevator talk.