A regular massage is often considered to be a treat, rather than a necessity. Most people believe that having a massage is good for aches and pains, or can help if they’ve overdone the exercise. Not everybody realizes that massage therapy is also a powerful painkiller that can even be used to help people with back problems to reduce the amount of medication they must take.
Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain and if you’re one of the 31 million Americans who suffer with back pain at some point in your life, you’ll know how miserable it can be. If you are dealing with chronic back pain – which is pain that has lasted more than three months and less than six – it can impact on your daily life, and stop you doing things you want to do. You could be reliant on drugs to keep you mobile or help you sleep.
The vicious pain cycle
If you can no longer exercise pain-free, you might end up in a vicious cycle of inactivity which makes your pain worse, which stops you being active. Or you could just increase your medications but that just masks the problem. Also, some strong pain medications contain painkiller opioids like codeine which can lose their power over time as you build up a tolerance to their effects. They can also have unwanted side effects.
What you need is a way to manage your back pain that is effective but doesn’t have the side effects. Wouldn’t you know it, research has shown that regular massage along with your prescribed medication and any other advice from your healthcare supplier can be so powerful that you might be able to decrease the number of painkillers you need to manage your back pain and start to live a more active life.
How massage can help beat back pain
A massage session doesn’t just relax you, it can help to promote tissue repair, improve the blood circulation and does wonders for your stress levels and mood. Recent research showed that regular massage therapy combined with exercise helped people suffering from chronic back pain to feel less anxious about their condition too. The study, which took place at a pain management clinic in Western New York, involved sixty chronic low back pain patients who were split into two groups. One group received regular massage therapy, twice a week for four weeks, along with their regular treatment, and one group only carried on with their prescribed treatments.
The participants all recorded their own pain levels before and after having massage therapy on a scale of one to ten. There was a significant difference between the pre-and post-treatment pain rating in the group that had regular massage, but the control group who carried on as normal reported no changes to their pain levels.
If you suffer with back pain and want to try something different – book that massage session now.
Massage and stretching are both really helpful ways to keep your muscles relaxed, reduce tension and of course help recovery after an injury. Stretching helps to get the blood flowing to your muscles, which is great if you’ve injured yourself, or if your muscled are stiff because they’ve contracted due to inactivity.
Giving your muscles a really good stretch can stop your muscles from going into painful spasms or cramps, and stop the knots forming in them that take so much work to get rid of when you have a massage!
Regular massage on the other hand improves your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone in the first place.
What are the differences between massage and stretches – and how do they work together to promote muscle and joint health?
What is a massage? Well, stripped right down, massage is simply a word that’s used to describe the manipulation of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Of course there are lots of different types of massage, and techniques that are suitable for different things, but when you go for a massage, this is what your therapist will be doing.
What’s massage good for?
We love a massage for general wellbeing, but medically massage is recognized for more than just making you feel good.
Help strained muscles to heal faster
Reduce swelling and scar tissue if you’re injured
Relieve stiffness and tension in your muscles
Reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue
Stretching does have a lot of similarities to massage, but its main benefit is to relieve the tightness and tension that’s built up in your muscles when you’ve used (and over-used) them. Having a really good, effective stretch can increase the blood flow to your muscles, and this leads to a better range of motion that helps your joints to stay in alignment.
What’s stretching good for?
Stretching properly can:
Improve your circulation
Boost your nerve health – a contracted muscle around a nerve can create pressure that can constrict the blood supply to the nerve.
Make movement easier
How can massage and a stretching routine work together?
Daily stretching – to a point where you can just feel it pulling on your muscles – can really help to increase your flexibility, and you can feel the effects in a matter of a few weeks.
Enjoying a regular massage helps to keep your body relaxed and flexible. Massage can release trigger points and muscles in spasm, making your stretching routine even more effective.
You could even opt for a massage which combined facilitated stretches and massage all in one session to give your muscles and tendons a really thorough workout. You can also ask your massage therapist for advice if you have any injuries or are experiencing stiffness in your muscles.
Massage therapy can help after a car accident in many ways: Massage therapy can help alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with a concussion, whiplash or spinal cord injuries. Massage can help with neck pain and knee injuries. It can also help relieve stress, anxiety, emotional trauma or PTSD associated with the accident.
After being in a car accident, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out the best thing to do. From dealing with insurance companies, police reports and the sudden pain and confusion after the accident, it is important to find help from an expert who can advocate for you. Ascension Wellness highly recommends finding medical professionals who have experience working with motor vehicle accident patients as well as an attorney who can help you navigate the legal issues related to a car accident.
When you file your insurance claim, find out if you have personal injury coverage under your plan. If you do, personal injury protection will cover the cost of massage therapy treatment as long as you can prove medical necessity. This can be documented with a prescription from your medical doctor or chiropractor. If you have further questions about massage therapy after a car accident, don't hesitate to call Ascension Wellness today: (206) 878-9355.
What can Massage do for YOU?
Massages are often sold as a purely indulgent treat that you get when you visit a spa or go on vacation, but there’s so much more to massage than just a feel good treat. Did you know that the symptoms of many health problems can be reduced and even eliminated with regular massage?
Here are a few conditions that massage can work really well on; a few you probably know and some that may surprise you!Read More
My name is Angela Tessier. I am a licensed massage therapist and certified cupping therapist at Ascension Wellness in Des Moines. My favorite type of treatment is massage cupping. I am continually amazed by how powerful cupping can be, especially for headaches.
I had a patient come in who has chronic tension headaches. On the day of her appointment, her headache was so severe that she did not want me to even massage her neck or head for fear of it being too painful. During the session, the patient wanted to try cupping for the first time to treat some low back pain. So that is what we did. At the end of the session, I usually turn patients face up and massage their neck and scalp. But since this patient wanted to avoid those areas, I asked if I could just try a little cupping on her neck instead. I only did cupping for about 5-10 minutes on her neck and did not massage there at all.
At the end of the session, the patient and I were both amazed that the headache was completely gone! I usually spend a full hour doing deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy to treat headaches. I was shocked that the cupping could alleviate the headache pain in only 5-10 minutes.
The type of cups I use for the neck and face are called "bells." The bell cups are very gentle and are unlikely to leave cupping marks on the neck or face. They have an aspirator bulb on one end and a glass cup on the other. The glass is hand blown by a local artisan in the Pacific Northwest.
For more information on cupping and headaches:
Conventional medicine is beginning to recognize the myriad of benefits of massage therapy. Although research is still in its infancy, research suggests that massage can help:
- Improve circulation
- Decrease inflammation
- Aid in cell function and repair
- Reduce cortisol levels
- Alleviate chronic back pain
- Lessen pain and fatigue and elevate mood in cancer patients
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Alleviate migraines and insomnia associated with tension
- Increase blood flow and improve wound healing after an operation
It can be frustrating to understand why low back pain occurs. We try our best to stay fit and healthy yet chronic low back pain keeps slowing us down. One common cause of low back pain is muscle imbalance. Common patterns include muscles that overactive and tight in the front of the hip and in the low back. The weak, underactive muscles usually are found at back of the hip, the sides of the hip and the core abdominal muscles. If you think this might be happening to you, schedule an appointment at Ascension Wellness today: www.massagbook.com/ascension wellness
To learn more:
Have you ever left a massage feeling even more stressed because your therapist talked on and on about their problems, made you uncomfortable with personal questions or even asked you for advice? Maybe your massage therapist did let you relax but you still felt disappointed because they only spent five minutes on your problem area. I can guarantee you, there is a better massage out there!
At Ascension, my number one goal is to listen to not only what your body is telling me but also to what you are telling me. I conduct a very thorough intake so I can prioritize my time to provide the most effective massage. I have many different tools in my tool belt including trigger point therapy, massage cupping and facilitated stretching to help relieve pain or tension in the problem areas.
I understand that some people like to relax during a massage and do not want to talk. Others prefer to unwind by talking. I always take the patient's lead on this and respect each patient's preference. The same goes for music. I have Spotify music player so if at any time, you would prefer to listen to something else, let me know. Trust me, massage therapists get tired of listening to nature sounds and ambient flute music all day too!
During the session, I really tune in to what the body is telling me, feeling for tense muscles, fascia, trigger points and restricted range of motion. I also use minimal lotion so that my massage can be very slow and specific. This allows me to layer in to the deeper musculature without slipping all over and to provide a "deep tissue massage" in a much more gentle, effective and safe way. I am a massage therapist who really listens to and cares about each patient. I would be honored to help you break the pain cycle, reclaim your body and your life.
Massage cupping is a remarkable type of therapy that utilized suction, rather than compression. It is a traditional, time-honored treatment loved by millions worldwide. It's safe, comfortable and remarkably effective.
There are many methods to cupping utilized at Ascension including stationary cupping, massage cupping, facial cupping, biomagnetic cupping, dynamic cupping and thermotherapy cupping.
By creating suction, cupping can release muscles and connective tissue, drain excess fluid, detoxify and loosen adhesions. It feels amazing. The pulling sensation relaxes the body and relieves stress.
Cupping is the oldest and most globally practiced medical treatment in human history. It was practiced in Egypt, China, Ancient Greece and Europe and remains popular throughout the world.
How long are cups left on during a massage session?
Since cups can be quite detoxifying, I do not recommend that cups are on for longer than 5-10 minutes for the first massage session. I also do not place cups on as strongly during the first session. I try light to medium suction for the first session to give the patient a sense for how it feels. If a person does cupping too intensely at first, they may experience flu-like symptoms. Self care after a cupping session is very important. It is recommended that you stay hydrated, avoid alcohol or caffeine or intense heat or exfoliation immediately before or after your session.
After the first session, the cups can remain on for gradually longer and longer with each subsequent session. I also gradually increase the level of suction. Some experienced cupping patients request cupping for an entire sixty to ninety minutes. This does not mean a cup is placed on the same area for the full session. I might place several cups on the back meanwhile massage the legs. The massage the legs, add cups to the legs and the do moving cupping to the back.
With cupping, you are simply getting more results for your money. While the cups are doing their work on your back, this frees me up to work on the legs.
What are the marks?
The marks left by massage cups is cellular debris and dead blood cells that are being pulled to the surface.
How long does it take for the circles to disappear?
The discoloration can last anyway from hours to up to two weeks, depending on the severity of toxicity of the patient's condition. The more treatments a patient receives, the less likely the marks are to occur.
What if I don't want to have cupping marks?
As a massage cupping therapist, I always want to honor the patient's wishes about cupping marks. Sometimes patients do not want mark on their shoulders in the summer because they plan to wear tank tops or they are just not sure yet how they feel about it. Others love the marks and don't mind talking about them with others. It is very important to talk about your concerns before the session so that the session can be tailored to best fit your preference.
In order to prevent the appearance of cupping marks, the cups will need to be constantly moving rather than sitting stationary in one place. The level of suction use will also need to be lessened. This type of cupping therapy is very relaxing and still very effective. However, it will not be as detoxifying and the results will not be quite as dramatic as they would be will stationary cups.
This link has a great tool for locating possible trigger points in each area of the body. Just click on a body region in the photo and it will give you more information about what trigger points refer pain there.
It's June already and many of us are spending time outside gardening, doing yardwork or going on hikes.
Unfortunately, our hips can start acting up when we start doing activities our bodies aren't used to. We might blame the pain on "sciatica" or "piriformis syndrome" but did you know gluteus minimus trigger points can also mimic these symptoms?
What is a trigger point?
Trigger points are hyper-irritable muscle tissues that often refer symptoms to other parts of the body. For example, if you were to take a lacrosse ball and lean against a wall to roll out the muscles a couple inches about the top of your hip bone (femur) and find a deep achiness radiating all the way down the back of your leg, you may have found the trigger point. In Trigger Point Therapy, the massage therapist strives to find and release these tense areas. In order to optimize your massage session, it is important to pay attention to the sensations in your body and to maintain open communication with your massage therapist. Once you find these trigger points, be sure to share that with your massage therapist so that your therapist can focus more time on these areas in your next massage session.
Ask your massage therapists at your next appointment if this might be happening to you.
For more information:
One of my favorite populations to work with is postpartum moms. Childbirth and the stresses of breastfeeding and caring for a small child can contribute to stress, and chronic pain for new moms. Examples are:
-chronic low back pain after an epidural
-chronic tailbone pain after labor
-numbness and tingling in the hands
-sore arms from carrying the baby
-sore neck and shoulders from nursing, cosleeping or babywearing
New mothers go through a lot AND they can benefit greatly from massage, for a chance to be nurtured, to actually feel taken care of after many sleepless days and nights caring for someone else.
A massage is the best thing to do for themselves to recharge, get some long overdue rest and pain relief.
Handling Pain at the Trigger Point
Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals Bodywork Magazine:
Basic Self-Masssage Tips for Myofascial Trigger Points
5 Ways to Give Yourself an Awesome Massage
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Current Research on Massage Therapy
Multiple 60-Minute Massages per Week Offer Relief for Chronic Neck Pain
Study Determines Optimal Dose of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee Pain Research
Massage Therapy Holds Promise for Low-Back Pain
Massage Therapy for Lower Back Pain
Benefits of Neuromuscular Therapy
Cupping and Fibromyalgia
Benefits of Massage Cupping Therapy
The Power of Touch
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