Massage For Free…Do I Have To?

I know everyone reading this has had someone oh so graciously volunteer for you to practice on them. “If you ever need someone to practice on, let me know.” Its common place to have friends and family try to get a little free massage from you at family get-togethers or parties. Suddenly, when someone learns that you are a professional massage therapist, they are willing to let you practice your craft on them; like you are just desperately looking for anyone who will allow you to do some much-needed practice of your lacking skills. We have all heard these remarks, and probably laughed them off while inside screaming “I don’t need the practice you jerk!!! What I need is for you to come to my office and pay me!” Continue reading “Massage For Free…Do I Have To?”

Stretching Series: Longus Colli

Longus Colli

Whenever you have any sort of upper cross syndrome or forward head posture, longus colli is going to be tight. Maybe more importantly though, is how involved this muscle can be with disc injuries (along with scalenes and sternocleidomastoid). By stretching this muscle correctly we can aid in chronic posture issues as well as potentially aid in disc injury symptoms. (to learn more about disc injuries, read Massage Therapy for Disc Injuries)

The keys to stretching this muscle are more in the form that we use than the complexity of motion. Continue reading “Stretching Series: Longus Colli”

Stetching Series: Levator Scapulae

 

Levator Scapulae
Levator Scapulae

Levator Scapulae is one of those muscles that can be over worked and become hypertonic when posture or stress is an issue. Its function is to elevate the scapula which (along with trapezius) can become over active and create soreness and pain in the cervicothoracic junction. Obvious a great one to stretch for maintenance of neck and shoulder discomfort.

The key to stretching this muscle is involving the scapula’s ability to rotate  with shoulder movement. Continue reading “Stetching Series: Levator Scapulae”

Stretching Series: Sternocleidomastoid

Sternocleidomastoid

This muscle is one of those which is probably either on your top 5 treatment list or on your “I hate this muscle” treatment list. Either way, it is very important clinically to know how to stretch this muscle. It is involved in many conditions including upper cross syndrome, forward head posture, disc injuries, and, last but not least, headaches and migraines. Also, because of its unique anatomy, it has the capability limiting multiple motions of the neck which can limit the general mobility of the cervical spine.   If we can learn to stretch this muscle we can help fight all of these conditions. Continue reading “Stretching Series: Sternocleidomastoid”

Cumulative Injury Cycle…I Pulled My Hammy Again?!

Soft tissue injury is a very interesting topic. If we think about it, it is really the basis of the majority of what we as massage therapist work on every single day. Because of this, I feel like it is a foundation piece which every therapist should have a good grasp on. Knowing why soft tissue injuries occur and, of course, how they heal gives us a better understanding of why soft tissue conditions occur.

Now, knowing why injuries occur is one thing, but knowing why they KEEP occurring is maybe an even more important fact to know. Many of you know the basics of how muscles get injured, but do you know why certain injuries continue to return? Or maybe you need to know what causes certain muscular conditions like tendonitis and other repetitive stress injuries. These questions can all be wrapped up together and answered with one solution. That solution is the Cumulative Injury Cycle.   Continue reading “Cumulative Injury Cycle…I Pulled My Hammy Again?!”

Piriformis Syndrome…A Pain In The Butt!

Piriformis Syndrome might be the most glorified treatment of massage therapy that exists. You seem to hear about it being the culprit for all butt pain and if treated with massage, your days of suffering will be gone forever.  I do agree with the fact that massage therapy is an effective tool for combating sciatic pain. However, before we go anointing massage as the absolute cure for sciatica, we should know what it is, and how it comes to be such a pain in the butt…pun intended (my sense of humor is nosediving).

Figure 1. Photo Credit: Blausen.com

The first fact that we need to establish is “sciatica” and piriformis syndrome are not the same thing. Piriformis syndrome can cause “sciatica” like symptoms, but it is not what causes the medical definition of sciatica…which isn’t a thing. The actual medical term for sciatica is a lumbar radiculopathy which is itself only a symptom of any sort of nerve compression in the lumbar spine. In other words, a nerve compression in the lumbar spine causes a radiculopathy (nerve pain) when some sort of disc or spinal condition causes nerve pressure. This causes symptoms like pain, tingling, and numbness in the gluteal, posterior leg and foot. These symptoms are commonly referred to as sciatica.

Piriformis syndrome is an actual condition involving the interaction of the piriformis muscle and the sciatic nerve. It is defined by some as a “peripheral neuritis” which is a fancy way of saying that the piriformis muscle causes irritation to the sciatic nerve.  Per its definition, it has no relation to any sort of spinal condition and should be distinguished as so.

This is an important fact to know because it completely changes how we apply treatment to a client. Continue reading “Piriformis Syndrome…A Pain In The Butt!”