Relaxation and Mechanical Responses to Massage

Maybe the single largest bodily state associated with massage therapy? Relaxation. Many people get regular massages simply for the way it helps them relax, on top of numerous other pain relief and other benefits.

At Jenna Baker LMT, our therapeutic massage services include everything from relaxing tissue massage to injury massage therapy. Have you ever wondered exactly what goes into the natural responses your body has to a massage? There are two primary areas here: Your “relaxation response” and your “mechanical response.” Let’s go over what each of these means about what your body is experiencing while you get a massage.

Relaxation Response

Massage involves a safe and careful touch, which the body views as a license to relax. Combined with pain relief often found through massage, this is the relaxation response.

Generally, the relaxation response begins with the heart and breathing rate slowing down. This allows the whole body to relax, and areas like stress hormones and blood pressure are able to decrease naturally. In turn, muscles can loosen their tension, which is often subconscious and can’t even be actively felt.

In addition, relaxation response will up the levels of serotonin, a chemical associated with positive emotions in the brain. The relaxation response helps combat stress, reducing the risk of various stress-related issues like insomnia, high blood pressure, digestive issues, cardiac arrhythmias, anxiety and various other psychological problems.

Mechanical Response

The mechanical response, on the other hand, refers to any effects that happen directly due to pressure applied to soft tissue, such as muscle. One of the primary mechanical responses to massage in various areas of the body is an increase in blood and lymph circulation, which is beneficial to the body in numerous ways. The mechanical response also tends to include a relaxation of primary muscles in the area being massaged, which helps release tension within related connective tissues.

For more on the different kinds of responses the body gets from massage, or to learn about any of our pain relief massage therapy or other services, speak to the staff at Jenna Baker LMT today.

Whiplash

Around 2.5 million Americans experience a rear-end collision every year making this the most common type of car accident. Of those 2.5 million 20 percent suffer from whiplash injuries. The majority of the individuals with whiplash improve within one month, however, some individuals have symptoms that last longer. The sooner massage therapy is utilized the better the outcome for that individual. They are able to heal quicker and less likely to develop chronic pain. 

 sprain or strain of cervical tissues

sprain or strain of cervical tissues

Even low speed accidents from 5-10 mph can cause a lot of pain and injury. The severity of the injury often depends on whether or not you are properly restrained. Other aspects include how hard you got hit, the position of the car, position of your body and head, type of seat, position of headrest and if you have had any pre-accident medical condition. Whiplash can be a nightmare if not treated properly. Although car accidents are the most common ways to develop whiplash it can also occur in high impact sports, such as wakeboarding, skiing, snowboarding, gymnastics, football and boxing. 

 

SYMPTOMS

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  • Headaches
  • Numbness in arms, face & shoulder
  • Tingling 
  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Memory problems (thinking, remembering)
  • Hip pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Low back pain
  • Impaired vision

PROPER POSITIONING

If the seat belt height, head restraint and seat position are not positioned correctly it can have a more dramatic effect on how your body will act in a rear-end collision accident. If you have a poorly adjusted head restraint your body will move up followed by your head jerking back and pushing the head restraint down. It is so important to have proper positioning of your seat and head restraint to lessen the effects of severe whiplash. The top of your head restraint height should be flush with your head and the restraint should be touching the back of your head or as close as you can get it to touch your head. 

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Before looking into other therapies make sure to get your doctors consent. Chiropractic care can be very effective in treating whiplash. Massage therapy can help with the symptoms such as headache and muscle spasms, pain and tightness. Your therapist should recommend shorter sessions to avoid sympathetic reactivation and gradually increase duration and depth. You can always work a little more next time but its hard to take back your work once you've already done too much.

You should also wait a few days after the car accident before getting massage so the initial healing process is uninterrupted. As stated above get your doctors approval and make sure to get in as soon as you can to help with symptoms. Call today to help with relief from your whiplash symptoms in the Salt Lake City, UT area 801-889-8784. 

 

Headaches and Massage

Approximately 45 million Americans complain of headaches every year. That means 1 out of every 6 people are affected yearly by headaches. The most common types of headaches include

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Sinus 

Cluster

Migraine

Tension

The most common type of headache complaint is the tension headache with an estimated 80- 90 percent of the population affected.

Sinus Headaches

Your sinuses are air filled spaces inside your forehead, cheekbones and behind the bridge of your nose.  When the membrane lining in the sinuses become swollen and inflamed it produces more mucus and the channels that drain the mucus gets blocked. This build up of pressure will cause pain that refers to a headache.  The pain is located behind the browbone, cheekbone, forehead, eyes and ears. You may feel pain and pressure in these areas and the pain is worsened by bending forward and laying down. 

 

Symptoms

  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Achy feeling in the upper teeth
  • Yellow-green or blood-tinged nasal discharge
  • Decreased ability to smell or taste
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Dry air can irritate your sinuses so using a humidifier will help to loosen the congestion as well as using a warm compress on the affected areas. Also try adding essential oils to your humidifier or diffuser. You can also use steam inhalation. Simply boil some water on the stove and add your oils covering with a lid. Once the water has come to a boil carefully remove the pot from the stove top onto a heat-resistant mat.

Cover your head with a towel to help capture as much of the steam as possible. Take off the lid and place your head at least 12 inches from the pot to prevent any heat damage to yourself. Breathe in through your nose for 5 counts and out through your mouth for 5 counts. You may do this for 5-10 minutes and repeat every 2 hours. Make sure to try and blow your nose after steaming. Also drink plenty of liquids. A good recipe for steam inhalation is 

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2 drops of Eucalyptus oil

2 drops of Thyme oil

3 drops of Rosemary oil

3 drops of Peppermint oil

 

Cluster Headaches

Described as one of the most painful type of headache this is classified as a neurological disorder involving excruciating pain on one side, usually around the eye.

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Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Redness on affected side
  • Swelling on affected side
  • Drooping Eyelid
  • Excessive tearing
  • Stuffy or runny nose on affected side

The majority of cluster headaches occur at night 2 hours after going to bed. They may last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours and the pain dissapates as quickly as they begin, leaving the person pain free but severely exhausted. Unfortunately there are no home remedies and the effected individual may have to see a doctor to discuss medicated treatment options.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are classified into two categories: with an aura and without an aura. An aura acts as a signal that a migraine is coming. These signals include vision changes or blind spots, flashes of light, tingling sensation in the arm; or in some cases it may effect your senses such as taste, smell and hearing. However, most people experience migraines without auras. 

Symptoms

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  • Pain that is throbbing or pulsing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe neck stiffness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds and smells
  • Severe pressure or tightness around the head

Causes

  • Stress- the brain releases chemicals that cause blood vessel changes
  • Medications- High-blood pressure, heart disease, ulcer and circulatory disorders
  • Lack of exercise
  • Skipping meals
  • Sleep- too much or not enough
  • Weather- abrupt changes in barometric pressure
  • Female hormones
  • Foods high in tyramine- aged cheese, cured meats that contain nitrates, smokes or processed meats, alcoholic beverages; beer, red wine, sherry and liqueurs
  • Organ meats, chocolate, citrus, spices, foods that contain preservatives and  monosodium glutamate (msg) 

Treatment Options

If you are suffering from migraines make sure you start by doing as much self care as possible. A few tips for self care are listed below.

  •  Eliminate the food triggers from you diet and add nutritional supplements. Magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids such as borage oil or flaxseed oil, also found in salmon can help immensely to counteract migraine occurances.
  • Stress management techniques can help to reduce stress and improve mental health by finding an enjoyable activity to help unwind.
  • Improving your sleep habits by having a regular bedtime and avoid taking naps.
  • Aromatherapy- mix lavender and peppermint oils together using a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, shea butter, etc) and rub on temples and forehead for relief. Be careful not to get too close to your eyes.
  • Massage- helps to relieve tension from tight muscles and helps your body to relax.

If your migraines are not improving please seek medical advice from your doctor.

Tension

As previously stated above, tension headaches are the most prevalent in today's society and are mainly caused by muscle tension. They are described as a dull aching head pain that is pressing or tightening but not pulsating. Tight muscles in face, neck and shoulders can offset a tension headache. It is more common in people that work at a computer all day due to eyestrain and poor posture. 

Symptoms

  • Tight muscles in face, neck and shoulders
  • Pain above and behind eyes, forehead, temples, neck, shoulders and base of skull
  • Dull aching head pain
  • Tenderness in scalp, neck and shoulders
  • May last 30 minutes to a few days
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Causes

  • Bad Posture
  • Stress (emotional or mental)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Not enough sleep
  • Low Iron
  • Muscle tension

Treatment Options

  • Relaxation techniques and stress management
  1. Aromatherapy- lavender, chamomile, peppermint and ginger
  2. Acupressure
  3. Reflexology
  4. Meditation
  5. Massage
  6. Posture correction exercises

Benefits of Massage for Headaches

  • Reduce frequency, intensity and duration of headaches
  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Decreases perceived pain, anger status, stress, sleep disturbances, muscle tension and medication usage
  • Increases cervical motion, relaxation and a sense of well-being

If you are suffering from headaches in the Salt Lake City, Ut area call today (801) 889-8784 and set up an appointment to help alleviate your pain. I look forward to helping ease your discomfort. 

 

 

What to do Before, During and After Massage

Before

  • Scheduling an appointment

Timing is everything when you are scheduling your massage. Massage can either stimulate or calm the nervous system, so decide what it is you are looking for. If you are wanting an invigorating massage you should try to schedule it in the morning or during the day. If you are wanting to relax after your massage you should schedule it when you have nothing else planned the rest of the day and can go home to rest and relax. Or schedule it for early evening when the stress of the day is behind you. 

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Are you planning on fitting in a workout? If so, plan accordingly. Make sure you workout before your massage and allow yourself enough time to go home and shower before your appointment. 

  • Don't eat a huge meal

Massage draws blood to your extremities and throughout your whole body. Since the digestive system needs blood to digest food it is better to wait until after your massage to eat. If you do need to eat, grab a light snack and eat 30 minutes before your scheduled massage. 

  • Be specific

What type of massage are you looking for? Make sure tell your therapist what your expectations are and what areas you need addressed. If you don't know the type of massage you are wanting, consult with your therapist and they will be able to help you out. 

During

  • Breathe
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Breathing is essential in massage. Not only does breathing help in calming the nervous system it also allows the muscles to become oxygenated, therefore causing them to relax. This will help release tension in the body.

  • Communicate

Don't be afraid to tell your therapist if the pressure is too light or too deep. You want to be able to relax your muscles and take deep breaths when deep pressure is applied so the muscles will be able to release. 

  • Listen to your Body

Now is a great time to feel what is happening to your body. You can feel which muscles are tight in your body, what areas hurt and which areas feel loose and relaxed. Listen to what your body is telling you. 

After

  • Drink Water

When you have a tight muscle or constricted tissue it also constricts blood flow to the area. This causes a backup of toxins and waste that cannot be properly excreted. Working the muscles and surrounding tissues gets fluid pumping out of the tissues and into the circulatory system as well as the lymphatic system. This helps to move the waste towards the kidneys. By drinking water you are helping these toxins flush out of the body through urinating.  

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     How much water should you drink?

You should drink half your body weight in ounces every day. So if you weigh 150 pounds you would need to drink 75 oz of water. That equals about 9 (8 oz) glasses a day. I recommend adding an extra 8 oz glass after your massage.

  • Rest

Your body needs time to recover. This doesn't mean to have a nap right after! Just take it easy. Your muscles are in recover mode so doing some nice light motions, like walking or stretching, will help increase movement and flow in the body and prevent the muscles from tightening. 

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  • Stretch

Stretching helps lengthen soft tissues and realign the muscle fibers. Keeping them nice and mobile. It also improves recovery and reduces post massage muscle pain. Your therapist should be able to give you some stretches that will help the areas they have worked.

  • Eat

Now is the time to eat a nice meal. Since your massage has just increased your circulation it has also stimulated your digestive system making it the optimum time to eat. Just as you are working on eliminating toxins make sure you are eating clean and staying away from overly processed foods. This will further help to flush out the waste in your body.

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Now that you have have read some good tips on what to do to prepare for your massage call 801-889-8784 today to schedule your Salt Lake City, Ut massage!

 

 

 

Trigger Point Therapy

What is a Trigger Point? (TrP)

A Trigger Point is a firm, painful and tender point in the muscle fiber & fascia. It can be classified as highly sensitive and hyper irritable involving referral pain, a loss of range of motion and may cause weakness to the muscle. There are two types of Trigger Points, active and latent. 

   -Active TrP’s are always tender and may refer pain and create other sensations as well as having limited range of motion.

    -Latent TrP’s will have limited range of motion and stiffness in the muscle without being painful, however, the muscle itself will be weak.

 common trigger points in the body

common trigger points in the body

What causes a Trigger Point?

There can be many causes for a TrP to manifest and different people will have different causing factors. Examples would be

    -Car Accidents

    -Sport Accidents and Injuries

    -Acute Illness

    -Emotional events such as ( loss of job, divorce, death, illness, etc.)

    -Starting a new regimen with new and different demands on the body

    -Stress

    -Trauma

    -Poor diet

    -Poor posture

    -Lack of sleep

    -Dehydration or mineral deficiency

    -Imbalances or postural distortions

    -Inactivity

Just to name a few!

What does a TrP feel like?

Just like everyone has different causing factors to TrP’s there are also many different ways you may be able to feel them. It all depends on the amount of time it has been active, the location of the TrP and other continual patterns of activity that are aggravating and irritating the muscle. Many people identify their TrP pain to a knot in their muscle. Some people may experience

    -Numbness or fatigue

    -A superficial dull aching

    -A deep aching

    -Pins and needles

    -Inflammation

    -Loss of range of Motion

    -Weakness in the muscle tissue

Why do TrP’s hurt?

When over stimulated muscle fibers are chemically prevented from releasing in a contracted state, the muscle fibers are starved from oxygen and the blood flow is reduced. Thus, leading to an accumulation of toxins in the muscle tissue ultimately causing pain.

Because of the toxin build up in the muscle tissue the irritated TrP becomes inflamed and sends out pain signals. Having a high concentration of inflammation will cause sensitivity to pressure and enhance your pain receptors.

How to Treat TrP’s

There are a few options in relieving TrP’s in which I will give a brief description. 

   -Trigger Point Injection

        Usually a local anesthetic is injected into the site of the TrP with a needle.

     -Spray and Stretch

        The use of a vapocoolant spray to the effected area followed by stretching helps to reduce pain and increase muscle flexion.

    -Voluntary Contraction & Release

        Actively contract the muscle group effected for about 10 seconds then release the contraction and relax the muscle. Repeat 3-4 times.

    -Indirect Techniques

        Such as Positional Release Therapy, which involves finding a tender point in the body and moving the body part away from the restricted barrier and towards the position of greatest comfort. The area is then held for a minimum of 90 seconds. 

    -Accessory Techniques

        Will help assist and support all TrP therapies, they include

             -Controlled respiration

            -Skin rolling    

            -Heat and Cold Therapy

            -Drug Therapy (pain relief, muscle relaxants)

While drug therapy can help significantly with the pain, I highly suggest only using it in extreme conditions if you cannot get the relief you need as the drugs only mask and hide what is going on in your body.

While all these are great ways to help relieve a TrP my favorite way to help release TrP’s are with massage

 Pressure release

Pressure release

Trigger Point Therapy Massage

In a typical TrP Therapy session your Massage Therapist should follow a basic treatment plan which involves

       -Pressure release

            Pressure is applied gently while gradually increasing as the surrounding tissues soften. This will hurt, however, your therapist should never go past the point of you being able to breathe and relax throughout the treatment. This pressure is held for a minimum of 30 seconds to 1 minute. 

        -Stripping

            Directed along the length of the muscle tissue this technique is used to restore the muscle tissue to normal length by elongating the shortened muscle, helping to decrease muscle tension.

        -Stretching

            Lengthening muscle fibers and surrounding connective tissues by taking the origin and insertion points of a muscle away from each other; creating elasticity, flexibility and range of motion.

         -Recovery or Post Treatment

            Your therapist should then give you “homework”  or suggestions to help support your session. They may include

              -Increased water intake        

                  -Re-patterning exercises (to help support proper movement)

                     -Hot or Cold Therapy

                  -Exercises (Including stretches!)

                      -Appropriate rest

             -Nutritional needs

             -Environmental stress may be addressed

Benefits of Trigger Point Massage

While dealing with TrP’s are no fun, the highlights are the relief you can experience! Some of the benefits of Massage for TrP’s include

        -Decrease in Inflammation

        -Increase in range of motion    

        -Decrease in anxiety

        -Reduction of fatique

        -Better sleep patterns

        -Improved concentration

        -Increase in circulation

        -More energy

        -Stress reduction

        -Relaxation

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If you are looking for relief from your Trigger Points in the Salt Lake City, UT area call to schedule your Trigger Point Therapy session today!

 

 

 

Myofascial Release

 

What is the Myofascial system?

  • Consists of connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons, fascia, muscle fibers, muscle bundles and periosteum.
  • This system keeps us upright and held together by connecting and supporting our muscle tissue to our bone structure allowing for movement, reducing friction and protecting most structures in the body.
  • The main connective tissue that is manipulated in myofascial release is fascia.

What is Fascia?

  • Fascia is dense regular connective tissue, meaning that it has closely bundled collagen fibers allowing the fascia to stretch.
  • Fascia is flexible and  also has the strength to resist unidirectional tension forces.
  • It suspends and holds organs in their proper place.
  • Provides a moveable, yet supportive covering for all blood vessels and nerve endings as they pass through the muscles. 

Visualizing Fascia

Have you ever noticed that white slightly sheer covering on raw chicken before its cooked? That is fascia! Next time try to pull it apart and notice what happens. This tissue is so strong you can't tear it apart with your bare hands but it is also very flexible in the different directions you move it.

Now imagine this tissue all throughout your body holding and supporting major muscle groups together allowing for movement or lack thereof. Sometimes this tissue can get shortened causing a lack of movement or little range of motion in areas of your body. Or as I like to call them restrictions. 

How do you release restrictions?

The amazing thing about fascia is it has the ability to lengthen!! Have you ever heard of a colloid? Not to get too scientific for you but a colloid has specific thermodynamic characteristics when subjected to mechanical and thermal forces.

What does this mean? I'll give you an example. Imagine a candle that you have just purchased, you take it home put it in the entry and light the wick. The wax is a colloid and changes from a solid state to a liquid state by the help of thermal forces (heat). When the candle has been lit for a couple of hours you blow it out and the candle changes back from a liquid state to a solid state. But do you notice the difference when it solidifies? It has changed shape. 

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Your fascia has the same ability to change shape or form when heated and manipulated. My favorite way to describe Myofascial Release is to imagine the body being molded or sculpted back into its proper form by heating the tissue and letting it solidify. Now the question is asked, how does the fascia and surrounding connective tissue heat up? Surely you don't go in with a blow torch to get this accomplished. That would be ridiculous and painful!! Myofascial release is not a painful modality. In fact it is a gentle form of bodywork that produces amazing results! Using slow firm pressure and being patient . . . . . very patient for the restrictive barrier to release and allow to go in a little deeper as each barrier is heated and relaxed. Creating space and lengthening your tissue. This includes no lotion or oil to get a better hold onto the fascial tissues and gentle movement and stretches at the bodies comfort level and capability. 

Although Myofascial work is focused on working with the body to loosen muscle and movement restrictions don't expect to get a full body treatment done. This takes time and patience for the fascia to heat, relax and stretch. A helpful hint when getting this type of bodywork would be to focus on your breath. Your breath is so vital throughout your treatment. Your body is designed to release toxins through breath work as well as release tension by improving oxygenation to the muscles themselves. The deeper you breath the more it relaxes your body as a whole by lowering blood pressure as well as your heart rate allowing you to get more oxygen to your muscles. This process helps to relieve pain and increases your blood flow by removing carbon dioxide which is your body's natural waste of your metabolism. Ultimately you will find that taking deep breaths throughout your treatment will help reduce any anxieties and emotional uneasiness bringing clarity and insightfulness instead. 

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Now that I have talked about what Myofascial Release is and how fascia works you are probably wondering how these restrictions can occur. Let me describe a number of issues that may cause these restrictions. A huge contributor is your daily activities. Whenever you experience too much repetition in one part of the body another will try to compensate for the lack of movement. Imagine you are painter and everyday you bend down, get your brush wet with your dominant hand stand back up and use the same hand in repetition to stroke up and down at the wall you are painting. Does your arm get tired? Of course it does but you eventually get used to it. You go home and feel exhausted in that arm but the interesting part is although you have overworked your dominant arm what happens to the other side of your body? That lack of movement overtime has caused restrictions from trying to support your dominant side. Whats even more alarming is if you have outdone yourself with your repetitive movement you may have damaged muscles from overuse. When this happens the surrounding connective tissues tighten to protect the muscle, discouraging blood flow to the area and causing further tightness.

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What if you don't have enough movement in your workplace?  Imagine you work at a desk job and you spend the majority of your time hunched over at your keyboard, your back is curved as your neck leans further towards your computer screen. Not to mention the majority of your time is spent sitting in a chair. By the end of the day your neck, shoulders and lower back are screaming for relief. But where you are experiencing pain is not where it is caused. In fact, these areas are actually being pulled by opposing muscles allowing them to overstretch causing soreness. When ultimately your chest, abdomen and hip flexors are being tightened causing restrictions from your lack of movement in these areas! This also happens to your hamstrings as they are flexed while you are sitting causing strain on your lower back. Notice what kind of movement you are experiencing in your daily life. Are you moving too much in a certain area or not enough?

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Another couple instances that can cause restrictions in the body are when accidents, surgery or trauma happens to the body, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. This also includes improper injury rehabilitation. Remember when I said fascia is flexible but has great strength? Well what happens when the fascia is restricted and pulls on another area in the body? Your body will compensate to make up for the lack of movement! Thereby creating more pain, strain and overuse on other areas. When a joint capsule does not have full range of motion or when nerves get pinched or stuck by muscles, the connective tissues tighten to protect the area from any further damage also decreasing blood flow. If there is no movement happening nutrients will not be delivered to the damaged area. If the restrictions aren't treated this can continue into a vicious cycle where chronic pain may occur.

So what can you do help treat these restrictions?

  • Eat a well balanced diet to get important nutrients in the body.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated as it carries oxygen to the cells of your body and lubricates your joints.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your body active, improving circulation, blood flow and oxygen to all muscles. Just make sure to practice proper form and techniques!  
  • Focus on improving your posture and be mindful of repetitive motions you carry on throughout your day.
  • Schedule a myofascial release treatment and learn strength training exercises and stretches from your therapist to help restore balance to your body. With proper rehabilitation and exercises you will experience a quality of life with more movement!  

Call today to schedule your myofascial release treatment in Salt Lake City, Utah!