Supporting local Triathletes – 15% off treatments for Chippenham Tri members

Amanda is always keen to work with local clubs and can offer discounts to its members.  For sports men/women regular treatment can help prevent injury and keep muscles in balance.  Often Triathletes have fairly hefty training schedules that often involve up to 20 hours a week spilt between strength work outs, cycling, running and swimming  Continue reading

Clinical massage therapy – tailored massage to meet your needs & stress levels

With the magic of Christmas behind us the concern of an overspend may have hit us as well as considering all those jobs you listed for 2017. Stress can cause an increase in circulation to the heart, muscles and lungs, the body’s immune system is also compromised – the likely impact being an increase in the risk of colds or flu. A healthy amount of stress can be good for us, enabling us to perform in certain situations, however chronic stress can cause more negative forms of anxiety and depression. Continue reading

Could your daily activities be impacting your posture? – massage therapy could help

Good posture essentially means that our bodies are in balance, whatever our activities involve – sitting, standing and moving allowing us to use our bodies in the correct way and preventing overuse or underuse of our muscles. Our bodies our designed to work as efficiently as possible with minimal muscle contractions when in neutral alignment, with the spine, pelvis and hips all aligned. Unfortunately, neutral postures are quite rare due to the stress and strains of life, especially if they impacted by our fascial network. A dysfunction of the fascial web causes the body to adapt to compensate against the pull of gravity, keeping it upright and functioning. Shortness in one area causes the fascia to shorten and become tight and impact posture. There are common postural tendencies that are commonly brought about through how we go about our daily lives:

AC-93

  • Ideal alignment – very few people have perfect neutral alignment due to common adverse tendencies.
  • Excessive lumbar lordosis – forward pelvic tilt causing short hip flexors and tight lower back (known as lower cross by Janda or kyphosis/lordotic in combination with:)
  • Excessive thoracic kyphosis – lengthened thoracic section of the back and tight pectorals and intercostals. Sitting makes our abdominals weak and our pelvis pushes our spine down. In this posture (often combined with lumbar lordosis) our core is weak and our stomach bulges forward, whilst we compensate by pushing our spine back to balance, with our heads forward to compensate
  • Flat back – associated with a posterior pelvis tilt, hyperextended knees, forward head and anterior shoulders, overly short hamstring and abdominals and weak quadriceps, lumbar erector spinae
  • Sway back – overly tight hamstrings, upper abdominals, lower back. Commonly associated with urban lifestyles of sitting, posture is associated with forward head, increased curve of the neck, shoulders are protracted, flattening of the chest wall, hyperextended knees, flat lower back and an increased curve of the thoracic spine.

There are also other deviations in the body impacting posture, lateral deviations of the pelvis and pronation/supination of the foot impact alignment and therefore posture from the ankle, through the knee and to the hips. As a soft tissue therapist our assessments will involve looking for shortness or weakness in muscles relating to these postural patterns or even changes to our facial system associated with day to day life, especially when pain or dysfunction is involved. Treatments will often incorporate massage therapy to particular muscle groups, fascial techniques where there is tightness and rehabilitation techniques for weak muscle groups.

Neuromuscular techniques in massage? Trigger point therapy

Massage Therapy in Chippenham – Trigger Point Techniques

Trigger point release/therapy is a successful treatment which enables a therapist to accurate pin point and identify the source of neuromusculoskeletal pain. It involves an interference with the body’s circulatory efficiency by applying a pressure release to squeeze blood out of the muscle tissue causing an ischemic reaction, by way of a release of endorphins. An increased flow of blood and nutrients that are pumped into the body when pressure is removed, suppresses pain and relaxes the muscle’s tissues. We can provide massage therapy in Chippenham and will effectively use trigger point techniques to reduce the cause of pain.

Trigger Points – what are they? And their effects of release

massage therapy in ChippenhamCommonly referred to as knots, ‘Trigger points’ (TrP) are reflex points that can be characterised as an overly taut band of muscle fibres. These cause a reduced range of movement in a muscle and regional pain, which is often deferred. They can also cause the onset of acute or chronic injuries.

Restricted energy to the muscle prevents calcium from being pumped outside of the cell. This causes the muscle to become even more taut, impacting range of movement due to the inability to relax.

TrP’s can be active and be the cause of pain and referral pain or latent, effectively dormant tissues that are hypersensitive to change.

A TrP allows the central nervous system and parts of the brain to become sensitised through the over bombardment of pain messages from the body. This process can often lead to chronic conditions.

Trigger point release is used widely to effectively reset a reflex pattern of muscle tissues that have been injured or stressed in some way. They are extremely common in the successful treatment of the neck and back.

Contact Amanda on 07972 229737 to book an appointment or call for a consultation.

 

My Marathon journey – managing injury & beyond

It been a while since I have posted on my website and I do apologise. I’ve been scripting this item for months now around and around in my head, on those long and often painful runs. To be honest it kept me sane, writing as I took those steps, recalling every emotion about how I felt and imagining me crossing the finish line.

So what can I tell you? To run a marathon, or even more had been part of a virtual bucket list for sometime In fact, for 3 years now I’d been trying to train for a marathon and yet my body each time seemed to fail me in some way. So how did I get through it this time? Sheer and utter determination I think, ‘no’ seemed not to be an option, I had my ballot place and I was going to run it. And so I kept the vision of crossing that finish line.

marathonfinish mall2marathon finishmarathon finish2

No matter what challenge you might set out to do – big or small, some of these few simple tips may apply. Advice no. 1 – keep visualising your goal.

Advice no. 2 – listen to your body. If your body is screaming out I can’t do this, there is a reason for it. Go and seek advice.

As I ramped up my miles to around the 11 mile mark, the knee pain I had experienced for years made a nasty comeback. Despite the efforts in receiving my own therapy, the repetitive nature of running was just making it worse. For me the low point was when I had achieved 18 miles and yet the next day I could not run 100m! So I listened to my body and ended up taking 2 weeks off running and only a week before the big day I had a cortisone injection in my knee. Us runners worry so much about ‘having to get out’, needing to run otherwise you loose the ability to do so when in actual fact it takes 2 weeks to loose some of the speed you have built up.

Advice no. 3 – Grab a friend and concer your dream together

For me the best runs were the longer runs as I always managed to grab a pal to run with me. At times we could chat the whole run. They understood the pain you were in and how you felt. I remember distinctively a 17 mile training run in the hail and blowing gales and running what seemed on the spot, not getting away where, it was comical. As the days got hotter I was often asking for water enroute, even going into the pub to ask!

Advice no. 4 – Mix up your appropriate training with strength building and stretching.

Too often I see runners that ‘just run’. The key to success is to be in balance left to right and have the appropriate strength and length in your muscles to support your goal. During my training I took on circuits and bootcamp HIT classes to build up my core, the strength in my legs and upper body and yoga / body balance to lengthen and stretch where I needed it. It worked the combination of work outs was just about right and 3 runs a week were enough for me.

The day itself – the facts

  • It’s very likely that you will not sleep the night before – for me it was like sitting an exam!
  • Everyone is so friendly and you needn’t worry about getting to the start line as it is swarming with people
  • Eat a good breakfast, the hotel I was in ran out of porridge!
  • Get into the starting area with plenty of time to go, it takes about 45 minutes to queue for the loo
  • You will walk a fare few miles before even getting to the start line ending with some 62,000 steps and more
  • You will feel like you can’t run
  • The crowd without a doubt keep you going, get your name on your top
  • Arrange where you will see your friends/family
  • Try to enjoy it and take it the landmarks
  • Have those nutritional gels regularly, I took them every 4 hours and managed not to hit the wall and sipped water continually
  • You’ll weave a fair bit at the start until you can settle into your rhythm
  • It’s amazing, I crossed the finish line, didn’t believe I had done it and could run more.
  • I’ts true you won’t fancy that celebration drink afterwards, but will be able to walk the day after. Amazingly I sprang out of bed and got on with my day.
  • What next? You’ll want to plan that next event as all the preparation has been worth it

Now I’ve applied for 2017, and will hopefully get to run for charity this time. The experience was amazing.

Could your breathing pattern be causing you pain?

It sounds like a silly question – doesn’t it – ‘are you breathing correctly?, but incorrect breathing or breathing dysfunctions can be linked to any unknown pain in the neck, shoulders and back. These often unknown pains in overused muscle tissues and are referred to as knots or myofascial trigger points that radiate pains in common patterns in your body.

Take a breathing test..

Healthy breathing involves our bellies going out during inhalation and in during exhalation. Quite simply, if we are over using our upper body or unnecessary rising our shoulders to breath for example, then we are breathing incorrectly and over using accessory muscles (as such our neck, intercostals and pectoralis muscles) to support the diaphragm. To test your breathing simply place one hand on your chest and one hand on your diaphragm – the hi/lo test.

As a therapist we look for a good quality breathing wave, activation of muscles and firing sequences, symmetry and any tightness or restrictions in your tissues. We may also look for any postural dysfunctions that have been caused by the overuse of accessory breathing muscles.

Some facts

-The main muscle of respiration is the diaphragm and is responsible for 75% air into lungs during quiet breathing)1

-The main accessory muscles of respiration are the external intercostal muscles which are responsible for 25% of air into lungs during quite breathing)2 .They are therefore known as an accessory ‘primary’ muscle of respiration.

-During inhalation the, scalene muscles, levator scapulae, pectoralis (major / minor), rhomboids, serratus anterior, upper trapezius, and, serratus posterior can all support the process, especially when even more space is required in the chest cavity i.e. during exercise.

-During normal respiration other muscles should not be recruited unless there is pattern of breathing dysfunction

So how does this reflect pain in our soft tissues?

Shallow breathing, emotional breathing or stress related conditions can all lead to an overuse of our accessory muscles used in breathing. More so during exercise and if techniques are poor and posture incorrect, other muscles can be recruited to help assist with opening up even more cavity space to receive oxygen. These muscles can then become tight, whilst others become weak causing the tight muscles to be the cause of pain and potential cause of chronic injury to the shoulders and neck.

The culprits of breathing incorrectly:

  1. time sitting in chairs with hips flexed makes diaphragmatic breathing difficult
  2. stress or emotional circumstances changing our breathing habits
  3. a weak diaphragm

So can we retrain how we breathe? – the simple answer is yes, however it will take some time and dedication

Here are some simple exercises to encourage good breathing techniques:

  1. breathing with pierced lips – like blowing through a straw
  2. pushing your arms on the table to prevent a diaphragm lift
  3. adapt the beach pose – hands behind head and bent knees to reduce shoulder movement
  4. hold your hands around the edge of your ribcage to encourage your belly outwards as you inhale

The solution to healthy breathing like anything else involves a daily focus on the quality of breathing. By slowing down, reducing stress levels, taking more exercise and generally reducing sitting in chairs as it compresses our diagram and strength training to our core.

References and for a fuller explanation:

The Respiration Connection – How dysfunctional breathing might be a root cause of a variety of common upper body pain problems and injuries, updated Oct 17,2015 by Paul Ingraham, Vancouver, Canada https://www.painscience.com/articles/respiration-connection.php

1 Chaitow,L (2011) Muscles Energy Techniques. (3rd Edition). Churchill Livingstone Elsevier

2Tortora, G, J & Grabowski, S, R, (2004). Introduction to the Human Body: Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology. 6th Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

Busy events season, now its time to prepare yourself for the season ahead

It’s been a busy few months supporting cycling and running events in and around the local area. It’s great to see so many athletes taking the opportunity to speak with me about their injuries or aches and pains. The benefits of sports massage are significant – reducing muscle tension, alleviating repetitive strain, preventing injury and improving circulation. Ideally, when you are in training frequent massage is recommended to aid lymphatic drainage and to prevent unnecessary stress on your body.

The very end of August saw me providing massage to the riders of the Severn Bridge Sportive in Castle Combe, run by Andy Cook Cycling. Despite the weather, the riders were in great spirits and enjoyed the relaxation of massage after the big event. Tight hamstrings, tight hip flexors impacting lower back pain and painful calves and quads were amongst the main concerns.

In September with the Park Lane Practice team, I provided injury advice and sports massage to the masses at the Chippenham Half Marathon run by Chippenham Harriers and in October was the lovely new 10k race organised by Cadence Events, in the picturesque village of Grittleton.

As the season comes to a close, it’s important to ensure your body is ready for the next season, here are some simple tips for you to consider:

  • Ensure your body is in correct alignment – repetitive moves can cause strain to our joints and over tightness to our muscles. In turn this can impact body alignment which can be evident in the pelvis, hips and knees for example. The solution? Sports massage to reduce muscle and connective tissue (fascia) tension, some manipulation may also be required
  • Strength training – it’s always a good idea to mix up your training with focused strength work according to your sport. This can be a class based approach such as boot camp or circuits, which is great for motivation, or by the use of a pilates band with some simple basic exercises. It can also have a positive effect to encouraging firing of weaker muscles and that be required to give support i.e. the glute medius required for supporting the pelvis
  • Stretch classes – classes such as pilates and yoga are essential to your performance and help with maintaining optimum flexibility of muscle groups and therefore movement
  • Self help – you can help your muscles with regular use of a foam roller to reduce muscle tightness and or a massage ball to help reduce fascia tension. They might cause a degree of discomfort, however the results to tissue makeup and muscle resting length is quite amazingfoam roller
  • Nutrition and rest – well documented for its benefits, healthy eating and diets have a significant part in performance

I’ve begun my marathon training and have taken on board all of the above advice and I have to say that I’m feeling fitter and more powerful than I have in years.

I advise my clients about staying in balance, assess their movement and review where tightness is coming to help structure my treatments. Enjoy the off season and enjoy the variety it provides.

Its not just about the core – how strong are your myofascial slings?

If you present with a dull ache across your lower back and there is no history of trauma – it may be worth exploring the stability of your sacro iliac joint (SIJ), essential for excessive spinal movements used in golf or manual activity for example.

The slings provide stability through a diagonal pattern of contraction across the front (anterior) and back (posterior) of our bodies. The SIJ is a gliding synovial joint which requires a small degree of movement, however when there is too much or too little problems or aches and pains can occur.

Stability of the joint can be assessed both structurally and from the contraction of the myofascial slings, the contraction of the supporting muscles, tendons and ligaments. When areas are weak the SIJ will not lock sufficiently and leave the pelvis vulnerable, similarly when supporting structures are too tight, mobility will be impacted and cause compensation patterns to develop.

During treatment an assessment of the stability of your SIJ would be worth while and an assessment of pelvic/hip stability. Exercises can then be given to improve anterior and posterior sling function. More information about myofascial slings can be obtained from this interesting article:

http://www.coreconcepts.com.sg/mcr/weve-heard-so-much-of-the-core-what-about-the-slings/

Spotlight on injury – Achilles Tendinopathy

I see quite a few people with an Achilles related injury, caused by sport, repetition or injury. Interestingly a scientist – Philip Verheyen once amputated his own leg to undertake his own dissection work and reported on it in his book ‘Corporis Humani Anatomia’ in 1693. Certainly not something I’d recommend!

So what can cause an Achilles Tendinopathy?

The Achilles forms part of the tissue of our backline (from our calcaneus up to our heads), is the strongest tendon and is susceptible to high loads, force and repetition as a result of day to day activities such as walking, running, and jumping. It is formed from the as a tendinous continuation of our gastrocnemius muscle and narrows into the calcaneous. Often cyclists after the winter season in the spring suffer from some kind of achilles injury, after placing a high load through the ankle. Similarly, people that suffer with tight calfs, hamstrings or who supinate on their feet are prone but also those that over pronate as it may have impacted the development of the tendon.

Overload to the tendon causes cellular change and swelling to the tendon, and described by two Australian Physiotherapists Cook and Purdam (2009) on a 3-stage continumn:

Reactive – typically impacted by an increase in load to the tendon

Dysrepair – history of recurring tendinopathy and lower limb weakness

Degenerative – pain & discomfort which may reduce as the tendon continues into a degenerative stage

Sudden pain for example may indicate a partial tear to the tendon maybe from a direct impact, whereas a peritendinopathy is characterised by inflammation linked to footwear or direct impact.

AC-77

Morning stiffness is a common symptom, reducing during the day from activity. Alternatively there are a number of tests to do to determine the tendinopathy, which will involve foot posture, gait and exercise based clinical assessments such as heel raises and single-legged squat to assess the strength of the calf.

The work of Thomas Myers (Myers 2009) in Anatomy Trains will involve looking at the movement patterns of the feet in relation to the central parts of the body, ie the pelvis, this is important in treatment due to the continuous track of fascia running from your toes to your head.

Treatment and rehabilitation

Medical conditions, sporting background and assessment tests will also help structure a suitable rehabilitation programme. A relatively new approach for Achilles tendinopathy is isometric loading of the tendon. This aims to balance a reduction in tendon loading whilst increase the tendons loading tolerance. This approach works to simulate a cellular change in the tendon, reducing pain and reduces stress on the tendon.

Soft tissue work can actively mobilise the tendon and help to reduce muscle tone, the use of taping and dry needling can also aid the reduction of inflammation.

Source: South West Seminars, Achilles & Patellar Tendinopathy By Daniel Lawrence MCSP, (2013)

Kinesiology tape – how does it work?

Many of my clients come to me with pain, reduced movement in their joints, inflammation to soft tissue or with injury from sport, work, hobbies or even posture.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence to support its effectiveness, it has shown to increase support and effects on muscle activity. It is widely used amongst sporting stars in football, rugby, cycling and tennis to name a few and thoughts suggest it has a placebo effect and therefore it has a positive effect .

I use it readily as part of my treatment plan, especially where movement is lacking, pain is present or to get someone through a much prepared for race. I’m a RockDoc level 2, having undergone training with RockTape and can treat injuries, movement and aid posture.

So what’s the science behind it and how does it work?

  • Reduces pain – works with the nerve endings and receptors in the skin to the injured area. It changes how your body interprets pain
  • Decompresses inflammation and swelling – it has a microscopic lifting effect between the layers of skin to increase blood flow and help speed up the healing process
  • Delays fatigue in tired muscles
  • Normalises muscle tone – injured muscles do not fire effectively and causes muscle dysfunctions in the body’s chain to occur. RockTape helps dormant muscles fire and calms down over active muscles
  • Allows full movement of joints – this allows the stress caused to the injured area to be distributed amongst interconnected fascia, ligaments, muscles and bones

rocktape

Why your general health can benefit from massage therapy

Whether you are a keen sports person, keen gardener, office worker – we can all benefit from massage. It is not just recommended if you are injured, it can infact be as good as an integral aspect of looking after yourself alongside exercise, eating healthily and drinking plenty of water.

Widely supported and recommended by medical professionals, the main benefits can be summarized under 4 main headings – medical, physical, physiological and as an aid to sporting performance.

AC-47

The medical benefits assisting your general health are significant:

  • Massage increases blood flow – widely recognised for increasing circulation and oxygen delivery around the body, massage aids healthy muscle contraction and reduces muscle stiffness
  • It increases lymph flow – The techniques of sports & remedial massage incorporated the stretch of muscles, pulls on muscle fibres, widening their openings in the lymph capillaries. This allows excess water from tissues to be absorbed and purified before returning to the cardiac system. It therefore assists positively in the lymph flow around the body.
  • Removes waste from the body – Sports and remedial massage works to remove any waste products and is widely known to reduce constipation and remove any blockages in the body. An abdomen massage would support this by aiding mobility of the digestive tract and similarly in treating Crohns disease by freeing adhesions in the bowel wall.
  • Supports postural changes through illness – Massage has been known to have benefits in aiding respiratory issues such as bronchitis, where damage to respiratory muscles may have occurred through postural changes in the natural body’s alignment.
  • Nervous system stimulation – Sports & remedial massage, is responsible for generating a positive neurological response – it stimulates the neurological transmitters/ruffini endings (sensory receptor cell in the skin) which set down in patterns in the connective tissue, which will generate and maintain good posture and lead to tissue relaxation.
  • Has a positive well-being effect – massage helps reduce stress and anxiety and can have a profound effect on the nervous system. Frequent massage therapy incorporating lengthening techniques can break down the cycle of muscle tightening and in turn reduce stress hormone levels, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep and can have a positive impact to the immune system.

In addition to the above general health benefits, treatment can significantly benefit all types of soft tissue injuries. For any advise on this subject please call Amanda on 07972 229737.

Keep your fascia hydrated this Christmas

As we all enjoy the festive season (and why not it’s been a busy year after all) – make sure you pay some attention to your muscles, joints and fascia by giving them some vital hydration.

From time to time we all complain of morning stiffness, but don’t just assume its getting older that’s the cause; it could be a vital sign that your tissues are dehydrated.

Fascia is the connective soft tissue that surrounds our blood vessels and nerves, muscles and groups of muscles, allowing movement and support to our bodies. There are 3 layers that simultaneously connect into each other forming a continuous fascial network covering, infusing and protecting our entire musculoskeletal system (bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, between our organs) that has significant importance to how we move and maintain our posture.

 

AC-80

It acts like a sponge, when it is healthy it is bouncy and moves well, allowing the ease of movement of muscles alongside each other and other structures in the musculoskeletal system. However, when it is dried out it is more restrictive and hard. Drinking plenty of water (sadly caffeine or fizzy drinks do not help) allows your tissues to retain its natural suppleness, aiding muscle strength and function. A healthy diet, movement and regular massage therapy using myofascial techniques can all help to combat any restrictions in your fascia.

Enjoy your festive season with your families but also please make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. In return to can expect better posture, less aches and pains and in return fewer injuries.

 

 

 

Athletes are choosing acupuncture to treat injuries – will you?

Athletes including Olympic swimmers, high jumpers and Vincenzo Nibali who won the Tour De France (AACP Sept 2014) this year are choosing acupuncture as a treatment in addition to soft tissue work for the treatment of injuries and to boost their performance.

You don’t need to be an elite athlete to benefit; you may be a runner in training for a marathon, gym goer or have a love of yoga to feel the benefits. As a modularity to enhance your existing treatment, the benefits are immense providing a great solution for acute and chronic pain, orthopaedic conditions and sporting conditions including shin splints, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis and many more.

The benefits:

  • Pain relief
  • Reducing inflammation, swelling and bruising
  • Relaxation of muscles
  • Increased circulation
  • Speeds recovery time
  • Aid post work out recovery
  • Help with stress/anxiety/insomnia

acuptunture

When is the right time to incorporate it into my treatment?

Injury management – Well it’s great for treating injuries to help manage the repair process by accelerating healing, decreasing inflammation, reducing muscle spasms and improving circulation.

While you are in training – At time of training, it is great if your are putting your body under a lot of stress and strain and you are under pain as a result of this – so great naturally to add to your existing soft tissue therapy and reduce the risk of injury. Using a method to treat ‘trigger points’ can work towards reducing localised tension and pain and keep your muscles in balance.

Not just for injuries or sport – Dry needling/Acupuncture can aid pain management for existing chronic medical conditions and can help stress/anxiety and insomnia for example. 

I have undertaken a Diploma in Dry Needling/Acupuncture for Sports Injuries, Accredited by The Acupuncture Society, due for completion at the end of this month (Nov 2014).It focuses on targeting symptoms directly ie if the knee hurts, fix the knee. I am fully insured (currently as a student), so if you would like to try dry needling as part of your treatment or simply keen know more please ask me.

 

 

Neuromuscular techniques in massage? Trigger point therapy

Trigger point release/therapy is a successful treatment which enables a therapist to accurate pin point and identify the source of neuromusculoskeletal pain. It involves an interference with the body’s circulatory efficiency by applying a pressure release to squeeze blood out of the muscle tissue causing an ischemic reaction, by way of a release of endorphins. An increased flow of blood and nutrients that are pumped into the body when pressure is removed, suppresses pain and relaxes the muscle’s tissues.

Trigger Points – what are they? And their effects of release

Commonly referred to as knots, ‘Trigger points’ (TrP) are reflex points that can be characterised as an overly taut band of muscle fibres. These cause a reduced range of movement in a muscle and regional pain, which is often deferred. They can also cause the onset of acute or chronic injuries.

Restricted energy to the muscle prevents calcium from being pumped outside of the cell. This causes the muscle to become even more taut, impacting range of movement due to the inability to relax.

TrP’s can be active and be the cause of pain and referral pain or latent, effectively dormant tissues that are hypersensitive to change.

A TrP allows the central nervous system and parts of the brain to become sensitised through the over bombardment of pain messages from the body. This process can often lead to chronic conditions.

AC-68

Trigger point release is used widely to effectively reset a reflex pattern of muscle tissues that have been injured or stressed in some way. They are extremely common in the successful treatment of neck and shoulder injuries and commonly cause pain relating to the rotation of the hip.

Are you fascially fit? – take the test

All it takes is one element of our connective tissue (fascia) to become out of balance and it affects the functioning of our whole body.

Take the test:

  1. flex your body forward as if to touch your toes, make a visual marker
  2. roll a tennis ball on your plantar fascia (ball of your feet) for 2 minutes
  3. flex forward and see the improvement in your flexibility

This way of self-massage is releasing the tightness of our feet, calves and hamstrings, glutes and into our lower backs to improve flexibility whilst promote blood flow, healing and relaxation.

tennis ball

Seeing the body in this way requires ‘treating’ the fascial net from head to toe.

Training that incorporates increasing the elasticity of fascia is a great way of using less power in muscles therefore reducing fatigue.

 

 

 

 

Discover the benefits of massage therapy to aid preparation and recovery from an event.

With the training season fast approaching, be it marathon, triathalon or field sports…Discover the benefits of massage therapy to aid preparation and recovery from an event.

Sports and remedial massage is renowned for being effective in sports. It is used widely to condition muscles, recondition muscles post –event and as an aid to rehabilitation. Massage must always be personalised to the athlete with respect to their muscle groups and used as an integral part of training.

Massage can be used effectively to aid recovery from an event in a number of ways. It effectively reduces muscle spasm and metabolic built up.  It further allows the athlete to recover effectively from the event, improving their return to exercise and preventing injury. It is also effective to aid recovery in the following ways:

  • Reduces neurological excitability – Post exercise muscle tone can be reduced through massage, where muscles have been over-worked. For muscles that may have cramped or are experiencing muscles shortness, the use of reciprocal inhibition techniques can help lengthen the muscle to increase range of movement.
  • Altering of muscle firing patterns – Taping or strapping techniques can be used post event on swollen or injured tissues to prevent any further injury.
  • Reduce muscle tension – tense muscle fibres can bring on aches and pains.  A series of lengthening and stretching through massage to shorten tissue, will prevent the build up of unnecessary muscles soreness.
  • Reduces delayed onset muscle soreness – during exercise, the muscles produce lactic acid, especially in eccentric muscle actions.  Massage helps to remove this through lymphatic flow.
  • Prevent muscle imbalance – post event, muscles may become hypertonic and antagonist muscles weak. Massage after the event can address this problem and reduce muscle tension. The use of soft tissue release can help with hypertonicity and muscle shortening enabling them to contract and relax effectively after an event, therefore preventing any injury.
  • Psychological benefit– by instigating the parasympathetic nervous system, massage will promote relaxation.

Unexplained aches & pains?  The source is likely to be your fascial network

The majority of our pain receptors are within our connective tissue surrounding our muscles, tendons and ligaments known as web of fascia. Ida Rolf described it as our ‘organ of posture’ and that can be seen after an illness or stress for example when our bodies become out of balance and the body compensates against the pull of gravity until finally pain and dysfunctions can set in.

Our bodies are made up of a number of fascial lines holding our bodies in place, however it is dynamic and responds to the external and internal environment imposed on it.

Common causes of fascia impacting our postural alignment:

  • Lifestyle and environment factors
  • Upper chest breathing
  • On going illness
  • Injury & stress
  • Poor health through diet

I work with fascial restrictions and incorporates movement based fascial work into her treatments to improve efficiency in movement and posture. Understanding fascia is a way of explaining how neck pain can be linked to plantar fascia tightness as it envelopes our bodies from the tips of our toes to the top of our heads.

My recommendations to help reduce the symptoms of inflammation following acute soft tissue injury.

A soft tissue injury might involve an injury to a muscle, tendon, ligament tissues or fascia. Whatever the movement it has been caused as a result of being pushed further than the body allows. It may have occurred as a result of a sporting injury or daily activity.

The principle treatment of acute soft tissue injuries is following the P.R.I.C.E.M. model. In the first 24-48 hours it is crucial to follow this principle to ensure inflammation and pain relief are managed.

Protection

  • Whatever/wherever the injury, the extent of the initial damage may be prevented even further. In the acute phase, paracetamals will be recommended or a codeine based tablet (opioid). (Aspirins renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties must only be taken in the sub-acute phase).
  • First aid also needs to rule out any red flag concerns, such as complete ruptures that will require further assistance from clinical staff.

Rest

  • Rest is essential for a short period of immobilisation following the injury, whilst ice is being applied to the injury.
  • Some injuries take 24 hours or more for the inflammation to show, for enough tissue swelling to accumulate, therefore rest if essential (with the injury in an elevated position).

Ice

  • Ice works as an analgesic.  As soon as physically possible, once in a safe place and basic first aid administered, ice should be applied to the injury. This can be done using a cryocuff or ice pack or crushed ice in a flannel, or placed in a bag with cold water. Frozen vegetables also work. Care must be taken so as not to freeze the skin.
  • Ice also reduces muscles going into spasm.
  • Ice should be applied initially for 15 minutes and repeated every 1 to 2 hours within the first 24-48 hours.
  • Ice helps returning to activity as soon as possible and therefore an essential element of this process.

Compression

  • Compression bandages would be recommended to reduce the inflammation.  They work by limiting the elastic capability of the skin and tissues surrounding them. Apply firmly, not tight, from the further point away towards the direction of the heart.
  • Elasticated bandages are good and work to reduce any bleeding and swelling to the area.
  • These should be used until inflammation has gone.

Elevate

  • To reduce the inflammation, the injury should fight gravity without pain.  For example a sling can be used for an arm/shoulder and legs propped up on a chair for an ankle or knee injury.
  • It takes approximately 4 hours8 of elevation to combat every hour the injury was not elevated.

In between rest and ice being applied to the injury, small amounts of movement (no pain) is recommended if physically possible.

Rest after trauma (continued)

  • This will prevent excessive scar tissue build up, which will have a detrimental effect on long term mobility. (These must not be contraindicated for the injury and therefore will need to be guided movements).

Movement

  • General stretching and active movement is required in the first 48 hours to the injury. (Increasing after 48 hours and on going.). Mobilisation will help vascularisation to the area and improved regeneration of the soft tissues. Explain how scar tissue is formed, this will help support them to undertake movement.
  • Proprioception exercises ie if injury is to an ankle, standing on a cushion with eyes shut is a good exercise.

Post acute phase advice (for sub acute phase):

  • Review suitable mobilisation programme to keep tissues moving (assuming no complications and need for referral. These need to be build up over time and no pain experienced.
  • Aspirins can be used to further support inflammation.
  • Physical therapies can help injury.