Don't Ice your Injuries

If you are like many of the people who come in to see us for acute injuries it is likely that you are following the old advice to ICE your injury. This often comes as part of the very outdated R.I.C.E advice.

RICE stands for rest, ice, compress,elevate

RICE protocol was developed by Gabe Mirkin in 1978 and even he has advised athletes and everyday-joes to STOP USING IT to treat soft tissue problems.

I want to zero in on the ICE part of this protocol because ICE is not your friend. Icing is in fact one of the driving factors behind PROLONGING your injury.

Yes you read that right.

How does this picture feel to you?

I know it’s hard to believe. You are not the only one being led down the primrose pass. The idea that ice will help an injury is widespread and deeply entrenched. That is why I decided to write this little post.

Together we can be part of overturning a harmful treatment. Once you are done reading this you may go forth and spread the word. You will wield the power of knowledge and cut through lies with your flaming sword of truth.

Okay, so it might not be that dramatic, but it could be.

Let’s take a look at the two parts of what ice is supposed to do and why they make no sense.

COLD REDUCES INFLAMMATION!!!!!!!

Yes is does.

And that’s a bad thing.

Yes, you still read that right. Inflammation has gotten a bad wrap. There is more than one type of inflammation. Systemic inflammation is it’s own beast and is often widespread and/or unmediated.

That is not is what is happening when you roll your ankle or work out too hard.

Soft tissue injuries like bonking your head, muscle strains, ankle sprains, and post leg day soreness are examples of an localized inflammatory response.

This response is also known as HEALING.

You have to have inflammation for the healing process to begin and you don’t want to intrupt it unless you absolutely have to.

Below is a crash course on how your body heals and defends itself. It might be a little deep, but it will also help you understand the “why” of what we are discussing here.

When you through an ice pack on your twisted knee you undo many of the processes that heal your body. Cold constricts blood vessels, dampens cytokine responses, and slows all of your bodies chemical processes down.

At a cellular level the whole healing process is now moving slower. Keep the ice on long enough and you interrupt the whole cascade of events. This is not to say that it won’t start back up, but the secondary response may not be a robust as the first.

Now imagine that you are icing your injury several times a day for a few days! Each time you are interfering with the inflammatory response and essentially moving your healing “start point” further and further down the road.

This is also the argument for skipping NSAIDS like Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen sodium), and aspirin (salicylate).

COLD KILLS PAIN

It does.

I bet you thought I was going to say something contrary here, but surprise, surprise I’m not going to.

Well, not entirely.

Let me explain this using an story I tell my clients.

Let’s say it’s a cold winter day and you need to scrape your car. You head out, it is bitter cold, whipping wind, and you have forgotten your gloves. Your not even sure where you gloves are, but if you don’t get the car cleared you are going to be late for work.

You reach to open the door to find it frozen shut. You can already feel the frost biting your fingers. But you will not be defeated.

You pry the door open and grab the scraper. As we all know every ice scraping tool is designed to perfectly pry the ice loose from the windows and deposit it directly onto your fingers.

Thankfully, by this point the numbness has taken hold. You can still sort of feel your fingers, but for the most part your digits have been lost to a drunken stupor. The nerves aren’t really firing all that well and even when they do, the process is slowed considerably.

The windows are clean (mostly). You are now nestled in the car which thankfully you thought to start before the scraping fiasco. Warm air is being pumped out onto yours hands.

How do they feel? Are they pain free?

Probably not. Unless you have frostbite.

You fingers are stinging like a you stuck your hand in a wasp nest.

This is what can happen when you use ice for pain relief. You may get some temporary relief, but as that tissue warms up those nerve endings come out of their forced slumber. They begin firing again and the pendulum swings to the opposite extreme.

Your blood vessels dilate. Your skin turns pink. And your nerve endings are tuned up to report pain. When you have an injury this can lead to a cycle where you ice, the pain ebbs, then as it comes back it actually feels worse, so you ice it some more.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Don’t settle for Cheap Massage

THE BIGGEST MISTAKES WE SEE is people in pain looking for a cheap massage. From Groupon “deals” to shady chain memberships, they are lured in by bargain basement pricing only to be left disappointed.

Sure the massage was cheap, but…

It didn’t fix the problem.

For us that means it was worthless. It may have been relaxing, but you do you know what is even more relaxing

Not being in pain.

CHOOSING A SPECIALIST WILL SAVE YOU MONEY because your therapist knows how to get to the root of the problem and get it fixed fast. Their work will be on point and you will get better results in a shorter amount of time.

At SCI Body Therapy you will always receive top quality work from a massage therapist  who WORKS WITH PAIN EVERY DAY. And our goal is to get you back out there. If we are seeing you all the time it means we aren’t doing our job!

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Oncology Massage: A Secret Weapon

Can Massage cure Cancer?

No. Let me say that again. NO.

Unequivocally, absolutely, hell to the no (just in case anyone missed it).

There are unscrupulous providers out there of all types that will try to sell you all kinds of “CURES” for cancer. These people are idiots, they’re immoral, and you should avoid anyone that promises anything of the sort.

Be wary of anyone selling “cancer cures”.

Can Massage Spread Cancer?

No, massage cannot induce metastasis (spreading) of cancer cells.

This ability happens at the cellular level. The DNA of the affected cells evolves and the cancer develops the ability to spread. This fact is also why early screening and early detection is vital.

This misinformation is often repeated by massage therapists which is unfortunate because it can keep people with cancer getting a treatment that can be very beneficial.

Don’t take our word for it though, please have a look at this information from BreastCancer.org and the National Institutes of Health. If you have more questions speak to your oncologist or email us for more information.

How CAN massage help you?

Oncology massage is a version of manual therapy that adapts traditional massage techniques to your specific case. Oncology massage factors in how the cancer is presenting, how it’s being treated, and MOST IMPORTANTLY how it is affecting you.

Cancer is a disease that impacts everyone differently. The only constant is the need for routine self-care. Cancer causes massive stress on the body and that’s even before treatment begins. Once you add in treatments like radiation and chemotherapy the need for “you” time is even more pronounced.

Stress is universal among cancer patients. There’s the obvious worrying about the outcome, but that is often compounded by suddenly having your normal life transformed into being all about the cancer.

massage can help with stress
Massage plays a pivotal role in stress reduction during cancer treatment.



Then there are the changes in your family and friends. Some may become hyper helpful, others may withdrawal because they don’t know what to say or do. Then you have the treatment side effects, which can vary from mild to pure hell. And finally, there are many changes that cannot be foreseen.

These unknown, unknowns, maybe the most stressful part of your whole ordeal!

You can see how quickly the stress can mount. Stress can turn to anxiety and anxiety can lead to depression. None of which puts your body in a place for fighting and recovery.

Breaking the Stress Cycle

At SCI Body Therapy, our oncology massage sessions aim to help stop that cycle both during your appointment and at home. We will help you build a toolbox that you can have available between sessions that will help navigate the complex changes that can get in the way of getting better.

Stress and anxiety directly interfere with the bodies ability to deal with physical stresses. Stress also undermines the bodies natural healing processes. This can increase recovery times from treatment which as you may know are already pretty rough.

Oncology massage can reduce the side effects of cancer treatments like radiation.
Massage may help with the side effects of Radiation Therapy.

Oncology massage also has documented benefits when it comes to pain relief and addressing many of the issues that can arise from the cancer or from the treatments. These include nausea, nerve damage (neuropathy), scarring, and/or swelling (lymphedema).

Many of our oncology clients use their sessions as rewards or goalposts for getting through each section of treatment. Massage feels good and it makes you feel good! That alone may be reason enough to come see us.

Massage Near Me

SCI Body Therapy is located inside FIT by Hyland Hills on the Northeast side of 120th and Federal. Our address is 2861 West 120th Avenue, Massage Suite, Westminster, CO 80234

We provide medical massage and bodywork for pain and injury rehabilitation. SCI Body Therapy is the only massage clinic in Westminster, CO and Broomfield, CO that specializes in the treatment of pain.

That means that if you live in north Denver that you have access to a team of massage therapists that use medical massage to help fix low back pain, rotator cuff issues, shoulder pain, disc herniation, runners knee, IT band issues and many other “chronic” conditions. For more information see our article on How massage can Help Pain.

“Massage near me” is subjective and only limited by how badly you want the problem fixed.

SCI Body Therapy
Massage in Westminster, CO SCI Body Therapy Map
Are you in Westminster, CO? Then we are definitely massage that’s near you!

SCI Body Therapy was purposely set up to provide medical massage for Thornton, Northglenn, Westminster, and Broomfield. However we have clients who come see us all the way from Fort Collins and Centennial.

Which, if you’ve driven I-25, you know what a compliment that is!

These clients make the drive because they cannot find this type of massage work close by. They tried the big box massage places and found them to be heavy on the fluff and light on the actual problem solving.

And those places are great if you want to relax, but we think massage should be more than a really expensive nap. If you have a specific problem or are dealing with an injury that hasn’t responded to other treatments it might be time to give medical massage a try.

“Massage near me” might mean something different to everyone and no matter where YOU are we hope you will give us a chance to get you back to doing what you love. We hope you are right down the street, but if you’re not we hope you will consider making the drive to us.

If you need more convincing you should check out our reviews on Google.

Ready to book a Massage?

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How to Pick a New Massage Studio

What is the most important consideration when picking a massage studio or spa. There are three main things you want to look for when selecting a new massage studio or massage spa.

1.) Location, Location, Location

Your new massage studio needs to be convenient. That comes in a few different forms. The studio should be close to either your home or your workplace, so it’s easy for you to access physically.

A massage studio that is close to you is a massage studio you will visit. It’s never out of the way. This translates to you sticking to a treatment plan or using massage for monthly maintenance. Read more about the importance of maintenance here.

SCI Body Therapy offers massage for pain relief and sports maintenance in Westminster and Broomfield. Our studio offers easy access for clients in both of these cities.

2.) Hassel-Free Scheduling

Scheduling your massage session should be EASY. We recommend finding a business that offers online booking. Calling to schedule is always an option, but online booking lets you quickly pick the time that works best for YOU.

The studio should send confirmation texts and reminders to ensure that you don’t miss your session (and end up paying for it anyway).

You can see an example SCI Body Therapy’s menu and booking options by clicking the button. Don’t worry you can come back to this page.

3.) The Right Therapist

This one is going to involve some trial and error, especially if you’ve never had a massage. Each massage therapist is going to have their own style and skill set. Personality will also play a part in your decision.

Generally speaking…

You want a licensed, insured, and well-educated massage therapist. Your therapist should listen to your needs and then make a plan to address them during EVERY session.

Say NO to cookie cutter massages.

Communication is a crucial element to look for in a good therapist. You should never feel like you cannot speak up. You should feel comfortable to tell your therapist if the music is too loud, if your cold, or if you have any concerns whatsoever. A therapist will check in several times during the session.

More if they are doing detailed work.

We love it when you tell us when we are doing something right OR when we are doing something wrong. We also want to know when something feels amazing or if something is painful.

“No pain, no gain is bullshit. Don’t work with a therapist that tells you this.”

We should always be working toward a goal. The goal may be relieving back pain, getting more mobility in your shoulder, or uninstalling stress after a crappy week. Your sessions should always be fresh, yet familiar!

At least that’s how a session works at SCI.

4.) Price

Some massage studios and spas aren’t upfront with their pricing. You’ll find this with self-employed therapists too. For some reason, no one ever wants to talk about money.

I don’t get it.

SCI Body Therapy currently Charges $79 for a one-hour session. We don’t take tips, and we don’t sell you a “wellness program.” We do offer $10 off if you rebbok at the end of a session.

Easy right?

Neither of us spontaneously combusted, 18and you know exactly what to expect when you come to see us.

So what can you expect from other places?

The average drop in rate for a massage at a chain is $99, plus a $20 tip.

That’s $119 total for a 50-minute session. Chains don’t offer full hours (seriously). They have to allow for intake and time to flip the room. That comes out of YOUR session time.

What about a CHEAP massage?

You can find it, but that the idea of it should make you cringe.

You are about to spend an hour with a stranger that is going to move and manipulate your muscles; you will likely be naked or only partially clothed and are probably looking to them to fix or help you maintain your body.

This is not the time to skimp. Spend the money to make sure you have an AMAZING experience. Cheap massage can open the door to injury, unprofessional behavior, and expose you to people who are working without a license (which likely means they have little to no training too).

5.) Perks

Basic Chain Amenities 

Infused Water or Tea on arrival.
Take Home Epsom Salt Soaks
A Little Treat waiting on the Table
Friendly Service
Some way to save on the high drop in prices.

The SCI Difference: What Do We Offer?

Flat Rate Pricing
No Memberships
All Inclusive Sessions
Advanced Training in Injury Rehabilitation
Personalized Session Plans
Full Session Times (an hour is an hour here)
No Tipping Weirdness
Free Childcare (yes, really)
Access to Dry Saunas Included
Access to the Steam Rooms Included
Separate Locker Rooms w/ Private Entrances to the Session Room
Take Home Epsom Salt Soaks
Herbal Oils and Pain Creams Included
Infrared Light Therapy Included
Heat and Ice Options Included
Unique Tools for Percussion and Vibration Therapy
Massage in Westminster, Broomfield, and Denver

Interested in a session with us?

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Massage for Pain – Can it Help You

A client’s first concern when they come in for a session is whether or not massage will help their pain. I want to jump up and down and scream, yes, yes, yes, but the answer is more nuanced than that.

Why isn’t the answer just a simple yes?

Unfortunately, pain is complicated. And that means that solutions are too. There are no magic bullets for pain. Opiates were the closest thing we had and they’ve been turned into super-villains. Whether or not that is fair or even accurate is up for debate. I’m not going to dive into the rabbit hole that is the opiate crisis, but it’s important to touch on it.

Opiates in a Nutshell

Opiates are awesome for acute pain.
But terrible for longterm issues.
They were being overprescribed for both.
Opiates only reduce pain by about 40%-50%
They have a huge list of side effects.
Opiate medications can induce hyperalgesia (make pain worse).
They can cause dependency and addiction.
Both of which can kill you via unintentional overdose.

When the front line treatment for pain is no longer the doll of the ball, what are we left with? There are options such as Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Injections, NSAIDS, and everyone’s favorite, surgery.

Then there is my old football coaches advice:

“Just walk it off, ya pussy.” – Coach Hardass

These options can help people. I’m particularly fond of GOOD physical therapy. However, if these pathways do not work that can leave people feeling hopeless.

Losing hope is terrible anytime, but it is devastating when you are in pain. This point is when people start to expand their options. They open their minds. Some get just desperate.

The Holistic Way(s)

If you just cringed a little, I understand. If you didn’t, I also understand.

If you don’t want to walk it off, and the more western approaches have left you wanting. Or made you feel like a drug addict. You are left with holistic, homeopathic, alternative, natural, Chinese, ancient, functional, and integrative medicine.

We already have a weird problem. This area has a major identity crisis going on. It’s also hard to tell legitimate treatments from bullshit.

“It’s hard to tell legitimate treatments from bullshit.”  – Me, just a minute ago

This field encompasses everything from massage and chiropractic to magic water and coffee colon washes. The list of practitioners is endless as well and some of them sound like they came out of a fantasy novel.

We have crystal healers, reflexologists, Reiki Masters, potion makers, herbalists, magnetic healers, Qi Manipulators, Fire Cuppers, psychic surgeons, neuro-acoustic wizards (seriously). And that’s not even close to a complete list.

These folks may or may not have any formal training, and it’s buyer beware!

Luckily massage falls into a group that walk between the two worlds. These professions include: Osteopaths, Naturopathic Doctors, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and LICENSED Massage Therapists. There are also many Physical Therapists and Medical Doctors that walk this edge too.

The Edge Walker Breakdown

Regulated in most places
Require secondary education of some degree (Months to Years)
Licensed and insured.
Usually, evidence-informed, may or may not be evidence-based.
Scope of Practice varies wildly from place to place
Often draw from both western and alternative practices.
Generally fall under the Integrative Medicine Category
Sadly, can still be littered with quacks and bullshit.

So Where Does Massage Fit?

As far as treatment of pain goes, I don’t think you will find much better than massage. Massage should be a first door treatment for nearly all muscoskeletal complaints. I’m going to be bold and say I would list massage above chiropractic and physical therapy for MANY issues.

The key is seeking to out a well-trained massage therapist. One that is educated, knows their limits, and meshes well with your goals. 

The goals part is pivotal. And you need someone who knows what the hell they’re doing. Remember there are plenty of shitty massage therapists out there. They come in many forms from know-it-alls to know-nothings.

If you are looking to manage stress, you need a therapist that specializes in massage for stress and anxiety. If you have migraines, you should be seeing an LMT who knows that condition inside and out. If you are looking to control pain or rehab an injury, then you need to see a therapist that focuses on that.

As I often say, any massage is better than no massage. However, if you don’t seek out a specialist, then you are cheating yourself, and your progress will be slow (or nonexistent).

Why though?

Don’t all massage therapist learn the same stuff? To some degree that is true, but since we all come from varying backgrounds, every therapist gravitates towards different types of work. And they bring different levels of education and experience with them.

Some therapists go to spas to rub rich people with oil; some want to help people manage stress, some want to work with veterans, some have a heart for hospice, cancer patients, or expectant mothers. 

“We want to help people in pain.” – Smart Therapists

And then there are therapists like me. We want to help people in pain. We are fixers, explorers, and experimenters. We have a love affair with anatomy, pain science, and how the body moves. We do not use any one modality and have huge box of tools to help you. We use treatment plans, measure outcomes, and work in ways that you may have never seen even if you have had massage before.

This type of massage therapist can certainly help with your pain. They may even be able to fix it. That’s a big statement, but it’s true for many clients. And if your massage therapist cannot fix the problem, they will be able to improve elements of it. You will also be given tools, tips, and other techniques that will between sessions.

One word of warning, you are not likely to find this type of massage therapist at a chain or a spa. More accurately, you won’t find them there for long. I worked at a chain for about a year before I knew that it was not the right place for me.

“You will not find a therapist like me in a spa or a chain, not for long anyway.” 

Corporate chains do not allow for proper intake, personal connection, therapy plans, doctor communication, or the tools needed to address most musculoskeletal issues.

If the chain experience appeals to you, then make sure you try out each therapist and find the kind that will work WITH you. Do not stay with a practitioner that work ON you. The process is a two-way street. And YOU should always be involved in your rehabilitation.

With a good therapist, your treatment will always be evolving, and you will be learning about your body every time you go in.

Interested in an appointment?

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SCI Body Therapy
2861 W. 120th Ave
Massage Suite
Westminster, CO 80234

Badass Massage for Runners

Right out of the gate let’s establish that ANY massage is better than no massage. And despite what you may think, you NEED to be getting bodywork. Places like Massage Envy and Elements are stop gaps. You’re rarely going to find therapists in these corporate chains that know to properly address a runner’s high octane body use.

Runners need specialized massage that focuses on key muscle groups and works with the athletes training, not against it.

Why do I need a specialized massage? Massage is simple; you rub the muscle that feels tight until it isn’t. Hell, I can do that with a foam roller.

Sure. You could do it that way.

“You could run in crocs too.”

You could run in crocs too. You don’t need special shoes (or several pairs of special shoes) for running. You certainly don’t need friction reducing clothes, fancy watches, tracker apps, or music. No skills training and no coaches either.

The foam roller of running shoes.

I’m only half joking. But you get my point.

If every thing else about your run is individualized why would it be different when it comes to massage? Cookie cutter spa massages are not going to cut it. Who wants to pay $100 to be put to sleep? Not me. And hopefully not you! 

For that, you need to find a therapist that specializes in treating runners. We are talking about someone who understands both the physical and mental side of your sport.

Bodywork should make your running better!

This person knows that you run because you love it. You chase headspace. And you don’t care that non-runners all think you’re crazy. You’re in a competition with yourself. Running is a competitive meditation.

Zen in motion.

A specialized therapist will have above average grasp of anatomy. I’m talking about stuff that goes WAY beyond working out your hamstrings and quads. They will know why your quadratus lumborum needs extra attention. They won’t grind your IT band into hamburger trying to get it to “release.” And they will know where the motor of the body is and how to give it a tune-up.

Massage should be about tuning things up, not tuning out.
Badass massage is about tune-ups not tuning out.

They will never give you bullshit advice like “stretch and ice.” because they know that both of those things put you at higher risk for injury. They will use finesse instead of brute force. They will know when to whisper to your nervous system and when to be a bit more assertive.

” appease the symphony of muscle “

A massage therapist that specializes in your sport will love the music of running and know how to appease the symphony of muscle that makes it possible!

Mic Drop.


SCI Body Therapy specializes in massage for runners (if you hadn’t caught that yet). We are based in Westminster, CO and have a low tolerance for crappy massage.

You don’t have to come see us, but make sure you are getting what you need from wherever you go. Speak up, speak frankly and speak often. It’s your session. Don’t let someone hurt you just because they still think pain means progress.

We are currently the only ones offering badass massage in the greater Denver area. So on second thought, you may want to come see us.

A Real Pain in the Butt

So we are talking about butts today. Yes, butts. We all have one and it’s not something to be ashamed of. I will guarantee that many of you have never had proper massage through the area.

Why are we diving into a subject that lends itself to soooo many buns…I mean puns?

We are taking a closer look at the butt because most of us do not appreciate all the work your posterior does for us. Aside from sitting on it, do you have any idea what those muscles do ifor you on a daily basis? Do you know about the havoc they cause when they are are being overworked and/or mistreated.

 

Yes, no, maybe? None of the above?

Your butt is composed of three muscles. In order from largest to smallest: Gluteus Maximus, gluteus medius , and gluteus minimus.

These muscles work in concert to extend your torso into an erect position. They extend your leg from a flexed position and hyperextend the leg behind you. The glutes also abduct your leg, rotate it medially and laterally, stabilize the pelvis, and via the iliotibial tract [maximus], stabilize and rotate the knee.

Hold it poindexter, whats with all the sciencey words? You are losing me.

Okay, the glutes are the motor of the body. And as muscles go they are pretty interesting in both form and function.If you are standing up, bending over, walking, running, jumping, or kicking someone in the shin, the glutes are working hard to make that possible.

Glute Max kind of steals the show. It’s the badass of the ass. It’s Mad Max if you will. This muscle is one of the biggest and strongest that you have. It can produce an incredible amount of force and readily adapts to many forms of training.

So with this muscle group it’s all fairy tales and awesomeness right? Powerful, keeps me standing up, makes you look appealing to the opposite sex, lets you kick people.

Unfortunately,  this muscle group has a dark side. Aside from being an endless source of insecurity or unwanted attention from other gym goers the glutes can also can also be the source of back pain.

Yes, back pain.

The back is a glorious piece of physiology, but it can be VERY finicky. For that reason we will all have bouts with back pain. You can tweak it while helping a friend move, twist the wrong way making dinner, subject yourself to yoga, do a bad squat, or  just sleep wrong.The resulting pain can be an inconvenience or it can be debilitating. The pain can start as one and transition to the other too. And back pain comes in a surprising number of flavors. It can be sharp, dull, achy, hot, persistence, intermittent, bright, or just annoying.

Most people come at muscoskeletal complaints with foam rollers, stretching, or some sort of over the counter pain reliever. Obviously, I’m partial to massage and bodywork.

You may have even tried massage. You feel pretty good while you’re on the table and perhaps for a short while after. However for an many unlucky folks the pain and stiffness returns. That’s because the underlying cause of the issue has not been touched on.

And I mean this both literally and figuratively. The therapist likely worked your back like a pro, but that is not where the issue is rooted. You may have noticed that a surprising number of massage therapist gloss over the glutes.

WHY?!?!?!?

Bodyworkers (a broader term for massage therapists) often have their own hangups about working on a clients butt or they believe their clients have hangups about having their butts touched.

The former is unprofessional while the latter can be legitimate concern. Let’s just clear this up real quick for all parties involved. Work through the glutes is amazing.

AND…

You do not have to expose your bare buns if you do not want to.  No therapist should mandate or expect that of you. Any therapist worth their salt, can work with the glute muscles while you are in clothes or alternately through the draping sheet.

Bare skin does offer some small benefits because it lets your therapist work the low back, hip, and glutes with long connected strokes and makes finding specific muscular locations easier.  Believe me it does not matter to me what your butt looks like (hairy, boney, plump, whatever). I’m there to work the muscle underneath all the superficial skin.

So how is it something in your glutes can have cause problems  that reach all the way up your back?

The simple answer is that the glutes are anatomically part of your back. By that I mean their fascia, the saran wrap that surrounds your muscle is fused directly in to the back extensors. The fascia of the glutes also connects to a GIANT tendinous aponeurosis that connects and transfers forces through the back and pelvis.

 

Forces are transferred via the fascia and the aponeurosis that connect the glutes to the low back

It’s easy to see why the low back and the butt form a “perfect storm”. Both regions are large powerful muscles that are bound together and in many cases pulling on one another or even use each other for leverage. This structural system is also shared by nerve pathways that allow pain and tightness to be referred to region far away from it’s origin.

So what should you do if you have back pain that does not seem to let up or is irritated by activities such as sitting, walking, squatting, or running? Well the first thing you can do is do a little home testing.

For this you’re going to need a friend that you are are good terms with OR a tennis ball that you know really well.

1.) Lay face down on the floor. If you have recruited a friend assure them that you will be in your clothes.

2.) Have this friend find your sacrum and the crest ridge of your hip (indicated in GREEN).

3.) Have your friend press gently into the soft tissue lateral to the sacrum and below the crest of your hip (your butt cheek) using a balled up fists.

4.) Have them move in slow arc like patterns (indicated in BLUE) that move out and down toward the top of your femur (the long bone of the leg). It’s like a game of muscular minesweeper!

5.) Please note the sciatic nerve (indicated in YELLOW). If you feel an electric sensation down your leg your friend is pressing on it. Tell them to stop doing that.

6.) You are looking for spots that illicit a sweet ache or feel meaningful ( learn more about trigger points here). If they find a spot that feels meaningful experiment with direct pressure, kneading, or pushing up toward your pelvis/sacrum while hooked into the tissue.

7.) Deeper is not always better! And if it hurts really bad your not doing it any good. In fact, you’ll likely make it worse. No pain, no gain is not how great massage works!

8.) Repeat on the other side. If they are a true friend have them work up the hip and into the low back itself.

9.) Experience sweet, sweet relief

NOTE: If you use a tennis ball (or other ball) the results may not be quite the same, but it will do for confirming the issue is in your glutes. You will be laying face up and placing the ball under your buttocks. You will be doing a similar sweeping pattern and watching out for the same things. DO NOT GET OVERLY AGGRESSIVE WITH THE PRESSURE. I promise, it can make it much, much worse.

See the instructions above for a game of muscular minesweeper.

That’s the end of the article.

Seriously.

The Skinny on Trigger Point Therapy

If you’re new to getting massage and certainly if your a veteran client, you have heard of term trigger point lobbed about. You may have been given some vague description of the phenomenon that included terms like: knots, toxins, adhesions, lactic acid, sticky muscle fibers, fascia and you probably came out of the conversation still wondering what the hell your therapist was talking about.

Trigger point is one those terms that is often used by therapists to give themselves the air of credibility. Sadly, most massage schools do not teach trigger point in a way that produces competent practitioners. And even continuing education on the topic can be pseudoscientific in nature.

What the heck is trigger point?

Trigger point therapy is a specific mode of muscular therapy that is NOT something I would recommend for your first visit, unless you have experience with this modality. At the very least, I would recommend reading this entire page.

This modality is one of the few that can be described as painful. However, I’d like to qualify, that in clinical massage there is such a thing as good pain. Many clients describe it “the sweet ache” and often enjoy the sensation.

I know, it sounds crazy, but I promise it’s not.

WARNING: SCIENCE AHEAD

Trigger point is based on the theory that muscle tissue at a cellular level can begin to malfunction. Muscles at a microscopic level are composed of molecular motors composed of proteins (actin and myosin). These protein motors use both chemical and electrical signal from your body to initiate and suspend muscle movement and as we age they can begin to malfunction.

When this happens a small “muscle knot” can develop. Muscle knots are better described as a microscopic cramp or a TRIGGER POINT; it is an area that for an unknown reason is now stuck in a contracted state. Nearly every adult has these, but not all trigger points cause pain or at least they don’t cause prominent pain. Others go on to become monsters. And I truly mean monsters.

As the small area of tissue continues to stay contracted it begins to produces normal, but harmful metabolites like pyruvate, lactic acid, and CO2 in addition the ion gradients of Calcium and Magnesium can be altered causing sustained muscle fiber contraction (this is also what happens in a full on muscle cramp).

These areas can often grow. As the metabolites build up they begin to effect the house next door and then pretty soon the whole block is bad, then the neighborhood, and eventually you get an area of muscle that looks like Detroit.

You’ll notice I don’t use the word “toxin” and honestly you should be afraid of any massage therapist who does. Toxin is a lazy term and has very little meaning in science. It also leads people to try bizarre things that in the end are just really expensive time wasters.

Treatment Method Detail:

In trigger point we are trying to interact directly with tissue that is exquisitely painful and we are going to do so with a great deal of dirc

If you have had trigger point done somewhere else you may also find my methods unique. In my experience, many therapists do not receive in-depth Trigger Point training and there anatomical knowledge may be lackluster as well. This set the stage for a session that feels more like a game of battleship than a targeted treatment.

When you come in for session:

1.) We will have a conversation about what is bothering you. I will ask questions like:

What does the pain feel like?
What makes the pain worse?
What makes it better?
I will do a hands on exam of the area.

2.) We will begin with a tissue warm up, which is part massage and part investigation. I will be asking lots of questions and asking for feedback.

Essentially we are making a map of Trigger Point pain referral zones

True trigger points should present with signs like:

♦  Muscle twitching
♦  Mimics and or intensifies the pain
♦  Causes spasms or cramping
♦  Intense “sweet ache” when pressure is applied

3.) Once we find a true trigger point I will use direct pressure to sink into it. During this process I will be asking about your pain level, referral patterns, etc.. We generally aim for a moderately high (7-8 out of 10) rating of discomfort. Once this is reached the pressure is held for 30 to 120 seconds.

If needed the process will be repeated either immediately or after a short break. Obviously, I will never go past your threshold. We do not push through pain because it is not necessary and it can make the problem worse!

In trigger point we are having a very direct conversation with your nervous system and we want to be direct, but there no need to yell.

4.) Once we have addressed a majority of the trouble spots the session ends with a round of massage that encourages blood flow and will promote localized inflammation. I know inflammation is a bad word these days, but it’s also a necessary and beneficial part of the healing process. 

5.) If I have done my job you will notice a difference as soon as you get off the table. In most cases full results will not be evident for a few hours. The next day you may have some residual pain where pressure was applied. In very rare cases you might see a small bruise, but I do everything I can to minimize this side effect.

For particularly bad trigger points (the monster ones) we may use a tactic known as spray and stretch. This is a local treatment that involves cryotherapy and very specific muscle mobilization.