Lymphatic drainage massage is a specialized form of massage that is used to promote the proper functioning of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels, nodes, and organs that are responsible for removing waste products and excess fluid from the body. The lymphatic system is also an important part of the immune system, as it helps to filter out harmful substances and protect the body from infection.
The massage is typically performed with light, gentle strokes, and is designed to encourage the flow of lymph fluid through the lymph vessels. The therapist will typically use long, flowing strokes to move the lymph fluid in the direction of the lymph nodes. The massage may also include gentle stretching and compression to help stimulate the lymph vessels and nodes.
In addition to massage, compression and wraps are also commonly used as part of a treatment plan for conditions such as lymphedema. Compression garments, such as compression stockings or sleeves, are worn to provide gentle pressure on the affected limb. This pressure helps to move the lymph fluid out of the limb and reduce the swelling. Compression garments are typically worn during the day, and should be removed at night to allow the limb to rest.
Wraps are another form of compression therapy that can be used to help reduce swelling and improve lymphatic flow. Wraps are typically made of a stretchy material, such as elastic, and are wrapped around the affected limb. The wraps are then adjusted to provide the appropriate amount of compression. Wraps can be used in combination with compression garments or as an alternative to them.
The use of compression garments or wraps requires proper fitting. It’s also important to wear them consistently and as directed by your therapist or doctor.
Both compression garments and wraps can help to reduce swelling and improve lymphatic flow, but it’s important to note that they should be used under the guidance of a trained therapist. The therapist will be able to determine the appropriate type and level of compression that is needed for each individual patient, and will also be able to monitor the patient’s progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
Lymphatic drainage massage is beneficial for patients who are recovering from surgery or injury. The massage can help to reduce pain and inflammation and improve range of motion, which can help patients to regain their strength and mobility more quickly.
It is important to note that lymphatic drainage massage should only be performed by trained and licensed therapists. The massage should also be tailored to the individual patient’s needs, as certain medical conditions or medications may contraindicate the use of lymphatic drainage massage.
We are going to start a little backward here. We are going to talk about what fascia is NOT. And going please know there is A LOT of confusion out there about this bit of anatomy.
The role of fascia is STRUCTURAL. By definition, it is not alive. I want to get that out of the way right at the top.
That fact may come as a shock to many of you, but please keep reading.
Fascia has also been called a sensory organ, but again if we look at the definition of an organ, it doesn’t fit. Many of the articles on the internet use the “organ” designation for the WOW factor and then go on to explain deeper in the text how it isn’t one.
As for the sensory part…that’s all nerves.
It’s frustrating and it’s weird. Especially, when you are a therapist trying to get a straight answer.
For reference, it is a bit like calling your bones and organ. They’re both connective tissue.
So is blood.
I don’t think we would call blood an organ, so I’m not sure why fascia needs that label either.
So what is so important about fascia and how do we apply it to massage and other manual therapies?
Fascia is a winding structure that is embedded with several types of “message generators” that flow and burrow through its layers and transitions.
There are stretch receptors (muscle spindles), pressure sensing corpuscles (Ruffini and Pacini), tension sensors (Golgi tendon organ endings) and free nerve endings running throughout the fascia.
The magic of fascia is found in the nerves that burrow through it.
Sadly, many clinicians (and clients) get caught up with trying to “fix” it.
1.) Therapists want to stretch it (which you can’t).
2.) Therapists want to melt it (insert eye roll).
3.) Worst of all therapists want to break it down (not gonna happen).
Let’s pause for a moment and think about why you would ever want to melt or breakdown a highly innervated tissue? What possible benefit could that serve?
The answer is none. It serves no benefit.
Some therapists justify crazy treatments based on the beliefs mentioned above. Gua-sha (scraping), “way too deep” tissue, old versions of rolfing, and structural integration.
I SEE TREES, BUT NOT THE FOREST
I am an anatomy nerd, so I get hung up on the parts and pieces just like you probably do. I was this way with psoas for far too long (and then it was the paraspinal muscles).
If I just press here, I can stop that back pain.
If I find that one trigger point, I can stop this headache.
I played bodies like some weird version of anatomical battleship.
We do not interact with one muscle. One tendon. Or one nerve. Nothing exists in isolation in the body. Don’t forget that we are working WITH a person. And that person, at a fundamental level, is made out of neurons.
DON’T BLAME A STRUCTURE
Many clinicians want to BLAME fascia for causing pain and dysfunction. They will explain that overuse, underuse, bad posture, weird posture, dehydration, etc has led to fascial dysfunctions.
All of that is misguided and puts the individual at odds with their own body. This is the same with trigger points and muscle tightness. Your body is not out to get you, even though it can feel that way.
Fascia is not a villain.
Through the nerves found in the fascia, we can send messages of safety, support, modulation, and pleasure. It can help us better interact with the MIND and the BODY of the person in front of us.
In massage, physical therapy, and other hands-on modalities we often get hung up on the bricks and mortar of the building. When we should be focusing on the switches and wiring.
THE BODY SENSE
The receptors in our fascia play an integral role in proprioception. This is the “sixth sense” you may have never learned about. Proprioception allows us to know where our bodies and limbs are in physical space.
These receptors also exist in muscles and other tissues. So proprioception is a shared responsibility across more than one piece of anatomy.
Whenever we move our bodies, mechanoreceptors deform and activate, sending afferent information to the spinal cord and brain. These messages are sent to our central nervous system, where they are translated, interpreted, layered with emotions, and finally perceived.
Efferent signals are then sent to our muscles (and other organs) and generally move us toward or away from a stimulus (this is a very basic breakdown).
This conversation happens quickly and constantly. It makes things like walking, running, and dancing possible. It also plays a part in fine motor operations like handwriting.
Interestingly, proprioception (also pain, and muscle tightness) can be inhibited by something as simple as a glass of wine. Proprioception can also be destroyed entirely by disease processes that damage the peripheral nervous system.
This makes it so that a person cannot move unless they can physically see the body part they want to move. If their eyes are closed, they completely lose track of where their limbs are. It is a fascinating and horrifying condition.
The nerves in superficial fascia may be the perfect pathway to help us modulate muscle tightness, interferes with pain, and disrupt other “messages” coming from noisy tissue.
Remember that pain and tightness are not physical things. They are perceptions generated by the brain when it is fed signals from the peripheral nervous system. This does not mean those sensations aren’t real, it simply means you have more control over them than you have been led to believe.
If you take nothing else away from this deep dive, let it be that last sentence.
NUTS AND BOLTS
Structurally fascia is an everywhere tissue. It loops and flows like a Mobius strip from superficial to deep to visceral layers. It attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and internal organs from one another.
A simple analogy is to think of it as a plastic wrap (with the elasticity but without the plastic deformation).
Fascia is made up of fibrous connective tissue containing closely packed bundles of collagen fibers oriented in a wavy pattern that usually runs parallel to the direction of pull.
The material of fascia itself is exuded by fibroblasts. And in case you don’t know a fibroblast is a cell that synthesizes the extracellular matrix and collagen. It’s a goo making machine!
Fascia is has a natural level of flexibility and give, but it is not to the degree that you may have been taught. Fascia is less like a bungee cord and more like the rubber of a car tire.
Fascia is INCREDIBLY STRONG. And because it is a support structure it is also highly resistant to change.
Despite common myths and misconceptions, it does not stretch. It does not melt. And it cannot be broken down or reorganized by hand (or with tools).
I know many of you are cringing right now. You were taught that fascia melts, deforms, and can be broken-down/reorganized. It can get bound up, cause adhesions, be glued together by spontaneous forming scar tissue.
This simply isn’t true.
I’m going to implore you to use critical thinking here and be skeptical with me for a few minutes. If fascia could be melted by hand, what would happen to you when you took a hot bath or sat in a sauna? What about a hot summer day?
What if it could be broken down by brute force? What would happen when a powerlifter picked up 600 pounds. Think of all the force and tension on their skin, hands, and joints (all with fascia flowing through and around them).
Can any therapist generate 600 pounds of force with their hands? And if the underlying tissue is changing wouldn’t the skin also be permanently changed too.
What would you say if I told you that fascial layers are nearly is frictionless? Because they are. One layer slides easily over the other. This frictionless surface makes it so muscles can slide over each other easily even though they simultaneously bound tightly together in groups.
Now imagine trying to change the structure of a car tire with vaseline on your hands. That’s the barrier some therapists say they can overcome with their bare hands.
If you need a clinically relevant example of fascia not changing have a look at compartment syndrome. Fascia won’t even fail when it would benefit you. It has to be cut apart.
And now for my personal favorite, scar tissue. Yes, it’s a real thing. But why in the world would you think you could break it down? I’m going to give you hulk-like strength and unleash you on a hapless client.
Your muscles bulge and the collagen fibers begin to sheer apart. The nerves at the border of the scar tissue begin to stretch and this causes them to fire. Eventually, the nerves fail and tear, but not before they send plenty of feedback to the brain.
Blood vessels rupture and cells burst open as you break down the scar tissue. This cellular spillage releases cytokines and the inflammation process begins to kick in. White blood cells show roll in and begin the cleanup process. Then fibroblasts return and repair the area with a lattice collagen fibers.
Also, known as scar tissue.
This phenomenon is an issue even in SURGICAL revisions that are designed to de-scar an area. They go in and perform a literal surgical strike on the bound up layers. The joint is moving freely, healing is initiated, and low and behold, the body rebuilds the area with scar tissue.
This is an important area where we need to know our limitations and be part of the reeducation of the clients we encounter.
I’m hopeful that you will dig into this topic for yourself, but please be wary of things that sound too good to be true or don’t jive with current anatomical knowledge.
I can comfortably say that if your reading doesn’t stress the importance of the nervous system it is likely out of date. If you are finding information that is less focused on “issues in tissues” and more focused on the whole person, you are on the right track. If there is mention of the biopsychosocial (BPS) framework…it might be pure gold.
Further Reading and References:
Selley’s Anatomy and Physiology, 3D4 Medical Complete Anatomy, Dermoneuro Modulation by Diana Jacobs
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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).
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.
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.
Why do you 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.
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. Massage for runners is different, dare I say better than just some fluff and buff stuff from Massage Envy.
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.
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.
” Massage will 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.