Massage can help arthritis pain!

Arthritis is a PAIN! Massage can help to manage the pain!

Research supports the idea that regular massage helps manage arthritis pain and stiffness, and helps to improve functioning of the joints. If you are interested in reading about some of the research in this area just head on over to the website for the Touch Research Institute.

I think the most interesting aspect of this idea is that massage can help to break the pain cycle. Pain makes it harder to sleep and harder to move. When you don’t get enough good sleep and/or you don’t move enough, that leads to more pain. Pain makes it harder to sleep and harder to move. And on and on and on and on! If you live with pain, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about! 

You’ve probably heard of the “fight or flight” response. That is the sympathetic nervous system kicking in. BUT, there is also the parasympathetic nervous system which is otherwise known as the “rest and digest” system. When you get a massage, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks into gear.

Increased parasympathetic nervous system activity=Your body relaxes

Your body relaxes=Better sleep and Easier movement

Better sleep and Easier movement=Less pain

Less pain=Your body relaxes

Your body relaxes=Better sleep and Easier movement

Better sleep and Easier movement=Less pain

Less pain!

Also, when you get a massage your body produces more of a hormone called Oxytocin, that makes you feel good. (Massage also decreases certain stress hormones).

Increase of good hormones=Your body relaxes

Your body relaxes=Better sleep and Easier movement

Better sleep and Easier movement=Less pain

Less pain=Your body relaxes

Your body relaxes=Better sleep and Easier movement

Better sleep and Easier movement=Less pain

Less pain!

 

 

So, the only thing left to say is:

Give massage a try!

 

 

Pain and Movement

Fascia. It seems to be a pretty hot topic lately. Books, articles and papers abound on the topic. I’m not here to give you all of the expert nitty gritty on the subject, but I would like to tell you why I think it is important to you.

What is fascia? Simply put, fascia is a thin layer of tissue that covers and connects absolutely EVERYTHING inside of your body.

Why is fascia important to you? Because healthy fascia greatly helps with the management of pain.  

Movement contributes to healthy fascia. From my perspective, since one of the main functions of muscles is heat production, when you move your muscles, you are heating up the fascia. When fascia is heated up it turns into a gel-like state that makes it much easier to move. (That’s called “Thixotropy” for all you word nerds out there).

When your body does not move enough, the fascia thickens and becomes more restrictive. Have you ever worn an item of clothing that is too restrictive? At first, it may be just a little bit uncomfortable, but eventually it actually starts to hurt, right? That’s the way with unhealthy fascia. It can lead to pain in much the same way. Imagine tight fascia squeeeeeezing all your muscles, bones, organs, nerves, etc., etc.

Fascia is like a web that connects everything throughout your entire body.  So, if fascia is a little tight in one area of the body, it will be pulling on fascia in other parts of the body, causing increasingly more pain.

So, what’s the main point here? You guessed it! Keep moving everyone!

 

Another almost shameless plug for massage:

Massage can also help to heat up and stretch the fascia.  So get massage frequently and move daily!  (Just be sure there is a variety of movement, because repetitive movement can also do damage).

Of course, movement and massage are not the only factors in maintaining healthy fascia, but that is a topic for another day.

Receiving a massage? How to make it even better!

You can make your massage better! Yes, you can! I know some of you have fabulous massage therapists and wouldn’t believe that your massage could possibly BE any better, but I’m here to let you know about some simple things that could improve your massage.

1.   Plan to arrive a few minutes early, particularly if it is your first appointment and paperwork needs to be filled out.

2.   Call if you are going to be late, and understand that the therapist may not be able to give you a full session.

3.   Silence your phone. While it may not bother your therapist if the phone rings during your massage, it WILL take away from your ability to relax. If you feel anxious about silencing your phone, please keep it near you (perhaps on the table), so that the distraction is minimal.

4.   Put the electronic gadgets away. Remember, this is YOUR time to relax. Your massage will be better if you can disengage from gadgets that don’t let your mind rest.

5.   Avoid awkward situations. Whatever items of clothing that you choose to leave on, please be sure that they don’t interfere with access to the muscles that will be getting massaged. If you wear boxer shorts, please roll the legs up enough so that the thigh muscles can be accessed. If you leave your bra on, please unhook it, or be prepared that the quality of the back massage will suffer. If you want to leave your socks on, please discuss with your therapist if you still want foot massage.

6.   Stay hydrated. Your muscles will be much more receptive to the benefits of massage if they are not dehydrated.

7.   Breathe! It helps you to relax!

8.   Perhaps, above all these other suggestions, the most beneficial thing you can do to make your massage the best it can be, is to communicate your preferences with the therapist. Don’t worry that you will be insulting the therapist. As long as you remain matter-of-fact with your words, no reasonable therapist is going to become upset with you. A good therapist will use your constructive feedback to improve the work that they do.