Many people think that massage has to be deep, hard and painful to be effective. This is “no pain, no gain” approach is like treating your pain with a sledge hammer and can actually be harmful. If you are in pain, have had an injury or surgery, your body is already in a form of traumatic response. If you inflict more force and pain, the nervous system responds through the proprioceptors in the muscles by creating protective guarding spasm/tension in the muscles. This is the exact opposite of your desired effect. Additionally, the body sends more inflammation to the area in an effort to heal and protect the area from the “attack”. This is why people sometimes report feeling like they were “beaten up” or “hit by a Mack truck” after a particularly aggresive massage session.
At Light Hand, we always work with a light touch and a deep focus. This means that we begin treating any muscle tension or pain by first flushing out the inflammation with Swedish and Lymphatic massage. It immediately reduces pain and increases circulation of blood, oxygen and nutrients. This gives the muscle more of what it essentially needs to heal and function. Once the therapist feels the muscle is ready, she/he sinks in slowly to the deeper layers of the pain pattern, always “listening” with skilled, sensitive hands to the muscles response. When working deeply, but with patience and sensitivity, the therapist does not trigger a defensive reaction in the tissue. Instead, the muscles, in connection with the nervous system, utilize their own healing capabilities to relax and become more functional. As the pattern releases, the therapist is able to work diligently through deeper and deeper layers of the dysfunction. In this way, the client can experience real and lasting pain relief and whole body wellness.
he most widely known and commonly used type of massage is Swedish massage. Swedish massage techniques vary from light touch to vigorous kneading. Swedish massage uses five styles of strokes. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber or with the fibers) and vibration/shaking. Along with relaxation, the primary benefit of this type of massage is improvement to the circulation to the muscles. At Light Hand, we use this in combination with Lymphatic Drainage to flush our metabolic waste products and to increase blood, nutrients and oxygen to the tissues there by improving the health and healing capacity of the muscles and body in general.
Cranial sacral therapy is a gentle, noninvasive method of evaluating and enhancing the function of a physiological body structure called the cranial sacral system. Developed by John E. Upledger, DO, OMM, this manual therapy enhances the body’s natural healing processes and has proven effective in treating a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction. The roots of this therapy are in cranial osteopathy, developed by Dr. William G. Sutherland. The cranial sacral system consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the bones of the skull, face, and mouth--which make up the cranium--down to the sacrum or tailbone. Since this system influences the development and function of the brain and spinal cord, any imbalance or dysfunction in the cranial sacral system could cause sensory, motor, or neurological disabilities. These problems may include chronic pain or pain following injury to the head or spine, headaches or migraines, vertigo, eye difficulties, sinus problems, and other dysfunctions of the central nervous system. The cranial sacral therapy practitioner uses a light touch to assist the natural movement of fluid within the cranial sacral system and encourage balance between the bones. Therapists generally use only five grams of pressure, roughly the weight of a nickel, to test for restrictions and elicit a positive change in various parts of the cranial sacral system.
Manual lymph drainage massage (also called lymphatic drainage and lymph massage) is a form of very light massage that encourages lymph flow in the body. It is particularly good for detoxification, edema, neuropathy, sports injuries, pre- and post- surgery and pre and post-cancer treatment. It can also help with cellulite treatments and any type of inflammation in the muscles and organs like fibromyalgia. The lymph system is a slow-moving system of vessels and lymph nodes that is supplementary to the body's system of blood circulation. The lymph system both delivers nutrients to the cells and carries away excess water, cellular waste, bacteria, viruses and toxins. By stimulating the lymphatic system, the therapist helps drain puffy, swollen tissues, supports the body's immune system, helps the body heal from surgery and injury, and aids in the body's natural waste removal or detoxification. Lymph drainage massage was developed in the 1930s by Emil Vodder. He recognized that lymph can be held in the superficial tissues as well as deep in the organs and the underlying layers of muscle. Light Hand therapists use this knowledge to seek out and flush long held fluid congestion that can contribute to peripheral neuropathy, foot pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, restless legs and other chronic pain syndromes. When used in the abdominal area, deep lymphatic drainage can support healthy digestion, elimination and reproductive health. All the Light Hand therapists are trained in Lymphatic Drainage massage because we believe it to be incredibly effective in treating the inflammation and long standing fluid congestion associated with the chronic pain conditions we see every day in our practice.
We recently added these techniques to our treatment protocols because we found them extremely effective! These techniques are modern applications of ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practices. Gua Sha involves repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin with a smooth edged instrument. Skin is typically coated with massage oil and a gua sha tool, made traditionally of bones, water buffalo horn, jade or a newer plastic or metal, is rubbed across an area of muscle tension, inflammation or congestion. This action scrapes or "irons out" the affected muscle and fascia while flushing out stuck inflammation. While Gua Sha uses pressure, cupping is an ancient form of therapy in which uses suction to lift the tissues and draw fluids to the surface. It is understood that this mobilizes blood and lymph flow in order to promote healing. Some therapists use heat or mechanical devices to create suction. At Light Hand, we use simple hand pump cups to gently draw the tissue upwards by creating a vacuum in a cup over the target area of the skin and muscle. We generally move the cup in a fluid motion over the muscles. But, we may also "park" the cup on a particularly tight or inflamed muscle for the greatest effect. We have found this to help treat pain, deep scar tissues in the muscles, adhesions in the connective tissue, trigger points, and deep congestion.
We recommend this treatment for our clients with lymph congestion, inflammation, muscle and joint pain, and anyone doing a detox or weight loss diet. Also, it supports those who are quitting smoking! An outstanding treatment for relieving lymph congestion and all of its side effects. The lymph system cleanses toxins, waste products and excess fluids from our bodies. When it becomes stagnant, our health is adversely affected in the form of reduced immune function, increased inflammation, lack of vitality and water retention. This powerful treatment utilizes lymph massage, essential oils and heat to break up lymphatic congestion and return the system to healthy flow. In accomplishing this, this treatment also helps weight reduction and smoking sensation by cleaning out the areas of stagnation in the body where toxins can build up and keep you in the cycle of craving. All this occurs while leaving you completely relaxed and feeling nurtured. Ah-mazing! To create the healing and soothing cocoon, your therapist will place you on a heated table and cover you with warm blankets. She will perform a lymphatic massage using cupping techniques and warm oil mixed with a blend of essential oils chosen for their healing properties. Once each area has been massaged, you are wrapped in the blankets ending up completely cocooned and relaxed. While you luxuriate in the warmth, the therapist gives the session its final touch with a soothing scalp and facial massage.
MET is a direct and active technique which engages a restrictive barrier and requires the patient's participation for greatest effect. A clear understanding of the physiological workings of the muscles is necessary to perform the techniques skillfully. But, generally clients may know the technique as Contract – Resist – Relax. It focuses on the function of proprioceptors in specific agonist muscles as a means to releasing tension and spasm in corresponding antagonist muscles. When the therapist identifies a barrier in the client’s range of motion, the client is instructed to perform an isometric contraction as the therapist creates a strong resistance to the movement for 5-10 seconds. Then, the therapist moves the muscle/joint or limb to the next barrier and repeats the technique 3-5 times. Considered to be “bodywork” instead of massage, this is another example of utilizing physiologic knowledge and advanced therapeutic techniques to engage the body’s own healing mechanisms for pain relief and increased function.
Neuromuscular Therapy is a very specialized form of massage therapy often referred to as Trigger Point Therapy. NMT is the utilization of static pressure on specific myofascial or trigger points to relieve pain. Trigger points are concentrated areas of dysfunction in the tissue that refer or “trigger” pain in other areas. Therefore, this work is vitally important to understanding and treating long standing pain syndromes. Neuromuscular therapy is highly beneficial in re-stabilizing the neurological activity between the muscular and nervous system, which is necessary to maintain normal function and overall health of our body. At Light Hand, our therapists practice NMT in conjunction with lymphatic drainage methods to ensure that the metabolic wastes formerly held in the trigger points are flushed from the tissues to prevent re-occurrence and avoid pain after a treatment.
Scar tissue and adhesions are the result of our body's natural healing process and it occurs both internally and externally. Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that have replaced normal skin, or other tissue, after injury or surgery. A scar results from the biologic process of wound repair (protective, useful barrier), but scar tissue is never as functional as the original tissue it has replaced. With the exception of very minor lesions, every wound (both internal and external) results in some degree of scarring. Adhesions are bands of scar tissue that anchor and support the wound. It binds together all tissue it comes into contact with. Adhesions may be thought of as internal scar tissue. The adhered tissue continues to spread which can trigger a cascading effect of compensations throughout the body. Scars and adhesions often contribute to chronic pain patterns by creating sympathetic muscle tension and obstructing blood and lymphatic circulation. Friction massage and Gua Sha and Cupping techniques can be very useful in softening scar tissue and reducing adhesions. Once this is done, muscles can be brought into balance and function can be re-established. This is particularly important work for surgeries like hip replacement, rotator cuff repair, C section and mastectomy, even years after the scar has been in place.
A sports massage is a type of therapy geared toward athletes and the particular stresses they place on their bodies. What professional athletes know is that sports massage is able to relieve muscle pain, increase flexibility, speed injury recovery and improve sports performance. The detailed deep tissue technique brings balance to the muscles, flushes out lactic acid and prevents future injuries. Light Hand therapists also have extensive experience in healing sports injuries such as rotator cuff strains, tennis/golf elbow, knee/hip injuries and plantarfaciitis
Flexibility is an essential component to the health of the muscle, the joints and the body as a whole. As we get older, we usually lose range of motion in large movements (touching our toes) as well as in the smaller joints (walking down stairs). This definitely has the potential to affect our quality of life. Light Hand therapists will pay close attention to the mobility of all the joints during clinical massage treatment. We work all of the muscles associated with hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, necks etc. It is quite common that the therapist will include range of motion techniques and stretches on the table during a session. Additionally, the therapist will frequently demonstrate and guide the client in stretches that he/she can practice between appointments. Self-care like this is a very important part of our mission to empower the client to achieve pain relief and wellness long after treatment is needed.
Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. At Light Hand, we use a pregnancy body cushion on the table so the client can lay in the prone (face down) position. Many women are delighted to be able to let the abdomen gently hang down, relieving the constant pull on the low back. As with all of our massage, the therapist will use a Light Touch and Deep Focus while observing the special needs and contraindications of pre and post natal treatment. Swedish and Profound Circulatory Massage relax muscle tension/pain while gently improving lymphatic and blood circulation. This addresses many physical issues commonly experienced by pregnant women associated with skeletal and circulatory changes due to hormonal shifts. Many pregnant women suffer from edema (swelling in the joints and often the legs) caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the growing uterus. Swedish and Lymphatic massage effectively flush the excess fluid and waste products out of the tissues and increase healthy circulation. Sciatica and low back pain are often experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus presses on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The growth of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by flushing out the inflammatory fluid and releasing the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have found a significant reduction in sciatic nerve and low back muscular pain during pregnancy through massage. Studies show women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression). Further research suggests these improvements in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight.
Women who have recently experienced bleeding, pre-term contractions, or have any of the following conditions should speak with a health care provider prior to receiving a massage:
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