How Do You Roll?

By Jorg Patzer
These days, foam rollers are everywhere — the gym, your RMT, Physiotherapist, your living room and even your suitcase. Essentially, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, or self-massage, that gets rid of adhesions in your muscles and connective tissue
Here’s a breakdown of three ways to improve the use of a foam roller:
#1: Don’t roll directly where you feel pain. 
When we feel pain, our first inclination is to massage that spot directly. However, this might be a mistake. Areas of pain could be the victim that result from tension/ imbalances in other areas of the body.
Let’s take the IT band, for example. While religiously rolling out your IT band might feel good but the idea that you are going to relax or release the IT band is a misconception. The phrase roll out your IT band itself makes it sound like you are rolling out a piece of dough, but your IT band is anything but pliable. It’s a remarkably strong piece of connective tissue and can not be “rolled out”. To have an impact on the IT band you would have to look into the muscles who attach to it.If you iron out areas of inflammation, you can increase inflammation. And if you are in pain, your body will be too stressed to repair itself, or is guarding the area which does not decrees the muscle tone.  
To improve: Go indirect before direct. If you find a spot that’s sensitive, it’s a cue to ease away from that area by a few inches or take off the pressure. Take time and work a more localized region around areas that feel sore before using larger, sweeping motions. For the IT band, work on the primary muscles that attach to the IT band first — specifically the gluteus maximus and the tensor fasciae latae (hip flexor).
#2: Don’t roll too fast. 
While it might feel great to roll back and forth on a foam roller quickly, you’re not actually eliminating any adhesions that way. “You need to give your brain enough time to tell your muscles to relax.
To improve: Go slower so that the superficial layers and muscles have time to adapt and manage the compression. Feel where the tender spots are with the roller, and use short, slow rolls or stop and let it “melt”. “There’s no reason to beat up the whole muscle if there are only a few sensitive areas. Less is more in my opinion. 
#3: Don’t spend too much time on those knots. 
We’re often told that if you feel a knot, spend time working that spot with the foam roller. However, some people will spend too much time at the same area and attempt to place their entire body weight onto the foam roller. If you place sustained pressure on one body part, your body start protecting and keeps the tension on that muscle to decrees further damage. 
To improve: Spend about 20 seconds on each tender spot then move on. You can also manage how much body weight you use. For example, when working your Quad muscle, plant the foot of your leg on the floor to take some of the weight off the roller or lean against a wall. 
 
Happy Foam rolling!

Massage Therapy Vancouver

Regulated and Licensed: Your Registered Massage Therapist
– By Colleen Bruce, RMT

RMTBC logo

Registered Massage Therapy is a widely recognized and professionally governed health care practice. A Registered Massage Therapist’s education involves thorough knowledge of the anatomy of muscoskeletal, nervous and orthopedic systems and kinesiology.

RMT’s are trained in manual skills and clinical assessment which throughout the course of their education is practically applied within the educational institutions in- house clinic, community in-reach and outreach programs. They are trained in Joint Mobilization, Manual Lymph Drainage, Cranial Sacral, Therapeutic Exercise and Hydrotherapy. To acquire a license to practice as an RMT in British Columbia, after graduating from an accredited college one must successfully pass written and oral board exams. As a healthcare professional in order to maintain our licensing, we are required to fulfill a defined amount of continuing education courses set by the College of Massage Therapists of BC.

A massage therapist will apply their knowledge to an individuals needs to provide pain relief, assist in a patient’s recovery from a trauma or postural correction. Stretching, strengthening and hydrotherapy exercises are provided by RMT’s to support patients on the road back to functioning in their activities of daily living.

Myofascial Release Vancouver

FASCIA: The Connective Tissue
By: Sean Lymworth, RMT

Fascia holds your body together and gives it strength. Your tendons, scar tissue, and ligaments are fascia. Fascia envelopes your muscles and organs. Almost every part of your body has fascia weaving through it. Muscles initiate movement marvelously but the tensile strength of fascia is the key to your true power. Tension is essential to your body’s strength — the key is balance.

When our bodies are out of balance our fascia adapts and compensates. If not addressed, these compensations become problematic in time. Fascia’s fluid nature reflects the incredible adaptive power of our bodies. Rich in nerve endings, your fascia communicates profusely with your nervous system.

Fascia

When your nervous system is calm and feels safe, manual fascial therapy can encourage the release of dysfunctional patterns in your body. This is why communication with your massage therapist is so important — if you’re in pain, tensing up, guarding, or not breathing easily… chances are your nervous system is not happy nor calm enough to allow deep transformation.

Fascia responds beautifully to mindful breath and visualization because they both access your nervous system directly.

Try this next time you’re stretching or getting a massage:
1 – Close your eyes
2 – Breathe deeply
3 – Allow each breath to focus your consciousness into areas of your body that feel tense
4 – With each exhale, visualize those areas melting and unwinding

Relaxation vs. Deep Tissue Massage: What’s the Difference?

by Grace Wu, RMT

Many clients have asked me what the difference is between a Relaxation and Deep Tissue Massage, and which one they need. There are also many clients who come into the treatment room requesting one or the other, regardless of their condition. In my opinion, both are just different aspects of a therapeutic treatment, and each individual treatment can incorporate both if necessary.

Massage Image

It is important to keep in mind that pressure should never equal pain, and that everyone’s perception of pressure is different and can fluctuate each day. For some people, deeper pressure is actually relaxing for them; for others, light pressure can be more than they can take. The same clients can come in for their next treatment and experience something entirely different, based on what their body is going through. What is of utmost importance is clear communication with your therapist: what physical symptoms you are experiencing that cause you pain or discomfort, what makes you feel better or worse, how much pressure the therapist is using during the treatment and if it is what you are comfortable with, etc. An open dialogue with your therapist will hopefully give you both the best treatment you want, and one that your body needs.

Healing Injuries with Adhesion Breakers

Adhesion BreakersI am introducing Adhesion Breakers to my practice this week. Adhesion breakers are stainless steel tools used for Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (You may have heard of similar tools, such as Graston Technique, gua sha and FAKTR tools). This system of healing has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to reduce pain, remove scar tissue and improve healing in muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia. The practitioner uses Adhesion Breakers to create localized pressure and friction where adhesions and scar tissue have formed. This is one of many myofascial release techniques that guides the inflammatory process of healing so that damaged tissue can be replaced with organized healthy tissue.

Tissue scarring occurs for many reasons. A single traumatic event such as a whiplash injury or sports injury creates tissue tearing and subsequent scar tissue formation during recovery. A repetitive stress injury results in scar tissue caused by improper tissue tension over many repetitions, for example running, typing or golf. Desk workers often experience chronic tension injuries and scar tissue formation in the back and neck, which occur when tissues are put under long-term low-grade stress. Regardless of how scar tissue is formed, it cannot be resorbed by the body without treatment. Scar tissue results in diminished blood flow, stress and pain within the tissue.

If you have any nagging aches and pains, Adhesion Breakers may be helpful to allow your body to break down scar tissue, restart the healing process, and redirect your tissues to form in proper alignment. All soft tissues have the ability regain their full elasticity, strength and endurance, which means you can get back to feeling your best. Book an appointment today and see what Adhesion Breakers can do for you.

Common conditions successfully treated with adhesion breakers include: ankle sprains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, IT band syndrome, tendonitis, medial/lateral epicondylitis (tennis/golfer’s elbow), carpal tunnel syndrome, and back and neck pain.

Article prepared by Dr. Nina Foot, BSc, DC

Vancouver Wants to Know, What is Osteopathy?

One of the questions I get asked most is: Cody Cummings, what is Osteopathy?

…this is not an easy question to answer. The most recent explanation I like to use is- Osteopathy is the study of the interrelation between structures and functions in the body. We manipulate or mobilize structures to effect function. We also listen to our patients history and reports of how systems are functioning to help determine what structures need normalizing. 

I love that osteopathy really looks at the entire person, every treatment takes into account the entire body, not just the small region causing grief. I personally have never experienced another therapy that is so all encompassing and dynamic. If it’s out there, I haven’t found it yet!

Having recently completed the educational components for the osteopathic program here in Vancouver (offered through the CEO Quebec), this training has left me feeling very passionate about the effectiveness and benefits available through osteopathic care. The only step remaining for me to obtain designation as a DO(MP), Diploma of Osteopathic Manual Practice, is to complete my thesis. I’m now able to offer an osteopathic approach under the scope of practice of a BC Registered Massage Therapist.

The CEO curriculum provides a solid foundation of osteopathic manual therapy techniques and theory. The CEO is unique within osteopathic schools because of the methodology created by the colleges founder Philippe Druelle DO. This methodology is a way of evaluating the entire person, in an attempt to find the root causes of symptoms and how symptoms are related to other disharmony in the body. The CEO methodology is a very scientific approach strongly rooted in anatomy and physiology, respecting all the rules of science and physics, yet still honouring nature. Osteopathic Manual Therapy is a form of communication with the entire individual, a never ending dialogue of testing, treating, then retesting to determine the effects of treatment and direction of the treatment plan.

If your really curious about osteopathy, the best way to know is to try. I encourage everyone of any age to seek osteopathic care, even those in good health. If your not around Vancouver, seek out an osteopath near you. If your able to be in Kitsilano, I’m here at Qi Integrated Health every Tuesday and Saturday, and would be honored to share osteopathy with you.

Cody Cummings RMT

 

 

6 Ways to Self Massage at Home!

We all know that therapies such as Massage, Acupuncture and Chiropractic can help us recover from injury, decrease stress, improve range of motion and deal with everyday aches and pains. Unfortunately, we cannot always make room in our schedules or wallets to visit our therapists as frequently as we would otherwise prefer.

Supplementing a regular (weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) treatment plan with self homecare is an inexpensive and highly effective way of maintaining the gains achieved in treatment. Our portable Qi Lacrosse Balls and Travel Roller are two very easy tools to add into your daily maintenance regimen. The Travel Roller to tackle adhesion in the bigger muscle groups and the Qi Lacrosse Balls to be used in smaller, more specific areas.

Here are some examples of areas on the body that the Qi Lacrosse Balls and Travel Roller can access to immediately improve comfort and function for everyone.

Qi Lacrosse Ball – $10

1. Forearms – All computer workers listen up! The Qi Lacrosse Balls are invaluable for decreasing tension in the flexors and extensors in the forearms. It can help alleviate tennis/golfer’s elbow and carpal tunnel symptoms. Pop it in your purse or backpack and bring the ball to work. Slap it on your desk and roll out your forearms while on the phone or any time you’re feeling stiff!

2. Upper Shoulder Blades – You know that spot where we all get tension at the top inside corner of the shoulder blade? The one where it feels so good to have squeezed? This is the spot you will be going after. Again, very well suited for any office worker and anyone experiencing head-forward posture. Just pin the ball between that spot and the wall, move your shoulder around to get the pressure just right.

3. Arch of the Foot – This is great for women that wear high heels and for runners; as well as sufferers of plantar fasciitis, fallen arches, and tight calves! One of the most simple and most effective techniques with the Qi Lacrosse Ball is to simply put it on the floor, put your foot on the ball and roll from the heel to the ball of the foot and back to loosen up the tissue under the arch.

 

Travel Roller: $45

1. Upper Back – Relieve tension between your shoulder blades, clean up thoracic rotation and improve the quality of deep breaths. Lay back on the Travel Roller, hold your bum off the floor and roll from the base of your neck to your mid back. Try and relax, breathe evenly while the roller goes to work.

2. Gluts – This is useful for anyone, whether you sit at work or are a professional athlete. Helps to release tension and unlock those hips! Just sit on the roller, it may help to have it at an angle. You’re looking for that soft spot between your sacrum and hip bone. You’ll feel this one for sure. Simply oscillate back and forth once you’ve found the spot that feels right, spend a couple minutes and you’ll be better for it!

3. Hamstrings – For you desk workers! Seated postures can shorten hamstrings over time, especially the lower fibres just above the knee. Roll them out to help lengthen and reduce posterior pull on your pelvis! Brace yourself with your hands on the floor behind you, hamstring on the roller. Roll one leg at a time from the back of the knee up to the sit bone and back again.

 

Use any or all of these techniques between appointments to keep yourself limber and functioning optimally! Don’t forget that these are just a small sample of the applications of these selfcare tools, come by and find out how we can tailor a Rolling program to your specific work/activity profile!

 

— Article provided by Brad Watt, RMT

 

An Introduction to Visceral Manipulation – Massage Therapy

Visceral manipulation has been around since prerecorded times and refers to the manipulation of the organs (viscera) of the body. While gentle and intuitive, this type of treatment is very effective in releasing chronic restrictions. 

A modern form of visceral work was developed by a French Osteopath / Physical Therapist Jean-Pierre Barral, who became interested in the implications of manipulating the viscera through his experience in a hospital specializing in lung disease treatment and his experience treating spinal restrictions by treating the organs. He is responsible for a method of assessment that follows a line of tension in the body to locate the primary restriction or the main cause of dysfunction.

This type of assessment enables the practitioner to determine more accurately the root of the problem rather than just treating the areas of symptoms. As a Massage Therapist, my training was heavily focused on the external structures of the body: the muscles, bones, joints and external fascia, which is only part of the picture. We are also filled with information about organs and deeper layers of fascia that can have a huge impact on the external structures.

Our bodies have their own normal state and when you experience injuries or traumas (emotional or physical) the damage can cause restrictions, adhesions and scar tissue around the organs in order to protect and prevent further injury.

If you think about it, our organs are very vulnerable structures and the muscles and external frame will go to many lengths to prevent injury or ‘baby’ an area that is injured or adhered. As the body tries to compensate, it can cause a snowball effect and lead to pain, reduced range of motion or problems with the efficiency of the organs themselves.

Releasing these restrictions and addressing the injury of the internal structures will allow the muscles and frame to readjust to their normal position, reducing the strain on not only the organs themselves, but also the muscles, bones and joints that have compensated to protect the vulnerable area.

Visceral Manipulation therapy is effective for treatment of many conditions, including but not limited to: acute disorders such as whiplash, chest or abdominal sports injuries; digestive disorders like bloating and constipation, nausea and acid reflux, GERD; women’s and men’s health issues including chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis, fibroids and cysts, dysmenorrhea, bladder incontinence, prostate dysfunction, effects of menopause; emotional issues like anxiety and depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

For further information on how Visceral Manipulation can help you, please feel free to contact me at the clinic or visit www.thebarralinstitute.com. 

— Article provided by RMT, Lisa Schneider   

Demystifying and Explaining CranioSacral Therapy

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) originates from a concept explored in the 1900’s by Osteopath Dr. William Sutherland that the bones of the cranium move amongst each other and can create pressure on the brain. With his research, he developed Cranial Osteopathy. In the 1970’s, American Dr. John Upledger noticed the craniosacral rhythm while assisting in a spinal surgery.

This observation piqued his interest and led to his study of Cranial Osteopathy and further research into the relationship of the structures between the cranium and sacrum. Dr. Upledger coined the term CranioSacral Therapy and developed the CST curriculum, which is currently taught internationally.

CranioSacral Therapy can be difficult to explain so I will break it down into several elements:
Cranio refers to the cranium, which houses the brain. Sacral refers to the sacrum, which is your tailbone and marks the end of your spinal column. CranioSacral therapy involves the evaluation and treatment of the physiological forces and structures between these two points.

The CranioSacral (CS) rhythm is essentially the pulse of the brain and spinal cord and is created by the movement of cerebrospinal fluid between the two structures. Like the rhythm of the breath or the pulse of blood from and to the heart, the CS rhythm can be felt throughout the body by anyone taught to tap into the frequency. By evaluating this rhythm, a CST practitioner can identify restrictions in the body.

The body loves to be in motion.

Every cell, tissue, and organ needs to be able to move freely in order to function correctly. With physical or emotional trauma and injury, adhesions and structural deformities can develop which lead to restricted motion of the tissues involved. Over the years, this increasingly puts stress on the adjacent structures to the restriction and ultimately affects the entire body.

The role of a CST practitioner is not to forcibly correct the body, but rather to encourage the body to correct itself, which leads to a more fundamental change and often disappearance of chronic symptoms. The idea is that if the systems of the body are balanced, then it has the ability to heal itself.
Because of the direct connection with the brain and spinal cord, CST also has an effect on the Autonomic Nervous System, often causing a feeling of deep calm or groundedness during and after the treatment. Treatment of this system enables the body to respond to stress and challenges better which can help improve a patient’s energy level.

A CST treatment can be considered effective if releases are present during or after treatment. A release can be expressed as a physical release of adhered structures or an emotional release involving thoughts and feelings surrounding an event of trauma or injury. Releases may be experienced in many different ways are often very individual.

Conditions treated by CST include, but are not limited to:

Migraine or chronic headaches, chronic neck and back pain, motor-coordination impairments, colic, autism, central nervous system disorders, orthopedic problems, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, scoliosis, infantile disorders, learning disabilities, chronic fatigue, emotional difficulties, stress and tension-related problems, fibromyalgia, connective-tissue disorders, jaw dysfunction, immune disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-surgical dysfunction, digestive disorders and fertility impairments.

What to expect during treatment:

CST can be combined with other modalities (massage, chiropractic, acupuncture etc.) Therefore there may be requirements for positioning or undress related to those practices. If CST is the sole modality then it is performed with the patient lying, fully clothed, on their back on a massage table.

Using their hands, the practitioner will then connect with specific points on the body between the sacrum and cranium with very slight (roughly 5 grams, or the weight of a nickel) of pressure. The treatment and evaluation can be very much entwined, often involving the same or similar hand positioning.

The patient is encouraged to relax, breathe and connect with their body in order to facilitate the unwinding process. A belief in or understanding of CST is not required for benefits, but it can help to make the process more efficient. Your practitioner should guide you through the process, helping to give you a deeper understanding of what your body is trying to tell you.

What to look for in a CST practitioner:

While many may practice CST, it is not regulated by provincial or national guidelines, therefore it is important to look for a practitioner that is registered by another provincial or national College and has a background in anatomy, physiology and medical conditions. This may include a Registered Massage Therapist, Chiropractor, Naturopath, Physiotherapist, or Dentist just to name a few.

– Article Prepared by Lisa Schneider, RMT

*The information contained is intended for educational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent illness or disease.