Massage is the term used for the process of manipulating the skin, muscles, soft tissue, and ligaments. This may be done by rubbing or pressing the skin and affected areas. There are several different types of massage ranging from gentle pressure to deep tissue manipulation. Massage aids circulation, relaxes muscles, and is used to treat chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and myofascial pain as well as sports injuries.
Massage and Myofascial Release
Besides your muscles and tendons your body contains a layer of connective tissue known as fascia. The fascia surrounds muscles and helps them move freely. When the fascia adheres to the muscles (invests) it keeps the muscles from moving freely and this investment can cause pain. Chronic stress, overuse, or injury may cause myofascial adhesions and these may develop into myofascial trigger points. These are areas where the fascia has anchored and become stiff causing pain.
Myofascial release therapy is a technique used in conjunction with massage. The therapist focuses on the trigger points from which the pain originates. These trigger points feel fixed and stiff under light pressure. Normally soft tissue feels movable and elastic during light pressure massage. Trigger point pain may restrict joint and muscle movement and contribute to chronic pain overall. By using focused manual pressure along with stretching myofascial therapy loosens up movement which is restricted and helps to reduce pain.
Massage alone has many benefits including reduction of anxiety and stress, help with insomnia, treatment of fibromyalgia pain, headaches, and temporomandibular joint pain. When combined with myofascial release techniques it can help to improve circulation and relieve pain. It relaxes contracted muscles and improves both lymphatic and blood circulation. An increase in circulation helps to provide the affected area with essential nutrients needed for healing and relief. It also stimulates the stretch reflex in muscles which further helps to relax and loosen the muscles and fascia.
Myofascial release may be direct or indirect. With the direct technique pressure is applied directly to the affected area and then released. This type of technique uses more force than indirect myofascial release. During indirect massage gentle stretching is used with much less pressure. Both techniques have the goal of relaxing and stretching the muscles and surrounding fascia to help relieve pain. Massage and myofascial release are safe and proven techniques to help relieve pain and speed healing.
Joint mobilization is a passive type of manual therapy of a skeletal joint. It is aimed at a targeted joint with the goal of producing a therapeutic effect upon the joint. Treatment includes moving the affected joints at different speeds and in directions to help regain joint movement. Soft tissue techniques may also be used to help improve function and mobility.
The main goals of joint mobilization are relief of pain and returning the joint to its original mobility. Dr. Mac will measure the range of motion of the affected joint, examine the joint and how it moves in relation to the rest of your body, and then formulate the best joint mobilization therapy for your particular case. Joint mobilization can help to do the following:
- Improve range of motion
- Manipulate and mobilize tissues and joints
- Change muscle function
- Induce relaxation
- Reduce pain
- Improve tissue extensibility
- Reduce soft tissue swelling and inflammation
- Reduce movement restriction
Joints may become hypomobile (restricted in movement) as a result of many factors. Most mobilization issues are the result of tissue injury. Tissue injury may be the result of a traumatic event or repetitive stress. An example of a traumatic event may be lifting a heavy object improperly and injuring your spine, legs, hips, or knees. Another example may be a sport injury to your knees or elbows. Repetitive motions such as using a computer for long periods of time, certain occupations such as a factory worker or cashier, or sitting for long periods with bad spinal posture can put pressure on joints can cause injury.
Inflammation and tissue damage may cause the join to become immobile or interfere with its mobility and cause pain. An adjustment or manipulation of the affected joint helps to restore mobility, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. This allows the tissues to heal and alleviate muscle tightness. Dr. Mac uses joint mobilization to, reduce inflammation and pain, and help speed up recovery.