Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How is Massage Healing My Body and Promoting Wellness?



Massage Therapy is incredibly beneficial to overall wellness when given the proper focus for therapeutic application. Most people know massage feels good and relaxes their body, but they don't know how massage therapy is actually producing healing in their body? At Snapp Therapeutics, it is our hope that our clients understand the value of the massage services we provide. In this article I intend to focus on some of the various ways massage can stimulate physiological outcomes that are extremely valuable to your health. 
Enjoy! ~ James Snapp LMT


Massage Therapy..... 


...Improves Circulation: Your circulatory system is stimulated by massage therapy. Your heart pumps blood throughout your entire body. When you have decreased movement due to an injury, increased tension and stress due to work and daily life, muscle pain and spasticity due to prolonged poor posture or inactivity or over activity, you may be experiencing a reduced blood flow in the tissues to those particular regions of your body. Massage therapy helps to move blood into those areas where circulation is inhibited. If you think of your muscles and tissues like a sponge, imagine that the squeezing and pushing of massage strokes are pushing yucky toxins and stagnated fluids out, and allowing fresh blood to flow in. Massage has been shown to increase venous flow and move blood into areas of tissues that have been deprived of fresh oxygenated blood supply. 


...Oxygenates Tissues: When we breath, our lungs harness the oxygen we inhale and move it in to our bloodstream. That blood is pumped from our heart, into our arteries, blood vessels, and capillaries, and to all the tissue areas of our body. As stated above, when that fresh oxygenated blood gets into areas where it was not easily accessing before, there is also fresh healing potential now entering that tissue. This is good, and is priority for healthy tissue, as well as soft tissue restoration. Just like squeezing a dirty sponge under a running faucet, the dirty goes out and fresh and clean oxygenated blood goes in! But where does the yucky stuff go? That is where the Lymphatic System plays its role. 


...Boosts Lymphatic Function: When yucky toxins are pushed out from your muscles, other soft tissue, and fat, due to the application of massage strokes, those toxins can then move from the blood into the Lymphatic System. The lymphatic system helps to rid the body of toxins, including harmful chemicals, as well as viruses and bacteria that can compromise our health. A healthy lymphatic system is a key factor in immune health and the fighting of diseases in our bodies. Massage therapy stimulates the lymphatic system in various ways. Though massage helps to release toxins from the soft tissues, it also stimulates the lymphatic system to work better, aiding in moving the lymph fluid into the lymph nodes and improving the flow of lymph fluid that may be being stored in various areas of the body due to inactivity or various other complications that can occur. 


...Aides in Detoxification: We discussed the removal of toxins from the soft tissue and into the lymphatic system. This is a valuable aspect of massage, not only for our muscles to feel good but for the health of our immune system. Toxins are in our environment, in the foods we eat, in the air we breathe, and even in the water we drink. The soft tissues of the body and fat cells also store toxins. Since massage is helpful for ridding the body of these invaders it is a good idea to drink plenty of water to increase the removal of toxins from our system. Drinking water (half your body weight in ounces) every day, and especially after massage therapy can reduce soreness and promote the healthy release of toxins; because water is responsible for 96% of our lymphatic fluid! Those who have a massage and are not hydrated or who don't drink enough water after massage may experience increased soreness or even headaches due to poor hydration and impeded lymphatic function.  


...Balances Autonomic Nervous System: The Autonomic Nervous System controls the function of the organs and systems of the body, regulates of our heart rate, controls body temperature, balances stress hormones, and many other functions of our bodies and nervous systems. The two primary segments of the ANS are Sympathetic (Fight or Flight) and the Para-Sympathetic (Rest and Digest) These functions allow balance in the body and the organs and functions of our body. Massage therapy increases the balance between these two functions creating opportunity for increased health.


...Reduces Stress: Massage therapy has been shown to reduce the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system response. When we are stressed, our nervous system produces cortisol which aides the body in times of increased stress. However, when we are not being chased by a tiger, or running from an angry mob, it is best to be relaxed and calm. Most of the time in our society, with busy work schedules, deadlines, and endless news and information in our faces 24/7, we are in stress mode much too often. With increased cortisol levels and a heightened sympathetic state, our bodies cannot heal properly. Massage sessions allow the body much more para-sympathetic (rest and digest) balance. Para-sympathetic is the state of calmness, rest, and a time when the body can restore and move through stress with ease. 


...Releases Healthy Neurotransmitters: Studies have shown that the neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin are both increased during massage therapy. Both of these positive neurotransmitters can help a person achieve physical and emotional harmony and experience an increased state of well being.  


...Stimulates Abdominal and Organ Health: Massage work around the abdominal area can be very helpful for gut issues like menstrual cramping, constipation, as well as gas or bloating. Abdominal massage can also help the organs to function in a more healthy manner by gently moving these organs to help reduce any restrictions around the organs, as well as to assist in the gentle detoxification of the organs in the abdominal cavity. Proper work with the large intestine can aide in bowel movements and help to increase the regulation of the bowels. This work can be beneficial to infants, children, and adults.  


...Releases Myofascia: The Myofascial system is a network of tissue that surrounds and supports the muscle tissue, allowing the muscles to move and work independently of one another, as well as in unison. To have an idea of myofascia; if you have ever cut raw chicken you may have noticed the white layer of tissue surrounding the "meat" of the chicken. The meat of the chicken is the muscle, and the white layer or membrane is the myofascia. When we have injuries or a have a time period where we aren't moving as often as we should, or have jobs where we sit too much, or many other scenarios, our myofascia can become adhered to the muscle and skin tissue causing discomfort or pain. Massage can help to aide in the release of myofascia and reduce these "adhesions" which can impinge our muscle function. These impingements can lead to trigger points, pain points, and more complex pain disorders in our bodies. 


...Reduces Scar Tissue: Scar tissue is formed when we have injuries like muscle tears, sprains or strains, any kind of deep wound, and also from surgeries we may have or have had to "correct" problems. Massage therapy can help to break down scar tissue which forms around injury sites of the myofascia, the skin, and the muscle tissue. Scar tissue can be present around the ligaments, and other soft tissues of the body. Scar tissue can reduce muscle function by triggering pain and immobility, as well as reducing the range of motion and the function of our joints.


...Aides in Stretching, Increased Range of Motion, and Flexibility: Muscle Fibers are individual units of multiple cells. They function in groups to provide maximum strength and durability. When you feel tension in muscles, or inflexibility, some individual groupings of muscle fibers may be tighter than others, and that can produce a limitation to your movement and function. Assisted stretching, accompanied by massage therapy, is a powerful tool to help reduce spasms in the muscle fibers, can increase flexibility and lengthen tight muscle tissue, and can provide pain relief as well as increased function. Assisted stretching allows a deeper, passive stretching in which you can relax and breathe instead of having to do the "work" of stretching. This gives a deeper and more effective stretch and produces deep relaxation as well.   


...Allows for Positive Touch: Touch relieves stress and calms premature babies, allowing them to develop more appropriately. This is the same for full term babies, and it can be seen that the lack of positive touch effects the healthy development of infants as they age. It is the same for adults, and those who may have not had the experience of positive touch in their lives. Though many of us have a lot of positive touch in our lives, many do not. Massage therapy is a very productive and healing form of positive touch that provides many favorable outcomes for the receiver.   


Thank you for reading this today. I am always so grateful for the opportunity to share some of the information I have learned through my education and practice of Massage Therapy over the past 20 years. It is also a joy to provide others with the tools for their self empowerment to take their own health seriously. There is so much that we can do to have a more healthy and vibrant life, and It all starts with our choices each and every day. Wishing you a wonderful day and a full and enjoyable life! ~ J.S.



If you will be in the Mesa, Arizona area and would like to schedule a Therapeutic Massage session to experience for yourself some of these natural healing effects, please go to 
www.snapptherapy.com and click the Book Online tab. Want to read some reviews from our satisfied customers? Visit our Yelp! page for testimonials...




Friday, January 24, 2014

Real Results

Most of us find time for massage and wellness practices when we are at the point of "crash and burn." Real results, however, will come when we take a more consistent approach to our wellness goals. You may think I just mean visiting for massage sessions more often; but I am painting with a broader brush. Let's take a look at a few things that would really improve our health if we took them seriously.


The first area we could consider for real results would be our water intake. Our bodies cannot function at optimal levels unless we drink plenty of good water. What is good water, and how much of it is enough? Good water is water free of chemicals, pesticides, and other contaminants. Good water is also water that is at least slightly alkaline and that has minerals in it. This good water is readily available and you will see that it has value to your system that is noticeable to a person who is paying attention. The amount of water one should drink can be based on body weight. You might consider drinking half your body weight in ounces each day. If that seems high, start with one quart more than you usually drink and work your way up from there. Being consistent with your water intake is going to make a huge difference in the health of your body.


The second focus we could consider is diet. I am not a nutritionist, so I won't tell you what to eat. I will say, you already know what is making you heavier or more sluggish than you want to be, you are just not yet disciplined enough to make a change. How do I know that? Because I love bread; but when I have it I put on weight, but sometimes I eat it just because it tastes so good. Cow's milk is another product that makes me pack on the pounds, and also too much meat is not good for me. I find it an arduous process to chop vegetables and have them be the majority of my diet, but when they are available and I eat them more frequently I shed weight, gain energy, and feel much better. Am I saying you should be primarily vegetarian? No. I am saying that is what I know my body does best with. You also know a lot about what your body does best with, you are just too programmed not to change. You can change if you want to, so go ahead and try. If you want to lose weight, two areas you might start with are chewing more, and eating less. Slow down between bites, chew and savor your food. This will automatically reduce the size of the portions you will eat. It is just the way it is, and it works. You will thank yourself.


The third concentration could be exercise. We just can't get enough of this stuff, but somehow it is the most complicated thing to do for many of us. Step one; get up. Step two; move. Now you are into it! Keep going! That's right, enjoy it! Now the most important thing your body can do is move a lot. Basic ways you can exercise if you are computer junkie at work is to sit in your best posture. Sit up tall, hold your tummy in, breathe in your upper chest, now hold your muscles in that upright position while you keep breathing. This is exercise believe it or not, and we should all do more of it. Get up and stretch for 30 seconds to a minute a number of times throughout your day. You will be amazed at how that helps you. Walk more, park further from the store, jump rope, take the stairs, do sit ups, get into yoga classes or some sort of strength stretching. If you are not social, go to the library and rent yoga DVDs or P90X and follow along. If you are already getting good cardio exercise and getting plenty of good movement, than keep it up and enjoy how it feels. If not, then it is time to motivate yourself. Don't do it to look good, or to impress someone, do it so you will feel good and have a healthier life.


The fourth is going to be a struggle for many of you. I am going to tell you to actually love yourself. That's right, love yourself and think positively about your life. If you will do this, you will become more aware of your thoughts about yourself that are constantly battling you to protect you from your past. Most of the negative junk that goes through our minds that limits our abilities are old thought patterns that we don't need anymore. If we focus on the good things, be grateful for all the days we have had, even the hard ones, we will begin to heal on the inside. One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was forgive myself and start believing that my life had a purpose. Now that I have done that, I expect great things to come about. You should expect great things too. There are always going to be hard days, but there are always going to be great days too. Which ones are you going to look forward to the most? What are your passions? What do you want to accomplish in life? What is important? How do you want to be treated? There are so many areas in our lives that could be important for us to grow and change, but the mind is one of the key areas where change really happens. When you change your mind, you will change your life.

Now, let's put our mind on the things we really want to accomplish this month and begin with a good attitude, expecting great outcomes and knowing that if we believe in ourselves, and put our minds on being thankful, that we will have good outcomes. Let's challenge ourselves to eat better, to drink more water, to get more movement, to have regular massages, to do things that feel good, to meditate or pray more often, to trust the Creator, to strengthen our minds, and drive our bodies to healthier places. We have the ability, we just have to work at it and be appreciative. You are blessed and you are a blessing to me.

Thanks for reading!
Cheers to your good health!

James Snapp LMT

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Keys to Deep Healing

As a practitioner with 17 years of bodywork and massage experience, I have observed that there are basic tenants to a healthy and healing body. There are also keys to stimulate deep healing that are commonly missed in the world of western medicine. Don't let me make you think that I oppose western medicine; on the contrary. Western medicine practices have revolutionized acute care (which is the care one receives immediately following an accident or life threatening situation.)

When it comes to healing your body, however, you have no better healer than the one between your ears. Yes, you are the best healer that you can trust! The secret is that you have to use the tools that are available to you. You may already know this but have just not realized the simple power of these basic daily choices which promote a healthy life and longevity.

To give credit where credit is due, I will use the concept that Dr Darren Weissman lays out in his method known as The LifeLine Technique, which he calls "The Five Basics to Optimal Health." I will also differentiate from his concept and integrate my own ideas into what the "Five Basics" may look like for you and how you can achieve great results in your daily life by implementing these steps.

Dr. Darren, as he is commonly referred to, shows that Water, Food, Rest, Exercise, and Owning your power are the keys to a healthy life. Let's look at each building block.

Water - We often take water for granted. Thinking that we had coffee or tea, a soda, and some orange juice along with an 8 ounce glass of water is sufficient is causing many people to be sick and dehydrated. In my practice, I often ask, "are you drinking enough water?" The answer is always, "Yes." When I ask how much, I am always surprised at the range of answers. Some of us really believe that a glass of water in the morning is plenty. Let me assure you it is not. Even the Mayo Clinic suggests the 8 and 8 rule, which states to drink at least 8 ounce of water 8 times a day for a healthy functioning body. Do you agree that if the Mayo clinic is telling you this that it might be a good idea? Well, I suggest to take your water intake a step further. Most people have not heard that you should drink half your body weight in ounces. This is a simple rule to remember. Dr Darren, however, suggests that a person drink 1 quart for every 50 pounds of body weight and round up to the next quart for any weight exceeding that. So, if you weigh 157, you should be drinking 4 quarts of pure and healthy water each day. Oh. My. Goodness. Really? Yes! What makes healthy water? See how to have the best yummy water that is alkalized and accessible to you everyday by clicking here. I use the Nikken Pi-Mag Sport Bottle to have portable, clean, alkalized, and structured water when ever I want it. More to come on that in the future.

Food - Another simple change to make is your food intake. Dr Darren often is talking about Protein when he shares this concept but he does take it further as well. I agree that protein throughout the day is vital for a healthy body and mind, as well as a happy gut that is providing you with muscle, brain, and body building potential. When you eat food, you are providing your body with what it needs. I am not a nutritionist, nor do I give any specific nutritional information to my clients, but it should be common knowledge that if your gut is not working properly (if you are constipated) you may need to address this issue with a change in your diet, and consider a natural form of detoxification. One of the most natural ways you can do this is by drinking more water, increase plant proteins, decrease animal proteins, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Juicing is a super powerful tool for beginning to get some movement in the bowels also. If you are not having a bowel movement every day, then you should really make a change in your diet. To consult with someone who is licensed to advise you on diet and nutrition, click this link. All in all, eating little meals throughout the day and making sure to get plenty of fruits, veggies, and protein frequently throughout the day will help you. As with any dietary changes, always speak to your healthcare practitioner to make an educated decision for your own health. Each person is individual, and one cookie cutter solution will not work for everyone.

Rest - This is highly misunderstood in my opinion. Rest isn't just about a good night's sleep, but is a huge imperative. Though many suffer from sleeplessness, it can also be seen that relaxing in general is a valuable tool to help the body heal and recover. Studies that were documented by the National Institute of Health (NIH) show that there were heightened cortisol levels in those who were classified "insomniac" as opposed to those who were normal healthy. This signifies that those who are not sleeping well through the night have an increased sympathetic response, which is also known as "fight or flight." When our body is in a sympathetic state, it is in a heightened protective state. The body is not healing when it is in a heightened protective state and therefore is imbalanced. Real rest stimulates a para-sympathetic state, in which rapid and increased healing can, and does, occur immediately. Sleep, rest, meditation, prayer, reflection/contemplation, down time, clearing the mind, peace and quiet, intentional rest and relaxation, should all stimulate this form of para sympathetic healing in one's body. If you feel the need for a nap, take one; it will do you good. I asked a brilliant expert in clearing the mind once,"What do you do when you feel wiped out and fatigued?" His brilliant response? "Take a nap." shocking isn't it? Give it a try. At our center we use far infrared technologies and ultra soothing environments to trigger deep para-sympathetic rest. Here is a wellness package that will help you recoup quickly and kick start a healing process that may have been unable to begin without some assistance.

Exercise - Ah yes, the dreaded exercise. Well, some people love it, and then there is life. Life seems to get in the way of good exercise if we are really busy, at the office often, or raising a family. It is significant to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and even up to an hour or more. Good exercise would consist of cardiovascular activities which are movements such as walking, hiking, bicycling, kayaking, you name it. You just need to get your body moving. Can't do that? Try jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups. Can't do that? Try moving your arms in small circles, big circles, walking in place, squatting up an down, go up on your tip toes and back to your heals, march in place, reach for the sky, reach for the ground; there are a million ways to move, so find one that works for you, and do it. It is good to evaluate what is best for you and each person will benefit from a customized exercise program. Just make sure you are getting plenty of exercise. If you have any health concerns or diagnoses, always check with your health professional before beginning or ending any exercise program. The concept is, your body is made to move. The cliche "move it or lose it" comes to mind. If we do not continue moving, we will become sick. Disease is simply the stagnation of tissues, and the dysfunction of health in those tissues. If we begin to move on a regular basis, blood and oxygen in, and blood and toxins out, we will feel better and better every time we move. Don't forget that you always need to increase your water intake when you exercise, also.

Own your power - What is that? Well, this is something that has to be accomplished moment to moment and day to day. We are always in a protective mechanism, and our dreams and ambitions are sometimes halted when we let go of our personal power to have an impact in our own lives. Maybe I have failed a time or two in the past at building relationships. That past failure impacts the way I look at my future ability to build relationships. Because I have failed, I may be less likely to try. Our brains are actually programmed to do the same thing again. To defeat that, we have to work to make new neural pathways. This can be accomplished in many areas of our lives and impacts our health also. Each day you can choose to be happy or sad, to feel good or bad, because it is literally a choice. We all go through some devastating and complicated circumstances from time to time. When we do, we can loose our focus big time, and it is easy to slip into that downward spiral. When this happens, I always first turn to my faith in God. After I respond to life with prayer, I focus my energy on my responsibility to myself and those around me to be the best that I can be. That takes intentional motivation and real purpose. Sometimes, tools can help us to break into stronger mindsets that will guide our life into a different direction. Our lives are a journey and along the way there are road signs. To understand those signs, sometimes we need a map to see where we came from and to choose where we want to go. Dr Darren's LifeLine Technique is a wonderful road map to help us see more clearly and help us choose to live with the intentions that are already in our hearts. With LLT, it becomes easier to observe the past for what it is and let it go so that we can move on and be what we were created to be...

I hope you have enjoyed this writing today. Please visit www.snapptherapy.com for more information about our services and how we can help you unlock your full potential.

With Gratitude,
James Snapp, LMT

For more about The LifeLine Technique and training click here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Energy Medicine


The human being is a profound created thing. In our design we are functional on many levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Many have not even begun to relate to the subtle energy mechanisms of the body and how they participate in our healing, stress levels, cellular function and even lower, more core levels of function.
I recently had the opportunity to train in a method called Quantum Entrainment or QE for short. The method was realized by Dr Frank Kinslow D.C. who is a Chiropractic Physician. In his many years of study he became familiar with all of the varieties of energetic healing and meditation. Through all of it he realized that he was still unable to find lasting harmony in his health or sufficient lasting peace through his meditations.

By way of stress induced deduction he came across what he termed "Eufeeling." This sensation or sense of well being is something that can be found simply by finding the spaces between our thoughts. I know, sounds ridiculous, but through some very simple practices, that require no religious or spiritual connotations, a person can find quiet in their mind. Once found, you can train yourself to go there in seconds. I did not believe it either until Dr Kinslow, so simply, led the group in a thought process that quickly left me with little thinking and a quiet peace of mind that I did not know existed previously.

What does this have to do with massage or energy healing? Well, a lot really. QE is very helpful in allowing a therapist a calm state of mind to practice in, regardless of existing stress that so many of us have. We all know that when you have a poor attitude or when your mind is on other things it can cause the work we are doing to be less effective and if nothing else it is distracting to the client. Regarding the energy, theoretically QE is allowing a person to harmonize with his/her basic self. This frequency of calmness and relaxation, of just being satisfied with our current life resonates in fact with the clients relaxed sense of calm they are receiving from the massage or relaxation they experience in a therapy or energy work session. In a way this is allowing a homeostasis or balance of your own mental attitude and can positively effect the clients as well. The value of QE being used during sessions can range from emotional healing, better rest, improved mental clarity and an overall sense of peace. Visit with someone who has been trained in QE for a free session. You will enjoy it.

There is much more to QE and I recommend that you take a closer look at it on the website. If you find the tutorials interesting, try to attend some of his classes. He is very popular in Europe so trainings in the US are few and far between. It is an enjoyable weekend course and is very relaxing for a training of any type.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lower Back: Conditions and Choices


What causes you lower back pain?

The Mayo clinic suggests that the top reasons for low back aches are as follows:

Strains: Minor tears in muscles and ligaments, caused by improper and heavy lifting or sudden awkward movements.

Structural Problems: Bulging Discs, Sciatica, Skeletal Irregularities, Arthritis and Osteoporosis.

Rare Conditions: Spinal cancers, Nerve dysfunction or Infections in the spine.

So which one is yours? Today we are going to focus on structural problems and bulging discs, both which can contribute to sciatica and be related to skeletal irregularities.

The lifestyles and occupations of people today may require a large amount of sitting, decreased exercise and in many cases perpetually poor postures. The majority of individuals rarely take the time needed to stretch their bodies or to do the basic physical maintenance that is needed for health to be prolonged in general. When our jobs require heavy lifting and we are not careful to use proper body mechanics we can very likely become injured. These injuries can lead to a bulging or even worse, ruptured disc. When there is an imbalance in the spine and posture, known as a misalignment or subluxation, this can cause the disc to bulge into the nerve. In some cases this bulging causes pain and discomfort that is hard to reverse without specific care, though occasionally there may be no symptom of pain present to raise alarm to this harmful condition. This pressure on the nerve can cause other organs or tissues to function less efficiently.

So as you can see some pains are simply symptoms of a bigger problem, something that cannot be corrected with stretching or exercise alone. Many times stretching or exercise can actually exacerbate a disc injury. There are some basic manual tests that can be performed, even prior to an MRI, for detecting the presence of a spinal disc injury which may be performed by some massage practitioners or a Chiropractor during a spinal screening.

Thankfully for many patients, when a disc injury is diagnosed, many excellent corrective options are available. Some of these are Spinal Decompression Therapy which has been shown to reverse disc injuries in many successful cases. Cold Laser Therapy may aide in decreasing inflammation around the joint and the nerve, while accelerating the healing process. In instances of chronic pain, healing is slowed and a more serious condition may arise. Soft tissue work, like Therapeutic Massage, is also a valuable asset to a quicker recovery and allows the muscular areas to relax which promotes healthy function.

Having regular Chiropractic checkups can also avert many injuries to spinal health. Knowledge is power. Learning proper lifting techniques, utilizing the appropriate stretching and incorporating exercises that improve core function can help prevent any structural issues before they become problematic.

Thanks for reading and remember just because you aren't hurting today doesn't mean you should wait for some sort of care. Prevention is a key factor to living a long, happy and healthy life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Post Surgery Recovery for Rotator Cuff

Being in the massage field for over 15 years, you would think, one would have many referrals from physicians concerning post surgical care when considering rotator cuff surgery. It just doesn't happen unless the primary care doctor is a Naturopathic physician or possibly an Osteopath. What is the disconnect? Truly it is uncertain beyond the fact that there is no specific training on that topic in the curriculum concerning traditional western methods; and that means, no need to mention or consider it as viable to the surgical recipient.

Most of the pain associated with the recovery and extended use after a shoulder reconstruction is due to scar tissue and uncoordinated muscle function. After a surgery of the muscles and tendons, the areas of damage and repair have no choice but to develop scar tissue. These particular functions of the muscle are the body's natural defense to protect the injured area with fatty tissue. This fatty tissue can act as glue of sorts, interconnecting the muscle, fascia, (which is a layer or sheath around the muscle) and the skin over the musculature. These tissues are meant to be free from one another and move independently of the other. The binding of these tissues causes pain, discomfort, dysfunction and can be a lasting long term problem.

The recommend traditional treatment for this in most situations would be another arthroscopic process to remove the scar tissue that has developed. Here is the clincher; this causes more scar tissue. This is a never ending process. Now if the first surgery is needed, the second surgery can likely be avoided by spending quality time with a well trained massage therapist, who understands fascia and tendonitis protocols. In my opinion, by the time the patient is released to physical therapy, it is time to begin a therapeutic massage program. The muscle and tendon needs, movement, increased blood flow, oxygenation, mild stretching, mild heat, icing, mild friction and passive and active movement. These are all given by the trained massage professional.

Another valuable asset and technological advance is cold laser therapy. This can be a tremendous help and increase the function, decrease inflammation, reduce the pain, increase mobility and hasten recovery.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Brain Injured and Massage Therapy

In this post I will share with you what I consider valuable information about integrating specialized massage routines into the recovery program for a brain injured person.

Over the years, massage has not been highlighted as a valuable asset to increased recovery following a brain injury. Many aspects, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmaceutical drugs and surgeries, have been well documented but massage has had little if any significant overview.

The brain is an advanced, high tech device, far more capable and complex than even the best computers or smart phones. I know, your Android is sweet but when it crashes, it cannot repair itself. Your brain on the other hand, can create new neuro-pathways that will allow recovered function to the entire body. New studies are even showing that the brain can create new tissue and functional brain cells; though this was previously thought unlikely.

If you were a computer, the story would go something like this; Your brains function is similar to a computer operating system and without it, the rest of the computer cannot function. (It also acts as a hard drive and random access memory.) The brain stem and spinal cord are much like the mother board and you could consider your organs and tissues to be hardware and accessories. Now, if your brain was attacked by a virus, let's say a blunt force trauma, it may cause dysfunction to various portions of the overall computer; hardware, memory and so on, thus, causing "you" to run less efficiently. Many times you would just want a new computer but considering this is "you" we are talking about, let's just try to address the problem before we throw you in the recycle bin.

Let's be realistic, you can't massage a computer back into function! No, but you can load new information into the system (anti-virus, updates for software, do a re-boot, etc.) that could repair or work around the issues. This is where massage and bodywork comes into play. See the vast complexity of cells, organelles, neurons, neuro-transmitters, nerves, tissues and organs work together, with the brain at the top. So how do you get into the brain to reprogram lost data? Through the bottom. By going through the tissues, via the sensory nervous system, we can effect the recovery of the brain.

The skin is a major sensory organ. When you are sitting outside on a beautiful day, what do you experience on your skin? Nice breeze, warm temperatures, any little thing that tickles your nose or skin, the slightest touch from an ant or butterfly. Here in Phoenix, extreme heat is many times what is felt. All these things we feel are "sensations converted to information" and it is important that we have this input as a way of improving our function in general. Massage is perceived in a similar way and if applied specifically can cause some very basic updating of some important information that may have been misplaced during a brain trauma. Let's break it down a little more.

Range of motion: Many times a brain injury reduces range of motion in body parts and creates muscle spasticity. The brain has forgotten just how to move that extremity and the body goes into a protective mode. In many cases the sensory processing is disturbed also causing pain and discomfort. Specific massage and passive assisted range of motion is vital here for a quicker, more natural recovery.

Gate and balance: Very commonly brain injured clients will have complications walking or being stable, as they had before the injury. The muscles are in need of "feeling" pressure, the effects of gravity, movement and pressure in the joint areas, movement under a weighted load and various passive and active movements that the brain has forgotten. These types of sensations need to be administered, structured and tailored but can be accomplished by a properly trained massage therapist. Experiencing these variant sensations repetitiously, under a controlled setting, will increase the speed of recovery in the gate and balance of brain injured individuals.

Fight or flight: Some brain injured clients experience variants in blood pressure, pulse, paranoia, anger or aggression, sweating, dry mouth, or cold clammy hands. Many times this can be due to an imbalance in the sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous system. Massage has been shown to decrease sympathetic nervous system activity allowing many of these symptoms to stabilize or greatly subside.

Jaw clenching, neck tension or speech dysfunction: Quite often a brain injured client may grind their teeth, have difficulties chewing, swallowing or will experience tension in the neck and jaw. Massage can be focused on these areas to balance this stress on the neck and jaw muscles. In some cases the massage therapist may have training or experience in working with the mouth and tongue which may improve chewing, swallowing and speech functions.

Muscle contractures: In a high number of cases, muscle contractures may develop after fairly short periods of time, when concerning severe traumatic brain injury. In these cases, it is so important to lessen the immobility of all joints and increase the range of motion and massage to any stiff area. Weekly massage, at a minimum, should be considered if there is any severe spasticity. There are other options that are offered by specific clinics and practices that will diminish the spasticity that causes such dramatic neuromuscular dysfunction.

I hope you now see that massage can be effectively integrated into brain injury recovery. Follow the links below to help you find and communicate with professionals that are trained and knowledgeable in the areas of massage for brain injury rehabilitation, chiropractic for brain injury patients, and naturopathic medicine focused on recovery after a brain injury. There are many valuable avenues for natural recovery and family support systems. Feel free to contact me for more information regarding this topic or other avenues of natural and holistic wellness methods, that are available throughout Phoenix. I'd love to hear from you.