Massage is the manipulation of your bodies soft tissues
Massage has the goal of:
1. Enhancing circulation – Used fluid which is held in the space between the cell and the veins should ideally be returned to the heart and lungs to be refreshed with Oxygen and hormones. Where the fluid is held in stasis due to muscular spasm/ fibrosis, blockage and a variety of sedentary lifestyles, the cells will dump waste products into space outside of the cell, leading to a build-up of waste products, potentially leading to pain and toxicity. Massage aims to manually push this held fluid back towards the heart.
2. Enhancing lymphatic drainage – Lymph is a second way that the body removes fluid away from its tissues, where in addition to enhancing fluid return lymphatic tissue has the function of distributing white blood cells that help fight invaders. Where infection occurs in lymph tissues can become swollen and painful. Massage can squeeze lymph back towards the heart where it will re-enter the circulation.
3. Breaking down little rods of collagen – these rods hold your damaged tissues together during the repair process much like dissolvable surgical stitches. Damage in the body leads to the release of Histamine summoning the bodies immune defense mechanism leading to the initiation of the repair process where the body lays down collagen as a form of temporary scaffolding. Massage can help clear collagen where it is no longer needed, allowing the tissue to move properly thereby working optimally.
4. Lengthening tissues – stretching over contracted muscles (with raised tone). People often talk of toning-up to look and feel better and look ripped, whereas increased muscular tone will actually shorten the length of muscles that if sustained will cause postural adaptions. The body will increase tone to avoid painful posture or tissues. Massage here acts as an early warning mechanism if your muscles are over contracted.
5. Remodels connective tissue – where movement in tissues has reduced connective tissues can lose some of their elasticity/ recoil leading to loss of function in the body. Connective tissue in a healthy state has some of the properties of a liquid. Disease, overuse, trauma, and stasis can solidify connective tissue. Massage can help return elasticity to connective tissues. Tissues that are allowed to become solid reduce their natural pliability and viscoelastic rebound property, as such the amount and quality of sensation being sent up to the Basal Ganglia will be reduced. Where the body is stiff and rigid other normal sensations are absent, the stretch receptors that can moderate the breathing, blood pressure and heart rate are therefore not firing.
6. Alerts your brain – to the state of your muscles length and tone. Where the muscle is overstimulated massage can alert the brain to this inappropriate tone.
Techniques we use
Muscle energy techniques (MET/PNF) has the goal of:
- Lengthening contracted muscle fibers.
- Strengthen muscles
- Lengthen muscles whilst contracting muscles
Chiropractic / osteopathic style joint release techniques have the goal of:
- Marginally gap or subtly shift the joint to momentarily stimulate ligaments to remodel.
- Neurologically interrupt or moderate the tone of muscles around the joint
- Joints gain nutrition by the movement of the joint creating changes in pressure within the joint. Joint release techniques can allow better joint nutrition
- Chiropractic is a separate development of osteopathy which has a greater focus on the correct function of nerves and the arrangement of the spine. Chiropractors can use a lot of short lever high-velocity low amplitude (HVLA) joint adjustments directed at subluxed joints. Chiropractic therapy was invented by Daniel David Palmer a student of Osteopathic therapy.
The current Zeitgeist in manual therapy is fascia, scar tissue is formed from fascia or connective tissue, a mixture of collagen, elastin and a gel the binds it all together. Scar tissue is used by the body like scaffolding allowing repair or replacement of cells and tissues. The nature of scar tissue is to be temporary and as such requires little or no blood supply. Repetitive reinjury causes a buildup of scar tissue and a drying out of the tissues
The eminent Jean Pierre Barrall of University Paris describes optimal health as,
“A harmonious motion of all the structures in our bodies. Inflammation reduces this ideal motion, and is caused by many factors including: infection, direct trauma, repetitious movement, environmental toxins, poor posture and emotional stress”.
The repairing fibers are then arranged in a different pattern, as compared to pre-injury. Barrall suggests that this scar formation and fiber mis-arrangement “records” the incident or injury.
These areas of scar tissue change how you move, affecting other tissues in your body.
How is Osteopathy different from Chiropractic?
Both professions require a minimum of 4 years full-time at recognized universities, leading to registration with regulatory government bodies.
Both professions use manipulative thrusting techniques, often known as cracking.
Osteopaths typically treat for 30-35 minutes and use a variety of soft tissue techniques as well as the cracking.
Chiropractors treat typically between 5-15 minutes to crack the spine and joints to affect the nervous system.
Why is soft tissue manipulation necessary?
The body uses muscles to resist gravity, move and avoid pain. If we treat the body without changing the tone and length of the soft tissues they can remain short or long, weak or over contracted that can pull back into the joints.
Best practice is to work the parts of the framework that are injured whether it is muscle, joint or ligament.
Will sports massage help?
Yes, it will. Massage is a powerful way of affecting the fluid balance in the tissues, as well as working deeply into the muscles and tendons to lengthen or separate the fibers that can form knots and trigger points.
Muscles contract or shorten, that massage can help release.
However, massage is less able to affect the position of joints.