The Endless Web : Fascial Anatomy & Physical Reality

Book Description

Release Date: Nov. 11, 1996

Fascial FitnessThe result of more than two decades of research and practice, The Endless Web presents in clear, readable language a comprehensive guide to understanding and working effectively with the myofascial system, the 'packing material' of the body. Myofascia is a flexible network of tissue that surrounds, cushions, and supports muscles, bones, and organs. It also acts as a riverbed containing the flow of interstitial fluid, and is a critical influence on the immune and hormonal systems. In daily life, this connective tissue is an underlying determinant of movement quality, modd, alertness, and general well-being. The Endless Web is a fully illustrated guide to understanding how myofascia works, it supportive role within the body's anatomy, and how gentle manipulation of the myofascial tissue is central to lasting therapeutic intervention and how it can be integrated into any bodywork practice.

 

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Detox Massage for Body Cleansing

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Consider going for detox massage that is not only relaxing but also aids your body in the removal of toxic waste. A detox massage can be of great support to any cleansing program you are in. It can address health conditions including fatigue, headaches, fibromyalgia, and other system dysfunctions that result from the presence of toxins in your body.

A detox massage is helpful because of the rhythmic strokes that your therapist apply to stimulate your body. Your therapist uses a combination of massage movements including irregular and altering applications of pressure that gently compress and stretch your muscle tissues.

There are a number of different massage therapies that also promotes detoxification. One example of a detox massage is the lymphatic massage. The lymphatic system is one of the main elimination systems of the body that is integral in the detoxification process. It is responsible for the absorption of food nutrients and also creates a waste disposal system in your body. Your therapist uses strokes that that help your lymphatic system to clear dietary toxins and other unwanted substances. Your massage therapist can help remove blockages in your blood circulatory system. The toxic waste are actually by-products of stress, dead cells, heavy metals and other excess debris.

A detox massage can also enhance your immune system, strengthen the muscles and toughen your connective tissue. If your muscles are relaxed, then your body is likely to detoxify and cleanse much better. An analogy can be drawn here. Just imagine if you are constipated and your muscles are tense. Did you not have a hard time trying to remove your bowels? When you are less stressed, your organs including your digestive system and gastrointestinal tract, are likely to perform at optimal levels. Under the skilful hands of your therapist, you can end up feeling so relaxed that you may even fall asleep during the session.

A Swedish massage can be likened to a detox massage. It normalizes oxygen levels and improves the function of your colon drainage as well as other organs involved in the detoxification process. Traditional Chinese massages are also excellent for body cleansing. The strokes may differ slightly but the aim of a session is the same.

The next time you schedule a massage, be sure to ask your therapist for a massage that helps detoxify and cleanse your body. You may also want to consider signing up for a few sessions so as to reap maximum benefits from this form of healing.

Communicating with Your Massage Therapist

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Let's Talk

Sharron Leonard

People get massages for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you're seeking stress relief from the weekly work commute or your wanting to cleanse your body of toxins. Or maybe massage is helping you recover from a sports injury or surgery. Whatever your reasons, it's absolutely important that you explicitly communicate to your therapist the reason you made the appointment. Otherwise you run the risk of not getting what you want.

In addition to explaining any wellness requirement, you also need to clarify your comfort needs during the session so that you feel completely at ease. Most practitioners work to create an appropriate environment with elements such as the temperature, music, aromatherapy, and table setting. But if anything makes you uncomfortable, feel free -- or rather, feel responsible -- to say as much. Your therapist is as interested as you are in making sure you get what you want from the massage, and building a communicative partnership is key. Remember, communication is a two-way street.

The BodySandy Anderson, owner of Relaxing Moments Massage in Reno, Nevada, asks at the beginning of each appointment, "What is the focus of our session today?" -- whether it's the client's first or 21st appointment with her. The therapist needs to know your wellness context. Even if she has your health history, circumstances -- and bodies -- are always changing. Perhaps you were traveling for the last two months spending significant time in cramped seats on airplanes. Maybe you're training for a marathon race, logging numerous miles each week. Or, a more likely scenario, you're stressed and feeling emotionally tapped.

Furthermore, it's important she or he knows about your massage preferences that just make your massage more pleasurable, such as getting extra work on your feet or ending the session with a face massage. Perhaps it's important to you to have the therapist "stay connected" by keeping her hands on you rather than, for example, going from your feet to your shoulders. By simply letting her or him know of any such information can vastly improve your session.

The Setting

"I have designed my treatment room to offer a basic comfort level based on my professional experience," Anderson says. "But I need the client to tell me if something is not to her liking. For example, I have provided a small fountain that I thought provided soothing background sounds, but two of my clients have requested that it be turned off because it made them feel as though they needed to run to the restroom."

One important amenity issue that should be discussed by the client and the therapist is massage-table comfort. "I use a heated table covered with a sheet and a blanket because as the active therapist I need the room temperature lower than what is comfortable for the client," Anderson says. "Then I ask the client what adjustments she might want me to make." Even if your therapist doesn't specifically ask about the temperature, background sounds, aromas or whatever other subtle amenities in the room, if there's something that's making your massage less than great, be sure to discuss it with your practitioner.

The Conversation

Conversation can sometimes be a point of contention. Because some clients like to talk during a session while others prefer silence, Anderson believes it's up to the client to dictate this aspect. She does not inhibit talking nor does she initiate conversation if the client is silent. If you want to tactfully make certain your therapist is not overly conversational, it is appropriate to say something like, "You will find that I am not very talkative. I just like to totally relax during this time." While your practitioner may communicate aspects of the massage, don't necessarily take this for her trying to make conversation.

Angie Parris-Raney, owner of Good Health Massage Therapy in Littleton, CO, believes it's very important for the therapist to explain her actions so the client is not surprised. "Whether I'm easing a first-time massage client's apprehension by explaining I will only be uncovering one part of the body at a time or I'm doing a rehabilitation treatment for injury, illness or surgery, I have learned from experience the client wants detailed information on what is going to happen," Parris-Raney says. "It is also helpful if she tells me how she feels about what I am doing. Is the stroke too deep or too light? Does she want me to use a slower or faster pace?" If you are unclear about an expectation or a procedure, even if it is something as simple as, "Where is the safest place to put my jewelry?" feel free to ask.

Massage client Andrea Scott explains her frustration with one massage session where she wishes she'd been more vocal. "I like deep tissue massage, and the practitioner was giving me a very light Swedish massage," she says. "I just didn't feel like I was getting anything out of it and found myself looking forward to the session just being over. For some reason, I thought it would be rude to say anything, but in retrospect, I'm sure she would've appreciated it." Instead, notes Scott, she left disappointed and the massage therapist never had a chance to address the issue.

Your goal as the client is to get what you are specifically seeking in each session. Your practitioner wants the experience to meet your expectations and will appreciate you verbalizing your wellness requirements and personal comfort needs. Your massage therapist is your partner for healthy living, but you need to speak up.

Weight Loss and Bodywork

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By: Genevieve Charet

Massage--anything this good must be fattening, right? Wrong! Scientists now confirm what massage therapists have always known: massage can be a powerful and effective weight-loss tool. By improving your body's resilience, aiding muscle nutrition and flexibility, and supporting your mental and emotional well-being, massage can take your weight-loss plan to a whole new level.

The relationship between massage and weight loss is the result of many subtle improvements working together, including better injury prevention and healing. Jeff Wooten, founder of YourBodyMechanic.com, explains: "Massage helps to heal existing injuries by breaking down scar tissue and other adhesions. This creates a more functional muscle and improves joint integrity." Massage therapists also work to improve your flexibility and range of motion. This makes you less likely to hurt yourself, meaning more productive and pain-free hours in the gym. But the benefits don't end there.

When you receive a massage, you're directly impacting the circulatory system. By constantly moving blood to body tissues, your massage therapist increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients your muscles receive. This soothing cycle eases you into much-needed rest and relaxation time.

Deneen Rhode, a massage therapy instructor who teaches fitness classes, says, "The qualitative style of Swedish massage relaxes the nervous system and takes the body into what is known as the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic state is very restorative to the body--it is where the body needs to go to heal itself." When you accomplish this through massage, it means you'll need less recovery time between workouts and that you can move your fitness routine full speed ahead.

Jeff Mann, the regional manager for Cortiva Institute Schools of Massage Therapy, knows this firsthand. With experience as both a massage therapist and personal trainer, he has seen the way massage can help clients drop pounds and keep them off. "Massage to weight loss is like the padding on a steering wheel--you can do without it, but it makes it a lot easier and more comfortable to hang on to."

Make It Work For You

Losing weight isn't easy. Thankfully, it's simple to incorporate massage into the healthy lifestyle you're building. It's a good idea to have a special consultation with your massage therapist about your new goals and fitness plan so that treatments can be customized to your body's specific needs.

Meredith Nathan, director of massage at Pulling Down the Moon in Chicago, says there are some specific questions you should be prepared to answer. For example, "If you're following an exercise routine, how has it affected your body? Are there any particular areas of tension or discomfort? Where do you tend to gain weight first? How is your digestive health? Is your lifestyle relaxed or stressful?" The more information you can provide your therapist, the better your results will be--and this extends to your medical history. During your intake process, inform your massage therapist about any health problems, surgeries, medications, and even recent minor illnesses you've had. Anything your doctor needs to know, your massage therapist needs to know as well.

 "Generally, massage on a healthy [client] should be no more that 90 minutes; 60 minutes is the most common," Rhode says. Weekly massages are ideal, but you can reap plenty of benefits from monthly visits, too. Your massage therapist will work with you to set a specific schedule of appointments that fits with your workout routine, as well as your finances. Don't be concerned if your MT wants to see you more often at the beginning of your plan--this is normal, and helps him or her to get to know your body's way of handling stress and exertion.

Don't Be Shy

While it's natural for anyone to feel a little self-conscious at first about undressing for a massage, overweight clients often have major anxieties about disrobing. If you've put off massage therapy because you're embarrassed about your body shape, take heart: massage therapists are sensitive to your concerns and don't want you to feel ashamed. Thom Lobe, MD, founder and director of Beneveda Medical Group in Beverly Hills, says, "Massage therapists are just that--therapists. They are used to seeing all shapes, sizes, and conditions of the body. A well-trained massage therapist has an entirely clinical perspective, no different than any other health-care worker. The fact is, when I give a massage...what the body looks like isn't even in my conscious thoughts."

Throughout the course of a massage, clients are discretely draped under a sheet, with the therapist only uncovering the body part being worked on. Of course, you can always wear swim attire or undergarments during your massage, although they can hamper the full therapeutic effects your therapist offers. Remember, rest easy in the knowledge that your massage therapist has been trained to nurture and help you without passing judgment. Nathan adds that massage therapists "do not expect to work on bodies that are already in perfect health; rather, we get excited about supporting our client's journey toward better health."

The Power of Touch

While it's easy to overlook your emotional health when planning a new diet and exercise regimen, it's the primary factor determining your weight-loss success. Along the path to fitness, the role of massage in supporting your mental and emotional health may be a critical component. Massage is a calorie-free reward; a way to treat yourself without guilt. Your massage therapist also acts as a cheerleader who celebrates your victories with you and helps keep you positive and committed.

"The more professionals you have on the team, the better," Wooten says. "The worst thing to do, in most cases, is attempt to get into shape on your own." Adding a massage therapist to your weight-loss plan is a great way to tell yourself just how serious you are about taking this step. 

Massage is a powerful way to love, respect, and nurture yourself. When you love yourself, you won't engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices. Rhode calls this "the power of touch"--the unique ability that touch has to make us feel safe, comfortable, and at peace. "Very often, those who are obese or overweight become less social and isolate themselves. They become disconnected from others. They may experience less touch in their lives in general," Rhode says. This disconnect continues a downward spiral of low self-worth and unhealthy living. Massage is a great way to fill in that gap and rebuild a healthy life from the ground up. "I've learned that there are no perfect bodies," Nathan says. "All bodies are unique and have unique needs. All bodies deserve to be nurtured."

Regular massage is all about reconnecting with your body and getting back into yourself. As you continue to take time out to relax and care for your body through regular appointments, you'll naturally become more aware of your body's needs and more motivated to meet them. It's all part of a greater picture of health and fitness, one that Wooten says, "is a journey, and not a destination."

Your massage therapist wants to help you build a bridge between mind and body that will last a lifetime. So update your massage from guilty pleasure status to indispensable health habit, and reap the benefits in the form of a fitter, happier you. You've earned it.

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2010.

Now, More than Ever, You Need a Massage

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Consumers may be tempted to trim their wellness budgets when economic times are tough. Yet a recent national consumer survey showed most massage-minded Americans are committed to maintaining the health benefits they experience with massage. It only makes sense. The better you feel, the better job you can do of caring for yourself and your loved ones.

Now, more than ever, massage should play a role in reducing stress and strengthening the health of Americans. When people feel their best, they are more likely to be able to face the challenges difficult times present. With greater health and peace of mind, consumers can face difficulties with poise, clarity of purpose, and strengthened emotional reserves.

Truly, massage is more than a luxury--it's a vital part of self-care that has a positive ripple effect on us as we work, play, and care for others.

Invest In Yourself and Those You Love

If you think about it, massage is an excellent value. The price of massage has remained stable in recent years, as the cost of movies, meals out, and sports events has risen. Which of these has the power to improve your health and your outlook on life?

Following are health reasons all American adults should be including massage in their family budgets and schedules.

Massage:

* Reduces anxiety

* Reduces the flow of stress hormones

* Improves sleep

* Boosts the immune system

* Improves energy levels and reduces fatigue

* Improves concentration

* Increases circulation

* Improves self-esteem

* Reduces frequency of headaches

* Releases endorphins

The positive effects of regular massage can have benefits in many areas of your life.

Home. Massage therapy will also help families under stress create healthier households with clear-thinking and more relaxed moms and dads. Children are very sensitive and often pick up on tension in a household; parents who are taking care of themselves are more likely to be better caregivers and provide a sense of security to their kids. This goes for caregivers of aging parents and other family members.

Work. The health benefits of massage can help forestall illnesses and lost work time, especially when you may be asked to produce more with fewer resources. Decision-making skills will be better and your performance is likely to be improved with a clear focus and more energy. A hint for the boss: Research shows employees exhibit less stress and improved performance when given twice-weekly, 15-minute massages in the office!

Health Conditions. Those with already existing health conditions can continue to reap benefits in the following ways. And proactively caring for health through massage may help reduce costly doctor visits and use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

.Research shows:

* Massage can reduce sports-related soreness and improve circulation--good to know when you may be exercising more to reduce stress.

* Deep-tissue massage is effective in treating back pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients receiving massage also have less pain, depression, anxiety, stiffness, fatigue, and sleep problems.

*Massage reduces symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

* Oncology patients show less pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and depression following massage therapy.

* Stroke patients show less anxiety and lower blood pressure with massage therapy.

* Massage therapy is effective is reducing postsurgical pain.

* Alzheimer's patients exhibit reduced pacing, irritability and restlessness after neck and shoulder massage.

* Labor pain. Massage during labor appears to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles and help block pain. Some medical professionals believe massage also reduces tearing, shortens labor, reduces the need for medication and shortens hospital stays.

* Preterm babies receiving massage therapy gain more weight and have shorter hospital stays than infants not receiving massage.

* Massage is beneficial in reducing symptoms associated with arthritis, asthma burns, high blood pressure, and premenstrual syndrome.

Posted on MassageTherapy.com

The Benefits of Massage

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Bodywork Goes Beyond Relaxation
As you lie on the table under crisp, fresh sheets, hushed music draws you into the moment. The smell of sage fills the air and you hear the gentle sound of massage oil being warmed in your therapist's hands. Once the session gets underway, the daily stressors and aching muscles fade into an oblivious 60 minutes of relief, and all you can comprehend right now is not wanting it to end.

But what if that hour of massage did more for you than just take the pressures of the day away? What if that gentle, Swedish massage helped you combat cancer? What if bodywork helped you recover from a strained hamstring in half the time? What if your sleep, digestion, and mood all improved with massage and bodywork? What if these weren't just "what if's"? 

Evidence is showing that the more massage you can allow yourself, the better you'll feel. Here's why:
Massage as a healing tool has been around for thousands of years in many cultures. Touching is a natural human reaction to pain and stress, and for conveying compassion and support. When you bump your head or have a sore calf, the natural response is to rub it to feel better. The same was true of our earliest ancestors.

Healers throughout time and throughout the world have instinctually and independently developed a wide range of therapeutic techniques using touch. Many are still in use today, and with good reason. We now have scientific proof of the benefits of massage -- benefits ranging from treating chronic diseases and injuries to alleviating the growing tensions of our modern lifestyles. Having a massage does more than just relax your body and mind -- there are specific physiological and psychological changes that occur, and even more so when massage is utilized as a preventative, frequent therapy and not simply mere luxury. Massage not only feels good, but it can cure what ails you.

The Fallout of Stress
Experts estimate that 80 percent to 90 percent of disease is stress-related. Massage and bodywork is there to combat that frightening number by helping us remember what it means to relax. The physical changes massage brings to your body can have a positive effect in many areas of your life. Besides increasing relaxation and decreasing anxiety, massage lowers blood pressure, increases circulation, improves injury recovery, encourages deep sleep, and increases concentration. It reduces fatigue and gives you more energy to handle stressful situations.

Massage is a perfect elixir for good health, but it can also provide an integration of body and mind. By producing a meditative state or heightened awareness of the present moment, massage can provide emotional and spiritual balance, bringing with it true relaxation and peace.

The incredible benefits of massage are doubly powerful if taken in regular "doses." Researchers from the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami, found that recipients of massage can benefit even in small doses (15 minutes of chair massage or a half-hour table session). They also note that receiving bodywork two to three times a week is even more beneficial. While this may not be feasible, it's nice to know that this "medicine" only gets better with frequency.

What It Does
In an age of technical and, at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive, and humanistic approach based on the body's natural ability to heal itself. Following is a brief list of the many known, research-based benefits of massage and bodywork:

  • Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs,
  • Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body's natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer. Furthermore, increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body's largest organ -- the skin,
  • Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles,
  • Reduces spasms and cramping,
  • Increases joint flexibility,
  • Reduces recovery time and helps prepare the body for strenuous workouts, reducing subsequent muscle pain of athletes at any level,
  • Releases endorphins -- the body's natural painkiller -- and is proving very beneficial in patients with chronic illness, injury, and post-op pain,
  • Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred,
  • Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain,
  • Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication,
  • Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion,
  • Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as reduces the need for medication, eases postpartum depression and anxiety, and contributes to a shorter hospital stay.

The benefits of massage are diverse. No matter how great it feels, massage isn't just a luxury, it's a health necessity.

 

How Massage Heals Sore Muscles

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A massage after vigorous exercise unquestionably feels good, and it seems to reduce pain and help muscles recover. Many people — both athletes and health professionals – have long contended it eases inflammation, improves blood flow and reduces muscle tightness. But until now no one has understood why massage has this apparently beneficial effect.

Now researchers have found what happens to muscles when a masseur goes to work on them.

 Their experiment required having people exercise to exhaustion and undergo five incisions in their legs in order to obtain muscle tissue for analysis. Despite the hurdles, the scientists still managed to find 11 brave young male volunteers. The study was published in the Feb. 1 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

On a first visit, they biopsied one leg of each subject at rest. At a second session, they had them vigorously exercise on a stationary bicycle for more than an hour until they could go no further. Then they massaged one thigh of each subject for 10 minutes, leaving the other to recover on its own. Immediately after the massage, they biopsied the thigh muscle in each leg again. After allowing another two-and-a-half hours of rest, they did a third biopsy to track the process of muscle injury and repair.

Vigorous exercise causes tiny tears in muscle fibers, leading to an immune reaction — inflammation — as the body gets to work repairing the injured cells. So the researchers screened the tissue from the massaged and unmassaged legs to compare their repair processes, and find out what difference massage would make.

They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. “The bottom line is that there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis,” helping the muscle adapt to the demands of increased exercise, said the senior author, Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky.

Dr. Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that massage works quite differently from Nsaids and other anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce inflammation and pain but may actually retard healing. Many people, for instance, pop an aspirin or Aleve at the first sign of muscle soreness. “There’s some theoretical concern that there is a maladaptive response in the long run if you’re constantly suppressing inflammation with drugs,” he said. “With massage, you can have your cake and eat it too—massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.” 

“This is important research, because it is the first to show that massage can reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines which may be involved in pain,” said Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School. She was not involved in the study. “We have known from many studies that pain can be reduced by massage based on self-report, but this is the first demonstration that the pain-related pro-inflammatory cytokines can be reduced.” she said.

Getting a massage from a professional masseur is obviously more expensive than taking an aspirin. But, as Dr. Field points out, massage techniques can be taught. “People within families can learn to massage each other,” she said. “If you can teach parents to massage kids, couples to massage each other. This can be cost effective.”

Dr. Tarnopolsky suggests that, in the long run, a professional massage may even be a better bargain than a pill. “If someone says “This is free and it might make you feel better, but it may slow down your recovery, do you still want it?” he asked. “Or would you rather spend the 50 bucks for a post-exercise massage that also might enhance your recovery?”