physical therapy meets massage therapy

Doing Physical Therapy? Massage Therapy Can Improve Results!

7 Reasons why this powerful combination works

Pain sucks. As a massage therapist, I would know. Almost everyone who comes to see me does so because they're in pain!

Most of the time, my clients have such a powerful response to massage therapy they don't need additional therapies. However, that isn't always the case. I always look for clues that indicate I need to refer a client to another practitioner, such as a physical therapist. 

Physical therapy and massage therapy are both powerful methods for treating pain. By focusing on correcting the underlying muscular imbalances that have caused it in the first place. When used together, they can help clients achieve faster and better results.  

There are several reasons why massage therapy is effective for anyone who is already receiving physical therapy.

Here are the top 7:

  1. Providing pain relief, often times after the first session
  2. Increasing range of motion so that the body can move better
  3. Decreasing local inflammation by working above and below the area
  4. Lessening the pain clients may be feeling during or after physical therapy exercises
  5. Decreasing the pain clients may feel post-surgery
  6. Bringing faster results than just physical therapy alone 
  7. Motivating clients to stick to their physical therapy treatment plan

That's the short version of why massage therapy and physical therapy are a powerful combination. If you're interested in a more detailed explanation, read below! 

The Breakdown: 

1) Massage therapy helps by treating short and overused muscles. 

The goal of many physical therapy exercises is to help strengthen any weak muscles that are causing pain symptoms. The goal is that by strengthening weak muscles, the body will move & feel healthier. But that's only half the picture. 

When it comes to muscles, imbalance happens when one muscle is weak and long while another muscle is overused and short. In order to correct this, BOTH of these problems need to be addressed. This means following the exercises provided by a physical therapist teaching clients how to engage and strengthen muscles that are weak. It also means using massage therapy to address the muscles that are chronically overused.

The right massage therapist will focus on releasing these tight muscles as well as lengthening them when they've gotten short. This can help effectively decrease pain while also improving range of motion and helping the nervous system learn how to move better! 

2) Massage therapy will help with physical therapy. 

Studies show that one major obstacle to physical therapy treatment is that many will stop coming in if the exercises are painful to do, or if their pain doesn't decrease right away. (Source: Read this article) Basically, if the work is too hard and painful, people are a lot less likely to do it. Massage therapy can decrease pain often with immediate results, which will help provide motivation to stick to the physical therapist's treatment plan.  

3) Massage therapy can help post-surgery.

Sometimes people will experience new aches and pains after their recovery from a surgery, even while doing physical therapy. This can happen due to a change in the body alignment and how the body moves after the procedure. If clients are already doing regular physical therapy and still experiencing pain post-surgery, I suggest asking a doctor if it’s medically safe to try massage therapy.

For more detailed information on how massage therapy can help post-surgery, please check out this in-depth article: Click Here!

 

In summary, we see that combining physical therapy and massage therapy help clients move better and feel better by working on correcting any muscular imbalances that can be causing or contributing to pain. 

Want to read more about how we work at Bodyworks DW? 

Click to Learn More about our Massage Therapy
text neck massage therapy neck pain shoulder pain

Save your text neck

The perils of “always on” technology:

Okay, so your "text neck" probably won’t actually kill you (unless you are texting and driving). However, it’s becoming increasingly likely that at some point in the next 5-10 years of tech use, you’ll develop a repetitive stress disorder.

The phrase carpal tunnel syndrome (wrist pain) has been part of the collective conscious for several decades. It's so common as a disrupter of productivity that it has spawned an entire industry of ergonomics solutions. These range from special keyboards to Star Trek styled full desk/monitor set ups. All keep you at your desk longer making trades, typing contracts, writing legal memos.

And then the 2000’s came along. Most of us jumped all in with smartphones and laptops and tablets.

Suddenly we could be productive all the time.

Standing on the subway platform?

Let me check my email.

Taking the train in from CT?

Let me just go over those sales reports.

Date just went to the bathroom?

Let me text my assistant to make sure I’m set up for tomorrow’s board meeting.

Unfortunately, there are costs to constant device use that might change your mind about your phone and tablet.

Looking down at our phone, tablet, or laptop, pulls our head forward and down. This imbalances all the muscles holding up your head (ahem... text neck). These imbalances can cause any and all of the following:

  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • TMJ
  • headaches
  • low back pain
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • anxiety
  • low energy
  • bone loss
  • depression
  • memory loss

Sound scary? Don’t believe it?

Check out this New York Times article: Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Moods

Like many things that aren’t healthy for us, these costs are not going to suddenly show up tomorrow. They build up over time. In ways that make it hard to track what the changes are doing to your body. However, there is hope for us all!

What can I do about this?

I’m not some Luddite preaching that we should all return to farming. I happen to be a business owner with 20+ employees and have tech in so many screen sizes it’s getting ridiculous. I deal with text neck too. 

I’ve got a smartwatch, smartphone, an iPad for home and one for work, an airbook laptop, an iMac at my desk. Not to mention the 15 other devices I have at the office for the staff to be "productive" on. I’m just as tempted as you to go on my phone on the subway and read articles on Facebook or Twitter to pass the time. So I decided to try something out...

Experiments DW

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve been running an experiment to see just how much I can lighten up my daily commute (see the last blog post on how much we carry around with us and tips to help with that).

I’ve gotten down to just leaving home with the following:

That’s right….NO BAG.

I had to get really clear on what my time is worth to me and what my long term health is worth to me. And I had to spend some extra cash to duplicate certain items at work and at home so that I wouldn’t have to cart them back and forth.

Is it worth it? For me this experiment has been a fascinating eye opener. It’s also reduced my daily stress levels by about 20-30%.

I have less issues with headaches at day end, my back feels better, and my overall mood has noticeably improved.

I’ve got new rules for my text neck, I count em:

#1: I am not allowed to look at my phone during my commute except to choose music.

#2: I am only allowed to work while at the office, or while at my desk at my home office. The couch is only for relaxing and the bed is only for sleeping (and well, you know…).

#3: If I need something both at work and at home, I duplicate that item rather than carry it back and forth. The value in stress reduction and ease of movement on my body is a long-term savings in health and self-care costs down the road.

#4: If I do have to look at a device, I hold it up to horizon level and keep my head up.

#5: When my arm gets tired of holding up the device to eye level rather than looking down, it’s time to take a break and put it away.

You may think I’m crazy for buying a second iPad to keep one at work and one at the office. Really the only reason for me to do that is that it has become my primary note taking device for my life coaching sessions. Sure, I could take notes on paper, but then I’d have to create a filing system for them. The iPad keeps all my notes for each client on the cloud.

Of course, you’ll have to do your own analysis of the following:

- what you can and can’t do without

- how much is your time is worth

- which work can be left until tomorrow or

- what work can be put on hold for the 45 minutes to 2 hours you spend on your commute

You’ll probably come up with different ways to reduce your load and stress than I have. (For instance, maybe it’s spending the extra cash on a monthly gym locker. You can leave your workout gear there most of the time.) Prioritize those ideas and see for yourself how helpful it can be. 

Are you willing to give lightening your load and keeping your head up a try? Yes? Your text neck will thank you.

Deep Tissue Massage Therapy for Low Back Pain

Massage Therapy versus surgery for Low Back Pain – an effective alternative?

  • Why medication is just masking the root cause of your pain

  • How a targeted series of massage sessions can significantly reduce pain from herniated lumbar discs and other causes of low back pain

Massage therapy for low back pain is an effective alternative treatment to surgery and medications. Additionally, in most cases the results are noticeably better than either of those traditional approaches according to the newest research (excerpt from Vox article "A comprehensive guide to the new science of treating lower back pain").

How Massage Therapy for Low Back Pain can Help

Bulging discs seem to come out of nowhere, but in reality there are usually other root causes. For instance, an older ankle or knee injury can create an imbalance in the body leading to pain. Compensation from older injuries puts asymmetrical pressure on the low back. Eventually this can cause one or more lumbar discs to bulge. If the bulge presses on nerve pathways, extreme pain can result.

At Bodyworks DW, we evaluate how the rest of the body and posture is affecting your low back pain. Then we will make a plan for a series of session that will unwind any seemingly unrelated issues. As the whole body opens up, pressure on the low back is relieved, allowing the disc to return to it's normal shape. With less and less pressure on the nerves, pain slowly but surely goes away.

How Traditional Approaches Fail

Surgery tries to correct this by shaving down the bulging disc or fusing two vertebrae together. However, the root cause is still affecting the body. The surgery can eliminate symptoms for a short period. Then the bulge pops out in another disc making the problem even worse later on.

Medications mask symptoms, which can feel good and sometimes help you move through the issue. However, the root cause it usually not addressed. Pain will likely come back to plague you in the future. Opioids are especially worrisome as they are highly addictive. This can lead to reliance on them to even function. In an increasing number of cases the addiction spirals out of control.

How Massage Therapy works differently 

With massage therapy for low back pain, we work to discover why the disc is bulging in the first place. Meaning you'll get a more holistic approach. The pathway might be slower, but you'll know that your pain is being reduced in a healthy way. And you'll gain the tools to keep it from coming back in the future.

In addition to massage therapy I want to point out some research from the American College of Physicians advising doctors and patients try “non-drug therapies” such as exercise, acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, and even chiropractics, and avoid prescription drugs or surgical options wherever possible. (If the non-drug therapies fail, they recommended nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as a first-line therapy, or tramadol or duloxetine only as a second-line therapy.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also came out with new guidelines urging health care providers to turn to non-drug options and non-opioid painkillers before considering opioids.

Research is mounting that active therapies (exercise programs, yoga, tai chi) can really help people work through back pain, and alternative approaches (massage, spinal manipulation) can be effective, too.

Are you suffering from low back pain? There are many advantages to working with our team of trained medical massage therapists.

Book online or call today to see if massage therapy for low back pain can help you!

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massage therapy for neck pain

Massage Therapy for Neck Pain: Effective Lasting Treatments

Have you considered massage therapy for neck pain?

Neck pain is a common complaint.

We tend to keep our head in a “head forward” position. This pulls the muscles in the back of your neck into a constant stretch. And makes them work extra hard to fight the weight of your head. Muscles hate being stretched and working hard, so they yell at you. Loudly 🙂

We’ve developed truly effective massage therapy for neck pain that provides long term relief at Bodyworks DW.

Does this sound like you?

a) Sitting at a desk staring at your screen,
b) looking down at your phone much of the day,
c) reading your iPads in bed to unwind and destress after a long day at work

massage therapy for neck pain
The roots of your neck pain aren’t in your neck!

So, my massage therapist should work where the pain is the whole time, right?

Actually, no.

It may feel good to have your therapist spend the session massaging mostly where you feel pain. However, the next day you will feel like you were hit with a bag of hammers. And it won’t do anything to relieve the pain in the long term. Massage therapy for neck pain has to address what’s causing your head to move forward in the first place. And it’s not anywhere near your neck!

The following three areas need to be released move your head into a more balanced position. This allows the muscles in the back of your neck and upper back to relax and stop yelling at you.

3) Is your current massage therapist only working on the back of your neck? Yes, we know that’s where it hurts. However, he or she is not going to make a long term impact. The back of your neck is over stretched. The front side needs to be released in order to give the back some slack.

2) The position of your ribcage in relation to your pelvis is vitally important to relieving neck pain. With a head forward position, the ribcage tilts backwards to compensate. The muscles in the mid back will work extra hard. If I only release the front neck muscles and not the mid back muscles, your neck will feel a lot better, but you’ll be stuck looking up at the ceiling.

1) Your tight hip flexors (from sitting all day) are why the ribcage moves backward and the head moves forward. And if we open up the angle of your neck and your ribcage, but not the hip angle, you’ll be left stooping over!

Effective massage therapy for neck pain addresses all of the forces pulling on your head

Addressing your neck pain effectively requires releasing each of these folds in the same session. You will feel immediate relief at the end of the first session. And you won’t feel sore or beat up the next day.

However, one session won’t “fix” the problem. The first session is a great start to open up the surface musculature. And the first session allows for deeper work in later sessions. Your relief will last a lot longer.

To have a long term impact, we will follow up the first session with 3-5 custom designed sessions. These session will work on more detailed areas in cumulative layers. Each session allows us to go deeper into the stuck front neck muscles and bring your head into better balance. With your head balanced on top of your spine all of the muscles work less. Less work = less pain!