Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Specialties - What to look for in a therapist.

What are your goals for massage therapy?  Are you looking for something specific, or just general relaxation?  Did you know that massage is like other healthcare professions when it comes to specialties?  So, how do you know when it's OK to see a general practitioner and when it's appropriate to see a specialist?  I can give you some general guidelines.

Not all therapists practice general massage.  Some therapists offer general massage in addition to their specialties, but not all of them do.  If you have a health history that would put you into a special category such as pregnancy, cancer, recent stroke, etc, you need to see a specialist that is trained in your special condition.  Many of these special conditions have precautions that only someone trained in that area would know.  Do you have pain complaints that are just general in nature such as repetitive stress injuries or nursing wounds from a car accident?  Then it is important to find someone who specializes in pain relief and postural correction.  I realize that massage is a very personal experience and it is very tempting to want someone you already know, regardless of their back ground.  That puts your friend or family member in a very awkward position.  If they say yes, that's fine.  If they say they need to refer you out, listen to them. 

Now here is the hard part.  How do you find a specialist?  Well, many of them either have their own office space or do home visits or both.  If you can find one at a spa or a massage franchise, you're lucky since that's not very common.  It's also tempting to go the therapist at your chiropractor's office.  Make sure they specialize in what you need.  Many chiropractors, spas and massage franchises hire new grads straight out of school, but there are exceptions and some of them have veteran therapists.  Word of mouth and the internet are two ways of finding a specialist.  I have many specialist friends who don't have websites, which can make finding them online tricky.  Ask around if anyone does it or knows someone who does.  Be specific in your online searches. 

There are many of us who practice other alternative forms of body work in addition to massage.  Your special condition could end up needing something a little different than what you think you bargained for.  Massage feels good, but if the therapist you contact suggests something a little different, hear them out.  I do postural corrective manual therapy.  Some pain complaints will require that in order for me to meet their needs.  It's not a massage and it's not soothing, but it can sometimes help pain complaints that are causes by tight soft tissue.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When joints are out of alignment

One of the most common reasons that I see people who are in pain, their joints are usually misaligned more often than not.  This doesn't cause minor pain, the pain is usually excruciating.  It's more common in our population than not and it is generally not noticed until it is too late.  What do you do when you are in pain due to misaligned joints?  It's more simple than you think if you catch the problem early enough.

Bone is a slave of the muscles.  Without the muscles, the bones cannot move.  If you have muscle that is tight on one side, it pulls the joint out of alignment, making the muscle on the other side too loose.  Ouch!  In order for the joints to go back into proper alignment and stay there, the muscles must be put back into balance.  The answer to this problem is manual therapy.  Manual therapy is different from a regular relaxation yummy massage.  Therapists who are skilled in manual therapy will know by looking at your posture exactly what muscles need to be loosened up in order to get your joints back into proper alignment.

If you are under the care of a chiropractor, it is important to also incorporate manual therapy into your care in order for the adjustments to stay in place.  Remember, bone is the slave of muscle.  It is important to make sure that the therapist is trained in manual therapy.  Manual therapy is NOT the same thing as a deep tissue massage.  Check out different therapists in your area.  Check out their websites.  Call them or e-mail them to ask them questions about how they work.

Many of the common complaints that can benefit from manual therapy are arthritis, foot and ankle pain, back and neck pain, nerve pain and uneven hips.  Did you know that the problem usually starts out as a soft tissue problem more often than not?  If you catch it early enough, it can often be reversible.