How Massage Can Help Fibromyalgia?
Being a fibromyalgia or ‘fibro’ sufferer can feel miserable. It is important to learn to manage your symptoms as much as possible to try and avoid it impacting on your everyday life. This can be easier said than done. Massage can be one way to help manage your symptoms.
What is Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure. People who suffer from this condition are more often female between the ages of 20 to 50.
The main symptom is pain, which can range from mild to severe. It varies from person to person but some people report shooting or burning pains while others complain of a constant deep ache which doesn’t let up. It’s common for joints to feel tender and the pain to get worse at night although some people feel it all day long. Other symptoms can include tiredness, depression, headaches and memory loss.
Why massage for Fibromyalgia?
Massage can boost circulation in your muscles, reduce your heart rate, relax your muscles, improve the range of motion in your joints and increase the production of the body’s natural painkillers, also known as endorphins. All of these effects are positively great for fibro sufferers.
People who have fibro can be extra sensitive to pressure in some parts of their body therefore good communication with your therapist about using the most comfortable pressure. If you’re worried that it will hurt…don’t be. I will always check in with you about the pressure used and can adjust the session to ensure that you are positioned comfortably.
How can sleep help?
Massage can help to promote better sleep, so it follows that if your fibro leaves you waking up tired, even after what you think was a normal night’s sleep, a massage can help. A decent massage will leave you relaxed and promote deeper sleep – and deep sleep helps fibro symptoms because it’s when you enter the deep sleep phase that your body can repair and restore itself.
Boost your mood
During your massage, your body will begin to relax, due to the effects of your parasympathetic nervous system which also allows us to rest and digest. While we are in a relaxed state mentally, we are more likely to experience less tension in our muscles.
Performing myofascial release techniques to your head and neck can offer a gentle way to encourage chronic muscle tension to relax and decrease headaches. Frequent massages can help reduce the intensity of your headaches which can improve your mood and help you to sleep better.
If you’re concerned about whether a massage is a good idea for you, speak to your doctor first.
Myofascial Melt…What is it?
You might have seen Myofascial Melt massage on my services menu and wondered what type of massage that is? This is a type of slow focused massage technique that allows me to target tension in your body in order to “melt” that tissue into a more flexible and relaxed state. I start by performing a visual assessment of your posture and look for chronic holding patterns which helps me to see where your web of fascia has shortened and tightened.
What is fascia?
Fascia is another name for the fibrous connective tissues that you have all over your body. It literally weaves through, is part of, and connects to every type of tissue and organ in our bodies.
It also helps to separate individual muscles within their groups so that they can work independently, and it provides a lubricated surface which allows the muscles to move smoothly against each other.
If you’re inactive for a long time, because of a sedentary lifestyle or have had an illness, injury or emotional trauma, your muscle fascia can start to stick together. This can stop your muscles from moving freely and gives you a tight, stiff feeling. In some cases, this can also limit your mobility. This sticking together and shortening of the fibers can create an immense pressure on your nerves and blood vessels which contributes to your pain and inflammation.
How is it released?
Myofascial Release is a gentle but firm technique which does not force the fascia to move, but instead helps to free up stiff fascia and reduces tension or restriction.
In this type of massage, I feel and stretch slowly down into the tissues, all the time feeling for a glue-like texture which means there’s a ‘sticky’ fascia. In order to create the sustained tension on the tissues, no lotions or oils are used. It’s a very precise massage technique that involves using a gentle yet direct pressure for five to eight minutes while I wait for the tissues to soften and release.
The massage should give your fascia a chance to return to its normal resting length which will feel a lot better, ease any pain or stiffness and allow blood and nerve impulses to flow more freely through the released area. This release allows you to move more freely and helps you to rebalance your posture.
Who benefits from Myofascial Melt Massage ?
If you have issues with your posture, chronic pain, fibromyalgia or past trauma or injury, this type of therapy could be useful. Since most of us have had some type of inury during our lifetimes, this technique is useful for everyone. If the fascial tissue is holding your body in the wrong position, your muscles will struggle to keep you in the correct alignment. Your connective tissue then starts to work harder and this can lead to other problems. A combination of bad posture and gravity lead to extra stresses on your body that can be relieved with myofacial release.
If you have scar tissue from previous injuries, some myofascial techniques might relieve some of the discomfort. In scar tissue, the tissue is laid down in a random pattern, which can cause it to pull on the surrounding tissue. Using fascial therapy can help to release some of the pain and stiffness caused by scar tissue dysfunction.
If you have any questions about how Myofascial Melt can help you, I would be happy to explain in more detail. When sceduling a Myofascial Melt appointiment, arrive a few minutes early as I will do a postural assessment in order to develop a treatment plan before you enter the therapy room for your treatment.
Why Use Essential Oils in Massage ?
Also known as aromatherapy massage, a massage using essential oils not only smells wonderful, but has many physiological benefits as well.
There are two main reasons why I may use essential oils in your treatment.
- They smell nice – but aromas are well known to trigger emotions in the part of your brain that deals with memories, which is why certain scents can take us back in time triggering happy memories. Some scents, like citrusy or lavender oils have a very similar effect and just inhaling them as you’re enjoying your massage makes you feel good.
- The essential oils used in massage can have beneficial effects on different areas of your body and health. Some blends like DoTerra’s Aromatouch contain several essential oils known to help reduce muscle pain and promote relaxation
Essential oils and pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you should always tell your massage therapist before an aromatherapy massage because although essential oils are safe in the vast majority of cases, there are a few specific essential oils that are best avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Essential oils and pain relief
Using essential oils such as wintergreen, peppermint and copaiba in a massage is ideal if you’re experiencing symptoms like inflammation or pain. There are several other essential oils which can give you even more relief than a basic massage.
Essential oils and stress relief
For some people, just breathing in the gorgeously relaxing scent of lavender essential oil can calm you down, while others might find it too strong and stimulating. Lavender essential oil is great for pain relief and widely used in stress-busting massage treatments. Other people may actually prefer lighter scents like citrus or something more invigorating like peppermint.
Aromatherapy is optional and complimentary
It is very important to let me know if you have any allergies or asthma as some oils can trigger an allergic reaction or irritate asthmatic airways. If I know that you have a personal preference or medical reason to avoid aromatherapy, I will schedule your appointment during the part of the day when no essential oils have been used.
As always, I use essential oils to enhance your experience and will use them as requested at no additional charge to you. I just love using aromatherapy and believe in the many benefits they offer and want to share them with you.
I am currently studying aromatherapy in order to learn more about their benefits and uses. Please feel free to ask me questions or let me know if there is an oil that you would prefer that I use during your session and I will order that for your next session.
What’s your favourite aromatherapy oil?
Five Massage Myths Busted
You might think you know all there is to know about massages – but some myths still seem to hang around, and we’ve probably heard them all. Here are a few we hear all the time…busted!
Massage can spread cancer
One of the biggest and possibly most enduring myths puts a lot of people off massage that could really benefit from it. The myth is that having a full body massage can spread cancer because it stimulates your lymphatic system, which produces white blood cells to fight infections.
There is absolutely no evidence that cancer can be spread by massage, of course. Manipulating tissue in the way a massage therapist does won’t make tumor cells move, and not only is having massage therapy non-harmful for cancer patients, it’s actually good for most of them.
Don’t get a massage if you are in your first trimester of pregnancy
Massage is great in pregnancy, and the best thing is that it’s perfectly safe in all trimesters and can be really beneficial. Having a massage absolutely won’t bring on early labor or a miscarriage. Even so, you should always tell your massage therapist if you are pregnant when you attend for your massage so that she can adapt the techniques.
There are some essential oils that aren’t recommended in the first or last trimesters, too, so when you book an aromatherapy massage, let the therapist know in advance. Other than that – lie back and enjoy being spoiled.
Massage removes toxins
Massage therapy has many benefits, but although this myth is still repeated – sometimes even by therapists – it’s not true. Massage doesn’t detoxify your body at all. True toxins are thin. gs like mercury, lead or botulinum toxin which are dangerous to your body, and massage won’t help you if you need to eliminate any of those! The truth is, your body is very efficient at filtering most waste products and unwanted substances out of your body using your lymphatic system, and ultimately by your kidneys and liver.
Massage could possible help your body to expel the by-products of your muscles post-exercise, like lactic acid, but in truth, your body is perfectly capable of doing that all by itself.
Soreness is a sign of a good massage
Soreness is no indication of how good your massage treatment has been. The amount of discomfort you feel the following day isn’t a badge of honor. If it’s your first ever massage (or first in a long time) or you’re not very active, you might be a little bit sore after a session, but although it’s nothing to worry about, it’s not compulsory and if you don’t feel anything at all, that’s great! If you’re used to regular massage therapy you’re unlikely to feel sore afterwards.
You don’t need to drink extra water after a massage
This one is a definite myth! You really do need to drink water after your massage and that’s why we offer it to you. Drinking water after a massage will keep you hydrated, and stop you getting any soreness. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps to get your lymph fluid moving, which is one major plus point of a massage.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have a massage every day of the week? Sadly, most of us don’t have the time or the money to indulge in quite such a regular massage routine, but we can make the most of massage treatments by taking care of ourselves in between massages.
First rule – drink the water!
There’s a reason why your therapist gives you a refreshing glass of cool water after a treatment; it’s to help hydrate your body and keep your muscles relaxed. Water is great for your skin and your muscles, plus staying hydrated can even help to prevent headaches.
Keep up with the stretching
It’s a very common problem, but there’s a very simple solution…if you are one of the many people who feel achy and tight after a day at work, stretch!If you make a habit of including stretching in your daily routine, it will really help you with any muscle aches and soreness, and will make the effects of your massage last longer. In between sessions, having a good stretch helps support the work that’s been done to relax your muscles on the treatment table. It doesn’t matter when you fit your stretches in, as long as you make a habit of it.
Stretches shouldn’t ever hurt, so don’t overdo it. Easing into stretches gently, and holding them for at least a minute will give you better results than shorter, deeper stretches.
Epsom salt baths are great for keeping any muscle aches and stiff joints at bay – they contain magnesium which is also good for relieving stress. To prevent soreness after a massage, add Epsom salts to your bath as directed and relax.
Heat or Cold
In between massages you might start feeling that tell-tale build-up of tension – nip it in the bud with heat therapy. Applying heat can help to sooth aching muscles and relieve any tightness and tension. Heat can also improve and stimulate blood flow to the area. Try a heat pad, or heat up a damp towel in the microwave using 30 second intervals to check the temperature.
If you injure yourself in between massage sessions, try using cold therapy to numb the pain. Cold therapy is good for strains, sprains and other minor injuries (if you’re unsure, or are in serious pain, see your healthcare provider).
One last and very important tip; make your massage sessions part of your regular self-care routine. If you’re unsure about how often you need a massage, the best person to ask is your therapist. She will know if you need extra sessions or just maintenance care, and will make sure your massage is tailored to your needs.