How (and Why) You Should be Stretching Your Feet and Ankles – MASSAGE Magazine

Source: How (and Why) You Should be Stretching Your Feet and Ankles – MASSAGE Magazine

stretching feet and ankles

With our foundation for stability and balance originating in our feet, keeping our feet and ankles mobile and stable is the first step in correcting imbalances further up the kinetic chain.

There are lots of different techniques for working with the feet and ankles — but without care, injury can occur during well-intentioned exercises.

What I want to share with you are safer ways to achieve the same or maybe better results if we pay attention to positioning, physiological laws, and what our bodies are telling us. This article addresses what I have found to be a safe and successful approach to creating both flexibility and stability in the feet, based on Aaron Mattes’ system of Active Isolated Stretching and Strengthening.

Good Exercise Gone Bad

When it comes to exercise, the main reason I see for failure is simply stress. The stress I am referring to is not associated with your job or everyday life, but rather the extra force you apply to your body by pushing though exercises even if they are uncomfortable or painful. Over and over again, I’ve seen good intentions for creating stronger and more supple bodies lead to the opposite result of more restriction, weaker muscles and pain.

The old adage “It hurts so good” can cause injury, which in turn creates an inflammatory and neurological response. On top of this, when torn tissues heal, scar tissue develops, which further restricts joint movement. Pushing and pulling too far can be counterproductive, especially during the initial stages of recovery from an injury or surgery when the nervous system is very sensitive and tissues fragile.

Pay Attention to Pain

Pain is an important signal that lets us know what we are doing is not safe. It is something to avoid, and it is imperative to pay attention to what you feel when you exercise. That is not to say that you should avoid certain movements if they have caused pain in the past, but rather to find ways to move in such a manner that allows you to avoid pain altogether.

It is essential to remember that when you feel pain, your nervous system sends a signal to the muscles to protect you from that perceived threat of injury. Spindle cells are one of the primary proprioceptive organs in soft tissues that elicit this protective mechanism (referred to as the myotatic, or “stretch,” reflex). When they sense stress or tension from a stretch that cannot be dealt with in a positive manner, the myotatic reflex activates muscle contraction to avoid injury — in this case to prevent the overstretching and resulting tear of a muscle and tendon.

Let’s take an example of experiencing pain upon turning your torso to one side. If you are faced with this sort of predicament, respect this warning sign and modify your movements accordingly.

In this case, rotate gently, with excellent control, to the point just before you feel pain and then return to the starting point. With each repetition nudge into the barrier, never eliciting pain. As your nerves become less sensitive, the pain will diminish and your natural ROM will begin to return. Following this simple idea will help get you moving again even if you have experienced or are experiencing pain.

How to Stretch with Active Isolated Stretching (AIS)

AI Stretching avoids triggering the myotatic stretch reflex by using gentle, active-assisted movements. Move into the stretch until the first sign of tension and release; it’s that simple. The rhythmic, relaxed repetitions increase blood and lymphatic flow and sedate the nerves. Use a strap or your hand to assist. Repeat the set several times on the tighter side.

Gastrocnemius and the Posterior Compartment

The conventional method for stretching the calves in a standing position is one example of an approach that creates the potential for injury. The tissues being stretched are also bearing weight. This can be a difficult challenge for compromised joints and tissues. Consider this especially if you have an injury.

To make the stretch as safe and effective as possible I recommend doing this stretch supine, with your leg in the air and using a strap to assist yourself. (See photos 1 and 2.)

Photo 1
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 2

Dorsal Stretches of the Ankle

These stretches are usually done while sitting with one leg crossed over the other and plantar flexing your foot while pushing on the dorsal side of the foot with one of your hands to assist. For the most part, these stretches are safe as long as you remember to be gentle enough not to cause pain. These stretches can be very helpful for strained or sprained ankles.

There is often a huge imbalance between the power and strength of the posterior vs. the anterior musculature, similar to the disparity between the flexors and extensors of the wrist. In most cases the anterior muscles such as the tibialis anterior need to be strengthened to achieve balance in your foot and ankle.

With that in mind, the hand you are using to assist the stretch can create resistance on the return phase of the movement, building strength. The resistance should be firm but gentle without impeding movement. This simple addition helps with stability and delivers increased blood and lymphatic flow, reducing inflammation.

Inversion and Eversion Stretches of the Ankle

Stretching the invertors and evertors of the ankle is usually straightforward. In most cases you are sitting with one leg crossed over the other, using your hands to assist. As long as you practice without causing pain you should experience a successful outcome.

To get the most out of this stretch try this: Before you invert or evert your ankle, use your hands to hold your ankle at a 90-degree angle. This modification directs the stretch deeper into the joint, gently tweezing scarred ligaments and joint capsules. Be careful when you modify your stretch in this manner; it can be quite intense. As with dorsal flexion you can create strength with each repetition by using the hand that is assisting the stretch to resist the returning movement.

–Read more at linked article

Types of Massage

 

There are many different massage techniques to choose from. Find out which one is best for you.

When you hear the word massage, you may think of lying on a cushioned table in a softly lit treatment room at an upscale day spa while a therapist gently kneads your sore muscles and strokes your skin with scented oils. Or, you may think of a sweaty football player having his sore muscles roughly pounded by a trainer in the locker room after a game. Both images are accurate. Massage therapy can be relaxing and soothing, or rough and intense, depending on the type of massage involved.

Massage is an umbrella term covering many different techniques and healing philosophies. In general, massage is manipulation of the body’s skin, muscles and connective tissues, usually with the hands, but also with mechanical tools applied to the body’s surface. You may seek massage from a licensed, trained massage therapist, but you may also massage your own sore joints and muscles with your hands or massage tools.

Massage often is used to relieve common symptoms of many types of arthritis: reducing pain and stiffness, easing anxiety, improving range of motion in joints, and promoting more restful sleep.

“Massage can result in a significant reduction in pain” for people with all types of arthritis, says Tiffany Field, PhD, a research psychologist at the University of Miami Medical School. Any type of full-body massage therapy that involves moderate pressure, including self-massage, should help relieve arthritis pain and ease tension, Field says.

Field emphasizes that moderate pressure is key, to stimulate the pressure receptors under the skin that convey signals to the brain to alleviate pain and release beneficial, stress-reducing neurochemicals like serotonin. “We’ve found that light pressure in massage is arousing, not relaxing. With light pressure, the heart rate goes up, the blood pressure goes up. Moderate pressure stimulates relaxation, the heart rate goes down, the blood pressure goes down,” she says.

People with arthritis who experience chronic symptoms may consider using massage therapy regularly, even daily use of self-massage, to help manage their pain and stiffness, or to promote better sleep that can in turn relieve pain in muscles and joints, Field notes.

Main Types of Massage

Massage is an ancient form of pain and stress relief practiced by most worldwide cultures. These techniques may involve not only physical manipulation of the body’s tissues, but also relaxation techniques. Massage may involve use of heat and cold applications to the skin, or the use of oil or lotion to ease gliding of hands or tools against the skin.

Here’s a brief overview of the many types of massage therapy. Be sure to tell your massage therapist that you have arthritis, and point out particular joints that are affected, prior to your session. Before getting any type of massage, consult your doctor to make sure massage is safe for your arthritis and any other health conditions you may have.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage, and what many people think of when they hear the term “massage.”  Swedish massage involves long, fluid stroking of muscles and tissues, and is meant to reduce soreness and stiffness in muscles and joints, to reduce anxiety and to improve circulation. Swedish massage involves five basic strokes: effleurage (sliding or gliding of hands across skin), petrissage (kneading of muscles), tapotement (rhythmic tapping of knuckles or fingers against skin), friction (moving across fibers) and vibration or shaking of the body. Therapists may adjust pressure according to your sensitivity and typically use oil or lotion.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage focuses on manipulation of both top and deeper layers of muscles and tissues, often requiring intense, focused pressure by the therapist. Deep tissue massage is designed to address severe tension or pain in the muscles and connective tissues. Deep tissue massage may cause lingering soreness, so it might be inappropriate for some people with arthritis.

Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage is a massage therapy offered in many day spas that involves placing smooth, heated stones on your back as you lie on your stomach. The hot stones send soothing heat to the muscles and tissues, releasing tension and promoting relaxation. Typically, therapists knead your muscles by hand in addition to placing hot stones on your skin. Other forms involve cold stones, which may help sore muscles from exercise-related injuries or swelling. Some therapists may use both hot and cold stones for contrast or for different healing purposes.

Ayurvedic Massage

Ayurveda is an Indian natural health philosophy that blends yoga, massage, meditation and herbs. Ayurvedic massage is also known as abhyanga, and involves a full-body massage in addition to using aromatic oils chosen for purported spiritual healing properties.

Anma

One of many massage techniques that originated in Asian countries, Anma is a Japanese massage that involves kneading of the muscles and other soft tissues. Anma uses no oils. Anma is based on the idea that an energy flow in the body can be disrupted or blocked, causing illness and pain. Anma practitioners believe that massaging the muscles and tissues can restore this flow and the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Thai Massage

Thai massage combines massage with placement of the body in yoga-like positions during the session. Thai massage techniques may vary between practitioners or the regions in Thailand from which they came. Some involve more flexibility stretching, while others focus on applying pressure to the muscles and joints.

Lomi Lomi

Lomi lomi massage originated in Hawaii and is practiced in many countries throughout the Pacific Ocean region (Polynesia). Lomi lomi is considered a healing practice that may involve diet, prayer, meditation and other health techniques in addition to massage of muscles and tissues.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release aims to relieve pain by manipulating the fascia, connective tissues that surround muscles, blood vessels and nerves. During myofascial release, a therapist stretches and releases those connective tissues by gently rolling the skin back and forth on the back, legs and other areas of the body. Usually, no oils, lotions or massage tools are used.

Reflexology

Reflexology is an alternative Asian healing practice based on a belief that pressure on particular areas of the hands and feet will spur healing in other parts of the body. For example, pressing on the person’s big toe is believed to heal pain or injuries in the brain. Reflexology is meant to promote not only pain relief or healing, but also to reduce stress and anxiety.

Rolfing

Rolfing is similar to myofascial release, and is part of a healing philosophy called structural integration. Invented by Ida P. Rolf in the mid-20th century, rolfing involves the practitioner moving the body into certain positions and manipulating fascia tissues. Rolfing aims not only to promote pain relief and relaxation, but to restore posture and range of motion.

Self-Massage

Self-massage is kneading your own sore joints, pressure points or muscles using your hands, knuckles, elbows or massage tools. Massage tools may be mechanized to offer heat or vibration, or you can create your own aids with household objects like tennis balls, says Field. Massaging hard-to-reach areas like your back may be difficult, but self-massage works well for sore feet, knees, calves, hands, neck or arms.

Shiatsu

Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique widely performed in the United States. Shiatsu therapists apply pressure to specific points of the body using the fingers and palms in continuous, rhythmic motions. Like other Asian massage and healing philosophies, shiatsu is thought to restore the flow of qi, or healthy energy, in the body. No oils are used. Usually, you remain totally clothed during shiatsu. Shiatsu pillows and devices are marketed widely and purport to offer shiatsu-type pressure to various areas of the body, like the neck.

Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point massage is designed to relieve pain in particular areas of the body by applying pressure or vibration into myofascial trigger points. Trigger point therapy that includes injections into the trigger points should only be performed in a clinical setting, such as a doctor’s office, or physical therapy or chiropractic office. Trigger points are points in the muscles where knots may form, and the pinpointed pressure is designed to relax those knots and ease pain. A 2002 study in American Family Physician, the medical journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, concluded that trigger point therapy using injections of numbing agents like lidocaine were very effective for chronic musculoskeletal pain relief, but other trigger point techniques do not involve use of needles.

U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS TO FOCUS ON INTEGRATIVE HEALTH CARE

U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS TO FOCUS ON INTEGRATIVE HEALTH CARE

https://www.massagemag.com/congressional-caucus-focus-integrative-health-88112/?utm_content=buffer12381&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

February 21, 2018 Phillip Weber
Massage News

The new Integrative Health and Wellness Congressional Caucus will educate members of the U.S. Congress on how such therapies as massage, chiropractic, yoga and others can be effective for many people on their journey toward health and wellness.

The new Integrative Health and Wellness Congressional Caucus will educate members of the U.S. Congress on how such therapies as massage, chiropractic, yoga and others can be effective for many people on their journey toward health and wellness.

The caucus will meet in Washington, DC for the first time in March.

“As we debate how we can further the health care system in the U.S., we must ensure that it is affordable and accessible to all—but also, we must ensure that it provides the best possible care available,” Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) told MASSAGE Magazine. “That means investing in evidence-based integrative care.”

Rep. Polis co-founded the caucus along with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.).

MASSAGE Magazine spoke with Rep. Polis, as well as with Susan E. Haeger, the interim director of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC), and IHPC’s Chair Leonard Wisneski, MD, FACP, to get details on the caucus and to find out how massage therapists can add their voices to the conversation.

How the Integrative Health Caucus Came To Be
The IHPC is a unified national policy and advocacy voice for integrative health and wellness, according to IHPC Interim Director Susan Haeger.

Last fall, members of IHPC met with representatives to help form the caucus, and the caucus was announced in October 2017 in a joint press release from the two congressmen.

At the March invitation-only meeting, the IHPC representatives will brief Reps. Polis and Coffman on the current state of integrative health care.

“It is not a formal meeting,” Haeger explained, “but it’s the members coming together on Capitol Hill, and we are very excited about that.”

Regarding what the caucus aims to accomplish at this first meeting, Wisneski said, “there are different things you can do with the caucus. One is you can have interested members of Congress who want to receive information. So there’s information dissemination.

“There are also congressional briefings,” he added. “At our first briefing in March we will be highlighting an introduction to integrative health as well as focusing on the integrative management of pain.”

At that meeting, staffers, congressmen and senators might attend, he said. “People come according to the interest, and there’s a lot of interest in this particular topic now.”

Fighting Opioid Abuse
One of the most pressing health concerns in the U.S. at the moment is the epidemic abuse of prescription opioids originally meant to treat chronic pain.

Professionals in the massage industry have long advocated for massage as an alternative to opioids as a treatment for chronic pain, which would ideally shrink the number of people given these potentially dangerous drugs.

Rep. Polis was very enthusiastic about this possibility.

“We must swiftly address the opioid epidemic,” he said. “Along with improving access to mental health services, drug abuse treatment, and prevention programs, we need to improve access to alternative pain relief options beyond addictive opioids.

“Medical marijuana, acupuncture, massage, and other alternative pain management therapies should be encouraged,” he added. “Patients need and deserve options.”

Massage therapists can contribute to the Integrative Health and Wellness Congressional Caucus by going to the IHPC’s Take Action Now page, where they can enter their zip code to urge their representatives to advance whole-person integrative health care.

“There’s a pre-populated letter than can be sent just as it is or which can be edited,” said Haeger. “We encourage everybody to get that out to their members.”

When asked if massage therapy, in particular, will be highlighted, Wisneski was very enthusiastic.

“Massage therapy has been recognized and is in the literature as an evidence-based approach to pain management,” he said. “Therefore, IHPC considers massage therapy to be an integral part of … the disciplines that we are promoting for this effort.

“We hope to develop a white paper for dissemination,” Wisneski said. “This is off the cuff and hasn’t been announced yet. This is all brand new.”

One of the presenters at the March meeting will be Bob Twillman, PhD, who is executive director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, Wisneski said, adding that much of the information slated to be presented to the caucus in March will come from the Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress that took place in October in San Diego, California, which was sponsored in part by IHPC and AIPM.

“The Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress was made up of representatives from 50 organizations, including the government, the Department of Defense, the Veterans’ Administration, Kaiser, Aetna and third-party payers, as well as integrative organizations,” Wisneski said.

“The summary will be finished soon and then courses will be developed,” he added. “There will be a lot of activity and movement into creating both education for the legislators, general public professions, and health care professionals—and again, massage therapy is considered to be an integral part of this discussion.”

About the Author

Phillip Weber is a San Diego-based writer and co-founder of The English Adept, a language-learning website where he blogs frequently. He writes news and features for MASSAGE Magazine, including “Male Body Image: Massage Addresses Muscular and Emotional Tension” (June 2017, in print), “Massage Brings Peace to Torture Survivors’ Bodies & Minds” and “Massage Therapy Improves Quality of life for Frail Children.
If you enjoyed reading this MASSAGE Magazine online article, subscribe to the monthly print magazine for more articles about massage news, techniques, self-care, research, business and more, delivered monthly. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for additional unique content, including product announcements and special offers.

Athletic Performance: Can Massage Make a Difference?

http://www.massagemag.com/athletic-performance-can-massage-make-a-difference-30031/

By Brandi Schlossberg May 27, 2015

enhance athletic performance

Summer can be a great time to get moving, because the weather tends to be more welcoming. However, before you dive into a new sport or exercise routine, consider the role of massage therapy when it comes to staying active and healthy, and improving your athletic performance.

“Massage therapy can reduce the risk of soft-tissue injury, reduce recovery time after exercise or injury, and help maintain flexibility and optimal range of motion—all of which can combine to keep the weekend athlete in play,” said Mark W. Dixon, B.C.T.M.B., H.H.P., a sports massage therapist in Newport Beach, California.

In fact, research published in 2012 in Science Translational Medicine indicated that massage might reduce inflammation post-exercise much the same way anti-inflammatory medicine does.

Enhance training and athletic performance

For recreational cyclist Joe Quinby, one of Dixon’s regular clients, massage therapy as part of his overall training process means more time on the bike and less time out for rest and recovery.

“I make sure I get in there after a long organized ride of 100 miles or more. I put it on my preride checklist to make an appointment for massage in the week after the ride,” Quinby said. “What I’ve noticed is that it allows me to get right back on the bike and train. I rode 100 miles, got a massage two days later and actually rode stronger the next day than I did in the race.”

Help muscles recover

According to Amy Murry, a sports massage therapist in Olympia, Washington, massage speeds recovery for the weekend athlete because it boosts the body’s own healing process.

“Massage therapy can assist the body in breaking down adhesions and scar tissue, and it also helps reintroduce blood flow to improve circulation, which brings cell nutrition and oxygen to those muscle cells to revitalize and renew,” Murry said.

Research published in Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2009 indicated that massage might aid in recovery, particularly among women, from the temporary state of immunosuppression often induced by exercise.

Prevent injuries

When the body does not have the chance to fully heal and recover before the weekend athlete jumps back into the next sporting event or exercise session, the odds of suffering an injury may be higher. Jodi Halvorson, one of Murry’s regular clients, learned this lesson when she first began training for 50-mile ultramarathons.

“I was fairly new to running when I noticed one of my calf muscles getting super tight, but I just thought it meant I was working out really hard,” Halvorson said. “Actually, the muscle was so tight it was literally pulling on my shin and caused a stress fracture. The injury was from running and not taking care of those muscles, and I was unable to run for like four months after that.”

Determined to take better care of her body and avoid another long stint on the sidelines, Halvorson began booking appointments for massage therapy once a week. She said she has not only been injury-free since she started the weekly massage sessions, but she also finds her recovery time is much faster after intense training and big events.

“Massage is a tool that is often overlooked for shinier bicycles and the next best running shoe, but if your body is full of adhesions and scar tissue, it doesn’t matter what shoe or bike you use,” Murry said. “You need to take care of your musculoskeletal equipment first and foremost.”

About the Author

Brandi Schlossberg is an avid bodywork client and full-time journalist based in Reno, Nevada. She has written on many topics for MASSAGE Magazine, including “Why Massage Might be Better than Over-the-Counter Pain Pills.”

via Athletic Performance: Can Massage Make a Difference?.

Massage As Medicine

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/02/12/massage-as-medicine

By Kirstin Fawcett Feb. 12, 2015 | 10:54 a.m. EST

Massage therapy is increasingly being embraced as an alternative medical treatment.

For more than a decade, Bill Cook has gotten a weekly massage. He isn’t a professional athlete. He didn’t receive a lifetime gift certificate to a spa.

Nor is the procedure a mere indulgence, he says – it’s medicinal.

In 2002, Cook – a 58-year-old resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, who once worked in marketing – was diagnosed with a rare illness. He had cardiac sarcoidosis, a condition in which clusters of white blood cells coagulate together and react against a foreign substance in the body, scarring the heart in the process. The disease damaged his heart so badly it went into failure. The doctors said there was nothing they could do, and Cook’s name was put on an organ transplant waiting list.

The wait stretched on for more than a decade. “I probably had the heart capacity of an 80-year-old,” recalls Cook, who was given medication and a pacemaker yet still struggled daily with his sickness. “It wasn’t pushing the blood out to my extremities because it was so weak. It got worse and worse, and I started to look for anything I could find to help my circulation.”

Cook’s cardiologist suggested he try massage therapy. Though he was initially skeptical, Cook – whose son is a physician – says his doubts vanished after several appointments.

“It really helped the circulation to my fingers, toes and legs,” he says. “I kept with it because I saw some pretty significant benefits.” Today, Cook credits the massages – along with stress reduction and a healthy diet – with allowing him to stay healthy and physically active until he finally received his new heart in 2013.

Studies suggest Cook’s cardiologist was onto something – massage does indeed enhance blood flow and improve general circulation. And experts agree it yields additional benefits, too, ranging from the mental to the physical.

Once viewed as a luxury, massage is increasingly recognized as an alternative medical treatment.

~~read more at link above…

via Massage As Medicine – US News.

The future of treating ACL tears: No cutting, no surgery – Health & wellness – The Boston Globe

http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2014/11/08/the-future-treating-acl-tears-cutting-surgery/H56nklXNhAXoEptwVay2vN/story.html?event=event25

By Globe Staff  November 08, 2014

Nearly three decades ago, a man on crutches changed the course of Dr. Martha Murray’s life. The two met at a party at Stanford University, where Murray was a graduate student in engineering. They talked about the man’s recent anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear. When he told Murray his reconstruction surgery would require a tendon graft and holes drilled into his thighbone and shinbone, she was shocked.

Murray wondered why surgeons couldn’t simply sew the two ends of the torn ligament back together and let it heal. The question nagged at her, led her to the university’s medical library for research, and, ultimately, resulted in a switch from engineering to medical school. Ever since, Murray has studied ACL tears and sought ways to help the ligament heal without grafts or holes drilled into bones. The result has been a sponge scaffold now ready for testing in human knees.

If all goes as hoped with human trials, the sponge scaffold could give athletes new, less invasive options for ACL repairs, particularly the young athletes Murray sees at her Boston Children’s Hospital practice where she works in the Division of Sports Medicine. Today, ACL tears are one of the most common knee injuries, especially among basketball and soccer players. Every year, approximately 400,000 people tear their ACLs in the United States. And women have a two to six times higher risk of suffering an ACL injury than males participating in the same sport.

That means a lot of patients could potentially benefit from Murray’s work. She discussed what it took to go from engineering student to designing structures that help ACLs heal themselves and what she hopes the future holds.

Read more at the link above~~

ART Massage Community Input

Thought we’d try this avenue to make the blog on Beth’s site more interactive and attune to the ART Massage community.   Please comment, as well, if you have blog post ideas, or want to share thoughts on massage-related issues.

Thanks, Steve

 

 

 

Massage Therapy for Health Purposes

Massage therapy dates back thousands of years, with roots in many different cultures. The term “massage therapy” includes many different styles and techniques in which the therapist uses varying degrees of pressure and manipulation to muscle and other soft tissue.

A lot of the scientific research on the clinical effects of massage therapy has been carried out. While often preliminary or conflicting, much of the evidence points toward beneficial effects on pain and other symptoms associated with a number of different conditions. For example, there is evidence that massage may help with back pain and may improve quality of life for people with depression, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. However, much of the evidence suggests these effects are short term and that people need to keep getting massages for the benefits to continue.

This issue of the digest provides information on what the science currently says about the clinical effects of massage for several health conditions, including pain, cancer, depression, and others.

~~continued at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/massage?nav=cd

How Massage Heals Sore Muscles

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/06
/how-massage-heals-sore-muscles/?pagewan
ted=print

February 6, 2012

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR

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.”

~~continued at link above

Document Details Why Massage is an “Integral Component” in the Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits

08/01/2013

http://www.massagemag.com/News/massage-news.php?id=14161&catid=1&title=document-details-why-massage-is-an-qintegral-componentq-in-the-affordable-care-acts-essential-health-benefits-

Some leaders in the massage field are taking steps to try and ensure that massage becomes a greater part of the U.S. health care system, as the implementation date of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes closer. A section of the ACA, which goes into effect in 2014, prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against health care providers—including those licensed as complementary health care providers—relative to their coverage and participation in health plans.A group of Washington state massage therapists has written a document titled “Evidence-Informed Massage Therapy is an Integral Component in the Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits.”

The document summarizes “the high-quality evidence for [massage therapy’s] effectiveness in treating medical conditions and populations” pertaining to the three (out of 10) Essential Health Benefits described in the ACA.

The authors are Marissa Brooks, L.M.P., Michael Hamm, L.M.P., Benjamin Erkan, Diana L. Thompson, L.M.P., and Kenneth Pfaff, H.F.W.L., H.P.C.U.H.G.S.

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) supports the integration of MT into state-regulated insurance plans, both in its definitions of health care practitioners, and in its definition of Essential Health Benefits (EHBs),” the authors wrote, adding that two sections in the ACA provide for massage therapists to provide care: “Section 2706: Non-discrimination with respect to licensed or certified providers acting within their scope [and] Section 3502: Establishing community health teams that include CAM practitioners … ” The authors also noted that of the 10 EHBs specified in the ACA, massage therapy “has shown substantial benefit in three primary categories: 5. Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment”; 7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices”; and 9. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.”

The documents reviewers include Ruth Werner, the current president of the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF). Thompson is MTF past president. Tracy Walton, L.M.T., and Albert Moraska, Ph.D., reviewed the document as well. The document was funded by the American Massage Therapy Association’s Washington chapter.

Read the document here.

—Karen Menehan, Editor in Chief