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

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.

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.

Resolving Meniscus Injuries of the Knee

http://kinetichealth.ca/resolving-meniscus-injuries-of-the-knee/

meniscus of knee, knee illustrationThe successful resolution of a knee problem involves a complex understanding of kinetic chain relationships, and a functional understanding of how each body action is related to specific anatomical structures.

Learn more about the knee’s structure and kinetic chain on Dr. Abelson’s blog.

When you observe a deviation from normal motion patterns it is a direct indication of what structures are involved in a specific injury.

This information tells the practitioner that primary muscles that perform the action may be involved (agonists), or their oppositional muscles (antagonists). This, combined with a whole body examination of kinetic chain relationships, provides the practitioner insight into what it will take to resolve a knee injury.


Degree of Injury

How well a meniscus tear responds to non-surgical treatments will depend on the degree of tearing. In most cases the damage is not significant enough for surgery. The following symptom patterns may give you an indication of the severity of a tear. Remember these are just general guidelines, only a medical professional can make a definitive diagnosis.

Minor meniscus tear symptoms

You will experience only minimal pain, and you are still able to walk. Some degree of swelling exists, and increased pain is experienced during squatting motions. Most of these symptoms should diminish within 2-3 weeks.

Moderate meniscus tear symptoms

Pain occurs directly at the site of the meniscus (lateral or medial). Sharp pain occurs with any type of squatting or twisting motion of the knee. Often there is considerable stiffness with this condition. If these symptoms are ignored and rehabilitation is not implemented, it could take several months to a year before they go away.

More severe meniscus tear symptoms

Immediate sharp pain is experienced, including swelling and stiffness. The patient’s knee may lock into position. The patient is often not able to straighten their knee. This is often a case for surgical intervention.


Treatment of Meniscus Injuries

Meniscus injuries can be very painful; the treatment should focus on decreasing swelling, increasing range of motion, and strengthening the knee. Active Release Techniques can be very effective in helping to achieve these goals. That is unless there is a severe tear of the meniscus; this is a case for surgical intervention.

At the initial onset of these injuries it is important to:

Rest – Avoid putting excess stress on the knee. In some cases crutches may be advisable if the injury is more severe.

Ice – Use ice on the knee for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours, until swelling is reduced.

Elevate – Elevating your knee will also be of benefit, place your knee on a blanket or pillow.

Compress – An elastic tensor bandage on your knee may also help to reduce swelling.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy (including ART, Graston Techniques, and Massage therapy) is a great way to take direct or indirect tension off of the meniscus. This may involve numerous soft tissue restrictions above, below, or in direct contact with the meniscus.

For example, besides the meniscus attaching to your shin bone (tibia – medial and lateral condyles), each meniscus also attaches to the tendons of two muscles. These are the popliteus muscle and the semimembranosis muscle.

Popliteus Muscle (Behind the knee)

This muscle flexes and medially rotates the knee. Tension in this muscle could affect meniscus function.

Semimembranosis (Hamstring muscle)

Inflammation of the semimembranosis is often confused with an injury of the medial meniscus. Removing any restriction from this structure will have a positive effect on meniscus function.


Exercise is Essential

Just as important as removing the restrictions are performing exercises. Initially these exercises should be very simple with a focus on maintaining overall leg strength.

An example would be the Unilateral Partial Squat. Just click on the exercise diagram to see how it is performed. If you are performing this exercise be sure to stay in a pain-free range of motion. This only an example of one exercise recommendation, usually 4 to 6 exercises would be prescribed.

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

New Research Supports the Mental Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

(http://tinyurl.com/nyrshy3)

Symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression may be alleviated with massage therapy

Evanston, Ill. (October 23, 2013) – /PRNewswire/ – To mark National Massage Therapy Awareness Week (NMTAW), October 20-26, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has compiled research that suggests symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (all associated with mental health) may be alleviated with massage therapy.

Following are some recent research findings which highlight the role of massage therapy in mental health and wellness. View AMTA’s Research Roundup Volume 4 online at www.amtamassage.org/researchroundup.

Massage Therapy for the Treatment of Depression in Individuals with HIV
Research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine1 indicates that massage therapy can reduce symptoms of depression for1 individuals with HIV disease. The study lasted eight weeks, and results show massage significantly reduced the severity of depression beginning at week four and continuing at weeks six and eight. AMTA President Winona Bontrager says of the study, “This research suggests that regular therapeutic massage could be a useful tool in the integrated treatment of depression for patients with HIV.”

Massage Therapy to Reduce Anxiety in Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy
Research published in Applied Nursing Research2 shows that back massage given during chemotherapy can significantly reduce anxiety and acute fatigue. “This research demonstrates the potential value of massage therapy within the full cancer treatment spectrum, particularly during the often mentally and physically exhausting chemotherapy process,” says Bontrager.

Massage Therapy for Reduced Anxiety and Depression in Military Veterans
Research published in Military Medicine3 reports that military veterans indicated significant reductions in ratings of anxiety, worry, depression and physical pain after massage. Analysis also suggests declining levels of tension and irritability following massage. This pilot study was a self-directed program of integrative therapies for National Guard personnel to support reintegration and resilience after return from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Massage Therapy for Nurses to Reduce Work-Related Stress
Research published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice4 shows that massage for nurses during work hours can help to reduce stress and related symptoms, including headaches, shoulder tension, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. “This study affirms the important role massage therapy can play in the work setting, in this case to ease stress for health care providers who, in turn, can better provide optimal patient care,” says Bontrager.

It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association that massage therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety. Read additional research on massage for anxiety.

~~ To read more, visit http://tinyurl.com/nyrshy3

# # #

1 Polane, RE, Gertsik L, Favreau JT, et al. Open-label, randomized, parallel-group controlled clinical trial of massage for treatment of depression in HIV-infected subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2013 Apr; 19(4):334-40. doi 10.1089/acm.2012.0058.
2 Karagozoglu S, Kahve E. Effects of back massage on chemotherapy-related fatigue and anxiety: Supportive care and therapeutic touch in cancer nursing. Applied Nursing Research. 2013 Sep;19. pii: S0897-1897(13)00070-0. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2013.07.002.
3 Collinge W, Kahn J, Soltysik R. Promoting reintegration of National Guard veterans and their partners using a self-directed program of integrative therapies: a pilot study. Military Medicine. 2012 Dec;177(12):1477-85.
4 Engen DJ, Wahner-Roedler DL, Vincent A, et al. Feasibility and effect of chair massage offered to nurses during work hours on stress-related symptoms: a pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2012 Nov;18(4):212-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.06.002.

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