Tag: massage therapy

Detecting Skeletal Alignments Without Using X-Rays

Did you know that it is possible to detect skeletal misalignment without having to take X-Rays?

In fact, not only is it possible, it’s the first thing I look for when treating an injury ~ particularly if the pain or discomfort is felt in the neck or lower back and pelvic regions. This type of treatment is called Muscle Energy Techniques (MET). It has been used by osteopaths for decades and is far more palatable for the patient to receive than the much more stringent “adjustment” performed by chiropractors. When a misalignment has been observed (or assessed), Hold/Relax stretching is applied (a series of isometric contractions, each followed by a slight stretch) to loosen and lengthen the tight muscle that has been pulling the skeleton out of alignment.

If you are wondering how one goes about finding these deviations, it is by palpation and observation.

For example, there are several bony landmarks in the pelvic girdle that can tell us what is going on with this structure. By palpating and then observing these landmarks, we can discover deviations such as high ileums (one hip will be higher than the other hip), anterior or posterior rotations of ileums, sacroiliac (SI joint) fixations, pubic bone misalignment, and deviations of the sacrum.

By observing from behind the client, it’s also possible to identify side-bending curves and rotations of the spine. We can even detect rotations of individual vertebrae, although one wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the only bony landmark we can see (the spinous process). The cool part about this is that by close examination of the skeleton, osteopaths discovered that in the lumbar portion of the spine, the transverse processes of each vertebra are located laterally, (about an inch wider on each side), halfway between the spinous process of the vertebrae we are investigating, and the spinous process of vertebra directly above the one we are investigating. So, by placing my thumbs about an inch wide on both sides, half-way between the spinous process I’m investigating and the one directly above it, I can see if one side is sticking out more (or is more posterior) than the other side. Depending on which side is posterior, we would identify it as being either “rotated left” or “rotated right.”

The muscles that control individual vertebrae are very small compared to the bigger muscles (prime movers such as hamstrings, quads, etc) and as such, they need only a tiny effort (10%) when applying the series of isometric contractions used to loosen the tight muscles that are causing the deviation. In either event, one must always re-assess the bony landmarks to confirm that the misalignment has been corrected!

Ultimately, without having to rely on X-Rays, we can assess the entire spine, both in flexion & extension, and this will amount to about one half of the entire protocol known as the Onsen Techniques (developed by Rich Phaigh, renowned massage therapist in Eugene, Oregon). Several massage practitioners at the Club have trained in the Onsen Techniques: Maryann Kuchera has taken all four classes (at least two times), as has Misa Shimizu (one time), and Carrie Nelson and Leo Dilorenzo each have taken at least one class!

Julie Bacon, LMP and Certified Onsen Techniques Therapist, Instructor & Examiner.

Now Offering Craniosacral Therapy at the Seattle Athletic Club

What is it?

Craniosacral is a form of manual therapy that focuses on the pulse of cerebrospinal fluid and the subtle motility of the cranial bones.

Where did it come from?

Originally it came out of Dr. William Sutherlands osteopathy in the cranial field in the 1930’s and later evolved into craniosacral therapy around the 70’s. It was headed at the time by John Upleadger and has continued to evolve over the years.

Who would best benefit from it?

People who have sustained head trauma or any kind of trauma that prevents them from receiving or tolerating deep touch. It is also very helpful in addressing headaches and jaw pain.

What can it do for me?

It uses many mainly gentle techniques on the head, face and spine to address held tension or trauma. It also implores the use of intraoral techniques to address deeper structures of the jaw.

Jessie Jo recently completed a 260 hour formal training in CST. If you have any questions about this new-to-the-club style, feel free to be in touch.

Ice is Nice, but it can be Even Better

Most people know to ice as soon as possible after sustaining an injury, but did you know that if you ice correctly, you can often avoid more serious injury? By serious injury I mean the kind that causes recurring pain for weeks or more and won’t go away with just rest. The key is simple – as soon as you can, ice in a stretched position and ice until you’ve removed all excess heat from the injured area, so that it’s the same temperature as healthy tissue adjacent to the injury.

Icing in a stretched position is critical. For example, if you strained a hamstring, you would place the ice bag directly under the injury and sit on it, on the floor (or 2 chairs), with your leg completely straight and your torso upright against the wall (or chair back). A strained calf could require slightly different stretches: depending on which muscle is injured (there are several). The entire leg could be straight and the foot stretched back toward you with a strap. Or, the knee should be bent while the calf is stretched, and so on. If you’re not sure of the specific stretch for a certain muscle, (or if you don’t know which muscle is injured) ask any of our yoga instructors, personal trainers or massage practitioners.

Briefly, icing in a stretched position achieves two results. First, placing the muscle in a tight stretch causes newly forming scar tissue to be aligned parallel to muscle or tendon fibers. Icing ensures that the scar tissue hardens or cements in this proper alignment. Misaligned scar tissue can result in re-injury: recurring pain with a specific activity. (A massage practitioner trained in injury treatment can help to resolve the issue.) Second, icing until all excess heat is removed diminishes any secondary injury that may be caused by cell death due to lack of oxygen. (Swelling increases interstitial fluid between cells, spreading them farther apart so nutrients have to travel farther to get to cells.) Icing lowers the temperature and slows cell metabolism, decreasing the amount of oxygen needed to survive.

While we’re at it, stretching need not necessarily be part of your warm up. A “warm up” is just that – increasing the temperature in your muscles. A high velocity, low resistance activity is recommended, such as the stationary bike. Spin like crazy (with slight resistance) until you break a sweat – now you’re warmed up. While I recognize that for elite athletes stretching is a mandatory part of their warm up, it’s probably OK for the rest of us to save the stretching until after your athletic activity, when you are at your very warmest.

I’ll finish with a specific incident: while on break during my massage shift I passed one of our trainers in the juice bar. She had just returned from a run and was alarmingly incapacitated, hardly able to walk, and in a great deal of pain. “Bacon!!” she says, “You’ve got to fix me!!” I told her that, as she had just done it, there was nothing for me to fix yet (scar tissue was only just starting to form). I told her to ice herself in a stretched position. When I saw her next, she was lying on her belly, propped up on her elbows, (effectively stretching her hip flexors) resting on a bag of ice at her upper thigh/groin region. The very next day, she was moving with only the slightest limitation and fully recovered, needing no further treatment.

Welcome Amanda Goddard to Our Massage Team

The Massage department has a new addition! Please welcome Amanda Goddard to our staff. She comes to us highly skilled in many modalities of bodywork to fit any body’s needs. Amanda comes to us after spending time in Haiti working on relief efforts. She has also spent a solid amount of time working at an upscale club in San Diego which makes her a great fit for us!

Amanda received her training at Mueller College of Holistic Therapies in San Diego where she received her Massage Practitioner certification and then went on to receive her Holistic Health Practitioner Certification. She has been a Massage Practitioner since 2002. She has knowledge of many different modalities including Deep Tissue, Sports Massage, Swedish, and CranioSacral Therapy. With her broad base of training she enjoys incorporating many techniques, tailoring a massage to each clients needs.

Please come see for yourself what Amanda has to offer! Her shifts are:
Mondays 11:00am – 3:00pm
Tuesdays 11:00am – 3:00pm

Contact the club at 443-1111 to schedule your next appointment.

How Often Do I Get A Massage?

Here at the Seattle Athletic Club members often ask: How often should I get a massage? Should I book a massage treatment before or after a workout?

Listen to your body
Do your muscles feel sore or your limbs heavy? Or maybe you’re just feeling sluggish or in need of a little “you” time. Leading an active lifestyle with regular exercise, work and the general stress of our daily routine can build up stress on the joints and muscles. Whatever the reason, this is a good time to get a therapeutic massage from one of our highly skilled massage therapists here at the SAC.

Post athletic event (marathon, basketball tournament, spin class, a good workout) are great times for a massage. Have you ever felt really sore the morning after a strenuous workout? Or maybe even a couple of days later? Massage can aide in moving the bi-products of muscle use and heavy exercise through the body faster, keeping joints, tendons muscles looser and ready for more activity and a quicker recovery time!

General Benefits of Massage

  • Massage can help break up adhesions or “sticky spots” in the muscles where muscle fibers get adhered from lots of physical activity.
  • Massage can help decrease your stress level and increase the same hormones that are released when you sleep.
  • Bodywork and touch therapies of any kind are good for a sense balanced mental and physical well-being.
  • Add your own benefits here!

Seattle Athletic Club Downtown Massage Therapists
Check the Seattle Athletic Club website or the photos on the wall near the massage rooms in the Men’s and Women’s locker rooms for more information about the modalities and skills of our great team of therapists. From Thai massage to Sports massage; specific injury treatment or just a relaxing hour of healing touch, you’re in good hands with our specialists her at the SAC!

Call 206-443-1111 to book your next massage.

Self Help for the Lymph System

What does it do? Well, the lymph system works very closely with many systems in the body. The basic function of the lymph system is to aid the bodies immune system in destroying bad stuff, (aka, pathogens) and filtering the yuck so that the lymph can be renewed and returned to the circulatory system via the subclavian vein in the neck. It also helps in remove excess fluids, dead blood cells, toxins (sludge), cancer cells and other waste matter from the lymph cells and frees up the soft tissue space between them. It also works with the circulatory system in providing oxygen, nutrients and hormones from the blood to the other cells that make up the tissues of the body.

In lymph edema, an area of the body where lymph tissue has been damaged or compromised from pathogens or scar tissue- the lymph is unable to drain properly. This is why areas near the neck, throat, armpit and groin can sell during immune compromised times. With in these swollen tissues, the lymph becomes slow, clogged or stagnant.

Since the lymph system does not have a pump, it sometimes and more often than not needs a little bit of encouragement from us. There are some things that can help move lymph move in it’s one-way valve system upwards towards the subclavian vein and ultimately back into the circulatory system.

Inversions – taking the legs above the heart. Many yoga poses can assist with this as well as just putting your feet up on some pillows after a long day. Be aware that this is not recommended for those who have high blood pressure or glaucoma.

Massage and Self Massage – Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD treatment is a gentle technique to stimulate the movement of lymph. Light and rhythmic strokes in areas where lymph nodes live (neck, armpit, and groin area) can be very helpful.

Hydrotherapy – Hot and cold treatments help in expanding and contracting blood vessels in the body which will aid in pumping fluids through the tissues of the body.

Lebed Method – Lebed Method is group exercise class geared at moving lymph through out the whole body. Lebed Method taught by skilled Lebed teachers that are educated in lymph function and movement. The SAC offers Lebed classes on Mondays 4:00-5:00pm and Thursdays 4:30-5:30pm taught by Barbra Miller, one of our wonderful PFT’s.

Feel free to ask any of our health professionals if you have any questions about the amazing lymph system and remember to have fun in your body!

Sports Massage for Runners

Sports massage combines techniques including deep tissue, Swedish and therapeutic massage. It reduces muscle and joint tension in the legs, hips feet as well as shoulders and neck- the entire body. Sports massage is a way to flush out the lactic acid that’s produced when we run or repeatedly use our muscles. This waste can build up and cause soreness as time goes by. Removing it speeds up recovery and increases flexibility, and that can improve our performance and just make us move relaxed and happy. Sports massage can be a very effective treatment, along with strength training, stretching and nutrition, for runners with aches and pains.

A runner’s world article on sports massage from August 2004 gives examples of athletes who benefit from this treatment. A 49 year old was training for her 49th marathon, which would put her on target to reach 50 marathons by the age 50. “If it weren’t for massage, I wouldn’t be able to do this.” Says Loretta Ulibarri, a runner form Denver. “I’ve had a lot of inflammation problems and ongoing soreness that interfered with my training. Ten years ago, I started getting a sports massage every 3 weeks, and since then, I’ve been injury-free and able to train year round.”

Dave Deigan is a runner from Sonoma, California who puts in 25 miles a week, and gets massage every other Thursday. “Since I Started getting massages 5 years ago, the chronic tightness in my calves has disappeared, and I’m not getting injured.” This has support in the medical community, as well. Lewis G. says “as far as injuries go, massage is the icing on the cake. Massage can supplement physical therapy as an effective injury treatment.”

When should on get massage? Therapists often recommend a weekly or bi weekly session, but every athlete is different. For some, once a month or six weeks is sufficient. When the legs feel tired or heavy or if there is inflammation, it is time to see a massage therapist. After a hard work out or a race, schedule an appointment 24-36 hours later. An ice bath soon after resting for a day or two, your body will be more then ready for a sports massage.

If you have any questions about massage for runners, ask any of the therapists at the Seattle Athletic Club, And weather you need a maintenance session, a post-race massage or injury treatment, we are available to help.

Relief from Chronic Pain with Deep Pressure Massage

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States. It can be made worse by environmental and psychological factors, and is described as pain that persists for weeks, months or years. Without the hope of relief, chronic pain often becomes a defining factor in the lives of those experiencing this condition. Many lose the ability to eat, sleep, work and function normally. It can cause sufferers to alienate those around them, and it sometimes leads to drug addiction, irritability and depression.

Pain lets us know that something is wrong and the body responds by doing everything it can to protect itself from further harm. After an injury the healing process begins, and once complete the pain response should end. However with chronic pain the message of the pain itself never ends. Some common causes of Chronic Pain are abnormal levels of muscle tension caused by shortened and tight muscle tissue. Chronic tightening of muscle fibers results in restricted blood flow and lymph flow resulting in acidosis. Without the proper circulation of blood and lymph flow, waste products build up and a nutritional deficit occurs in the tissue.

Deep pressure massage helps relieve chronic pain by releasing the blood and lymph flow. This increased flow allows the waste product to be carried away and allows the influx of fresh oxygen and nutrients. The deep pressure massage feels good to chronic-pain clients because it releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers for the body. With the release of these endorphins, the client experiences a euphoric break from the pain for a period of time. Notable relief is experienced after a session, and so a maintenance program of at least once a week is recommended.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of five nerve roots that give rise to the sciatic nerve or by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve itself.

Generally speaking it is pain in the lower back, glutes, leg and foot. The pain may be in one of those places or all of them and can be mild or very severe. Someone with Sciatica may also feel numbness, and may experience muscular weakness causing difficulty moving or controlling the leg. Typically the symptoms are on one side of the body.

Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low back pain and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood. Sciatica is a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis for what is irritating the root of the nerve, causing the pain. This point is important, because treatment for sciatica or sciatic symptoms will often be different, depending upon the underlying cause of the symptoms.

What are the causes of Sciatica?
The number one cause of Sciatica is a disc herniation – A condition where two vertebrae’s are compressed together forcing the jelly like cushioning to bulge out from in between the vertebrae’s. There are others causes though, such as:

  • Spinal Stenosis – A condition due to narrowing of the spinal cord causing nerve pinching which leads to persistent pain in the buttocks, limping, lack of feeling in the lower extremities, and decreased physical activity.
  • Spondylolisthesis refers to the forward slip of a vertebra over the one beneath. There is different grades of this, which explains why some people don’t have pain with this condition.
  • Pregnancy – Weight gain, uterus growth, ligaments and joints relaxing due to hormonal changes, cause shift in the pelvis, which can in turn cause compression on the sciatic nerve.
  • Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction – SI Joint becomes inflamed; the portion of the sciatic nerve running in front of the joint will become irritated.
  • Piriformis Syndrome – is a condition due to an over active Piriformis causing compression on the Sciatic nerve.
  • Daily Habits and Activity – Daily activities can cause overuse of the Piriformis muscle or place more stress on the joints, which can cause added compression or irritation to the sciatic nerve.

Can sciatica be cured?
There is no cure for sciatica. You can relieve the symptoms to the point you don’t have any more pain or discomfort though a series of stretching and exercises. However, these symptoms may come back depending on the cause of sciatica. The best thing to do is, once the symptoms are relieved continue with the stretching exercises prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist. This will help in future prevention of the symptoms of sciatica to come back.

What can I do to relieve the symptoms?
Depending on what is causing sciatica depends on the treatment. There are many different forms of treatment that your doctor will prescribe to you depending on the cause of sciatica. Below are different approaches that may help to relieve symptoms. In most cases many of these will help. Always ask your doctor before beginning any form of treatment though.

Below is a list of treatments and description of each, try the least evasive forms of treatment first.

  • Stretching Exercises – Though a series of stretches for the hips and back you may relieve the symptoms of sciatica. This will help to relax the over active muscles compressing on the sciatic nerve.
  • Physical Therapy – Will rehabilitate the herniated disc or the over active muscles as well as give you a program to follow to prevent recurrent flare-ups and compression on the sciatic nerve. This program will help you to strengthen the muscles supporting your back, stretch the over active muscles, and improve the posture, which can cause the compression on the nerve roots.
  • Massage Therapy – Massage therapy along with trigger point therapy is a great way to help alleviate the symptoms of sciatica by getting the muscles around the area to relax releasing the compression on the nerves.

If these forms of treatment do not relieve the sciatica symptoms, then trying these more aggressive forms of treatment.

  • Non-Surgical spinal decompression – this technique is great for those with herniated or bulging disc that are causing the sciatic symptoms. It gently separates the vertebrae from each other, creating a vacuum inside the discs that we are targeting. This moves the herniated or bulging disc into the inside of the disc, off the nerve root. Eliminating the symptoms of sciatica.
  • Medications – you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the inflammation of the muscles that are creating sciatica along with a muscle relaxer to allow the muscle to relax. If you have a lot of pain a pain killer (narcotic) may be used for short term relief. In some instances your doctor may inject a corticosteroid medication into the affected area to help relieve pain.
  • Surgery – in some severe cases, this is an option when the compression is causing excessive weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, and when the pain is progressively getting worse, even following all other treatment options.

What are some Exercises and Stretches I can do at home?

  • Low Back Stretch – Start by lying on your back pulling one or both knees to your chest holding for 30 seconds
  • Lumbar Rotation – Lie on your back with both knees bent, hands and arms making a “T” shape, drop your knees to the side, keeping your feet flat on the ground the whole time. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Start by kneeling on the floor, place left foot in front creating a 90degree angle. Press hips forward while engaging the left glute to help the left hip flexor relax. Hold 30 seconds and repeat on the right side.
  • Piriformis Stretch – Lie on your back cross the left knee over the right, raising the knees and pulling across the midline of the body. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Lat Stretch – Start by sitting on your heels. Keeping the hips on the heels, walk the hands out in front stretching though the back only as far as out as you can go while maintaining hips on heels. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Marching – Start by lying on your back, placing your heels on the floor at a 90degree angle from your hips. Holding that angle as if in a cast, raise your knee up slightly past perpendicular to your hips maintaining that 90degree angle, lower and repeat 10-15 reps.
  • Clam Shells – Start by lying on your side in a fetal position, knees bent to almost 90degrees. Roll your hips forward so that the top hip and knee is slightly in front of your bottom hip and knee. With out rocking your hips backward and keeping your heels together, raise your top knee only as far up as you can with out changing the position of your hips.
  • Quadruped – Start out on your hands and knees by placing your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Raise your left leg straight back pushing your heel toward the wall, while raising your right arm straight out keeping it as close to the ear as possible. Hold this for 5 seconds, lower and repeat on the other side, 8-12 reps on each side.
  • Swimming – Start by lying on your stomach placing hands out in front of you. Raise your left leg and right arm, and lifting chest off the ground, keeping the neck in neutral position, hold for 3 seconds, lower and repeat on the other side, 8-12 reps on each side. REMEMBER do not jerk your body into position only as far as you can controllably raise your chest, arm, and leg.
  • Bridge – Start by lying on your back, knees bent at a 90degree angle, feet flat on the ground. Squeeze the glute muscles, keeping the abs engaged, lift the hips up off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds, lower and repeat for 10-15 reps.
  • Pelvic Tilts – Start by lying on your back, knees bent at a 90 degree angle, feet flat on the ground. Place your hands on your hips and tilt hips forward, (think about taking your hip bones and moving them to touch your leg bones). It is important to remember to not use your back muscles to create an arch in your bag, but instead using your deep core muscles to move your hips. Then tilt your hips backward (think about taking your hip bones and moving them to touch your rib cage.) It is important again to remember to use your deep core muscles to move your hips rather then squeezing your glutes to move your hips.

For a more detailed view of the Sciatic Nerve see the below pictures.

Pathophysiology

Testimonial:
A couple of years ago I injured my back while training for a marathon. Initially I thought rest and ice would take care of it – it didn’t. I tried going to a chiropractor with no relief. Eventually, my doctor sent me to physical therapy where I received ultrasound treatments and was taught various stretching and strengthening exercises. The PT provided some relief, but I was still frustrated at my lack of progress as I had a nearly constant nagging pain, especially when I sat for long periods.

I spent a lot of time self-diagnosing. An article in a running magazine suggested that one common cause of lower back pain in runners was an injury to the piriformus muscle in the lower back and buttocks. It quite literally is described as a “pain in the butt.” I decided this must be it. At the end of 2009, I started working with Katrina Yniguez at SAC. I explained to her my desire to get back to running, and my belief that my piriformus was causing my back pain.

Katrina conducted an assessment of my biomechanics and immediately prescribed some corrective exercises for my leg and back muscles. She also started me foam-rolling (deep tissue massage) my piriformus muscle and other muscle groups. At first I thought she was crazy as the exercises she had me doing were very easy and seemingly unrelated to my back. Katrina explained, however, that strengthening these muscle groups would improve my biomechanics and ultimately reduce the risk for future injury. I persisted.

Eventually, Katrina stopped being crazy and started being just plain mean. Although always pleasant and upbeat, she had obviously decided at some point that the corrective exercises were not needed anymore, and it was time to start the hard stuff. Now, twice a week, she puts me through my paces with core-focused exercises that primarily work my back, legs and chest. I never look forward to the tough workouts, but I always am glad that I did them after they are through. The good news? My back pain is almost completely gone and, when it occasionally returns, I know exactly what to do to get rid of it. I’m now back to regular running, pain-free.

I appreciate Katrina’s ability to listen to what I thought was happening to my body and to design a program that would target the needed areas. It has been great working with her. She is great to work with an always has a positive attitude, and I’ve discovered she’s not really that mean (well, she kind of is).

Matthew D. Latimer

If you would like to begin developing a training program to assist with your specific situation, please contact Katrina Yniguez.