Scoliosis is a condition that millions of Americans are familiar with. You may have already worked with patients who suffer from pain, discomfort, and stiffness due to scoliosis. This condition is particularly detrimental to children, who may struggle with weak muscles, back pain, and fatigue from long periods of standing upright.
Luckily, massage therapy can be used to help treat scoliosis in children. A pediatric massage involves manipulating soft tissues with the aim of relieving tension and improving blood flow to affected regions. When done correctly, the symptoms of scoliosis in children can be significantly reduced.
Understanding Scoliosis in children
Scoliosis is a condition where the spinal cord curvature is increased more than usual. The spine typically has a mild curve as it runs across your back. However, patients with scoliosis have a spinal cord that resembles a C or an S shape.
Congenital scoliosis (in children) typically occurs during birth and affects children as they continue to grow. The severity of this condition will vary from one patient to another. Some spinal curvatures are barely noticeable, while others can even cause a deformity in the spine.
Some risk factors of scoliosis include birth defects, infections, cerebral palsy, or genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome. Adding pediatric massage therapy skills to your current knowledge base will help you provide adequate relief to scoliosis patients.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
Scoliosis in children manifests itself in many different ways. It can begin to develop in the womb due to the incorrect division of vertebrae, or vertebrae that don’t fully grow during early stages. Diagnosis may be done soon after birth- or even later on when the child is 10-15 years old.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
Chronic back pain
An incorrectly tilted spine and pelvis
Fatigue from standing upright
Benefits of Massage therapy
Pediatric massage therapy is a useful technique that can treat scoliosis in children. For example, effleurage massage techniques target the soft tissues and warm them up for adjustment. Through repeated strokes along the length of a child’s spinal cord, the muscles can relax and ease pain, stiffness, or tension.
Massage therapy also uses a combination of lubricants to soften the muscles and increase blood circulation to affected areas. Children with scoliosis can enjoy significant relief from symptoms and live a healthy life with timely massage therapy sessions.
Massage therapy techniques you can learn in massage school
If you wish to advance your knowledge and skills in massage therapy for scoliosis, attending massage school is an excellent way to get started. With these advanced skills under your belt, you’ll be able to provide timely pediatric massage therapy to children who’ve been affected by this condition.
Let’s talk about a difficult condition called scleroderma. Massage therapy might not be among the resources you’d think of in addressing the patient’s challenges with this condition, but you’d be surprised. For a wide variety of conditions, massage therapy becomes a versatile tool for healthcare professionals who add it to their repertoire.
When you study the body from a massage therapy perspective, you also gain insight and ideas for your work as a yoga instructor, fitness professional, or other roles where you’re concerned with your clients’ physical wellbeing. It’s both a whole-body and localized treatment. Here’s how it helps with scleroderma when carefully used.
Scleroderma and its Stages
Scleroderma is an autoimmune condition which, like many such conditions, affects women much more frequently than it does men. It causes hardening of the body’s tissues, either locally or throughout the body’s systems, producing a thick feeling to the skin and other stiffness and internal damage.
The progression of a client’s scleroderma is an important factor in considering massage treatment. As damage to the body continues, its surface hardens and loses vitality and eventually internal organs can be affected. Massage therapy may not be advisable or may be of limited use during later stages of the disease.
The Advantages of Skilled Massage Therapists
Multimodal treatment, mixing massage therapy with treatment by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers, can help a patient’s body to respond better to treatment in general. If you have one of these backgrounds, you can augment your clinical skills in a significant way by learning massage therapy. For example, it can help increase blood circulation and possibly delay the onset and worsening of symptoms.
Because there are many specialized massage techniques with varying effects on the body, a carefully designed massage program can be offered to clients to address medical concerns. Where deep tissue massage may help with some aspects of a condition, your skill and tactile sensitivity as a massage therapist can help you use a gentler approach, similar to that used for fibromyalgia.
Using the Unique Qualities of Massage to Help Scleroderma Patients
Medical guidance is essential when you are working with a client who is diagnosed with scleroderma. Depending on the type and extent of a client’s condition, deep tissue massage techniques may be somewhat useful, but attention to circulation and joint function, breath and relaxation may be more productive approaches.
You can provide gentle, repetitive touch to help capillary flow and relaxation, while breathwork and assisted joint movement can help the body stay resilient. Myofascial (muscle) techniques can conflict with the hardening of the body’s surfaces, and generally you should avoid this type of approach.
Patient Engagement Makes a Difference
Massage therapy training helps you understand the body from a client’s perspective. In addition to being a caring presence in each person’s life, you learn how to constructively use touch to assist bodies in healing from disease and maintaining health. The power of one human caring for another in a safe, structured setting allows one of the most basic human needs to be addressed — that of touch.
As an autoimmune disease, scleroderma is a complex condition and patients may feel at a loss in dealing with it. From nurses to fitness coaches, when people help us with our physical well being, it’s usually with a minimum of hands-on connection and mostly verbal. When you, as a massage therapist, address specific physical challenges which the client is experiencing, you also address the patient as a whole, helping her to develop an inner strength to deal with her life’s challenges.
To learn more about how massage therapy can be beneficial for Scleroderma contact our Seattle student massage clinic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in every 4 American deaths is directly related to heart disease. Conditions like coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and other cardiovascular ailments kill over 600,000 people each year.
Massage therapy offers clients with cardiovascular issues many benefits that can help them improve their cardiovascular health and reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack.
What Contributes to Cardiovascular Disease?
There are three major factors that contribute to the development of heart disease.
These conditions are caused by structural abnormalities present at the time of birth.
- Viral infections
Myocarditis is damage to the heart due to certain viruses.
- Lifestyle Choices
Daily habits are currently the biggest contributor to heart disease.
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Chronic stress
How Stress and Pain Affect the Heart
When a person experiences a painful or stressful event, the brain releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals prepare the body to fight or run away from dangerous situations. The body responds by tensing muscles, shortening the breath, and increasing the heart rate.
This response, however, is only supposed to be short-term. Too much of these hormones can fatigue the body, especially the cardiovascular system. Without relief, long-term stress or chronic pain will weaken the heart muscle. Combined with less-than-healthy lifestyle choices, these factors can lead to heart disease.
How Massage Supports Cardiovascular Health
Massage therapy helps patients with cardiac issues address some of the factors that may be contributing to their condition. In conjunction with doctor-prescribed protocols, massage also helps patients manage some of the side effects of treatment.
- Induce states of physical and mental relaxation, which can help alleviate the effects of chronic stress and anxiety on the whole body.
- Loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow, which improves overall circulation and decreases the chances of stroke-causing clots.
- Alleviate chronic pain, which helps interrupt the brain’s “fight or flight” response.
- Reduce anxiety before or after surgical procedures.
Some common side effects from traditional drug therapies used to treat heart disease can be treated effectively with massage.
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle aches
While massage is generally safe and effective, there are some cautions to keep in mind when working with cardiac patients.
- Those on blood thinning drugs should avoid vigorous or deep tissue techniques, as these can cause bruising, inflammation, or tissue damage.
- Massage is not recommended for those with low blood pressure.
- Patients with a history of blood clots should avoid Swedish techniques.
- Therapists should avoid manipulating the area around pacemakers, stents, or other implanted devices.
- Patients with signs of congestive heart failure should start with short massages, and slowly work up to longer sessions, as tolerated.
Recent studies also who that consistent massage therapy can reduce blood pressure and heart rate. High blood pressure and rate are major factors in heart attack risk.
Patients who combine traditional medical treatments with massage techniques experience an increase in energy, physical relaxation, and mental focus. This can help them recover faster from surgical procedures, or avoid major cardiovascular events.
Over 30% of the American population has some form of scoliosis. You may have already helped clients who suffer from this condition in your regular bodywork or therapy practice. While traditional treatments vary, massage therapy is a safe addition to any client’s treatment plan.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition of the spine. It causes the spine to curve left or right into a distinctive “S” or “C” shape. The spine compresses. This compression throws off the patient’s balance, and can contribute to a variety of health complications.
- Sore, painful muscles
- Difficult, stiff movement
- Hunch back
- Lung and heart problems
- Muscle weakness
If left untreated, the spine will continue to curve. This can lead to nerve, joint, and ligaments damage, as well as permanent disability.
What Causes Scoliosis?
Most scoliosis cases are classified as idiopathic. That means there is no known cause.
For about 20% of cases, doctors can point to a definite root condition. These cases are classified as structural or non-structural.
Structural scoliosis causes the spine to bend into a rigid curve that cannot be corrected. It is caused by underlying conditions like
- Cerebral palsy
- Muscular dystrophy
- Birth defects
- Marfan’s or Down Syndrome, or similar genetic disorders
The spine of a patient suffering from non-structural scoliosis works normally. The characteristic curve is caused by injury, weakness, or illness of surrounding body parts. When the cause is treated, non-structural scoliosis generally disappears.
Scoliosis can also be developed while still in the womb. Congenital damage to growing vertebrae can cause the spine to curve, not divide properly, or not grow completely. Some patients with congenital scoliosis are not diagnosed until they are between the ages of 10 and 15. During this time, many children go through several growth spurts, which makes structural malformations more noticeable.
Degenerative scoliosis is caused by the wearing of joints and discs in adults. Their damaged joints cause the surrounding muscles to strain, which leads to a curved spine.
Massage Therapy for Scoliosis Patients
While scoliosis massage cannot correct curved or twisted bones, including the spine, it can help clients reduce pain and increase mobility.
- Massage relaxes muscles that are pulled out of place by shifted bone structures, which can significantly calm tight, uncomfortable sensations.
- Deep tissue techniques increase blood circulation and break up scar tissues, which makes it easier for patients to move freely.
- Patients who receive massage prior to chiropractic or neuromuscular therapies report better results from these treatments.
- Massage is known to soothe the mind as well as the body. A decrease in mental stress is linked to a better ability to deal with chronic pain issues.
Early and regular scoliosis massage therapy, in conjunction with standard medical treatments like exercise and the use of a brace, can help scoliosis patients avoid complicated surgeries.
There is no cure for scoliosis. However, it is highly manageable. The goal of treatment is to reduce the progression of spine curvature, reduce discomfort, and restore or improve mobility. Scoliosis Massage therapy can help your client achieve these goals more quickly than with standard treatments alone.
Since the 1970s, athletes have been using kinesiology taping to help them heal faster and build stronger muscles. Therapists have recently started using taping methods to bring those same benefits to their clients. Massage therapists can use taping to prolong relief and increase the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
What is Kinesiology Taping?
Kinesiology studies the body, and how it uses each part to move. Using knowledge of physiology, biomechanics, and psychology, the kinesiologist seeks to improve strength and muscle condition.
Kinesiology tape is a thin, stretchy fabric that adheres to the skin with acrylic adhesives. The adhesive itself is mild on the skin but very strong. The tape is waterproof and can stay in place up to five days. Usually made of brightly colored cotton, it has the same thickness and elasticity of healthy skin. It is designed to not cause any pinching, binding, or restrictions.
When applied to the skin, the tape gently lifts surrounding skin, allowing for a better flow of interstitial and lymph fluids. These fluids help remove dead cells and other waste caused by injury or a hard workout. They also deliver vital nutrients that cells need to repair themselves.
Interstitial fluids are also responsible for facilitating intercellular communication. When muscles cells are able to easily send and receive the electrical impulses that stimulate muscle movement, coordination and flexibility are dramatically increased.
Benefits of Taping
When applied around problematic joints and muscles, taping increases the healing and pain relieving properties gained from other therapy methods.
- Reduce painful inflammation by allowing the removal of cellular waste.
- Reduce pressure on nerve endings by lifting the skin away from pain receptors.
- Relax hypertonic muscles that make proper movement and posture impossible.
- Revive dying or inhibited muscles by restoring needed nutrients and fluids.
Taping allows the body to repair cell damage caused by injury. This allows muscles to restore or improve strength and proper function.
Kinesiology tape is a useful addition in the treatment of many common disorders.
- Sprained or strained muscles and ligaments
- Joint realignment and instability
- Rounded shoulders or spine
- Recently healed fractures
Taping and Massage Therapy
Patients with chronic conditions benefit most from a combination of massage therapy and taping. When tape is applied after massage:
- Muscles that have been stretched and warmed by massage will stay loose longer.
- The body can remove lactic acid more easily, which decreases soreness after deep tissue techniques.
- Softens scar tissue and fascial adhesions so future sessions can be more productive.
- The natural pain relieving ability of massage will last longer.
- Added stability will keep muscles from moving out of alignment.
Tape can be safely applied to any body part. Different application methods encourage pain relief, structural support, and other therapeutic goals.
Kinesiology taping is an effective addition to any physical therapy routine. It can be used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries in a noninvasive manner. When therapists add taping as a final touch to their therapy process, clients increase healing, flexibility, and muscles strength while reducing pain, swelling, and possible injury.
In our fast-paced, technology-addicted world, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common complaint. The stiff muscles and shooting pain sufferers experience can have a significantly negative impact on daily life. As a professional therapist or bodyworker, it’s likely you will work with a client who has Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Understanding this increasingly common condition will allow you to help your clients achieve maximum relief.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when pressure is exerted on the median nerve that runs through the arm and wrist. This nerve controls motion and feeling in all digits except the little finger. When the nerve reaches the wrist, it runs through a narrow structure of bone and ligament called the carpal tunnel. Constant pressure on the nerve causes it to press against the bony parts of the structure. If left untreated, the nerve will sustain damage that can cause a variety of symptoms.
- Loss of muscle strength
- Pain in fingers, hand, or forearm
- Many sufferers first notice their symptoms at night.
Getting a Diagnosis
As always, patients should seek an official diagnosis from their primary medical physician. The doctor will start with a medical history. People with arthritis, hypothyroidism, and diabetes are at higher risk of developing the condition. The doctor will ask about recent injuries or accidents affecting the head, shoulders, arms, or hands. They will also examine your daily routine. Those with jobs that require small, repetitive movements of the hands and wrists have a greater chance of their symptoms being caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The doctor then performs a physical examination. They will check muscle strength, sensation (the ability to feel), and the general appearance of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. Some specialists may order blood or nerve tests to verify results.
Traditional Treatment Methods
Depending on the severity of symptoms, conventional treatment options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome vary. Milder symptoms can often be treated effectively at home.
- Stop any activities that may be causing symptoms. If that is not possible, try to rest your wrists and hands often.
- Place an ice pack on wrists for 10-15 minutes at a time up to 2 times per hour to reduce discomfort.
- N-SAIDs, like Ibuprofen or Naproxen Sodium, reduce painful swelling.
- Wearing a wrist splint while sleeping can lessen pressure on the median nerve.
If symptoms are allowed to progress, more severe interventions may be necessary. Powerful anti-inflammatory medications, called corticosteroids, can be prescribed in pill form or injected directly into the wrist. While these medications can significantly reduce pain associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, they do not provide permanent relief. Surgery is an option for the most advanced cases.
Other Self-Treatment Options
There are some simple steps everyone can take to decrease the intensity of symptoms and frequency of attacks caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Regular Stretching
- Get treated for contributing conditions.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise regularly.
In addition to lifestyle changes, sufferers should take measures to protect their wrists and hands.
- Keep wrists elevated when using a keyboard.
- Keep shoulders relaxed and at the sides while typing or working.
- Use the whole hand to grip items rather than just fingers.
- Switch hands during repetitive motions.
Certain massage techniques have been proven to relax tight muscles and fascia in the arm and shoulder and reduce pressure on the median nerve. For clients with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a muscle specific massage will help address holding patterns associated with repetitive use while also increasing blood flow to the affected region. Leaving your client feeling loose, refreshed, and hopefully pain-free.
Contact us today to learn more about how massage therapy can be an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Low back pain is experience by over 80% of Americans during their lifetime. It is one of the most common complaints medical professionals hear. You’ve probably had clients complain about a stiff, achy lower back. Therapeutic massage and any other types of bodywork can relax stressed muscles and temporarily relieve pain from acute attacks. But if your client has chronic low back pain issues, they may need more structured interventions. Offer these tips to help your clients achieve a strong, flexible and injury-free back.
Causes and Impact
Low back pain can result from many causes.
- Improper posture
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Strained ligaments
- Medical conditions like disk disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and some infections
Regardless of the cause, the impact on daily life can be immense. Stiff, achy muscles and swollen ligaments make it difficult to perform normal activities. Persistent pain can lead to lost work hours and a lower overall quality of life.
When the pain is at its worst, your client will be looking for fast relief. After therapeutic massages, exercise is the single best solution to muscle pain and tightness.
- Sitting or standing in one position for too long cause tension and pressure that can add up over time. Encourage sedentary clients to get up and exercise. Aerobic activity triggers the release of endorphins. These chemicals reduce your perception of pain, and acts a mild muscle relaxant.
- Regular exercise strengthens weak muscles, which reduces strain on the lower back. Suggest some simple exercises to strengthen your client’s core muscles.
- In addition to aerobic and strengthening exercises, advise your client to include stretches to increase flexibility in tight, knotted areas.
Talk to your client about using good posture throughout their day.
- Educate your client on the benefits of ergonomically correct workstations and lumbar supports. Maintaining a healthy curve in the spine reduces stress on ligaments, discs, and joints.
- If you do not offer chiropractic services, refer your client to a trusted colleague. Periodic spinal adjustments, in conjunction with therapeutic massage and exercise, will correct misalignments that cause lower back pain.
Relax and Heal
After your massage session, suggest some self-care procedures your client can do at home to help them relax overworked muscles and let their bodies heal.
- Alternate ice and heat. Heat increases the flow of warm, nourishing blood to speed healing. Ice calms irritated nerve endings and decreases painful swelling.
- Talk to your client about sleeping positions. Lying on the side with a pillow between the knees reduces strain on the lower back and hips. Those who prefer to sleep on their backs should place a pillow under their knees. Sleeping on the stomach should be avoided.
- Some lower back pain has been linked to mental or emotional stress. Suggest balancing activities that soothe mind and body, like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
Talk to your client about their pain. Take a few minutes to help them make a personalized plan, tailored to their current level of physical ability, pain tolerance, and commitment.
Low back pain doesn’t have to take over your client’s life. With the right combination of self-care and professional treatment, you can help your clients achieve a strong, flexible, and healthy spine.
Learn more today about how you can help people with low back pain with a career in massage therapy
Most people you ask will generally regard getting a massage as a positive experience. Granted, there are a couple of folks that can’t get over the hurdle of accepting a stranger touching them. Fortunately for those seeking a career in massage therapy, there are fewer people like that and more who are falling over themselves to get another minute on the table. Once you investigate a bit below the surface, at an anatomical level, there are many distinct benefits to receiving massage therapy treatments.
A major benefit of regular massage therapy is the positive impact it has on your blood pressure. According to the CDC, about one in three adults in the US struggles with blood pressure difficulties. The tricky and scary part about high blood pressure is that there are usually no physical symptoms. Regular blood pressure checks paired with massage therapy are the best ways to know what is happening with your body and prevent high blood pressure before it becomes a major threat.
If you’re one of the 45 million or more Americans who struggle with chronic headaches, you’ll want to circle back and take a closer look at massage therapy, if you’re not already. A massage focused on the neck, head, and shoulders is the type you’ll typically receive when you report headaches to your therapist. The reduction of tension and nervous system strain that is accomplished through a massage is the key to reducing the frequency of headaches and also the severity.
Back and neck pain doesn’t have to be such a mystery. If you want to know why your back and neck hurt in the first place, take a look at how you’re sitting right now. Are you sitting in a way that your grandmother would approve of? Massage therapy is an excellent way to help your body naturally realign towards a healthy spinal alignment. From there, it is definitely up to you to maintain and improve your own posture with regular attention and effort. In time, regular massage therapy can actually help you to require fewer massage therapy sessions.
It might be a dangerous misclassification to consider massage therapy as a leisure or luxury service. When you really spend a little time investigating the science associated with massage therapy, it becomes clear that massage is a great form of health maintenance. Rather than treating yourself to one massage per year, perhaps you can try to find a budget for at least a monthly massage. The reduced stress alone should pay for the massage, not to mention a reduction of future doctor co-pays and prescription expenses. It definitely feels better to get a massage than it does to take pills or get shots!
As widespread understanding of the benefits of massage therapy become commonplace, the art and science of the craft are furthered and more uncommon aspects of it are explored. Infant massage is one such branch of massage therapy that has garnered positive criticism for its multi-beneficial effect. Not only does massage therapy help to calm an infant, it serves to strengthen the child’s humanistic tendencies and also aids in healthy adolescent development. The full scientific consensus on infant massage is still pending a lot of analysis and research, but that’s not stopping practitioners and mothers alike from boasting its effectiveness.
Understanding Infant Massage
The anatomy of an infant and the ailments for which they might need massage therapy vary greatly from that of an adult. A seasoned athlete who may need massage work for sore or tense muscles is going to require a vastly augmented amount of force and precise physical targeting, as where the key for infant massage is soft and gentle.
- The Technique necessary for a safe and effective practice of infant massage requires consideration and at least some training. An infant’s anatomy is much more underdeveloped than an adult, therefore, errors such as the application of too much force could have a negative effect on the child’s physical development. Investing in a massage therapy course before attempting infant massage is crucial to developing a good technique with a solid foundation. Massage therapy for an infant requires paying close attention to how the baby reacts, this will tell you if they find your current technique painful or uncomfortable. Further concentration into the specifics of infant massage is now possible due to its popularity.
- The Benefits of infant massage are both immediate and long-term. The soothing touch can calm and relax babies, and also aid in putting them to sleep. A massage can help reduce crying and invariably creates a significant and important bond between the infant and others, most importantly the child’s mother and father. A long-term benefit of infant massage is that it can help maintain a healthy balance of the infant’s stress control hormones (according to the Mayo Clinic.) As with any infant care practice, if the massage is not performed correctly it could be detrimental. For example, massaging an infant too soon after eating can cause the baby to vomit.
Infant massage therapists benefit from a growing career that is heavily lauded for its positive effect on others. An investment in an education in massage therapy will prepare you embark on this field, and as the practice of, and interest in, infant massage therapy continues to grow so do the job opportunities. Whether it be for personal use with your own family or as a prospective career the time to act is now.