I was taught early on by Kikkawa Sensei that to have effective massage, you have to follow the nerve flow from problem areas; that the Mind of the client is just behind their skin via the nervous system. He believed (and as I am now learning), that balance is achieved in all systems by the nervous system modulation. Science is working on this as well. They call this study NeuroImmunoEndocronology. While science uses drugs to modulate the Nervous System, massage pressure and techniques applied correctly with a meditative mindset can achieve a calm Central Nervous System in the client. Neuroimmunoendocronology. Nervous system+ Immune system+Endocrine System; these are part of the fundamental regulatory systems of homeostasis (whereby the body’s internal environment is kept stable, despite external changes). Everyone wants to know how to reduce stress. Most recent developments in research are, how thought affects the brain, and how the brain modulates endocrine and immune response. A thought, or, a fever / Infection, can cause stress. Stress causes disease because the brain is the master controller. Under stress, chemicals released from the brain (Cytokines)- mainly by the HPA axis ( Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis). Together with the Sympathetic Nervous System, the HPA axis regulates Immunity and Inflammation response. So here is where things get interesting. Chronic stress changes the chemical balance in our body. If stress hormones are produced for long enough it can cause depression by interfering with neurohormones like serotonin and dopamine. Basically, worry, fear, stress, increases stress hormones which modulates the immune and inflammation responses. This is great for survival. When we need to be on alert; however, the body often overreacts. Too much of the pro-inflammatory hormones can actually weaken the immune system, making us prone to infection. Also, this leaves us open to chronic stress, pain, and overall inflammation – like a low grade cold that doesn’t go away. It can make you allergic to something when before you weren’t. Brain degeneration disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and MS are also associated with chronic stress. The Immune system influences the hormonal system and vice versa. Feedback loops are modulated by one and all of these systems, if one changes the others will change. As a Bodyworker, it is our job to intervene into the negative feedback loop of stress, pain, and inflammation. We do this by stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System and working with the inflammation stagnation, by touch, Hydrotherapy, and energy work; thus allowing the body's natural healing properties to work. By stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System ( which governs the ‘rest and digest” functions) we can promote the anti-inflammatory hormones to circulate. By the rhythmic compressions and oscillations of therapeutic techniques applied by the therapist to the client’ meridian and acupressure system, a deep relaxation occurs – thus changing the chemical constitution in the brain. We can do this on our own, by being positive. To never allow negative thoughts or unneeded worried linger too long. Feedback loops need little to engage – either positively or negatively. It is up to us to be in control of our thoughts. Depression breeds depression, contentment breeds joy. Meditation, massage, Martial Arts and Yoga are ancient ways of regulating the Mind-Body chemical communication.
Image courtesy of Sheelamohan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Why Your Masseuse Matters to Your Health by Rina Thibault
Many of us are struggling to get our physical and mental well being in balance. And many of us choose to believe visiting a Western doctor is enough for preventing diseases. And some of us don’t want to acknowledge we need help. But what about having someone in the middle? Someone that has a solid understanding of your body’s anatomical and energetic properties, and helps you monitor and keep your body in check. It also helps to have a second opinion rather than relying on ourselves to check for “red flags”. That person is your masseuse. Why?
Many of our tax dollars are spent every year on testing and diagnostic devices, such as CT scans and MRIs. Many of them come with a hefty cost in time and money for maintaining, preparing and repairing them. There is also the cost of the technician to run them and the doctor to read them. Many of these devices also have long waiting periods. Here is an example: John had a lump under his knee and went to see his doctor about it. She was unsure of what it was and decided to do some tests; unfortunately for John, he has to wait several weeks for the results to get back. He eventually got fed up of not knowing and went to see a masseuse. The masseuse diagnosed it as a cyst, and within a few days, results came back saying it was a cyst under his knee. I spoke with a doctor about this case:
“Before extensive investigations, such as CT scans or MRI are done, massage therapy is a reasonable initial treatment for many aches and strains. Avoiding unnecessary tests could save the health care system millions of dollars a year.” Dr. Marin MD
I am sure you’ve heard of similar cases of time and money being unnecessarily spent. This is not to discredit the doctor’s capabilities and diagnostic devices. It is still important to have your doctor make a final diagnosis and be involved in your health.
A masseuse can help your doctor (and you) by pointing in the right direction of where the problem lies.
The masseuse can also address the problems in a more holistic way, without prescription pills. They act as a support and guide for you to make sure you change habits naturally in the body and not adversely. Within the initial session, the masseuse already has a good idea of your anatomical and energetic imbalances, and within a few sessions s/he already has a full “geographical” sketch of your health. This allows them to give you good quality information about how, why, and what to do about your body by blending Eastern and Western principles. The masseuse uses massage to help rewire and help circulate the body’s energies, which is safer than taking pills that carry side effects- or even surgery. And the best part, you can see what s/he is doing and how it’s working.
Regular visits to your masseuse can help detect possible complications such as lumps, bumps, bruises, and tears. They use their hands as a simple diagnostic tool. Overtime, s/he knows your body’s “moods” and cyclical changes, which in turn act as a powerful preventative tool for early detection of possible cancer and tumors. Having a strong assessment of your body, they can tell if something isn’t right and refer you to your doctor. This gives them the opportunity to build rapport with your doctor and work together to monitor your health and well being.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide how you want to take care of yourself and having a team behind you is better than doing it by yourself.
Image courtesy of Num Skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This article is intended to reveal some truths about Fibromyalgia based on scientific study and my own Clinical experience, as well as, offer some real methods of relief that work.
With North America containing 10 Million people with the diagnosis, Fibromyalgia is a huge problem. You probably know someone who is suffering with these symptoms. If you are new to understanding these symptoms, there are a few hallmarks that Doctors use to diagnose Fibromyalgia.
The hallmarks are: Generally distributed Pain ( general sense of pain / discomfort / malaise ) , Chronic Fatigue ( can not get a good night’s sleep / wake up feeling not rested ), Cognitive Problems ( inability to concentrate / feeling as if in a fog ) , 18 “Tender Points” ( very sensitive points common to people with fibromyalgia ).
It is a syndrome where some, all, few, of these symptoms are present to people with these diagnosis. In fact, people with many other conditions can have these symptoms. Other common symptoms can be : headaches/ migraines, TMJ pain ( Jaw joint mis-tracking / teeth grinding ) , chest pain, cardiac arythmia, IBS ( Irritable bowel Syndrome – bowel inflammation – bloating/ discomfort ), food triggers, urinary problems ( frequent urination ) , pelvic pain , numbness-tingling, skin rashes – irritated/ itchy skin, chemical sensitivity ( sensitivities to household detergents), Neck/back pain, Etc. , can also have an existing diagnosis of Osteoarthritis.
Fibromyalgia, however, is different for each who suffers; however, it often acts like an Arthritis: the sufferer wakes up stiff and sore, as they get on with the day the muscles and joints loosen up. Feeling better only to tighten and stiffen again, initiating the vicious negative feedback pain cycle. The pain causes the sufferer to ‘crash’ – unable to move; overloaded from pain the nervous system needs rest.
Science knows that people with Fibromyalgia have very sensitive nerves. So that when slight pressure is applied to ‘normal’ people, as opposed to those with Fibromyalgia, those with Fibromyalgia feel pain earlier and more intensely. Science also sees correlations between cerebrospinal fluid stagnation and pain signals. Conditions similar to Fibromyalgia: Cancer, Autoimmune diseases, Neurological Disease, Lyme Disease, Epstein Bar Virus. People can develop Fibromyalgia after Car accidents, Infection, emotional trauma. Studies have been done to show there is a genetic predisposition.
So that is what Fibromyalgia is like; but, what is it?
As a Bodyworker I see tell-tale signs that Fibromyalgia is a result of metabolic acidosis, an inability of The Kidneys and Lymphatic system to remove acids and toxins from between the cells and blood stream. I see stress in Triple Warmer / Heart Constrictor Meridian Systems with people diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. This is indicative, on the physical level, that the Lymphatic System is working overtime cleaning toxins, debris, pathogens, and acids and other waste products. Also, the Triple Warmer meridian regulates water and nutrient absorption - energy our bodies get from processing food; if stressed we can get hot/cold flashes, slow/fast metabolism, Hyper- Hypo perfusion ( increases/decreased blood floe through organs etc..) and, dehydration even when we are drinking water! So, so far, there is no wonder about the fatigue caused with fibromyalgia. Our small intestines, as part of the Triple Warmer, take food and make energy. If the microflora of the small intestines are disrupted by long term acidosis, how can we absorb nutrients, make energy ? This is just one aspect. Most probably more meridian systems are involved, such as, Liver / Gall Bladder. All the toxins, acids and sugars have to be processed. The Liver is on it - but only for so long before the line up for processing is out the door and down the street. The Liver tries to sweat out Toxins through the skin - hence the irritated skin of Fibromyalgia sfferers. Also, the eyes and the Jaw joint are related to Liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The toxins and acids build up around joints, in the Myofascia, creating fibroids. So, people with fibromyalgia experience painful fibroids throughout muscles and connective tissues. In essence they are one big sensitive trigger point in a viscous cycle of pain.
What does this mean?
Well, like most conditions many factors must be present. It is common that Fibromyalgia sufferers had a traumatic event that set off a series of behaviours, emotions, and medical interventions. Whatever the initial stimulus, ALL Fibromyalgia sufferers have to eliminate acids and toxins from the cells. It is my belief that Fibromyalgia is a diminished ability to eliminate these acids and toxins, resulting in a kind of general Edema. A swelling occurring all-over, or, in certain areas, compartments, or, organs. This swelling increases the pressure in the connective tissue and thus makes Nociceptors ( Pain Nerve endings) fire with very little stimulus. As the body increases its activities throughout the day more inflammation is generated, which increases the pressure, which alters the nerves even more; making them even more sensitive, causing even more pain. Now in a Negative Feedback Cycle of pain, the Myofascia has trapped the acids toxins and is stuck feeling heavy, toxic and sore.
The over- all swelling also increases blood pressure, limits flow of cerebral spinal fluid, and, decreases ability to fight disease.
So if we compare the symptoms of Acidosis and Fibromyalgia, there are many similarities. Even on the emotional level where fear/anxiety is exhibited, depression, and irritability, we can see similarities. Now, the underlying mechanisms of acidosis are numerous and complicated, however, treatment and care can be taken. Knowing this it upsets me that the Medical System prescribes anti-depressants and opioid pain killers which only create more toxins !!
I generally treat the patient according to their sensitivity levels that day, but I seek to: Improve Lymph drainage, reduce lactic acid deposits, reduce nervous tension, decrease blood pressure, Improve cerebrospinal fluid flow.
As far as the 18 tender points of Fibromyalgia, they incidentally correspond to acupuncture points that have to do with Toxicity and Inflammmation, however, are a very weak reference guide.
The main thing we can do to decrease pain and prevent Fibromyalgia is eat a balanced diet ( not allow any refined sugars, processed foods, limit environmental toxins ). Massage and is an ancient, non-toxic, and efficient way to relieve these symptoms. In fact, Manual Lymph Drainage is an effective method, in which I have been trained in. Turning on the cold water at the end of a hot shower could do more than expensive Nerve pain drugs. Also, jumping up and down on a trampoline, gentle percussive slapping on the torso and extremities everyday can also improve symptoms and break the negative feedback cycle. By no means is this article a definitive paper on Fibromyalgia, and much more research is needed, however, my experience ( and others ) knows that,more can be done to relive pain with diet, exercise and massage, than drugs can. It is a long term approach, but one with a light at the end, and not just 'the end'.
At METAbodyWORKS we o teach Tai Chi and Chi Kung which is proven method of treatment for Fibromyalgia. See this study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0912611