http-equiv='refresh'/> Global Therapies: 2012

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


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Monday, 23 January 2012

Olympics Sports Massage

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Well, I got an email through the other day saying that my application to be a Sports Massage Therapist at the 2012 Olympics has (finally) been accepted and approved, which is nice.

I have been assigned to a couple of events throughout the whole thing. Not everything lasts for the whole two weeks, so I am going to be shuffling about between locations. One part is going to be in the olympic park, and the other is off site.

Unfortunately I can't really go into too much detail about what I'm going to be doing on which day, or apparently even which events I'm going to be at - Locog have bascially issued the following guidelines about volunteers, the olympics and social media:

  • not to disclose their location
  • not to post a picture or video of Locog backstage areas closed to the public
  • not to disclose breaking news about an athlete
  • not to tell their social network about a visiting VIP, eg an athlete, celebrity or dignitary
  • not to get involved in detailed discussion about the Games online
  • but they can retweet or pass on official London 2012 postings
So there you go. I'm very happy to be accepted, and excited about going, though there appear to be a large number of hoops to jump through before I finally, actually get there.

Tim Budd

What can we do for injury? Part 1: ACUTE

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Looking back over notes that I wrote a few years ago, studying to be a Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist, I came across a few things that I thought might be interesting reading about recovery from injury and what you as an individual can do, and what Sports Massage can do to help recover.
Injuries in ACUTE stage - immediate to 72 hours after injury.
Perhaps the most important time period of all. Normally the time when you sit there thinking... its not all that bad, maybe I can just try and walk on it. "AGH" no. Not yet.
Maybe now? "AGH" nope. Not yet. (etc, ad nauseum). This is perhaps NOT the best thing to be doing.

What is happening in your body?
Arteries, veins and capillaries are dilating (getting bigger), bringing blood to the area hence it will be
RED, warm (potentially hot) and blood plasma will be escaping.
Blood will bring fibroblasts and macrophages to the area.
Macrophages "eat" dead tissue which has been injured.
Fibroblasts synthesise ground substance to begin the healing process.
PAIN is produced by pressure from the SWELLING and the release of chemicals like histamine which stimulates pain receptors.

What can you do about it?  RICE:
  • REST
  • ICE
DON'T test it, if it isn't as bad as you fear it is, it will get better soon, if it is as bad as you fear it is, the RICE protocol will set you up perfectly for the next stage.
Protect the area - ensure you keep the area immobile and safe from knocks and bumps. This will probably be a natural reaction anyway.

What can a Massage Therapist do for you?
Assistance with pain management and support rest and sleep. The body needs to be relaxed and put into a less stressed position. The injured area may be looked at, and lymphatic drainage AWAY from the site toward the body will be useful - getting the waste products from the injury away from the area so they can be re-synthesised or excreted from the body, supporting circulation and enabling the body to be less stressed in general are some of the best things you can do for it at this stage.
We can also provide reassurance about your injury, or advise you to get it checked out further (for example for xrays) if we think the injury is more serious than you first thought.
Next post I'll look at things which happen and can be done in the Sub-Acute stage. From 3 days after the injury to approximately 6 weeks after. There will be a final post in this series covering the Chronic stage.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


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It's got to the 2nd or 3rd week of the year, you might be feeling a bit tired from the exertion of you current new found training scheme.

Add caption
But is there more? Are you not sleeping well despite exercising more? Are you beginning to feel listless, unmotivated, inflexible and generally run down? Are you beginning to think that if exercise makes you feel like this, then really, what is the point?

Maybe you've already hit a level of overtraining, it isn't hard to do. The problem is that when overtraining happens and you get tired, all motivation collapses in on itself, and you stop going out and bettering yourself, ending up falling back into the same rut that you have done for the past few years.

Overtraining is something that can happen to anyone and everyone, from the beginner on the block, right up to the most experienced person in the gym or in the race. It can occur because of a sudden change to the Frequency or Intensity of training.

As hinted in the first paragraph, the symptoms of overtraining can appear in many guises. The most obvious one being feeling sore after training, classic DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This is not too bad a thing. Rest, Ice on the area which feels sore and when you feel better, Drink more water, and continue on training at a slightly lower intensity, building up slowly. The pain is coming from a variety of issues, none of which are particularly worrisome, as long as you take it easy in training for a while. Training at an easier, more sustainable level is better than either:
  1. continuing on through the pain - something will break at some point.
  2. just giving up. Think about why you started exercising in the first place, does that motivation still hold? Don't give up.
However, overtraining can be a bit of an issue if the symptoms are a little less obvious than pain in specific muscles.
If for the past few days you've been feeling one or more of these...
  • Listless
  • Unmotivated
  • Exhaustion
  • Chronic Joint Pain
  • Insatiable thirst
  • Decreased performance
  • Stiff muscles
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Unable to sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Generally not particularly "feeling it"
...and for the past few days or weeks you have upped the training somewhat, you may well be overtraining. If you continue on training at the same level, you have an increased susceptibility to minor injuries and illness.

The reason for the various issues you are feeling stem from a Sympathetic dominance of the Nervous system, the so called "fight or flight" reflex. Continual stressing of the body - brought on as a response to exercise, excitement, anticipation and performance - causes the nervous system to excrete hormones and chemicals into the body which make it continually ready for action. This has an effect on everything throughout the body, from the thickening of ground substance - the stuff that makes up muscles, tendons and ligaments - to the inhibition of normal gastric movement and a restless mind, constantly thinking about things throughout the day, stressing the brain, as well as the body. Although it may not feel like it, the whole of your being is constantly on edge because of the dominance of various hormones released by the new stress of the (perhaps ambitious) exercise regime. It doesn't feel able to relax, calm down, or give itself time to repair itself. A number of problems can be associated with this including slowed recovery, emotional agitation, breathing disorders and digestive upset.

Without some downtime, the body will begin to be inefficient, physically and mentally causing some, maybe all of the issues listed above.

While the body needs Sympathetic Dominance during work and exercise, there must be a balance, and during rest, the Parasympathetic should come to the fore. This is where other hormones are released and the body is able to relax, heal and look after itself. But if the MIND is still stressed, the body will not be in a position to release the hormones, and will continue in Sympathetic Dominance.

How do we get to a place where Parasympathetic dominance takes over? Some people find meditation works, others, just sitting reading a book, chilling out, not even THINKING about exercise or anything that stresses them - which can cause a negative hormonal effect. If you are far down the overtraining route, and are beginning to get niggles, just laying off the training might not be enough.

I know it may seem like an obvious thing for someone like me to say, but get a massage. It doesn't have to be a "hard, painful" massage, something to relax out the muscles, normalise the tissues in the body, increase blood flow and enable the body to relax from the outside, in. The action of kneading muscles and tissues increases the circulation and warms up the ground substance - enabling the body to actually relax more.

With the benefit of quality "downtime" your exercise regime will gain quality as well enabling you to continue aiming for the goals you have set yourself, without crashing and burning in the first month.

As Coach Keefe says from Strength and Performance, "Every athlete or avid gym goer should be getting some form of sports treatment, from a relaxing, flushing massage right up to deep myofascial release. It all works, its just when to use each one to the benefit of your training. You have to treat each massage like training itself, so after hard strenuous training sessions I would recommend more of a flushing, lymphatic and circulatory based massage, as this will aid in blood flow and the repair of the muscle tissues, plus it will help relax you!! Save the deep tissue therapy for days when you aren't going so hard in the gym."

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Rockover Growl 3

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Yesterday was spent down at Rock Over Climbing Wall in Manchester for the third GROWL contest. Reports from the first and second contests can be found here for the October event and here for the December event.

January's contest started off quiet, just a few dozen competitors there for the initial briefing. There was no sign of hanging ball problems today, instead some tricky looking volumes to negotiate. We were impressed to see so many of the climbers going through serious warm up routines - looking after your body like that is a great way to help prevent injuries, especially on a cold winter day.

Early remedial treatment on neck/shoulder muscles
Craig demonstrating his skill

Early arrivals taking time to consider moves and watch others on the problems before it got busy

Total focus and determination on the final move.....

Receiving soft tissue therapy to forearms...tired from climbing, or treating an underlying issue caused by daily postural biomechanics?

The tricky spot prize problem....not many topped out on this one!

Jordan Buys receiving post-contest soft tissue therapy and missing his prize being awarded!! Thankfully Naomi was on hand to collect it for him.

Paul being lifted and dropped by the prize winning ladies.....causing lots of amusement!
Thanks to all of you who came along for a chat about climbing, injury prevention or to have a free treatment. As always at these events, donations are gratefully received and we went away with £15 for Glossop Mountain Rescue Team; we know they will appreciate it.

See you all at the 4th and final GROWL on Saturday 11th February.

Monday, 2 January 2012

January Book of the Month

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A new month brings new reading books for us. This month's choices are:

Lynne has chosen Meet Your Body by Noah Karrasch. Since meeting Noah on a CPD course (CORE Fascial Release for the Shoulder) this book has been on her list to read.

For Tim this month it's A Massage Therapist's Guide to Treating Headaches and Neck Pain by Sandy Fritz and Leon Chaitow.

Soft Tissue Therapy in action

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Tim Budd, Sports & Remedial Massage Therapist at Global Therapies, shown here providing soft tissue therapy to Sean Keefe, Co-Founder of Strength & Performance.

Global Therapies provide sports and remedial massage, soft tissue therapy and advice to clients at S&P on Mondays and Thursdays.

December Reading - Fascial Release

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My book for December's reading was Fascial Release for Structural Balance by James Earls & Thomas Myers. Tom Myers is well known to me because of his work with integrative structural therapy. His book Anatomy Trains should be in every massage and soft tissue therapists library. This months book is also worthy of a place in the library. James Earls studied with Tom Myers and also follows the anatomy trains approach to bodywork, something we incorporate in our work too. Knowing the authors credentials alone gave me confidence that my book for the month was going to be a good read.

As with Tim's book choice, this is one which I have dipped in on numerous occasions. The bulk of the book is made up of chapters corresponding to individual areas of the body - a review of anatomy and a look at relevant techniques and concepts of fascial release that are applicable. In the introduction the authors are keen to note that the body is not made up on separate and isolated components. Comparing the body to a car is an oft used analogy, but humans are not the same - we cannot simply take out a muscle when injured and replace it like a broken spark plug. There are much wider reaching implications for damage to one part of the body, and it is those connections - through the fascial webbing which pervades all of our body - which Earls & Myers explore in this text.  Paraphrasing them, the reality of human anatomy is that we have one muscle poured into 600 (or so) pockets of fascial webbing - the distinctions between muscles are useful, but the reductive process shouldn't block the reality of the unifying and connected whole.

Key messages I will take from this book (some of which reinforce reading from other sources):
  • Fascial webbing that pervades our bodies has been building, refolding and remodelling since the foetus was 2 weeks old - it remains constant (ever present) and changing (adapting) throughout all our life.
  • Everything is a compromise - the stability vs mobility balance is always being played out in our body.
  • Congestion and mechanical strain often affects the body in distant parts - because the fascial web is altered.
  • Fascia is contractile*.
  • Tensegrity** is key; "The body is designed to distribute strain globally, not focus it locally".
  • The fascial system is a repository for chronic issues because of its ability to accept change slowly and retain the changes it makes. Chronic tension because of inappropriate fascial shortness can lead to trigger points, fascial thickening and compensation patterns throughout the body.
  • Fascial tissue deforms because of injury, abuse, misuse or disuse - but because of its plasticity it can be reformed with manual therapy, stretching and awareness (such as changing postural habits).
* Until recently it was thought that only muscles contracted but it is now known that myofibroblasts exert a force on the fascia causing contractions. Not as quick to respond as muscles (perhaps 20mins), fascia does however retain the contraction for hours - leading to sustained mechanical tension and postural changes.

** A word on tensegrity - engineers build houses and structures to withstand forces applied to them, just as the body does - but, the body is able to maintain its structure when, for example, held upside down or when pressure it exerted on one area.  Through deforming one part of the body small amounts of deformation are felt throughout the body, and a tensegrity model can demonstration this. An amazing Christmas present was given to me this year which allows me to demonstrate this to our clients:

No tension applied
Tension applied by right hand
The two photos above aim to demonstrate what happens when there is tension applied to one area of the tensegrity model. The right hand is pulling on a cord at the top, and you can imagine this is a tight muscle, tendon or area of restricted fascia within the body. On a quick glance you will notice that the whole structure has become deformed, squashed and distorted a little if you like. On closer inspection you will see that there are changes visible throughout the model. As one example, take the yellow node held in the left hand - it forms a triangle with a blue node above and another out of sight node; see how that triangle has altered in size. So while the cord at the top of the model is being pulled it has affected this distant area, just as fascial restrictions in for example the calf can affect the hip, lower back or elsewhere. It is difficult to demonstrate a 3D model with a photograph, but I hope you can see the basic idea behind strain being applied globally, not just locally. It is this principle which we apply in our massage and remedial treatments.

I will be continuing to read this book over the coming months - there are six chapters on the different body areas (foot & lower leg; knee & thigh; hip; abdomen, thorax & breathing; spine; and shoulder & arm). There is good guidance on postural assessment and clear diagrams on various anatomical structures - so don't be surprised if I show you this book (or the tensegrity model) when you come for a treatment. It really is a good tool for all manual therapists who are keen to educate their clients and give them the best possible treatment and home care advice.

Lynne Taylor