BECAUSE MASSAGE THERAPY ISN'T A SKIN RUBBER PROFESSION
This article appeared in Issue 52, April 2000, of Positive Health Magazine, published by Positive Health Publications, LTD, 51 Queen Square, Bristol, BS1 4LH, United Kingdom. Telephone: 011 44 117-983 8851 In anatomy class, we all learned that when there is trauma or injury to a muscle, the result is adhesions and scar tissue in the fibers of the muscle. This results in a shortened muscle. In massage school, we learned specific deep tissue techniques to help break up these adhesions and scar tissue to give our clients relief from their pain. I am no exception. After I graduated from massage school and got a little experience under my belt, I felt as though I was doing some very good work. I quickly gained the reputation of being able to do deep tissue work. Most of the clients I worked with, who were in pain, loved the fact that I was strong. At least I could help them with their chronic pain on a temporary basis. Even with the very limited knowledge I had at that time, I was very proud of the work I was doing.
My business continued to blossom. It felt good to be able to help the clients who came to me with chronic pain problems. What more could a new massage therapist ask for? I never dreamed that one day I would become the victim of a repetitive use injury. However, after several years of doing deep tissue work on a daily basis, the inevitable happened. I developed tendinitis on my right, medial epicondyle. Did it hurt? YES, but this "big macho male" thought it would go away in a few days. After all, pain has always gone away in a few days with me. I began to have pain in other areas of my body as well. I thought to myself, “For God's sake, I am helping other people so I can't get hurt. I have found my purpose in life. These people need me!"
I continued to do deep tissue work. I thought the tendinitis would disappear, as quickly as it started. At that point in my life, I really didn't understand what tendinitis really is. I received weekly massages, as instructed in massage school. The massage therapist I was seeing at that time didn't know any more about how to treat my tendinitis problem, than I did. Finally I went to my family doctor for help. He told me to take over-the counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Those drugs did nothing to bring relief. His next step was to send me to physical therapy. That only compounded the problem and it got worse. My doctor then referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. This doctor put me on prescription anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs seemed to help with the pain but I know now that they were only treating the symptoms of my tendinitis problem. I took the drugs for fourteen months and my tendinitis continued to get worse. I considered finding another career since I was in so much pain myself. I knew I couldn't continue on this path. The healer had become the victim. The culprit was the deep tissue work.
About three years ago I was fortunate enough to learn a technique that I choose to call the Muscle Release TechniqueSM. I learned that the tendinitis I had was caused by the muscle becoming too tight, or short, from the repetitive use. I learned that the deep tissue work only breaks up adhesions and scar tissue but does nothing to lengthen the muscle and relieve the pulling of the muscle on the attachment site.
After learning this muscle release work, I was able to treat my tendinitis myself. It has been over three years since my acute tendinitis problems and the tendinitis has not returned. I was very impressed with how this work helped me, so I started using this very simple technique on my clients suffering from chronic pain syndromes. The results have been remarkable. The deep tissue work I had done in the past only broke up scar tissue and gave the client temporary relief. The client would return in a couple of weeks with the same chronic problem because the scar tissue reformed in the muscle. By using the Muscle Release TechniqueSM, we not only break up scar tissue, we lengthen the muscle. This results in more flexibility, no more nerve impingement and no more pain. By using this technique regularly, the muscle memory is restored and most pain sufferers get permanent relief.
Some of the most exciting and important benefits of this work include its effectiveness and the fact that it is so much easier on the therapist. The deep tissue work takes a toll on the therapist, over time.
I have learned many things through this ordeal. The one thing that I consider most important is that flexibility is the key to most chronic pain problems. I read the following in The Whartons' Stretch Book by Jim and Phil Wharton, "If muscles are flexible around a joint, I could be injured. I should be tight to perform better, right? WRONG!" They go on to say, "There is a BIG difference between a strong muscle and a tight one. A tight muscle can be very weak and offer virtually no protection for a joint. A tight muscle is an inefficient muscle. It's prone to injury because you can't move it fast enough or position yourself well enough to avoid trauma or effects of overuse. It tracks rigidly and has a limited range of movement. Power is the combination of strength and flexibility." Another item that hit me right between the eyes is "To avoid hammer toes, chronic low back pain, tennis elbow, tendinitis, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, scoliosis, plantar fasciitis, bunions and achilles tendon contracture, concentrate your flexibility work on applicable Active-Isolated stretches."
If flexibility is the cure for all these afflictions, then a lack of flexibility must be the cause. Is it possible that this could be true? You bet it is! However, if you have some of these afflictions, it takes more than just simple stretching to break up the adhesions and scar tissue that have formed. That is where the Muscle Release TechniqueSM is so effective, profoundly effective.
This article is published with the kind permission from Michael Young, NCTMB, author of this article and instructor for Muscle Release TechniqueSM