Wednesday 26 April 2017

Massage as Therapy for Body and Mind

 Massage therapy is defined as the manipulation of soft tissue of whole body areas to bring about generalized improvement in health (e.g. relaxation or improved sleep) or specific physical benefits (e.g. relief of muscular ache and pain).

Types of Massages

Typically the following kind of Massages are offered in a Spa setting:

       Swedish massage - This massage is almost synonymous with Massage Therapy and is most Close to Naturopathy Massage. Has many relaxation benefits.
       Deep tissue massage - Deep tissue massage is a focused, therapeutic massage that targets muscle knots and specific problem areas in the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
       Shiatsu massage - shiatsu involves localized pressure using the therapist's fingers (or sometimes hands and elbows), applied in a rhythmic sequence along the body. Each point is held for about two to eight seconds.
       Trigger point massage - A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. Trigger Point Therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release.
Benefits of Therapeutic Massage
       Thai massage - A unique blend of assisted yoga, passive stretching, and pressing massage movements, Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. It's like yoga without doing the work, as the therapist moves and stretches you in a sequence of postures, usually on a mat on the floor.
       Hot stone massage - A type of massage where the therapist places heated, smooth stones on specific points on the body and also holds the warm stones while giving the massage.
       Sports massage - Designed to prevent and treat injuries, improve flexibility, and enhance athletic performance, sports massage can be used by athletes of all abilities to prepare for or recover from athletic or sports events. Even if you aren't an athlete, sports massage may help muscle pain or restricted range of motion.

Customised Massages for Specific Conditions

Following kind of Massages are offered in a Therapeutic Setting where the normal Swedish or Deep Tissue Massage will be customised to provide benefits in specific medical conditions:

Conditions treated using Therapeutic Massage
  1. Lymphatic Drainage Massage - for treatment of lymphedema, an accumulation of fluid that can occur after lymph nodes are removed during surgery, most often a mastectomy for breast cancer.
  2. Fibromyalgia Massage - Massage to improve circulation in the muscles, which increases the flow of nutrients and eliminates waste products. This is particularly beneficial for those with fibromyalgia as it can reduce heart rate, relax muscles, improve range of motion in joints and increase production of the body's natural painkillers.
  3. Powder Massage for Weight Reduction - This massage involves upward stroking, where the powder is rubbed forcibly on the body.This massage liquefies the fat, stabilizes the body parts and is best to improve the complexion of the skin.
  4. Pre and Post Natal Massage - Pregnancy massage can include anything from a full body Swedish massage to light massage work that might include other modalities such as circulatory work, reflexology or cranial sacral therapy
  5. Infant Massage - Infant Massage promotes circulation and provides deep rest to the new born child. The deep rest promotes healing process and builds immune system.
Techniques and their benefits

Therapeutic Massages involves following techniques

1.     Effleurage - involves a repeated circular stroking movement made with the palm of the hand across length of a muscle
a.     The movements effect Peripheral Nervous System through ectodermal tissue massage therapists touch and mesoderm tissue manipulation which cause somatosensaory stimulation. The mechanoreceptors stimulates large afferent nerve fibers that stimulate Plysyaptic interneurons in Dorasal Hypothalamus which prevents the impulse of smaller nerve fibers thereby giving reduced pain perception
b.     The movements also increase Opioid receptor activation through increase secretion of Beta-Endorphins and other endogenous opioid receptor agonists. The increased levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin as well as opiod neuropeptide secretion act as Analgesic for pain reduction

2.     Kneading – involves actions to squeeze, press, or roll with the hands across the width of a muscle

a.     Mechanical influence of kneading and summation of repeated contractions initiates Adenosine Triphosphate hydrolysis. This increases intramuscular phosphate and proton levels which in turn causes increased number if cross-bridges in a weakened state thereby reducing tension.
b.     Kneading movement’s Mechanical influence manipulating mesoderm that alters the structural composition of the tissue such that a response elicited from the golgi tendon organ. The enhanced viscoelasticity between the tissue surfaces/contract-relax/strain counter-strain increase in both connective and muscle tissue extensibility
c.      Kneading movements reduces force production causing myofibril lengthening following massage, contributing to improved range of motion
d.     Kneading movements cause Reflexive response and increased parasympathetic nervous function. The Relaxing sphincters, dilating gastrointestinal tract blood vessels, and increasing secretion of gastric juice and mucus provide benefits to digestive system

3.     Friction - A deep massage applied by circular motions of the thumbs or fingertips
a.     Friction can help prevent scar tissue forming in torn muscles. Deep friction massage may displace adhesions facilitating realignment of the connective and muscular tissue fibers
b.     Deep frictions causes Proprioceptive stimulation of the neuro-tendinous organ. The Reflexive response and Inverse myotatic reflex causes Muscular relaxation. Inhibitory postsynaptic potential activates Motor neuron for Relaxed, extended muscle and Increased joint mobility

c.      Friction causes Mechanical compression of mesoderm and Local hyperemia. This Deliberate tissue trauma generates Inflammatory response that Produces local metabolites causing Vasodilation of the peripheral vessels and thereby improving local blood circulation.

A properly trained Massage Therapist under the guidance of a Doctor is the right recipe for Therapeutic Massage. 

More at Yogaksema Website

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Acupuncture Works - 6 Uses of Acupuncture

What is Acupuncture? 

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy. The name Acupuncture is derived from Latin where "Acus" --> needle and "Pungue" --> to prick. 
Acupuncture thus entails pricking fine, sterile, disposable silver needles on specific acu-points along the energy channels called meridians. 
There are about 386 Acu-Points on major nerves and 206 on small and large blood vessels. Acupuncture is perhaps the only scientifically proven drugless, pain free, safe and medically recommended Pain Management treatment with minimal side effects. 
In India, Acupuncture is taught and clinically practiced as a Medicine as part of Bachelor in Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences course in many Naturopathy colleges.

Scientific Theories of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is shown to work through 3 major clinical phenomenon:

1. Gate Control Theory:

 Gate Control Theory was proposed by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall in 1965. It says that non-painful input (such as pricking the acu needle) closes the "gates" to painful input, which prevents pain sensation from traveling to the central nervous system and hence Pain Perception is Inhibited.
Needling activates Aβ fibers or nonnociceptive fibers, can interfere with signals from pain fibers such as A-δ (nerves that carry acute or instant pain signals) and C (Nerves that carry long term and chronic pain signals) afferent fibers signals to Spinal Cord, thereby inhibiting pain.


2. Neurotransmitter Theory:

This theory was published by Harris RE, Zubieta JK, Scott DJ, Napadow V, Gracely RH, Clauw DJ in 2009. The theory states that:

  • Certain Neurotransmitter levels are positively modulated by acupuncture. Mid brain triggers excitatory and inhibitory mediators to release neurotransmitters – Serotonin and Norepinephrine.
  • Acupuncture Points around spinal cord send signals through periaqueductal grey matter to Hypothalamus which in turn triggers Pituitary Gland to produce Dopamine.
  • Enhance dopamine levels regulate Serotonin and Noradrenalin levels that act as pain inhibitors.
3. Endorphin Release Theory:

Also published in 2009 by Ahsin S, Saleem S, Bhatti AM, Iles RK, Aslam M, it states that Acupuncture stimulates the secretions of endorphins in the body. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. In contrast to the opiate drugs, however, activation of the opiate receptors by the body's endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.

Uses of Acupuncture

There is ample research evidence to prove that Acupuncture works in alleviating symptoms in following conditions:

  1. Chronic and Acute Pain Management – Back Pain, Knee and Ankle Pain
  2. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
  3. Migraine
  4. Male Infertility
  5. Certain Respiratory Disorders
  6. Weight Management and Metabolic Disorders
  • Not recommended if patient has a bleeding issue or if the patient is taking blood thinners
  • There might be bleeding, wounding & irritation at the insertion sites
  • The needle may break & harm an internal organ (exceptionally uncommon)
  • Un-Sterilized needles may infect or contaminate the patient
  • When embedded deeply into the chest or upper back there is a danger of collapsed lung (exceptionally uncommon)
Acupuncture Should Only be Taken By a Trained Professional in a Clinical and Hygienic Setting.

1. Gate control theory 
Arch Phys Med RehabiL 1981 Mar;62(3).
Myofascial trigger points: relation to acupuncture and mechanisms of pain.
Melzack R
2.Neurotransmitter theory
Neuroimage. 2009 Sep;47(3):1077-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.083. Epub 2009 Jun 6.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture and placebo (sham) acupuncture are differentiated by their effects on mu-opioid receptors (MORs).
Harris RE, Zubieta JK, Scott DJ, Napadow V, Gracely RH, Clauw DJ
3. Endorphin release theory
Pain. 2009 Dec 15;147(1-3):60-6. 
Clinical and endocrinological changes after electro-acupuncture treatment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Ahsin S, Saleem S, Bhatti AM, Iles RK, Aslam M

Featured post

Biofeedback – Learning Mind and Body Interaction for Positive Health

We are all too aware of a deep connection between mind and body and their interactions. However it is interesting to know and decode the v...