How to massage your way to good health
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Frozen Shoulder - Pain
Valerie recently suffered a stiff and painful shoulder - and it seemed to go on for ever.
She was diagnosed as suffering from 'frozen shoulder'.
Frozen shoulder? What sort of innocuous name is that for a condition that brings such pain? Why can't they call it something that better describes it, such as 'screaming shoulder', or juddering joint'?
There is a name of course, Adhesive Capsulitis, but no one wants to know the medical term, we all call things by common names, so, frozen shoulder it is. It’s believed that a lot of the symptoms are because the joint capsule is swollen and 'sticking', making the joint inflexible and full of pain to move.
There are two recognized but not always distinct, phases to frozen shoulder'
The Distressing Stage of Frozen Shoulder
- The inception of aching shoulder
- Developing widespread pain, often worst at night and when lying on the affected side
This stage can last between 2-9 months
The Stiffening Phase of Frozen Shoulder
- Inflexibility becomes a problem
- Pain level usually does not alter
- Difficulty with normal daily tasks
- Muscle depletion may become apparent due to lack of use
This can last between 4-12 months
Adhesive Capsulitis is the correct expression for Frozen Shoulder – sometimes abbreviated to FSS (frozen shoulder syndrome).
It influences the ability to move the shoulder, and often only happens on one side.
Massage or what?
After a series of treatments involving medicines and injections that brought no relief, the enlightened doctor turned to alternative remedies – massage and acupuncture.
I was sceptical. I'm a born sceptic. I’m a technologist; a scientist, a child of modern thought. But a doctor is a doctor - if he believed there was slack to be had, we had to go for it. He referred her to a local clinic and away we trotted.
WIth royal blessing
Records show that in historic Britain, Mary Queen of Scots recovered from exceedingly poor health with the assistance of body massage.
Massage or bust...
I had to eat my thoughts. Within a few weeks, Valerie was cured. If it worked for her, there’s no reason it can’t work for many others. So, what is all this magical stuff about?
Massage is apparently one of the earliest recorded forms of healing. Eastern medics were using body massage some 3000 years ago - way before Jesus made his mark on the world. It is one of the four recognized classical forms of therapy along with acupuncture, moxibustion and herbalism.
Why massage works
The principal effect of body massage is on blood circulation, which subsequently stimulates tissues and organs.
Minor aches and pains caused by stress can be almost immediately relieved as the feeling of relaxation from correct massage, creeps over the body.
Disease or injury can affect muscle tissue causing inflammation and sometimes movement is reduced. But by treatment with massage, the inflammation can be eased and normal circulation restored.
But it doesn't end there. Massage has been used successfully in the treatment of persistent stomach disorders. Gentle and natural massage can help restore bowel problems and get the old gut functioning the way it should.
The dawning of good health
A massage in exotic climes
The intrepid explorer, Captain Cook logged in 1779, that his painful sciatica was quite alleviated when 12 women from Tahiti massaged him from head to foot.
The sedative effect
Massage is a wonderful treatment for anyone, whether as therapy for injury or just a plain and simple wish to be cosseted. Babies adore being massaged – not only is it soothing but it promotes bonding - and boy do we need bonding.
Older people find massage particularly helpful because the circulation is stimulated which brings relief from stiffness.
Patients who are bedridden tend to become stiff and sore. Massage can help by encouraging the circulation and by cleaning toxins from the body.
Anxiety, stress – forget it. Try massage instead. The tone of muscles is one of the first things affected by strong emotions – the old fight or flight stimulus – primeval but still working. Body massage apparently behaves as a sedative and certainly has an incredibly soothing effect on the nervous system, a harmless and natural remedy that combats the strain of modern living.
Sportsmen say yeh!
Serious sportsmen and women use sports massage to not only groom healthy muscles prior to exhausting pursuits, but also provide support following injury.
Sports massage relieves contractions and pain. It eases inflammation, loosens the muscles and hastens the healing process.
Massage is personal
Most people undervalue the potential of physical contact. Physical contact is personal, it promotes confidence, and it brings about an instant ‘feel good’ factor; it is a heartwarming story. The most proficient touch is from a professional masseur.
Effleurage comprises an assortment of stroking actions, typically executed with the hands and fingers, with just sufficient force for the purpose of the massage. Effleurage is typically used at the start of the session.
The basic movement involves firm coercion using the palm and fingers. On the return stroke, the masseur’s hands keep a light touch, on a different route than the initial stroke. As with all massage, the hands should be relaxed and moulded around the contours of the body.
It is used to:
- Put the patient at ease
- Warm the tissues
- Increase blood flow
- Stimulate nerves
- Relax the muscles
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Petrissage is used for mobilising and extending muscle fibres, and provoking relaxation. Some of these methods are aimed at deeper tissue and are tricky to carry out on slender parts of the limbs, but is a powerful technique, particularly effective in mobilising fluids in very deep muscles.
Whichever method is best for you will be chosen by a professional masseur to suit your particular problem.
Massage is certainly a therapy deserving wider usage. It worked for my wife, try it and see if it works for you.
So, before you reach for that medicine bottle, treat yourself to a massage - you might just be surprised.
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