Integrative Health Blog

Therapeutic Massage Goes Deeper

Posted by admin on Wed, Sep 25, 2013

Krista Merwede LMT

 therapeutic massage

What Holds Our Body Together?

Fascia is a structure of connective tissue that is found all over the body.  Muscles, bones, blood vessels, nerves and organs are all attached to one another through this vast connective webbing of collagen tissue.  Wrapping each individual muscle fiber and connecting to the others around it, the fascia allows for some structures to connect and others to slide smoothly across one another.  The fascia's mobility and hydration directly affects the shape of and the tension within the muscles. It has a unique quality in that it winds and spirals as opposed to a simple contraction and release, and this allows for much more surface area within the facial structure to catch or harbor tension. 

The Role of Massage

When formulating an intention for massage therapy we must take into consideration how the fascia is affecting particularly the musculature.  It is lovely to facilitate deep release of the muscles during a session, but the goal is to have the body hold that relaxation as long as possible.  With this in mind, incorporating myofascial techniques to address the melting and unwinding of the connective tissue promotes a more multi-dimensional approach.  The more layers that we can address the closer we get to discovering and releasing the source, not just the symptoms, of tension in the body.

The optimum state of the fascia is warm and gooey.  Stress, time, and trauma can cause it to dehydrate, develop adhesions, and become inelastic.  In turn, this decreases the space in which the muscle fibers, nerves, and other connective tissues have to move around each other.  This binding up of the various tissues by the fascia has a tendency to radiate out into the rest of the body and lodge itself in specific areas that we experience as painful or tense.  Addressing and releasing these subtle yet deep structural nuances opens up greater flow and mobility for the rest of the tissues.

Old Scars or Injury Need a Special Touch

Receiving myofascial therapy is a curious experience the first time as it is unlike most other therapeutic modalities.  It is performed with a light, warming touch as the therapist's intention is not to manipulate fibers but to gently guide the delicious unwinding of the connective tissue.  It can be used in combination with deeper modalities, such as trigger point therapy, to give each session a mufti-dimensional approach to maximize release and progress.

Especially good candidates for myofascial therapy are patients that have deep scarring from injury or surgery.  When our tissues heal after they are cut they are trying to do so as fast as possible.  The body lays down the new connective tissue fibers quickly yet haphazardly in many directions, whereas whole uncut fibers are all originally laid out in directions specific to their function.  It is this jumble of fibers that we refer to as scar tissue, allowing for the thickness and stiffness that we can feel in areas that have had major fascial healing. During therapeutic massage, myofascial techniques have the capacity to unwind and release some of these deeper lines of tension resulting in greater mobility and decreased thickness in the scar tissue.

 

describe the imageKrista Merwede L.M.T., has been a holistic health professional and therapeutic massage therapist for over a decade and a Reiki Master since 2006. She customizes treatment protocols in support of the work being done with the doctors at National Integrated Health Associates and offers a myriad of massage therapy techniques(deep tissue, trigger point, craniosacral therapy, myofascial, and more) to blend together an individualized approach for each patient.