Thursday, May 30, 2024

Massage and Related Therapies

What is Massage therapy?

Massage therapy is the focused manipulation of soft tissue for a specific outcome. That outcome can be many things like relaxation, increased movement, and reduction in pain. There are many different techniques that can be used to achieve those goals. These techniques such as Swedish massage, assessment, joint mobilization, exercises, and myofascial release are learned in a 2200 hour/2-year course.

How can massage therapy help you?

Massage therapy can help in many physical conditions like frozen shoulder, migraines, piriformis syndrome, and post workout soreness.

The Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba has a beautiful tool to see how massage therapy can help. Click the link below for more information.

Cupping Therapy

How Does Cupping Therapy Work?

Cupping massage is used in combination with other massage techniques. Discussion and assessment will help customize a treatment program for you.

Cupping is a technique whereby a vacuum is created in a cup, drawing the skin up into the cup and separating the layers of skin, muscle and fascia. The suction draws the blood to the level of the skin, creating a vacuum below the skin, mechanically separating the tissue layers which destroys old blood vessels and creates new ones. Client will most likely be left with a mark from the cupping that will look like a bruise but it isn’t. No breaks in the skin are created and it is a perfectly safe and sterile procedure.  Blood is drawn between the skin layers and can last for up to two weeks.

The suction and negative pressure of the cups rapidly provides rigid soft tissue release by loosening and lifting connective tissue. This release of tissue breaks up and drains stagnant tissue fluid while increasing blood flow and lymph flow to the skin and muscles. The pulling action of the cups also engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows for deep relaxation of the mind and body.

What Is the Explanation Of The Marks Or Discolorations That Sometimes Occur As A Result From Cupping Therapy?

One of the common and unfortunate misconceptions of cupping is that it causes bruising. This is false. A bruise is caused by trauma in which there is breakage of the capillaries. There is no compression in cupping therapy and therefore no bruise. The discolorations are more like a hickey. When a condition exists where sufficient pathologic factors and stagnant fluids a represent and a vacuum is applied to the area, a discoloration will appear on the skin as the stagnation is brought up to the surface. This is the therapeutically desired effect. Healthy tissue does not discolor. Massage cupping is not an irritant to the skin or body. It draws the inflammation out,it does not add to it.

The Effects of Cupping Therapy

Reduces pain from muscle spasm, cramps, and tightness

Reduces pain by breaking up adhesions and chronic scar tissue and loosens layers of tissue

Increases range of motion of joints in the area and reduces stiffness

Increases the function of sebaceous and sweat glands allowing the skin to breath

Brings fresh blood to the muscles

Has effects on the nervous system which allows relaxation and reduces stress

Accelerates healing of injured muscles

There are Other Forms of Cupping

Fire cupping – Heat is used to create the vacuum inside the cups.

Wet cupping – This is a type of cupping where the practitioner draws blood into the cups.

When one Googles cupping, many of the images presented are of wet cupping. This result will not happen with cupping therapy/massage.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a massage technique that targets restricted connective tissue called fascia.

What is Fascia?

The fascial network is a crystal like, three-dimensional, spider’s web structure that is ever-flowing and uninterrupted. It encompasses the entirety of the body, connecting our superficial skin layer to the deepest tissues, organs, and bones.

Blood vessels and nerves pass through fascia

It enables us to have a high degree of flexibility combined with being very powerful and resilient to overstretching.

It has a superb memory and we each have our own unique fascial fingerprint.

It is our hydraulic shock absorber and enables the body to cope with load bearing, like gravity and mechanical stress.

What is the role of fascia?

The fascia encompasses and infuses every tissue in the body; our muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs, bones.

It supports, separates and cushions all living cells in the body.

It keeps our cells alive.

It is dynamic.

It protects us and responds to internal and external forces, acting as our shock absorber, responsible for proprioception and stabilization; our anti-gravity system.

It has its very own nervous, lymphatic and circulatory supply and is a communicational system for the body.  It is a messenger system.

Thus, when fascia is restricted and becomes bound it influences our complete health, affecting not just muscular and skeletal health, but nerve capacity, gland and organ function and our general well being. Fascia as an organ of communication.

What is Fascial Restriction

Fascia is restricted due to various reasons, such as incorrect posture, trauma (physical and emotional), surgery, and lack of, or repetitive, movement; to name just a few.

It dehydrates, becoming a sticky matted mess of a web, shortening and hardening (Just like a muscular ‘knot’). As a consequence, extra tension is further placed on adjacent structures, such as joints, organs, and ligaments; more collagen fibres then lay down to help deal with the strain. The density of the hardened fascia increases (The ‘knot’ gets bigger).


One restriction can lead to another. Restricted fascia can cause pain, imbalance. Fascia restrictions come hand in hand with trapped nerves. It can also affect the efficient flow of blood and lymph, thus slowing down our bodies own healing power.

Surgery for example creates scar tissue. Scar tissue is a restriction. It acts as a rigid barrier within the fascial web, compressing nerves/blood vessels, inhibiting movement. The result of scar tissue may manifest in physiological or physical dysfunction.

Myofascial release aims to restore these restrictions within the body and has been found to help reduce scar tissue. The release can be quite profound.  Due to the fascia’s immense memory we can hold restrictions in our body for a long time without knowing.

Restoring the fascia back to its truest and happiest form can create a huge positive shift both physical and mentally.

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