myofascial pain syndrome

Swedish Massage Can Decrease Stress and Boost the Immune System

Do you often lack energy, feel stressed, and pick up every virus making the rounds?  The solution could be as easy as committing to regular Swedish Massage Therapy sessions.  Lorrie’s article on Page 10 in the April issue of Memphis Health and Fitness will catch you up on what the research has to say.  Click here to read the April issue.

Celebrating Ten Years

10 yearsThe last ten years have passed in the blink of an eye.  When I began my business in 2007, I had no idea that it would become such an integral part of my life and who I am.  My clients and I have studied the human body together with curiosity and compassion.  We’ve watched one another age and go through many life changes.  We’ve explored what it means to let go of trauma and to finally heal.  It seems that what begin as a business has become a laboratory in which to explore what it means to be human.

I’d like to thank each and every one of you who have walked beside me on the journey.  Here’s to the next ten years!

 

 

What the heck is Fascia and what does it do for me?

Many magazines, health journals, and news stories tell us that healthy fascia is key to a healthy lifestyle.  Leaving many to wonder what exactly fascia is and where it is in our bodies.  How does fascia help us in our everyday lives?  What happens to it as we age?  Why is myofascial release the type of bodywork recommended to keep us pain free and moving easily?

As a massage therapist with extensive training in John Barnes Myofascial Release,  I’ve answered these questions countless times.  Now, you can read the answers and more in my article from the March 2016 issue of Good Health Magazine.  On page 19, you’ll find an easy to understand summary of what fascia is, where it’s located in the body, and what it does.

In next month’s blog,  I’ll explain in more detail about why waiting 3-5 minutes minimum for fascia to release is crucial.

Click the link below for Lorrie’s article on page 19:

 https://issuu.com/fixmemphis/docs/good_health_memphis_march_2016

Sports and Myofascial Release

When it comes to sports, fascia can be your friend or foe. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, John Barnes Myofascial Release is essential for stellar performance, less injury, and staying on top of your game as you age.

fascia manMyo means muscle and fascia is connective tissue. According to the International Congress on Fascia, “Fascia is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system that permeates the human body. It forms a whole-body continuous three-dimensional matrix…”.  For muscles to contract and relax and tissues to glide against one another during movement, fascia must be hydrated and pliable.  Fascia is also the body’s shock absorber and when it becomes stiff or restricted force disperses unevenly throughout the body, leading to injury. Did you know tight fascia can even prevent muscle firing and lead to muscle weakness?

Fascia becomes tight and stuck in athletes for many reasons.  The healing process after trauma, surgery, and muscle tears can leave layers of fascia to stuck together (adhesions).  Poor body mechanics, repetitive strain, and chronic inflammation can cause tightness in fascia that doesn’t respond to traditional stretching.  Unfortunately, as we age, fascia becomes stiffer and less pliable.

John Barnes Myofascial Release is an effective form of bodywork that can get you moving with more ease.  It’s a non-aggressive modalitydr. g fascia that produces profound results. Your therapist will gently elongate your fascia for a minimum of 3-5 minutes, releasing the elasto-collagenous complex. No lubrication is used and your therapist may work in areas that seem unrelated to your symptoms.  This is because the fascial system is completely interconnected.

After a few sessions you will notice greater range of motion, less pain, and better performance. Even long-standing injuries respond to the gentle methods used in John Barnes Myofascial Release.  The longer you’ve been experiencing problems, the more sessions it may take to get you back in top form.  However, including self-myofascial release in your daily care regimen will speed up the results exponentially.

Where is fascia in my body?

Let’s imagine your body were an orange.  This is how your fascia would be arranged:

  • Superficial fascia is like the thick, white, hard tissue that attaches the orange to the peel.  In us it holds the skin to the body and provides a framework for subcutaneous fat.
  • Inner Layer-  Deep fascia is like the white fibers that separate the sections of an orange. For us, it separates our organs and keeps them in place. Without deep fascia our organs would drop down into our legs every time we stand!
  • Cellular Level- Cellular fascia is like the white fibers that weave through a single slice.  It holds the slice together and holds in the juice. In our bodies, cellular fascia keeps the 70% of our bodies that is fluid in the right place.

What does fascia do in my body?*

  • Supports and stabilizes, enhancing the postural balance of the body.

  • Is vitally involved in all aspects of motion and acts as a shock absorber.

  • Aids in circulatory economy, especially in venous and lymphatic fluids.

  • Fascial change will often precede chronic tissue congestion, creating fibrous tissue.

  • Is a major area of inflammatory processes.

  • Has it’s own contractile forces that allow fascia to contract during fight-or-flight.

  • When tight, can inhibit muscle firing, leading to weakness.

*John F. Barnes, PT

There’s no reason to be stuck on the side lines.  Call 901-496-2881 to schedule your first appointment for John Barnes Myofascial Release.

Breast Cancer: After Survival

The statistics can be overwhelming.  2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer live in the US and one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.

The good news is that great strides have been made in saving lives.  But often lifesaving treatment comes with a price.  According to the American Cancer Society, “Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects.  Some may last for a few weeks to months, but others can last the rest of your life”.  This is the elephant in the room no one talks about.

Long-term side effects from surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are common among survivors.  Perhaps the most common are those due to scar tissue.  Current breast cancer research (compiled by Breast Cancer.org) tells us that,  “Radiation therapy can cause scar tissue to form”.  Surgical scars can cause, “stiffness, pressure, and nerve pain or numbness if scar tissue forms around nerves”.  Central venous catheters used to deliver chemotherapy drugs can create problematic scarring as well.

mastectomy 1After recovery, women hesitate to talk about how long-term side effects change their lives.  Discussions about physical pain, loss of range of motion, and new back or neck pain rarely take place outside online forums or support groups for survivors. Despite friends’ and family’s good intentions, some women feel pressure from society to appear stoic and grateful they survived, no matter the cost.   Others assume they must give up activities they enjoyed before breast cancer because they’ve become painful.

Traditional physical therapy is regularly prescribed by doctors when a woman asks for help.  When the results of physical therapy are limited, she often feels hopeless and frustrated.  Leading her to wonder, “Does quality of life always have to diminish after breast cancer surgery or radiation treatment?”.

If John Barnes Myofascial Release is part of the plan, the answer is no.  To understand why it helps, we need to look at the healing process and how scar tissue forms.  After the trauma of surgery or radiation, the body begins producing collagen to repair damage in the wound.  Collagen fibers are microscopically welded together, one filament to another, producing cross-links that begin building the scar.  This is followed by a period of remodeling where the scar changes to fit the tissue.  Ideally, the repair should be strong, but have enough flexibility to allow movement.

When the repair (scar) becomes stuck to healthy tissues it can cause the loss of range of motion, pain, and pressure on nerves women experience after breast cancer treatment.  Adhesions in the fascia (a webbing of connective tissue throughout the body) which prevent movement can pull on healthy tissue in other parts of the body leading to neck, shoulder, and back pain.

fascia2John Barnes Myofascial Release uses gentle stretching for a minimum of 3-5 minutes, releasing the elasto-collagen complex.  The scar quickly becomes unstuck from surrounding healthy tissue. After a few sessions,  layers of muscle and fascia  begin to glide against one another with ease.  Dense scar tissue left by radiation becomes more pliable, allowing better circulation of blood and lymph.  Pressure on sensitive nerves is eased over time.

Even years after surgery and radiation, the body will respond to the gentle techniques used in John Barnes Myofascial Release.  Generally the longer side effects have been present, the longer it will take for a woman to become completely pain-free.  However, adding daily self-myofascial release to her wellness regimen will speed the results exponentially.

Remember,  survivors DO have the power to reclaim their quality of life!

*Learn more about what happens during and after surgery in these fascinating video clips from the 2007 Fascial Research Conference at Harvard Medical School.

 

 

 

Brain Scans Show Distinct Differences in Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is estimated to affect 1 million to 4 million people in the U.S. yet it remains scientifically misunderstood and typically dismissed by the general public.  For those who suffer from the relentless symptoms of CFS – malaise, inability to concentrate, tender muscles & joints, headaches and crippling fatigue – it’s most certainly real and at times can be debilitating.

Validating the realness of CFS, a new study out of Standford University School of Medicine sheds a bright light upon the syndrome. This study revealed how those with CFS actually have differences in their brains compared to normal brains.

Pain imageMost significant was the finding of a reduction in the amount of white matter – a network of long fibers that communicate between nerve cells. CFS is linked to chronic inflammation that is potentially caused by our immune system’s response to a viral infection – and such inflammation could be happening throughout the body.

Damaged white matter wasn’t really a surprise, but further investigation uncovered something profound that they didn’t expect. Brain scans revealed abnormalities in a bundle of nerve fibers in the right hemispheres of CFS patients. This bundle, called the right arcuate fasciculus, connects the frontal and temporal lobes and in the brain scans they had an abnormal appearance. As explained by their article, researchers distinguished this as a fairly strong correlation between the degree of abnormality in a CFS patient’s right arcuate fasciculus and the severity of the patient’s condition.

While more research is needed to further pinpoint these changes in the brain’s white matter and determine potential causes for CFS, this study provides comprehensive clinical evidence that CFS creates real physiological symptoms in the body.  John Barnes Myofascial Release can help manage the symptoms of CFS.  It may also lessen general inflammation through the release of interleukin-8 into the tissues during holds five minutes or longer.

Read the full study from Standford University here:

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2014/10/study-finds-brain-abnormalities-in-chronic-fatigue-patients.html

 

Willpower Woes? It’s Only a Matter of Time.

During this time of year when we review our habits and goals thoroughly, keep in mind that some things may be beyond your control, your self-control that is. This isn’t an excuse for being unaccountable, but rather, our brain’s reward system and perception of time could have as much to do with accomplishing our goals as our internal will and discipline.

will powerI found this interesting article in which researchers delved into the motivations of goals and self-control. Author, Maria Konnikova, helps reveal a bit more about how our brains work. Self-control is synonymous with delayed gratification and when we think of delayed gratification – not eating a treat now to be slimmer later, saving money now to pay for the honeymoon next year – we attribute our willpower in making it so.

Yet it’s actually not that simple. If the timing of the payoff is longer than expected in coming or comes at irregular intervals, we may give up too soon.  That leads one to ask: so when do you hold ‘em and when do you fold ‘em? It’s still up to you, but this article definitely brings up some interesting points on our perception of time vs. our mental willpower.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Can you forgo a brownie in service of the larger reward of losing weight, give up ready cash in favor of a later investment payoff? The immediate option is hot; you can taste it, smell it, feel it. The long-term choice is far cooler; it’s hard to picture it with quite as much color or power.

In psychological terms, the difference is typically seen as a dual-system trade-off: On one hand, you have the deliberative, reflective, cool system; on the other, the intuitive, reflexive, hot system. The less self-control you have, the further off and cooler the future becomes and the hotter the immediate present grows. Brownie? Yum.

But what if the reality is a little different? What if the ability to delay gratification is actually more like the commuter faced with a crowded train platform than like a dieter faced with a freshly baked treat? A failure of self-control, suggest the University of Pennsylvania neuroscientists Joseph W. Kable and Joseph T. McGuire, may not be a failure so much as a reasoned response to the uncertainty of time: If we’re not quite sure when the train will get there, why invest precious time in continuing to wait?

Click here to read the full article.

Don’t give up on your resolutions to be healthier in 2015 just yet.  Time is on your side.

 

 

Silence your Inner Critic with Self-Compassion

Think of the way we talk to our plants, our pets, our grandparents, our children.  When we are speaking to these special beings, we emit words with the energy of love, compassion and kindness.  Can we say we speak to ourselves that way on a consistent basis?

holiday blog picUnfortunately for many of us, it’s a daily task to clean up the inner thoughts we have about ourselves – especially when crossing by a mirror.  Yet showing ourselves a bit of kindness could go much further to improving our attitude, and even our general well being, according to a new study I read about in Natural Health News.

The study researched women with regard to their body image and physical measurements, and found that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, could be a vital means to increase positive body image and protect women from unhealthy weight obsessing and dieting practices.

As explained by the article, self-esteem comes from evaluating oneself as above average, whereas self-compassion is described as when dealing with feelings of inadequacy, despair, confusion, and other forms of stress, we respond to ourselves with kindness and understanding.

We may “know” our thoughts and food are connected – especially if you’ve ever succumbed to emotional eating – but as the article says, how we treat ourselves during difficult times seems to have bearing on how we feel about our bodies and food.  Self compassion allows you to give yourself a break and realize that struggles and imperfections are a mandatory part of life.  Everyone has to deal with them – even the ones who seem to have it all together.

The holiday season is hectic enough without you being unkind in your thoughts about yourself (or others).  Remember the best way to keep a healthy body and physique is to RELEASE the obsessing about it and actually accept and be happy with the body you have right now.  Just like when you show kindness and understanding to another person, they respond well, so does your own body when you think kind thoughts about yourself.

Be easy with yourself and give yourself permission to let go.

Releasing Pain – the Underground Network of Tissues

Our bodies are brilliant mechanisms of design that keep us moving and functioning throughout our lives.  Yet hectic schedules, stresses and poor habits degrade our resilient but very intricate systems.  Often people are dealing with pain on a daily basis and have no true relief.

Fibromyalgia, once thought to be a very rare disorder, is a word we see constantly in magazine and television ads that are selling pharmaceuticals.  Fibromyalgia refers to persistent, body-wide pain affecting the soft tissues, joints and muscles – fibro (tissue), myo (muscle), algia (pain).

As you know, Evergreen Advanced Bodywork specializes in John Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR) – a therapy using timed stretches and pressure to release the fascia.  Fascia is a fluid and fibrous, three-dimensional tissue that makes up 80% of our connective tissue. This fibrous, fluid, three-dimensional web surrounds, infuses and connects to all our internal structures – muscles, bones, blood vessels; even our cells. Those with fibromyalgia have compromised fascia, which results in amplified pain all over the body.  Any compromise in the fascia – a stiffening or inflammation of it – will result in pain.  Often people have no idea their problems are related to the fascia.

Considering that we are 70% water, and fascia is 80% of our connective tissue, a clear correlation exists between keeping the fascia hydrated and pliable – and being pain-free.

fascia2As explained in this stellar article  from MFR Brisbane, the fascia is our “meta-system,” acting as the body’s vital cell-to-cell communicator.  Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist at Stanford University discovered that each cell in the body is controlled by its membrane and not the nucleus and its genes. When a nucleus is removed from a cell, the cell survives a few months. Conversely, when the fascia (membrane) of the cell is removed, the cell dies.

The fascial complex of the brain is made up of glial cells, which is part of the “cellular consciousness” of the body. Glial cells outnumber neurons 9 to 1 and are vital to brain functioning, but have long been overlooked by medical researchers.

The Brisbane article further explains how our bodies response systems are thrown off by injury, trauma and stress. Typically stressors trigger our fight or flight response, but there is another, less well-known “freeze” response where changes to the fascia occur at the cellular level. When this happens the tissue transforms from liquid (healthy) to crystalline or a solid (dehydrated fascia).  Fascial restrictions then develop that cause the fascia to stiffen.  Research as far back as the 1960s described it like this: “Where the fascia once glided over the muscles and nerves, it now places crushing pressure at up to 2,000 pounds per square inch.”

Such stiffness and pressure in these tissues is the makings of joint pain, fatigue, inflammation and fibromyalgia. The good news is the fascia can be returned to its normal, healthy state with continuous effort and proper release therapy.

Modern Western medicine may not yet hold a full grasp on the inner workings of fascia or how to see and measure it, but there is no doubt it has significant role to play in overall wellness.  Honor your body by staying hydrated, stretched and positive!

To read further on how fascia works in our bodies:

http://www.myofascialreleasebrisbane.com.au/fibromyalgia/

The Myofascial Release Approach was developed by John F. Barnes.  Evergreen Advanced Body Works specializes in MFR.  Call 901-496-2881 for appointments.