As a massage therapist and yoga teacher I am asked a lot about the best way to treat chronic muscular pain, particularly back pain.
Some people don't see the value in stretching or just can't see themselves following a stretch routine, others don't see the value of massage therapy as a long term solution to their problems given the time and costs involved.
The truth is that if you are living with chronic pain due to muscle spasm, chronic hypertonicity (excessive muscle tone or tightness) or as a result of soft tissue trauma, then a combination of these two may possibly be the most effective treatment.
Yoga vs. Massage for tight muscle tissue
There are very specific differences between massage and stretching and both have been proven time and again through clinical trials to be effective in lengthening (reducing hypertonicity in) muscle tissue. If you are currently in pain with restricted range of motion then a course of therapeutic massage will be far better than a yoga class to begin with. While stretching lengthens contracted muscle tissue it can only do so in the direction of the muscle fibres. This means that adhesions or scar tissue which may be contributing to pain and which may not be formed in the direction of the muscle fibre will not be affected by your stretches.
Deep Tissue Cross-Fibre Massage Therapy
Initial massage therapy work, particularly deep Tuina work, Soft Tissue Release or Myofascial Release techniques will work cross-fibre, stretching the contracted tissue not only from origin to insertion of the muscle, but also separating the fibres as the massage strokes work from one side of the muscle to the other.
Both are good? So which do I get first?
Once adhesions and scar tissue have been worked out this way, allowing for safer pain free stretching of muscle tissue to occur, it is important to learn how to stretch to maintain and improve the length in the tissue and prevent future injury.
So if you are in pain, get the massage or first, follow up with the yoga stretches afterwards. It couldn't simpler (or more enjoyable)!
Very interesting snippet about telomeres on Today FM yesterday, but just as interesting (or even more so) was the conversation about Madame Jeanne Calment, the worlds oldest person. Mme Calment is now deceased but not until after she had reached her 122nd birthday! In her later years she took to ascribing her longevity to all manner of outlandish things, however, many believe that it was her constitutional inability to suffer from stress that gave her such a long AND happy life
However, to say this is constitutional is debateable to say the least. Mme Calment was know for saying that if you can't do something about a problem, then why worry about it? If a positive thought like this becomes a habit, a cognitive shift happens in the psyche which research into cognitive behavioural psychology shows will have an effect on emotions, on behaviour and ultimately on the body, immune system and so on. Yoga, hypnosis, CBT and all mind-body therapies have this effect. If Mme literally made a habit of repeating this thought when confronted by problems then the effects of stress would be ever more easily short-circuited as her body adapted itself to this effective way of thinking. This is the effect of yoga mantra, a hypnotic suggestion, an NLP reframe etc. In the truest sense of the word Mme Calment was practicing the essence of yoga which is, as described in the Aphorisms of Patanjali as 'control of the mind-stuff'.
Mme Calment smoked, drank a glass of port wine every day and ate a kilo of chocolate a week. Here's to long life, happiness and to the remarkable Mme Jeanne Calment!
Thinking about detoxing after the holiday spurge? Many people are and some people have even completed their first detox of 2011 by now!
If you are new to detoxing here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Be prepared.
Make sure to have in the house anything you need for the detox before you start. Supply of fresh fruit, juices etc if your detox is a juice detox
2. Keep it simple
Only detox what you need to. You may not need to go on an elaborate full scale detox. If it is too severe and you don't see it through it is only likely to discourage you. Maybe all you need is an alcohol or sugar detox, so prepare for this and set a reasonable time limiit. A few days may be enough to already give you the boost you need.
3. Set reachable goals.
As above, keep it short, sharp and effective. A detox is meant to make you feel good, not to be a punishment for you.
4. Plan to repeat your mini-detox at regular intervals so that they become an easy and pleasurable part of your routine. This way toxins won't have such a chance to build up in your system and subsequent detoxes won't seem so severe.
5. Expect some side effects such as feeling a bit fatigued, headaches (if you are detoxing from caffeine), etc and be prepared to get plenty of rest and to drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins from your system.
Detoxing is really simple when you put your mind to it. You don't need to buy lots of books, equipment or exotic herbs and supplements unless you have very specific detox goals in mind.
Best of luck and happy detoxing in 2011!
If you have a medical issue please consult with a medical professional. This blog is informational only and is not intended for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for professional medical advice.
As a species we diet for many reasons; for improved athletic performance, for spiritual insight, for medical reasons. Perhaps the two most popular reason are for general health and to look better. Unfortunately for so many of us this is a one step forward and two steps back journey that leaves us feeling discouraged and negative about the whole issue of trying to control our diet.
There is a secret however, that will make any diet successful and without which no diet will ever succeed. The secret is very simple and this is to bring mindfulness to every meal. Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept meaning awareness, consciousness or bringing your whole self to any experience. It is the same as the state of mind achieved in true yoga.
With the right attitude of watchfulness your diet will automatically become more healthy and you will begin to eat more in harmony with your bodies true needs. You will begin to enjoy food more and have a healthier more joyful relationship to nourishing food rather than cycles of abandoned guilty pleasure followed just guilt with no pleasure at all!
No diet however good on paper will work without this healthy attitude and unhealthy diets cannot exist in the presence of this kind of mindfulness and yogic thought.
Christmas is the perfect time to begin this kind of diet. All the temptations are there so it is impossible to begin any other kind of diet this time of year. Try the yogic, mindful diet and you will see that not only can you begin your healthy diet right away, but you will begin to gain even more pleasure from your Holiday festive foods!
Best Wishes from Liam B.
I heard the most interesting report today on Newstalk regarding new evidence suggesting that Aspirin can be effective in preventing cancer related to inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease. Professor Dermot Kelleher of the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Trinity College Dublin was interviewed and apparently the research is of the highest quality with every indication that this simple, every day medicine may well be prescribed to patients suffering from these conditions.
As an acupuncturist my first thought is that there may be a role to play for therapies such as acupuncture and electro-acupuncture in this kind of preventative medicine. There is no research as yet that I am aware of that has been carried out on this and the research on Aspirin is itself very recent, however, bearing in mind the well known anti-inflammatory effect of acupuncture would it be impossible that regular acupuncture treatments could also have a preventative effect on this kind of cancer?
If this were the case then of course it would bring with it the inherent advantages of acupuncture therapy including the absence of side-effects that may be a risk even with something as benign and every day as aspirin. In addition to this acupuncture treatments, whatever the main aim of treatment, will tend to give an overall health and well-being effect including boosting the immune system thus preventing colds, flus etc. With holistic therapy one tends to get general health benefits regardless of the targeted condition.
It is common knowledge that despite centuries of investigation that there is
no known cure for the common cold. Warm drinks, chicken soup and stay in be
d, wait it out etc are all common pieces of advice. What research has shown
however is that the common cold is a virus. You may not necessarily be
'catching' a cold from someone else, so much as being weakened enough or run down
enough for an existing virus to temporarily gain the upper hand.
Acupuncture is the treatment par excellence for this kind of condition. Care
ful selection of points by a qualified practitioner will allow your immune
system to regain the upper hand and to shake off the annoying symptoms of the
common cold. Usually only a few points are needed and the effect can be quite
dramatic. A point or two on the Large Intestine, Lung and Stomach channel
s are usually enough and already your symptoms of stuffy nose, chills, fever,
etc will begin to abate.
For more info don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com
Take care, stay warm and enjoy the thaw (if it is thawing wherever you are!)
Liam Byrne, Yoga & Pilates Instructor, Acupuncturist, Physical Therapist, Sports Massage Therapist,