I tailor my work to your specific needs. Except for Thai massage, which is its own specific practice, I'll generally combine the techniques below for the optimal outcome of your pain or tension situation.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is slower and more focused on specific muscles than relaxation-based massage. Its techniques help to give length and breadth to tight and shortened muscles, and to break up adhesions between muscles fibers and even between different muscles. In addressing chronic tension or injury, I may use something as broad as my elbow or forearm to treat larger areas, or hone in on problem spots with my thumbs. I may even ask you to contract a muscle to allow for deeper penetration through the denser, contracted layers. There are many layers of muscle in the body, and deep tissue massage is a slow and purposeful way to encourage tone and elasticity to the deepest levels.
It’s being discovered, more and more, the role fascia, or connective tissue, plays in the body. It wraps individual muscle fibers, individual muscles, muscle groups, and connects these groups in a kinetic chain. It provides the form for all of the structures in the body. And it’s both highly thixotropic and enervated, which means it can change its shape or thickness based on nerve response to anything from bad posture to stress. The fascia truly holds the shape of the body.
Myofascial release techniques can range from gentle to deep. I'll slowly make contact with your connective tissue rather than the muscle it wraps, and a you'll have a sensation of the fascia “melting” into relaxation when it's stretched or encouraged to go back into its appropriate shape.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are what you know as the sensitive, irritable knots that give you pain. They are generally caused when part of a muscle that has contracted is unable to release, and is stuck “on” for one reason or another. An entire band of muscle may tighten up around the trigger point, which may lead to irritation in adjacent tissues and. . .more trigger points! Another characteristic of trigger points is that the pain they produce can be felt in another part of the body. Called referred pain, they occur because the brain is unable to distinguish where exactly the pain of the trigger point is located, and so will send pain signals out to all of the muscle tissue that the nerve in question feeds.
Trigger point therapy involves gently palpating the treatment area until the sensitive spot that causes pain in other places is found. With increasing pressure, I press down and hold on the spot until, like in myofascial release, it produces a “melting” feeling and the trigger point releases, which could take 30 seconds, to a few minutes of longer.
Myoskeletal Alignment is a treatment developed by Erik Dalton at his Freedom From Pain institute. Borrowing from osteopathic and chiropractic medicine, Myoskeletal Alignment seeks to allow the body’s skeletal structures to regain their proper alignment by manipulating them at the joints and allowing the muscles to assume their proper functional space. I do a lot of stretching at the joints while having you resist the movement, so that when you release, the stretch goes further to bring you into better bodily alignment.
You may have seen a swimmer or other active person with round, reddish marks on their back or other parts of their body. That is the effect of cupping, where impurities and debris which have built up in the body’s fascial or lymphatic system are drawn to the skin’s surface via a vacuum cup, where they dissipate in a few days to a week.
Static cups have been used for a long time in acupuncture treatments. What makes massage cups different is that they are made of silicone instead of glass, and are designed to slide freely over larger areas of the body to lift adhered fascia and release impurities through the skin. Massage cups can even help smooth out cellulite, which is a fascial distortion and has nothing to do with weight.
Thai massage, sometimes called Thai yoga massage, can be thought of as assisted yoga. The treatment does not happen on a table, but on a special floor mat. Instead of being under a sheet, you a fully clothed in comfortably loose or exercise clothing. Half of Thai massage involves my doing a series of stretches for you, stretches that would make you grunt or grit your teeth in yoga class but that you can just ride along with in a Thai massage session. The other half involves compressions with both my palms and my thumbs along energy lines of your body called sen lines. These lines are more generalized than the energy meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and they happen to correspond to the spaces in between muscles where muscles often get stuck together. And if you’ve ever had a Zen Shiatsu session, Thai massage is similar.