Quick muscle knot orientation: Muscle knots — myofascial “trigger points” — are a factor in most of the world’s aches and pains. Their biology is still mostly mysterious: conventional wisdom says they are tiny spasms, but they might also be a more pure neurological problem. Regardless, they can cause strong pain that often spreads in confusing patterns, and they grow like weeds around other painful problems and injuries, making them quite interesting and tricky. Although they are well known to many specialists and researchers, most doctors and therapists know little about them, so misdiagnosis is epidemic. For more information about how trigger points might be involved in your own medical history, see PainScience.com’s best-selling tutorial:
Thank you for explaining the difference between a deep tissue massage and a firm pressure massage. The place I go to offers different techniques and I have been wondering what the difference was between those two. Good to know that a deep tissue massage uses very little to no lubricant so the muscles can be hooked and grabbed. That one sounds like a really great option.
Even casual runners, joggers, and fitness enthusiasts can benefit from a sports massage – it’s not just for people who compete. Because sports massages center on specific areas, anyone who lives in active lifestyle can benefit from the occasional sports massage. You don’t even necessarily need to have a sports injury. Regular sports massages can help reduce the potential for sports injuries by tending to the affected muscles before they’ve been worked past their limits. You’ll experience better flexibility and greater endurance the next time you set yourself in motion.
Use the palm of your hand. As you move through the first gentle strokes, you'll feel the muscles start to warm up. When they do, you can use the palm of your hand and your body weight to start adding pressure to the strokes. Move your hand along the muscle that runs beside the spine down the length of the back. Apply pressure in slow, even strokes.
What to do: The easiest way to do this is with a dryer, golf or any small, hard ball you have at home. Press down on the ball along the inner edge of the middle part of the foot. This relaxes stomach and improves circulation in this area. Stimulating the middle of the foot opens the energy pathways to the organs related to digestion, like the stomach, colon and intestines. This helps blood flow and circulation to these organs and can help alleviate digestive issues.
Scarring is a natural part of your body’s healing process. While most people know that scars are formed on the skin when a wound heals, scar formation can also occur internally after a muscle or ligament injury. Deep tissue massage can help break down internal and external scar tissue and help in muscle recovery. Some of the studies conducted to find out the effect of massage on scar tissue have reported good results.10 A study on patients with burn scars found that massage treatment resulted in less pain and itching, and a significant decrease in scar thickness.11
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The best we can say is that there is some reason to believe that painful pressures on muscles might be therapeutic for some people some of the time. Pretty decisive, eh? This is why it drives me nutters that so many therapists insist that strong pressures are “essential” to achieve “a complete release.” It really isn’t possible to know! It really does depend! Why would anyone pretend to “know”?
Muscle injury and soreness are an occupational hazard when it comes to athletics. Coaches, athletes, and professionals in the field of sports medicine have found that massage can provide several benefits to the body such as increased blood flow, reduced muscle tension, and an increased sense of well-being. The majority of research on psychological effects of massage has concluded that massage produces positive effects on recovery and post-exercise massage has been shown to reduce the severity of muscle soreness. While there is no research focusing specifically on the benefits of deep tissue massage on muscle rehabilitation, studies find that massage therapy, in general, can help with performance, recovery, and muscle injury prevention.8