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Ice versus Heat

Currently there is an argument against ice concerning injuries. After researching the issue for many, many hours, and considering the fact that I have treated thousands of injuries myself, I believe ice is a great aid in managing pain, and getting athletes back in the game. I am “for icing”.

That being said, I find that many of my clients don’t know the rules of ice and heat. If you have an “acute injury”, meaning the injury is recent (1-72 hours) use ice only.  Inflammation in the body’s tissue is best served with ice. Heat might feel good while applied, how ever adding heat to inflammation will only exacerbate the situation within a few hours. Ice for the first 72 hours. Ice for 15 minutes on and 15 off. X3.

After 72 hours, move onto contrast therapy. Ice and heat. Alternating ice and heat, end with ice. Heat is great for chronic injuries. Pain that is chronic (that which happened months or years ago) to relax muscles and fascia. (connective tissue).

DO NOT take a hot jacuzzi after running a marathon. Take an ice bath or jump in the ocean for a dip.

Ice Pack Recipe: In a 1 gallon freezer bag: One part rubbing alcohol, 2 parts water. Drop into the freezer for at least 8 hours. Enjoy a slushy refreshing ice pack that lasts for quite a while.
Namaste.

lunges

Chronic Hamstring Pain

Chronic Hamstring Pain is a very common injury that I see in my office. While there are many possible causes of hamstring pain, I will address the Gluteus Maximus factor here in this article.

Glute Maximus is a very large and strong muscle. It engages when we go from a sitting to a standing position, when we run up a hill or climb stairs. Athletes often believe that doing lunges or squats strengthens and builds the Glutes, when in fact it is the quads that are doing most of the work.

To target the hamstrings we would need to strike the ground on our heals, and push back up on our heals. I recommend doing lunges just this way. Doing squats can actually “turn off’ the firing mechanism of the Glute Maximus, due to a neural phenomenon called Reciprocal Inhibition. Since the Glutes are of great strength, they need to be firing properly. When they are not, the hamstring group needs to work extra hard to support the load put on to it. When the load is too much, injury is likely.

Often only one side of the body suffers from “lazy glute”, sometimes both. Sometimes the Glutes both need targeted strengthening, other times the strength is there, the firing mechanism is just turned off.

One solution to engage Glute Maximus: TABLE TOPS. Get on all fours, raise opposite arm and leg straight out, balance and squeeze Glute. Hold for 30 seconds. Dorsi flex the foot to further target the Glute. Do this 3 times on each side of the body. Donkey kicks and Super Mans also target Glute, though I prefer working unilaterally, so one side of the body does not cheat for the other. Do this as part of your daily training warm up. Your hamstrings will thank you for it.

Photo courtesy Jayme Burtis Photography

Sports Massage Research

Massage has become an integral part of the new athletic regime, from sports medicine clinics to college training rooms, and for professional athletes to weekend warriors. A growing number of sports trainers and sports physicians believe that massage can provide an extra edge to athletes who train and perform at a high intensity. Sports-specific massage addresses wear-and-tear on the body, corrects minor injuries before they become serious and helps the athlete recover faster. The physiological and psychological benefits of massage therapy make it an ideal compliment to a total conditioning program.

Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that massage works quite differently from non-steroidal and other anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce inflammation and pain but may actually retard healing. Many people, for instance, pop an aspirin or Aleve at the first sign of muscle soreness, but according to Dr. Tarnopolsky,  “there’s some theoretical concern that there is a maladaptive response in the long run if you’re constantly suppressing inflammation with drugs. With massage, you can have your cake and eat it too—massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.”

Support for his position comes from his February, 2012 study (1) published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Dr. Tarnopolsky had young men exercise to exhaustion followed by massage to the quadriceps muscles of one leg, leaving the other leg to recover without massage. The researchers biopsied tissue taken from both legs immediately after the massage, and again 2 1/2 hours later, which when analyzed revealed that short massage boosted the production of mitochondria (the energy factory of the cells) in the massaged leg. Other positive biological effects were also reported in the leg that received massage.

Other recent studies (2) document a host of neurochemical effects from massage. Among the neuroendocrine chemicals influenced are:

Dopamine: controls the ability to focus attention, and influences mood to produce feeling of inspiration, joy and enthusiasm. Massage increases available levels of dopamine.

Serotonin: this is the “get a grip” chemical, as it regulates appropriate emotions, attention to thoughts, quieting and comforting effects. Low levels of serotonin have been implicated in cases of depression, eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. Massage increases the available level of Serotonin.

Endorphin/Enkephalin (endogenous opiates): The mood lifters support satiety (the feeling of fullness after eating) and modulate pain. Massage increases levels of these chemicals, regulating appetite and perceived levels of pain.

Oxytocin: Implicated in love and bonding, levels of this hormone can also be increased through massage to stimulate positive connections with others.

Cortisol: The “stress hormone”, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands during long periods of stress. Cortisol has been implicated in many stress related symptoms including suppressed immune states and sleep disturbances. Massage reduces levels of cortisol.

Growth Hormone: Promotes cell division and in adults has been implicated in the function of tissue repair and regeneration.

Massage therapy balances the blood levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphin which in turn facilitates the production of natural killer cells in the immune system and regulates mood.

In addition to the neurochemical benefits, massage can play a major role in reducing muscle dysfunction.

Healthy muscles are smooth, hydrated and free from knots and contractions. Our skeletal system supports our muscles. Ideally our muscles are perfectly balanced. Each muscle has it’s own job in getting us around in our active life styles.

If our muscles are balanced with gravity, we are upright and graceful. But when a muscle or muscle group becomes unhealthy, it can cause a chain reaction and breakdown which affects the entire body. When one muscle or muscle group becomes injured, another muscle or muscle group will make up for the injury. Subsequently, that muscle or muscle group becomes over-worked and also breaks down. As a result, a chain reaction occurs.

Deep Tissue Massage can restore and balance the function of the muscles. The use of heat and ice can be helpful along with stretching and guidance in nutritional supplements. A careful assessment of your physical muscular system and implementing the necessary therapies can get you back to a pain-free state of being.

I hope this page has helped you to understand the broad and dramatic benefits of massage Therapy. Here is to you and your good health!

Sincerely,

Kim Freetly, L.M.T.

(1) Crain, Tarnopolsky, et al. “Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage.” Sci Transl Med 1 February 2012: Vol. 4, Issue 119

(2) Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage. Third Edition

Massage Therapy can not be used to take the place of medical treatment and a Massage Therapist cannot diagnose any medical condition.