Monthly Archives: May 2009

Do You Need Immediate Muscle Cramp Relief?

Do you ever get a muscle cramp in the middle of the night, during exercise, or other inconvenient times? You are not alone. Many of the clients at my Seattle Treatment Massage practice have a challenge with this.muscle cramp

I am going to teach you a trick that works like a charm for some muscle cramping. This trick works using the theory of reciprocal inhibition. What reciprocal inhibition is based on is the fact that every joint has synergistic and antagonistic muscles. Synergistic muscles perform the same action. Antagonistic muscles perform the opposite action. When a muscle is contracting the antagonistic muscles must relax. For example: When you flex your biceps, your triceps must relax. That is reciprocal inhibition.

So, keeping this fact in mind, stretch out the cramping muscle halfway and give the motion resistance with your hand or an object like the wall. For example: If your calf is getting a cramp, you would bend you ankle and bring your toes towards your head while you are creating a resistance at the top of your feet/toes. You should use gentle resistance and pressure. It doesn’t take much.

Another way to look at this is if you have a muscle cramp, do the muscle’s opposite action with resistance. For example: If you get a cramp in your hand while writing, you would put your fingers around the affected hand with the other hand and open your fingers. Opening your fingers is the opposite motion of the squeezing motion of using a pen. If the motion with resistance you are using is not working, you might be getting the theory backwards. Try doing the opposite.

Does that make sense? If not ask a question in the comment section regarding which muscle or action you are having a problem with and I will do my very best to describe how to use reciprocal inhibition to relieve your pain. Thank you for reading, PJ Harris, LMP.


What is the Cause and What Can You Do to Relieve Pain in Your Jaw?

tmjDo you have jaw pain and are not sure what the cause is?
You might have TMJD (temporomandibular joint disorder). TMJD cause tenderness and pain in the  (TMJ) — the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull. This joint allows you to talk, chew and yawn.

What are some of the symptoms of TMJD?
~ Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
~ Jaw muscle stiffness
~ Limited movement or locking of the jaw
~ Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
~ A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.
~ Swelling on the side of the face
~ Toothaches
~ Difficulty with chewing
~ Jaw misalignment
~ Headaches
~ Neck aches
~ Earaches and hearing problems.

What can I do about TMJD?
In most cases, pain and discomfort associated with TMJD can be alleviated with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments, but more-severe cases may need to be treated with dental or surgical interventions.
Here is a list of things to try that might help:
~ Eat soft foods
~ Applying ice packs
~ Avoiding extreme jaw movements like wide yawning and gum chewing
~ Learning techniques for relaxing and reducing stress to prevent jaw clenching or teeth grinding
~ Dental appliance (aka mouth guard) to prevent grinding your teeth while you sleep
~ Practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises that may help increase jaw movement. Your health care provider or a physical therapist can recommend exercises if appropriate for your particular condition.

Information found on this blog is not a definitive diagnosis of any condition and as always check with your physician to receive an actual diagnosis. Thank you, PJ Harris, LMP.

Can I Receive Massage If I Have a Sprained Ankle?

You can receive massage if you have a sprained ankle. I highly recommend it, just not directly on the ankle. When you have an injury like a sprained ankle, massage canankle help with the muscle soreness that comes from using crutches and/or limping. Massage helps with circulation which in turn promotes healing. When you provide massage on one leg, the other leg will benefit because they share the same nerve trunk. The other leg will actually relax.

The practitioner needs to make sure:

*Your injured ankle is immobile and elevated
*Be very gentle when moving your leg
*Not massage on or too near the injury.

What if you are not sure you have a sprained ankle? If you have these symptoms you should definitely see a doctor:

*Inability to walk on the ankle
*Significant swelling (swelling can make the area hot or warm to the touch)
*Symptoms that do not improve quickly or persist beyond a few days
*Pain in the foot or above the ankle

If your symptoms are not that extreme your practitioner could attempt massage directly on the ankle. They should do so with EXTREME caution, being very gentle, and stopping if the pain increases.

Thanks for reading. PJ Harris, LMP

What is Trigger Point Therapy?

trigger-pointTrigger Point Therapy: I love it and use it often in my Seattle Treatment Massage practice. Why? Because it is quite effective in helping with immediate relief of pain in trigger points.

What is a Trigger Point?A Trigger Point is not the same as an acupuncture point. When you touch a trigger there is pain and you can feel the spot where it is with your fingers. These areas are often found in “muscle knots” or “taught muscles bands”. Trigger Points usually have blocked blood flow and often cause an entire muscle to be painful, tight, weak, and more easily fatigued. They can be caused by overworking or over stressing muscles or by a direct injury to the muscle.

There are two types of Trigger Points: active and latent. An active trigger point will send pain zinging down your body or pain in another spot on your body when you apply direct pressure. A latent trigger point will only have pain in the spot you are actually touching.

How does Trigger Point Therapy work? Trigger Point therapy works by applying direct pressure or deep strokes on the spot or stretches. During this, it is important for the client to breathe deeply and evenly. Slowly the pain and tension will melt. This creates a release in the muscle that can give you greater flexibility, a decrease in stiffness and increase in local blood flow. Massage practitioners find these points by using our skill of sensitivity in our hands or even our elbows. Trigger Point Therapy can be used in conjunction with many other types of massage including Swedish Massage, Myofascial Release, Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Lomi Lomi, and especially Treatment Massage.

Does Trigger Point Therapy hurt?It does not have to. When I apply Trigger Point Therapy on my clients we are in constant communication. I slowly increase the intensity of the work checking in with the clients comfort level. Some clients prefer that I go quite deep to that “hurts good” point. If at anytime you are not comfortable with the depth or intensity of your massage, it is important that you communicate that to your practitioner. Everyone has a different pain threshold and it is to be respected.

Trigger Point Therapy can be used to treat:

General muscle Pain

Jaw (TMJ) pain

Headaches and migraines

Whiplash/Neck pain

Tennis Elbow

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Frozen Shoulder

Foot pain or Plantar Fasciitis

So, if you are noticing you have spots in your muscle that are painful to the touch, I highly recommend you find a therapist that can asses if Trigger Point Therapy is going to help you find relief from that pain. Thank you, PJ Harris, LMP.