Monthly Archives: August 2009

What Can You Do for Whiplash?

whiplashIf you are in a motor vehicle accident and feel any of the symptoms listed below, get to a doctor immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself. You may have whiplash. Sometimes whiplash symptoms might not show themselves for over 24 hours or even for a few days. As I have stated before in previous posts, the sooner you get treatment, including massage, the greater your chance for recovery. Until you see a professional, make sure you ice several times a day to help keep the swelling down.

Whiplash isn’t only caused by motor vehicle accidents. It can be caused by anything that abruptly jerks the neck. I treated a client once who had whiplash due to falling down.

In most cases, cervical collars are a bad idea. They promote stiffness and do nothing more than remind you to not turn you neck. The sooner you can start turning your neck the better. Using slow movements and stopping when the pain gets too severe is better than full immobilization.

These are the most common symptoms of whiplash:
~Neck pain and stiffness
~Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
~Low back pain
~Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
~Ringing in the ears or blurred vision
~Difficulty concentrating or remembering
~Irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue

The treatment massage work I suggest to do on clients in the first stage of whiplash includes: 
*Gently massaging the neck
*Gentle passive neck stretches
*Work on the torso with massage and stretches to free up the rib, cage, shoulders and arms
*All followed by icing for 10-15 minutes in the acute stage.

If you have any questions about the post material, feel free to ask in the comment section below. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP.


How Do I Afford a Massage on a Budget?

GF-economy-bI understand that in this economy some people have a hard time managing their budgets. It is important to support massage practitioners and pay them full price rates if you can afford it. But if you cant right now, here is a list of ideas that might help:

1. Ask your practitioner if they take any clients on a sliding fee schedule for folks with a lower income.

2. Look over your health insurance policy and see if you have massage coverage. Remember to get a prescription from your doctor.

3. Check with your practitioner to see if they have a bulk special like buy 3 get one free, 3 massages at a lower rate or something similar.

4. See if there is something the massage practitioner is willing to trade with for massage. Example: he or she might be needing help with their garden and yard or help with home or auto repairs. Massage therapist are known for being quite open to trades.

5. Most massage schools have a student clinic and provide low cost student massages.

6. Put your name on bulletin boards at massage schools to let them know you are available to be a practice body.

7. Another good source could be calling a local low income or free clinic and asking if they have massage practitioners who donate their time.

If you find one of these suggestions useful and are able to get help, make sure you support that massage therapist growing their practice by telling all of your friends and colleagues how wonderful their massage is and how generous they were to you.

If you have any questions about this quote, please feel free to contact me directly. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP

Common Culprit of Wrist Pain

wrist flexorsDo you have frequent wrist pain? Do you spend a lot of time on the computer or playing video games? Do you do strength training but ignore your wrists?

You might be one of the many people who have wrist pain because they have tight wrist flexors. What are wrist flexors? They are the muscles on the inner side of your forearms and are responsible for bending your wrist inward. Most of the people who come to my Seattle Treatment Massage practice with wrist pain need work on their wrist flexors. Often the work I do in tight wrist flexors is Myofascial work. This will help stretch the wrist flexors and the connective tissue around them.

If you have tight flexors you could probably benefit from stretching them. Always check with your health practitioner before you try any new stretching exercise. Here are a few movements that can help you alleviate your pain:





 Slowly move your hands and arms into this position breathe and hold for 20 seconds.

Many folks who do strength training have tight wrist flexors and weak wrist extensors. Make sure that you are strengthening the whole wrist in all four (up, down and both sides) linear wrist movements, especially if you work on a computer all day. Ask a personal trainer to help you with this.

There is a lot more we can say about the wrist, but that will have to wait for another post. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris LMP.

Can Massage Decrease Anxiety?

Many of my clients have such busy lives. They show up at my office and the anxiety is written all over their face. I hear about how bad trafficanxiety was on their way here or that they almost had to cancel because their calendar is too full. At the end of their massage, they are relaxed, their breathing is slowed and their face is calm. Do I think that massage can decrease anxiety? Most definitely! Although, I have not done an official study including a control group regarding this fact, there are those who have.

I have read many studies that show a decrease in anxiety for people receiving massages. There are even studies that show that people who give massage can decrease their anxiety too. Looks like I picked the right career.

One place that specializes in studies about touch and it’s effects on people is the Touch Research Institute. TRI did a study showing that massage therapy decreased diastolic blood pressure, anxiety and cortisol (stress hormone) levels in adults with hypertension. Another study showed twenty-six adults were given a chair massage and 24 control group adults were asked to relax in the massage chair for 15 minutes, two times per week for five weeks. The group receiving massage exhibited a decrease in anxiety.

 So, there are studies and my opinion, but what is most important is what do you think about how massage can help us become more calm? My guess is that most of you will agree and even believe that your life could benefit from receiving more massage. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris LMP.


Massage therapy decreased diastolic blood pressure, anxiety and cortisol (stress hormone) levels in adults with hypertension.
Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., Theakston, H., Hossain, Z., & Burman, I. (2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31-38.

Twenty-six adults were given a chair massage and 24 control group adults were asked to relax in the massage chair for 15 minutes, two times per week for five weeks. On the first and last days of the study they were monitored for EEG before, during and after the sessions. The massage group exhibited: 1) increased frontal delta power (suggesting relaxation); 2) decreased frontal alpha and beta power (suggesting enhanced alertness); 3) increased speed and accuracy on math computations ; 4) lower anxiety levels; 5) lower salivary cortisol levels; and 6) lower depression scores at the end of the 5 week period.
Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Gonclaves, A., Burman, I., Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.