A soft treatment

[Mobilising massage of the arm]

Leading thought

I give soft treatments and try not to cause pain. I intend to help muscles instead of punishing them with a hard massage. The muscles have no guilt for their symptoms. They only attempt to do as good as they can, what the body demands of them. If a muscle is tight or painful, the cause is usually outside the muscle. If soft grips in the treatment do not get a muscle to relax, then it generally reacts to a problem elsewhere in the body. Forcefully rubbing out muscle tension seldom leads to permanent success and can even cause new complaints. Therefore, I always try to form a picture of what is behind the symptoms. I try in the first place to affect the presumed causes of the complaints. Because there can be many types of causes, I have learned many methods of treatment. I mainly use mobilising massage, Kalevala bonesetting and soft osteopathic techniques. With the last-mentioned it is possible to have an effect on almost all body parts and anatomical structures, also on such ones, of which massage is not possible or not safe. I always think of and try to feel with my hands, how I can explain the symptoms and how the technique that I use has an influence on the assumed causes of the symptoms.

Why are muscles tensed and painful?

[Trapezius trigger points, Travell & Simons Vol. 1 Figure
              6.2] ‘Travell & Simons’, Volume 1, Figure 6.2.

There are many possible reasons why muscles can be tense of painful. The following ones are the most common:

  • The conditions for the functioning of the muscles have become less favourable. If there is for instance a pinched nerve, all muscles and ligaments supplied by that nerve weaken and easily get painful. If the circulation of the tissue fluid is impeded, the muscles get painful and tired. If the fascia that encloses the muscle (the muscle sheath) cannot move freely from adjacent tissues, the muscle cannot function normally. Stress, diseases and diet affect the well-being of the muscles too.
  • The muscles try to protect something. If a movement causes pain, the muscles will tighten, so that the movement becomes difficult or impossible. If a movement can cause danger to an anatomical structure (e.g. a nerve), the muscles will stop that movement before it can cause (more) damage. The muscles do this so proficiently that you do not even notice the problem in the structure to be protected.
  • [Slumped at the PC]
  • The muscles react on a postural deviation. If the body or a part of it tilts to one side, the muscles at the other side must resist this tilt. A poor posture usually develops over a long time and can have causes of which the massage therapist is not aware or which he or she cannot easily influence. One of those is bad ergonomics, meaning that the work environment has been inadequately adapted to an individual or the individual has not adapted him- or herself as well as possible to the work environment. Therefore, a full correction of postural faults seldom succeeds, but generally it is possible to reduce the strain on the musculature caused by the incorrect posture.
  • The symptoms are a projection of a problem at another place in the body. Each organ has an influence via the nervous system on specific muscles and ligaments. For instance a frozen shoulder can be the result of a functional disturbance of the liver or the stomach. Problems in muscles reflect themselves in other muscles via the fascia and via trigger points. Trigger points can arise from all causes mentioned in this chapter.

All these examples make clear that it is important to understand the causes of muscle tension, to treat them if that is possible and otherwise at least pay attention to them in the treatment.