It always makes me smile a little when I'm a few movements into a Massage Therapy session and I hear "You can go deeper" from the client, face down on the table. Yes, I can go deeper, but are your muscles at a point where they are ready for that? Is your Fascia ready?
Movements are lighter at the beginning of a Massage Therapy session for a few reasons. Firstly, with my hands I'm feeling for temperature changes in the areas that I'm treating, usually checking for heated areas that may be signaling inflammation. If I start getting deep into the tissues right away, increasing circulation, I'm not going to be able to check for inflammation as easily.
Clients will find their Massage Therapy session more beneficial if muscles are "calm" and part of the slower, lighter movements is to encourage the nervous system to relax and the muscles to open, allowing my hands to move in more deeply. Muscles are more likely to be "on guard" if I am trying to dig deep right from the start, and that can cause them to spasm. If you are hurting and clenching because the Massage is too deep or feels uncomfortable I will cause more damage than good. Massage Therapy does not have to be deep or painful in order to be effective.
In the lighter and slower motion I'm feeling the Fascia (just below the skin) network, surrounding the muscles, and encouraging it to open and loosen. I'm feeling for a lack of glide, any tension or swellings on the surface. Addressing what is happening on the surface of the muscle first will encourage the muscle to open further. Sometimes the Fascia is just needing to unwind and open in order for the muscle to move more freely. Click here to understand more about Fascia
Massage Therapy encourages the Fascia to loosen and open, increases cell metabolism and hydrates. Reducing tension and congestion in the Fascia not only affects the area being massaged but impacts the entire body that is wrapped in Fascia. Fascia connects everything together. That is why you often feel sensation in another part of the body to where I am massaging.
A specific technique that is part of Massage Therapy is Myofascial Release. This gentle sustained pressure is focused directly on the myofascial connective tissue. Through gliding, lifting, and rolling, it is beneficial in easing or eliminating pain and restoring flexibility and a greater range of motion. It encourages the Fascia to relax, lengthen and realign.
Treatment takes time! The posture you've been holding, the muscle tightness and pain you're experiencing, the hesitation to relax...they don't happen overnight but are usually cumulative. They can become ingrained in the Fascia and need time and regular treatment to release. I often give homework, things you can do in between visits that will bring results more quickly...
Next post: The Power of Craniosacral Therapy in treating the Fascia
Coming up: ~Stories where Fascial Release have made a difference
~Yin Yoga and Fascia