Posts Tagged Massage

2013 – the year of recovery

Here’s to 2014! It’s started off well, at least compared to 2013. I’m almost pain-free, I’m writing better than ever, and things look good.

car crash

Obviously not mine because my Prius was busted up in the back, and it wasn’t quite this bad. Photo courtesy of stock111 at Stock.xchng

2013 started badly. I had been rear-ended on an icy road about a mile from home only a two days before Christmas. The lady in her old Land Cruiser hit the back of my Prius pretty hard, while I had my foot slammed into the brakes so I wouldn’t slide into the intersection myself. I had come to a very rocky stop, the ABS brakes doing their job, and was just catching my breath, waiting for a car to pass, when ca-bam!

Everything you’ve ever heard about slow motion during an accident is true. I remember when, years ago in graduate school, I was hit from behind while bicycling and flew through the air. It seemed like an eternity before I landed, an eternity during which I had time to contemplate many things, including my own likely death. This time, the same thing must have happened. It seemed to take forever for my torso to bend at the waist, my head to hit something, and for me to recoil back into a sitting position. It all seemed rather gentle, just like it did when I landed on my helmet and rolled so many years ago.

Even though I should have known better, I got out of the car, noted the nasty damage to the hatch and bumper, assured the woman who’d slammed her car into mine that I felt fine, exchanged information, and drove home. Why I didn’t get the name of at least one witness, I don’t know. I probably should have waited for a police person, but I felt okay. Luckily, with a rear-end collision at a stop sign, it’s obvious who is at fault.

By the time I got home, I had started to feel some of the injury. It still seemed minor, so I had dinner and went to bed. It wasn’t until the next morning that I knew I had torn something in my shoulder. I saw a chiropractor, who noticed the swelling, and told me to rest a lot. I went home and prepared as much as I could for Christmas dinner, filed a police report, and left a message for my insurance company, before I rested.

Christmas morning, the full result of being whacked hit. I could hardly stand. Exhaustion, nausea, headache and full body pain assailed me. The head stuff worried me the most. What if I had herniated something? I forced myself to finish the meal prep, do the Christmas deal with Albert and my friends, then fell into bed while they slept.

Needless to say, the beginning of 2013 rolled around with more pain, more post-concussion issues, and exhaustion tailing me everywhere. I had sessions with Dr. Vance Bonner, lots of massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, and cranial osteopathy, and I can’t thank my healers enough. Slowly, I improved. Around April, much of the head weirdness and exhaustion cleared up, and mid-summer I started having pain-free days. Now, only a few minor symptoms remain.

I’ll write a post later on about this healing process. For now, I am so grateful to be through all of that. Hurray for 2014!

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Spontaneous myofascial release

I experienced a minor miracle the other night, one that not only affected my body, but may change the way I work with massage clients. I am also wondering if any one out there has had a similar experience. Please share! Maybe it wasn’t as weird as I think.

You can see that way the flute is played can lead to a tilted head position after a while. This sketch is by me.

I’ve had neck issues for years. Between being stressed and tense, having a lot of curvature in my spine (think hunchback, turtle neck and swayback all at once), and playing the flute, it’s amazing that my neck is as good as it is. That said, bad posture is one reason people experience pain, so I have had pain off and on. I’ve written in previous blogs about some of the things I have done over the years to straighten my posture and calm my nervous system. It’s worked to a large extent, but I still have a lot of tightness in the soft tissues of my neck, and a compressed disk on the right side.

To help with this, lately I’ve been spending a little time when I first go to bed lying on my stomach with my head turned to the left and pressing into the pillow to stretch out the right side of my neck. I usually stay there for a minute or so. The other night, when I was doing this stretch, I started to feel some softening in my upper chest. That’s great, I’ve been getting some softening as my torso straightens.  But then it turned into a huge wave that moved into my neck, up to my jaw, back down my neck, up around my ear, and down again into the back of the right side of my neck. It felt like someone was lifting a piece of plastic wrap off of me.

If I didn’t know something about the myofascial planes in the body, and the visco-elastic nature of that tissue, I would have been alarmed. Instead, I was delighted. You see, we have sheets of connective tissue that are much like plastic wrap, in that they wrap parts of the body. And, like plastic wrap, they can become stuck to the underlying tissues. They can also form thick hard areas. But when you pull on them with the right amount of pressure, they either will become unstuck and slip, or they will soften in a wave (rather than ripping). So I was pretty sure that my fascia (connective tissue) was either softening or slipping free and moving to where it needs to be.

My neck is by no means healed, but it does seem a little better. And the wave got me thinking. What if one reason my clients have these hard trouble areas is that their sheets are stuck? What if we could pull on them just right and they would send a wave of change through their whole body? This isn’t a novel idea. There are techniques which attempt to do just that, and I’ve even studied a couple of them and experienced even more. But I’ve never experienced anything like that rush, almost like being pulled down a waterfall.

Was that a fluke? The result of my dogged pursuit over many years of better posture? Or is it something that could be transferred to my clients? Are there people who just will never improve unless something like that happens to them? A particular older man comes to mind. His torso is hard as steel and his legs are about as bad. Is this what he needs? Am I wasting my time with him unless I figure out a way to pull on his tissues like I pulled on my neck, and I hold his tissues for a long time, like I did my own? I really don’t know.

Certainly, I’ve done this stretch a bunch of times before, but this is the first time it let go like that. Why was that night the magic night? I have way more questions than answers right now. Any ideas? Know anyone who has had this kind of spontaneous (nearly) healing?

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