[Mobilising massage of the arm]

Mobilising massage

Panta rhei kai ouden menei”, the old Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “everything flows and nothing stays”. When the flow or movement is hindered, dysfunction, stiffness and pain are the result. As long as I give massages, I have been interested in the use of movement during the treatment. The movement of a muscle or other tissue under my hands is much more effective than the movement of my hands over a resting muscle. In most cases one gets the best results when the client him- or herself makes the movement. That is generally also the safest. The body will always try to move in a way that cannot cause harm. In addition, in this way the client learns again to make movements that he or she was no longer able to perform or no longer dared to perform.

Movement is the common thread running through all my treatments:

  • Almost all methods to treat the fascia, including Kalevala bonesetting and Functional Fascial Release, make use of movement to make the tissue more pliable and to free it from adhesions, to stimulate the fluid transport in the superficial tissue and to improve the mobility of superficial nerves.
  • Mobilisation of most of the peripheral nerves, like the femoral nerve, the sciatic nerve and the nerves of the arm, is far more effective with movement.
  • Posture correction is not possible without movement. The client himself / herself must learn to come out of his / her old posture and to find a better posture.
  • Increasing the range of motion of a joint, as well as mobilisation of a stuck vertebra, works the best by moving the joint or by having the client move the joint within his or her pain tolerance.
  • Trigger points are usually the result of overload, because of a movement restriction at another place in the body. Removal of the movement restriction is the best therapy. Also, the treatment of the trigger point itself works best with movement.
  • In deep tissue massage, small movements help to come deeper and with less force and to avoid pain.

The causes require treatment

All limb movements occur in chains. When you walk, not only your legs move, but your whole body moves. When you reach for something with your hand, the movement continues down to in your feet. When one link in the kinetic chain does not move enough, other links in the chain must compensate this by moving more. The places that move too much will be overloaded and get painful. However, the cause of the pain is there, where too little movement occurs. Little by little the whole body adapts itself to the movement limitation. Therefore, the painful spot can be far away from the cause.

Sometimes there is structural cause of the movement restriction, e.g. a damaged bone or a worn-out joint. But more often than not the cause is (also) functional, e.g. tense muscles or connective tissue. Also, a pinched nerve can limit the range of motion in a joint. Massage is an ideal means to relax the muscles and connective tissue and to restore their flexibility. However, solely massage of the painful spot will usually not lead to a lasting improvement. For the best effect, the massage must restore the mobility, usually at another place then where you feel the pain.

Even when there original cause has ceased to exist, the compensations brought about by the movement restriction often maintain themselves. Therefore, these compensations must be treated too. All in all, the elimination of local pain or spasms can require the massage of multiple and often not-obvious areas in the body. Inspection of your posture and various tests help me in making a hypothesis about the causes of the symptoms. On basis of observations during the massage I can adjust this hypothesis later.

Sensitivity achieves more than strength

My hypothesis on the causes of your complaints indicates the places that I should treat for a significant and lasting reduction of your symptoms. However, the most detailed information comes through my fingers. They feel where the tissue is hard, tense, sensitive or otherwise abnormal. My fingers are guided by the reaction of the tissue to my touch. When you learn to “listen” to the tissue, you seldom need much pressure. Also, my mobilising massage style reduces the need for strength or hard pressure.

When to go to massage?

Every physical complaint can have many causes. If your symptoms are new or they have suddenly got worse, you are advised to see a doctor, to exclude serious disease or injury. If your GP cannot find a clear reason for the symptoms, it is very likely that the cause lies in your muscles or connective tissue and massage can remedy the complaint. Note: a diagnosis does not always indicate the cause. A diagnosis is often no more than a nice name for the symptoms. Besides, a diagnosis searches the cause of the symptoms often in laboratory abnormalities and findings from X-ray, CT or MRI scans, without considering possible causes in the soft tissue which could underlie the findings and which can only be felt with the hands. For instance, worn out joints are seldom the cause of pain, but more often the result of tense and pain radiating muscles that hinder the correct motion of the joints. Even when the pain has a cause outside the muscles or connective tissue, massage is often beneficial. Pain causes always extra tension in muscles that try to protect the painful spot. In case of acute injury, this tension is often useful, but in the long term the tight muscles only worsen the pain and delay the recovery.

If the complaint does not require immediate medical investigation or urgent medical treatment, it always makes sense to try out a massage. Pain killers only relieve the symptoms, but my massage is directed to the probable cause of the pain and has no harmful side effects. Compared to surgery, massage is cheap and has, when carried out skilfully, a negligible risk of complications or negative irreversible consequences. Massage is also useful in supporting exercise therapy prescribed by a physiotherapist. It is much more pleasant and effective to exercise with flexible muscles and connective tissue.

Examples of conditions which I treat

Excessive tension in muscles and connective tissue, as well as reduced mobility of nerves and joints, can cause many symptoms or can intensify the symptoms of other medical conditions. Below follows a list of typical complaints that possibly can be relieved or cured through massage. Some conditions react on the average better to massage than other ones. Because each symptom can have many possible causes, it is generally not possible to predict if my massage will be good for a particular complaint. However, as said, if there is no medical contraindication, it makes always sense to try out a massage.

  • Achilles tendinitis Achilles tendonitis
  • abdominal pain
  • ankle pain, swollen, stiff or snapping ankle
  • arm pain
  • arrhythmia, dysrhythmia, irregular heartbeat (first see a doctor)
  • back pain, backache, back strain, back stiffness
  • bloating, excessive intestinal gas, flatulence
  • blood vessel compression
  • breast pain, chest pain (I massage the chest muscles but not the breasts)
  • bruxism, grinding or clenching teeth
  • buttock pain
  • bursitis, painful bursa
  • calf cramps, calf pain, numbness or swelling in calf or calves
  • carpal tunnel syndrome, CTS
  • chronic myofascial pain, CMP
  • claudication
  • diarrhoea, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome
  • dizziness, vertigo, balance disorder
  • ear pain
  • golfer's elbow, tennis elbow, elbow pain
  • eye pain, tearing, reddened or tired eyes, blurred or double vision
  • cold or swollen feet or foot
  • fibromyalgia (massage can e.g. break a vicious pain circle caused by fibromyalgia)
  • finger pain, stiff or swollen fingers, tingling, numbness or weakness in finger(s)
  • foot pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in foot or feet
  • genital pain (in penis, testicles or vagina; the genitals themselves are not massaged)
  • groin pain
  • growing pains in leg or foot
  • hand pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in hand
  • cold or swollen hand(s)
  • headache
  • heel pain, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis
  • hip pain, hip stiffness
  • jaw pain, jaw stiffness, jaw popping or clicking, jaw misalignment, locked jaw, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, TMJ disorder, TMD
  • joint pain, swollen joints, joint popping or snapping, joint stiffness, worn out joints
  • knee pain, weak knee, stiff knee, locked knee, buckling knee, clicking or cracking knee
  • restless legs
  • loin pain
  • lumbago, low back pain
  • menstrual pain, dysmenorrhoeadysmenorrhea,
  • migraine (massage can work preventively)
  • mouse arm , RSI
  • neck pain, stiff neck, tilted or twisted neck, torticollis
  • nerve pain, neuropathy, nerve compression, nerve entrapment
  • pelvic pain
  • rectal pain
  • sciatica, radiating pain into leg
  • shin pain, shin splints, medial tibial stress syndrome
  • shoulder pain, tilted shoulder, stiff shoulder, frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis
  • side stitch
  • sinus pain
  • pain or difficulty in swallowing
  • tarsal tunnel syndrome,
  • tendinitis, tendonitis tenosynovitis, inflammation or irritation of tendon or tendon sheath
  • thigh pain, numbness in thigh
  • thoracic outlet syndrome, TOS
  • throat pain (without a cold or flu)
  • thumb pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in thumb
  • tinnitus, noise or ringing in ear
  • toe pain, tingling, cramped, or numb toes
  • toothache, hypersensitive teeth (see a dentist in case of acute pain)
  • whiplash
  • wrist pain, stiff or swollen wrist