Your nervous system: A key component for massage assessment and strategy

June 12th, 2010

I was delighted to see the March 2010 of Massage Today feature an article titled “Evaluating Neurological Symptoms” by Whitney Lowe, founder of the Orthopedic Massage Education and Research Institute.

In this article, he stresses a point that I often commnicate to my clients:

Massage is not just about relaxing muscles and  massaging where the client feels pain.   Often, the place of the pain is NOT where you want to be massaging.

In addition to direct pain relief, massage is also about helping the nervous system be in a healthy state where it is “plugged into” the muscle fibers and not being “short circuited”.  Sometimes pain can be in one place, one muscle can be weak where the pain is, but it is because another muscle in another place is tight, resulting in weakness of another muscle which then causes pain in the area.

Sound complicated?  It is.  Let’s look at an example:

The same nerve that innervates the serratus anterior in the back (which holds the scapula against the wall of the ribs), runs under the scalenes in the neck.  When the scalenes get tight, they can compress the nerve and cause weakness in the serratus anterior.  The signals are not getting through.

When the serratus anterior is weak, the scapula “wings” (the bottom point sticks out from the ribs), and the movement of raising the arm to the side begins to be impaired.  This can actually go as far as to result in symptoms that look like impingement syndrome.

Impingement is,  technically,  a mechanical issue in the shoulder joint, but the root problem can be neurological compression and muscle weakness.

This can result in frustrating therapy that does not help, MRIs that show nothing is wrong, and you are left with pain that supposedly “shouldn’t be there” but is “bigger than life” real to you.

Another example of the nervous system being involved in pain  is when the gluteal muscles are weak and not firing properly in a person’s gait.  It may be that the gluteals just need strengthening and the nerves need to be innervated to the muscle fibers again, but it also can result from the hamstrings being too tight.  When the hamstrings are tight, the gluteals shut down.

These are just two examples of how an understanding and evaluation of the neurological component is important in a strategy for massage and/or exercise for a client.

For a free postural and gait assessment (and fabulous information, including do at home and work exercises) subscribe (free!) to the Advanced Muscle Care Newsletter:  - http://www.alteredstates.org

To book an appointment or contact me with questions, go here  - http://www.alteredstates.org/contact.php

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I’d love to see you,

To your health and happy muscles,

Cynthia Mealy


Allergies: I thought I understood them…until now.

June 1st, 2010
I thought I knew how allergies worked.  My story went something like this…
“Pollen gets into your nose or eyes, your body reads it as something harmful and overdoes it with histamines and other chemicals which give symptoms of a runny nose and watery eyes to get rid of the supposed invader.”
I found out that this is only part of the story.
The whole story actually involves our immune system,  underlying this response, and can effect our health well beyond our seasonal allergies.
The whole story, starts with your T-Cells.
A T-cell is a type of blood cell. T-cells belong to a group of white blood cells (WBCs) called lymphocytes. WBCs protect the body from infection.  They are part of our immune system, and they secrete a variety of “cytokins” to attack and destroy harmful substances.
Have a look at this diagram…
There are different types of T-Cells.  The TH-0 cells circle around the body, and depending on which type of antigen is presented, it magically turns itself into a Th-@, Th3 or TH1.
These different T-cells secrete different messengers (those “cytokins” I was talking about)
In a healthy body, there will be a small daily oscillation between TH1 and TH2 cells, so that the body is always ready to respond in a a certain fashion.
So let’s go deeper.
Why are we prone to allergies?  Clinical trials since the 1920’s have repeatedly shown that it is genetic.
Those who are prone to allergies, have an immune system that tends to respond to substances with the TH-2 cells rather than the balanced response that includes the TH1 cells.  The T-2 cells secrete cytokins that cause the itchy watery eyes and runny nose.
The TH3 cells are regulatory.  They secrete a cytonkine called Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGF-B) which is an anti-inflammatory that facilitates tissue repair.  There is also  evidence that TGF-B  plays a part  to restore the balance between TH1 and TH2.
So I was right with my understanding of what an allergy is, but missing the vital piece of info that underlying the response is a genetic  tendency of my immune system.
All I have been doing to date is dealing with the symptoms.
Here are 7 big reasons why treating symptoms is not enough for your health…
♦ There are 50 million people in the US who suffer from allergic rhinitis, and we have an increased risk of Emergency Department visits and hospitalizaiton for asthma
♦ Treating allergic rhinitis in asthma patients with co-existing allergic rhinitis resulted in 61 percent fewer hositalizaitons.  THAT IS HUGE!
♦Allergic rhinitis interferes with sleep and leads to increased daytime sleepiness.
♦ Allergic rhinitis patients reported difficulty falling asleep, nocturnal awakening, early awakening, non-restorative sleep, lack of sleep and  snoring.
♦ If you treat only symptoms, you continue to have an immune system that is not in balance, therefore not supporting your health to its best ability.
♦ Allergy medicines often have side effects such as  drowsiness, jitteriness, lack of concentration.
♦ You have to make sure you have your symptom related med with you before or whenever you encounter the allergen.
What the body needs is to do what is called the “T1/T/2 switch.”
This is where naturopathy comes in.
I am using Naturopathy remedies by Heel to support my immune system, and encourage the response of the Th-3 cells to regulate the balance of Th1 and Th2.  They also include support for dealing with the symptoms.  I’m still taking some of my  conventional over the counter meds, because it takes time to make the “T1/T/2 switch”, but I need less, and already the side effects are much less.
Can you imagine not being dependent on prescription or over the counter medicines?
What would life be like if your immune system no longer responded with massive amounts of histamines, but instead, gently escorted the pollen out of your body without you noticing?
I’ve started to make the switch, fill out the contact form on this link if you would like to contact me about these products or any of my services. http://www.alteredstates.org/contact.php