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Massage and Chronic Pain

Massage is very beneficial for improved sleep, to relieve stress, to speed healing, break up scar tissue, reduce excess muscle tension, improve focus & concentration and boost the immune system.


But what if you have chronic pain issues or pathologies, can massage still help?

Understanding pain

Everyone experiences pain at some point in their lives, ”Understanding pain physiology changes the way people think about pain, reduces it threat value and improves their management of it.” (David Butler and Lorimer Moseley, Explain Pain in You can Conquer Pain by Leon Chaitow.


Everyone has a different tolerance level - touch, massage and movement can be beneficial but it is important to use a listening touch.


What is a listening touch?

When making contact with the skin, the practitioner will apply touch, pressure and ease into the tissues whilst watching and feeling how the tissues respond to the touch. Going in too fast or too firm can cause the tissue to react and ’Push back’ rather than letting you in. If an area is particularly painful it is possible to work on tissue near by and still have an impact - thereby working indirectly than directly, noticing which way the tissue goes and working with the body rather than against it.


Pace is also important when working with pain, allowing the body to show the practitioner how and where to move. It is important that the practitioner can connect, focus, feel and follow the flow. I use this technique in scar tissue, massage and kinesiology work.


Breath is another important element when giving a massage - we use breath to allow the body to open and release, or provide the stillness to allow a shift to occur.


Shutting the pain gate

Massage works to release excess tension from soft tissues and the connective tissue system, creating chemical and neuro responses to support healing, relaxation and calm. Gently stimulating the mechanoreceptor cells under the skin causes a response in the brain that reduces the intensity of pain messages. This is know as “shutting the pain gate” (Leon Chaitow, You can Conquer Pain).


Massage also stimulates the cells to release painkilling hormones, support fluid flow in blood and lymphatic systems by bringing oxygen and nutrients for healing whilst clearing away toxins, damaged or dead cells and creating space for repair and growth.


”Studies at the Touch Research Institute, Miami School of Medicine, have demonstrated that as few as two 30-minute massage sessions a week can significantly reduce the pain levels of sufferers of conditions as varied as fibromyalgia, arthritis, pre-menstrual syndrome, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.” Leon Chaitow


An Integrated Approach

We know that massage and movement are beneficial in reducing chronic pain, but an integrated approach that looks a the bigger picture - all of your rather that just the symptoms- can yield greater results.


An integrated approach will consider your physical, emotional, biochemical and spiritual needs as well as various tools to help with healing. It is a 'whole person' perspective, looking at a route cause and ensuring that you have all the support and resources, across all levels, to enable you and your body to heal.


But it's not just an integrated approach in terms of the practitioner's view, when putting together a plan of action and way forwards for each individual - the onus is also on the client who needs to integrate the approaches into their lifestyle.



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