Contraindications

Firstly let us deal with issues where massage cannot help. Indeed there are many cases where massage should not be performed at all. An example of this is hypertension or high blood pressure. I have a device for measuring your blood pressure if there is any doubt.

Acute conditions

There are many diseases for which massage can provide relief when the disease is in remission or in a subacute stage. This is particularly true of autoimmune diseases. However, when the disease is in an acute stage, possibly causing pain, massage should not be performed. Examples of such conditions are:

Pain caused by organ conditions

Aches and pains are not always caused by muscles, fascia, nerves and joints. Often malfunctioning of organs can cause pain. You probably don't realise it but your organs all move when you breathe. The liver, for example, moves between 4cm and 7cm with each breath. Sometimes the organs get stuck and don't glide properly and then they don't function as well. By organs I refer to the liver, gallbladder, bladder, spleen, pancreas, ovaries, uterus, stomach, duodenum, small intestine and large intestine. There are three tools in my toolbox designed to mobilise the organs. These are:

If all the other organs are moving properly and one is stuck, chances are it is getting compressed with every breath you take! So having a session just on mobilising the organs is likely to help your body function better.

Functional or structural conditions

For a variety of conditions there are tests to evaluate whether the condition is structural or functional. If during the test the condition, such as scoliosis or pes planus (flat feet), temporarily disappears, there is a good chance the problem can be relieved to a greater or lesser degree. If the condition remains the same throughout the test, then the condition is said to be structural, and relief is harder to accomplish. Structural conditions may arise due to degeneration of bones etc.

Basically, a functional condition is one caused by muscle imbalance, with some muscles pulling too hard so that bones are pulled out of a normal position of equilibrium. Remedial massage and a series of exercises should afford relief. The exercises consist of lengthening and strengthening. The short, tight muscles need to be lengthened, and their weak opponents (antagonists) need to be strengthened.

Support groups for people suffering chronic illnesses

There are some chronic conditions where help may need to be ongoing. For example conditions such as scleroderma, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and many more These conditions can be debilitating and draining. Sometimes joining support groups can help sufferers compare notes and improve knowledge of anything which does help their condition.

There approximately 5,000 people suffering from scleroderma in Australia.

To find a support group in your state, visit the national website, www.sclerodermaaustralia.com.au

Here is a support group for Western Australia - fibromyalgiawesternaustralia.com.

Conditions

If your condition is not in the above list and you want to know more, email me and I'll add it to the list, which is in its early stages of development.

iPad neck

The long hours people spend in a slouch position slaving away over a hot computer brings a lot of work my way.

It is getting so bad that I put it in an epidemic category along with obesity, diabetes, asthma and mental health.

The scary thing is that in a couple of years time I will be getting children aged ten coming to me with iPad neck

Whether it is sending text messages on an iPhone or using a tablet, people are looking down. The weight of the head is not being transmitted down through the spine, so muscles are recruited in the back of the neck, the shoulders and as far as the lower back to support the weight of the head like the big thick cables that support a suspension bridge.

So it is no surprise that people end up with restricted head movements, neck and shoulder pain and headaches.

I have my own routine which combines several techniques which, together with homework I give, gives a lot of relief and frees up the head and neck.

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Arthritis

Arthritis refers to inflammation / degeneration of joints. There are a variety of causes, but the results are similar - restricted range of motion at the joints, which can be accompanied by pain, particularly during acute flareups.

See Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid arthritis or Ankylosing spondylitis.

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Ankylosing spondylitis

Arthritis of the spine leading to a stiffening of the spine. Massage helps maintain flexibility of the spine during periods of remission.

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Breathing problems

Remedial massage can help with breathing issues such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. It works by loosening and relaxing the muscles associated with the act of breathing. Postural drainage can assist with removing build up of phegm trapped in the lungs, after loosening it up by steam inhalation.

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Crohn's disease

Disease of the Gastrointestinal Tract. Massage is suitable when in remission.

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Diabetes

Some people come to me complaining with nerve pain in their feet, a case of Peripheral Neuropathy. It could be due to impingement of the sciatic nerve, but in one case the client was later diagnosed with diabetes. Massage is not appropriate in advanced cases of diabetes, where the circulation is particularly bad (it can lead to gangrene). The best thing that Type 2 (Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes) clients can do is change their diets, and take some of the following supplements:

These herbal supplements can also help:

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Lupus

An autoimmune disease with a wide variety of symptoms, one of which, a butterfly rash on the face, gives the disease its name, wolf-like. Massage is helpful during remission

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Osteoarthritis

Wear and tear of the joints can lead to degeneration of the cartilage, resulting in bones grinding on bones, sometimes leading to the need for hip and knee replacements. During acute stages, the inflammation of the joints results in tight muscles, trigger points, restricted movements. During periods of remission, massage can be effective in relieving the muscles and restoring the range of motion.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

An autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own joints, muscles and tendons particularly in hands and feet. Restricted motion at the joints results. Massage can help restore the range of motion during periods of remission.

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Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

Unfortunately many cases of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome are misdiagnosed. Many women suffer unduly from operations which don't provide much relief. In many cases the nerve or blood supply can be impinged due to trigger points in the scalene muscles, thoracic outlet syndrome or tight pectoralis muscles. True carpal tunnel syndrome means that the median nerve is being compressed in the wrist. My experience is that remedial massage can significantly help to reduce the symptoms of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Sometimes there simply isn't enough space between the clavicle and the first rib for blood vessels and the brachial plexus (the complex of nerves that supplies the arm) to pass through without being squashed. This can sometimes be due to:

Remedial massage can often release restrictions in this area.

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Sciatica

Sciatica refers to nerve pain in the hips and posterior legs due to compression of the sciatic nerve.

There are three common places where this entrapment occurs:

I have had a fair degree of success in relieving sciatic pain when it is due to a tight piriformis muscle. Memo to guys: if you keep your wallet in your back pocket, you are likely to suffer sciatic pain in later years due to tightness in your piriformis muscle!

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Morton's foot

Your foot basically acts like a tripod - you balance on the heel, the base of the big toe and and the base of your fifth toe. Morton's is simply when your second toe is very long, causing the weight to be placed on the base of the second toe. This causes a callus, and due to the unusual weight bearing, stresses muscles in the leg and can eventually cause pain in the lower back. This I can definitely help with. It was considered by Ancient Greeks to be drop dead sexy to have a really long second toe, judging by their statues, although healthwise it is impractical. I have had a client with a callus under the third toe, for which the same remedies apply.

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Pes planus - flat feet

A fallen arch may well be correctable. There is a test to see whether the problem is functional or structural. If the condition is a functional one, remedial massage and stretching and strengthening exercises can bring the arch back!

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Lordosis

Lordosis is an excessive curve in the lumbar spine, in which the hips are rotated forward. This can be due to having tight rectus femoris (one of the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh) or a tight psoas muscle. Remedial massage can assist to ameliorate this condition, as can lengthening the rectus femoris and psoas, and strengthening the hamstrings and your abdominal muscles.

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Scoliosis

Scoliosis occurs when, viewed from the rear, the spine does not run vertically up the back from the hips to the head, but takes a bit of a detour to one side. The curve can be C shaped or more commonly S shaped. This process causes the spine to twist, often causing the ribs to be rotated posteriorly on one side of the spine.

Scoliosis can be functional or structural, and there is a simple test to determine this. I have studied many different techniques regarding correction of this condition. After all, I have a special interest, as this is the condition that caused me to spend years of suffering and treatment of many kinds until I found that remedial massage gave me far and away the best relief!

Often scoliosis has other symptoms, such as shoulders not being level, the hips and/or the sacrum being rotated in various ways, and one leg appearing to be shorter than the other.

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Short leg syndrome

When you lie down and someone compares the length of your legs, one may appear to be longer than the other. It is possible that the bones in one leg are longer than the other. Alternatively there are a couple of muscles, such as the quadratus lumborum or gluteus medius, which, if habitually tight, can pull the hip or leg up on the short side. The psoas muscle on the opposite side may have a similar effect. Remedial massage and lengthening and strengthening exercises can assist in improving the situation.

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Dizziness

Your sense of balance comes from your inner ear. It could be that there is damage to the mechanism itself. However, the mechanism can sometimes malfunction due to trigger points in the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Craniosacral therapy techniques can also assist in relieving dizziness.

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Ear ache

As with dizziness, ear ache can sometimes be due to trigger points in the sternocleidomastoid muscle. It can also be caused as part of TMJ dysfunction. Craniosacral therapy techniques can also assist in relieving earaches.

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Tooth ache

And you thought tooth ache automatically involves a trip to the dentist! Think again! Tooth ache can sometimes be due to trigger points in the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the front of the neck and in some of the face and jaw muscles. It can also be caused as part of TMJ dysfunction. I am sure there are a lot of confused dentists out there, particularly if trigger points were not included in their training!

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TMJ Dysfunction (Jaw problems)

If I spell out the acronym, it probably still wont help! Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction refers to jaw problems such as difficulties in opening the mouth wide, pain on opening the mouth, clicking, problems chewing and so on. It is the only joint in the body that requires two joints to move in unison, at either end of the jaw. Myofascial release techniques and craniosacral therapy can assist with this condition.

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Tinnitus

This is a constant background noise that you hear that is not really there. The theory suggests that this can be caused by trigger points and can be relieved with trigger point therapy or craniosacral therapy. I tried craniosacral therapy once on a client, without success, but it may require more than one half hour session to get results!

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Whiplash

Whiplash is a general name given to the injuries caused by a sudden acceleration and deceleration of the head and neck. Most people think of car accidents, but whiplash can be caused by sport as well. For example an AFL player leaping for a mark is pushed in the back, causing the trunk to go forward and the head to come backwards. Whiplash injuries can damage the spine, often resulting in nerve impingement. Muscles also cop it badly. Muscles are briefly stretched beyond their normal limits, and the body reacts by trying to tell you not to do that again, by tightening muscles and igniting trigger points. Muscles that are prime candidates in whiplash are sternocleidomastoid and levator scapulae. As stated elsewhere, sternocleidomastoid is devious - it never feels sore unless you touch it; however, it can dish out headaches, cause problems with toothaches, ear aches, and dizziness.

The best time to work on whiplash is soon after the injury. Unfortunately, the symptoms of whiplash often do not appear straight away. If you have a fender bender, my advice is to have some remedial massage even if you don't have any symptoms. Many people don't treat whiplash, don't make insurance claims, and then are still suffering the effects years later.

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Fibromyalgia

International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day May 12th, 2013

Another disease that affects women far more than men, fibromyalgia is ongoing muscular pain. It usually has a trigger and perpetuating factors. The trigger is often a stressful event, sometimes linked to domestic violence. Perpetuating factors are often chemical imbalances. There are a few supplements you can try, one at a time, to see if any of them work.

Massage can help relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Whilst fibromyalgia is a special interest of mine, for Gary Clark it is an absolute passion. See Gary's Pain Busters Clinic for an in depth look at fibromyalgia - the symptoms, causes and treatments.

I hope that this section is of interest to fibromyalgia support groups, speaking of which, there is one in Western Australia, fibromyalgiawesternaustralia.com.

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Hammer toes

Hammer toes are curled up. I use myofascial release and myopractic techniques to relieve this condition.

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Sinusitis

Sinusitis is often caused by trigger points in the muscles of the face. These can often be satellite trigger points, and the original cause of the problem is the sternocleidomastoid muscle at the front of the neck!

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Peripheral neuropathy

Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy is a fancy name meaning pain is caused by nerve problems. In the case of a nerve being entrapped, remedial massage can be effective in loosening the entrapment. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by entrapment of the median nerve for example, and I have had good results in reducing the pain with massage techniques.

Peripheral neuropathy is often a symptom of diabetes.

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RSI / Overuse syndrome

Repetitive strain injury is now also known as Overuse Syndrome or Occupational Overuse Syndrome. I guess it originated with data entry operators. Many people have quit jobs due to the symptoms. In many cases a good massage or two of forearms, hands and muscle attachments above the elbows can afford relief. Part of the problem can be nerve entrapment due to muscles tightening due to the number of trigger points developing.

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Numbness, tingling or burning sensations

These are symptoms of trapped nerves. Most frequently these symptoms are felt in arms and legs. Refer to:

Scleroderma

June 29 is World Scleroderma Day

This is a chronic condition where the skin hardens, your organs deteriorate and ulcers tend to form on the extremities.

At one time I had a very brave client, who had to have a toe amputated. The specialists gave the client a lot of pills but not much else. They didnt recommend massage.

However, the client always reported feeling way better after a session of working particularly on hands and feet. Scleroderma support groups take note!

You can find a support group in your state at www.sclerodermaaustralia.com.au

As I add to this page from time to time, it may take forever to complete!!

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