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What The Heck Do I Need, A Doctor Or A Massage?

An Inside Look At Tissue Work &

The Right Questions To Ask To Find Out Who To Go To

Massage vs Tissue Work

Tissues, for the purpose of this blog, means the superficial and deep facia, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It's what is allowing you to move. So how WELL do you move?

Current trends on how to get your body to move like it did when you were 20 are growing in popularity. This can make you feel confident (or maybe overwhelmed) with the resources at hand HOWEVER, is it the correct choice for your lifestyle and unique tissue needs?

I will be answering these questions and providing insight on; Massage/Tissue Work, Passive/Active Stretching, and Mobility. Here is how I will answer: with over 12+ years of education, experience and training, knowledge from highly regarded and specialized mentors in the fitness & wellness field. The journey of health is an adventure so let me share with you some knowledge so that you can more easily put together an answer that fits your unique lifestyle and situation.

Ready to dive into the questions and answers around how to move better with less pain?!


#1: Movement Can Cause Pain?

Movement defines our abilities on how active we can be for how long. Yes, body types are a factor- as an example; my sister is an elite athlete. She is older than I, shorter, and packed with strength! I am taller, and (back in my 20's ) a slim model-esque type physique. We used to Rock Climb a lot (a pastime we both enjoyed) and I always noticed her uncanny ability to power through a route, where as I had to rely on my long appendages and stretchy skills to "snake" up the same route. We both completed the mission at hand, however our different movement abilities due to our body types would later define how well we did.

As we continued our beloved pastime over the course of a year I began having tendonitis in my elbow. My sister found that certain routes requiring a longer stretch were often more trouble to her. It wasn't until years later after leaving the sport due to severe tendonitis that I realized it wasn't fortuitous of me to heavily rely on my lengthy body type. I needed better movement which (in my unique case) required strength training. My sister would need more length which (for her unique situation) required a little more flexibility for "snaking" through and reaching further.

Either way our movements needed to be uniquely fine tuned for the sport we enjoyed together. With out the necessary changes our bodies modified good body mechanics (movement) to achieve the task at hand, which later caused me to leave the sport due to pain.

You may enjoy your current activities despite the small or large pains, aches and discomforts you feel afterward. However those are indications that your body needs an assessment to determine what the best course of action is.

Having the right assessment (which includes lots of questions) by the right type of professional(s) (sometimes it takes more than one) is what will help determine the best path to help you move better with less pain and discomfort.

#2: Are You Using On-Line Resources as a Course-Of-Action?

There are SOOOOOOO many resources out there in the World Wide Web!

Doing your own research is a vital step in getting your optimal health and wellness under foot. Asking questions and questioning the information for the purpose of learning is also important! So what questions have you asked?

Do you find yourself scrolling through Instagram and gravitating towards this Professional with thousands of followers and super engaging and professional videography? I know I have! Do you also find yourself doing some of the movements that you think are the right ones for you, only to find that not enough has changed about the original pain or discomfort?

In today's fast paced and super fast in-your-face informational pictographs, it's easy to find you are self-diagnosing without actually having the training to do so properly. We all want to heal ourselves to save time and possibly the money that would be spent on a professional (which is a guess because you're not even sure which professional you should go to)! SO... here is my knowledge tip for you:

  1. Is the pain coming from the activity or your Job? When do you feel it the most and exactly (to your best ability) where?

    1. This will help you answer questions once you choose your professional to assess you!

  2. WHO TO GO TO? (note: it is not exhaustive listing, it is my opinion and most professionals provide more than their title explains)

    1. PT: strain, sprain, major injury/surgery, recovery

    2. Tissue Work/ Athletic Massage: Muscles, ligaments, tendons that are in pain, restricted on movement, and cause discomfort

    3. Acupuncturist: most anything that deals with Nerves

    4. Pilates: micro movement and proper form related strengthening and correction

    5. Doctor: Injury, thought of Injury, the pain is sharp in an unusual way or dull and lasts for a week or longer with out getting better.

#3 What type of Tissue Work do I need?

That question can be quite complicated, so let's break down the steps to find the answer:

  1. What is going on?

    1. Describe your pain (sharp, dull, long lasting, etc.) , location and occurrence (how often and when)

  2. Is it Muscular, Nerve or Skeletal?

    1. Skeletal is just that- your bones.... go see a doctor or chiropractor (referrals in my Network & Resources web page)

    2. Muscular includes tendons and ligaments, and assessment will need to be completed to see if it is an injury that requires medical attention or if it is something a Tissue Specialist (like myself) can work with. An assessment should take 30 minutes or less and will be of great value to you getting the right attention from the right professional.

    3. Nerves- they can be squeezed, pinched or cut off from both/either muscular or skeletal reasons. This is also something you should get an assessment for. In some cases a Tissue Worker can release a tight muscle that's pinching/squeezing a nerve, in other cases you will need a chiropractor to adjust the bones that are just out of place causing the pinch and in more serious cases a doctor to see if it is something more serious (usually pertaining to the spine).

Finally let's look at Tissue Work vs Massage

Massage includes a VAST array of styles and types. So let me narrow the field down to Sports/Athletic Massage and Tissue Work. Massage in general is wonderful as touch is an integral part of being a human that can produce endorphins, help release stress and trigger the sympathetic nervous system response (getting out of fight or flight). Sports/Athletic and Tissue work are very specific to target the tissue that is no longer working well and aid it's repair in order for better movement and more range of motion. This targeted work will upregulate (meaning "it hurts so good,") before down regulating (relaxing and enjoyable). As our tissues respond to constant beatings and/or repetitive movement they begin to bind together or get sticky in order to protect the body. While this innate ability to protect is helpful in the moment it causes restrictions and pain over time and is not usually pleasant to un-do. A great professional will help guide you through enough pain to work out the tissue issues and enough feel good to help your body finish the healing process. NOTE: in most cases we have allowed the issues to build over a long period of time... typically it takes 2 sessions a week over a 4-6 week period of time to know how much more is needed. It's also good to note that if you can not stop what is creating the issue than at-home care and tissue work will HAVE to become a constant addition to your daily life to maintain good tissue health.

So let's wrap this up-

Bluntly put: It is your choice to change what you are doing in order to achieve and maintain health!

No matter who you see, your answers to the questions above will aid ANY good professional to know which way to steer you. Sometimes it takes several professionals working together (as I've experienced myself and many of my clients) to help a person achieve their goals. This is why I have a Network & Resources page... it is also why I also provide Home Herbal care, Mindset Growth coaching and Breakthrough sessions to my business. Your health is not tied up in just one aspect of your life... it is a combination of all the things- and so, you must approach your healing with the same mindset!

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