Posts tagged ‘back’

Looking for persons to be involved as clinical massage case studies or to receive occasional sessions (Exeter, UK only!)



I have just come back from Brighton after spending a couple of days up there at The Jing Institute of Advanced Massage Training attending the introductory module that marked the commencement of the 2nd part of a BTEC Level 6 professional diploma programme in sports and clinical massage ( http://www.jingmassage.com/Level6BTEC.asp ).  This is a post graduate qualification for already qualified massage therapist (i.e. those who have qualified to at least ITEC Level 3 standard).  The 1st part of the diploma which I completed at the end of last year consisted mainly of practical and hands-on technique modules for common musculoskeletal pain pathologies such as lower back lower, shoulder, neck, headaches (as just a few examples) which spanned a 12 month period, whilst this 2nd part of the programme will span 18 months and look further into orthopaedic assessment tests, injury and rehab exercises.  During the next 18 months I am required to give 200 hours worth of treatments, which equates to about 3 sessions (on 3 different people) every week between now and October 2012 (each treatment would therefore be a 1 hour session for each person each time).  If you are interested, I would love to hear from you, you could come in just for a one off taster, the occasional session as and when your schedule permits or a series of sessions, whatever suits you so long as you give enough notice for me to schedule in advance.  First come, first served!

In addition to the 200 hours of on-going sessions as described above which will only require an initial in-take consultation and then a signature from each recipient for each session received thereafter, I am also required to produce 6 case studies.  Each case study requires me to see the same person over a series of 4 consecutive sessions and so being case studies I’d also be required to conduct an initial consultation as well as a brief de-brief after each session which will go towards the write-up submission for each case study.  The case studies are required to be spread throughout the 18 month duration, so rather than than have all the case studies done all at once right now, I would be looking for just a single person to be a case study to be fitted within roughly 2 – 3 month blocks at a time.  As each case study will be treated 4 times on an on-going weekly basis, it is important to note that if you would like to be a case study that you can commitment to a series of 4 weekly treatment (i.e. for 1 whole month) during a particular time period that can be agreed between us.  Bearing in mind that I will be spreading these 6 case studies out between now and October 2012, if at any time between now and then you yourself or anyone you know that would suitable as a case study please do get in contact.

For both the case studies as well as occasional session recipients the main requirement in common to both is that you have some kind of muscle related or musculoskeletal pain condition that you would be wiling to receive clinical massage sessions for and provide honest feedback on.

I am very happy to answer any questions that you may have or give more detailed information about what’s involved before you commit yourself either by return email, phone or Skype.

Please pass on the information contained herein to anyone you think would be interested, provided that they live within commuting distance of Exeter (UK) of course.

Many thanks and best wishes,
Henry Tang.

Email: info@isca-therapies.co.uk
Tel: 07970 020204
Skype: henryctang
www.isca-therapies.co.uk

1 May, 2011 at 17:45 Leave a comment

Healing Back Pain the Emotional Way

Guest blog article by Louise Woods – EFT, NLP & Holistic Practitioner…

Back pain is traditionally treated in a number of ways – all of them involving physical manipulation of some kind. Massage, Soft Tissue Therapy, Chiropractic, Osteopathy etc all involve a practitioner physically touching, massaging and applying pressure to your back. There can however, be a different way to address your back problems. It might surprise you that your emotions could be causing your physical pain. Just think about all the commonly used statements we often say, such as:

• He’s a pain in the neck
• I’ve got the weight of the world on my shoulders
• She put my back up
• Get off my back
• Get a backbone
• Bend over backwards

One way to address our negative emotions and stress is by using EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT is like a psychological version of acupuncture. We tune in to how we feel and use our fingertips to “tap” on specific comfort points on our body. This releases the negative emotions and stress we have been carrying and calms us down. Once we release our negative emotions our physical body is often healed too.

EFT can be learnt easily and applied to many different issues. It can be used on your own or with the guidance of a practitioner. This is often very helpful when we don’t know what our underlying issue is. The practitioner can help you gain an insight and understanding to your issue that you can’t achieve on your own. This allows you to see the proverbial wood through the trees.

The following representations are ones that are commonly used. Your issue may be completely different to these ones but they may just speak to you! Our back is our support so it could be that you feel life is not supporting you right now or that someone is not there for you. Lower back problems are often associated with money worries. The middle back often represents guilt issues. The upper back can represent a lack of emotional support, feeling unloved or holding back love.

Our shoulders represent our ability to experience joy in life. Our attitude can make life a burden – i.e. we can get weighed down by our problems. Our neck is associated with flexibility so it could be that you are feeling inflexible about a certain situation or person. You might not be able to see all sides of an issue or are being stubborn.

To help you work out what emotion is underlying your pain the following questions are helpful:

• If there were an emotion in your back what would it be?
• If your shoulders could talk, what would they say?
• If your neck found a voice what would it say?

These questions can quickly bring up the emotion or stress we are holding in our body. Try it – you might be surprised by the answer! Our body often holds the answers. We just need to be quiet enough to listen to what it is trying to tell us. So give your body the gift of listening and see what response you get. It could be the pressure of your job weighing on your shoulders. It could be the lack of love that you are holding in your neck or your money worries that are irritating your lower back. Once you know what the underlying emotion or stress is you can use EFT to help you release it. With that your back pain could be a thing of the past. Of course there could be physical causes too e.g. an injury, bad posture, strained muscle etc. In this case it is always worth seeing an experienced practitioner who will work magic on your muscles!

To learn more about EFT and how to benefit from listening to your body, please visit my blog: www.devoneft.com.
Louise Woods
EFT & Holistic Practitioner
07866 013 637

6 August, 2010 at 02:38 2 comments

Resolving back pain through spinal manipulation

When most people think of spinal adjustments, they will most likely associate this with having the vertebrae bones in the spine being “clicked” or “cracked” into alignment by a chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist.  There are also different “grades” of adjustment or manipulation ranging on a scale from 1 thru 5, with 5 being the most radical in terms of movement range adjustment and thus requiring the most amount of applied manual force directed at the joint.  Generally, a grade 3, 4 or 5 adjustment will be carried out by a licensed chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist and involve moves that are known in the trade as High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA) adjustment techniques – also sometimes called High Velocity Thrust techniques depending on the profession you speak to.
What most people don’t realize is that a completely spontaneous physical adjustment of the spine (or any other bone to bone joint for that matter) can occur and often does during a remedial or clinical massage session, or indeed in any situation where the soft tissue interconnecting with the joint in question is being manipulated in a precision and focused manner.  Indeed, you wouldn’t necessarily go to your massage therapist asking them specifically to manipulate or adjust your spine for you in the same way that a chiropractor or osteopath might do for example as it’s usually beyond their scope of training and practice.   However, equally beneficial indirect and spontaneous bone joint adjustments can and do occur during clinical massage and soft tissue work such as fascia release, and as well as being a lot gentler than high velocity thrust adjustments, these spontaneous adjustments themselves occur because a number of other bio-mechanical conditions (as well as mental states) have aligned themselves within that person that has allowed that change to take place – that person and their being was “ready” to allow that particular change.  Sometimes but rarely direct manipulation is required as a last resort, but even among prominent and highly experienced osteopaths and chiropractors, there are those who have ditched this part of their training and instead have exclusively taken to the softly softly approach with consistent success and hardly ever go back to performing direct physical manipulation of bones.
If you have not yet read our articles on the Psoas and Quadratus Lumborum muscles, please feel free to click the aforementioned links to convince yourself that these 2 very major muscles which attach to the spine can have a significant effect on lower back pain symptoms as well as being able to bear significant load on the spine itself and thus causing potential alignment deviation.  Precision massage therapy offered by therapists trained in clinical massage can of course help release and balance tension in these deep muscles of the lower back.
The intrinsic muscles of the spine which we have not devoted specific articles to are the erector spinae and transversospinales muscle groups, below is a diagram showing the complexity of these 2 muscle groups and their relationship with regards to their attachment points on the spinal column plus the other msucles which we have already discussed previously:
Trigger point pain pattern charts and diagrams are included below to complete this discussion on the soft tissue approach to spinal adjustment and alignment:

19 July, 2010 at 22:35 4 comments

Important Muscles Involved in Lower Back Pain – Part 3 : Rectus Abdominus

The Rectus Abdominus muscle is the most superficial (i.e. closest to the surface of the body) of the layer of muscles making up the abdominal wall.  This muscle is also informally known as the “six-pack” or “abs” muscle as its appearance is known as such on a person with a well defined and toned set of Rectus Abdominus muscles.

So what has a muscle on the front side of the body got to do with back pain? Well, first off, this muscle provides stability and movement to the lower half of the front part of the body, but also it works in opposition yet at the same time complements the muscles at the back of the body, in particular the muscles which attach either side of and make movement of the spinal column possible such as the Erector Spinae and Transversospinales group of muscles.  A weak or over contracted Rectus Abdominus muscle causes us to slouch forward, thus putting extra strain and over activating the muscles of the lower back and gluteal region to compensate.

If we now also have a look at the trigger point pain referral diagram above, you should be able to discern that trigger points in the Rectus Abdominus muscle can causes referred pain to be felt in the lower back as well as in some cases the mid back region towards the bottom of the rib cage (see illustration A at the top of that diagram).

So as always, following on from the precedent set up in part 1 and part 2 of this series, we a video now for you giving a basic overview of the anatomy relating to this muscle just to give an appreciation of where it is located, its size and shape, and what it does in terms of body movement actions that it helps us to accomplish:

The Rectus Abdominus and underlying deeper muscles of the abdominal cavity form the front and sides of what can be considered a corset like structure of musculature, whilst the muscles of the lower back and lower spine region form the enclosing back side of this corset of muscles.  The muscles of the pelvic floor (i.e. deep internal pelvis area) are also part of the integrity of the bottom side of this corset like structure, whilst the top of this corset is formed of the (respiratory) diaphragm which is a sheet of muscle lining the bottom section of the rib cages and is a major muscle involved in breathing.  An imbalance in strength or weakness anywhere within this corset structure therefore can causes problems elsewhere as all parts are interdependent upon one another structurally.  It is therefore important to address all these areas in any exercise routine designed to holistically address lower back pain.  The video which follows below is a very useful 10 minute yoga routine designed to holistically exercise the muscles and structure of the core:

Regular execution of an exercise routine such as the one demonstrated above are useful not only in terms of balancing tension in the physical structure through stretching and toning, but it also promotes and trains our ability to become more and more aware of sensations going on within our bodies (that we were not aware of before), in turn and over time we then learn how to use these cues to provide finer degrees of movement control and discernment over what messages our bodies are trying to give to us.

Release of tension and the increase of awareness within our core, particularly the abdominal region can help with challenges that we may be experiencing with the internal organs located therein.  For example IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or constipation to name just but 2 can be helped as physical compression and physical stress is taken off of the digestive organs from the surrounding muscles as their tension is released.  Abdominal related disturbances such as IBS and constipation very usually have an emotional cause at their core, so being able to provide even just a few moment of respite in order to stimulate a body-wide or body-region specific relaxation can help dissipate the emotional charge associated bit by bit over time.  We recommend receiving body therapy related work to effect a guided significant muscular release from a practitioner such as ISCA Therapies if you wish to fast track your recovery in addition to doing home exercise routines.

Join me for part 4 where we’ll start looking into muscular imbalances in the hip and pelvis region and how these can contribute to lower back pain. Muscular imbalances in the hip and pelvis body area is a meaty topic in itself so will be spread across a number of forthcoming articles.

If you have found these series of articles useful and interesting so far, please do let me know.  Also if you have any other comments or questions, please do let me have them, there is bound to be someone else out there with the same question but who hasn’t written in for whatever reason.  We will use your comments to formulate articles and Q&A summaries for future articles on this blog.  Take care and speak soon!

17 June, 2010 at 23:30 11 comments

Important Muscles Involved in Lower Back Pain – Part 2 : Psoas

The Psoas muscle is one of the most commonly involved yet under treated muscle in lower back pain conditions, save to say it is probably the number 1 missing link in a lot of cases where the muscle has never been directly addressed and appropriately rehabilitated in many cases of unresolved lower back pain.  Due to the relatively deep location of the main fibres of the psoas muscle, it is seldom treated directly unless the practitioner concerned has had training in the appropriate techniques.  The muscle itself covers a very large area of the lower back and pelvic areas, significantly it attaches to the front facing side of each of the lowest set of 5 vertebrae bones of the spine, continues on to lines in the inside of the pelvis (where it is sometimes becomes known as the “iliacus” muscle) and finally attaches to the top inner part of the femur (aka tigh bone).  Due to its attachment to the front of the lower spine, tension in the psoas muscle can pull the spine forward causing an excessive forward curvature in this region (known as an excessive “lordosis”) which in turn causes the opposing muscles attached to the back facing side of the spine to become over stretched and over tensioned (muscles including the quadratus lumborum and other spinal muscles which we discussed in part 1 of this article series).

As can be seen from the above diagram set depicting the trigger point pain referral patterns for the psoas, the first illustration shows the pain pattern for the back of the body which is essentially quite straightforward as it is just a localised pattern (relative to the absolutely position of the psoas muscle itself) running parallel along either side of the lower part of the spine.   The second illustration however might be a surprise as it shows pain referral which can get set-up and experienced on the front of side of the body which in this case is a region around the inner groin and inner thigh area, so anyone experiencing pain in these areas it’s possible to attribute this to trigger points in your psoas muscle.  Proper and thorough treatment of the trigger points in the psoas muscle requires that the practitioner goes in gradually and eases in deeply moving the intestines aside in order to make contact with the psoas (and iliacus), the direction of aim is toward the spine in order to work directly on the psoas (but not ultimately to make contact with the spine).  This procedure need not be excruciatingly painful for you the client so long as your practitioner maintains a “listening sense of touch” at all times, as well as working slowly and gradually in rather than forcing their way in with battling haste and impatience.

The following video gives a nice interactive over view of the anatomy for the psoas muscle and gives a few pointers on what issues may arise as a result of the psoas muscle being overly locked in tension or on the flip side in weakness (which is generally rare):

So, here is our first video showing you a classic de facto standard stretch for the psoas muscle, note that a varation of this stretch can also be done whilst lying totally flat on the floor i.e. the leg that would have been hanging off the edge of the bench in the video example would instead be stretched out straight flat against the floor instead:

Now, here are 2 alternatives…  The first variation is a stretch that can be performed standing (instead of lying down):

The second variation is a bit more complicated to grasp, but fine once you’ve understood what you’ve got to do!  This video was for me personally a very interesting stumble upon as it’s is based upon the paradigm of myofascial stretching.  I myself perform myofoscial release work for releasing individual muscles, but have never really looked into studying myofascial stretching before and has thus whetted my appetite, so any comments welcome about this from either total new comers or those experienced in myofascial stretching already.  I tried the exercise in the video below for the first time earlier on just before writing this article and it is certainly effective yet gentle and holistic (i.e. you can feel other parts of your body gradually and subtly freeing up as well during the stretch process) all at the same time:

Remember, if you have on-going lower back pain and have never had your psoas muscle properly treated for trigger points and properly (myofascially) released by a suitably qualified massage or physical therapist, chances are that this is exactly what the missing link is.

Take care for now and see you for the part 3!

15 June, 2010 at 00:21 9 comments

Important Muscles Involved in Lower Back Pain – Part 1 : Quadratus Lumborum

This Quadratus Lumborum muscle is perhaps one of the most relevant yet not always adequately treated muscle by healthcare practitioners who work directly hands-on with the body’s physical structures in relation to attempting to resolve lower back pain conditions.  I will bring to your attention other relevant and important muscles involved in lower back pain and movement restriction issues in this series of forthcoming blog articles.  These articles will feature informative videos that I have come across on YouTube giving an introductory overview of the relevant anatomy background followed by useful self help stretching exercises to facilitate release of tension in the muscle being reviewed.

In the above image, drawing C illustrates the anatomical positioning of the Quadratus Lumborum muscle, note that this muscle is actually semi deep and beneath another group of muscles called the Erector Spinae group which sit directly on top.  Drawings A and B illustrate the pain referral pattern that can get set-up when there are trigger points in this muscle, as is usual with the phenomenon of trigger points the actual apparent location of the pain or soreness experienced as defined by the shaded areas in the above diagram is referred i.e. it’s possible that no pain maybe directly felt in the muscle itself even though micro tension knots in the muscles itself are causing pain to be referred and felt in the buttocks.

Here’s an interactive anatomy lesson and an example of some exercises you can do to help stretch and free up this muscle, although to do them requires additional equipment (a swiss ball) and would not be recommended to an absolute beginner:

The self help exercises which follow in each article must feel comfortable to do at all times, there is no useful benefit to be gained and the chance of injury to occur by pushing yourself into any discomfort or further pain.  Also, remember to breath in deeply and breath out just as you’re about to go into the stretch, many people commonly (and unconsciously) hold their breath as they are about to perform stretches find that they can go a lot further as well as with less resulting pain after changing over to breathing properly as suggested.

So to finish off with, here are some simple exercises which do not require additional equipment and can be done by most, if not all when adapted to within your tolerance level.

The exercises should ideally be performed daily as part of a rehabilitation program and in conjunction with regular visits to a suitably qualified massage or physical therapist who can perform the supporting release or soft tissue manipulation work on the muscles involved.

See you in part 2!  Take care now.

14 June, 2010 at 00:19 9 comments


Henry Tang – Therapeutic & Advanced Clinical Massage Practitioner (Crows Nest, Sydney, Australia)

Click image above to visit Spaces of Possibilities Wellness Centre, Crows Nest, Sydney, Australia.

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