I have been talking about this manual therapy thing for a couple years now. Maybe you have been intrigued but are still confused. Maybe you tried it out but it wasn't what you were expecting. I apologize to those of you who were in it in my early years. I was not very good at communicating what it was to expect and what manual therapy was all about. I definitely fell short in that department partially because I was having a difficult time coming up with the words to explain it. I'm getting better.
With that said, manual therapy is not massage therapy. To most people, massage therapy is a passive treatment where you are undressed under a sheet and have lotions or oils massaged into your skin while you relax in a dark room with soft music. Of course, this is a generalization and does not apply to all types of massage.
Our brains are responsible for all movements including compensations to prevent further injuries when one has occurred. These compensations are not inherently bad as they do keep us moving and protect us. These strategies can start to create pain when not addressed. When you have smaller muscles doing the work of larger ones they will tire quicker. We can also have muscles that are put on a constant stretch that are not firing optimally. Pain can set itself into any of these situations.
Pain is symptom of a compensation and not always THE compensation. for instance, if we have a muscle that is constantly in a stretched position it will show with pain. Releasing that stretched muscle may feel good temporarily, but it can create more issues as you are taking a muscle that is trying to contract and relaxing it further. We all know what happens to dough when we overstretch it; it tears.
With manual therapy, we work together to figure out which muscles are overworking and which ones are sleeping on the job. It is a process of gathering information to sleuth out where the brain started making adjustments for an injury. I utilize Neurokinetic Therapy, an assessment tool, to communicate with the brain about what is going on. We release the muscles that are overworking and activate the ones that are underworking. You go home equipped with the tools to further work on establishing this new pathway to movement.
This treatment is not for everyone and cannot help everyone. It is a general rule that if nothing has changed within 3 sessions then it is most likely something beyond what we can work with. This can be a process of peeling back the layers like on an onion. Our bodies have taken a while to get to this position and it is unreasonable to think it can be fixed within an hour. Often, we have to address the current issue before we can get down to the original injury. A couple of other things can occur along the way. New pain patterns (or old pain patterns) can arise as we peel back the layers. In other words, things can seem worse before they get better. It is a process and not a quick fix.
You are also a key player in this treatment. The homework component is vital to the effectiveness of this therapy. Together, we will find your compensation patterns, but it is your responsibility to continue the work at home. If you are not ready to play an active role in your recovery than this therapy this not right for you.
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