Nashville Massage for PTSD

Massage for PTSD creates space for healing

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is commonly associated with soldiers and other people in war-torn areas but it doesn’t take a war to manifest. Massage for PTSD is a powerful treatment form.

Any sort of prolonged chronic stress, from the loss of a loved one to an undiagnosed or misunderstood health condition, from marital discord to caring for a loved one, can result in PTSD.

I’ve seen it following knee replacement surgery, after replacement of a natural body part with a mechanical substitute. The surgery itself causes stress of many kinds – physical and emotional. But anxiety, grief and confusion often accompany the loss of an original part of the body in subtle but profound ways patients don’t expect.

PTSD also is caused by childhood trauma, including diseases and abuse, that carries forward.

PTSD is tricky. Unknown triggers set it off. The disorder comes and goes. It can manifest as depression, addiction of any kind, high anxiety levels, neuromuscular ticks, restless leg syndrome and balance problems.

Massage for PTSD has two important components. Massage with a trusted therapist creates and strengthens a trust bond that allows the client both physical and emotional comfort. That comfort and trust, in turn, create a space for coping with the stress the body is under.

Of course manipulation of tissue fibers is important, too. Massage for PTSD and generally increases relaxation, boosts mood and improves the quantity and quality of sleep. We have an amazing and innate ability to heal ourselves, and massage increases awareness of both physical and psychological stress. Massage for PTSD is empowering.

PTSD can be illusive, frustrating and at times debilitating. It doesn’t have to be.

Yoga therapy and ear acupuncture, like massage therapy, are effective in treating PTSD. Please contact us to learn more.

Research Highlight: Massage for knee arthritis eases pain

Cartilage is our friend.

Protective cartilage on the ends of our bones cushions the bones and allows easy movement. Over time, though, this firm yet slippery tissue wears down, and the rough surface creates friction. Friction creates pain. The pain intensifies when cartilage breaks down entirely and bone rubs on bone.

This is the most basic definition of osteoarthritis, which is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis and degenerative arthritis. Not surprisingly, it develops most often in joints we use a lot: hands, neck, lower back, hips and knees.

We commonly see clients with joint pain, inflammation, and connective tissue conditions. We also see many clients who have rheumatic conditions such as gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis has no cure; treatment is about managing symptoms of pain and stiffness and increasing range of motion. A new study suggests a massage regimen for knee osteoarthritis helps decrease pain and improve function.

The study is especially important because the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the research.

The findings? Weekly massage for knee arthritis decreased pain and stiffness and increased functionality for at least 16 weeks after the massages ended, according to a 2012 study.

In the study, 125 adults with osteoarthritis of the knee were assigned to eight-week regimens that included usual care with no massage, 30-minute massages once or twice week, and 60-minute massages once or twice a week. Baseline metrics included participants’ ratings of pain, based on an accepted arthritis index; range of motion and time to walk 50 feet.

Massage therapists involved followed protocols for techniques and massage strokes to be used on specific body regions to keep treatment patients received as uniform as possible.

People in the group that received massage for knee arthritis demonstrated “significant improvement” over baseline at weeks 16 and 24. Researchers found the people who received 60-minute massages once a week reported the greatest reduction in pain.

At our practice we’ve successfully treated cases of osteoarthritis and pain associated with rheumatic conditions by reducing pain, increasing range of motion, restoring function, and decreasing the need for NSAIDs and other pain medications.

The study, “Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial,” was originally published in PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e30248.

What is Ear Acupuncture?

The eyes may be a window to the soul but the ears are a gateway to the whole human organism.

Ear acupuncture involves stimulating five points on the ear to help lessen pain and illness, much like foot reflexology. The ears, like the feet, contain groups of “pluripotent cells” that hold information from the whole organism, allowing local stimulation to target another area of the body.

Stimulation of ear points has a rich, ancient history across many cultures, but its efficacy as a complementary medicine began an ascent in the mid-1950s. Dr. Paul Nogier, a French physician, is considered the father of modern “auricolotherapy,” as the practice is known.

He observed repeated, predictable somatotopic connections between ear points and specific body regions. Dr. Nogier also was the first to recognize ‘the man in the ear,’ or homunculus – anatomical correlations of an upside-down fetus in the human ear to points on the body.

Ear acupuncture is helpful in treatment of stress, behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster and emotional trauma, post traumatic stress disorders, acute and chronic pain, anxiety-related disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, smoke cessation, alcohol withdrawal and substance abuse.

After training as an Acu Detox specialist (ADS) at Yale University in 2012 I started providing weekly sliding scale treatments for those within my community as a stress reduction service. The use of five specific points stimulated by disposable sterilized needles helps calm the nervous system, quiets the mind, and brings a more balanced state of being.

Ear acupuncture practitioners use different tools to stimulate ear points and prompt a relaxation response, from finger tools to acupressure, laser and electricity, magnetic balls and seeds, and tiny acupuncture needles.

The goal remains the same: use five points in each ear for each person. In this way, the therapy creates a collective healing experience by tapping into points connected to body systems:

  • Sympathetic point: relaxes the entire body, stimulates the vagus nerve, promotes a shift from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode
  • Shen Men (Spirit Gate): relaxes the mind, calms the spirit, reduces anxiety
  • Kidney: promotes optimal kidney function, transforms the effects of excess fear
  • Liver: promotes optimal liver function, transforms the effects of excess anger and frustration
  • Lung: promotes optimal lung function, transforms the effects of excess grief and loss

Many clients immediately report better sleep, fewer headaches, less physical pain, and greater emotional wellbeing. I hope to see you soon!

 

acupressure improves sleept

Research Highlight: Acupressure Improves Insomnia

A simple acupressure intervention, pressure applied to a point on each wrist, improved sleep for residents with insomnia in a long-term care facility during a five-week study.

The study involved 50 residents of two facilities in Taiwan who were randomly assigned to a control group or an acupressure group. Four assistants were trained to provide acupressure. Those in the control group received light touch with no pressure on both wrists. Those in the acupressure for insomnia group received pressure at the HT7 point, also known as the Shenmen point, for five seconds, then a second of rest, for five minutes.

Participants in the acupressure group reported no insomnia symptoms from week three to week six. They only received acupressure through week five. Even at week seven, their insomnia scores remained lower than their baseline levels.

Acupressure is part of traditional Chinese medicine and is gaining broader popularity as a therapy with well-supported benefits. The mechanism may involve bioelectrical energy, and Western science has shown that specific acupoints have a higher electrical conductivity that surrounding areas.

Insomnia is one condition that responds well to acupressure. In the Taiwan study, before receiving therapy, participants rated eight measures – including difficulty falling asleep, awakenings during the night and sleepiness during the day – to establish their baselines. They rated the same measures weekly for seven weeks.

Benefits lasted two weeks after acupressure therapy ended, and participants’ insomnia gradually returned to what it had been before the study. Still, the study has significant implications. Caregivers and clients themselves can be taught to deliver wrist acupuncture, a non-invasive intervention that can improve both the depth and quality of sleep.

We use acupressure in combination with massage techniques. Applying pressure to specific locations on the body helps stimulate the body’s own natural healing processes. The action of Acupressure at HT 7 (Shen Men), also known as “spirit gate,” will tonify deficiencies of the heart, qi, yin, yang, and blood,. These are related to emotional issues such as ruminating and muddled thinking as well as physical responses to stimuli, anxiety, heart palpitations, and irregular heartbeat.

The Taiwan acupressure study was originally published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, 2010, Vol. 47, pages 798-805.

What is Watsu

What is Watsu?

The word “Watsu” is a combination of water and shiatsu.

Watsu therapy takes place in warm water. Through Watsu, I am able to rotate, flex and move my client’s muscles in ways not possible on a massage table. When a client is tense or rigid, I assist in positioning the body to effect complete relaxation.

The result is a fuller, more therapeutic massage. Water allows for freedom of the spinal vertebrae, mild rotation of joints and maximum elongation of muscles.

The client is supported by the warm water, held and moved rhythmically by the therapist, who also incorporates individualized breathing techniques. This non-impact series of postures helps clients break free from old posture and movement patterns, which often contribute to persistent, if not chronic, pain.

Water therapy helps reduce emotional stress, aids in flexibility and alleviates aches and pains. Below are comments from residents of a continuing care retirement community who received Watsu therapy twice a month for 18 months as part of a study:

  • “It is wonderfully relaxing and has helped my back.”
  • “I experienced some chronic leg pain before I began receiving Watsu. It has almost disappeared.”
  • “I sleep better. I have a sense of well-being. My blood pressure is so much lower that my medication has been cut in half.”
  • “It is the most relaxing experience I’ve ever had.”

Based on restorative principles of stress reduction, release of physical tension and acupressure, Watsu can benefit clients of all types. This modality is especially suited to people with histories of physical ailments that include arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, spinal fusion, Parkinson’s disease and hip/knee replacement or restoration.

The movements are gentle and fluid and don’t require limbering up or warming up before a session. As a water therapy, Watsu alleviates joint pressure and creates a profound sense of well-being.

I’ve been practicing Watsu therapy in Nashville at the Greenhills Health Center off Woodmont Boulevard for several years. Not only does the GHHC have the warmest salt pool in Nashville, the center provides a supportive atmosphere for rehabilitation.

I’ve adapted Watsu for individuals with a range of circumstances: children with special needs; children with learning differences; teenagers; and clients with PTSD’s, chronic pain, or hip and knee replacements. I also use Watsu with people who have had sexual trauma, stroke and those who are pre-surgery, post-surgery, or pregnant.

Those of us who explore Watsu’s potential for healing find lasting benefits, powerful experiences, and, most of all, a deep connection to just being alive.

gentle stretching exercises

Guided, gentle stretching exercises create foundation for wellness

This 11-minute audio podcast guides listeners through a series of simple, gentle stretching exercises that release tension in the neck, shoulders, chest, back and spine.  The way we stretch helps determine the quality of motion we display.

Beginning with basic neck rolls, the series progresses through four stretches. Stretching should be gradual and slow and paired with deep breathing. Hold each stretch for 2 seconds, then release.

I recorded this guided session for a series on self-care for providers within the National Health Care for the Homeless Council who are dedicated to breaking the links between poor health and homelessness.

Those of us who provide care know we do our best when we take care of ourselves, though these stretches will benefit anyone at nearly any fitness level. Designed to relax and restore, this short routine is a healthy way to start the day or take a break from your work.

Mindful breathing energizes our minds as well as our bodies

Babies are better at breathing than almost all of us. They instinctually breathe with their whole bodies, flooding every cell with oxygen.

As adults, most of us have forgotten what a full breath feels like. But breathing is crucial not only our respiratory system, but our cardiac, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychological systems, too.

How we breathe affects our sleep, energy level, memory and concentration. Because breathing is automatic and not an intellectual activity, we at times take it for granted. Cultivating or “practicing” a better way to breathe seems strange.

Yet mindful breathing is one of the best things we can do for our health. This 8-minute audio podcast, also part of the Self-Help for Health Care series, offers guided breathing exercises to help energize our bodies and our minds.

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