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Taking Care of Oneself – Thinking Differently

All of us have experienced muscular sprains and/or strains at some point in our lives. I know I have when I feel stiff getting up from a chair, or when my hamstrings burn from lifting too many heavy objects, or when my quads and back muscles feel stiff from too many hours kneeling in the garden. Sprains oftentimes generate inflammation, swelling and subsequently pain and discomfort. Strains generate pain and stiffness and loss of range of motion.

Massage therapy provides an effective methodology for addressing the concerns of strains and sprains. Here is why. When sprains bring inflammation, heat, redness, and swelling, it might be from micro tears in the regional tissues. Our immune system rises to the signals and sends in the antibody troops to fight for us and repair the damage. Manual lymph drainage therapy can alleviate much of the swelling, move out debris, and thus reduce discomfort and pain accelerating healing time. But something else is also occurring.

When we suffer an injury to a specific site; for example, an ankle sprain from a fall, the muscles involved may be injured in such a way as to not function at their optimal best or at all, and may require full resting. Other associated or surrounding muscles must take up the task of keeping us moving, erect, and functional. These muscles become the “guardians” and work overtime doing not only their prescribed function, but taking on remedial efforts for the injured neighbor musculature. If the injury site is not easily or quickly healed, our “guardians” become overworked, and then they become strained. Now we have the beginnings of postural misalignment as our body and its innate wisdom compensates for its situation. When this becomes chronic, postural deviations can occur and pain and strain becomes an adaptive mechanism in associated structures of the body.

I believe it is vitally important for massage therapists as well as other medical professionals to help people understand not only what is physically occurring when injury happens, but also what is taking place biochemically as the body communicates its needs to all the healing centers within us. My medical massage training developed within me a voracious interest in physical body mechanics from all levels. I have learned of the magnificence of our bodies to heal themselves if only we provide a little outside support. When we understand how our body systems work synergistically on all levels, physically, biochemically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, we can find convenient ways to support ourselves that do not intrude on our lifestyles. Receiving regular massage therapy sessions keeps us at our optimal best, addresses guardian stresses, removes lymph fluids more rapidly, and supports the biochemistry of the body with appropriate nutritional information directed to the specific needs of our organ systems, our nervous system, and our muscle and bone systems.

Our community provides many well trained massage therapists to meet the needs of our active lifestyles. My suggestion is to interview them and find out their background, training, and specialties. Thinking differently for me means that massage therapy becomes a household “buzzword” and a regular and welcomed part of everyone’s annual health regimen.

Take care of yourself. You deserve it. Your body is your most important home.

Krystle Shapiro is a Washington State licensed medical massage therapist. She owns Touchstone Massage Therapies located in the Stepping Stones Wellness Center at 803 W. Pine Street, Sandpoint. Krystle specializes in oncology massage therapy with emphasis on lymphedema treatment. She is currently undertaking a Master of Science of Holistic Nutrition program and can be reached at 208/290-6760.

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