Tag Archives: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

What is Firm Swedish?

The other night at work an Esthetician asked me “What is Firm Swedish?”

One of my massage therapist coworkers was in the break room with us at the time and turned to hear my response…

I began to try and explain that it is a Swedish Massage with a firmer pressure, then I said “ok, realistically it is a gentle  Deep Tissue because Deep Tissues by definition is accessing the deeper layers of the muscles instead of just the superficial ones and I have no idea why we even bother muddying the waters with all the various terms we use.”

My coworkers eyes widened and she said “You are right, Swedish is gentle and relaxing, its not supposed to be firm pressure.”

Firm Swedish is for people wanting more of a Deep Tissue therapeutic effect without the pain or discomfort often associated with Deep Tissue massage

In all honestly there is not a lot of difference between the stokes, moves, and methods that I would use during a Firm Swedish Massage and the ones that I would use for someone asking for Deep Tissue.

In fact many of the Firm Swedish massages that I do end up being Deep Tissue work and some of the Deep Tissue work that I do ends up being more of a Firm Swedish depending on the need and tolerance level of my client.

Pressure is subjective!

We then discussed how all these words “Firm” “Deep” “Light” and “Medium”  are all subjective and vary widely  from not only the clients but the therapists as well.

One client’s idea of medium pressure is another client’s idea of deep, some say light when they really want medium, and some say light when they want feather light pressure.

My idea of light may be too light for some or too heavy handed for others, each persons perception of pressure is different and each therapists idea of pressure is different.

I find its easier if the client says something like “I want results but I don’t want to be put in pain” or “really go to town on those shoulders” or “please no elbows” to give me a better idea of what it is they are seeking. Communication is always the key to getting the massage experience that you desire.

Deep Tissue Massage Does not have to be painful!

If you search the internet about Deep Tissue massage you will find that page after page all state “Deep Tissue does not have to be painful to be effective.”

Unfortunately many people believe in the “no pain no gain” concept, this includes many Massage Therapists.

The idea that you have to tolerate a painful session because “you really need this” is not correct. If you are wincing, flinching, or tensing up then your muscles are not going to be able to relax and it may be counter productive to the goal of getting your muscles to loosen up.

Of course there will be people who will argue that point and say that the muscles will feel better after two or three days because of the painful deep pressure, that too is valid in the fact that eventually the muscle will tire and weaken and the result will be less tension due to the muscle exhaustion.

That being said there have been cases of injuries from Deep Tissue massage, there is a point where too much is too much. There is  also a condition called Rhabdomyolysis or Rhabdo for short that can result from muscle crush injuries.

Muscles store myoglobin, when too much myoglobin is released into the body it can become toxic when it reaches the kidneys. This is one of the main reasons why you should drink plenty of water following a massage to help flush that away.

Release of Myoglobin from massage has been found in a study to reduce the pain and discomfort of myofascial pain syndromes with surprisingly positive results:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3462906

A positive correlation was found between the degree of muscle tension and pain, and the increase in plasma myoglobin concentration. After repeated massage treatment a gradual decline in the increase in plasma myoglobin concentration could be demonstrated parallel to a reduction in the muscle tension and pain.

So  there is definitely benefit to getting Deep Tissue massage for people with muscle pain, the same can be said for Firm Swedish which is simply another form of Deep Tissue therapy.

We can honestly only go so deep

There are times when we get a client who wants the deepest, hardest, and most painful massage that we can possibly give them.

For whatever reason that client feels the need to have it hurt, whether it is because they believe it will be more effective or because they cannot quite feel how much pressure is actually being given I am not sure.

When a client is clearly seeking a sensation of pain we do our best to try and use pressure points to provide them the sensation they seek without causing damage to the muscles  tissues and bony structure, however, there are times when we simply cannot go any harder or any deeper.

In closing, to sum things up…

Firm Swedish is simply a more gentle form of Deep Tissue Massage. Deep Tissue Massage does not have to be painful to be effective.  Areas that are more tense may be a bit painful but it should be a “good hurt” and not a “bad hurt” or overly painful experience.

Whatever it is you are seeking from your massage experience it is best to communicate your needs, concerns, and areas that you want to address as well as areas that are more sensitive to you so that we can offer you the massage experience and effect that you are seeking.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Smart aka Kristeen Kish

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

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Topical Analgesic Review

Topical Analgesic Product Review for Biofreeze, Cryoderm, and Sombra products

Biofreeze image

Biofreeze:

If you have ever been to a chiropractor or sports medicine clinic I am sure you have seen or heard of Biofreeze.

They have several products including gel, roll-on, and a 360 degree spray. The products are easily found for purchase at most chiropractic clinics, sports medicine clinics, and various spas.

The 360 spray is by far their best product, easy to apply even to your own back with a spray can that works even when held upside down.

The roll-on is simple to use for those areas that you can easily reach but due to direct contact with the skin it should only be used on one person.

Gel is the most common products that is used in most chiropractic clinics. For me personally this is my least favorite product to use in massage because the gel eventually balls up while I am working the area (the same can be said for gels from other companies as well,) however, it does provide a cooling sensation and helps aid in the relaxation of the effected muscles.

Pros:

Easy to obtain at various distributors, easy to use, temporary cooling effect and muscle pain relief.

Cons:

Not long lasting, smells like medicated alcohol, gel balls up with rubbing.

Now, onto my two personal favorites!

cryoderm image

Cryoderm:

I had never heard of Cryoderm products until I was introduced to them at the World Massage Festival. They have a number of products ranging from lotions, sprays, roll-ons, gels, and also heat therapy products.

The cooling effect lasts for several hours and far outlasts Biofreeze.

The heating products contain Capsaicin and provide lasting heat sensation, in fact much hotter than expected. This product might be a bit too much for anyone who is sensitive to hot peppers, but it definitely does exactly what it intends to do!

Pros;

Long lasting cooling or heating, effective muscle pain relief, never tested on animals.

Cons:

Heat therapy may be too hot for some people, strong medicinal scent.

If you like Biofreeze you will love Cryoderm.
sombra products image

Sombra:

What is not to love about Sombra? It has a more pleasant smell than the other products, comes in cooling, heating, and even a soothing lemon version.This also comes in a handy roll-on version as well as lotions, creams, and gels.

The cooling effect is effective but not overpowering, the heating effect is subtle but warming. The heating product also contains Capsaicin but is not as intensely hot as the Cryoderm Heat products. A nice happy medium that is long lasting and smells wonderful!

Pros:

Long lasting heat or cooling, pleasant scent, also comes in a soothing lemon scent.

Cons:

I cannot think of any cons.

http://www.sombrausa.com/

 

In summary:

My personal favorite if I want a powerhouse of an analgesic I prefer Cryoderm products, but if I am looking for an effective yet soothing option I prefer to use Sombra products. Biofreeze is good but if given a choice between them all I know which products I would prefer to use for my clients.

It is also very important to mention that no matter which of these products you use always remember to thoroughly wash your hands before touching your face, eyes, or other areas where the heating or cooling sensation might be problematic, I can assure you from first hand experience that getting these products in your eye is not a pleasant experience.

(I was not paid by any of these companies to write this review, the opinions expressed here are from my personal experience with the three products mentioned.) 

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
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Lactic Acid, The Myths

The concept of “lactic acid build up” has been an often repeated myth in the exercise community for many decades now, Lets take a brief look at the myths and the facts of what really causes that post workout muscle soreness.

  • What is Lactic Acid? Simply stated the body converts carbohydrates into lactic acid during a strenuous workout which is converted into lactate.
  • What does it do? It produces energy for the muscles during a strenuous activity.
  • Does lactic acid build up? Actually no, it begins to break down  in just a few hours after a work out.
  • Does lactic acid/lactate cause muscle soreness? No, in fact there are no studies showing that lactic acid causes muscle soreness.

(Myth) The accumulation of lactate causes fatigue in muscles.

(Fact) Lactate does not cause fatigue, and on the contrary is a useful and efficient fuel source[2].

(Myth) Lactic acid can be measured in the blood using a lactate analyzer.

(Fact) Lactic acid does not exist in the blood. As soon as it is produced, the substance thought to be lactic acid disassociates into lactate and hydrogen (More on lactate and hydrogen below). A lactate analyzer measures the concentration of lactate (a useful fuel) in the blood.

(Myth) Lactate clearance and lactate tolerance refer to how the body deals with fatigue.

(Fact) Since lactate does not cause fatigue, its clearance from the blood depends on the body’s ability to use it as fuel. The body not only tolerates lactate, but at times prefers lactate over glucose as an energy source[6].

http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/lactate-and-lactic-acid-dispelling-the-myths/

So what really causes the muscle pain after a work out?

What is it then that causes DOMS for days after exercise? The answer is swelling in the muscle compartment that results from an influx of white blood cells, prostaglandins (which are antiinflammatory), and other nutrients and fluids that flow to the muscles to repair the “damage” after a tough workout. The type of muscle damage I am referring to is microscopic (it occurs in small protein contractile units of the muscle called myofibrils) and is part of the normal process of growth in the body called anabolism. It is not the type of damage or injury that you see your doctor about. The swelling and inflammation can build up for days after a workout, and that’s why muscle soreness may be worse two, three, or even four days after a workout

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=78966

In summary lactic acid is not the cause of delayed onset muscle soreness, lactic acid does not build up in the body, and it is in fact a valuable source of energy for the muscle during a strenuous workout. Lactate is converted back into glucose and filtered out by the liver and is a naturally occurring chemical in the body.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist
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