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K.I.S.S. for Pain Managment Massage Therapy

This week I was reminded to “keep it simple sweetheart”.

I teach and teach about only doing enough massage work to change pain 4 points (on a 10 point scale) and then leave the body alone to heal on its own. I also teach that when someone’s pain level is 5 and under that you can start shifting from doing Scar Tissue work into more regular style of bodywork and massage.

Scar Tissue massage really works best on clients whose pain level is 5 or higher. That is because working with Scar Tissue changes inflammation – almost immediately – through changing pain levels. The less pain you have the less inflammation follows. If you don’t have the pain the JUSTIFIES the manipulation of Scar Tissue, then you are actually forcing the body to heal something over again if you change Scar Tissue.

Remember, Scar Tissue is a CORRECT way to heal. You don’t need to eliminate it; you just help it function better.

I like to call this idea “if the toaster isn’t broke don’t fix it”. If the body is not in pain, don’t work the system that fights pain. You actually make it have to go into inflammation to build the Scar Tissue to fix what you undid.

Long Story Short

I was trying to do Scar Tissue work on a client who had a pain level of 3 and I kept putting her into inflammation and confusing myself and her.  The reason she was vacillating in and out of pain with our sessions (and not getting better) is that she didn’t need the Scar Tissue work anymore. She actually needed good ‘ol fashioned deep tissue.

Her body had “transitioned” into being better and had healed itself. I still saw her as needing more pain management massage but she was done. Is this possible? You bet!

Longer Story

This client came in on Monday. I have been working with for about 2 years. She had pain in so many places that it has taken us some time to get her body on the right path to healing.

This woman is 40 and the original injury that was holding her body into a pain cycle a car accident at 16. She was crossing a train track at the exact same moment as a train was coming up to that intersection. (Fortunately, she only collided with the train and was not struck by the train.)

However, she was traveling at approximately 60 miles per hour when she ran into the train and her vehicle was smashed, thrown, and her body received a lot of trauma. The worst trauma was a broken sternum (we think) and ribs where her seat belt crossed over her body and down her side.

She originally came in complaining of debilitating headaches and neck pain, low back pain, SI Joint Dysfunction on the right, bilateral hip socket pain (like bursitis), knee pain, and weakness in the lower body (notice none of that was around the injury area?). Her pain levels were always in the 7 and 8 range and have slowly shifted down into the 2 and 3 range over 2 years.

Her body has done a lot of healing in the last 12 months and she is in a state of what I call “transition”.

Transition is part of natural healing. Your body will go through phases or states as you heal that progressively go from: • high pain and inflammation to • manageable pain and inflammation to • pain only to • naturally forming healthy muscle tissue that before was weak and non-functioning.

This is a fairly normal process in healing when remolding Scar Tissue in the body using PPS techniques. As a massage practitioner, I need to pay attention to the pain levels so that I know how to shift my techniques to meet the needs of her body.

I had asked her what her pain level was when she came into the session and she said 3. I didn’t pay attention. I was off in my mind thinking about the last few session with her, reading my notes, and thinking about where I was going to break down Scar Tissue with her today. I was still trying to “fix” her I think.

As we started into the session she said to me “do you think we can do just a normal massage session today – I really don’t have that much pain and would like to relax”. Inside my mind I said to myself “Oh for heavens’ sakes! She is actually telling me what she needs and I need to pay attention!”

The last 2 sessions had not been as successful as I wanted them to be for her. She came in with some pain, I did Scar Tissue work to address that pain, and then she left with different pain….? That isn’t the way it is supposed to work? Why?

Because she didn’t need Scar Tissue work anymore. This session I did regular body work with her – even deep tissue into her hamstrings and back. She left feeling pain free.

K.I.S.S.  – Amy – people do really heal. How do you know? Their pain levels tell you so.

Follow your clients’ pain levels to help you be more successful with not just pain management but what to do with them after they are healing. If their pain levels are low, do regular massage. If their pain levels are higher do more PPS. It is that “simple”.

For more information, visit PPS Seminars.

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