When I graduated from massage school in 1993, and it was reinforced into my brain that you made sure you avoided the scapula, spinous processes, and any other location that was anywhere near bones. Since that time, I have learned that most of the answers I am looking for to stop pain in the body can be found on top of bones.
No, this is not chiropractic care – there is no “popping” going on here. This is about how the body uses bones as anchors for another reason and that is for Scar Tissue to have a place to bind and hold for healing and balance.
And no, this is not Myofascial work – although there are some similarities. The tissue we are working on isn’t bound fascia. It is something that “grows” on top of fascia, bones, and some muscle structures. This tissue reforms and returns for some pretty cool reasons but can also create some havoc as well.
Scar Tissue and Bones
Have you ever wondered why muscles keep going back to a place of discomfort? If it’s painful, why return to that position? It is because the muscles have to. Some other force is over-riding their own system and telling them what to do for the good of the whole body.
What could be good about something so painful? It is about balance – but in a new way than you have been taught.
The Muscular System is this huge matrix of muscles all working together for motion and suspension. The muscular system has a paired system that works with it. You observe the results of it all the time through inflammation but that is only a small piece of what is going on deeper.
The paired system to the Muscular System is the Scar Tissue System. This is also a huge matrix of specific areas around the body that all work together to stop OVER-MOTION and this system is used when the body needs to heal itself from muscular injury.
In order to create the stability needed to repair itself, Scar Tissue uses bones as anchors to stop an area from moving while it heals. Once the area is healed, however, the Scar Tissue remains to continue to support that area because even though it is healed, it is never the same. When the body puts a regular load on that tissue (such as regular muscle contraction), without the Scar Tissue assisting, the force of the load would tear that newly-repaired area again.
Muscle Pain and Bone Anchors
It is a pretty cool safety mechanism, right? Yes, it is.
These are the muscles that get your client’s attention and therefore your attention. This is where you find Trigger Points.
Those muscles in pain are fighting to work correctly and they fatigue so quickly. They are always fighting against the force of the Scar Tissue that has caused a bone to stop floating (yes, bones should float). It is a downhill battle because muscle have the ability to give slack and Scar Tissue is solid and un-moving. The muscles always lose and Scar Tissue takes over.
Example in the Upper Back
You see this a lot with the Scapula. When someone complains of pain between the shoulder blades, if you look at where the scapula bones are sitting on top of the back you will notice that they are moved further apart and stuck there (Image B).
Now if this was just about some muscle over-powering another muscle, working those shorter muscles would change and FIX the problem of the longer ones. The scapula would move back to a more central location and the pain between the shoulder blades would be gone. There would be a correct balance again.
But it doesn’t work that way. In fact, sometimes the pain actually gets worse after you work through the muscles when you try to create balance with massage.
Why does this happen? Because the scapula is being used as an anchor and until you work with the Scar Tissue that is on top of the bone, the muscles will always lose and return to the state they were in when the client came into see you.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Try rubbing on top of boney surfaces and see what happens. I have one technique for working on top of a boney surface that is specific for hand-intensive jobs (like you have).
Ulna Work for Massage Therapists
Do you have hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders that hurt as a massage therapist? If so, then I have a treat for you.
Because we use our hands so much, our body forms Scar Tissue to help support those areas. The muscles can’t bear all the load we put on them and there is a certain amount on chronic injury going on all the time. The body uses Scar Tissue to help hold our hands and arms together, but the cost is felt in the muscles around it and and further up the arm going into the neck.
To use this concept of working on bones and anchors to change what muscles are doing, try scraping along your Ulna bone, especially closer towards the elbow.
*But first, rotate your neck and shoulders and check what it feels like, paying close attention to what is hurting or stiff.
Here is short video on how to do that work.
Ulna Transfer Work for Massage Therapist
What you will find are heavy, dense areas of “crunchy” stuff. That is Scar Tissue. When you break down the Scar Tissue in this area, you change what is occurring in the muscle opposite of the bone and further up the arm to the neck. The Biceps, Pectoralis Major, Subscapularis, and Levator and change length and become less painful.
Check your neck and shoulders again. Do you feel the change in the muscles? It should be less stiff and have much more ROM than before.
You can get rid of a certain amount of Scar Tissue and help the muscles. We need to leave some though because it is doing its job – to help support you to do your job. Scar Tissue isn’t bad or wrong. The amount of it that has been laid down to help the body is what can create long-term problems.
PPS Bodywork is a new way of approaching the body. We take Scar Tissue, Inflammation cycles, physics, how the eyes see, how the body finds balance, and massage and roll it all into one technique to create something new and innovative when it comes to working successfully with pain.
For more information on our classes and training, visit our online training center: PPS Seminars