Archives for posts with tag: massage

Continuing on from my “coming out” blog last week, I thought I might write about a few sessions I’ve had recently, just to give you an idea of how they differ from a typical massage treatment.

A client came in for her session and I could immediately see she was stressed and certainly not in the right head space to lie on the table to receive her manual lymphatic drainage for her lymphoedema arm. You could almost see the sparks firing off her – we’ve all felt that kind of energy when someone walks into a room.  There was no point putting her on the table until she had been given the opportunity to vent and I didn’t need to ask her any questions, she just let go. And I let her.  She’d had her young supervisor at work suggest to her that she needed to be more resilient.  My client had recently returned to the job having been working in another city and this was a new supervisor she had no history with.  Resilience was this lady’s middle name … breast cancer, teenaged daughters, lymphoedema, working through treatment, recently broken wrist on the lymphoedema arm which triggered her lymphoedema which had been under control, still working through. You name it, she just kept going.  Grrr.

After she vented I pulled out my trusty pyramid and “dinged” her.  She took a massive breath in and her entire body let go and relaxed.  A smile even appeared.  Followed by “what is THAT”?  I explained as best I could what I think happens when I strike the pyramid.

Now that she was more receptive I showed her the amazing garment I had ordered for her the previous week – the Mobiderm Autofit Sleeve.  Her eyes lit up and she quickly put it on and said, “oh yes, I can wear this”.  So we left it on and I got her onto the table and started our manual lymphatic drainage session.

We talked while I worked and I got the impression that what the conversation with the supervisor had triggered was a feeling of unexpressed grief.  I held onto that thought but not for long because a minute later she said, “I feel as if I was never allowed to grieve during my treatment because my daughter wouldn’t let me, she would tell me to get over it” (or words to that effect, I can’t remember exactly now).  So the resilience comment took her right back to when she was in treatment and unable to express emotion.

This led to me asking her what tools she used when she was stressed … meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness, tapping, going for a walk?  She had a think and said she used to go to mindfulness classes and those were great.  I suggested that she might find a mindfulness app and do it on her own and save some money and she remembered that she already had a number of them downloaded on her phone!

Next I asked her if she’d ever heard of tapping … why yes she had, but hadn’t done it for a long time. And bingo, I pointed her in the direction of some great YouTube videos to guide her through until she felt comfortable doing it on her own.

In between all this I had taken off her new garment and shown her the marks on her arm from where it had already started to work and she was amazed.

By this time, she was laughing and happy.

She went home in a totally different frame of mind to the one she came with – her arm feeling better and with her sleeve to wear at night while she slept and some ideas on how to help her manage her stress levels.  For me, it’s all about giving people tools to self-manage.

I even got a hug!

 

http://lisahiggins.ntpages.com.au

 

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A few weeks ago I spoke about a lovely man, P, who comes to me to work with his eczema.   He’s pretty extraordinary in himself.  His partner, V, is a whole other ball game.  I’m struggling for words to describe what our sessions are like as no two are even remotely the same.  P and V always come together, P gets on the table first followed by V.  They kiss before they go in and it’s as if they will not see each other for days, rather than an hour and most times they wait for each other in the reception area.  They are absolutely the most perfectly paired couple I have ever met.

When V first came her main hope was to get some relief from the pain she suffered monthly during her period – she was taking anti-inflammatories via suppositories for the pain and if she didn’t get them in time she ended up in hospital, sometimes on morphine.  Now that’s real pain.   She had surgery for endoometriosis but still the pain continued.  Her lifestyle was very clean – she ate fish but no other animals, didn’t drink alcohol or take recreational drugs, meditated daily for an hour – she had as much natural in her life as she possibly could.   Like P, she took homeopathic medicine and natural remedies so taking anti-inflammatories and morphine really wasn’t what she wanted in her life.

The first couple sessions we used craniosacral therapy to work on calming her system down and releasing restrictions gently and some Emmett Technique for some knee issues she was having looked at by the physio. After the first treatment she had relief from pain in her knee and generally felt happier and more positve.  Next session we continued with similar treatment and she had a big nasal release.    She said the nasal work had a big result – in the shower the following morning she had a gush of blood from her nose, which stopped quickly and then there was massive relief.

Occipital HR workphoto courtesy Google Images – www.balanced-energy.com

She continued having both physical and emotional releases.  She got her period about three weeks after we started and didn’t even need to take a Panadene – for the first time in 15 years!  I have to say that the period pain did fluctuate a bit at the start but it is not an issue any more, can’t remember the last time we’ve even spoken about it.  And her physical aches and pains have kind of taken a back seat.  My patient notes are usually very detailed but for V they’re minimal, just because it’s difficult to put in words what we cover and I’m not sure it would make sense to anyone reading them anyway.

A typical session may start like this … “oh my goodness, I’ve been so looking forward to this.  I feel like today I need grounding so if we start with a massage to my legs and back then we can do some energetic work at the end, they say we need to look at such and such”.  It’s really useful having such specific instructions.  It’s never quiet for long, there’s usually some sort of update on what she’s feeling, what kind of release she’s having in a physical sense as well as on an energetic/spiritual level.  Interestingly, I sometimes get some very strong impressions or feelings when I’m working with V, seeing very vivid pictures in my head which I think are way out there and part of my imagination, only to have her pipe up something like “wow, I just had this feeling of being stabbed in the left shoulder by a lance while I was charging on a horse” or some similar event which TOTALLY matches what I saw.  Sometimes I feel compelled to say a word or phrase to her and that thought is often going through her mind right at that exact moment.  I don’t get that with anyone else I work with … this is not a normal occurence in my room.  But it makes for very interesting sessions.  It has been a steep learning curve for me, I’m learning to let go and trust what I’m feeling, particularly when working with someone who lives totally intuitively.  The shifts happen when you can work together to let go of stress on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level and that is what V does.  I learn something about myself every time we work together and I look forward to every visit – it is certainly never, ever, ever dull.

If you’d like to find out a little more about craniosacral therapy, have a look at http://www.upledger.com/content.asp?id=61.

 

Up until about a year ago I volunteered regularly at Manly Waters Private Hospital, mainly working with palliative care patients but also with some of the post surgical and rehabilitation patients.  There I met some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever come across, both staff and patients. 

ImageStaff at Manly Waters Private Hospital, http://mhsmanly.com.au/

I was constantly amazed at how upbeat the staff were … ALWAYS!  They were cheeky and loud but at the same time caring and compassionate.  One of my most treasured memories (and believe me, there are many) was the day I went in to work with an elderly palliative lady, doing some nice, gentle massage to her lower body.  She wasn’t able to speak any more but was fairly alert still.  Her husband was visiting, happily settled in his chair reading the paper and doing his crossword.  In came one of the nurses who piped up “Mrs X, look at your hair, how about we give it a brush.  And look, here’s some perfume in your drawer, shall we put some of that on?”  Her face lit up.  What I love about that simple story is how just a random act of kindness can make such a difference.  This was no isolated story at Manly Waters.

I was honoured to be able to spend time with patients and their families at such an emotional time and I was able to get to know a few of the them over their last weeks.  The simple act of gentle touch was a small contribution I was able to make to help them with their pain or fear.  I was never told when a patient had passed on but I always knew, simply by the fact that I didn’t see them again.  It could be quite emotional for me when I realised someone was gone, but that made me aware of how amazing the staff at the hospital were – they built relationships and knew that they would lose patients and yet they were able to be cheerful, upbeat and positive. 

Massage is such a useful tool.  Even if a person is in pain throughout their body their feet and hands can be massaged, it’s a great thing to do to bring comfort to someone in hospital.  Anyone can do it, touch doesn’t need to be left to a professional to be beneficial.  So next time you visit someone in hospital, take along a little oil or use one of their creams and do a little massage for them, they will love it.

IVF is something I’ve not had a lot to do with.  Ever.  I’ve been very lucky, falling pregnant and carrying my babies to full term without any major complications.  I cannot imagine the roller coaster ride that is IVF and haven’t considered it too deeply before now.

I had a call last week from B, who has been on multiple rounds of IVF in the last year with a couple successful implants and two miscarriages.  How do you cope with that?  In B’s case, with calm determination and lots and lots of research into anything and everything, anything at all that may help.

Image

Now I know, as does any lymphatic drainage therapist, that lymphatic drainage has a direct effect on the hormones.  I had a real learning curve last week though.  B’s pregnancy hormone level was at 8, two months after her last miscarriage and D & C and it needs to be zero before the next round of IVF can start.  She called me at about 6 pm on Tuesday and her blood test to check her levels was scheduled for Monday (that’s today by the way) and her research had pointed out that lymphatic drainage would be helpful to reduce her pregnancy hormone levels.  I have not heard such a direct claim before but I was certainly willing to try and see what happened.

We had a treatment on Thursday.  After the treatment B was totally relaxed but asked if she could do some exercise, even though she was so zoned out she didn’t really feel like it.  I advised against anything more strenuous than a gentle walk and sent her off with instructions to drink lots of water and expect lots of trips to the bathroom.  On Saturday she came in for her follow up and reported that when she got home she made some dinner and sat down to relax but found that the nodes in her neck had blown up and she had a really bad sore throat that kept her awake that night.  And she went to the bathroom about twenty times between the time of treatment and the next morning! In the morning her throat was much better and after some light yoga she felt fighting fit again.

On Friday she had her regular appointment with her acupuncturist who reported that her chi was the highest he’d ever seen it!

B asked whether she should continue with lymphatic drainage if the implantation was successful – while there are contraindications about deep abdominal lymphatic work during pregnancy, MLD is usually considered safe during pregnancy.  However, because of B’s high risk of miscarriage I advised against it, certainly during the first trimester.  We can revisit the idea later and I’d probably insist on clearance from her medical team before I did any.  Just to be on the safe side I said I wouldn’t massage even while she waited to see if this round was successful.

B has promised to let me know how the tests went – haven’t heard yet, can’t wait.  If her levels are still detectable and they are unable to do this round of IVF then she will come back for a few more sessions before the next round.  Watch this space!

Absolutely everything!  And yet, most people have no idea what their lymphatic system does and how important it is to your everyday life.

Your lymphatic system is your first line of defense against infection.  When pathogens enter your system, eg, cold or flu virus, the lymphatic system kicks into gear, filtering out as many of the invading germs as possible.  At the same time T cells, B cells and natural killer cells are produced which are released throughout the body to “wipe up” the germs that managed to escape. (Obviously this is a very simplistic explanation.)  When you’re sick and go to the doctor one of the first things they do is check to see if your glands are up – basically, what they are checking is to see if the lymphatic system has started it’s job of protecting the body by producing extra antibodies – the nodes swell in response to the extra activity.  They may check your neck, armpit or groin area.  Remember in the last post I talked about clearing the main collections of nodes?  Those three areas are included when you are doing your own clearing.  They are also the easiest and most prominent collections to feel or see.

So, in relation to the immune system – what’s lymphatic drainage good for?

  • Those who have been “under the weather” and can’t seem to get on top of it
  • Those with immune disorders, eg, chronic fatigue, glandular fever (or Mono to those in the USA), or chronic conditions such as asthma (note, treatment cannot be given during a flare up of any condition)

Another big function of the lymphatic system is to remove interstitial fluid from tissue.  In simple terms the blood capillaries pick up waste material from tissue but they are not big enough to remove protein molecules so the lymphatic capillaries carry out that job.  If the lymphatics are not working properly and the protein isn’t removed from the tissue, the result is fluid collecting in the tissue.  The result? Swelling or odema.  Not pleasant.

In relation to fluid, what’s lymphatic drainage good for?

  • Reducing fluid retention post surgery, sprain/strain/bruising
  • Reducing symptoms of any fluid-related condition, eg, sinus (again, treatment cannot be administered during an infection, but once the acute phase is passed then it is very beneficial)
  • Lymphedema in all it’s forms, whether primary (usually inherited, it can appear at birth, during the teenage years or may come on later in adulthood) or secondary (after some sort of trauma to the nodes – surgery, radiation, accidents)

ImageLymphedema of the arm

The lymphatic system is also your detoxification system.  As mentioned earlier, the lymph carries away waste products from the tissue to the elimination organs – kidneys in particular.  So it is very helpful alongside any detoxification programs being undertaken.

Lymphatic drainage can help to normalise hormones, helping to reduce acne, or painful periods.  It can also help with hormone related headaches.

There are however, some absolute contra-indications to having lymphatic drainage and at the first consult with every client I see I take a detailed history.  Anyone with cardiac or renal insufficiency cannot be treated.  I will treat clients with other heart or kidney conditions, but depending on the case I will insist on a doctor’s referral.  If you’re in the acute phase of an illness (ie, you’re running a temperature, are absolutely streaming with snot, or have a raging rash) it is not advisable to have manual treatment of any type.

Who do I see most?  Women who have been through breast cancer mainly, but also melanomas, cervical or other gynecological cancers.  Some come along pre and post surgery.  Sinus issues present themselves fairly regularly too. I also see clients who are on a detox diet or regime, who want a little extra cleansing.  And there are some who come along just because they find it relaxing and it keeps their immune system in check.

 

Visit my website here to find out more about the other techniques I use

About 70% of what I do is lymphatic drainage. Strange then that I didn’t speak about it first up. Today’s the day.

And that’s prompted by a client I saw this week.  It was his third visit, but I hadn’t seen him over the Christmas/New Year period as he was busy.  He’s not my typical MLD client – they’re usually middle-aged women who have been through breast cancer.  He had some vascular surgery a couple months ago, the result of which was swelling and tightness in his calves and his surgeon suggested some MLD – that in itself is an unusual event – surgeons aren’t usually up on the benefits of MLD, a fantastic start to our relationship.  I find that when I treat blokes I go through the mechanics of how the treatment works and the rationale of the treatment, their minds like to see how things happen and it was no different with him.  We had planned weekly treatments at the start to bring the condition under control with the aim being to get to monthly sessions.

Yesterday when he came in, he seemed a little disgruntled.  When I asked how he felt after the treatments, he replied that he hadn’t noticed any change.  After I pointed out that we hadn’t done any work in three weeks and we have had blisteringly hot weather (41 degrees a few days prior) he calmed down a bit and I explained again the aim of what we were trying to do.

So.  In a case where there’s swelling in two legs (worse in one) post surgery, what is the plan?  Simple.  MLD is all about clearing the main collections of nodes in the body, then pushing fluid towards the cleared nodes.  Easy! But where are the main nodes I hear you asking (well, that’s what I would ask).  Here’s a brief biology lesson for you …

The most important nodes are at the base of the neck in the little triangle between your neck and your shoulder.  That’s where the lymphatic and venous systems join.  Here’s a photo (you have no idea how hard it is to find an appropriate one, so this is a selfie as I have a really prominent “triangle”).  You make small, gentle circles to open up the nodes.

Image

 

Next, we move to the axillas (that’s armpits to those not familiar with the correct terminology).  More circles there.  No need for a photo, we all know what those look like.  Then there are a number of deep lymphatics in the abdomen and finally the inguinals (when I explain what those are I usually say “along the panty line”).  In the graphic below (not a selfie!), I’ve put the red oval over the area …

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Once all the main nodes are cleared then I do some work in the chest and abdomen to make sure the trunk of the body is clear.

In the case of this client, the next step was to create a pathway away from the affected/damaged nodes in the inguinals up towards the axilla.  This encourages the body to create new lymphatic pathways, taking the pressure away from the affected area.  Once the pathway was established I started to clear the leg, from the topmost part, pushing fluid along the side of the body up towards the armpits, then working my way down the leg.  In a normal, remedial massage, the stroke usually starts from the bottom of the leg, pushing up towards the body.  With lymphatic drainage the direction is still up towards the body, but it’s done incrementally, starting from the top of the leg.  It’s like unblocking a drain – you clear the blockage then move little bits at a time so that you don’t reclog the area you just cleared.  As you work down the leg the tightness begins to release and the lymphatic flow increases.  The client can sometimes feel tingling or sensation as the fluid begins to flow again.  Heaven.  This whole process can take up to an hour, longer sometimes.  At the end of the treatment I clear the main nodes again, along the panty line, the abdomen, the armpits and the triangle at the base of the neck.

The result?  Less swelling, less tightness and less pain and lots of running to the bathroom!  Huh? Where did that come from?  Well, when you remove fluid from the tissue it rejoins the blood supply and is filtered through the venous system – through the heart then through the kidneys then, you guessed it, you find yourself running to the bathroom.

Next post – what can MLD be used for?  What are the other benefits?

Visit my website here to find out more about the techniques I use.