Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why Does My Neck Crack?

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One question I get asked most often a few days after a massage, is why is my neck or back cracking so much when I move?

The answer is pretty simple.  The short answer is that it happens as we age.  It doesn't have to, but in the US the average diet, lifestyle and poor body mechanics make this a common sign of aging.

More often than not, when someone comes to see me they are overly tight and many of the micro joints in their neck, back, shoulder girdle and jaw are not able to move.  The longer this is allowed to go on, the more it can severely limit lymphatic flow which can set off a chain reaction of chronic pain and serious illness.

In the course of a massage treatment I introduce the process of unwinding patterned tightness and draining the lymphatic system.  At this point the joints are often ready to move back into place with some stretching or gentle compressions.  If my client comes in with an already limited amount of fluid in their joints from age, then this process is almost always accompanied by cracking.

The most common reason that clients may not have been experiencing the cracking before they come in for a session, is because their body is too locked down on the joints for them to move.

In the US almost everyone over 30 has some of the cracking sounds, also known as crepitus, that gets worse with age.  If you have less fluid in your joints and you don't crack when you move, you are probably much too tight.  My regular clients crack regularly, because they have good mobility due to the massages they receive. As long as the cracking is not accompanied by pain this is perfectly normal.

It is important to note that back, neck and shoulder cracks that are painful are a different story and should be investigated.

Your spine, neck and rib cage are made up of multiple joints that make it possible to turn, hunch, hug, rotate and do all kinds of motions.  There are 3 main types of joints:  fibrous (fixed), cartilaginous (stiff but flexible) and synovial (sacks of fluid.)  In the spine for instance, the discs between each vertebrae are synovial and the little knobby things are cartilaginous.

It would fill a very thick text book to go into all the locations and types of joints you have in your body.  Suffice it to say, that any place that you can move, includes a joint.  There are many micro joints that most people are unaware of.  Some of these are in the front and back of your ribs and all through your neck and jaw.

There is not yet a good understanding of how these joints receive nutrients but in young healthy people up to 80% of the cartilage and almost all of the synovial fluid is water.  When joints are out of place or when you are "holding" in an area of your body you are limiting crucial access of both water and oxygen that your muscles and joints need.  Over time these joints, which are in almost constant motion, begin to loose fluid and elasticity which causes the movement to be hard.  The two bones move against each other and as they move in to position they crack.

Early in life, if you were born healthy, most of your joints were fairly quiet even when they were in constant motion. As you age and allow your muscles to develop chronic over- tightness your joints start to loose their elasticity. The joints then start to snap, crackle and pop and these sounds get louder as your joints become more and more dehydrated

To Contact Jan Olds Click Here

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor nor do I play one on the internet.  This should article should not be a replacement for professional medical care.

Copyright © Essential Stillpoint 2013

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ten Tips to Get the Most From Your Lymph Massage


1.     Take your time and find a therapist that is a good fit for you.  Do your research and ask potential therapists about their qualifications.  There are many fresh out of school therapists who list lymph massage as a specialty to get  internet traffic.  Often they are not trained in lymph work or the training is minimal.  If you have lymphedema or a compromised lymph system it may be best to find an experienced therapist.

If you simply want to boost your lymph system and you have a less than dire need for lymph massage, it may suite you to work with a less experienced therapist.  If this is the case it is best to make sure they are charging a fee that corresponds with their experience.  Everyone needs to have the opportunity to learn but that should be figured into the cost. 

Another thing to keep in mind, in looking for a lymph worker, is that many people complete massage school but don’t actually work full time as a massage therapist.  They may say that they have 10 years of experience but what they mean is they graduated massage school 10 years ago and may not have done very many massages.  When it comes to lymphatic therapy, experience of bodies under your therapist’s hands does matter!

Even if you do not live in the Utah or Salt Lake area I am happy to help offer ideas on how to find a qualified therapist in your area.  Feel free to leave a comment or private message me.

2.     Hydrate well several days before your session.  Hydrated tissue is easier to work with and  essential in moving the lymphatic system.

3.     Eat a light meal a few hours before your session (unless you are on a fast or a cleanse.)  Being hungry during the massage can be a distraction.  Also, when the deep lymphatic is draining, it can cause a gurgling in your abdomen, which can create discomfort if you are hungry.

4.     Give yourself extra time to get to your appointment.  If you are in a hurry chances are you will launch your body into a stress response and arrive tight and frazzled.

5.     Use the Restroom before the session and ask to go during the session if necessary.  Lymphatic work will move much more fluid than the standard Swedish massage and there is no reason to spoil your session with that kind of discomfort.

6.     Communicate during the massage.  Let your therapist know if there is pain, discomfort or if something is frightening.  Also let them know if something feels particularly good.  I have several clients who like to be very still on the table.  I have them tell me “ouch” or give some kind of sound that indicates if it feels good or is hurting.  That way they don’t have to engage in conversation unless they want to and I still get important feedback.

7.     Be aware of your breathing.  While you are on the massage table make sure you are not hyperventilating or holding your breath.  Breathing is essential to relaxation, and relaxation is essential to eliminating body tension and draining the lymphatic system.

8.     Relax you muscles and your mind.  Tightening up by contracting or hardening your muscles during the massage is counterproductive.  If you find your thoughts are racing during the session, one way to be more aware is to focus on the sensations of the touch and/or focus on breathing in and out of the area that is being worked on.

9.     Drink lots of extra water after your massage.  If you have received adequate lymph work the draining and releasing can last for 2-5 days after the massage and it is wise to double your water intake.  If you experience soreness…there is a good chance you are not drinking enough.

10.  Be prepared to schedule several lymphatic massage sessions.  Lymphatic massage works best when received frequently as the therapeutic benefits are cumulative.  The more often you get a lymph massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond.  The chronic patterns of stress in the body are often layered and it can take some time to work through those layers to uncover and address the original cause.

Additionally, if you have a soft tissue injury this may take more than one session to resolve.

copyright © Essential Stillpoint 2013