Balanced Bodies Massage in Port Melbourne and Doncaster

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Caucasian pregnant woman in black lingerie with back pain on gray studio background. Pregnancy concept

Lower back and hip pain during pregnancy.

Lower back and hip pain during pregnancy oftens occurs at the sacroiliac joint (tail bone area). There are various reasons why this happens, some of which include:

  • Weight gain- During a healthy pregnancy, women typically gain between 10-15kgs. Your spine must support this extra weight and as a result, can sometimes be over stressed and lead to lower back and/or hip pain. The weight of the growing baby and uterus can also put pressure on blood vessels and nerves in the pelvis and back, leading to nerve refferal symptoms and more commonly; sciatica.
  • Posture changes- Pregnancy shifts your center of gravity. As a result, you may gradually — even without noticing — begin to adjust your posture and the way you move. This may also result in back pain.
  • Hormone changes- During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birthing process. The same hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to hip instability and pain.
  • Muscle separation- As the uterus expands during pregnancy, it is not uncommon for some women to experience the separation that occurs at the abdominal muscles. This separation may also worsen back and/or hip pain.

The good news is, unless you suffered from chronic back/hip pain before pregnancy, your pain will likely ease gradually after you have given birth. But in the meantime, during your pregnancy, you may greatly benefit from receiving massage treatment to help alleviate the lower back/hip pain. Your massage therapist or myotherapist can provide relief through deep tissue massage, active stretching, trigger point massage and even dry needling. Education can be provided through core, glut and hip strengthening during pregnancy (as well as post) to help with the postural changes you will be experiencing.

Please note pregnancy massage can be provided at Balanced Bodies using the specialised pregnancy pillows which allow for women to lie comfortably on their stomachs, or in the side-lying position for maximum comfort during the later trimester. Pregnancy massage is typically recommended for women AFTER the first trimester where risks are normally minimised. All health concerns (previous and current) must be disclosed to your therapist before pregnancy treatment can commence.

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Acute pain in a shoulder at the young women. young girl keeps for a sick shoulder on a white background

“Shoulder Blade Pain”- Strain Or Joint Pain?

As a massage therapist, I have at least 80% of clients complaining “between the shoulder blade” pain, some of them blame the nagging knots around shoulder blade. But when people come in treating room, they like saying: I have muscle strain, I have tight traps , rhomboid…At the beginning of my remedial massage experience, I treated my clients according to their believes. But we all know that traps and rhomboid are all very superficial muscles, and… I seldom got a satisfied result. After three years studying and practicing, I realized it is not just muscle problem, especially for chronic pain, the muscle itself is usually not the culprit. Highly innervated joint capsules, spinal ligaments and nerve dural tension often play the pain generator role.

Most of the time, massage therapist work in and around the paravertebral back muscles. When working through the bulky erector spine muscles, our fingers can encounter small, hard and sometimes very tender knots . Hypertonic knots in the lamina groove indicate joint dysfunction and extremely tender iliocostalis muscle at the lateral rib angle informs that the rib may be torsion. So what is beneath the lamina groove that can make joint fixed? It is 4th layer transversospinalis muscles: multifidus, rotatores, levator costalis and intertransversarii,

Now when I palpate the knots and go deeper to loose and melt the 4th layer muscles, I finally can feel the unwinding sensation under my hands.

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The benefits of yoga.

Yoga was first introduced to the Western world around one hundred years ago and in the past thirty years it has become increasingly popular as a way to bring balance to both the mind and body. Not only is it an ideal way to escape from our hectic overstimulated modern lives but Western Science is now validating the physical benefits also. As well as being good for your general strength and flexibility Yoga can also help ease the symptoms of conditions such as Insomnia, Anxiety, Depression, Asthma and various Musculoskeletal conditions.

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Why it’s important to do your ‘Take-Home Exercises’!

What are take home exercises?
At the end of your treatment, your therapist may spend 5-10 minutes prescribing you a few exercises tailored to your needs. You may be instructed to do them in the morning, before bed or before/ after you exercise. These may include stretches, activation or strengthening exercises.
Why am I prescribed exercises and why is it important that I do them?
Your therapist could prescribe you exercises for a variety of different reasons, such as to:
• manage pain between treatments;
• strengthen weaker muscles that aren’t working correctly (and thereby causing other muscles to become overworked); or
• teach your body how to perform a movement correctly.
All with the goal to manage your pain and reduce your symptoms.

For example, if you’re suffering from knee pain and find that after treatment your pain is reduced, however during the week your pain increases again, your therapist may ask you to do some foam rolling or stretches at home. This will give you similar results to treatment and maintain the work that your therapist has done, so by the time your next treatment comes around you are not experiencing as much pain.
While your therapist can relieve over worked muscles that are holding a lot of tension, they cannot strengthen the weaker ones, that you need to do at home over a period of time.

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Cupping Therapy and its benefits!

Cupping therapy has been around for thousands of years. It is often used in conjunction with massage, to loosen soft tissue, and release tension through tight achy muscles. Vacuum cupping, which is the form most commonly used today, involves a vacuum pump, suctioning the cup onto the skin as shown in the picture above. There are many benefits using cupping therapy as a part of treatment such as:
• Increases blood flow and circulation to the muscles, which allows stagnant blood to be moved around and filtered.
• Eases pain and releases irritable areas on the body
• Relaxes the muscle and reduces tension through the body
• Draws out and releases toxins in the body
Cupping is well known for leaving red/ dark ‘bruises’ which may worry people. Cupping is not a painful therapy, and in fact, the marks are not bruises at all! A bruise is blood from the breakage of capillaries, which stays around the damaged tissues forming a red or purple bruise. Cupping marks however, are a result of stagnation and unwanted toxins drawn to the surface of the skin. The marks are not permanent either, so don’t panic! They usually take a few days to fade away, however the darker the mark the longer it will take. Cupping can be used for all types of aches and pains, leaving you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Consult your therapist today to discuss whether cupping is suitable for your needs!
Source: Pritchard, S. (2015). Tui na : A Manual of Chinese Massage Therapy. London : Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015.

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Headaches and how we can help!

“Tension” or “Stress” Headaches are the most common form of headaches around the world. They have the potential to cause mild, moderate or severe levels of pain, and can be very limiting or even debilitating to an individual’s health and general wellbeing. Tension Headaches cause a dull, often bilateral pain that can be felt in the head or neck area. Sufferer’s often describe the feeling as having a tight band or clamp around their head.

Studies have shown some inconsistency in the prevalence of headaches within the population, varying from a high of 71% to a low of 29%. However that “low” figure means that more than 1 in every 4 people are likely to suffer from some form of Tension Headache.

So if you suffer from Headaches, what can you do about it?

Seeing a Myotherapist or Remedial Massage Therapist can help to do more than just alleviate the symptoms. Using a variety of techniques such as Deep Tissue Massage, Trigger Point Therapy, Stretching, Dry-Needling, Cupping, Corrective Exercise and/or Postural and Myofascial Taping, your therapist can work with you to reduce both the severity of the Headache Symptoms, and the frequency of the Headaches as well.

Your Therapist can help with education about what may be “triggers” for your Headaches and how you might reduce the impact of them. Things like ergonomic workstation setup, posture correction and stress management, can all be part of the management plan that you and you therapist can develop to help combat the Headaches. Together with your therapist your headaches could be a thing of the past!
(Data sourced from Headaches Australia.)

Ross Smith- Myotherapist

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Massage and Sickness

Massage and Sickness… What’s best for me?


Massage increases circulation throughout the body.  With increased circulation and manipulation of the muscles, it releases and/or pushes metabolic waste through your system faster than normal.  Have you ever gotten a massage and noticed about halfway through you might be getting a little congested?  That is something is often quite common.

That is a sign your body is ridding itself of waste, it gets a little backed up in the sinuses.  When you are already dealing with symptoms in the early stages of the sickness, the massage can increase your symptoms and make you feel worse.  Your body is already having to fight off the virus, you don’t want to be adding to it.  Best idea is to stay home and rest.  If you are too sick to go to work, probably too sick to get a massage.

There are some benefits of having massage when sick if you can deal with it.  Make sure you are past the initial, acute stage of the sickness. Never come in for a massage if you are contagious.  That is just being considerate of your therapist and the other clients.  A massage can actually speed up your recovery time.

That is, if you don’t mind experiencing the full-blown symptoms of the sickness over 3-4 days by having the massage push everything through your body, as opposed to letting it happen naturally at a slower rate over 1-2 weeks. If you have been coughing a lot, odds are your chest, upper back and neck muscles are very tight. Massage will help relax these areas, and can sometimes help break up any trapped phlegm/mucous in your respiratory system.  It can also relieve any headaches or sinus pressure you may still be having.

Our recommendations for getting a massage when sick:

If you have the flu: stay in bed
Fever, Nauseous, or Contagious: stay in bed
If it is a bad cold: wait until post-acute stage
Minor Cold: Massage is okay.  Pack your nostrils with tissue, you’ll be fine.

Use your best judgement on this one, everyone is different and there are different levels of sickness.

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3 Great Reasons why massage is fantastic for pregnancy!

Today we look at three reasons why  massage is fantastic for pregnancy including hormone regulation, reduction of swelling and improvement of nerve pain.

Hormone regulation

Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when massage therapy was introduced to women’s prenatal care. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).

These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence points strongly to maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.

Reduction of swelling

Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.

Improvement of nerve pain

Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through regular massage.

As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider. The best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals.

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Massage for a Healthy Heart

Regardless of age, a massage treatment from a qualified therapist can reduce stress, cause relaxation and enhance over all wellbeing. A good massage can stimulate the nerve endings in skin, release endorphins (the feel good hormones) and inhibit the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Blood will circulate more efficiently, blood pressure will drop and heart rates will slow down.

A number of long-term studies have shown that a consistent massage program can decrease blood pressure- and maintaining a healthy blood pressure can contribute to lowering the odds of one having a heart attack. Furthermore by releasing the stress in tight muscles you will be able to move and breathe freely- a good source of oxygen will be good for your heart and your mind.

Our massage therapists are highly trained in their discipline and can effectively relieve the tension in your body, help to remove toxins and reduce overall stress. Balanced Bodies recommends the other healthy practices such as exercise, healthy eating and work life balance as well as incorporating a regular massage into your regime as a way to look after your heart most effectively.

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