Back In The Saddle Again …

I have played this tune before.

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I’m going back to work with Emerald Coast Massage Specialists. Teddy Andreadis, one of the owners there and my best business friend, if not best friend full stop, called me the other day to say they have relocated.

Their new facilities are larger and much more convenient, as far as getting in and out of the parking lot, and really, as far as just finding the place. They are a bit farther from the beach now, at 3076 Gulf Breeze Parkway, in the Breeze Shopping Plaza, and not in Gulf Breeze proper. So far that seems to have made little difference. When people need a massage, they are willing to drive an extra five minutes to get it.

Massage is by appointment only. Just call 850-934-4440 and tell Teddy, or me, or whoever answers the phone who you are, what sort of massage you would like, and when you want to come in. 

Or you can always call me – 850-292-1440 – and I’ll help you get an appointment at the office. Of course, I can also make arrangements to come to your place, if you prefer, set up my table, and sort out your muscles in the privacy of your home or office.

So whether you live in the Pensacola area or are just here for the sun, fun, and sugar white sand, give me a call. You’ll be glad you did.

That is all.

Mark out.

A Trigger Point Is Not Where Roy Rogers’ Horse Stands

I frequently mention trigger points in these ramblings, as in, who has them, and where they are located, and the treatment thereof, though always in passing, as if I assume everyone knows what a trigger point is.

Every good massage therapist knows this, of course, but I should say a few words about trigger points for everyone else, so I will.

You have them, and by you I mean anyone reading this. Trigger points are merely places in everyone’s musculature that get wrapped up too tightly from time to time, and grab hold of nerves and squeeze them so that the nerves think they are supposed to do something, so they clench any other muscles they might be attached to.

So then what happens is, you’ve got a whole bunch of muscles clenched for no good reason, which, even if it isn’t actually painful, makes a person feel unnecessarily tight and stressed.

All these trigger points are located in about the same places on everybody’s body. But the good news is that not all your trigger points are clenched at any given time, and in fact most of them are not clenched at all on most people, and then too, there are degrees of clenchiness.

For instance, if I push on a trigger point and the client whimpers, I can be pretty sure that that trigger point (and let’s call it a TPT from now on, like I do in my client notes) is wrapped up pretty tightly and will need some serious sorting out in order to let go, assuming the client can stand the discomfort.

Because the way I sort out a TPT is to mash the dickens out of it, with a thumb, finger, elbow, or possibly knee, though I have never had to go that far.

Mashing the TPT further stimulates already overstimulated nerves within the TPT, eventually to the point that the nerve is so overstimulated it literally cannot take anymore and gives up, releasing not only the muscle it innervates, but also the muscles that are innervated by nerves that THAT muscle was squeezing and causing to clench.

These other muscles that the TPT is making clench could be several inches or even farther away. If the TPT is squeezing the nerves that go to this distant muscle hard enough to cause discomfort, we call that ‘referred pain.’

Even if the client doesn’t feel the pain in that distant location in the normal course of things, very often he or she will feel it keenly when I squeeze the TPT. There is a TPT, a cluster of them in fact, right at the top of the shoulder, where the trapezius attaches, which, when pressured, the client will feel up the neck to the ear and scalp, or down the shoulder and arm to the fingers, or both.

In fact, most of the active TPTs I find are in the shoulders and upper back, and that is not surprising since that’s where all of us keep our tension.

Another really likely spot, especially for folks with low back pain and stiffness, is in the QL, the quadratus lumborum. This is the most posterior, that is, farthest back, abdominal muscle. In fact it’s so far back it’s right up against the very lowest bunch of muscles that border both sides of the spine.

And so quite often I find really strong, nasty TPTs underneath the lower spinal muscles, between the top of the sacrum and the lowest ribs. These TPTs really hurt when I have to mash them, and I usually warn the client that I’m going in after them.

But when I do get those suckers to let go, the whole back relaxes, bottom to top, sacrum to cranium.

Of course I do have clients who can’t take that kind of pain, or prefer not to, and for them I will coddle the nastier TPTs, stroke and caress rather than pin down and maul into submission. Usually I can get the TPT to let go somewhat if  I give it a lot of time and patience, but the release is never as complete as if I slammed it full force.

Still, if that’s what the client wants, that’s what I will do. 

Another place I find a lot of active TPTs is in the gluteal muscles, as in the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and so on. These are wide, strong, thick muscles at the center of the body. Everyone’s big bits pivot around the gluteals – both of the legs, as well as the whole torso, so of course this area is going to be stressed, even if you do nothing but sit down and stand up all day.

When the glutes are strained, tense, hypertonic, they feel tough and crinkly beneath the skin, like old leather that has got wet and then dried. If I feel that, I know there are active TPTs in the gluteal.  These are not hard to find because they feel like little clumps of weeds, or like half a small grape.

And fortunately, most gluteal TPTs are quick to release, though not always.

But when released, whether it’s one or two, or eight or nine (yes, unfortunately I have seen this) the TPTs let go of the entire rest of the muscle, and then the entire cheek, to use the vernacular, can rest easy. The difference in texture that I feel in the overall muscle tone, once the TPTs are silent, is quite literally that between stiff leather and silk.

Now most people don’t even know they have the stress they do, or at least to the extent they do. I often hear people say they had no idea they hurt so much until I touched them in those spots.

Which is quite all right. Because when it quits hurting, even if you didn’t realize it was hurting until it wasn’t anymore, it feels ever so much better.

Doesn’t it?

That is all.

Mark out.

If It Feels Good …

I spent all day Saturday giving half-hour massages at a clinic on Nine Mile Road. It was a great experience, despite the two no shows.

And I can’t really imagine that – not showing up for a massage. Sure, miss your procto exam, totally space that two-hour root canal thing, forget you agreed to meet your life insurance agent for coffee, but not show up for a massage?

You get a massage because it feels good! Doesn’t it?

I’ve never had one that didn’t. Even amateur massage feels good; even when Sean used me for a test dummy for Sports Massage class and twisted me up like a pretzel and did something called the Peanut Grinder on me, even THAT felt good once I decided he really didn’t intend to leave me permanently with my left foot behind my right ear.

Intentional, therapeutic, goal-oriented touch feels good, and it’s good for you.

But unfortunately there’s a pseudo philosophy or quasi-ethos whose main principle is that what feels good probably isn’t good for you, and conversely that in order to feel good one has to first feel bad. Sometimes the espousers of this philosophy are correct, though not always.

Alcohol and recreational drugs, and even prescription drugs, make you feel good but they really aren’t good for you. Junk food makes you feel good for a bit, but definitely isn’t good for you. (I do draw the line at Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, which, if taken in moderate doses, will in fact make one immortal.)

Then of course I could talk about sex, or TV, or films, or trashy novels, or the internet, all of which have abuse potential, along with the potential to make us feel good, if only temporarily.

And then there is medicine, and the practice thereof. Its entire reason for being is to make us feel good, or to get us back up to functional normal. But a lot of the stuff medical doctors, chiropractors, psychiatrists, acupuncturists, dentists and so on do to us in the course of treatment doesn’t feel good at ALL.

They tell us it’s just a pinch; there may be a bit of nausea/swelling/discomfort; when I shoot this in you may experience something similar to burning napalm in your rectum; this may taste exactly like toxic factory waste, but it’s for your own good!

It’s as if the more horrific the treatment, the surer the cure, and I just don’t buy that.

Sure I get down deep in clogged up, jacked up muscles, and sort them out. Every therapist I know does. You should hear Ted’s clients yelling some mornings. But they love him and they come back week after week, and frankly I think the yelling is just to reassure Ted that the client appreciates what he’s doing, and that he’s on target.

But feeling better can feel good right from the start, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You don’t have to suffer, or feel bad in order to feel better. The protagonist’s descent into hell and subsequent renewal is great as metaphor and as story device, and some really good authors have used it.

Only you don’t have to. Go find a massage therapist and tell him or her, or me for that matter, that you want to feel better NOW.

Chances are he or she or I will sort you out straight away, and send you off a bit drained but all smiles.

That is all.

Mark out.



In Business, and Another Note on Neck Muscles

The shiny new car has shiny new business signs. If you can’t read the bottom line, it’s the address of this blog.

I’ve caught people glancing a few times, but I’m never sure if they’re looking at the sign or the shiny red paint job – both, I hope.

That aside, someone reminded me that I left out a most important neck muscle when I was talking about that the other day. Not that I intended my ramble to be exhaustive, but I should have mentioned the trapezius.

It’s sort of  your super neck and upper back muscle, stretching across your shoulders and down between your shoulder blades. It’s very strong but also very thin, and it moves and stretches in so many different directions, it, or parts of it, can get fatigued quite quickly and easily.

Anyway, the self-treatment is the same as for other muscles – heat, slow stretches, relaxation. But because it’s more a sheet of muscle than a band or a cord, the way I treat it is somewhat different. In addition to superficial stroking, I can get under the edges of the muscle and roll the tissues between my thumb and fingers, to separate and relax the fibers.

So back to business – I have mentioned somewhere or other that I’ll be working in and around Pensacola, but I thought I should say that again, and maybe even find a spot along the sideboards here to say that, and put my phone number and email address.

I know that might lead to receiving a lot of spam and calls I don’t want, but it might also lead to appointments, and I get quite a bit of spam as it is so a bit more won’t hurt.

My phone, as you see on the car, is 850-686-7316, and my email address is mnicho8710@aol.com.

I’m doing outcall, but I also have a table at Emerald Coast Massage Specialists office in Gulf Breeze. It’s right on Gulf Breeze Parkway just at the edge of Gulf Breeze proper. I’ll do a full post about that later, but you can call or email to set an appointment and see me there as well.

That is all.

Mark out.