For the love of trigger points

Your beautiful body is connected via many, many different chains and pathways. A disruption in one chain can interrupt a number of paths, and cause pain elsewhere in the body. This is seen often with trigger point referral patterns.

What is a trigger point referral pattern, you ask?

It is probably what is causing your pain. It is a precise pattern of pain elicited by an active trigger point. A trigger point is a hyperirritable palpable spot in a taut band of muscle. In other words: a knot. Referral patterns have been documented by Travell and Simons and your massage therapist know them all too well.

Many of these referral patterns span the body, away from the trigger point site. What does this mean to you? It means that your headache might be caused by your back or neck, your back pain from your glutes, or your carpel tunnel pain from your elbow, shoulder or neck!

Take a look at these common patterns.Glute Medius Trigger Point - Ottawa Massage Blog Subscapularis Trigger Point - Ottawa Massage Blog Upper Trap Trigger Point - Ottawa massage blog

An RMT can help determine where the epicentre of pain is, and provide trigger point therapy for relief. When we get muscular pain, we initially think the massage should focus on the precise area of the pain, but it is important to get other areas addressed to pin-point where the dysfunction is. For your first treatment, it is good to get a general treatment as a preliminary scan of which muscles may be causing the pain; then a few follow-up appointments can be used to focus directly on the source of pain.

Discuss trigger points with your therapist at your next massage treatment.

The smooth beauty of hot stone massage

Derek Neimor - Ottawa Massage BlogBy: Derek Neimor, RMT
Derek is an RMT at Body Poets in Ottawa, but he grew up on the rocky shores of Newfoundland. His childhood experiences and RMT training led him to a love of hot stone massage.

Fall is my favorite season, bar none. While the changing leaves are spectacular, my true obsession with the fall is the sun. This is the only time of year I will seek out the sun, the warmth, offset by cool air and a slight breeze. Though most of the sun’s warmth has disappeared for this year, it still brought back memories. Hot Stone - Ottawa Massage BlogIn another life, growing up in Newfoundland, I took my love for the fall sun one step further by spending many afternoons hiking in the barrens and on the cliffs searching for the perfect spot to have a little afternoon nap.

What I was searching for was a sun-warmed bed of rocks.

Not any old bunch of rocks would do: they needed to be smooth, no jagged edges, and all of them roughly the same thickness. I did not want any pokey bits! I also needed to find the one rock I would use for a pillow; it would sit in the crook of my neck keeping everything in alignment. I was always thrilled when I found a spot that was laid out ready for use and no need for rearrangement, but that was a rare occurrence. Then it was time to get cozy, settle in to those warm rocks and close my eyes and let my mind drift.

When I eventually got up, I always felt great and at ease, in mind and body.

I looked back on those afternoons very fondly; however, due to changing circumstances and responsibilities, it had been a long time since I last enjoyed a nap on a bed of rocks. Then a few years ago while I was training to be a massage therapist, I heard about hot stone massage … and my interest was piqued immediately.

Derek Hot Stone - Ottawa Massage BlogThe thought of using hot stones to give a massage seemed so right, so complete; there could not be a more perfect combination of tool and application to use it.

Through study, I learnt that hot stones can help achy muscles and arthritic pain due to the direct and long-lasting heat obtained. Heat also has great effect on circulation, so those suffering from Raynaud’s or other circulatory system disorders can benefit from regular hot stone massage.

Now, as I treat, it is just as I imagined: holding the heated rocks in my hands brings me back to those nourishing afternoon naps and I seem to carry that seed of tranquility during the massage that I am performing. I feel invigorated, yet peaceful, and able to

share that restorative experience with my client through the medium of each smooth, perfect, basalt stone.

My first Thai massage experience

ottawa massage blog - emilie RMTBy: Emilie McKay, RMT
Emilie is a registered massage therapist at Body Poets Massage Therapy and, as of recently, a Thai massage enthusiast.

It has been a few weeks now, but the effects have lasted.  My first Thai massage was an experience perfectly described as a balance between complete relaxation and complete body awareness.  How could that even be?  On reflection, I found many elements that helped make the Thai massage a therapeutic and nurturing experience, and I’d really like to share them.

I didn’t know much about Thai massage prior to my treatment.  I knew the differences it has from Swedish massage – you remain fully clothed, the treatment is performed on floor mats – and I knew some key similarities between the two types of massage – stress reduction, increased mobility, decreased muscle tension – but I still didn’t have a full understanding of the therapy in my head. I knew I had to experience it first-hand (pun intended) to truly grasp the concept.

My Thai massage therapist was my colleague, Crystal Veinot, RMT. As we began, I sat cross-legged on the mat, and the smooth music and ambient lighting brought my mind into a space of relaxation. But then a thought popped into my head.  How on earth am I going to keep this posture up?  I must confess – I don’t always have good posture (I’m working on it!).  My shoulders gravitate inwards and my back begins to arch. I was a little worried. How was I supposed to relax when I was trying to keep myself in a position not favourable to my body?

Thai Massage - OttawaEnter Crystal.  One of the first things she did in the treatment was place her hip along my spine and her bent knee beside me. Then she gently took my arm and draped it over her bent knee. There I rested – upright, in great posture, but completely relaxed.  At that moment, I knew I was in good hands.

As I dozed in and out of the rest of the treatment, I began to notice my own restrictions (I guess we all have them). Shoulder imbalances that I wasn’t aware of came to the forefront of my mind.  The passive movement of Thai massage let me feel what it is like to move my body without contracting muscles. It unearthed underlying restrictions that were masked by my muscular contraction. Not only did it unearth these restrictions, but it helped release them.  As the treatment went on, I could feel my shoulders becoming more open and which movements encouraged them to do so.

As my treatment ended, I had a sense of mobility and structure.  Crystal and I talked about the treatment and what we found in regards to limitations.  We also talked about how I can improve those limitations and what to be more aware of as I go through the day-to-day.  All in all, it was a great treatment.  A few weeks later, I am still feeling that mobility and am tuning in to postural habits that are causing those imbalances.

Thai MassageI would definitely recommend a Thai massage for those who want to fully experience movement.  By taking out the table factor, Thai massage can bring the body into planes of movement not easily addressed with Swedish massage.  It was a great experience and I can’t wait for my next one.