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Positional Release

Most people who have regular remedial or therapeutic massage in Sydney would probably prefer to have the therapist to get stuck into the muscles and the soft tissues. Certainly with our Sydney mobile massage business, deep tissue and deep pressure massage are more popular than Swedish or relaxation massage.
However, not all clients necessarily respond best to a stronger massage and recently I’ve some good results with incorporating positional release techniques within a session (particularly when the deep tissue techniques have not yielded the benefits that I would like to have seen).

Therapeutic relief through positional release techniquesPositional release is a gentle and relatively non-invasive technique that allows for pain relief effectively by the body healing itself. It relies on the use of placing the body or painful part of the body in a comfortable position so that myofascial trigger points can release.

Positional release can be incorporated into a remedial massage bodywork session to assist with reducing the pain for particularly stubborn area or it can be considered as a standalone session. In addition, once you have experienced pain relief from using positional release then it is possible to perform some level of self-positional release.
In order to perform positional release, then a therapist will locate the areas of dysfunction (most often affected by trigger points) and then they will manoeuvre the client’s body into such a position that the pain experienced from the trigger point is eliminated (or at least minimised). The client will stay in this position for up to 2-3 minutes (which may be assisted by the therapist supporting an arm, a leg or the head for example).

The philosophy behind of positional release is that painful muscles when put into such a position that they are shortened (without contraction) then the pain sensors within the muscle can in effect be “switched off”. The muscle may then be in a more relaxed state when the passive support is removed and the level of pain and discomfort can be decreased.

Self-Positional Release
If you are having problems with soreness in your neck then lie on your side on a pillow and using your fingers or thumb find a spot that is particularly tender. Often these points are just below the occiput (ie just under the bone of the skull at the back of the neck). Now very slowly and very easily move your head in different directions whilst monitoring the pain you are experiencing. You may need to tilt your head backwards, forwards or to the side or even rotate it in one direction. Hopefully you will move into such positions that the pain will be reducing – if you find that it is actually increasing then move in the opposite direction.

  
Once you have found a position such that the pain is minimised then support your head as much as possible in that position and just stay there for a couple of minutes (no need to keep monitoring the pain with your fingers at this time). Gradually ease yourself back into a normal position and hopefully your pain will be less. If you need to work on the opposite side then simply turn over and repeat.

Obviously never force your head into uncomfortable or strained positions whilst you are attempting to perform self-positional release and if you have any concerns regarding the pain and discomfort you are feeling, always consult a health care professional.

By Richard Lane

Dry Needling

If you have been a regular recipient of remedial massage over the years then there is a reasonable chance then at some stage you would have been offered the opportunity to try dry needling. More and more massage (and for that matter physiotherapists) in Sydney have been trained to provide dry needling. Some of the therapists who work with Inner West Mobile Massage are trained to provide dry needling treatments.

But what is dry needling, is it different to acupuncture and is it effective?
Deactivation of trigger points through use of dry needles in SydneyA technicial definition is that dry needling uses a variety of needling techniques to initiate change in soft tissue dysfunction which are the results of physiological loading causing inflammation or irritation of the soft tissue. A more normal description is that dry needling is used to de-activate trigger points in the muscles (for information regarding trigger points then there is more information here). The insertion of a needle is considered as being an effective way of relieving the pain and discomfort which may be attributable to the trigger point.

For a dry needling treatment, then a thin needle is inserted into the trigger point (which the therapist has identified through palpation). If the needle is positioned correctly then there will normally be a local twitch response, an involuntary reflex as the muscle fibres of the taut band of the trigger point contract.

As with any bodywork modality, the effectiveness of a dry needling treatment is directly related to the skill of the practitioner. Obviously just sticking needles into the muscles and hoping is not likely to provide good results. The therapists palpation skills and knowledge of anatomy are critical to the success of the therapy.

Dry Needling and Acupuncture
Although both modalities use needles to initiate healing for the body there is a distinct difference regarding the philosophy behind dry needling and acupuncture. Dry needling aims to reduce pain through the de-activation of trigger points. The needles are inserted into the trigger point but they are not left in the muscles for much more than a few seconds.
Acupuncture uses needles to enhance energy and chi flow through the meridians of the body. An acupunturist would normally leave the needles in the meridian points for an extended period of time.

Now whilst there is a huge underlying difference in the intent of the two modalities, there is also a significant area of commonality. It is often reported that there is an overlap of somewhere between 70-90% for trigger points and the meridian points used by acupunturists.

Effectiveness of Dry Needling
Research on the effectiveness and efficacy of dry needling is fairly limited. Some commentators will argue that many positive findings are based on small sample sized research studies which may or may not have flaws with respect to methodology. One of the major problems is similar to research studies into acupuncture: the skill, training and knowledge of the practitioner is a variable largely out of the control of researchers. Also most practitioners will vary their approach depending on issues that the client presents with and for them, there is no standard treatment.

  
Dry Needling – Inner West Mobile Massage
Whether or not dry needling can be clinically proven to provide pain relief through de-activation of trigger points may be considered as being a mute point anyway. The issue is whether it can work for you.

If you are interested in trying dry needling then a couple of the therapists who work with us are trained and qualified to offer this therapy. Give us a call on 0421 410 057 if you would like more information.

By Richard Lane


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