Keep in Touch - A Poem

(Originally appearing on EmbodyGrace.com, 9/22/08, and copied here with permission)

When wishing to convey
   affection for another
Whether friends or college roommates
    a sister or a brother
after all goodbyes are said
   and we kiss and hug and such
We wave our hands and wipe our tears
    and say "Let's keep in touch!"

So let us now consider 
   exactly what we mean
And try our best to thus address
   and benefit and glean
from a topic oft ignored
   a mighty subject unexplored
the concept we embrace so much
   the mighty power we call touch

Connections are essential
   for living things to grow
Within connective pathways
   the breath of life doth flow
From simple to complex
   cells unite as one

A fabric held together
   connected one-by-one
And what provides the strength
   Much stronger than a crutch
The blessing of connection 
   Maintained in constant touch

This act of touch, though physical
   goes far and way beyond
Simply sensing pressure
   maintained within a bond
There's more than simple nerve cells
   talking to the brain
Registering pleasure
   or registering pain

Think of touch more like a bridge
   whereby emotions cross
Carrying their messages
   when words are at a loss
Sharing thoughts much deeper
   and weightier by much
Words alone could ne'er convey
   The truths found in our touch

Transmitting and receiving
   a silent communique'
Revealing all our true intent
   no matter what we say
The need to be connected 
   the need called 'sense of place'
A basic need we all must heed
   throughout the human race
Is sought by those who feel apart
   from loved ones and from friends
It's touch that keeps them in our hearts
   and touch affection sends

So when I say "Let's keep in touch"
   what I'm really saying
Is I value our connection
   and wish that you were staying
But if our paths should separate
   and if depart you must
Then again, I'll say my friend,
   "God bless, and KEEP IN TOUCH!"

©2008 Wm. Bryan


{ For an appointment, please call 484.798.8029, or email: triscale@verizon.net }

Concerning Knee Pain

 "A point that pivots by degree  

       is how one best describes the knee,

             but the more we look, the more we'll see

                   the simplest form's complexity!"

 

Knees are tricky things. But you wouldn't know it to look at them. I mean, on the outside, they look like nothing more than just a big hinge. But when there's a problem with that 'hinge', your whole life can change. Stair climbing, walking outdoors, even getting up out of a chair becomes a chore, and an uncomfortable one at that!

So let's talk about your knee ... shall we?

For those of you with an appreciation for mechanics, your knee is your basic class C lever       

In the case of your knee, the hinge is where your femur (your thigh bone) meets the two bones just below it (the tibia and the fibula). This hinge is protected in the front by the knee cap (your patella). And the whole assembly is cushioned by a 'shock absorber' (your meniscus) and held together by a series of ligaments, which criss-cross and wrap around the juncture so as to be able to accept force from any number of directions.

 And powering this lever... this hinge... are your body's most powerful muscle groups: the 'Quads' (vastus lateralis, medialis, longissimus and rectus femoris) and the 'Hamstrings' (biceps femoris).

 You Don't Need to Know That for the Test!

But the reason I point all this out, is because if you have knee pain, it can be caused by a lot of things. Yes, you could have a torn meniscus, or a strained ACL or PCL (ligaments inside the knee joint), which are very serious injuries that should be looked at by those much more knowledgeable and qualified than yours truly. BUT ...

...sometimes it's a problem with the two muscle groups previously mentioned. Sometimes (but not always) the ache you are feeling in and around the knee cap is the result of trigger-points in either the quads or the hamstrings

This is because the attachment sites for the muscles that bend your lower leg are all in the knee area. Even the IT-band (powered by the small muscle- tensor fascia latte) attaches down at the knee. So any tightness in these muscles will transfer right to the knee, sometimes mimicking a much worse condition.

Some Things to Look For

f you have an injury to the meniscus or any of the ligaments (the ACL, the PCL, the LCL, etc.) you'll almost always experience swelling. That's the first clue for you to bypass me and go straight to your friendly neighborhood doctor's office, where you will then be guided to the department of the x-ray and MRI department. (Really, these are great tools, and it's worth knowing exactly what you're dealing with!)                                                                                                                                        

Another good indicator is if it feels worse the more you use it. Like, if you rest it for a while, and it starts to feel better, but then, as soon as you attempt to put weight on it, it sends a sharp signal to your brain which, being interpreted, means "No Friggin' Way, Jose'!". Again, make an appointment with your doctor and have it checked out. Even if it's NOT a serious injury, it's always best to rule that out before trying alternative treatments. And if it IS a serious injury, well ... as much as I'm not a huge fan of surgery ... sometimes it's all you can do, especially in the case of torn soft-tissue(s) within the knee.

When a Negative is a Positive

The best scenario is when someone comes to me and says, "Well, they ran all the tests, and everything came back negative! There's no tears in the meniscus, there's no tears in the ligaments, everything showed up 'fine'! So now what?"

"Now," says I, "we explore the quads, the hamstrings and the IT band ... which is the easiest way to repair knee pain." Usually the problem isn't scar tissue as much as it is trigger-points. First, we'll locate the offending fibres within the belly of the muscle. Then, by using STR (soft tissue release) techniques, we'll work on opening the trigger-point(s), thereby reducing the amount of tension on the attachment site of the muscle (which also happens to be where the nociceptor, or specialized-pain-nerve is), thus restoring full range of motion to the 'hinge'.

Tada! It's that simple! 

Well ... sometimes it's that simple. Other times it takes three to five sessions to get everything opened up, depending on the severity of the condition, and how long it's been like that. For example, a problem that just started showing up last week will be much easier to remedy than one that's been there for ... oh ... say 'since Hector was a pup'!

Success is sweet!

 I've had athletes, especially runners, come to me with knee pain, fearing the worse. "Am I gonna need surgery? Am I going to be able to run in the 5k next month? Am I gonna die?!" My answer to those questions is, respectively ... "Probably not. Hopefully. And definitely... but hopefully no time soon!"

I'm thinking of three cases in particular, all within the past year, where the clients (two males, one female) experienced full recovery simply by releasing the trigger points in the quads and biceps. No pain meds. No injections. No surgery. Just good old fashioned logic and body work. (Man, I love my job!)

                        "So if there's pain down in your knee

                              the cause may not be plain to see.

                                   Don't wait 'til you're in agony-

                                        bring your troubled knee to me!"  


{ For an appointment, please call 484.798.8029, or email: triscale@verizon.net }

This is a "Stiff-Necked" Generation!

It's interesting to listen to the words we use when describing how we feel about things. Expressions like "Going for the throat" and "My boss is a pain in the neck" are spoken allegorically. But are they really just metaphors, or is there some truth to it ... literally speaking.

Your Emotional Highway

There are many reasons that the muscles in the back of the neck can tighten, not the least of which involves your physical posture. How we sit while driving or while working at the computer, or how you sleep play a key role in back and neck strain. Many who develop 'head forward' posture are completely unaware of what's happening to them unntil the problem becomes obvious, and difficult to correct.

Did you know that the average human head ways between 10 and 12 pounds? And that for every inch the head is forward, it gains ten-pounds (relatively speaking) in weight, so that, if your head is pitched just two-inches forward, your neck muscles must now hold up the equivalent of a 30 to 32 lb. weight? That would certainly explain whay our necks are so tired by the end of the day.

But there is more that effects the neck than the physical forces of nature (posture, gravity, old or recent injuries, etc). There are these things called emotions that have a profound affect on our physiology.

Elusive, hard to track and stealth like, emotions can not be filmed, measured, or quantified. But oh! what an impact they have on your being, and especially the neck.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which focuses on Qi Meridians, and equates these meridians with various emotions, shows the back of the neck as being the only place on the body where ALL the meridians pass through at once. This would make the back of our necks a super-highway, of sorts, of our emotions. Is it any wonder that when we start to feel afraid the hair on the back of necks 'stands-up'?

"What a Pain in the Splenius Cervicus!"

You see, muscles have several jobs to do. They provide mobility, yes ... and, by contraction and relaxation help regulate body temperature ... but wait! There's more!! Muscles provide protection.

Let's say my good friend of many years, having buddied with me since grade-school, and having earned my trust since childhood ... decides to sucker punch me. (It's a guy thing ...) If I see it coming, what will I instinctively do? Yup... I will immediately tighten my stomach muscles (rectus abdominus and the obliques) because tightened muscles are like armor. In fact, when we 'brace for impact', its our muscles (and fascia?) that contract to keep us safe.

The problem is, our body doesn't know the difference betwen a real threat (i.e. someone waving a club at you) and a perceived threat (i.e. being afraid that someone may wave a club at you for coming home to late after staying out all night with 'the boys' ... for instance ... just sayin' ...) Anyway, I digress ...

The fact is, what we think about something translates into what we feel about it. And what we feel about it translates into our physiology (as posture or some other reaction). So if I believe I'm being attacked at the office via corporate politics, the back of my neck is going to tighten up just as if it were guarding me from a central park mugger.

But Fear Not, For Help is on the Way!

 Fortunately, whether the back of the neck is tight from a muscle spasm that's guarding an injury, or tight from fear, worry and other types of stress ... the solution is the same! In fact, people do it to themselves all the time, just not as effectively.

When your neck is tight, and its making you tired and starting to actually cause a head-ache, what do you instinctively do? That's right ... you reach around with your hand and start to self massage the muscles that run from your shoulders to the base of your skull. And why do you do that? Because your body is telling you that it wants those muscles to relax. To stand dowm.To open up and 'breathe a little'.

Now imagine, instead of self-massaging your neck while sitting there at work, you are, instead, relaxing on a heated massage table while someone else does the work of getting your muscles to relax. It's not really much of a comparison, is it?

I do a lot of thirty minute sessions with my clients, where I focus soley on the muscles of the neck, shoulders and upper back. If it's a postural problem, we'll discuss it. If it's caused by emotional stress, I'll leave it up to you whether or not you want to share what's going on. But either way, getting those muscles to 'unclamp' is the first step towards clarity of thought and getting a good night's sleep!

In conclusion:

   I have a pain behind my ears

     Its been there days, its been there years

         From wrong sized pillows, and life long fears

            I have a pain behind my ears!

 

   I have a pain all down my neck

      because I am a nervous wreck

          My anger I've not kept in check

              and so I have pain down my neck!

 

  I have a problem with my shoulder

      and a knot just like a boulder

           I fear the worse for getting older

               I have this problem with my shoulder!

 

  I have a head-ache pounding strong

       which tells me something must be wrong

           the slightest sound rings like a gong

               I have a head ache, pounding strong!

                                                                              -Wm. M. Bryan

Dear Reader: Don't suffer needlessly. Call to schedule an appointment.


{ For an appointment, please call 484.798.8029, or email: triscale@verizon.net }

Aches and Pains and Moans and Groans

 

Q: What is it that sells aspirin and other pain medications?

A: The promise of "Quick, fast pain relief!"

Heaven forbid we should feel discomfort for more than a day ... or even THAT long!

Now don't get me wrong, I dislike pain as much as the next guy (or gal, as the case may be), but there's more to pain than just trying to make it go away.

An Unwelcome Teacher

There are two ways to approach pain...

One of them is this: "Pain is the enemy!" According to this view, pain itself is the problem. Therefore, if you make the pain disappear, you have solved the problem. Pain killers, muscle relaxers, sleep tonics and alcohol are all fine solutions, if pain is the enemy. And they work just fine, all the way up to surgery!

The second approach is this: "Pain is my tutor." While less dramatic and not nearly as exciting as having an enemy, it makes a lot more sense. Pain is your body telling you that something is wrong, that something is not as it should be. According to this view, pain is no more 'the problem' than is the smoke alarm which loudly announces that there's a fire in the kitchen.

Let Me Ask You a Question

If there was a fire in your kitchen, and the fire truck pulled up in front of your house, and a fire fighter came running in your front door and began spraying the smoke alarm until it finally stopped making all that noise ... and then proceeded to leave while the fire was still burning out of control in your kitchen ... would you be satisfied?

Putting out the alarm instead of addressing the problem is exactly what pain-killers, muscle-relaxers and anti-inflammatories do, which allows the problem to become worse over time.

The Role of What I do

As a massage therapist, I do more than just help you relax. My job is to investigate your pain, to listen to it and see where it leads us. Rather than mask it, I work with it. In the world of aches and pains, moans and groans, pain is an ally, not a nemesis.

I'll ask you things like: Is it a sharp pain or a dull pain. Does it stay in one spot or does it radiate outward? If so, where does it travel? I'll ask: How long have you had it? Did it show up all at once, or has it been there for a while, off and on?

These questions make pain our guide, leading us to the problem. There may be "trigger points" in the belly of a muscle, or scar-tissue built up in a tendon or ligament. You may have a postural problem that needs addressing or fascia that needs to be "released".

Address THOSE issues and eventually the alarm will turn off on it's own.

My job is to "open up" trigger-points, "break down" scar tissue, and "release" fascia using massage and bodywork techniques such as Deep Tissue work, STR (Soft Tissue Relase), Cross-Fibre Friction, and MFR (Miofascial Release).

My clients experience pain relief, not because I turn the pain off, but because I fix what's causing it. But more than that, I explain to them what I've done, and why. This way, they have a better understanding of themselves, and why they hurt.

Knowledge is Power

I want my clients to learn how to listen, and by that, I mean really LISTEN to their pain, rather than be afraid, or worse yet, hate it. (Never hate your body!) When one learns to listen, one gains knowledge. And with that knowledge, you can solve the problem, instead of masking it. 

So listen to your aches, and pay attention to your pains. They are there for a reason. Believe it or not, they're trying to protect you. Who knows? They may just be telling you to call me to set up an appointment! :)


{ For an appointment, please call 484.798.8029, or email: triscale@verizon.net }

Concerning Tennis Elbow

Many folks who play tennis eventually notice a burning sensation along the outside edge of their elbow. Usually they ignore it, until it becomes so bad that they run to their doctor, who gives them a steroid injection and suggests physical therapy.

 Meanwhile, they wrap it, ice it, and continue to try to play, often to their own detriment.

 But what exactly is ‘tennis elbow’? More importantly, what’s the best way to treat it and keep it from returning?

‘Tennis Elbow’ (Latin: elbowum hurticus muchicus) is a form of tendinitis often caused by ‘trigger points’ in the top of the forearm. These trigger points prevent the muscle(s) from stretching the way they’re supposed to during extension of the arm while serving the ball. In other words, when you’re gripping the racket, and ‘whacking’ the ball, your arm has to go through a full-range-of-motion, requiring the muscles in the forearm to elongate through the serve. But if some of those muscles are ‘locked shut’, which is what ‘trigger points’ do to the muscle filaments, the tendon(s) of the muscle(s) up near the elbow will become strained, and even start to tear a little, creating a burning sensation at the site of the muscle attachment.

 Why I don’t like steroid injections . . .

Two reasons: First, the steroid may take down the inflammation caused by the injured tendon, but it doesn’t fix the problem, so eventually it comes back, and often with a vengeance. And second- if a tendon is already injured, poking it with a needle, thereby creating more scar-tissue, seems hardly the right approach.

  Here’s what I do . . .

I try to locate the offending muscle, and release the ‘trigger-point’. Pretty simple, huh? I then use ‘cross-fiber-friction’ (a specific massage technique) to break down any adhesive scar tissue that has built up, thus restoring full range of motion to the affected area.

  But I don’t stop there. No siree . . . !There’s an even more important step to be done. Education. That’s right . . . education. I explain to people (as I’m doing to you right now) the exact nature of their injury, and then show them how to self-massage the area so they can work on themselves in the future on a regular (and cost-free) basis.

  When it comes to ‘Tennis Elbow’ (and its twin-cousin ‘Golfers Elbow’), I have had much success with this approach. Granted, it’s not covered by insurance, and it requires a little more action on the part of the client, but hey, which would you rather- a complete repair or just temporary relief?      


{ For an appointment, please call 484.798.8029, or email: triscale@verizon.net }