How Can Mayan Massage Support Endometriosis?

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Written by: Audrey Blanchard LMT

Endometriosis is the abnormal growth of cells (endometrial cells) similar to those that form the inside or lining  of the uterus, but in a location outside of the uterus. Endometrial cells are cells that are shed each month during menses. Endometrial cells attach themselves to tissue outside of the uterus and are referred to as “endometriosis implants”.

Endometriosis is estimated to affect over one million women (estimates range from 3% to 18% of women) in the United States. It is one of the leading causes of pelvic pain and reasons for laparoscopic surgery and hysterectomy in this country. Estimates suggest that between 20% to 50% of women being treated for infertility have endometriosis, and up to 80% of women with chronic pelvic pain may be affected.

Here at ilumina, one of the ways we treat Endometriosis is with the Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy®. This type of massage can help loosen adhesions or scar tissue in the abdominal cavity. Gentle massage strokes are used to help align the uterus to a center position and increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. If the uterus is out of place, it can cause additional pain or cramping around menses. Additional blood flow brings oxygen and nutrients to support healthy tissues. Along with the in office massages, clients are given special self care instructions that can be done at home, castor oil packs, vaginal steams as well as nutrition and lifestyle modifications that can help to decrease symptoms of Endometriosis.

Check out our case study on Endometriosis here. One client came in for treatment of painful menses, endometriosis and low ovarian function. After a couple of Arvigo Mayan Abdominal massages her pain level went from a 10/10 to a 5/10 with reduced need pain medication at the onset of menses. Also her uterus showing at midline per ultrasound.

Massage Therapy and Breast Cancer: Myths and Facts

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Myth: Massage is a luxury.
Fact: There are many benefits to receiving regular massage, especially during times of stress or health crisis. Many people use massage a part of their regular preventative health maintenance program.
Some benefits of massage therapy include:
    -Massage is relaxing and rejuvenating
    -Calms the nervous system
    -Helps you cope with mental/emotional stress
    -Relief of physical pain and fatigue
    -Increase flexibility and range of motion
    -Speeds recovery from surgery
    -Improves circulation and immune system
    -Speeds the removal of metabolic waste from the body

Myth: Massage is NOT safe for someone newly diagnosed with cancer.
Fact: Initially, it is best to err on the side of caution and receive gentle massage techniques such as Swedish massage or Reiki energy healing to help calm the nervous system. Deep tissue work should be avoided as well as work directly on the tumor area.

Myth: Since massage stimulates the blood flow it can increase the risk of metastasis (spreading to other parts of the body).
Fact: Massage does stimulate the blood flow but so does walking, exercising, taking a shower or a bath, all of which are highly recommended during cancer treatment.
Recent studies show that massage induces the production of the hormone oxytocin which counter acts cortisol also known as the “stress hormone”. Cortisol is very useful when we need the fight or flight mechanism, but under constant stress excess production of cortisol can be harmful by decreasing the immune system response. A cancer diagnosis is very stressful and a person is susceptible to anxiety and depression. Since massage aids with the relaxation response and the release of Oxytocin it can be a major aid in strengthening the immune system and release of toxins and promote healing.
 

Myth: Women who had lymph nodes removed should never receive massage.
Fact: Extra caution is necessary in this case due to the risk of developing Lymphedema. Receive only light massage on the compromised quadrant of the torso (arm, chest and back) but a regular massage can be administered to the rest of the body. It is best to see a professional who is trained in oncology massage.
 

Is massage OK during chemotherapy and radiation?
Fact: Yes, however a waiting period of 4-7 days after chemotherapy treatment is recommended depending on the treatment and the individual. It is OK to receive bodywork during radiation, but massage and oils should not be administered to the radiated area.
 

How about massage after surgery?
Fact: After surgery it is recommended to wait 7 days and up to 6 weeks before receiving bodywork, depending on the type of surgery and reconstruction and healing progress. However, energy work and gentle massage to non affected areas can be administered as soon as the client feels up to it and the doctor approves it.
 

What about massaging around tumors?
Fact: Direct pressure to the area should be avoided. Once the tumor is removed and the wound is healed, massage is very helpful to prevent scar tissue adhesions. Avoid deep massage to the quadrant of the body where lymph nodes are compromised due to the risk of Lymphedema.
 If tumor is deep and cannot be removed massage should be administered with caution.
 

Body image issues
Some women are self conscious about their body, especially after a mastectomy. This is understandable and most practitioners use draping techniques which reassure the client’s privacy. If the client is not comfortable with work on the breast area, or prefer that area covered they should make sure the practitioner knows.

How can I find a practitioner?
Since cancer diagnosis requires some modifications it is best to find someone who is experienced and has Oncology Massage training. However, if one already has an established relationship with a practitioner, trust and rapport are just as important as skills and knowledge. It won't be a bad idea to ask the practitioner if he/she is comfortable with educating him/herself before providing massage therapy during the cancer treatment. Audrey has recently completed a 24 hour National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork approved Continuing Education class for Breast Cancer and Massage Therapy to better understand and treat her clients that are breast cancer survivors.

Reference:
Massage Therapy and Breast Cancer. Eeris Kallil, Lic. CMT. Boulder, CO. bodyworkwisdom.com

 

Massage Therapy Can Improve Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia affects millions of Americans, many of whom are women. The main signs and symptoms of fibromyalgia include deep muscle pain, painful tender points, and morning stiffness. Other symptoms may include sleep problems, fatigue, and anxiety. Regular Massage Therapy sessions have been proven to decrease pain levels, muscle stiffness, and improve sleep quality. In a study conducted by the Touch Research Institute, thirty adult fibromyalgia subjects were randomly assigned to a massage therapy, a transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), or a transcutaneous electrical stimulation no-current group (Sham TENS) for 30-minute treatment sessions two times per week for 5 weeks. The results showed the massage therapy subjects reported lower anxiety and depression, and their cortisol levels were lower immediately after the therapy sessions on the first and last days of the study. The TENS group showed similar changes, but only after therapy on the last day of the study. The massage therapy group improved on the dolorimeter measure of pain. They also reported less pain the last week, less stiffness and fatigue, and fewer nights of difficult sleeping. Thus, massage therapy was the most effective therapy with these fibromyalgia patients. Audrey has successfully treated fibromyalgia pain syndrome with Massage Therapy here at ilumina. A customized massage session is developed specifically for each individual to reduce muscle pain, fatigue, and increase the quality and quantity of nightly rest.

Massage Centered Information for Massage Awareness Week

In honor of massage awareness week, our Licensed Massage Therapist Audrey Blanchard will be sharing with us helpful information all week. 10/22

Fibromyalgia is a syndrome in which the person experiences long term, body-wide pain and tenderness in the muscles, joints, and soft tissues of the body. It has also been linked to fatigue, sleep problems, headaches, depression, and anxiety. Fibromyalgia most commonly affects women between the ages of 20 and 50. A new study showed that massage myofascial release techniques improved pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Patients in the massage group received a 90 minute massage for 20 weeks. The study found reduction in sensitivity to pain in tender points in patients with fibromyalgia. Immediately after treatment and one month after the massage program, anxiety levels, quality of sleep, pain, and quality of life were still improved.

We have seen similar results with patients that suffer from fibromyalgia here at illumina Healing Sanctuary. Our Massage Therapist has many years of experience treating fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions. She will tailor the massage therapy session to meet the needs of each individual, including myofascial release techniques, trigger point therapy, and gentle stretching to relieve pain and tension in the muscles and joints of the body.

References: Castro-Sánchez, A.M., Matarán-Peñarrocha, G.A., Granero-Molina, J., Aguilera-Manrique, G., Quesada-Rubio, J.M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C. (2011). Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:561753.

10/24

Mayan Abdominal Massage is beneficial in treating a multitude of menstrual and digestive disorders, can increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, and decrease pain in the lower back. Here is a link to a great article in Care Healthy Living magazine about the benefits of Mayan Abdominal Massage. If you haven't tried this type of massage modality yet, you don't know what you're missing.