The rise of computer use is calling attention to an increasing occurence of repetitive strain injuries or RSI's. Often attributed to long hours of desk work. RSI's can develop from repeated movements during any activity at work or leisure, resulting in pain, loss of work, and decreased enjoyment of everyday life. Therapeutic massage is proving to be an effective tool for prevention and recovery from repetitive strain injuries. Also known as cumulative trauma or overuse injuries, are injuries that most often occur in the soft tissues of the hand, wrist, forearm, shoulders, and neck. Soft tissues include muscles, tendons and ligaments. Tendinitis(inflammation of a tendon), carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fascitis(inflammation of the sole of the foot) and tennis/golfer's elbow are common types of RSI's. The body has difficulty healing from repetitive strain injuries. First, muscles tighten around the injury, reducing the normal circulation necessary for healing. In addition, scar tissue begings to build in an attempt to repair tears in muscles and tendons. But scar tissue tends to be weaker and more rigid then healthy tissue, and can restrict the normal action of muscles and tendons. When repetitive movements are continued, this tissue is likely to retear, causing more inflammation and swelling. A cycle of pain and injury can begin, leading to decreased range of motion and a further reduction in circulation. Muscles weaken because they are painful to use, and other "compensatory" muscles attempt to pick up the workload, often becoming overused themselves. To make matters worse, swelling from inflammation and scar tissue may also press on nerves(as in carpal tunnel syndrome), causing additional pain and dysfunction. Help is often needed to stop the cycle.
How can Therapeutic Massage help?
Massage Therapy can decrease pain and enhance healing in a number of ways. It reduces trigger points and increases pliability of scar tissue in the tendons and other soft tissues, making movement easier and retearing less likely.
By improving blood and lymph circulation, massage can help reduce painful swelling, aid in the elimination of accumulated toxins, and speed oxygen and healing nutrients to the tissues.
Massage helps relax tight muscles and improve range of motion as shortened tissues are gently stretched and lengthened. It may also improve posture or joint alignment, reducing stress to your affected area and decreasing the possibility of reinjury.
Massage can also be used as a preventative measure, releasing tension and reducing inflammation before a repetitive strain injury develops.
Repetitive strain injuries can be painful, distressing, and even frightening, especially when they threaten the use of our bodies for work and everyday activities. Because of its remarkable ability to relieve tension, increase circulation, and reduce pain and swelling, therapeutic massage can be a powerful ally in healing your injury and returning you to a life of pain-free and enjoyable movement.
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