Tag: myofascial release

March 8, 2016

Today is international women’s day, and we wanted to ask our own Tara Hagan-Fields, RMT a few questions about what it means to be a Women’s Health focused practitioner.

Why did you decide to focus your practice on Women’s Health?

I chose to focus my practice on Women’s Health because at the time I truly felt that there were too many therapists that were focusing in on general health and wellness.  There weren’t enough therapists with a voice and a specialization in anything specific, especially not in the women’s health field.

I was a new grad in a world of many RMT’s.  I graduated with 30+ fellow colleagues in 2006, we all had the same level of training and the same knowledge base that we had learned while in school.  I immediately needed to separate myself from the group as an individual who understood something more then the rest.  I had developed a passion for the treating of pregnant women while in school, so after graduation, I immediately went after more courses! I felt I needed to learn more!.  Along the way I grew as a therapist and as a woman.  I recognized my passion was more then just treating pregnant women;  It actually was more about treating all women, and women’s health related issues.

Today I am completely centered on Women’s Health.  I am different than most Massage Therapists in that I specialize in Myofascial Release and use those protocols to help every single woman who enters my treatment room.

Why does women’s health need a category of its own?

For years, there have been “fringe” conversations about women’s health related issues, but it has always been a very whispered conversation.  The topic seemingly taboo.  NO MORE! We as women have very specific health issues and they should never have to be whispered about.  Incontinence, painful intercourse, mastitis, endometriosis,  and infertility just to name a few. The list is long!  Women should continue to demand better advocacy and better research on these and other important areas of Women’s health.

More practitioners are starting to dive in to niches and truly specialize in specific fields like Women’s Health, but more are needed.  I look forward to the day when no woman needs to medicate because of conditions they are experiencing, where they can self treat and or go see their RMT to help rid of the source of pain.

What kinds of treatment do you provide specifically for women?

I do treat women of all ages, from babies to geriatric.  Most of the women I see are looking for another kind of care.  Something that will help them with conditions that they are currently experiencing, or ones they have had and suffered for years with: Chronic pelvic pain, jaw pain, headaches, endometriosis, infertility, breast pain, chronic back pain, scar work (laparoscopic, c-seciton, mastectomy, augmentation), pre- surgical care, fibromyalgia, incontinence, painful intercourse, post partum care, latching problems.  My approach to massage therapy through myofascial release will help!

February 25, 2016

Q:  How do you feel about massaging women?IMG_3313

A:  Most of my clients are women. I feel that I’m able to give a good, therapeutic, intuitive massage. I’m not judgmental of women’s bodies; I treat all of my clients with the respect they deserve.

Q:  And how about massaging men?

A:  In my experience, men who ask for a male therapist usually want deeper tissue massage, which is great for me because that’s what I like to do! Deep tissue focuses on the therapeutic aspect of massage. It’s a major part of what I do.

Q:  What are your feelings about being a gender minority in the massage world?

A:  I look at my job from the perspective of a massage therapist, not from that of a man. Unfortunately, massage therapy is still confused with intimacy, which it is not. It’s assessment, it’s treatment of soft tissue injuries. It’s an hour on the table working on your muscles. It’s therapy. Your therapists sex has nothing to do with it.

Q:  What would you say you focus on during treatments?

A:  Pain is often what brings clients in.  I always address pain first – it’s a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. Once the pain goes away, I focus on function.  If the body isn’t functioning well, pain is always around the corner.

January 15, 2016

breast cancerPain and tightness suffered post mastectomy/ lumpectomy can limit one’s life drastically. Myofascial Release can help create vast changes by softening dense scars and fibrosed fascia that remain unchanged with traditional therapy and stretching.

 

Axillary Cording

Axillary cording is a web of thick, rope-like structures under the skin of your inner arm. These cords usually start near the site of your scarring in the underarm region and extend down the inner arm to the inside of the elbow (sometimes they can continue down to the palm of your hand, or in to the chest wall instead of, or in addition to, the inner arm.

Traumatized tissue can have a cascading effect on the body.  Locally, tightened and fibrous fascia can restrict blood flow and lymphatic flow resulting in lymphedema.  Auxiliary cording can also occur, causing a significant loss of range of motion in the shoulder, leading to a loss of function.  Pain and weakness can occur in the shoulder, arm and chest wall.  Burning, pins and needles, numbness, or spasms can also occur in these areas.

Tightness, with time, can start to effect areas not associated with the scar even if these areas are far removed from the local site.  Symptoms not “normal” to mastectomy, lumpectomy, reconstruction, or augmentation can start to occur.  Headaches, jaw pain, low back pain, pelvic pain, digestive issues, postural changes, hormonal imbalances, etc, may become a “common” occurrence for you.

The inability to move, or the pain suffered with common range of motion and activity can become debilitating.  This might happen immediately, or it might occur 6 years down the road.  In real life it might look like the inability to wash your hair in the shower, get dressed in the morning, pick your child up out of the crib, hug a loved one, carry your groceries, drive your car, work at your computer, or reach up and grab the sugar out of the cupboard.  No matter the role you have as a woman – mom, worker, grandma – your life is impacted.

breast mfrPain management and rehabilitation using Myofascial Release can help.  Gentle and slow work done at the fascial barrier (on the scar and surrounding areas) can assist in restoring functional patterns by decreasing the restrictions.

Whether you had surgery, chemo, or radiation last month or 10 years ago, Myofascial Release should be added to your recovery process.

 

 

IMG_8104cropbwTara Hagan-Fields is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Tara is a Women’s Health Specialist and Myofascial Release Therapist.  She focuses on the body as a whole and teaches you to do the same.  More about Tara here or find her on Facebook Tara Hagan-Fields RMT

 

September 10, 2015

Every April, I pull out my Slo-pitch ball bag.  Curse at myself for not having done it in October… Curse some more because that’s where my shirt went, or my favorites socks…. and then….curse some more because I left everything in the bag wet…. OOOOPS!  I start the process of airing out the equipment, oiling up the glove, make sure there is a ball for every league, 11 inch for ladies, 12 inch for mixed.  My warmup balls, one heavy, one regular weight.  My bats are all cleaned up. My cleats cleaned and sprayed to rid of the smell.  That’s my routine.

I am a full time athlete only part of the year, because I only play ball from May to October.  But, during my season I go all-out. I play on 3-4 teams, leagues and tournaments…. then the rest of the year is for rehabbing nagging injuries that happened during ball season.

BUT… this year has been a little different.  This year, instead of worrying about old injuries or worrying about a tweak here or there, I have been very worried about a new injury.  One that impacts my game so much, that I have pulled myself from my line ups, just so I can rehab it to play in the year end tournaments. One that prevents me from lifting heavy objects, or thinking about how might I move my body during a treatment so I don’t feel this discomfort I am constantly feeling.

I am often asked “who takes care of you?” and jokingly I reply “I get around”. The honest truth…I struggle to even get my own treatments at times.  Until recently! I have had to make it a priority to get in and get treated.  And I’m not being easy in just finding any therapist to treat me, I am being very specific in who I see.  I fully believe in Myofascial Release and how everyone needs it and that it will help everyone.  I also know the people I work with are awesomely gifted in what they do.  So in the past four weeks, I have been seeing my fellow colleagues here at Whole Therapy and some other MFR therapists here in the city, and I have also been self-treating!

4 weeks in a row, I have focused on getting someone else to touch and treat me.  And 4 weeks in a row, I have focused on treating myself.  Two weeks ago, after a great treatment and some self care that night, I felt a shift.  I woke up for the first time and the pain wasn’t a burning sensation in my forearm and elbow.  For the first time, I felt a good heat in my elbow rather than a horrible one.  I’m feeling less nerve pain and I can hold my own coffee mug (you all know how much I love my coffee!).

My lessons are many this year…I need to take care of me (so our #ChangeOneThing challenge could not have come soon enough)! I need to make the time to get my own care even if I have to push something else aside to do it.  I’ve always been a believer that no matter what it costs, we should take care of ourselves.  This ball season, I feel it has cost me a lot; I have missed out on playing the sport I love with the people I like most.  I have even come to the point that I don’t want to play ball because it hurts too much and my play has been impacted.

I am not invincible. I really need to practice what I preach about self-care and maintenance.  I really have to be that athlete that gets treated regularly because my fascial restrictions have prevented me from doing what I love to do.

So my first #ChangeOneThing is to look at my schedule and put treatment into it for the whole rest of the season.  That’s happening today.

What step are you taking in the name of positive change?

 

Tara Hagan-Fields is an RMT with Whole Therapy.  Tara is a Women’s Health Specialist and Myofascial Release Therapist.  She focuses on the body as a whole and teaches you to do the same.  More about Tara here or find me on Facebook Tara Hagan-Fields RMT

 

tara_bio

September 4, 2015

Dictionary.com defines change as the following:

CHANGE
verb (used with object), changed, changing.

To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something)
different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone:
To change one’s name; to change one’s opinion;

To change the course of history. 

trapped

Not sure if this office setup has the lumbar support I need..

What a simple, easy to understand, straight to the point definition.  And yet, as simple as it is to understand, why then do we humans have so much trouble implementing change into our own lives?
I’m not talking about changing the tires on your car, or, the vacuum bag, or your little human’s diapers; although some of these things are dull, taxing, or unpleasant.  I’m talking about real change.  Meaningful life-altering change.

Four years ago I found myself in a terrible position.  I was stuck in a dead end job with no further room for growth.  I wasn’t learning any new skills or even really developing my current skill set.  The monetary compensation was less than adequate, and I was oh, so very bored.  I can look at that time now and easily identify these symptoms for what they were:  I was stuck.  I needed a career transplant.

I was trapped in this Grand Canyon-sized rut where it became easier to do nothing than to fix my situation. I had absolutely no idea how to get out of it.  I was walled in and (thought) I didn’t have the tools to get myself out.

But everyone has a boiling point, don’t they?  Everyone will eventually find themselves in a position where change becomes inevitable.  And sometimes, all it takes to initiate that change is a little luck, a little timing, and a little pro-activity.   Jamie, a co-worker of mine at the time, knew of my struggles with the daily grind and had often been a sounding board for me when I had to let off steam.  Jamie turned out to be the husband of my current employer, the incomparable Jen Wright.

Taking action, finally

Combine the fact I had recently returned to high school to obtain my diploma after a 17 year hiatus (that’s a change story for another time) with an increasing difference of opinion on certain matters with some of my co-workers led to me investigate a suggested employment agency here in the city. I set up the appointment to meet with someone in a fancy downtown office; I took their online office skills test, and went for the follow up meeting on a Friday after work.  I was told that they would be in touch with me and that was that.

It was the following Monday when Jamie stepped into my office and said to me.  “Jenny is looking to hire an office manager, are you interested?”  Boom.  All of a sudden, I had a lifeline.  It was like Regis had just given me an extra phone a friend and I was about to become a millionaire.

The next week when the employment agency called, I happily told them I had found what I was looking for and that their services would not be needed.

I don’t normally put a lot of stock in Karma or that kind of thing, but I can honestly tell you that I believe the only reason that the offer came my way was because I had taken the first step and had unknowingly asked the universe to give me the change I needed.

sea creature

“Try the Human, it’s delicious”

The reason people have trouble with change is because, not surprisingly, it’s really hard.

It’s like jumping into a lake you’ve never swam in before.

You know that moment when you’re standing on the dock, imagining all the hideous and murderous monsters that are right now swimming just below the surface?  That’s how change can feel.  Scary.  Scary, slimy and covered  in murder-y scales.

Change is difficult for me because I like things to be consistent.

Everything in their place and all that. The big win for me was learning to realize that things were broken and out of place.  It took me a long time, but I did it.

When I finally realized that I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’d been doing them, the universe responded with a giant “Well it’s about time.  Here, take this happiness and meaning.  Have a good day” and vaporized all the sea mutants waiting below the surface.

So yes, change is difficult.  But is it essential to survival?  Yes.  Is it one of the keys to happiness?  Probably.  Have and will I continue to look for opportunities to evolve?  Certainly.

 

We at Whole Therapy want to hear from YOU! Take a picture or write a post about your #ChangeOneThing experience. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WholeTherapy as well. We’ve got some great prizes to give away!

 

Pat Moore is the office manager at Whole Therapy.  Pat works alongside a team of dedicated professionals and is here to help ensure that your visit at Whole Therapy is as pleasant as possible.  For more about Pat, click here!

Pat

April 23, 2015

My first experience witnessing our body’s natural ability to move freely, unwind, and heal from our past was in Chicago over 4 years ago.  The course I was taking was offered by John F Barnes, a Physiotherapist known all over the world for his work in Myofascial Release.  Seven years earlier I had read about Barnes during Massage school; now I was finally learning from him.

On our first day, as I watched a fellow therapist walk up to the stage, I thought I had walked on to the set for America’s Funniest Home Videos.   After a quick evaluation, she got on the table.  We all sat there listening to what John was saying and watching him stay in one place holding the barrier (meeting the tissue resistance and staying there) on this therapist.  As we watched, she started to shake as though she were cold and she began to move without any encouragement or assistance from John.  Her movements were quite graceful, almost like a dance.  Then she froze in space, not moving from a v-sit position.  She wasn’t there long, maybe 2 breaths before her body relaxed again on the table.  The whole time, John was holding the barrier never moving, never changing his pressure.

A few thoughts went through my head: 1st, OMG, what the hell have I just got myself into? 2nd, Are these cameras here for these prank shows? And 3rd, Have I just wasted a lot of money to be here?

I then got on the table; my partner held out at the barrier of our first instructed release.  Her hands were at the base of my neck barely touching. She stayed there and waited.

Just as my colleague minutes before, I felt a sudden shift happen in my body:  My breathing stilled, and then got smoother.  I felt cold everywhere.   My pelvis got heavy and I was no longer aware of my legs.  I was however, very aware of my right arm.  I felt an intense heat and pull through the front of my shoulder.  It scared the living daylights out of me, and for good reason: The last time I felt so much sensation in my shoulder was 15 years prior.

I had been throwing a ball from 3rd base, and as I released the ball, I grabbed my shoulder in pain; this was the same pain I was feeling laying there on the table.

Without consciously doing so, my arm started moving through this sidearm throwing range, the same range that I once had but hadn’t been able to execute since my injury.

More thoughts: 1st, OMG what the hell have I got myself in to? 2nd, who is this man, and what kind of course is this? 3rd, I need to throw a ball!

That night, I threw a baseball, sidearm, for the first time in over 15 years.  It felt amazing! I felt like a teenager again! I felt like I was going to try-out for the Blue Jays and be their first female 3rd base-woman!  I sat down on the golf course where we were and cried because it felt so good!  And yet I was so angry that I had missed out on so many years of playing competive ball because of this injury.

Part of me still had no real clue what the hell happened on that table, but if I could throw sidearm again, I was going to keep my butt in the chair and listen to everything John Barnes had to say.

From that moment on, I opened myself up to the experience of true Myofascial Release.  Although at times my body did strange things on the table, I avoided judgement and just went with the flow.  After all, these movements were familiar to me; my body had once done them before.

I felt at home and at peace with the healing that was I was going through personally.  I had finally found something that resonated with my impression of healing, physically, mentally and emotionally.  There was this energy in the room that vibrated through me and I loved it.  I felt strong.

I realized that my body knew how to heal itself from all the traumas I had suffered from through my life: I just had to listen.

fascia man

This tissue, called fascia, is not linear in our body, so why should its release be linear?

 

Over the course of a week I learned that when we hang out at the barriers long enough, a state of UNWIND can happen.  What does that mean?  Well, for each individual it is very different.  Take a moment and look at your body.  What you are actually looking at is a 3 Dimensional web of connective tissue.  This tissue, called fascia, is not linear in our body, so why should its release be linear?

When your therapist engages tissue that isn’t moving or functioning well, movement can start to happen.  This movement is called unwinding.  Movements can be large or small, sometimes so small as to be imperceptible from the outside.  Unwinding can begin as a feeling within the body, or an emotion uncoiling.  It could be local to the therapist’s hands, or it could be in your belly, or in your foot.  Whatever the feeling, it is powerful, because it is healing.

Unwinding is our body’s ability to move through positions of trauma so it can fully release.

As your body goes through these positions of trauma, moments of pause, called still points, might happen.  These still points are your way of dealing with the restrictions from the trauma you’ve been through.  Physical symptoms may arise: sweating, nausea, shaking.  Emotions may come up: crying, vocal sounds.  Quite often memories surface.  All this is a process of healing, and it is trapped within you until the barriers release.

Since that week in Chicago, 4 years ago, my perspective as a therapist has changed.  I strive to create a safe environment where clients can heal in their own way – an environment that feels safe to let go. I no longer believe that deeper is better, but rather longer is key!  I no longer have an agenda when I walk in to a treatment room; I treat each client to their individual needs of the day and moment in time, keeping in mind long term goals.  The need to fill the space with conversation to make clients feel comfortable is no longer a priority; instead, I encourage quiet, so we both can listen to what your body is saying.  My firm belief is everyone needs Myofascial Release.

Next time you go to see your Massage Therapist, consider taking the time to just listen, not to words filling the space, but to what your body is saying.

Give yourself permission to feel: feel what emotion, or memory, or dis-ease might be trapped beneath the surface.

Feel what areas of your body are talking to you, or not talking at all.  Be curious about these feelings, but don’t be judgemental.  Don’t feel the need to lay blame, but rather, give permission to yourself to heal.

I promise you, your experience will be that much greater, for both you and your therapist.  The value you put on care, on living a healthy lifestyle and healing yourself, might just change.  You have the power within you to do it, just let go and trust in yourself!

Tara Hagan-Fields is an RMT with Whole Therapy.  Tara is a Women’s Health Specialist and Myofascial Release Therapist.  She focuses on the body as a whole and teaches you to do the same.  More about Tara here

Tara3

February 25, 2015

So you’ve gone and hurt yourself, huh?  You’re a gung-ho weekend warrior with a twinge in your back and aren’t sure what to do about it.  This isn’t unusual.

We get all kinds of people coming through our doors who’ve injured themselves in brilliant and creative ways.

As I sit here compiling this literary masterpiece, a client walks in with back spasms that are causing him visible discomfort.  “How’d that happen?” I say.  “I was choking on some long grain rice and coughed so violently that I threw my back out” he replies.  Believe me when I say we’ve seen and heard it all.  You may find yourself asking “What kind of treatment am I supposed to get?”  With all the various types of sprains and strains you may be unlucky enough to receive, where to start can be an overwhelming decision.   Here are a few things to consider:

“Yer aff yer heid!”

1.What is your level of pain?

If you’ve got a full-scale broken back, you’re going to want the emergency room and not deep tissue massage.  An honest evaluation of the pain you are in/damage you have done is important at this stage.  Open wound?  Hospital.  Arm dangling at a weird angle where you KNOW there isn’t a joint?  Hospital.  Tightness in the lower back after trying the caber toss for the first time?  Whole Therapy!  While our therapists are often told that they have magic hands, they cannot perform lifesaving surgeries or repair broken bones.  We’ve had people come in to see us that could barely move let alone stand being touched or physically manipulated in any way.  Not being a hero at this point and seeking medical attention is best.  On the reverse side of the coin, going and waiting in an ER for 10 hours only to have a Dr. tell you to see a physiotherapist isn’t a lot of fun either.

It can be tricky sometimes to gauge the type of potential damage that may have been done after you landed on your back in the middle of the Rideau Canal whilst distracted by that delicious Beaver Tail in your hands. We get that.  While it’s always best to err on the side of caution, be realistic.  The hospital staff won’t thank you either for taking up their time with a minor scrape or the proverbial bobo.

Now that you’ve determined you don’t require immediate medical attention, you’re looking for some pain relief, rehabilitation, and a plan of action for your recovery.  The next step is to..

2. Consider the type of injury.

Chances are, if you’ve rolled your ankle you’re going to want a more rehabilitative and active treatment; most likely a visit with our physiotherapist, or our chiropractors.  If you feel the situation is more muscle or tissue related, you could also consider our team of massage therapists.

One of the great things about our multi-disciplinary approach is how perfectly our services complement each other.  We often have clients come in for “the double”.  This usually consists of a massage treatment to soften you up followed by a chiropractic adjustment to straighten you out!   We also double up on the physio and acupuncture fairly often.  Perhaps the most effective combination of all though, is the combination of our minds.  Each practitioner here will view things in a slightly different way as their training and expertise dictates.  It’s common practice amongst them to pick each other’s’ brains for answers to tricky questions involving your rehabilitation.  It’s this collaboration upon which the Whole Therapy philosophy is based.

3. What can I afford?

Another thing to consider when booking an appointment is your insurance coverage.  Many of you will have private insurance that allows for some spending on different types of clinical services.  Maybe you’ve got coverage for physiotherapy but not chiropractic.  Perhaps it’s the other way around.  Perhaps you’ve only got coverage for one type of service or perhaps you’ve got everything under the sun covered.  It’s worth finding out before you call in so that we can better serve your budget AND your needs.  That being said, sometimes your maintenance program will continue after your benefits have expired.  Don’t worry.  We want to see you as little as possible but as much as necessary.  That means finding out together what a maintenance plan looks like for you.  The initial treatment and following few appointments will likely be closer together, but as you progress from injured to pain-free to functional, the frequency with which you attend will likely decrease. Benefits are wonderful in that they can mitigate the cost of rehab, but they should not dictate the extent of your rehab.  Consider this.

So don’t worry.  Hurting yourself happens, whether it be from coughing up rice, tossing around cabers, or falling while skating.  We’ve seen it all, remember?

Hopefully this information helps you figure out where to start.  If you’re still stumped, give me a call. We can figure out together how to get the ball rolling.

Pat Moore is the office manager at Whole Therapy.  Pat works alongside a team of dedicated professionals and is here to help ensure that your visit at Whole Therapy is as pleasant as possible.  For more about Pat, click here!

Pat

February 5, 2015

Ladies ladies ladies! Let’s talk about bras and how they support us, or don’t.  They are meant to aid a beautiful part of our body!  However, I have been seeing a running theme in my practice lately and even out and about on the street.  Ladies, why are you wearing ill-fitting bras with absolutely no support?

I hear all the excuses…”oh this is just my lazy day”, or “this is my bad bra”, or “my other one is in the laundry”, or “I just came from a work out”…again, all the excuses! Bras that you bought 10 years ago, throw them out! Even ones you bought 2 years ago, look at them closely! Does the elastic still support you the same way? Does the cup?  Have you washed them…and dried them?  How many do you have in a rotation?

Why do I bring up this subject? We can’t take our breasts off like we can our bras.  We need to support them!  We honour our bodies with exercise and nutrition, so why do our breasts hang low and depressed!? If you have not been fitted, go get fitted!  If you continue to wear the ill fitting bras, the drag will exacerbate poor posture, which can put aberrant stresses on your neck, shoulders and back. Poor posture can also impair breathing capabilities.

There are some wonderful places here in Ottawa that are both fabulous and more importantly educated on proper fitting.  Check out Brachic (www.brachicbras.com), and Mariannes  (www.mariannesboutique.ca) for more information on how to get your fitting underway.

Whether you’ve just had a baby, have goals to get back to a certain size, or are in the process of losing weight, have ongoing neck and shoulder pain, or headaches…whatever the reason, if you have never been sized by a professional, set up an appointment and go.  If you were sized 5 years ago, 2 years ago, go again.  I promise you, the relief of a proper fitting bra is worth it! And the satisfaction of looking good is even better! No more excuses!

 

Tara Hagan-Fields is an RMT with Whole Therapy.  Tara is a Women’s Health Specialist and Myofascial Release Therapist.  She focuses on the body as a whole and teaches you to do the same.  More about Tara here

Tara3