- HANDS v. FEET
ARTICLE ON FEET VS HANDS
Most of us rely on our hands for the majority of our work. So do most massage therapists and the amount of pressure required takes it’s toll on their fingers, hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. After all, our hands are not designed to be used for weight bearing. Actually our hands are designed to hang from trees. Our feet, however, are designed to for weight bearing.
Barefoot Deep Tissue is a potent, specific and immensely satisfying form of bodywork where the therapist uses his feet in slow, firm compressions of the client’s muscles. It is done fully clothed.
The majority of pain most people suffer is soft tissue related. The body’s response to this pain is to tighten up or contract around an injury. After a while, we forget how to let go.
Deep compressions release that and give therapeutic, long lasting results just not achieved by ordinary massage. The powers of compresion are pretty amazing. Muscles not only relax, but are cleansed, fed, healed, and rejuvinated, while pain is reduced/eliminated. Plus, it feels really great.
Compressions fires the stretch reflex in a muscle, causing it to relax. The pressure applied stretches the spindle cells in a muscle and triggers a momentary reflex contraction and an initial constriction of muscle fibers and capilaries. To experience this, one can squeeze the last joint on one thumb or big toe with the thumb and index knuckle on the other hand for 20-30 seconds.
The temporary loss of color is noticeable. You are literally squeezing the blood out of the cells. This is called ischemic presure or pressure to blanching. Then release the squeeze, and it is easy to feel all the new blood rushing thru, cleaning and flushing out the metabolic wastes. This “emptying” caused by the compression then causes a return flooding of blood into the area, evinced by superficial redness, and feeds and oxigenates the tissue at the cellular level. In muscles, “reserve” capillaries enhancing cellular nutrition are also called into play by this type of compression.
Compressions release a neurotransmitter called acetyl choline which results in faster nerve firing and enables the muscles to contract and release quicker. When walking or running, for example, the quadricep muscle in the front of the leg contracts while the hamstring in the back relaxes. Then the hamstring contracts and the quad relaxes, because if they both contracted at the same time, you would be locked up, unable to move. So this much faster contraction/relaxation exchange results in people being able to run faster, hike faster, bike riders ride faster, tennis players get to the ball quicker, soccer players kick harder, typists, guitar players and pianists all play faster, etc.etc.
This fast action potential is a real boon for pre-event sports massage and can also play a role in relieving spasticity. Compressions accelerate healing and procollagen fiber formation is stimulated. Mechanical stimuli repetitively applied to the place of injury is able to increase collagen production which repairs muscle damage and greatly speeds up healing of injuries.
The stretching of muscles from being compressed improves circulation and capillarization. Stretching results in a vasoconstriction during the stretch which changes to a vasodilatation when the stretch is released.
Research reports up to a 30% increase in blood circulation in passively stretched muscles. This stretching also results in increased capillarization.
Rejuvenation is another wonderful benefit of sustained compressions because they stretch and distort the ground substance of deep and superficial fascia which surround and hold our muscles. This greatly increases range of motion and tissue rejuvenation and delays senescence.
Prolonged compressions actually heat, stretch and energize ground substance in the fascia. The extra energy (primarily in the form of heat) is absorbed by the ground substance and transforms it from ‘gel’ (a semi-solid state) towards ’sol’ (a more fluid, youthful form). Ischemic pressure inhibits/eliminates trigger points and treats chronic pain and injuries facilitating pain-free movement Pressure to blanching at the trigger point restores Micro-circulation and the trigger point is eradicated.
Another reason that Barefoot Deep Tissue feels so good is that prolonged deep compressions result in toning of the vagal nerve and parasympathetic dominance. Altered mood (hypnogogic trance) and an improved healing state results.
Mechanical compressions of nerve endings transduce endogenous morphines and other neurotransmitters of altered states.
Clients universally report sleeping better than they have in many, many years. “In these stressful times when our nervous systems respond to angry drivers the way we used to react to sabertoothed tigers, it’s no wonder we feel uptight — not to mention downtight. When I want to loosen tightness, my go-to guy is Joel Hillman, body worker extraordinaire. People need more kneading than ever nowadays, and Joel’s mission is to knead the needy. So why suffer kneadlessly? Joel’s slogan is ‘No pain, no pain,’ How could it hurt? Seriously, Joel’s work is deep and it’s stretchy. I always leave a session with Joel a little taller. So if you need a good out-stretching, Joel is waiting with outstretched arms (and feet) to stretch you out.” —
Swami Beyondananda, Steve Bhaerman’s alter ego
After working with Joel, I experienced great relief from a long standing back problem and can now do yoga postures I hadn’t been able to do for ages. I am a yoga teacher and have refered many students to Joel and all report brilliant results.”
Dr. Megan Scott PHD, Director Pain Management Center, S.F.
Joel maintains a successful practice in Marin County and teaches at various massage schools around California. He can be reached for appointments at (415) 461-4308 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info go to www.barefootcompressiontherapy.com