While massage therapy has a very specific purpose — to improve blood flow, reduce tension, and enhance tissue healing — the therapeutic frequency varies from person to person. Luckily for me, I have never experienced any major injury that required me to visit my massage thera-pist on a regular basis. Rather, I go when I am feeling sore or am prepping for a competition to be sure my body is ready. Generally, I go for massage treatment every three months or so when I am training normally.
Most of the time when I do get a massage, it’s because I am experiencing pain or soreness in the same areas that I normally do. However, during my latest visit to my massage therapist, I went in for something a little unusual for me: my left hip flexor was causing me pain even when I was walking. Now, I’ve always had tight hips since I was younger, but normally my problem hip is my right hip. This was a good indicator to me that it was time to make an appointment.
Originally, I thought my left hip was out of socket or something, but what was discovered was that a muscle (specifically my psoas) was so tight, it was causing me pain when I tried to extend my hip past 180 degrees. I also learned that the tenderness I was feeling in my lower back was likely a direct result from that muscle being so tight. Thankfully after getting it worked out (which hurt a lot in case you were wondering), doing some targeted stretching for a few days, and some self massage, I had been able to get back to my normal range of motion!
I sat down with Edward Chang for a little chat session about massage reassessment. Here is what he had to say about the process of reassessment.
“Reassessment is very important. First, I check for the symptoms, is the client experiencing pain, discomfort, tension, etc. and I start with the largest pain point. Are there any muscular im-balances? Is this a new pain or new symptoms?” Chang says. “When checking for the pain point, I always start by looking at the feet first, regardless of where the pain is. This is done by checking gate, stride, and how the foot is making contact with the floor.”
He explains, “Since humans stand on two feet as opposed to any other animal, the center of balance is much more difficult to maintain. Try balancing a pen on a table versus the table on the floor. Therefore, the forces from the ground are not correctly being distributed through the bone structure which can lead to muscular imbalances and overcompensation patterns leading to symptoms of pain. This can create a domino effect on the muscular system, causing pain points throughout the body.”
Finally, Chang added, “It’s important for clients to be honest with their massage therapist be-cause we can notice when something isn’t quite right. But, if you’re not telling us about the pain, then we can’t properly address the issue.”
He then walked me though a mini evaluation for myself. For example, I have a spot on my back that is often tight. It’s a reoccurring issue that comes back over time. Since I wasn’t with him in person, he wasn’t able to evaluate my feet and my movement, but gave me some notes to pass along to my doctor. Just from what I was describing, he felt, as he expressed, it’s all in my feet! While, I haven’t made an appointment yet to get my evaluation, I will be sure to report back with my findings.