Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Healing up after an injury…or just rehabilitation after Training

I wanted to start this blog off with how to heal up, a lot of the things I am going to blog about are more….how to feel pain and get better at what you want to do. First off let me tell you that the “no pain no gain” mentality is old school…and I am old school. I hate seeing black belts and students training that have the mentality that they will run a bit, go to karate and put in their 45% effort and go home….If you are not trying to bust thru personal bests and get ready for the next big challenge…go home! Sit on your couch and chill out. For me, life is to short for that. But as I get older, even I must admit that the body does not heal as fast as it used to and now I have to heal up after doing things to myself that most think is nuts!

Many moons ago I was a practicing massage therapist with a back ground in prevention and care of athletic injuries. I graduated and was co-president of my class at a very prestigious massage institute, I also graduated from the U of W with a BA in prev. care of injuries and owned my own company, Bio-Dynamix. I ran it for many years and so many people came to me asking about different ways to rehabilitate injuries, improve sport performance and after all my studies and all the people that came to me over the years, I still get the same questions and asked what I think about different healing modalities (big word for something that someone does to you!).

So I am going to list off some of the more common things people do to get healed up, as well as some of the not so common things I have seen, offer my thoughts on them and let you decide!

Things that may help


I am a bit biased here but I have to say that bang for your buck when you have sore muscles, lack of flexibility and a need to not feel the aches and pains of Karate or everyday life….get into a solid routine of seeing a Massage therapist. Having said that, the massage industry is about 90% solid workers who care about you, yah skill and interpersonal skills will vary a lot, and you may have to shop around to find a good one…but generally we are a good bunch that just want to help you out. The other 10% you will need to avoid, filled with quacks and energy healers acting like they are really doing you some good physically…snake oil salesmen and charlatans!

There are a lot of different kinds of massage as well. Swedish is the most common and the base for most great massage workers, but most will spread out and specialize in different areas. When I was practicing I did a lot of trigger point work, deep tissue and the basic stuff. If you look into massage you will find people that do Anma, Ayurvedic, Esalen, Lomi lomi, “Medical Massage”, Myofacial Release, Stone massage, Trager Approach, Visceral Manitpulation, Watsu and a dozen other kinds of massage. The most important part of these massages is the practitioner.

So is it worth the time and money, Yes. Even if you are still sore and the massage did not make you limp as a noodle and free of pain, it won’t damage you unless you have a specific pathology that is causing it to be dangerous, and a brief history will let the therapist know to avoid that. And like my grandmother said…its like Chicken soup…Even if it did not cure us of our colds, it did not hurt us any! At worst a massage should be relaxing and make you fall asleep, at best it should help you in the long run…but be careful, picky and go to a few therapists before you pick one as home base.


Acupuncture, Acupressure and shiatsu all run that thin line between actual therapeutic modality and snake oil! I have seen great results from the use of these and I have seen pretty much NOTHING happen after someone gets these therapies. First off go see a good and reputable practitioner and only for the shiatsu should you see some kind manual therapy beyond being poked and prodded.

I don’t put this under massage because it is very different. Most of the times that I have gone and had Shiatsu I would say I got a Swedish massage in an asian theme room. The two times I got a “Real” Shiatsu massage done, it was nothing like what I would call massage. It did work on the muscles that I had issues with, but it was not the normal work that you associate with massage….more pokey and the pressure was….well deep!

The fact that Acupuncture works the “Same way” or at least uses the same ideology lets me keep it out of quackery and into “it might work for you but not me”. I once had acupuncture done on my shoulder….did nothing for me but make me remember why I hate needles, never mind the 14 I had poking out of me!

Thai Massage:

If ever I could name a KING of manual therapy I would have to say that Thai massage done right is probably the forerunner in that one. First off they don’t just push into the muscle and use hands and elbow to make the muscles relax. The therapist will lay on the floor with you and move you around and get the full range of motion out of you.

The time you spend with a Thai massage therapist will be relaxing and somewhat uncomfortable the first time. They will cause you to stretch, contort their own bodies and press into the flesh with their feet and arms. You will feel stretched out and relaxed when you leave however.

I have to say that I was rather uncomfortable laying on the floor with a guy dressed in Satin jammies and then having him manipulate my arms and legs like a minuete on strings. But after about two minutes I relaxed and set myself into his hands….remembering that he saw I was wearing my JKA tee shirt and I was not just wearing it because it was loose fitting, but as a warning. And I did not need it at all! The guy was amazing, I was in Vancouver and the therapist is long gone from my memory if you asked his name, but a hip injury that I had in the front of my leg was GONE when I was done with the therapy.


Chiro is good, bad and ugly. That’s what I call my three times I went to a chiro. One guy relaxed me, cracked me and made my back feel much better. One guy did virtually nothing for my lower back pain…and the other….well I could not walk for a week!

Chiropractic is a therapy that sets joints that are out of alignment….back into alignment. I have a few issues with Chiro and say that it should ALWAYS be accompanied by a good massage and exercises to make sure the muscles do not pull the bones back out of alignment. In fact I think every Massage therapist should have a chiro working for them!

Much like Massage, be careful and picky with the chrio you pick, Some are very good at what they do, and others….not so much!


A naturopath deals with using minerals and vitamins to help balance the body and serves to “cure” different illnesses. I was tempted to throw this one in with the quacks…mainly because they talka bout using vitamins to release or increase “Vial energy” a source of healing that only vitamins and minerals have apparently. That and the American Cancer Society basically stated they were quacks!

However, I do think that they can be used, if you are careful and think unlike a sheep, to help your health and wellness levels through using good nutrition and balancing your vitamins ext. But be warned…tones of snake oil salesmen here!!

Hydro therapy:

Not just “go take a bath”! Use of water to heal up and relax has been used for hundreds of years. The most effective healing I have done for my sore muscles have been using Ice and hot water to flush the muscles. I first ice down the muscle then go sit in a hot tub, repeat this till I felt that the muscle was flushed out.

If you are looking to relax after a hard work out, don’t go sit in the hot tub to do this. Yes it increases blood flow ext, but it will also push the level of inflammation post work out thru the roof! Instead of that, chill out after a hard work out…and I mean that literally. Get some ice and ice the sore spots. After a day or so you can go to the hot tub or sauna and relax.

In my next blog I will hit those things that you should avoid. Personally I think it will be much more fun to write about those!

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