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  • The Science Behind Sports Massage: Enhancing Performance and Recovery

    Sports massage is a specialized form of massage therapy that caters to athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It is a targeted therapeutic technique designed to assist individuals at various stages of their training, from pre-workout to post-workout recovery. But how does it work, and what are the benefits? Let's delve into the science behind sports massage and its impact on performance and recovery. Understanding Sports Massage: Sports massage is not just for athletes. It can be beneficial for anyone who exercises regularly to prevent injuries, increase flexibility, and aid in healing after a sports-related injury. Unlike a typical relaxing massage, sports massage can be vigorous and intense, stretching tight muscles, activating inactive muscles, and improving the overall condition of soft tissue. The primary goal of deep tissue sports massage is to alleviate stress and tension in the body's soft tissues caused by physical activity, which may help increase endurance, improve athletic performance, decrease the likelihood of injuries, and speed up recovery after an injury. The Science Behind Sports Massage: A systematic review published on PubMed Central titled "The Effects of Massage Therapy on Sport and Exercise Performance" examined the effects of massage therapy on sports and exercise performance [1]. The review found that massages generally do not affect motor abilities, except for flexibility. However, some studies showed that muscle force and strength improved 48 hours after the massage was given. Regarding neurophysiological parameters, massages did not change blood lactate clearance, muscle blood flow, muscle temperature, or activation. However, many studies indicated pain reduction and delayed onset muscle soreness, likely correlated with the reduction of the level of the creatine kinase enzyme and psychological mechanisms. The Psychological Benefits of Sports Massage: Massage therapy can also help improve mental clarity and focus by promoting relaxation and reducing stress, which can be especially beneficial for athletes preparing for competitions or events. The review found that massage treatment led to a decrease in depression, stress, anxiety, and the perception of fatigue and an increase in mood, relaxation, and the perception of recovery [1]. Conclusion: While the direct usage of massages just for gaining results in sport and exercise performance seems questionable, it is indirectly connected to performance as an important tool when an athlete should stay focused and relaxed during competition or training and recover after them [1]. If you're in Los Angeles and looking for a sports massage therapist, consider checking out Jesse Anoraj at Artisan Neuromuscular & Sports Therapy. As a local sports massage therapist in Los Angeles and West Hollywood, Jesse specializes in helping athletes and active individuals improve their physical performance, prevent injuries, and aid recovery. References: [1]Dakić, M., Toskić, L., Ilić, V., Đurić, S., Dopsaj, M., & Simenko, J. (2023). The Effects of massage therapy on sport and exercise Performance: A Systematic review. Sports, 11(6), 110. Archer, P. A. (2007). Therapeutic massage in Athletics. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

  • This Earth Day and Beyond, Spend More Time in Nature, or consider booking a Thai massage session

    As Earth Day approaches, it is important to reflect on the interconnectedness of all things on this planet, including ourselves. One way to honor this connection is through the practice of Thai massage, which has its roots in ancient healing traditions that recognize the balance and flow of energy throughout the body and the natural world. At the heart of Thai massage is the concept of Sen energy lines, which are pathways that run throughout the body, similar to the meridians of traditional Chinese medicine. These energy lines are believed to connect us to the elements of earth, fire, wind, and water and to the natural cycles of the environment around us. Thai massage incorporates a variety of techniques to stimulate and balance the Sen energy lines, including stretching, compression, acupressure, and rhythmic rocking. By working on these energy lines, Thai massage can help to release tension and blockages, promote relaxation and flexibility, and enhance overall well-being. The earth element in Thai massage is associated with stability, grounding, and nurturing. How to connect with Earth element, Thai massage may include techniques that focus on the feet and legs, such as foot reflexology and leg stretches, to help you feel more rooted and supported. The fire element in Thai massage is associated with passion, energy, and transformation. How to connect with the fire element, Thai massage may include techniques that focus on the belly and chest, such as abdominal massage and chest stretches, to help you tap into your inner fire and ignite your vitality. The wind element in Thai massage is associated with movement, creativity, and freedom. How to connect with the wind element, Thai massage may include techniques that focus on the arms and hands, such as shoulder massage and arm stretches, to help you feel more expansive and open. The water element in Thai massage is associated with flow, adaptability, and harmony. How to connect with the water element, Thai massage may include techniques focusing on the back and hips, such as spinal twists and hip stretches, to help you release tension and move with greater ease and grace. As we celebrate Earth Day, let us remember the importance of honoring the natural world and our connection to it. Thai massage and the elements of earth, fire, wind, and water offer a beautiful way to connect with the planet's rhythms and energies and promote healing, balance, and harmony within ourselves and the world around us. Jesse Anoraj, NMT | Certified Advanced Practitioner and Teacher Training Program endorsed by ITM - International Training Massage School | Los Angeles Massage Therapist Book

  • Scientific research on the benefits of massage therapy

    There is ongoing scientific research on the benefits of massage therapy. Some of the current findings include: Pain relief: Massage therapy has been found to be effective in reducing chronic pain, including lower back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis. Stress reduction: Massage therapy has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and to increase feelings of relaxation and well-being. Improved sleep: Massage therapy has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration, particularly in people with insomnia. Improved range of motion and flexibility: Massage therapy has been shown to improve flexibility and range of motion, making it particularly useful for people with conditions such as fibromyalgia and myofascial pain Improved athletic performance: Massage therapy has been shown to improve athletic performance by reducing muscle soreness and stiffness, and improving recovery time after exercise. It's important to note that the benefits of massage therapy can vary from person to person, and that more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind its effects. References The Rise of Massage Therapy in Pain Management | Massage Therapy Journal. (n.d.). American Massage Therapy Association. Nazari, Fateme, et al. “The Effect of Massage Therapy on Occupational Stress of Intensive Care Unit Nurses.” Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015, Sable, Amol, et al. “Effectiveness of Back Massage on Sleep Pattern among Patients with Congestive Cardiac Failure.” Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017, Yeun, Young-Ran. “Effectiveness of Massage Therapy on the Range of Motion of the Shoulder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2017, Davis, Holly Louisa, et al. “Effect of Sports Massage on Performance and Recovery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, BMJ Specialist Journals, 1 May 2020,

  • Common Causes of Pain Between the Shoulder Blades and Neck

    Facet joint syndrome in the neck can produce neck and shoulder pain that can restrict your range of motion, making it difficult to rotate your head comfortably. A trigger point in a muscle will cause pain in the area. In the upper back, it may cause pain across the muscles around the spine, neck, and shoulders. Something starts to hurt, so you tense the area up. Then it hurts more, so the muscle tightens up more, perpetuating and escalating the cycle of pain. Any intervention that helps treat the pain and eliminate perpetuating factors can help break the cycle: trigger point therapy, stretch therapty, heat and/or ice, chiropractic or osteopathic treatments, deep tissue massage, ultrasound, homeopathy, biofeedback, acupuncture, dry needling , counseling, and even analgesics. You need to break the pain cycle as soon as possible to helps prevent the symptoms from getting worse or affecting other muscles and soft tissues. Neuromuscular Therapy can be an excellent form of muscle spasm and pinched nerve relief to allow your soft tissue spasm to release pain management. You should see a doctor if your pain is severe, unusual, or doesn’t go away. Pain is a sign that something could be wrong. Your condition might not be serious, but it could be. If it’s bothersome in any way, you will want to get it checked out. Myofascial Trigger Point causing radiate Pain in the neck to upper back between shoulder blade Scalenes Trigger points can produce a complex pain pattern that is deep, aching, and persistent. Pain can be experienced in the upper chest and/or the upper back; it can be experienced in the side or back of the shoulder and arm and on the thumb side of the arm and hand, including the thumb and index finger. The pain can be in all of these places or it can be in only one of them, and the location of pain can change from one day to the next. In addition to pain you might feel weakness in the hand and arm that makes you drop things unexpectedly. Pain may disturb your sleep, but it is relieved by sleeping in a sitting position or propped up. The symptom is likely experience minimal restriction of range of motion when rotating the head, but greater restriction when bending it to the side. Levator Scapulae trigger points pain will be felt at the angle of the neck where the neck and the shoulder meet. There might also be some pain in the upper back, just between the shoulder blade and the spine. The hallmark of active levator scapulae trigger points is a stiff neck that won’t let you turn your head fully to the same side as the pain. When trigger points are present in Semispinalis Capitis, pain encircles the head, with its greatest intensity experienced at the temple and forehead over the eye. Think of a painful vice-like grip around your head that is focused over your eye. Semispinalis Cervicis trigger points produce pain and soreness at the base of the skull and into the neck. When trigger points are present there will be difficulty dropping your head downward (flexing the head and neck) and looking up and back (extending the neck and head). You won’t be able to do either comfortably Jesse Anoraj has been a Certified Member in good standing of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals ABMP since 2018 and runs a private practice, Artisan Neuromuscular & Sports Therapy, the local massage place in Los Angeles focusing on therapeutic-sports massage for Pain & Stress Management. He is an outstanding massage therapist with a good reputation and expertise in soft tissue technique and assisted stretch therapy, helping people cope with pain and tightness. References:

  • What is the difference between myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia?

    Myofascial pain syndrome should not be confused with fibromyalgia, which has similar symptoms. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body — not just in particular areas — and does not include trigger points. For more information, see the Made for This Moment fibromyalgia page. A person can have both fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. That makes it especially important to consult with a medical specialist who can diagnose the difference and apply the proper treatments for each condition. This information is not intended to provide medical advice or to replace the advice of a licensed physician. Portions of this information, however, may be used to provide material to your physician for review. Reference: American Society of Anesthesiologists. Fibromyalgia. (

  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome

    Myofascial Made Simple The word myofascial means muscle tissue (myo) and the connective tissue in and around it (fascia). Myofascial pain syndrome has been defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) as a painful regional condition associated with the presence of trigger points. Myofascial trigger points are spot of hyper-irritability, which, when subjected to mechanical pressure, give rise to characteristic patterns of referred pain. Trigger points have both a sensory and a motor component. Clinical characteristics of a trigger point include circumscribed point tenderness of a hard nodule that is part of a palpably tense taut band of muscle fibers, patient recognition of the pain that is evoked by pressure on the tender spot as being familiar, and pain referred to in the pattern characteristic of the trigger points in that muscle, a local twitch response or “jump” sign, painful limitation of stretch range of motion (ROM), and weakness of that muscle. Often multiple muscles are involved. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In this condition, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the muscle and sometimes in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This is called referred pain. This syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively. This can be caused by repetitive motions used in jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension. The terms trigger points and tender points are often incorrectly used interchangeably. A tender point is a widespread, nonspecific, soft tissue pain often associated with fibromyalgia, as compared to a trigger point which is a localized area within a taut band of skeletal muscle which has a characteristic nodular texture and, upon palpation, generates a twitch response or referral pattern as seen in the myofascial pain syndrome. Trigger points can be active or latent. An active trigger point is associated with spontaneous pain present without palpation, either at the site of the myofascial trigger point or remote from it. Palpation increases pain locally and usually reproduces the subject’s remote pain. A latent trigger point is not associated with spontaneous pain. However, pain can often be elicited in an asymptomatic issue by a mechanical stimulus. The exact mechanism of myofascial trigger points is still unclear. They can develop after trauma, overuse, or prolonged spasm of muscles. The “energy crisis” hypothesis states that an overload of the muscle causes an increase in calcium release, which stimulates prolonged contractility and increased metabolic activity causing localized ischemia. Key elements of the physical examination include evaluation of posture (symmetry, stance, and scoliosis), palpation, ROM of the lumbar spine and restrictions due to pain, neurological examination, and palpation (flat or pincer palpation) of superficial and deep soft tissue looking for: tenderness, taut bands, twitch responses, and referral patterns. Potential tools for diagnosis under study include measurement of biochemicals associated with pain and inflammation in the trigger point region, sonographic studies, magnetic resonance elastography for taut band imaging, and infrared thermography. Many methods have been used to treat myofascial pain, including stretching, massage, trigger point pressure release, laser therapy, heat, ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), biofeedback, pharmacological treatments, trigger point injections with local anesthetic and/or steroid solutions, shockwave therapy, and botulinum toxin type A injection. While nearly everyone has experienced muscle tension pain, the discomfort associated with myofascial pain syndrome persists or worsens. Myofascial pain occurs in about 85% of people sometime during their life. Even this high percentage may not be accurate. Myofascial pain is often under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed or overlooked because it’s hidden in another type of diagnosis such as headache, neck and shoulder pain, pelvic pain, limb pain or nerve pain syndrome. Men and women are equally affected, though middle-aged inactive women are at the highest risk. This information is not intended to provide medical advice or to replace the advice of a licensed physician. Portions of this information, however, may be used to provide material to your physician for review. What are the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome? Symptoms are different for each person with myofascial pain syndrome. Sometimes the pain happens suddenly and all at once, and that is called a “flare-up” of symptoms. At other times it’s a constant, dull pain that sort of lingers in the background. Symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome include: Pain that’s described as deep aching, throbbing, tight, stiff or vice-like. Trigger points (a small bump, nodule or knot in the muscle that causes pain when touched and sometimes when it’s not touched). Muscles that are tender or sore. Weakness in the affected muscle(s). Reduced range of motion in the affected areas (e.g., you may be unable to completely rotate your head). People with myofascial pain syndrome often have other health problems that coincide. Commonly reported problems include: Headaches. Poor sleep. Stress, anxiety, depression. Feeling tired (fatigue). What causes myofascial pain syndrome? The jury is still out about all of the causes, contributing factors and exactly how the pain mechanism works. Causes of myofascial pain syndrome include: Muscle injury. Muscle strain/repetitive muscle use (e.g. hammering). Muscle weakness/lack of muscle activity (e.g. a leg in a cast will not get enough movement). Poor posture. Working in or living in a cold environment. Emotional stress (can cause muscle tension). Pinched nerve. Other factors thought to contribute to the development of myofascial pain syndrome include: Metabolic or hormonal problems such as thyroid disease or diabetes-related neuropathy. Vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin D and folate. Presence of chronic infections. Where does myofascial pain syndrome most commonly occur? Myofascial pain and trigger points can develop in any muscle in the body. However, the most commonly affected muscles are those in the upper back, shoulder and neck. These muscles include the: Sternocleidomastoid: This large muscle helps rotate your head to the opposite side and flexes your neck. It is located on both sides of your neck, running from your skull behind your ear area to your collarbone and breast bone. Trapezius: This large, broad, flat triangular back muscle tilts and turns your head and neck, shrugs and steadies your shoulders, and twists your arms. The muscle extends from the base of your skull to the middle of your back. Levator scapulae: This pair of strap-like muscles help raise and rotate each of your shoulder blades. They run from the first four cervical vertebra to the top edge of your shoulder. Infraspinatus: This triangular muscle, located on the back side of each of your shoulder blades, helps rotate and stabilize your shoulder joints. It’s one of four muscles of the rotator cuff. Rhomboids: This pair of upper back muscles pull your shoulder blades together when they contract and attach the upper limbs to your shoulder blade. These muscles run diagonally from the neck and chest vertebrae of the spine down to the back of the shoulder blades. How can I describe my pain? Different categories are used when describing or attempting to gather information about pain. These include: oLocation, Site: where the pain is felt(ie Head, Neck, Shoulder, Shoulder Blade, Low Back, Glute, Buttock etc) Intensity: how severe the pain is (ie Most pain scales use numbers from 0 to 10). Frequency: how often the pain occurs (ie morning, night time) Quality: the type of pain (ie. Deep, Ache, Dull, Sharp, tender, shooting etc.) Duration: how long the pain lasts when it occurs Pattern: what causes the pain and what improves it Movement: what movement causes the pain Dull pain is often chronic, lasting a few days, months, or more. Commonly, dull pain results from an old injury or a chronic condition. If you have a new, dull pain that doesn’t improve in two to three weeks, bring it to your doctor’s attention. Questions your therapist may ask to assess myofascial pain syndrome: Your healthcare provider may order a few tests to rule out other conditions and ask you questions about your pain and symptom, including: Where do you feel the pain? How would you describe your pain? How often do you experience pain? What makes your pain better? What makes your pain worse? Have you had any recent injuries? Do your symptoms get better at certain times during the day? What does your work day look like (to look for activities in which there is muscle strain/repetitive motion)? Can myofascial pain syndrome be prevented? There are certain factors that can put you more at risk for developing myofascial pain syndrome. Managing these risk factors may not prevent you from developing the syndrome, but could help reduce the severity of the condition. Many of the prevention suggestions to follow are also pain management strategies: Maintain proper sleep hygiene. Reduce your stress. Get exercise. Avoid preventable muscle injury. (e.g., is the shoulder bag/purse you carry too heavy and digging into the muscles in your shoulder?). Practice relaxation methods. How do I take care of myself? Living with myofascial pain syndrome is uncomfortable at best, unbearable at worst. Take care of yourself by following your healthcare provider’s treatment plan and using your at-home remedies listed above. Exercise, change your diet, soak in warm water, get massages, etc. You’ll likely have to experiment to figure out what treatments work best to reduce your pain. References: National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists. Myofascial Therapy. ( Accessed 7/1/2020. American Society of Anesthesiologists. Myofascial Pain Syndrome. ( ) Accessed 7/1/2020. Mayo Clinic. Myofascial pain syndrome. ( Cleveland Clinic. Myofascial pain syndrome. (

  • What is Neuromuscular Therapy?

    Neuromuscular therapy is a manual therapy for pain management, rehabilitation, and prevention therapy. It is a treatment for myofascial trigger points. The trigger points are microscopic spasms at the neuromuscular junction, where the nervous system communicates with a muscle, causing pain, weakness, and discomfort in a referred pain area. It effectively breaks the stress-tension cycle by promoting a parasympathetic response in the body through precise manual techniques that encourage the neuromuscular junction back to healthy function, reduce resting muscle tension and spasm and move metabolic waste products, which irritate nerves, out of muscle tissue fibers. This technique is a highly effective form of Deep tissue massage that focuses on the unique communications/relationship between the body & the brain, identifying whether the brain is giving the body lousy information or vice versa. It also addresses getting the brain to accept that trauma is over, the body wants to move again, and vice versa. Neuromuscular therapists are highly skilled in muscle anatomy, connective tissue work, palpation and pain management. It integrates diverse techniques such as trigger point therapy, positional & neuromuscular release, deep-transverse friction, myofascial approaches, and muscle energy. On the right hand, neuromuscular therapy is a highly effective treatment for chronic pain, muscular trauma resulting from an accident or injury, or strain caused by overuse. On the other hand, neuromuscular therapy gets clients back to a healthy lifestyle, doing the activities they want to do. "Rebuild your strength. Regain your balance. Revive your energy. Refresh your mind. Rekindle your soul." Benefit of Neuromuscular Therapy. Decrease stress & pain via gate control and reduce pressure on the nervous system to help create a positive state of mind that is leading to a greater sense of ease with movement. Many orthopedic conditions and sports, automobile and work-related injuries respond well to this form of therapeutic massage, including: Neck & shoulder pain Low back pain Sciatica Migraines & tension headaches Frozen shoulder Whiplash Rotator cuff injuries Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction Carpal tunnel syndrome Tendonitis Sprains & strains Arthritis Plantar fasciitis Shin splints Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome Knee pain

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