Summary: Exciting new discoveries in neuroscience are changing the way we view the pain experience. Pain serves to protect and heal, but can persist if and when the body’s alarm system remains on high alert. Massage therapy and movement can boost safety signals, helping to reduce pain.
What makes a person more prone to developing persistent pain? And why is it the longer pain persists, the less it correlates with actual tissue damage? We now understand that pain is a protective output created by the brain’s interpretation of a multitude of inputs, including: biological, psychological and social information. In short, pain can increase when there are more danger signals than safety signals.
At any given moment, your brain is processing a variety of signals: danger and safety. These can include changes in pressure, temperature, chemical balance, as well as signals created by sight, smell, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, previous experiences, expectations, cultural influences and social interactions.
Pain serves to encourage protecting and healing. But what happens when pain lasts longer than the normal timeframe for tissue healing? This can occur when the body’s alarm system remains on high alert and is stimulated by a lower intensity stimulus. The good news: the brain’s ability to change can allow the nervous system to recalibrate in positive and new directions.
The role of massage therapy and pain reduction
Massage and movement can inhibit the influence of danger signals and boost safety signals within the nervous system. With less danger signals and more safety signals, a person may experience less pain. This means more movement, better sleep and newfound states of feeling good.
At Intent Health Clinic, we employ a variety of approaches to encourage more safety signals and less pain:
We provide a quiet, comfortable and predictable treatment space
Our treatments and homecare suggestions involve techniques that aim to calm the nervous system
We encourage healthy sleep and relaxation practices, as well as graded exposure to movement
We provide pain education; studies show that learning about the neurophysiology of pain decreases perceived threat levels to the nervous system which can result in decreased pain levels, and
We connect you with resources like the Protectometer App, a useful tool that helps identify potential danger and safety signals, and encourages the novel combination of safe inputs to retrain the nervous system
Adapted from the article: Sharman, Jenn. “Reconceptualising Pain.”RMT Matters. July 2017 vol. 10 no. 2. pp.14-15.
Summary: Massage Therapists are increasingly recognizing the importance of providing trauma-informed care, however it’s not taught in most massage programs. This article lists our top 5 recommendations for learning about trauma-informed care and how to apply it in your practice. There is no regulation for using the phrase “trauma-informed”
Massage therapy can reduce anxiety, depression, pain and improve quality and duration of sleep. Improvements in sleep, mood and pain levels can create windows of opportunity where you feel better and can move and socialize more.
Summary: Trauma-informed massage therapy is an approach to practice and not a massage technique. It’s built upon four principles: trauma awareness, safety and trust, collaborative choice and connection, and strength-based skill-building. Registered Massage Therapists working in this area don’t have to be experts in trauma, but can respond
With great respect and gratitude, we practice massage therapy on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples –Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) And Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.