Dylan Crake RMT & R.KIN

Is Massage Therapy Essential?

Please note, this post is my personal opinion, and feel free to switch up Massage Therapy with: Kinesiology, Physiotherapy, Chiro and other services that are regulated health care professions.

As Ontario enters a “Stay-at-home” order and they tell their citizens to only leave their homes for essential trips, it can become unclear about what is deemed essential and non-essential. So, lucky for you I’m here to clear up if Massage Therapy (or other health services) deemed is essential.

  • Are you dealing with chronic pain and it’s causing discomfort in your daily living? Massage Therapy is essential
  • Did you injure yourself recently and experiencing an acute feeling of pain? Massage Therapy is essential
  • Are you working from home and getting repetitive strain injuries from lack of breaks and poor ergonomic setup? Massage Therapy is essential
  • Are you feeling stressed, anxious, depressed? Massage Therapy is essential
  • Are you home all day and need to get out for some human contact? Massage Therapy is essential
  • Do you feel like you’re losing your lack of mobility? Massage Therapy is essential
  • Are you moving less and getting less activity and exercise in your normal life? Massage Therapy is essential
  • Does the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks of the treatment? If yes, Massage Therapy is essential.

Like I said, Massage Therapy can be switched out with any other health care profession, but the message remains the same. We are essential and WE are HERE for YOU!

Take care and see you soon,

The 5 Principles of Massage Therapy for New Massage Therapists

Written by a Massage Therapist who’s been working for a little over a year.

It’s the end of the year and I figured I’d write out my top 5 principles I’ve come to realize in this year of practice. Yes, I would still consider myself a newbie to the practice, but back when I was a student of Massage Therapy, I wish I had known about these sooner. I think it’ll also be fun to see if these change over the next year and what I can add over the year. Okay! Let’s dive in!

1. Believe in what you feel

Do you remember that first lab class where you were palpating the different muscles and you were not sure AT ALL if you were actually feeling the muscle. Well you were. It takes practice, but I PROMISE you, you are feeling what you should be. You just have to believe. At the same time, don’t expect to be a palpation God and feel all the ligaments and striations of the muscles right away. It takes practice. However, one of my favourite mottos is ” Fake it till you make it”. You know your anatomy and you know the general area you’re palpating, so believe in what you feel!

Also, practice on yourself! Don’t be afraid to feel around your neck and shoulder and see what feels good on you, it’ll help you out in your practice.

2. Listen to the muscle

Majority of clients that come in tell you they enjoy ” deep, DEEP pressure”. This is fine, but take your time getting to that deep pressure, especially if a muscle isn’t letting you in. If you’re compressing a muscle and it feels hard as a rock, it ain’t letting you in. Try to reduce the amount of pressure you feel and the muscle may comply and soften. It’s also important to remember that the body is like an onion, we’re literally made of layers. Muscles lay on top of each other, so you may feel different things with varying degrees of pressure. So listen* to the feedback the muscle is giving you!

*And by listen, I mean feel.

3. Work smart, not hard

You may be working with up to 5 clients a day, so take your time, go slow, switch it up. If you find you’re huffing and puffing or your back is starting to hurt, re-evaluate your body position. Can you do these techniques while seated? Go ahead and try it. Do you feel like there is a lot of friction between your hands and arms and your clients body? Probably means you need more lotion. Can you use an elbow where you’re using your thumbs? USE YOUR ELBOWS! And finally, go into the treatment with the mindset to go slow. This helps me relax, reminds me to take my time and allows me to enjoy myself while I’m providing a treatment.

4. Every Body’s Different

You’ll notice similarities and muscle patterns between people very quickly, and it’s kind of cool. But remember, what might work on someone, may not work on someone else. People are different, they be more attuned to the pain they feel and therefore want light-medium pressure. Someone else might be a bodybuilder and have muscles hard as rocks, treat accordingly. Don’t be afraid to change up the routine and make the treatment for the person and NOT the impairment because….EVERY BODY’S DIFFERENT!

5. Be Positive

Remember that when you step foot into your clinic, be positive. People are coming to see YOU today and it’s most likely going to be the highlight of their day. You remember how it feels to get a massage? You count down the hours until it’s your turn. So it’s important to remember to be positive and happy. I’m not telling you you have to be cheerleader level of peppiness, just show your client that you’re also happy to see them and can’t wait to help them feel better.

Alright, there it is. My 5 principles I learned as a new RMT for other new RMTs and new Massage Therapy grads to think about when they begin treating. I can’t wait to add to this list next year.

Have a happy and safe new years, and here’s to 2021!

All the best,

Should you strengthen a tight muscle?

I have gotten this question many times during treatments. Should I be strengthening my tight muscle?

Short answer. Yes.

Long answer, well let’s get into it.

First, let’s get into the word “tight”. All throughout my massage therapy classes, my teachers banned us from using the word tight when describing a muscle. A few word muscles can be described as are: “high toned” “short” or ” long”. Which is a great piece of information for us practitioners to use when palpating and assessing muscles, but clients are still going to refer to a muscle as being tight, which is fine! This helps the RMT narrow down which muscle is the problem and from there, find out if it’s too long, short, or if there are trigger points causing problems.

First, let’s use the hamstrings as the main example. MANY people complain that they have tight hamstrings, myself included, back in the day. Now, from here, let’s look at the common posture people have these days. It typically looks like an overly curved low back, causing the tilting of the pelvis. This means that the glutes and hamstrings become inhibited or weak.

Okay, great, the hamstrings are weak. However, because they are weak, they may also be lengthening and not the good stretch lengthening either. It’s more of the hamstrings being unable to activate themselves and don’t know what to do, so they get longer. AND because they are getting longer, the muscles themselves are thinking ” This doesn’t seem right” and they start trying to repair what’s going on by creating muscle knots – or trigger points. This can lead to the muscle feeling tight, when in fact, it’s weak! Dun, dun, dunnnn

This is a VERY simplified version of how I think of the muscles and what’s going on. There is much more science behind it, but you know what they say: Keep it simple, stupid.

So now we know a muscle can be tight and weak, so YES you can strengthen those weak muscles and one day, they won’t feel so tight. The day I stopped stretching my hamstrings and started strengthening them, was life changing. Okay, that’s dramatic but it was a big improvement.

So, what about those muscles that are over-active and are short and tight?? Like the hip flexors from example. Essentially the same thing is going on, trigger points/ muscle knots are starting to form to protect the muscle. So, your body needs to know when it’s appropriate to activate them. Majority of people are sitting all day, this is causing the hip flexors to shorten, but it’s not increasing their strength, they’re still most likely weak! Go ahead an strengthen them, but also, stretch them, because they are shorten than they should be. No harm will come out of that.

Here is a very general guide on which muscles to strengthen and stretch, and which muscles to just strengthen. It’s important to note, you should try to move your joints through all their ranges of motions to keep them mobile. Remember, you use it or lose it.

MUSCLES TO STRENGTHEN:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Abdominal muscles
  • Rhomboids
  • Middle traps
  • Lower traps
  • Deep neck flexors

MUSCLES TO STRENGTHEN AND STRETCH

  • Back extensors
  • Hip flexors
  • Quadriceps
  • Pectorals
  • Upper traps
  • Levator Scap

Want to know what exercises to do? Visit my exercise inspiration page for… inspiration.

Now go get those muscles strong and be the best human you can be!

Take care,

How to Get Our Older Adult Clients Confident With Activities of Daily Living

Below is an article I wrote for the RMTAO magazine ” Massage Therapy Today”. In it, I talk about the importance of exercise for older adults and why health care practitioners should get this age population moving !

Activities of daily living (ADL) are vital for independent living. ADLs can be defined as
routine activities done daily with little, to no assistance. These can be broken down into basic
ADLs and instrumental ADLs. Common basic ADLs consist of: transferring, toileting, bathing
and dressing. All are essential and necessary for an independent lifestyle. While instrumental
ADLs include: shopping and housework, again helpful towards living an independent lifestyle,
but not necessarily essential. ADLs are completed throughout life, however as we age, we begin
to lose some of the postural control and muscular strength we once had. Because of the decline in
strength and loss of postural control during aging, falls and accompanied injuries are likely to
occur more often during ADLs in older adults.
Falls commonly happen during ADLs that require transferring bodyweight, such as
walking and stair climbing (Robinovitch et al., 2012). This is possibly due to the older adult
shifting their bodyweight incorrectly. This transpires when their centre of mass falls outside of
their base of support, causing an increase in sway. For an active adult, young or old, this would
be easy to counteract because of muscular strength, proprioception and sense of balance.
However, this is a whole other story for an older adult whose muscle strength has declined, and
they do not feel comfortable or confident in moving as they once did.
This lack of muscle strength and lack of mobility can result in older adults not feeling
confident enough to move around and do activities that are important to everyday life (ADLs).
They may feel scared to do any activity because of the risk of a fall. This fear of falling can
create a cycle where an older adult may become more afraid to do certain activities by
themselves. The longer they wait to do them, the worse the outcome may become. This can lead
to a further loss of muscular strength, consequently causing them to do less than they were able
to do before. Turning into a greater loss of independence and an increase in that fear of falling.
One way to decrease the risk of falls and the fear of falling in the older adult population is
to promote physical activity. Exercises that do not present as a challenge, can easily be done at
home and do not create too much fatigue are great ways for older adults to maintain strength and
independence.
The common reason older adults start to limit their activities of daily living is due to
muscular strength (Robinovitch et al., 2012). A decrease in muscle strength leads to a flurry of
problems such as a change in posture, decreased mobility and increase in fatigability. A loss of
muscle strength is going to happen as we age, however the rate of which is lost can be slowed
down, if every day strengthening exercises are taught to older adults. If strengthening exercises
can be promoted within a clinic with older adults, an increase in overall wellbeing and sense of
independence can be restored.
Moreover, an easy way to see muscle imbalances and where possible weak muscles are,
can simply be done by evaluating an older adult’s posture. The typical posture among the older
adult population is seen as hunched back, decreased lumbar flexion, increased hip flexion and
forward head posture. This posture shows us there are muscle imbalances and stiffness among
the spine and surrounding joints. For example, the hips tend to be more flexed due to a loss of
muscle strength in the knee extensors. In order to compensate for the weakness, there is an
increase in hip flexion to take the load off those knee extensors (Hortobagyi, et al. 2003). Thus,
important strength exercises to teach older adults can range from hamstring curls and squats to

neutral rowing and Lat pulldowns. These four exercises alone will allow the strength to increase
in the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and the back muscles, bringing the body closer to a neutral
posture. This neutral posture means less sway is occurring, therefore, there is more stability
within the body and a fall is less likely to occur.
Furthermore, the muscle stiffness found around the spine, hip, knees and ankles equate to
a lack of mobility. The decrease in mobility can occur suddenly (from trauma, such as falling) or
can be progressive over time. The progressive loss of mobility can be from factors such as
obesity and osteoarthritis and this is where preventive physical activity must be promoted with
older adults. (Rantakokko, Manty & Rantaneno., 2013). Again, the focus should be on
strengthening the lower extremities and increasing their confidence with balance activities. This
will potentially lead to increase in mobility of the joints that are important during sit-to-stands
and stair climbing. Most often, older adults do not realize the subtle changes they made to their
everyday lifestyle to make activities easier to do, such as walking slower or using an aid
(Rantakokko, Manty & Rantaneno., 2013).
So, common mobility exercises we can talk to our older adults clients about can include:
thoracic extension and rotation exercises, sit-to-stands, anterior pelvic tilts and shoulder blade
retractions. All these exercises can stretch the areas, and work the joints in the range of motion
they should be moving in. Even going for a walk every day around the block can increase an
older adult’s confidence that they are capable of living an independent life.
In addition to a lack of mobility from muscle stiffness in older adults, a feeling of fatigue
is commonly felt among older adults. Muscular fatigue in older adults can occur more quickly
after exercises and during ADLs, leading to a decline in independence (Enoka & Stewart, 1992).
Muscular fatigue is an acute impairment in the ability to exert force (Enoka& Stewart,1992). It
can contribute to already stiff joints (Gribble and Hertel, 2004; Lundin et al,1993), altered
proprioception (Ribeiro et al, 2006;Gribble and Hertel, 2004;Lundin et al,1993) and cause a
decrease in muscular strength (Forestieret al,2002;Vuillermeet al,2002; Moore et al,2005; Hatton
et al, 2013).
Apart from having the muscles fatigued, there is also the sense of fatigability.
Fatigability, which describes how fatigued a person gets in relation to defined activities, can be
reported as a ratio of self-reported fatigue to activity level work performance. The
higher the fatigability, the more likely a person is to terminate their activity before completion
(Eldadah et al, 2010). Therefore, it can be concluded that fatigue leads to reduced physical
activity (Moore et al, 2005)
Hence, it is important to also highlight endurance exercises for older adults. This can
mean showing isometric exercises where they hold a position for about 10 seconds at a time. The
main goal is to show these exercises as not challenging and something that can easily be added to
their everyday routine. Do they travel in a car every day? Tell them to do a chin tuck against the
head rest at every red light they hit. Do you find they have weak hips? Have your client
internally rotate their leg into a table while they’re sitting. As a massage therapist, it is important
to treat in all aspects, and that means promoting and educating our clients in strength training,
endurance training and mobility training.
As mentioned above, muscle stiffness and fatigue are limiting factors in an older adults’
independence with one of the causes being a decrease in muscle strength. As therapists, we can
work with clients to help decrease pain they may be feeling, decrease any tension in muscles that

may be contributing to a lack of mobility, but if the strength in the muscle is not where it should
be, the problems we are spending an hour to help with, will never truly be corrected. Once older
adults have the sense of strength returning and the feelings of pain and fatigability decreasing,
then introduce more types of exercise and even increase the challenge of the exercises, safetly.
Taking the time to educate older adults in movement and exercise can help regain their
confidence when it comes to activities of daily living.
This Winter, I challenge all of us to put the priority of introducing strengthening
exercises to our older adult clients. They are coming to us to feel better, so we owe it to them to
help them feel better in all aspects of their physical wellbeing.

Rantakokko, M., Mänty, M., & Rantanen, T. (2013). Mobility decline in old age. Exercise and
sport sciences reviews, 41(1), 19.
Robinovitch, S. N., Feldman, F., Yang, Y., Schonnop, R., Lueng, P. M., Sarraf, T.,Loughin M.
(2012). Video capture of the circumstances of falls in elderly people residing in longterm care:
An observational study. The Lancet, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61263-X
Moore, J. B., Korff, T., & Kinzey, S. J. (2005). Acute effects of a single bout of resistance
exercise on postural control in elderly persons.(author abstract).Perceptual and Motor Skills,
100(3), 725.
Eldadah, B. A. (2010). Fatigue and fatigability in older adults. Pm&r, 2(5), 406-413.
doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2010.03.022
Vuillerme, N., Danion, F., Forestier, N., & Nougier, V. (2002). Postural sway under muscle
vibration and muscle fatigue in humans. Neuroscience Letters,333(2), 131-135. doi
10.1016/S0304-3940(02)00999-0
Forestier, N., Teasdale, N., & Nougier, V. (2002). Alteration of the position sense at the ankle
induced by muscular fatigue in humans.(statistical data included). Medicine and Science in
Sports and Exercise, 34(1), 117.
Hatton, A. L., Menant, J., Lord, S., Lo, J., & Sturnieks, D. L. (2013). The effect of lower limb
muscle fatigue on obstacle negotiation during walking in older adults. Gait & Posture, 37(4),
506-510. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.09.004

Gribble, P. A., & Hertel, J. (2004). Effect of hip and ankle muscle fatigue on unipedal postural
control. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology,14(6), 641-646.
doi:10.1016/j.jelekin.2004.05.001
Lundin TM, Feuerbach JW, Grabiner MD. (1993) Effect of plantarflexor and dorsiflexor fatigue
on unilateral postural control. Journal of Applied Physiology;9:191-20.

Ribeiro, F., Mota, J., & Oliveira, J. (2007). Effect of exercise- induced fatigue on position sense
of the knee in the elderly.European Journal of Applied Physiology, 99(4), 379-385.
doi:10.1007/s00421-006-0357-8

‘Tis the season for burnout

It’s mind-blowing to think that this year is coming to a close. (See ya later 2020!) But with the end of the year comes an increase in things you need to do, increase in workload and a shorter day. This can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and well burnt-out ( guilty !)

So how can we try to avoid this?

  • Remember to breathe. If you aren’t breathing right, your muscles are not going to be happy and you aren’t going to be happy. So take some time out of your day and just focus on your breathing!
  • Find something you enjoy doing that you also find relaxing. I’m currently into my Cricut and making stickers, along with re-watching New Girl. When I do these things, I’m enjoying my time, I’m relaxing and I don’t feel guilty that I’m doing it. Remember though, if you start stressing about not having the time during the day to do your Cricut craft, it’s probably a good time to take a break from that.
  • When you’re at work, you can still take time for yourself! If you’re given a lunch break take it, if you’re given any sort of break, TAKE IT. Even if it’s for 15 minutes. After every massage treatment, I have 15 minutes between each client, minus the minutes it takes to check-in with the client afterwards, write up notes, clean the room and set up the room. This leaves me with about 7 minutes. I take these 7 minutes and I’ll eat drink, chat with co-workers or check my phone. Those 7 minutes are MINE and I look forward to them. So what I’m saying is, take whatever breaks you can!
  • Get some sleep and take your time waking up. That period when you go to sleep and when you wake up is yours. If you want to read before you get up, even if it’s for 5 minutes, do it. If you want to snuggle your dog or cat before you get up, I highly suggest you do that. If taking time for yourself in the morning means taking a relaxing shower and getting ready for the day. DO IT ! Whatever you do in the morning, as long as you feel well rested and relaxed while doing it, your body and mind will be so happy.

Here are some resources to help you not feel burnt-out and change your frame of mind:

Even if you just do one of these things on the list, you’ll feel better. Personally, I was already starting to feel burnt out in October. Not good when Massage Therapy busy season was JUST starting. I recognized it though. And that’s the first step. Do I still feel overwhelmed by tasks I think I have to do before I head into work? 100 percent. I’m working on it. And If I’m working on it, you can too.

And whether you’re a Massage Therapist or not, get a massage. It’s an hour where you know you’ll be relaxed and you’ve earned it.

Let’s end this year on a high note everybody!

Take care, relax and wash your hands,

Intention Vs. Outcome

Intention versus outcome. They can be different, they can be the same. This can be applied to massage therapy treatments, or to the year 2020. The possibilities are endless! But, what exactly am I getting at?

Let’s use the year 2020 as an example. As soon as the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2020, the majority of people,I’m sure, had the intention of having the best year possible. Making numerous plans, thinking about vacations, weddings, family events and so on. BUT, for the most part, that stuff didn’t happen. Therefore, we had a different outcome of the year so far, than we intended. And you know what, THAT’S OKAY!

So if there’s anything that 2020 has taught us, it’s to go into a massage treatment with an open mind. You’re intentions for the treatment may be relief of pain, elimination in muscle knots or decrease in muscle spasms. However, the outcome may be relaxation, slight relief in pain and a decrease in muscle knots.

Just because the intention of the treatment doesn’t match the outcome of the treatment, it does not mean it was a failure of a treatment. I say this more as a therapist than a client. Sometimes when you don’t “fix” someone right away it can suck. Rome wasn’t built in a day though.

This is why it’s also important for the therapist to let the client know that they most likely won’t feel 100 % better after one treatment, but you can guarantee they’ll leave somewhat relaxed.

What I’m getting at is it’s important for that Therapist- Client communication. We, as Therapists have to let our clients know they most likely won’t be back to 100 % after one treatment. And clients, have to understand that any sort of relief is a positive thing. Oh, and doing your exercises that are given to you usually help too ;).

So, I would say go into your massage treatment like it’s January 1st 2020, and leave like it’s December 31s 2020, but honestly. That does NOT sound relaxing. Therefore, how about this. Client’s go into a a treatment with an open mind. Therapists, go into a treatment with a smaller ego and the willingness to help as much as you can.

Take care,

My Favourite Area to Treat

“What’s your favourite part of the body to treat? ” I get asked by about 50 % of my clients. Little do they know, this is one of the hardest questions they could ask me. Maybe it’s the way I view the body? Or the way I like to think about posture and how truly EVERYTHING is connected, but I can confidently say, I like treating the whole body. This is probably a cop out answer, but let me explain!

Being a RMT means you’re continuously learning. Therefore, I’m always learning new ways to treat areas of the body I’ve treated hundreds of times before. What I mean by that is, when I start to get bored of treating an area, let’s say the neck, I learn new ways to treat the muscles of neck. And if I see great outcomes for this new neck treatment, I add it to my massage toolbox. And if I don’t, well, I tried and had fun doing it.

Recently, I’ve been into the neck. By recent I mean, I’ve been on and off learning new techniques to treat the neck ever since I was in school for it. Soooo, I guess you could say my favourite area to treat is the neck. BUT, I treat it so often that is it really my favourite? Or am I just really comfortable treating the neck?

Then there’s the legs. Not enough people come in looking for a leg treatment. Therefore, when I get the opportunity to treat the legs, hamstrings, calves, shins and all. I LOVE IT. But is it my favourite? Or is it because it’s so rare for me to treat, that I find it fun and exciting? Who knows.

So, this is what I mean when I say my favourite part of the body, is really the whole body. Because there are so many different ways you can treat the different areas. Whether it be by Swedish massage techniques, cupping, joint mobilization or even exercise. There’s just so much you can do!

Anyway, there’s one thing for certain, no matter what you come in for, I’ll be more than happy to treat you and your body.

Wash your hands and stay healthy,

How’s your posture? Part 4

Part four of the upper body posture is here! Woo! And for the finale we are looking at the upper back.

From the previous weeks, we learned that poor posture is usually associated with tight and short chest muscles, causing the shoulders to become internally rotated, but what’s happening on the other side of your body? Your upper back muscles are becoming weak and long! Not helping your case.

Let’s dive deeper. The three main muscles I’m going to be talking about are the Trapezius muscle the Rhomboid Major and Rhomboid Minor. They all somewhat attach from the spine to the scapula. Now, imagine if your shoulders are rolled forward, where are your shoulder blades going to be? Also rolled forward. Now what does that mean for the muscles attached to the shoulder blades? They are going to become long and fatigued.

And what does this mean when the muscles become long and fatigued??? TRIGGER POINTS! The body tries to correct itself by creating muscle knots in an attempt to make the muscles shorter. This leads to pain and not an overall good time. You’ll find these trigger points mainly along the rhomboid muscles and the middle fibers of the trapezius muscle.

Moving on, the lower fibers of the traps and the upper fibers of the traps work against each other. The upper fibers elevate the shoulder blades and the lower fibers depress the shoulder blades. How are you sitting right now? Shoulders rolled forward and probably elevated. This is causing the upper fibers of your traps to be turned on ALL THE TIME. This can also lead to fatigue and trigger points! This also means, the lower fibers of the traps are NOT turned on and are becoming weak. Try and depress your shoulder blades right now. I imagine you find it more challenging than elevated your shoulder blades, and that’s because they are weak.

Okay, so quick recap. The rhomboids and middle fibers of the traps become long and fatigued, leading to trigger points. The upper fibers of the traps are being activated all the time, leading to high resting muscle tone, muscle fatigue and trigger points. The lower fibers of the traps aren’t being activated at all and become weak, which could lead to trigger points. HOW DO WE FIX THIS???

Start with shoulder blade retractions, any time you remember. Bring your shoulder blades together, hold for 10 seconds, ten times. This will help to activate your rhomboids and the middle fibers of your traps.

Next, work on shoulder blade depressions. Grab a resistant band, hold it over your head and slowly lower it down until you feel your shoulder blades moving down your rib cage.

Finally, stretch the upper fibers of your traps by bringing your ear to your shoulder.

Posture is not a static thing. It’s very dynamic, and that’s why it’s important to move, strengthen and mobilize.

That’s all I have to say on that! Stay tuned for the lower posture series coming soon!

And remember,

Take care,

How’s your posture? Part 3

Let’s jump right to it! Today, is all about your shoulders and chest when it comes to posture.

What I want you to do, is relax your body and bring your arms down to your side. Now, look at the position of your hands hands. Are the palms turned so they’re facing backwards? Probably! ” But Dylan, what does this have to do with my shoulders??” You’re probably thinking. I’m getting there!

If your palms are positioned backwards, and you travel up your arm, towards your shoulder, you’ll find that your shoulders are rolled forward!

Go ahead and turn your hands, so your palms are facing out. Do you feel a difference in your chest? Maybe even a stretch? That’s because you just moved your shoulders from internal rotation – or that hunched forward look- to external rotation. Who knew such a simple a movement could open up your chest!

So, in a perfect world, how would we like to see the chest and shoulders positioned? Chest opened, and shoulders in slight external rotation. However, this is hard to do, when most of the jobs we do throughout the day require us to be in internal rotation. This is when taking breaks becomes very important! If you stay in one position for long enough, you’re body is going to stick like that. And that hunched forward look, it’s not what we’re going for.

Shoulders in internal rotation
Shoulders in external rotation

Other than the hunched look, why else do we care so much about opening up our chest? Well, if the muscles in the chest/ anterior neck area are short and tight, they can compress on some important things. Such as arteries, veins and nerves. This is called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. There are many different types, however so as to not bore you, I’ll go over only one. And that one is associated with the pec minor muscle. So, if this muscle is shortened too much, its going to cause some compression on the Axillary Artery and the Median nerve. This can cause:

  • Arm weakness
  • Tingling down arm
  • Numbness in hand

So let’s OPEN UP YOUR CHEST!

What happens when you open up your chest? First, the chest muscles are going to lengthen and say “THANK YOU”, but also your upper back muscles are going to start to work again. More on that next week!

How do we keep our shoulder and chest posture happy, when we do the exact opposite throughtout the day? I’m so glad you asked.

  • Take breaks from work, set a timer or remember to stand up every hour and just shake out your body
  • Rotate your palms from facing backwards to forwards, slowly 5 times throughout the day
  • At the end of your workday, stretch your pecs. Whether it be on the ground with a yoga block under your back, or against a door frame
  • Do simple every day activities, with your shoulders in external rotation. Picking up a plate? Do it with your palm upright, carrying some laundry? Palm upright.

Just those four points alone will open up your chest.

That’s all I have for you today, tune in next week when I go over the importance of your upper back strength and posture !

Remember to wash your hands and wear a mask,

How’s your posture? Part 2.

I’m back after my one week hiatus! And today, I’m going to go over your neck posture! WOO!

Alright, to begin, your neck has a natural curve. It curves going in towards the front of your body, resembling a “C” shape, otherwise known as a lordotic curve. This is the natural curve and what we strive for! However, much like the rest of your back, this curve can change based on everyday life.

The three other curves you may see in a neck are:

  • Hypolordotic – if we use our Latin knowledge here, we know the natural curve is lordotic, adding hypo in front of it tells us the curve is diminishing and may even appear to be flat
  • Kyphotic- picture this as an inverse “C” shape. Your thoracic spine is actually a kyphotic curve, so imagine your neck looking like your mid back. It’s not the best look
  • S-Curve – this is a mix of both a lordotic curve (yay) and a kyphotic curve (boo). The neck consists of only 7 vertebrae, therefore, that’s a lot of curving that’s going on in your neck in a small space. Not good!

Go ahead and take a picture of your neck position now. Does it seem healthy? If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it! You’re here now to get some neck tips.

Moving on, WHY do we want that lordotic curve in our neck? Our spine column and the disks are made to absorb force of everyday life. If the curve of your neck is off slightly, it’s going to cause unnecessary force and pressure on the joints and disks of your neck that aren’t meant to load it. If this keeps happening, this can lead to degenerative disk disease and possibly arthritis.

And those are just the vertebrae if your neck curve is out of wack! There’s a whole thing going on with muscle imbalances too! I covered those a bit more in part one of this series. To recap though, specific muscles in the back of your neck are becoming overactive and working too hard. These culrpits are the levator scap muscle and the upper fibers of the trapezius muscles. Since they are esssentially taking over, the surrounding muscles shut off and become weak. Those weak muscles are notablely the lower fibers of the trapezius muscles and the rhomboid (more on those next few weeks).

How can we gain control of our neck posture then?

  • Chin tucks! This is going to strengthen the front musculature around your neck
  • Levator Scap Stretch: Point your nose towards your armpit, and with your hand on the same side push your head further towards your armpit. 30 seconds to 1 minute, throughout the day
  • Upper Trap Stretch: Bring your ear to your shoulder, and with the hand on the same side, push your head further towards your shoulder. 30 seconds to 1 minute, throughout the day
  • Move your neck from side to side, up and down, and rotate! Just use your neck to it’s full range of motion. Remember, you use it or lose it! Arguably one of the most important laws in all of kinesiology.
Chin tucks
Upper Trap Stretch
Lev Scap Stretch

Next week, we tackle the shoulders!

Rememeber to wash your hands,

How’s your posture? Part 1.

Posture. It’s a big deal! Over the next four weeks, I’m going to be cracking down on your upper body posture! From your head position, to your shoulders. Don’t worry, I’ll be getting to the lower body soon enough.

So, let’s get to it. Today, I’ll be going over your head position and where you should aim to keep your head, why you should, what happens when you don’t, and some exercises to get you there. Buckle up!

Today, if you were to look at most peoples heads, you’ll find them looking down at their phones or computers (I’m guilty of that). Their chins are close to touching their chests, their ears are way past the centre line of the body and it just doesn’t look comfortable.

Taking a deeper look at what’s happening when you’re in that position, you’ll find that the muscles along the back of your neck along your spine, are becoming too long and weak, while you’re sub-occipital muscles at the back of your head and the muscles in the front of your neck are becoming shortened to try to compensate for your posture.

This can lead to:

  • Headaches
  • Myofascial Trigger points
  • Nerve pain
  • TMJ dysfunction

And that’s because when the muscles are getting too long, they try to fix the problem themselves by essentially getting knotted up, creating trigger points. These trigger points can lead to headaches. But also, if the muscles are getting shortened too much, like with the sub-occipital muscles, they’re contracting too much, being over active, leading them to fatigue- again creating trigger points. It’s a big cycle. If the muscle is shortened as well, it can actually compress some nerves that may be in the way, causing that tingling feeling down your arm. So, its a big deal !

Right now, I want you to have someone take a picture of your head and neck from the side angle. You may be surprised how far forward your head is. Now, take another picture with your chin slightly tucked down and your head pulled back. Feels weird right? That’s because there’s some muscles working that forgot what their jobs were. You may also notice how subtle of a change those two positions are, but what a world of difference it makes for your head and neck.

Forward head posture is being seen here

Better neck and head alignment is seen here

Alright, so how can we begin to correct our posture starting with our head? First off, if you’re working a 9-5 job at a desk all day, I want you to take one break every hour and just look away from your screen, towards something far away. This will give your eyes a break, so they aren’t straining, which in turn, gives your facial muscles a break, which gives your whole head a break. Next, when you’re driving home and you’re at a stop light or a stop sign, I want you to do chin tucks against the headrest. You’ll find that exercise here, but essentially all you do is bring your head down into a slight nod and then pull your head back. You should have a double chin if you do it right. Hold each chin tuck for 10 seconds and do however many you can during the red light. This is a great exercise for your deep neck flexors. Now, a great exercise you can do for your jaw, is the controlled jaw opening exercise. If you find you’re clenching your jaw, do this one, you’ll find it here. All you need to do for this one is place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and with control, slowly open your jaw and slowly close it, ten times.

To recap:

  • For good head posture, aim to have your ear slightly in front of your shoulder
  • Take breaks from your screen and looking down to decrease strain on your eyes and neck
  • Do chin tucks
  • Do controlled jaw opening exercises

Let’s get out posture back to normal! Next week, we tackle to neck!

Massage Vlog No.14: What are insurance companies doing?

It is the start of week 14 of working as an RMT during a pandemic. School is officially back and as predicted, the numbers are increasing. We’re still in a pandemic everyone! Please continue to be responsible, I’m not ready to go back into lockdown again !

What’s new? This has been on my mind for a while, I just always forgot about it. But when I was just starting out as an RMT, I found out from one of my clients that certain insruance companies have a rating system of health care practitioners. I had no clue this was a thing until she told me about it.

What are your thoughts on this? To me, it’s a little weird being the person being rated and having no clue about it!

My wins from this past week:

Surviving a full day of massages. I had my first day of no kin clients, so it was just me in the treatment room all day. I’m happy to say, I felt fine and energized from it.

My goals for this week:

Do some website updating. I’m trying to work on making my site look more aesthetically pleasing.

That’s all from me!

I’m going to enjoy these last few hours before I head into work and officially start my work week.

Keep wearing your masks and remain socially distant,

Massage Therapy’s best friend

Massage Therapy is great. Exercise is great. You add them together and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Many of those that are seeking Massage Therapy treatment, are typically coming in for muscle “tightness” and pain. A 60 minute massage is a great way to begin to get your muscles back in tip top shape and a great way to maintain your muscle health. However, if you aren’t exercising those muscles, the discomfort is going to come back, and you may never find relief.

This is why, if you’re an RMT, it’s important to prescribe exercises at the end of treatments. And if you’re a client, it’s so important to do those exercises. These exercises don’t have to be difficulty, or long, or require equipment. All they need to do is emphasize moving your body.

A few weeks ago, I had a client come in, with what I suspect was IT band syndrome. I knew right then that a massage alone was not going to fix this problem and I let them know that. I helped release some areas that were tight and then we focused on strengthening their hips. At the end of the session, I told them how often to do those exercises, book another appointment in two weeks, and if the pain stops, feel free to cancel the appointment. In the end, I believe the massage did help their leg, but I also believe the exercises I gave are going to help so much more than just as massage.

Furthermore, because exercise and massage therapy are so connected, it is important that RMTs normalize prescribing them at the end of treatments. And, if you are given exercises by your RMT, PLEASE do them! We want to see you get better and have given them for a reason.

Keeping this blog post short and sweet this week, the main message I want to get out is: Massage Therapy and exercise are best friends. You can’t have one without the other.

So remember, if you’re given exercise homework from your RMT, DO IT!

And if there are any RMTs out there that have no idea where to start when it comes to remedial exercises, send me an email, where we can chat about common exercises to prescribe and how I choose the exercises I do.

Remember to keep moving,

Massage Vlog. 13: The standards are changing!

Welcome back to week 13 of working in a pandemic as an RMT. It feels like fall is just around the corner and that happened way to quickly!

Anyway, it’s week 13, other than being a spooky number, nothing out of the ordinary is going on this week. Some exciting news is that CMTO is looking to revamp their Standards of Practice! They’re asking for some input from select RMTs, I believe. This is great, some of their standards are not the most comprehensive, for me, anyways, so I’m looking forward to what they come up with!

My wins for the past week:

Work wise, I suppose I’ve been more aware of my body mechanics and have been correcting that

Personal wise, I was able to run 10 km no problem last week, which is great seeing as I have a virtual race coming up this weekend.

My goals for next week :

to continue to promote kin and massage together. You really can’t have one without the other. Massage is great, but if you aren’t focusing on strengthening and mobilizing your body, you won’t get anywhere.

That’s all for me!

See you all next week,

How often should you get a massage?

In a perfect and pain-free world, I would always suggest getting a massage every 4-6 weeks. Why?

  • It helps decrease your stress, we are living in a stressful world right now
  • it maintains good muscle health
  • it helps increase your own body awareness
  • it’s nice having something to look forward to every month

Of course, everyone is different and the reasoning why you are coming in for a massage matters. So, how often should you be getting a massage?

*It’s important to remember, these are only guidelines and everyone’s situation is different *

If you’ve booked your appointment for massage because you tweaked your back or neck recently(within the last week) and you’re in pain, I would recommend booking your next massage in the following week or two.

If the pain is rated 7/10 on your first visit, the main goal of the massage treatment would be to begin to decrease the pain and get some range of motion back into the joints that are affected. If the injury seems like more of an acute muscle strain and no major muscle imbalances were discovered, then coming back the following week allows the therapist to target the affected area a little more, which decreases the pain a little more AND increase the range of motion a little more. This could take up to three treatments until you start to feel back to normal. Remember, healing takes time.

Now, if it’s an injury has occurred due to muscle weakness, which should be assessed by your therapist, I would recommend coming back in two weeks after trying strengthening and mobility exercises given to you by the therapist. If those exercises worked, and the pain is gone, you might not even need that second or third appointment! However, you can always keep it if you want.

Similar to an injury due to muscle weakness, if you’re coming in for a massage treatment because you’ve had pain or an injury that hasn’t gone away in the last 2-3 weeks like you thought it would, the key is exercise and massage. Do the exercises your therapist prescribed after your first treatment and visit again every two weeks for a follow-up two to three more times. Again, the pain and the injury isn’t going to be fixed after one treatment. Since the injury is in the “sub-acute” phase, it may take more time to heal, which means a few more massage treatments may be required to get you back to your pain-free self.

Next, if you’re experiencing chronic pain, chances are, massage therapy is just one way you’re managing it. At this point, it is your body and you know what works best for it. Whether it be a massage once a week or once a month. The difference between chronic pain and acute pain mentioned above would be that there is no “end” date for the massage therapy sessions. Whereas an acute injury patient can be discharged from massage after three sessions typically ( if they do they’re exercises), chronic pain patient’s may unfortunately always have the pain and should continually seek massage therapy.

Finally, if you aren’t experiencing any unusual pain, whether it be acute or chronic, I suggest a massage once every 4 – 6 weeks. It makes your muscles happy, it makes your body happy and most importantly, it makes you happy.

So if you don’t already have your massages booked for the rest of the year, I suggest you get to it!

We all deserve one (or a few) at this point!

Stay healthy and keep safe,

Massage Vlog No.12: September Scaries

It’s the start of week 12 of working in a pandemic as an RMT and let me tell ya, this week is busy!

As we know, September is right around the corner, which means summer is ending, but it also means some kids are heading back to school. This is a tad nerve wracking because the start of school always brings colds on for people and if I get sick, that means I lose at least a day of work. So please! If your child or you get a common cold from being back at school, cancel your massage appointment!! Don’t risk it!

Okay, that was my PSA on that.

My win from last week: I helped one of my clients figure out where his headaches were coming from. He was coming in for massage 1-2 times a week because he really wanted to see if massage would help and it was so nice to finally see some results after his 4th treatment. See? Massage helps!

My goals for this week: Definitely working on my body mechanics while treating. I’ve been noticing I’ve been slouching and bending a lot more now, where as in the beginning of being back at work I was squatting and lunging and using my elbows. It seems I’ve gotten lazy , so I’m making myself be ever more aware of my posture. I gotta practice what I preach!

And that’s all I have for you this week!

Don’t forget to wash your hands,

Massage Vlog No.11: Maskne and College Dues

It’s the middle of Week 11 of working in a pandemic world as an RMT!

I took Monday and Tuesday off to visit my parents, so woo for a short week! I can hear the weekend calling already .

So what’s on the table this week? Work wise? Nothing crazy, living my dream job of working as both a RMT and a R.Kin, BUT this weekend I’ll be in my first golf tournament! I’m very excited for that, and don’t worry, I’ll keep you all posted!

Next, the CMTO came out yesterday and I told us our college dues can be paid in split payments. I personally love this. A little less stress financially and the price didn’t go up. However, many RMTs still deem this as unfair. Now, looking at this as an R.Kin, we still had to pay our dues in full and by the end of August, it would have been amazing if they split those in half as well! So, I’ll take what I can.

Also, I worked at the College of Kinesiologist’s of Ontario last summer and I know what goes on behind the scenes, so I understand why I pay what I pay. And I feel the same way about the CMTO. They’ve done a lot behind the scenes during the pandemic ( minus the not getting the OSCEs ready), and I’m willing to pay them for it.

Moving on, if you are wearing a mask everyday (and you should be by the way), you are probably experiencing mask acne, or ” maskne”. Well, I’ve done some research and I think I’ve got a new skincare routine to fight it!

My goals for this week: Find some blogs/ online magazines that need writers!

Week is half over, let’s get the show on the road!

Stay safe and stay healthy,

One year as an RMT

Today marks my one year anniversary as an RMT and what a fast year it was. ( Let’s ignore the pandemic that happened halfway though).

In this first year, I’ve learned so much more about the profession of Massage Therapy and I really defined what it means to me. As of right now, this profession means endless learning opportunities, experimentation with different techniques and modalities, stepping outside of my routine to help someone else and being an entrepreneur. Even within the first two months of working as an RMT, I couldn’t believe how much I had learned outside of school, compared to being in school. And when we were all told to go into lockdown, I took that as a challenge to market myself, get out there and really work on the business side of this profession. Which fun fact, I never saw myself as a business/networking kind of girl, but here we are. And that is what truly excites me as an RMT. It’s not just about providing massage treatments, you can do so much more!

Now moving on, how has my view of the body changed since I began working? Well, I no longer see just a “back” or just a “shoulder”. I see the muscles that make up those areas and how they move and all work together. It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, older adult or desk worker, I see all those muscles the same way. And I’ll do anything I can to help ease the pain. However, when I’m the one on the massage table getting a massage, this can be both a blessing and a curse because I want to enjoy the massage but I’m also learning what the other therapist is doing at the same time.

So, what exactly have I gotten up to this past year? Way more than I could ever imagine.

  • Started my Facebook and Instagram page
  • Started a TikTok ( now over 1000 followers!)
  • Created this website
  • I was on podcast ( 2 RMTs and a Microphone, here’s the link if you want to listen)
  • Started making weekly Vlogs about my return to work as an RMT in a pandemic world
  • Met other health care workers across Canada and the USE online, where we got to chat about what it’s like to be working right now and other stuff ( thanks to these Physios for setting that up)
  • I was the Registered Massage Therapist of Ontario Association’s RMT of the month (in March)
  • Written three articles for Massage Therapy Today magazine
  • Built trusting relationships with my patients
  • Helped a lot of people manage their pain

If this is what I did in my first year, then I am beyond excited to see what I do in the next year, and the year after that and the year after that.

So thank you to all those that have shared this journey with me! Thank you to my peers and friends for being there when I needed to ask questions or just chat. Thank you to my co-workers at Whole Therapy for making me feel welcome and comfortable and thank you to my patients I had right from the start for sticking with me.

Time to celebrate,

Massage Vlog No.10: My first year as an RMT

It’s week 10 of working in a pandemic as an RMT AND this week also marks my one year anniversary of being an RMT.

More on that later this week though…

Keeping this post short and sweet. I have a busy week full of massage treatments and kin treatments (love it). I’m also setting up the time to physically write down my training schedule, in hopes I stick with it!

My win for last week would have to be I hit 1000 followers on tiktok! Honestly, if you haven’t tried tiktok, I highly suggest it. It’s not just all teenagers dancing, trust me. ( My tiktok is dylan.the.rmt if you want to give me a follow)

My goals for this week are to relax and celebrate being an RMT for one whole year!

Ok! That’s all for now,

Stay safe and stay healthy,

Weekly self-massage how-to’s

On this page you’ll find my weekly self-massage tutorials. The areas of the body depend on what I’m up to that week and what I need to massage on myself. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Send me a massage and I’ll make a video about it in the upcoming week!

Sinus self-massage

Low back self-massage

Quad self-massage

Jaw self-massage

Pec self-massage

Lat self-massage

T-Spine Self-Release

Midback self-release

Hand Self-Massage

Neck Self-Massage

Everyday Exercises

Here you’ll find weekly exercises that I think should be apart of your everyday life!

Breathing Drills to help stretch your lungs and make your diaphragm stronger.

Learn how to open your mouth with precision and control. This is great if you suffer from TMJ dysfunction and weakness is to blame!

Here are two ways to strengthen that tiny muscle called the TFL, located on the lateral hip.

There are two of my FAVOURITE hip exercises – the bridge and clam. They look easy, however they aren’t! And if you think they are, you ain’t doing them right!

The main reason we want to strengthen and stretch are hip flexors is probably what you’re doing right now, and that’s sitting. We sit for long periods of time and these muscles take some of the damage for it.

Sometimes we need to turn on our quads before we actually work them out to get strong. Here, I show you how.

Wrist mobility drills. We use our hands EVERYDAY. When was the last time you moved them in all their possible ranges?

Much like our wrists, our ankles need to be mobile as well. Here are a few ankle mobility drills.

Low back pain? These three mobility exercises may help you out!

Here are three simple movements to open up your chest.

Lat activation exercise.

Catcow for mid-back stiffness

Shoulder blade retraction: To help strengthen your upper back and decrease those muscle knots there.

How to self-massage your low back

Have you ever needed a massage for your low back, but you weren’t able to get an appointment with your RMT? Here’s a quick way to massage your low back with nothing but you hands ( and lotion) that will tide you over until your next RMT appointment.

My Relationship with Running

As a Massage Therapist and a Kinesiologist, I’m often asked what I do to keep fit. I strength train, but I also run. However, I do not consider myself a runner. I just run.

I started running back in high school for the cross-country team. That’s when I fell in love with it, maybe more so for the scenery , getting to miss school once a week and hanging out with my friends and teammates. Once the cross-country season ended for the year, I always found it tough to continue my running schedule and would just put it on hold until the end of August.

Me and my friend, running side by side at one of our cross-country meets.

Once I went off to University, I completely stopped running. I would have the intention to run, but I always found excuses not to, because in my mind I had to beat my running time. Every.single.time. and when you don’t beat it, you really don’t feel like running.

Once I moved to Ottawa, I discovered the Ottawa Race Weekend, and I thought this would be a great way to get back into running. Finally, I have a race and a goal to look forward to. I did my first Ottawa Race Weekend 5 km in 2017. I ran a few times a week and was proud of myself for finishing it and finishing it quickly. So, for the next year, I decided I was up for the challenge of running 10 km. I love running 10 km because it gives you a chance to run slower when you need a break, but you still have the time to “catch up” if you have to. When I started working at Whole Therapy last year, I met Richelle the physio, the “Running with Richelle” ( Follow her on instagram and facebook if you want amazing tips on how to run and injury prevention). Learning some things about running from her changed my running game. I was running more frequently and doing strength training. This led me to have one of the best race times for a 10 km yet.

Now, fast forward to this year. Typically after I finish the Race Weekend at the end of May, I take a break until January. I learned how to run during the cross-country season when it was cooler and I don’t like to run in the heat. BUT after the race last year, I kept running. Kept up my running schedule. Discovering new trails to run. And then the pandemic hit. And the race was cancelled and all motivation for running stopped. I couldn’t even muster up enough motivation to run 2 km. Because what was the point? The race was cancelled and I wouldn’t have any times to beat. One of the RMTs I work with, Mel, would continuously check up on me to see how my running was going and eventually, her asking, gave me the push to start running again. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run far, or fast. I could only run 3 km in the beginning, very slowly. But something was different this time. I no longer felt the need to go fast and beat my record every time I ran. I could go slow, I could be relaxed while running. I could stop and take a break. As long as I’m running, what does it matter?

I still have bad weeks of running and good weeks of running. Two weeks ago was an awful running week for me, I felt like I was getting slower and I was losing the want to run again. But last week I put on my running clothes and shoes and just went for it. And it felt great. I didn’t have any pressure to run fast, I just wanted to go on a relaxing run. And once it was over I was happy and proud I did it.

My relationship with running has been on and off for a long time now, but I’ve going strong for the past 12 weeks of running. I believe changing my mindset of not running fast every single run has made this sport a lot more enjoyable for myself.

The hardest part is putting on your shoes, so just do it.

Massage Vlog No. 9: How long do the Massage Therapy students have to wait??

Nothing like starting your 9th week back at work like a long weekend. And hey! This weeks marks the same amount of time I was out of work during the pandemic. I can safely say the time went by WAY quicker while at work, rather than at home.

So what’s going on in the world of massage? Well the CMTO just announced that it’s going to take 5 more months to figure out how to give out the OSCEs for all the massage therapy students who graduated and want to become registered. That means they would have graduated in the summer of 2020 and have to wait until 2021 to just take the practical, that doesn’t even include waiting for the go ahead to start practicing massage therapy on the public. My heart goes out to those students. I do believe their may be a petition going on around this, and if so, I’ll link it below. Let’s also hope that the CMTO is exaggerating with this 5 month date.

Anyway, my win from last week would be the fact I was able to fill a spot through a post on instagram. Near the begining of my time working I would post saying I had spots to no avail, and NOW they’re getting snatched up. How awesome is that!

My goal for this week, treat the pain globally and don’t focus on the exact spot that patient may say is causing the pain, because it may just be a referral pattern. I find I’ve gotten good at this when it comes to the neck, shoulder and upper back but now it’s time to focus on that low back region..globally.

Alright, it’s late and I’m burned to a crisp, have a great week everyone!

Stay safe and stay healthy,

What is Gua Sha?

Monday I received my new Sidekick Muscle Reliever (huh?). It’s a fancy way of saying I got a stainless steel muscle scraper that uses the foundation of the Traditional Chinese Medicine approach of Gua Sha. I am very excited to have gotten it and when I posted about it, a lot of you guys seemed exited as well! Awesome! But I figured I needed to start at the beginning to explain what Gua Sha was first. So, let’s dive in!

What is Gua Sha?

It is scraper therapy. Back in the good old days of Ancient China, the tool would be small and typically made of bone, jade or ceramic. It would have rounded edges and the practitioner would scrape at areas that they deemed had “stagnant energy “. This stagnant energy would be responsible for increasing inflammation and leading to chronic pain. They believed that scraping at this area in a downward motion would move the energy along and decrease inflammation that might be occurring in that spot.

Today, we do much of the same thing, even the tool materials are the same. However, for those not practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine, instead of having the goal of moving stagnant energy, we use it to promote circulation in an area to help break down scar tissue, decrease inflammation and help with overall chronic pain.

Now, why use a metal tool, such as the one I got in the mail on Monday? It’s heavier. If I have to get to deeper tissue, I now get to use less force because the tools weight will easily go into the tissue. It’s also bigger. This allows my whole hand to grip onto a part of the tool and it allows me to have more control of how much force to use and where to direct that force. The larger “handle” is also great when using it on yourself, especially at your neck, because you don’t have to overstretch your one arm to reach the opposite side of your neck. It’s also extremely easy to clean and disinfect.

After using the scraper tool on my neck for a few minutes on Monday, I felt the pressure at the base of my skull release and it was amazing. If this is something I can provide for myself (yay, self-care!), then I’m very excited to see what it does for my clients.

Sidekick Echo Muscle Reliever

Gua Sha – another tool added to my Massage Therapy toolkit.

Keep moving and stay dynamic,

Here’s a bonus picture of Georgie, because I forgot to bring it back home from work yesterday to show myself using it.

Massage Vlog No.8: Are you ready for a second wave?

It’s the start of Week 8 of working in the pandemic world as an RMT and the numbers are…rising. Slightly, but still.

Ottawa entered Phase 3 of the shutdown? Lockdown? Quarantine? Which meant the gyms were allowed to open back up, you could eat inside restaurants ( I can’t see myself doing that for a LONG time) and social gatherings could increase to 50 inside. This made is seem like we had beat COVID-19. I saw pictures of people out at bars in the Byward Market. Too many people too close together, and the numbers have gone up. So, I decided to not go back to the gym again until the numbers go back down. But it got me thinking, are you ready for a second wave?

I’d like to believe I am, at least I know what to expect and what to do with my time. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that though.

Okay, on to some brighter news!

Today, I got the “Echo Muscle Reliever” in the mail! It’s similar to a Graston tool, and I’m VERY excited to try it out on myself before trying it on my clients. ( I also bought my first car today, shout out to Mark, my mom and Ryan for helping me deal with that stress).

My wins for the week: I now officially do kin services at my clinic. Before it was placed under personal training, but now it’s Kinesiology! And seeing that make me happy.

My goal for the week: Reach out to some fellow RMTs across Ottawa, see what they’re up to and how they’re doing. Network, network, NETWORK!

Alright, I’m going to go play with my new Echo Muscle Reliever now!

Stay safe and stay healthy,

Is a 60 minute massage right for you?

The most common amount of time people book in for a massage is 60 minutes. One whole hour of having the tension released from your muscles. But what if you don’t actually need an hour? What if you need MORE than an hour or LESS than an hour?

I’ve got you covered. Just follow this simple guide to help determined the amount of time you need for your treatment!

Now, it is important to remember that the assessment prior to your massage and any remedial exercises given after your massage are all apart of your massage treatment time. Therefore, this is something you should factor in when booking a massage.

Alright, so, how do you know if you require the classic 60 minute massage? If you are experiencing general discomfort in one area -such as the upper back – AND you also want relaxation incorporated into your massage, go for the 60 minute massage.

How do you know if a 45 minute massage is right for you? You may have one specific area, such as your right shoulder, that’s causing you discomfort and you want to just focus on that area, but you also would like some sort of relaxation incorporated into your treatment. 45 minutes is for you.

What about a 30 minute massage? If you have one specific area that is bugging you and you want ONLY that area to be treated, book for 30 minutes. It’s quick and simple and there’s no need for any of the other fancy stuff. You’re there for one thing and that is to get your problem close to being fixed.

Now, on the other end of the spectrum. What about a 75 minute and a 90 minute massage?

A 75 minute massage may be for you, if you are experiencing discomfort in two specific areas of your body, such as the calves and the upper back. The extra 15 minutes gives the Massage Therapist the time to treat both areas equally.

And finally, when is a 90 minute massage right for you? If you want a full body massage, whether it be for total relaxation and stress relief or to work on multiple areas that are causing you discomfort. 90 minutes may just be for you.

Of course, this is just my opinion. If you are still unsure, ask your RMT. They’ll be happy to let you know the treatment time that will benefit you the most.

And with that, have a fantastic day!

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Massage Vlog No.7: Professional Judgment

Week 7…SEVEN! It does not feel like I’ve been working for nearly 2 months, but just checked my calendar and yes, I have.

This week is sort of exciting because I have the chance to work with my first virtual kin client. This will be my first step into virtual healthcare and I feel beyond lucky that I have the credentials to help someone from inside their home, where they feel safe. It is a new and exciting challenge for me!

Alright, moving on. So my wins from the past week would be the amount of returning clients I see, or as I call them “my ride or die” clients. My whole schedule last week, was mainly full of these guys. Which is great!

My goals for this upcoming week, to promote more of my Kin services! I’ve been a R.Kin for 5 years this year and I pay my dues to the College, so I might as well work hard in that health service as well!

Finally, let’s talk about professional judgement. A lot of RMTs have been reaching out to the MoH in regards to uncertainty to patients’ COVID screening. The MoH has a common reply of saying “use your professional judgment”. From what I gather from that, go with your instinct. If you feel comfortable treating a client who has a headache, but they always have a headache, go for it.. but only if YOU are comfortable treating that person!

Ok, it’s now time for the gym, I’ll let you know how that goes!

Stay safe and stay healthy,

What in the world is cupping?

If you were one of my clients in the pre-pandemic world, I’ve most likely used silicon cups on you to help decrease a trigger point and relax a certain area of a muscle. But what on earth is it?

Cupping dates back to ancient China, think early 300’s A.D. It’s an old form of Chinese medicine. Back in the day (wayyyyyy back in the day), the cups would be made of bamboo or ceramic. The practitioners would light a fire within the cup and as the cup cooled, put it on the skin and it would form a vacuum with the skin.

Luckily, today I have silicon cups where I can control the amount of vacuum needed to get the muscles happy again and I don’t need to use fire( which is a good thing, because I’ve been known to burn myself on occasion while cooking) although some practitioners still use the fire method!

So how do I use cupping in my treatments?

Usually, if I stumble upon a large trigger point/ muscle knot along the upper traps, mid traps or rhomboids, I’ll apply lotion and slowly glide the cup along the muscle fibers. This allows the fascia to lift up from the muscle and increases blood flow to the area. The more blood going to your muscles = the happier your muscles will be. After about a minute or two, I’ll take the cup off and continue working the area with my elbow or hands. If I found the trigger point hasn’t released like I would like, I’ll leave the cup on the main spot and have it rest there for up to three minutes.

And that’s how I use cups!

So, what are the benefits?

In my practice, the main benefit is to increase blood flow to a muscle. The more blood going to a muscle, the more oxygen it’s getting. If a muscle has a large muscle knot, that area of the muscle isn’t getting as much oxygen as it should be, therefore the muscle is not working in an optimal way.

What can you expect from cupping?

When you’re getting dynamic cupping done, it feels like your skin is being picked up and dragged. It’s an unusual feeling. It’s painful but it’s a good pain. When you’re getting static cupping done, it feels like a lot of pressure is being created at one point in your muscle and as soon as the cup is taken away, a wave of instant relief rushes in, in my experience anyway.

After the cupping is done, there may be a bruise where the cup was. I try to avoid having the cup in one area for too long, but it does happen.

So, in a nut shell, that’s what cupping is!

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Massage Vlog No.6 : Creating bonds

I’ve been an RMT for EXACTLY 11 months now, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me the that the bonds I’ve created with my clients are real. But it does surprise me! I went into the massage profession because I wanted to help people feel better and decrease their pain, it didn’t occur to me at the time that I’d be helping people feel better in both a physical capacity AND mental capacity. To be honest, I’m not good at expressing my emotions, but it just feels nice that I can be apart of someones life and make them feel better, even if it is for only an hour.

Anyway, here’s to week 6 of working in the new pandemic world!

My wins from last week: Recognizing the bond and trust I have with my clients

My Goals for this week: Prescribe more remedial exercise, this was literally my first profession as a kin and (most) people love learning new exercises, it just seems like the right thing to do!

Stay safe and stay healthy,

Knee pain? It could be weak hips!

With the gyms still being closed and the weather being beautiful outside, many people may be taking the opportunity to walk or run outside more to get in some physical activity. They may also be experiencing knee pain. If this sounds like you, listen up!

Most of the time, when you are experiencing knee pain, it’s because the muscles around your knee may be overcompensating and working more because the muscles around the hips aren’t doing their job and activating as they should (it could be a foot thing too, but lets stick with the hip this week).

So, how can you test for weak hips?

  1. Try doing a single-leg bridge. What to look for when you do this test:
  • Ability to hold position for 1 minute
  • Keep hips level the entire time
  • Feel the power coming from your glutes, NOT your hamstrings
  • If you’re able to hold the position, but find you’re unstable, it could be a weak core! So head over to my core page to get that strong!

This tests specifically for the glute max strength.

Single-leg bridge test

2. Try doing a single- leg stance. Be sure to watch yourself in a mirror for this one. What to look for:

  • Notice if the hip on the opposite side of the stance leg drops

This test more specifically for glute med and glute min strength and it’s very easy and fast to do!

Strong glute med and min

Weak glute med and min

A few exercises you can do to help turn on your glutes include:

  • Bridge
  • Clams
  • Sweeps
  • Hip abduction

So, try these two tests and head over to my hip exercise page and core page to help strengthen those areas if you find you are weak, and you’re knee pain may just go away…or decrease, but let’s have wishful thinking here!

Stay health and stay safe,

Massage Vlog No. 5: Learning to slow down

Week 5! It truly feels like I never left work, even more so that I took the day off! Yes! Long weekend for me! Kind of.. I’m using my time off to update the website a bit and get on top of training plans. STILL, I got to sleep in today which was amazing.

What am I working on? Not much, adjusting the glute challenge still and I’m considering planning a runner’s guide to strength training. There’s only so many hours in a day though right?

Whats the massage tea? I talk about how the pandemic has caused me to slow down in my practice and I’m trying to learn to slow down in my downtime as well.

That’s all for me today. I’m going to go enjoy the sun some more and read a book. Any good book recommendations let me know!

Stay safe, stay healthy

The Power of Touch

A few weeks into the lockdown I wanted to hug all my friends and family. It was something I took for granted before and I missed feeling their touch. I was lucky enough to living with my boyfriend and dog, but I was craving the touch of others that I love. I couldn’t even imagine what it must have been like for those living alone during this time. But this got me thinking about the power of touch.

A positive touch has the power to relax the body, increase trust between each person and even decrease any hyperactivity a muscle may be going through. Something as simple as a hand on your back can send signals up to the part of your brain responsible for compassion and reward and your mood can change from stressed to calm. Do you remember being a child and getting hurt and then getting a hug afterwards from a parent or guardian? You probably felt safe, the pain probably decreased and you probably calmed down. There’s an example of the power of touch.

Now imagine living the past 3 months in lockdown with no one to give you that touch. In an already stressful situation, your stress levels could increase even more because of the feeling of isolation. This stress can cause not only mental health problem but physical health problems as well, such as increased muscle tension, headaches, etc. This is why I believe Massage Therapy is so incredibly important during this time. Apart from working out all the kinks that have developed due to that working-from-home lifestyle, just the simple touch of someone else can decrease the stress you may be feeling. Personally, I find when I’m stressed my whole body feels like a giant ball of tension. My muscles are overworking and becoming sore, but as soon as someone touches a muscle that’s angry, the tension drifts away and I’m able to relax.

Touch is one of the first senses we feel as a baby, so it makes sense that the power is rooted deep within us. Keeping this short and sweet, if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed during these times, Massage Therapy may help you through the simple power of touch.

Happy Canada Day,

How other Massage Therapists feel about returning to work : Massage Vlog No. 4

It’s the start of week 4! ONE MONTH. Can you believe it? Something I noticed at the end of last week was the increase personal training clients I’m now seeing compared to pre-pandemic. I believe I have the closure of gyms to thank for this. I’m loving the increase in these training clients too because it’s taking me back to my R.Kin days where I helped rehabilitate many people with exercises and it allows me to be a little creative with the training programs.

What am I working on this week? Celebrating Canada Day, relaxing and continuing to troubleshoot my 4 week glute challenge program.

What’s the massage tea this week? Not much. I had to change to catch up with two of my friends ( who are RMTs) after not seeing each other since February and see how they feel about returning to work. Oh, and my masks I’ve ordered still haven’t come in the mail yet…

If you’re interested in the aprons I wear during work, here’s the link!

That’s all for now!

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Do you know where your core is?

So I just finished the Chloe Ting 2 Week Ab Challenge (Thanks Mom for suggesting it). And it was great. Short, 10 minute program consisting of 21 different ab focused exercises. But it got me thinking, did you know there is more to the core than just abs? It’s true!

A strong core can help reduce back pain, because it keeps your spine more stable and helps to improve your posture. However, a lot of the times when we ( Kins, personal trainers, RMTs) mention strengthening the core, most people picture six pack abs. This is only one aspect of your core! So I want you to imagine this. Your body is a cylinder. THAT’S your core. It consists of your back, abs and lateral muscles of your body, as well as your shoulder muscles, pelvic floor muscles and glutes.

This is essentially your core.

Therefore, when you’re coming up with a plan to strengthen your core, consider your WHOLE core, not just the abs.

Below, I’ve listed a few exercises that target each part of your core. A strong core, is a happy core and a happy core makes your one step closer to living a pain-free life.

AreaExercise
BackSuperman, Back extensions, Deadlifts, Rows, Lat pulls
GlutesSplit squat, Clams, Hip thrusts
AbsDeadbug, Heel lowers, Reverse crunch, Heel taps
Pelvic Floor Kegles, Bridging
ShouldersShoulder flys, Upright row, Shoulder abduction, Shoulder flexion
Whole CoreMountain climbers, Plank, Spiderman

Now when you’re planning your next core workout, choose two or three exercises from each of these categories, and make a full core circuit. How fun is that!

Stay tuned for July, when I update my core page with all these new exercises.

In the meantime, go find your core !

Stay healthy and keep moving,

Pretty Masks and Neck Pain – Massage Vlog No. 3

Alright, it’s the third week back to work. Everything feels right again in the world minus all the new neck and back pain people keep coming in with!
If you are those people, I will now direct you to this blog post where I go over the do’s and don’ts from working from home!

What am I working on this week? I’m starting to experiment with a 4 Week Glute Challenge, so if this interests you, stay tuned! I’m currently in the planning phase right now.

What’s the Massage Tea? I received an email this week from the College of Kinesiologists of Ontario to remind us that our renewal fees are due at the end of August. I was hoping they would be pushed back, even last year they were due in September. It is what it is though.

That’s all for this week folks! Time for me to go check the mail and HOPE my new masks are in!

Stay healthy and stay safe,

The Do’s and Don’ts of Working from Home


AS YOU KNOW, I’ve been back at work for a week now. And I’ve already started to see a pattern of muscle tension from the clients I’ve seen, who all happen to be working from home.

They come in with a complaint of increased neck stiffness, stiffness between the shoulders blades and stiffness along the spine. When they tell me that, I automatically ask if they are working from home and almost all of them say yes.

Before working from home was the cool and safe thing to do, there was already this known fact that desk workers don’t have the best posture, but then you add in the fact they are now working from home now and probably don’t have an ergonomic set up. The postural problems start to become worse than before.

So here is a list of Do’s and Don’t while working from home to save your neck and back.

DO

  • Take breaks to move and stretch your neck and back, at least once an hour
  • Set up your computer so it’s at level with your eyes
  • Sit in a comfortable chair with support at your back and allows your hips to be around 90 degrees
  • Fun chair exercises as you work, such as glute squeezes, shoulder blade retractions and abdominal activation
  • Designate a working zone

Don’t

  • Stay in one position for longer than an hour
  • Constantly look down at your screen
  • Use your couch or bed as your workspace chair
  • Slump and stay in that position
  • Work in a common area with a lot of distractions (family, TV)

Georgie showing off her work station

In all honesty, if you just take breaks and move your body you’re neck and back will thank you. For more postural exercises, I suggest looking at my postural exercises page and choose the one’s that work best for you. Self-massaging may be a good option as well, and luckily I have a page for those right here. And when in doubt, I’m sure your Massage Therapist will help you out!

Stay mobile, stay moving and stay dynamic,


The Massage Vlog- No.2

First week back to work as been a success! And now it’s time to focus on moving forward.

Things I am LOVING about the new COVID-19 protocol put in place at work :

  • 30 minutes between each client ( it used to be 15 minutes)
  • The Pre-screening ( sometimes reminder emails aren’t enough for clients and they still forget to show up, when they complete a screener I KNOW they are going to show up for their appointment)
  • My aprons ( keeps my clothes clean and has very handy pockets)

Now, if we could wear re-useable masks, that would be great, because I have my eyes on really pretty floral ones. However, I do understand the surgical masks give us and the clients more protection and that’s fine by me.

Moving on, what’s going on in the massage world? Well, Premier Doug Ford was asked last week why the public could get a massage before they could get haircuts and you know what he said? He had NO idea why! Neither did Ontario’s Minister of Health, Christine Elliot. So here is a quick review for the Premier and the MoH.

Massage Therapy is a registered health care service. It is under the same act as: nurses, doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, etc. We have to pass two provincial exams in order to treat the general public. Not only do we treat physical impairments, we also help with mental health by helping clients reduce stress and provide a relaxing environment. And THAT is why Massage Therapists were allowed to return back to work before hair salons were allowed to open.

Without further ado, here is my Vlog from Week 1.

Stay safe and healthy,

Massage Therapy: Now open for Business.

At the end of May in Ontario, health care practitioners, whom were told they were unable to work at the beginning of the pandemic were now allowed to work right away.

This came as a surprise to almost ALL RMTs in the province. We all assumed massage therapy clinics would maybe be allowed to open in Phase 2 or Phase 3 in the opening of the province of Ontario, not Phase 1. Luckily, being in lockdown for the past 2? 3? months has made us, RMTs, all proactive in setting up our treatment rooms and clinics.


So, what can you, as a client now expect to do when coming in for a massage in these post-COVID days?

  • Arrive on time for your appointment and sanitize your hands
  • Complete the screening questions that may have been sent to you the day before your appointment and again before your appointment
  • Wash and sanitize your hands when you arrive and after treatment
  • Wear a mask throughout the treatment, unless unable to (such as having asthma)

If you feel unsafe about coming back to visit your RMT, listen to your instincts and wait it out and return on your own terms.

Now, what can you expect your RMT to be doing before, during and after a massage treatment?

  • Answering any questions you may have in regards to health measures set in place
  • Keeping track of clients coming in and out of the clinic
  • Changing and cleaning linens, pillows and blankets between each treatment
  • Disinfecting the treatment room and all surfaces that may have been touched during treatment
  • Wearing a mask
  • Washing and sanitizing hands before and after treatment

What else am I doing as I begin to open up my practice?

  • All of the above ^^
  • Offering virtual kinesiology services, educating on self-massage and remedial exercises to help deal with any discomfort gained from working from home (email me if you’re interested)
  • Taking a longer time in between each treatment, to allow sufficient cleaning protocols
  • Practicing social distancing during working hours and during my personal time
  • Being there for you

Above all, your RMT is going to be understanding if you’re coming in with high anxiety and they will try their best to relax you. As more clinics start to open in the coming weeks and months, we’ll gradually get use to the new protocols and slowly become more comfortable with this new world of massage. If you’re not ready to visit your RMT, that’s okay. We haven’t seen anything like this before and we’ll all be ready at different times. Just know, we’re here for you.

P.S. Stayed tuned for my VLOG about my first day back to work!

Minutes of Muscles

Need a quick anatomy refresh of what certain muscles do? You’ve come to the right place.

Minutes of Muscles 1: Biceps Brachii

@dylan.rmt

Minute of Muscles: Biceps Brachii! Which actions lengthen and which actions shorten this two headed beauty of a muscle #anatomy #muscles #kin

♬ Aesthetic – Xilo

Minutes of Muscles 2: Trapezius

MoM: Trapezius download

@dylan.rmt

This week’s Minute of Muscles, we’re going over the actions of the traps !#anatomy #muscles #science #bio #rmt #massage

♬ original sound – Dylan.the.RMT
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