Have you heard of the word borborygmus?* Do you suffer with borborygmus during a massage?
Well, the first answer is probably “no” and the second the answer is “yes”. Borborygmus means the rumbling sounds made by the movement of gas in the intestines! It is perfectly natural.
I am a massage therapist. Many of my clients try to apologise for a “rumbling stomach”. I always tell them the noisy stomach is a compliment. Those noises are indicating that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are being re-balanced. What?!
Your body's involuntary nervous systems are wired for survival. The parasympathetic system keeps you going: breathing, eating, sleeping, and other life functions. The sympathetic system is the flight or fight system. It gets your body ready for action to get you out of danger. These two systems have opposite effects on the body. The activity of one system affects the other. So when the sympathetic system is active , it “dampens down” the activity of parasympathetic nervous system.
When you are stressed, it is the sympathetic system that is turned on. To relax, it is the parasympathetic system that needs to be stimulated.
It is not only the client who may have rumbling stomachs! There are the occasions when my own stomach starts to make noises – is it lunchtime? I normally don’t say anything so as not to disturb you, the client. As you relax, you may be in your own world and completely oblivious of extraneous noises. My talking would only disturb your “thoughts”.
This did create a laugh recently. My stomach was doing a lot of rumbling (not particularly loudly). My client could hear noises and finally said “Is my stomach making those noises? I can hear stomach rumblings but I don’t feel them!!” I laughed and said “No, it is my stomach. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice!" We both laughed.
So borborygmus is telling me that your body is starting to relax. It is no longer “wired for action”. Yes, your body can speak – you just have to know what it is saying!
*I came across this term from a short article done by Walt Fritz, PT. Here is the original article.
I just love the human body and am constantly amazed at what we do to it and how little we actually know about it!
Take the current mantra of getting fit.
We are admonished to get fit - go to the gym, do some running, take up a sport. Of course, before you take up a new activity, you are advised to have a check-up before you start - getting your blood pressure checked, etc. Yes, it is good advice but I feel that something is missing. I don't think the check-up actually checks on your body - its muscles and posture. Why does this matter?
For a start, if the body is not in balance, then you may be working hard for no reward.
For example, if you already have slightly rounded shoulders, being told to engage your muscles to pull your shoulders back will not change the position of your shoulders.
Why? A simplistic answer is that muscles work in pairs. To actually move a joint, one muscle contracts while the opposite muscle relaxes. This coordination occurs because the contracting muscle "turns off" the opposite muscle. A constantly tight muscle is continually "turning off" the opposite muscle which makes it seem a weak muscle. Until the tight muscle is released and its "turn off" signal stopped, the weak muscle can't respond very well to strength work.
Back to your rounded shoulders. Yes, your shoulders aren't in an ideal position but the problem is actually that muscles in the front of the shoulders are too tight (such as pectoralis major and minor). Until you release the tension in these muscles, you are unlikely to see any change in your shoulder position.
You can work on building up weak muscles but quicker results maybe obtained by stretching and releasing the tight muscles so that the weak muscles then have something to do! You may be surprised at how quickly you see results!
I would suggest that a massage session should be part of your check-up. Developing body awareness is part of getting fit!
The invisible body - what body "facts" have you grown up with?
Yesterday, I examined one of the body facts that we all accept: the body will heal itself. The problem with this is that sometimes I see clients who should have sought help much earlier than they did. The recovery time frame would have been much shorter and they would have been able to do the things they wanted much sooner!
Today, I want to look at another body fact: ageing.
You grow up with the fact of ageing: you won't be able to do what you used to do: you find you can't run as fast as before, you can't touch your toes like you used to. When you mention these problems to others, you are told: "What do you expect? It's your age."
If you accept that ageing as a process of decline, you accept the fact that you won't be able to do what you used to do. Life seems to become ever decreasing circles of being able to do less and less. But wait a moment.
Your body adapts to what you do and for most of us that means slumping over our computers, reclining on the sofa to watch TV, sitting in our cars and driving for miles. Our posture is just a variation around of theme of sitting down in various slumped positions. The tissues in your body adjust to this posture so that when you stand up you start to look like you are sitting down! This short, tight tissue limits your movement so can't do what you used to do.
But what if you changed what you normally do?
What massage therapists and other people who do bodywork know is that your body tissues retain some elasticity and plasticity . Become more aware of what you are doing. Get guidance on stretching and posture, you can do more of what you used to do!
Massage/bodywork is a great way to increase your body awareness and to improve your body's flexibility. Put a spring in your step with massage!
Have you ever had an operation such as having your appendix removed or a ceasarean section? Do you have a scar as a result? Does the scar feel and look different?
Your scar is visible proof of your body's self-healing process. What a wonderful process especially when you think about the number of times that you bump into things or injure yourself.
The body reacts to "injury" by first quickly stopping any bleeding through the formation of blood clots. It then tries to close any cuts and repair damaged tissue. This is done by quickly laying down collagen tissue in a haphazard manner. Basically the body is trying to quickly repair damaged tissue. The repaired tissue is different from the original tissue. The differences include: 1) the replacement tissue and associated collagen fibers may be sticking to other structures (ie there may be adhesions), 2) movements may be restricted due to these adhesions, 3) the "new" repaired tissue lacks the flexibility/pliability of the original tissue.
It is possible to re-mould scar tissue as the body reacts to the stresses applied to it. By engaging scar tissue with appropriate techniques underlying adhesions can be broken down. This helps to restore tissue pliability as well as improving movement. Tissues can now slide over each other whether it is fascia, muscles, or internal organs. These same techniques can help to restore flexibility/pliability and to improve tissue strength.
Do you have problems with scar tissue or do you feel less mobile following an injury? You might benefit from approaches that address scar tissue effects such as myofascial release.
For a massage therapist, what are the main tissues of the body?
Well, I thought I knew: bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As a bodyworker, we were taught that massage worked on and affected the muscles and their associated tendons. Muscles mattered. Now the buzz word is fascia.
So what is fascia? It is the body's connective tissue that covers and connects everything in the body. What does it look like? It is easiest to see as the delicate but strong white tissue that covers a leg of lamb.
Why is fascia creating a buzz? It has some amazing and important properties: fascia connects all parts of the body- it is your "body stocking". When you move one part of your body, there is a subtle pull/stretch in another part of the body. This also means that when there is a restriction in one part of the body, there are effects throughout the body.
Fascia is affected by habitually poor posture, trauma, and inflammation. Fascia reacts to these conditions by shortening and becoming more rigid. The body loses its flexibility. Movements become restricted and painful. Restricted fascia can exert a tensile strength of over 2000lbs so it can have quite an effect on the body.
What does this mean for you?