|You have had a car
accident! The car and all its contents, including humans, are
suddenly moving differently than before. As your head starts to move,
sensors in the neck scream to the spinal cord - PROBLEM! The spine
sends an immediate signal to the muscles in the area to tighten NOW
and a signal to the brain to hold them tight. This process is repeated
throughout the body as needed. Even if air bags go off, you can still
be injured in the accident, and you may need time and help to fully
Once the accident happens, it is wise to write down all the details
that you can. As fast as possible after the event, get medical attention,
even it you think it is not needed. In some cases you may feel ok,
yet have problems that you do not know about. Keep a journal for
several weeks of how you feel, because some people have found the
pain getting worse for several days after a major trauma, due to
swelling and other effects of the accident.
Even work from competent caregivers can feel like it is making
things worse. Do not let this keep you from getting help; in many
cases, doing nothing is the least desirable option. The first concern
is for gross trauma, for which medical attention is needed. For
spinal dislocation, chiropractic adjustments can help, and for soft
tissue strains, massage.
The body's greatest need is for the head to remain firmly attached
to the neck and torso. The body will accept long-term problems to
have a chance to keep the head attached. The problem is, rapid movement
of the neck can cause fibers to tear or rip. Some tears can be big
enough to let you know about them instantly, others are very small.
The result is muscle spasm, which many doctors do not know how to
relax, so they give drugs, want to cut, or say "live with the
After you leave the hospital, the problem is getting back to normal.
Many people think that when the doctor says it is ok to leave the
hospital they are completely healed. If nothing else is done, it
is often easy to lose some of your ability to move and you may have
long term pain. Even if you have been told that nothing else can
be done, massage may still help. This would be the time to get a
prescription for massage. Long term relief is even more likely if
practitioner knows how to relax the muscles that are forcing the
bones out of normal position.
Aftercare involves getting the spine and soft tissue to let you
live life as you did before the accident. Chiropractic care moves
the bones back into place, and is the most common place to get a
prescription for massage work. To have massage paid for by insurance,
you must have the prescription before you go to the massage therapist.
The body frequently holds the muscles in spasm, long after the
need for protection is finished. The muscles can stay tight for
even decades after the accident. This is especially true for muscles
around the spine and ribs. The head frequently was moved enough
for the spine to be whip lashed. Just getting the bones adjusted
may not release the muscles on the front of the neck. This is delicate
work and should only be done by someone who understands how to get
the small fibers to release. Also, the spine frequently tightens
enough to compress disks. To release a spinal disk, the muscles
pulling on the structure from other areas need to be relaxed as
well as the ones around the disk.
Frequently people and caregivers think that the problem is at the
point of pain. This is only partly true. In the case of tight muscle
pulling bones out of place and/or pinching nerves and blood vessels,
a small amount of work on a controlling area can produce a major
change in how your body works. When certain areas that control the
neck get released, the head, neck and shoulders work differently.
When the control regions for the pelvis release, the low back pain
It is important not to force the structure. This can leave a person
sore for days. Knowledge of the muscles that control bone and muscles
at a distance enables the therapist to coax the system into relaxation
and allow the bones to move back to normal positions. The goal of
Control Muscle Release Therapy is to relax the key regions of the
body and release the structure easily and gently. In many cases
even long term (chronic) conditions can be improved. Take care of
your body now - it will help to take care of you later.
Todd Pennington, LMT is a licensed massage therapist in SW Portland.
Visit his website www.penningtonmassage.com for additional
articles on this and other topics, or phone (503) 244-4427 for more