Getting a Massage with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) goes beyond achy joints. It’s an autoimmune condition where your body attacks itself – commonly in the synovial membranes inside your joints, eyes, lungs, heart and other tissues. When your body attacks itself, you get the same symptoms as with an injury from the outside: pain, redness and inflammation.

We’re lucky that there are now focused treatments for RA that slow disease progression. While drugs like DMARDs and Biologics come with serious side effects, they can also slow disease progression.

Massage therapy can help people with RA to cope with the stress and pain associated with RA.  Extremely gentle massage techniques can be used in a Rheumatoid Arthritis flare-up, with the aim to modulate the nervous system. Sessions will be shorter during a flare, and depending upon patient choice and the level of systemic inflammation, they can also be cancelled until the RA goes back into remission.

When RA is not in a flare, massage therapy can continue to use neuromodulating techniques, but can also serve a rehabilitative role. Using passive range of motion, joint mobilizations, and prescribing remedial exercises (stretches and strengthening) your massage therapist can help to maintain or improve joint range of motion.

Because massage therapists are trained in pathology and contraindications to massage, your treatment is customized to your condition and your goals on the day of treatment.

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Work is Stressful in Many Ways

Love or hate our jobs, working is stressful. Stress can be environmental (noise, bright lights or smells in some work places), physical from doing hard work or sitting too long, or related to the social and intellectual challenges of the job.

In the early stages of work related stress, you might be tired, achy, or annoyed by your job. But those effects can spill over into the rest of your day. Massage therapy can benefit stressed out workers by helping to identify and remediate injuries, and prescribing home care or remedial exercises to help keep your tissues and joints in optimal health. Relaxation massage is another option: this can focus on areas with aches and pains, be an opportunity for a full-body massage, or can be a targeted treatment focusing on the areas that will maximize the effect on your central nervous system. Using relaxation techniques, a massage therapist will help your sympathetic nervous system (the one that shoots out adrenaline) to calm down, and tell your parasympathetic nervous system to take over (this one tells you to rest and digest). Continue reading

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Can Massage Fix My Problem?

Massage therapy has a lot of great benefits, and I’ll get to those in a minute. But if you’re looking for a quick fix, keep searching the internet. You’ll find a lot of people talking about miracle cures – if one works for you, that’s fantastic.

Whether you have a new or old injury, a chronic health condition like RA, Anxiety or Fibromyalgia, or work related stress, massage isn’t a cure.

Physical therapies, including massage, work with your body to enhance it’s innate responses. Benefits of massage can include reduced pain, stimulation or relaxation of the nervous system, increased circulation, decreased inflammation, increased range of motion and many more. These benefits¬† help you manage your health and enjoy day to day life. In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about how massage helps with all of those conditions. I’ll also be posting about when not to get massage, and why your massage therapist should be registered.


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Welcome to Massage

Massage therapy is a growing healthcare industry. In Ontario, your RMT is governed by the Registered Health Professions Act and has attended an intensive, evidence-based (lots of science) massage therapy program at a registered educational institution before completing grueling practical and written exams administered by the CMTO.

I chose Mohawk College for my program – and it is at least as hard as my Master’s degree.¬† Through my student clinic and outreaches I’m gaining hands-on time before I work with the public, and can already see that it is the perfect career for my lifestyle, interests, beliefs and skill set.

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All Classes Canceled

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Oxfam Trailwalker 2011

This summer I’ve been taking some of my energy in a new direction. For those of you not already aware, I am currently training for the 2011 Oxfam Trailwalker challenge.

The Trailwalker is an “extreme fundraising event” – as a team of 4, you walk 100km in 48 hours (together, not a relay). The funds raised help Oxfam’s community development projects such as:

  • Providing clean water and sanitation facilities in Haiti
  • Helping women in Sri Lanka start their own small businesses
  • Combatting HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe

In yoga, we’re all one, and we need to work together. I strongly encourage you to find ways to help others (karma yoga). You’re welcome to sponsor my fundraising efforts, and please let me know about your own projects.

Take care,


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Summer Yoga

You might have noticed that the schedule ends abruptly… and it ends tomorrow! Don’t worry, there will be yoga this summer and it will appear on the schedule. I am sorting out my other job and will soon have some times posted.

I already know:

  • There won’t be classes next week
  • I’ll be doing a week of early morning classes soon (maybe the week after next) – let me know if you’re interested
  • Summer classes will be a combination of drop-in classes and short intensive series (ie the week of mornings)

Keep well and I’ll see you soon!


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