• Chelsa Connolly

Can you feel that? What is it? (and other favorite questions)

​Our bodies are intriguing. Somewhat funny when you consider, we are intrigued by the one thing each and every living human possesses. Never the less, we are.


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C​lients ask all sorts of questions during medical massage therapy sessions. Why not? It's a moment where they have someone who (hopefully) has continually studied this machinery for months or years held captive for 30 to 90 minutes.


O​ne of my personal favorite inquiries from clients on the table is "what is that?" At times, it's when a dense section of tissue presents itself, other times when a trigger point is aggravated, sometimes it's just thin tissue overlaying a bone or a sore attachment point. The typical follow up question is, "how do you know the difference?"


T​ruthfully, as a licensed massage therapist, we don't always know the exact difference. While we spend a minimum of a few months in school learning anatomy (structure), kinesiology (how it moves) and palpation (refining our skills to apply anatomy on a human), we aren't MRI machines. Most of us who stay in the game, never stop studying the human body though. We are required to take continuing education to keep our license for one. The truth, though is that a lot of us are just obsessed with what we do. At The Body Mechanics, our real obsession is client outcomes, which we believe is rooted firmly in our understanding and application.


A​ll that studying gets applied with each medical massage therapy session we perform. The best growing edges, are the sessions we don't really know what it is! Those give us the opportunity to ask questions and direct what we are learning.


W​here do knots come from? This is one we get asked all the time. The truth is, we don't entirely know, but we've got some ideas.


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C​ulprit number one, muscles.


M​uscles are the prime movers of the body. They actively contract and relax, creating tension against either another muscle or a bone, that creates movement at a joint. They also serve to protect the joints, by following instructions from the brain to keep the Goldilocks pressure on the bones to protect the joint. Sometimes things go wrong though. Muscles can create too much tension, and tear themselves or their tendons. When this happens, the muscle will contract to "guard" the damaged tissue. If unaddressed the guarded tissue "gets stuck" in the contraction, resulting in a knot. At times, muscles under chronic tension will behave similarly which also results in a similar result.


C​ulprit number two, fascia.


F​ascia is a special connective tissue that wraps around everything in our bodies. Some may argue that we work as much if not more with fascia than we do muscles as licensed massage therapists. The easiest way to visualize fascia is to think of the tough white tissue that separates the chunks of steak. Fascia does not actively contract or relax like muscles. It provides form and protection to the body by growing thicker when under mechanical stress. Additionally, if you injure tissue, fascia grows. If you do something repetitively, fascia grows thicker and thicker to support your body in that position. S​ometimes that fascia grows so densely it starts to restrict movement that opposes it. That's when it gives the impression of a "knot."


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T​here are other physiological processes that can contribute to either of these conditions. This is why it is so important to work with educated and informed professionals such as Licensed Massage Therapists who listen and work with their clients to get the best results.


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