As I settle down to some studying on Anatomy & Physiology I realise there is a much needed blog to be written and shared with you. Since becoming an Ambassador Trainer with the Hydrotherm System my teacher John Holman has shared his knowledge to help me further appreciate the massage I provide to clients.
I have always appreciated the physical observations I make when treating the legs and the subsequent improvement in the back. Hydrotherm is performed while laying supine (face up) which increases your ability to observe responses. A simple body rocking motion can show me how flexible a client is from top to toe and when there are lower back restrictions I continue massaging the hamstrings in particular and go back to the ‘body rock’ to see the effects and they are always improved.
The theoretical understanding of this comes from the knowledge of how connected our body really is, how intertwined each muscle is that links to another and that when there is a problem arising in one muscle it’s a domino effect to see where the pain and restriction transfer to. Connective tissue called the fascia is another important factor to consider and the best example I can give you of this relevance is a tip I was once shown on a workshop – lay a towel over your client and pick up a bit of the towel that is exactly the point at which the client says to you ‘the pain is just here’, now twist the towel in one direction and observe the creases in the towel as these will help you appreciate where the referred pain will be going and you can massage accordingly.
It’s the understanding of what you’re working on that enables you to produce results and be respected as a muscle expert. Our training is split into 3 at present with more courses being launched periodically. The initial foundation course is flipping your massage upside down quite literally. We share with you techniques that create a 3 dimensional massage where your client does not turn over and you will see amazing results in both the ability to relax and the ease of tension for both you and your client.
Check out this link to remind yourself of the link between lower back and hamstring muscles – observe the connection the muscles have onto the Pelvic bone and appreciate that when there is discomfort here how the pain can echo along the surrounding areas http://www.innerbody.com/image_musc08/musc96.html
So, after that visual refresh this will lead you nicely into a taste of the next training course called Clinical 1 where Anatomy is brought to life! The full range of leg muscles that can be involved in lower back pain are as follows;
Gluteus Maximus, Medius & Minimus – Maximus as the name suggests is the largest muscle in the body yet often goes untreated in massage for fear of embarrassment. Due to the nature of Hydrotherm the massage is performed supine enabling both parties to feel more comfortable with treatment here. Disposable pants helps underwear to not be the next hurdle. As if left untreated lower back pain will prevail! These muscles are responsible for moving the thigh outwards and rotate it medially towards the midline.
Inferior & Superior Gemellus Muscle – Gemellus meaning ‘little twin’ in Latin these muscles with the Piriformis help rotate the leg outward. They make up half of the Lateral Rotator Group which also houses the Quadratus Femoris, Obturator Internus & Obturator Externus.
The Adductors; Magnus, Longus & Brevis along with Gracilis & Pectineus – all 5 muscles help adduct the thigh at the hip however, the magnificent one – Magnus also extends, rotates and flexes the thigh. Origin for all is the Anterior (front of) pubis and is a real visual link to how complex lower back pain can be. The insertions vary Magnus connects into the hamstrings via the tubercle of femur (rounded end of bone) and also the gluteal tuberosity (a ridge on lateral posterior surface of the femur), linea aspera (a ridge of roughened surface on the posterior aspect of the femur) and medial supracondylar line (a ridge like line of bone from adductor tubercle to base of linea aspera). Longus at the middle 3rd of linea aspera of femur. Brevis at the pectineal line (a sharp ridge like line on the upward surface of the superior ramus) and proximal part of linea aspera of femur. Gracilis at the superior part of medial surface of tibia. Finally Pectineus inserts at the pectineal line of femur, just inferior of lesser trochanter.
Keep flicking back to visuals to bring this blog to life a bit, when training in person we can pinpoint more visually for you.
Hamstrings – Semitendinosus, Biceps Femoris & Semimembranosus – Ham a 3 letter word referring to the 3 muscles in this group of troublemakers. Women have a greater potential of flexibility due to a wider angle between ischial tuberosities than men. This is truly seen in the clinic with male clients whose hamstrings are often tight. Yet females during pregnancy may notice a lessened flexibility as baby grows and puts pressure on this angle. The origin for these 3 are found in the Ischial Tuberosity (your sitting bones) whereas again the insertion varies; Semitendonosus is on the medial surface of upward surface of tibia, Biceps Femoris on the lateral side (away from the midline) of head of fibula, while the Semimembranosus inserts on the posterior part of medial condyle of tibia. The action of the semi’s is to extend thigh at the hip and flex the knee and rotate it medially while the two-headed muscle of the Biceps Femoris flexes the leg at the knee and rotates it laterally (away from the midline).
Of course in severe cases we could be extending our massage even further to the knee and leg towards the foot especially in the case of a client experiencing Sciatica. Then we could be discussing muscles such as Vastus Lateralis.
As an Ambassador Hydrotherm Trainer and Therapist it is the solution that I would be now sharing with you and that is a series of massage movements to the legs taught on the foundation course but with this theory it switches the lightbulb on so you truly appreciate what you are impacting when you perform what seems like such simple movements.
We are growing the team at Hydrotherm to share this amazing experience with a wider audience, get in touch if you would like to be on the journey with us!