Meet another one of our Registered Massage Therapist at The ScoliClinic, RMT Niki Jung! In this article, she shares some of the manual therapy techniques that she finds helpful for her clients with scoliosis.
Here, Niki shares two favourite massage techniques to use in treatments for people with scoliosis and Scheuermann’s Kyphosis.
“Since scoliosis often affects the ribcage, a person’s breathing patterns can also be affected. I really like using hands-on techniques like resisted rib expansion to help people improve their ribcage mobility.”
Physiotherapists and RMTs at The ScoliClinic have noticed that when a person with scoliosis takes a deep breath, a common pattern we observe is that they’ll actually breathe more into their curve, expanding more into the prominences while the concavities stay contracted and compressed (blue circled areas in figure).
Niki further explains how she uses this hands-on technique to promote expansion into those concavities. “Resisted rib expansion is an active technique engaging the intercostal muscles – in scoliosis curves, these muscles can be shortened up on one side or across a section of the ribcage. I place my hands on specific areas of the ribcage that we want to improve expansion, and create a gentle but firm compression effect with my hands. This provides gentle resistance and sensory feedback for the client, which cues them to breathe into my hands.”
Expansion into the concavities leads to increased space between compressed ribs, and ultimately a deeper, more satisfying breath overall.
“It feels good for most people, and increases body awareness which can encourages more evenly distributed muscle activation,” Niki shares.
Another one of Niki’s most commonly used techniques is called muscle bowing.
“I use this technique in several areas, especially with the paraspinals muscle groups that border each side of the spine. Muscle bowing is a slow, sustained pressure to the middle of the muscle belly, creating a bowing effect – this encourages the muscles to let go with a more tolerable sensation.”
Many classic massage techniques involve the use of an anterior or posterior force – pressing down onto the body while the client is lying on the treatment table results in pressing body parts forward (when client is lying face down) or backward (when they’re lying face up).
However, scoliosis results in a 3-dimensional change in trunk shape. This means there are rotational changes in the vertebrae and ribcage, so forward and backward forces may not be beneficial in some areas. Muscle bowing gives the Massage Therapist the option to use a cross-body force to relieve muscle tension without increasing rotation in the trunk.
Thanks to RMT Niki for sharing these two great techniques!
All of our Registered Massage Therapists have a unique style, so if you are interested in RMT Niki’s treatment approach, contact us to reserve your times with her at our Vancouver clinic.
Again, let our Client Coordinators know if you want to pair your RMT session with a Physio session, so we can find the optimal times for you.