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The Power of Raynor Massage

In the Jan/Feb edition of the Windsor & Maidenhead Local magazine I've written an article giving an overview of Raynor Massage. Briefly described is how tension in the body is diagnosed and the approach taken to remove that tension.

The article can be read here.

5th February 2024

Raynor Massage Advanced Course

I recently attended one of the Raynor Massage advanced courses, held in Putney, London and taught by the creator Brandon Raynor himself. It was an intense 5 days learning new techniques and practising them. I should point out that most of these techniques are not used on new clients, only on returning clients who understand what is involved.

Proceedings kicked off with a face/head massage demo, important for relaxing a client at the beginning of a treatment session. We learnt how to find the "eyebrow band" which can hold a lot of tension. Other important tension points to focus on are the little bump near the top of the ears and the area at the top of the head.

Next was a demo of a thumb massage using a chopstick. The chopstick is used to bring awareness to the client of tension in the thumb. The client breathes deeply to remove the tension (which is "bad energy"). If the pressing of the chopstick is painful, this indicates that tension is present. As the tension gets removed, the chopstick becomes less painful. The thumb becomes looser after it has been massaged using thumbs, fingers and other massage tools.

During this demo the technique of assisted belly breathing was shown. Deep breathing is the key to Raynor Massage. At times, the therapist may need to help the client get rid of the tension by encouraging deeper breathing.

The following day I got to experience a "chopstick massage" for the first time on my right thumb and then on my right big toe (both were tight with tension). It was a weird feeling, my left arm started tingling all over in both cases (presumably due to "bad energy" being stirred up). I was deep breathing all the time, but at times my belly felt very "heavy" (again, due to "bad energy" being moved around the body).

At the end of the session my thumb felt a little looser (but needed a lot more work!) but the big toe was definitely much looser than it had been before! The down side was that when I got up from the table I was light-headed and a little nauseous (due to all the toxins and "bad energy" stirred up). But on subsequent days I felt okay after similar sessions. You really do need to experience this process to believe that it works!

Other techniques learnt included massaging a client on the floor using the feet, and loosening joints through adjustments to the hip, foot, leg, thumb, fingers, wrist and back.

New tools I came across included an acupressure pen (a metal pen with different diameter balls at each end, good for massaging fingers and hands) and a jade scraper (good for massaging the sole and sides of the foot).

The final day was spent "speed massaging". We split into two groups, one group receiving and the other massaging. Every 20 minutes those massaging swapped to another receiver. It was interesting to experience the different styles and a great way of picking up new tips. The course ended with Brandon presenting us with our Advanced Diploma of Raynor Massage certificates.

YouTube links for demos:
Brandon massaging Dave's head and arm in London September 2023
London Advanced Massage Course 2023

25th September 2023

What is a Muscle Knot?

A muscle "knot" is a small, hard, sensitive area where muscle fibres or fascial tissue have tightened and stuck together. It feels like a knot in the affected muscle, hence the name. Muscle knots, also known as trigger points, indicate that muscles are tense. This may restrict the full movement that you should have.

Knots may also be painful, known as 'active' if they hurt all the time and known as 'latent' if they are painful only when pressure is applied to them (the most common).

Muscle knots can occur anywhere on the body where there is muscle or connective tissue (fascia). The most common areas are the neck, shoulders, back and buttocks. They may be near the surface or in the deeper layers of soft tissue.

Causes of muscle knots include:
     - Repetitive actions (same muscles used).
     - Poor posture.
     - Sitting still for a long time.
     - Injuries such as muscle strains.
     - Stress, mental and emotional stress.
     - Dehydration.

The causes of muscle knots cause blood flow in the muscles to be reduced and toxic by-products of the muscles can build up within knots.

Soft tissue massage is one of the best ways to remove knots. Massage increases blood circulation, which removes toxins, and helps to loosen those muscles which have stuck together. By relaxing tense muscles, any pain and stiffness associated with knots is often reduced. Note that it takes time to break up knotted tissue, so several frequent massage sessions are often needed.

8th June 2023

Tension and Raynor Bands

Most of us have some level of stress in our bodies. Stress can be physical or emotional. It can be the result of a traumatic event or can build up from everyday activities.

As time goes by we can get accustomed to the 'tense' state, thinking the tense state is normal or we are simply not aware of it. But with the 'tense' state comes fatigue, "depressed" moods, poor mobility, aches and pains, and other negative side effects.

Stress is stored in the muscles and other tissues and is known as tension. It can be held for days, weeks, months or years.

In Raynor Massage the muscles, tendons, ligaments and other tissues where tension is held are known as Raynor Bands. These bands connect the whole body from head to toe. Tension is typically anchored in the toes, fingers and head.

A Raynor massage places a lot of emphasis on the toes, feet, fingers, hands and head. All of these can anchor tension. Other important areas include the sacrum, hips and addressing joint mobilization. Other types of massage often neglect detailed work in these parts of the body.

Raynor bands can be traced in many parts of the body. The muscles making up bands with tension typically feel "hard" when pressed by the therapist and may feel sore to the client, whereas muscles with little or no tension typically feel "soft" when pressed and do not feel sore.

As an example of tracing tension in bands, take a client who has lower back pain (caused by a muscle strain). There are three bands on each side of the lower back. These run through the buttocks, down the back of the legs, along the sole of the feet and into the toes.

So we would check the tightness of the bands and see how sore they feel to the client, starting on the buttocks, then the back of the legs, then on the sole of the feet. Finally, we would see how flexible the toes are (stiff toes often indicate a lot of tension is present). If all the bands feel "hard" and/or sore when pressed then it is likely that the back pain is rooted in the feet (in particular the toes).

In this example, the massage would start with working on the relevant bands in the toes and feet where the tension is anchored. Once the tension is reduced, the bands on the back of the legs, buttocks and back would be worked, in that order, to loosen up the rest of the body. In this way the lower back pain should be reduced.

Diagram of Raynor bands

13th February 2023

How does massage relieve or prevent Tension Headaches?

The most common type of headache is the Tension Headache. Symptoms include a dull, aching pain on both sides of the head, face, or neck, with tenderness in the scalp, neck and shoulder muscles. It feels like there is a band pressing around the head and being tightened. Tension headaches can last from 30 minutes to several hours.

Causes of tension headaches include stress, anxiety, poor posture, depression, and head injury. This gives rise to the scalp and neck muscles becoming tense and contracting. And pain signals get switched on and sent to the brain (the headache) from various sources, including: nerves extending over the scalp; certain nerves in the face, mouth and throat; muscles in the head and neck.

In the case of poor posture, the trapezius and suboccipital muscles at the base of the skull (which assist with stabilizing and turning the head) can get strained. Strained muscles often get tight when scar tissue develops as part of the healing process.

Neck massage to alleviate tension headache

Tension headaches can be eased with a head and neck massage. A Raynor face and head massage involves many strokes all over the face and scalp, used to release tension in the face and scalp muscles, and lower stress levels. For example, by getting the fingertips into the base of the skull the suboccipital muscles can be loosened.

A neck massage will loosen up the neck muscles and a shoulder/back massage with some deep tissue techniques will treat any tight areas in the upper trapezius (by breaking up scar tissue and loosening muscles).

Massage is an excellent way of releasing tension and lowering stress levels. So if you are suffering from a tension headache massage is one way of relieving the pain. And having regular massage treatments reduces the chance of suffering from tension headaches in the first place.

13th November 2022

Loosening neck muscles to reduce stress

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Over time our muscles and fascia (connective tissue) can become tense. Muscle tension is when our muscles stay partially contracted for a period of time. When this happens blood and oxygen circulation can be blocked, leading to inflammation which in turn can build up toxins. At first tense muscles and tissues feel stiff, longterm they can be chronically painful.

Another source of pain can be scar tissue. After an injury or surgery scar tissue can develop. Scar tissue is not the same as skin tissue; it is less elastic and may lead to tightness, restricted movement, and pain.

A specific example of muscle tension is a muscle "knot", often found in our back and shoulders. They can occur when a muscle has been irritated by a repetitive motion, or when a muscle has been in an agitated position for a while (e.g. sitting at a computer all day). Muscle knots are stiff bands of muscle which have a hard centre. Because knots have reduced blood flow and circulation, toxins can get trapped. Over time the toxins can solidify in the muscle as hard "crystals".

Deep tissue massage uses slow strokes combined with sustained firm pressure to compress and stretch deep layers of
muscle and fascia. By gliding along the length of muscle fibres and also cross-fibering them (i.e. against the muscle grain), muscle fibres are lengthened, fascia tissue is loosened and scar tissue is broken down.

In this way, tension is reduced or removed from the muscles and fascia. So there is a decrease in pain, a release of toxins from the muscles and improved blood/oxygen circulation.

Although deep tissue massage is an intense massage technique, it should not be painful. Muscles and tissue are always warmed up using lighter strokes before applying deeper pressure. And therapist and client work together to find the client's "pressure threshold" (as every client is different); application of pressure is always within this threshold.

24th October 2022

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