Vibration and the Nervous System
Today, I want to talk about getting more out of your home massage unit.
I have shown in the past this particular device from Jawku. One of our very favorite companies to work with. This is their small handheld, it’s called the Mini-Muscle Blaster unit. But actually, what I want to talk about today is based off that name and what I typically see people do any time they’re using a massage unit at home. So this one’s battery-operated, really small, it’s very nice. It’s got multiple speeds.
But let’s imagine that you had, let’s say stiffness in your right shoulder. You’re trying to work on your internal rotation. You think, “Okay, I need to really get in there.” Do a little bit of massage on my pecs, or my lats, or my arm or where ever you’re feeling tightness. One thing that you need to recognize from a neurologic perspective is that we have multiple layers of receptors within the skin, the underlying fascia and in the joint capsules and they may need to be hit at different times or stimulated at different times in order to create a positive change.
So normally what I see people doing when they have a massage unit is “Okay, I need to really get in here and dig around on the muscle
in an effort to try to improve my range of motion.”
What I would recommend that you do instead, is that you take a stepwise approach. So, imagine that I’m going to take this and even though there is a significant travel, I’m just going to now work on creating a massaging effect on the skin. In other words, we’re trying to stimulate what are called cutaneous mechanoreceptors. Cutaneous means basically the dermal or skin level of the body.
So I’m starting off doing a really, really light vibratory stimulation of cutaneous mechanoreceptors. Now after I’ve done that for 10 or 15 seconds, I can go in and recheck my range of motion and I see a really significant Improvement personally. So I’ve gone just at the surface of the skin.
Now let’s imagine that I’ve done that and I’m stuck, right? Nothing’s really happening. At that point, I now want to go a little bit deeper but probably not as deep as most people think. So now I want you to imagine, look at how much your massage unit moves, and imagine that you’re going to penetrate somewhere around 2-2.5 centimeters. Maybe half an inch or less into the body. So now you’re going to use a little bit more pressure and again, work through the areas where you’re feeling the tension or feeling the tightness, and then retest again. Now, for me, obviously, I don’t get a good result from that. Your third level then would be to actually dive more deeply into kind of a more traditional deep tissue type of level with a massager.
Don’t you like what it does to my voice? And I would again work through the different areas, and once again, get an idea of what my response is experientially. What we find is that the vast majority of people, with cutaneous work, okay, just working at the at the very lightest level even with a massage unit often see significant changes in range of motion and pain.
So I want to make sure that you have this in mind every time you use a tool of any kind. I’m just using a massage unit as an example.
So if you’re using a roller, you’re using anything that you find, you know, you’ve used in the past for triggerpoint work, etc. Think about starting at the surface of the skin working very lightly as you then progress more deeply into the tissue. Make sure that you’re testing in between each stage to understand what your brain finds most useful.
All right, good luck!