The Power of Touch: Why Movement and Massage Matters in a Body with a Spinal Cord Injury

Over the past 6 months, we have had the opportunity to facilitate two sessions with the Bridging the Gap program in Saskatoon.  The first session was held at City Hospital and just last month, we hosted this group at Lead.  As we worked through a series of adaptive Pilates, I realized very quickly the value of the power of touch.  I got the opportunity to work with one client who uses a scooter for his mobility.  We were using a pinky fascia release ball to roll out our palms and forearms, he asked for assistance from me.  As I place the ball under his palm and then placed my own hand on top of his, his hand and forearm immediately went into spasm.  I asked if he preferred to stop the pinky ball release, he told me that initial touch always creates these spasms and that they settle down.  We finished the release sequence with the ball, also did the second side.  He told me that he had an interesting sensation in his arms and hands that he had not felt before.

Movement and massage matter. Physical touch is a powerful thing.  I reached out to Stephanie Taylor, one of our RMTs at Lead Integrated Health Therapies to educate on the value of massage in a body that has sustained a spinal cord injury.

Stephanie mentioned that there are many physical and mental health benefits for spinal cord injury patients who receive regular massage therapy treatments. Some of the physical health benefits include having better muscle function and tone, improved range of motion, decrease in pain, and aiding to slow the rate of further muscle degeneration. Improved range of motion is a great benefit to the body since this also includes increasing circulation to areas needed which in turn helps decrease swelling. Having a Registered Massage Therapist work on adhesions, hyper/hypotonicity, spasticity, etc within the body helps decrease pain and possible further atrophy of the muscles.

There are also many mental health benefits to receiving non-task related touch. Most patients with a spinal cord injury undergo quite a few medical appointments per year that can often leave them feeling ‘poked and prodded’. Massage therapy helps with mental health by providing soothing touch from a RMT who has empathy and a personal connection with the patient. This results in a decrease of any stress, depression, or anxiety in the body and mind. Increasing the state of a spinal cord injury patient’s mental health benefits the body’s physical health, linking the two together for an overall healing experience.

How can you make movement and massage a part of your life? Something as simple as pinky ball release (or you could use a tennis ball) is a simple shift that can start to make a big difference in the efficiency of blood flow to that part of the body. You can roll the ball between your hands or if control is an challenge then placing the ball on table and placing your hand on top to roll out.  You can have someone roll the ball across your upper back or on the inside of your shoulder blade for a nice back body release.  We offer massage at Lead Integrated Health Therapies, our therapists are well versed in the area of SCI massage and our massage table attachment does not require any transferring to the table.  This attachment works for most chairs and scooters – of you are interested in learning more about massage at Lead or to book a treatment, call the clinic at 306-382-7447.

Book a massage now!

Jana and Stephanie