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How Oncology Massage Differs From Other Specialty Massages

How Oncology Massage Differs From Other Specialty Massages

Massage therapy has existed for ages now. Still, as years and years go by, new specialty massage techniques continue to get introduced into the health and skincare terrain. Among the new additions is Oncology Massage, that kind of massage therapy that works wonders on cancer patients. 

In the rest of this posting, you’ll be seeing the name Amy Tyler a lot. Amy is a massage therapist who has a keen interest in oncology massage and scar tissue release. We thought she’d be just the perfect person to educate us on this specialty massage technique known as Oncology Massage. And guess what? She didn’t disappoint.

Let’s Discuss Oncology Massage for a Bit

You could describe oncology massage as a customized massage treatment given to a cancer patient. This is so because it is a very patient-specific therapy. This bodywork is a gentle, nurturing procedure that pays keen attention to the physical and emotional changes that occurred to a patient when their cancer treatment started. 

“It essentially adapts your massage technique to work safely with someone who has had a diagnosis for cancer and had treatment for cancer,” says Amy. 

Overtime, chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy, or any other cancer-related treatment, drains a patient’s energy and brings about huge mental and emotional stress. Consequently, the patients may find it hard to relax or relate their feelings and emotions. This is exactly where oncology massage brings a solution. 

For most of the pain, if not all, oncology massage can be used to aid relief. Plus, it can help the patient reconnect with their emotions.

Oncology Massage in Comparison With other Massages

  • Oncology Massage vs. Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) differs from oncology massage in that MLD is more specialized for treating lymphoedema. MLD helps to move lymphatic fluids building up in a region of the body toward lymph nodes that can filter the fluid back into the right parts of the body. Oncology, on the other hand, is more suited for easing fatigue, pain, and emotional stress in people who have had or are still undergoing cancer treatments. Though it can also be used to prevent the cancer patient from developing lymphoedema, oncology massage doesn’t do this by moving fluid.

  • Oncology Massage vs. Scar Tissue Massage

Scar tissue massage and oncology massage borrow principles of modalities from each other. However, they have various differences, one of them being that scar release is more scar focused while oncology tackles the body as a whole. 

Scars can often become so tight that they create a pull that tells on a surrounding body part or muscle. As such, scar tissue massage aims at “softening the tissue around the scar, plus also softening the scar tissue itself,” Amy explains.

Oncology Massage stands out from scar tissue work in that it looks more holistically at the body. Whereas, scar tissue release is often more focused on a spot which is usually the area where scarring has occurred.

Finish

If you’re wondering whether oncology bodywork is painful, the answer is no. “With oncology massage, our aim is to absolutely cause no pain”. Amy Tyler says. In fact, rather than causing pain, this massage is carefully done to reduce it.  If you’re interested in learning more about this massage technique, you’ll gain loads from this oncology massage podcast 

What is Inflammation and How Do You Manage It?

What is Inflammation and How Do You Manage It?

This thing called inflammation is getting everyone worried. Some say it’s good, others say it’s bad. So, here you are a little confused and in need of clarifications. In truth, inflammation is a little complicated, especially since it can be both good and bad. We provide all the clarifications you need right here. You will want to keep reading to really understand this skin condition and learn how you can perhaps minimize its problematic version.

First Things First, What Does an Expert Say Inflammation is?

“Inflammation is really our body’s ability or capacity to try and return function and form when something is being damaged,” says Jennifer Byrne, a lecturer of dermal science and president of the Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians. 

Obviously, in this sense, inflammation is actually a friend and not a foe. Inflammation is simply the body launching a biological attack to try and remove any intruder it perceives in the body. Once the body manages to achieve its aim of getting rid of the intruder, the body begins to return to its normal state again.

The real problem begins when the inflammation just refuses to go. The response lingers for a longer period, leaving your body in a perpetual state of alertness.  This type of inflammation is called chronic inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation can have very adverse effects on your tissues and organs. The scary part is that you may not even know that the inflammation is slowly damaging your body until, alas, it’s too late!

What Causes Inflammation?

Typically, inflammation results from any trauma to the body’s tissue. Therefore when there’s an injury— cut, burn, or pretty much anything that causes tissue to be traumatized— inflammation occurs. Also, there are less obvious things like stress (both physical and psychological) that cause it as well.

Characteristics of Inflammation

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat
  • Pain

How Do You know Your inflammation is Chronic?

Naturally, inflammation generally takes a while to heal, even the not-so-serious ones. However, when the healing period extends beyond two weeks, then the inflammation may be chronic. Medically, the inflammation is not considered such a big deal until it reaches around 3 months and still persists.

Again, most inflammation will heal after this 2-week period. When the swelling begins to last longer, some kind of scar tissue begins to form that makes the skin more rigid, stiff, and not as pliable as normal skin would be. 

Inflammation can often be seen and felt. Still, not all inflammations are seen, especially chronic ones. This kind of inflammation show subtle signs like fatigue, fever, rashes, etc., and this is what makes them go unnoticed most times. Chronic Inflammation can contribute to quick aging, obesity, sleep problems, and more.

Basic Things to Do to Avoid or Manage Inflammation

  • Use Emollient based moisturizers

When dealing with inflammation you can use products that assist the skin in healing faster. One such product is a moisturizer with an emollient in it. Emollients are basically ingredients that make the skin more pliable and softer. They help to prevent and reduce inflammation. 

  • Use Antioxidants

Using antioxidants can also help. Antioxidants are known to shield tissues from damage. They also stop unwanted inflammatory responses from occurring. Jennifer says antioxidants like vitamin C and, in some cases, vitamin A can be used to solve some of the problems associated with inflammation. Foods like onions and garlic that have natural antioxidants in them. 

  • Don’t cleanse aggressively 

While you need to clean your skin, it is vital that you don’t use ingredients that will disrupt your skin barrier. In other words, don’t overclean. In fact, Jennifer advises against soap-based and foamy exfoliants. This can be irritating to the inflamed area, though some people are more sensitive than others.  Also, try to use skin products that are closer to your pH.

  • Avoid UV exposure

Ultraviolet radiation has been proven to cause redness and inflammation in the skin. Staying away from the sun from which this harmful light comes is a good way to prevent inflammation. And when you do go out, make sure to wear sunscreen. 

  • Get Enough Rest

Stress often causes inflammation. The more rest you give yourself, the lesser your chances of getting inflammation from stress. Even if you already have inflammation, more rest can help you heal faster. 

  • Do lymphatic Drainage

If you have inflammation you can gently massage the area or do lymphatic drainage just to get the excess fluid in that area to subside.

An Overview of the Lymphatic System

An Overview of the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is one of our body’s best miracles. But it’s one of the least-talked-about body systems.

There are toxins all over the place, and as we go about our daily lives we tend to take these toxins in. When this happens, guess what comes to our rescue? Yes, you guessed it. It’s the lymphatic system. Our lymph health is never to be joked with and there are various ways to ensure that it works fine. 

In this blog, we dive into matters that concern the Lymphatic System and give you tips on how to keep it on its toes.

What Does Our Lymphatic System Do?

The lymphatic system is a complicated network of vessels. It is somewhat similar to our blood circulatory network. Our blood circulatory system is responsible for spreading oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our body. The job of the lymphatic system, on the other hand, is to circulate important body fluid—lymph— while defending the body against infection. 

For Tony Van Der Niet of Zebra Lymphatics, the lymphatic system plays three major roles in the body. He says this system is responsible for:

  • Balancing all the fluid in our body, 
  • Keeping fluids running,
  • Removing all the waste, toxins, dead cells, viruses, bacteria and so on

Enhancing the Lymphatic System with Manual Lymphatic Drainage

When the lymphatic system is functioning well, it can help keep the body’s needs in balance. However, if the lymph system doesn’t work properly as it should, a lot of things can go terribly wrong. For example, parts of the lymphoid tissue such as the lymph nodes, and spleen can become more susceptible to disease. This is where manual lymphatic drainage comes in.

The way MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) is done is that the therapist uses light pressure coupled with long, consistent strokes to get the lymph fluid to move.  He does this until toxins in the body are finally directed into the organs that can remove them properly.

People often wait until they begin to suffer from such conditions as lymphedema or lipoedema before they consider MLD. This shouldn’t be so at all. As a medical massage therapy, lymphatic drainage keeps gaining popularity among a variety of therapists and massage lovers because it offers many benefits. For one, it stimulates the immune system and gets stagnant fluids moving. If ever you feel sluggish, vulnerable to cold, or achy, that maybe your cue to go stimulate your lymphatic system. 

Conditions That Can Be Treated With Lymphatic Therapy

“Because the Lymphatic system is responsible for fluid balance and waste removal, I can’t actually think of any disease or condition in the body which won’t at least be alleviated or benefit from having manual Lymphatic drainage,” says Tony. As such, manual lymphatic drainage can be used to treat a vast range of conditions including dementia, scleredema, scars, Spina bifida, breast cancer, and cesarean section.

Bottom Line

Anyone can benefit from a good manual Lymphatic Drainage. However, people with lymphatic dysfunction tend to benefit the most. 

Apart from MLD, Tony advises that you learn to change temperature as it helps with lymphatic stimulation. So you can move from a normal temperature environment into a colder environment (water, for example). Movement helps in stimulating as well. But moving in water works better. You should, however, avoid exercising on a hot day since it’ll only make matters worse.

Can meditation assist healing?

Can meditation assist healing?

When meditation comes to mind, do you associate it with improved healing? In an interview on how mindfulness practices support healing, we interviewed life coach and meditation teacher Peter Radcliffe of Skillful MIND. After debunking what he believes to be the biggest misconception surrounding meditation, Peter reveals how meditation affects healing and explains 3 sure ways to meditate effectively, which may even assist with better healing outcomes. 

What is meditation and how does it support healing?

Peter summarizes the definition of Meditation as “Practicing being here in the here and now, in that awareness mind”. Stress is one of the major adversaries of healing. If you’re able to bring your mind to a state of calmness despite your condition, you’ll fast track your healing. 

Not only can reducing stress with meditation and mindfulness have a positive effect on healing outcomes, it can also improve state of mind.

Meditation is about “changing the way you look at the world” says Peter. And depending on your condition, if you can reorientate your mind to see whatever condition you have as neither good nor bad, you’ll start to heal emotionally too.

One big misconception that people have about meditation is that it is synonymous to relaxation. However, contrary to popular belief, one thing meditation is not, is a long, boring exercise that people perform whenever they wish to relax. 

“Because people associate meditation with relaxation, they tend to consider meditation as sort of going into this semi-sleep kind of relaxed state when, in fact, what it is is you are completely alert,” says Peter. He adds that “The aim of meditation is not so much relaxation but calmness”. Meditation will help your mind remain calm even in stressful situations.

Meditation and mindfulness: what’s the difference?

The terms meditation and mindfulness are often used interchangeably. Are they really the same? These two activities do have many things in common and are used in similar contexts. Notwithstanding, the two terms do not exactly mean the same thing. So, what sets them apart?

Let’s hear it from the expert himself; “mindfulness is a quality of mind, and in particular, it’s an introspective awareness of what’s going on— I guess in the five senses around you— but in particular, in your thoughts…meditation is the act or the practice of empowering that mindfulness…So, mindfulness is a quality whereas meditation is the practice to get that quality” 

3 Tips for effective meditation

  1. Soft approach

Especially for people just starting out, meditation can feel boring. When this happens, you start seeing the practice more as a chore and less of an experience, which may mean you do not continue the practice. This is why you don’t have to go all-in right away. Start with the basics. Peter suggests 15 minutes every day, preferable every morning. This is because once you introduce a routine, you’re more likely to stick to it.

  1. Make it fun

According to Peter “If you force yourself to meditate, you’ll develop an aversion for it”. So how do you avoid forcing yourself to meditate but still mediate? Simple. You make yourself love and enjoy it! You can achieve this by using sounds, such as nature music, or meditation in different scenarios such as a soft lawn. 

  1. Join a meditation group

Irrespective of where you are at on your meditation journey, joining a meditation group can benefit you immensely. It allows you to become accountable since there’ll be others there to help track your progress. Also, making meditation a social practice may even lead to new friends.

For all the benefits meditation has to offer everyone should be giving it a go. If you’re not exactly sure how to begin, follow the tips here and start small or join a group. You’ll get the hang of it eventually and in no time, experience the healing power of meditation.

Ready to get started on meditation? Here’s a bonus Meditation Audio Course from SkillfulMind to help kick things off. (you’re welcome!)

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specialised form of touch movement to aid in the movement and flow of lymph fluid. The lymphatic system has vessels and capillaries like the circulatory system carrying cellular debris and nutrients throughout the body. However, unlike the circulatory system it does not have a heart to pump contents through the body. Therefore, it relies on muscle contraction and movement to push fluid through the body to maintain equilibrium. Manual lymphatic drainage massage can be used as an adjunct to a health detoxification program or as an ongoing therapy for conditions of the lymphatic system.

It supports the immune system, the skin and everything in between.

How can it help me?

The list of benefits from Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage is extensive and includes:

Reduction of inflammatory acne.Reduction of fluid retention.Reduce pain and pressure associated with sinusitis and tonsilitis. To improve healing outcomes following surgery or injury.Increase detoxification and reduce the feeling of sluggishness.Encourage fluid movement from lymphoedema affected limbs.Relaxation and stress relieving.

Further indications for MLD:

  • Acute inflammation
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Hematoma
  • Scar Therapy
  • Alleviates pain through the gate control theory
  • Lymphoedema
  • Pre-surgery preparation
  • Removal of lymph nodes

HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED?

MLD is light like a feather but has an effect on a cellular level.

The frequency and amount of treatments will depend on the condition treated. Manual lymphatic drainage can be performed immediately pre and post surgery up to twice per day for acute conditions. Generally 1-3 times per week is suitable for many conditions.

Nutrition and Wound Healing

Nutrition and Wound Healing

Although the complex mechanism behind healing and the formation of scars is quite capable of full recovery, it does require plenty of support. This support comes in the form of nutrients from your diet.


What does your diet have to do with this? Well, the skin is a sensitive organ and, seeing as it is the largest one you have, it requires a lot of nutriment to rebuild and repair to return as close as possible to the condition it was in before the injury.


Many of the different growth factors that are responsible for healing of wounds need precursors and regulators that govern their function. All these are the result of various biological compounds that are sourced from the diet.
It is no wonder, therefore, that there are plenty of recommendations out there to have a diversified and healthy diet in order to have a glowing skin. Many conditions that denigrate the integrity of the skin are a direct result of poor diet and the ensuing malnutrition. Kwashiorkormarasmuspellagra and scurvy are a few of the well-known skin-affecting conditions whose roots lead back to malnutrition.

SO WHAT EXACTLY DOES NUTRITION BEING TO THE TABLE REGARDING WOUND HEALING?

The nutrients present in you are the Lego bricks used by the body to put together the complex structure that is your skin. They are divided in two; the macronutrients and the micronutrients. The former include proteins, carbohydrates and fats whereas the latter include a multitude of vitamins and minerals and trace elements.

Proteins: Proteins are the very bricks used in the construction of the wall that is the skin. Throughout the stages of wound healing, it is mainly proteins at work. From haemostasis, inflammation to proliferation and reorganisation of the new tissue, it is proteins at work. The growth factors and cytokines are proteins. The same applies to the fibrin used to clot and the collagen deposited to recreate the extracellular matrix. Proteins!

Carbohydrates: Every cellular process in the body requires energy to take place and carbohydrates are the source. In wound healing in particular, energy from carbohydrates is especially required during the fibroblast proliferation stage. If you recall, fibroblasts take charge of the formation of the new extracellular matrix as well as calling on macrophages and neutrophils via chemotaxis.

Fats: Fats are also a source of energy needed for high metabolic activity. Wound healing definitely qualifies as one of such bodily activities. Apart from being a source of energy, fats are also need in the creation of the dermal layers, and cell walls many of which contain a considerable amount of fat.

WHAT MICRONUTRIENTS PULL THEIR WEIGHT IN THE PROCESS OF WOUND HEALING?

Micronutrients are required in small doses in the body, but they do pack a punch regarding the work they do therein. 

Some of the main ones include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin found mainly in vegetables, does a lot during the later stages of wound healing. It plays a big role in epithelial proliferation and well as maintenance of the collagen fibre that has been laid down. It inhibits various collagenases that break down collagen.

The vitamin B complex is found in dairy, meat, fish and vegetables. This set of 8 water soluble compounds mainly serves to promote cell proliferation as well as maintain muscle tone whilst increasing immunity. 

Thiamine, a member of this set, is particularly essential. Lack of it results in decreased wound healing.

Vitamin C is a cofactor in the synthesis of collagen and also helps in the uptake and metabolism of other nutrients like iron. Speaking of, iron is vital in the formation of haemoglobin; the compound that carries oxygen to the tissues. In the hypoxic environment that is the wound bed, oxygen is needed to facilitate the healing process.

WHY IS NUTRITION IMPORTANT IN THE HEALING OF SEVERE WOUNDS?

Severe wounds like burns are usually chronic and therefore take on the secondary form of healing. This means that the wound edges cannot be closed and the healing process will take longer than normal.

In such instances, the patient has to be nutritionally robust, providing the body will all that it needs in order to carry out the repair. A study dealing with the wound healing response also noted that it is also important to focus on the food intake just before a surgical procedure because this provides the required energy for the healing process.

Apart from the nutritional requirements, the body needs plenty of energy to go on with this work. It is for this reason, therefore, that severe burn patients can lose weight as the body draws on its reserves. If this resting energy expenditure exceeds its value by 1.2 times, chances are the patient will not survive. High protein and high energy diets immediately after admission should try to offset this catabolic imbalance.

References

Nutrition and wound care. (2018). [image] Available at: https://hellocaremail.com.au/wound-healing-and-nutrition-nestle/ [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].

Kaimal S, Thappa DM. Diet in dermatology: Revisited. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2010;76:103-15.

Hart, D. W., Wolf, S. E., Herndon, D. N., Chinkes, D. L., Lal, S. O., Obeng, M. K., … Mlcak RT, R. P. (2002). Energy Expenditure and Caloric Balance After Burn: Increased Feeding Leads to Fat Rather Than Lean Mass Accretion. Annals of Surgery, 235(1), 152–161.

Windsor, J. A., Knight, G. S., & Hill, G. L. (1988). Wound healing response in surgical patients: recent food intake is more important than nutritional status. British Journal of Surgery, 75(2), 135-137.

Alvarez OM, Gillbreath RI. Thiamine influence on collagen during granulation of skin wounds. J Surg Res 1982;32:24-31.