Body Sense

SUMMER | 2021

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14 Body Sense During my last session, I told my massage therapist about some pain I was feeling in my knee, and she spent more time working on my gluteus muscles than the muscles by my knee. Why? I can understand why that might feel a bit confusing or counterintuitive! I'm happy to assure you that working on other areas of the body can be an effective strategy to get to the root of the problem and help the area where you're feeling pain. The two most common reasons a massage therapist will work on areas other than where you feel pain are: compensation and referred pain. Let's start with compensation. When our body is out of perfect alignment—imagine the bodies on an anatomy chart, that's perfect alignment—there may be muscles that are tight and bones that aren't lining up exactly how they're supposed to. And that song from kindergarten was right: the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone! If your pelvis is tilted forward, backward, is higher on one side than the other—from an injury, or even the way you sit, stand, or walk—that will impact the alignment of the bones it connects to above and below it and the gluteus muscles will be tight or overly stretched. When that happens, you'll compensate for the misalignment and adjust the way you walk, which then impacts the alignment of your knee, ankle, and foot and may cause pain in those areas. Working the gluteus muscles may help restore alignment to the hip region, which helps alleviate the pain in your knee. Another reason your practitioner might work on your gluteus muscles to address your knee pain is referred pain from trigger points. Trigger points feel like hard lumps in your muscle fi bers and often, when pressure is directly applied to them, they cause a pain sensation in another area of the body. They've been studied extensively and there are charts to show the referral pain patterns. A trigger point in the gluteus minimus muscle will cause a pain sensation in the knee. If, through her assessment, your practitioner feels compensation or referred pain are contributing to your knee pain, she'll work on your gluteus muscle to help resolve the issue. If you're curious, feel free to ask your practitioner about the treatment choices she's making so you can learn more! A S K T H E E X P E R T S Q & A Kristin Coverly, LMT, is a massage therapist and the director of professional education for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.

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