Where is your rescue inhaler...at the Spa?

Where Is Your Rescue Inhaler... At The Spa?

Last updated: January 2020

Self-care is really important when living with chronic illness. My schedule has been packed recently and I have not found time to schedule my usual massage therapy sessions. I like to find the time to get a massage and in particular a massage from a practitioner that understands diaphragmatic massage or release. It is important that the practitioner be a registered massage therapist and is trained in diaphragmatic massage. Not everyone has this expertise. I have found that massage therapists that are connected to integrated medicine centers at hospitals seem to be the most well-versed in this area. There are been some scientific studies that have looked at the role of massage in COPD populations.1 Further research is needed to confirm correlations and its application in Asthma, however, the study did find that there is a use of this therapy in the treatment of COPD due to the improvement in diaphragmatic mobility and inspiratory and exercise capacity.1

I was pleasantly surprised to come across a great practitioner at a recent small town inn spa. Honestly, I did not have high hopes, even though this person would be a trained massage therapist. Most treatments at spas are more the pampering and relaxing version and less of the how to treat pain or discomfort from the affects of chronic illness. Don’t get me wrong, individual experiences will vary and not every place is created equal.

Unfortunately, when your shoulders, thoracic spine and pectorals are involved the treatments can be come less relaxing and more of the slightly painful version. Massage definitely can be relaxing but can also involve acupressure release to relieve areas of high stress on your body and the extra use of accessory muscles to assist with breathing.

I remember specifically after a bronchoscopy learning how hard sleep was on your lungs by my attending respiratory therapist. Apparently, while we are counting sheep and catching ours zzzz’s our lungs are working really hard to keep everything going.

In times of poor asthma control, it is not uncommon for lung accessory muscles to work extra hard; and for our accessory muscles to become really tight and need self-care as well.

The appointment started as usual with the medical intake form. Why do these forms not have enough space to fully explain chronic illness details? That is a battle for another day and time. These forms seldom take into consideration patients and participants with more complex medical histories an needs. I was pleasantly surprised when the therapist had a thorough read through and had several questions about my asthma, including where is your rescue inhaler? I embarrassingly admitted that it was locked in the spa locker. I was strongly encouraged to go get it and have it nearby, so as much as I feel like I have seen some amazing massage therapists in the past, this was the first one who was especially concerned about having rescue medication handy.

They also asked me several questions about medications, symptoms, what effects, I thought my asthma was having on my body and what areas I felt needed the most focus in this appointment

I moved onto to getting on the table and into the sheets, within a couple of minutes as the therapist was assessing my shoulders and my t-spine, there was an ah aha, this is very tight, and you “ need to stretch” - the more things that are limber the better you will feel. I like a pretty firm massage to get all the knots out, but not everyone likes this much pressure. I was here to get relief not just to be blissed out. It is amazing how quick an appointment can go. My hour was almost up and it was time for me to get up. I was greeted at the door by a glass of water; hydration is super important post massage to flush the toxins that were released.

Post massage therapy is also really important, such an epsom baths after, to soothes your muscles that been worked on.

This type of massage may not be for everyone, however, I find it very beneficial. Don’t forget to speak with your physician before starting any bodywork protocols.

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