Insights into Soft Tissue: A Massage Case Study

by Nancy Dail, author Kinesiology for Manual Therapy and founder of the Downeast School of Massage in Maine

I confess I have passion for my work and revel in a good challenge. A recent client provided an opportunity for close study and analysis.

A 50-year old woman presented with a constant headache for the last year. Upon investigation of her medical history, she had suffered 3 car accidents over the course of 10 years with a whiplash injury in each incident. It was not until the last accident of a year ago that she started presenting with a constant headache that she described as a “spike” in the back of her head.

She had a head-forward posture, rounded shoulders, pronated forearms, small kyphosis, rotated right hips, and interesting lower extremity issues due to wearing a brace as a child. Palpation proved that her posterior cervical muscles were bands of tightened tissue constantly fighting flexion and responding to trigger points and restricted motion. Layers of muscles needed to be released and it became apparent that working with a chiropractor would be helpful if not immediately necessary.

After the first treatment, her headache had been reduced from a 6 to a 2 on a pain level, and she had much more range of motion with her neck. We discussed her options and she agreed to see a chiropractor with whom I often share clients. Although she needed chiropractic adjustments, without the soft-tissue work or without the combination of two modalities, it was unlikely that she would have gotten better any time soon. The result, however was rewarding. It took roughly 3 months to unwind and undo 3 whiplashes but today she presents pain free and has her life back.

Bodywork does not have to be mysterious; it should be based on science, the structure of the client, and the art of applying techniques in a knowledgeable fashion. Success is at your fingertips.