Massage Therapy is the hands-on assessment of soft tissues and joints of the body to improve tissue health and overall function. The aim of Massage Therapy is to enhance all systems: muscular, lymphatic, nervous, hormonal, digestive, respiratory and circulatory. Massage is a powerful tool for helping you become aware of areas of chronic tension or postural imbalances and how these affect your body. It can be preventative as well as restorative.
Many people use Massage Therapy as a part of maintaining and promoting their health by visiting their Massage Therapist regularly. It is not necessary to have an ailment to visit a Registered Massage Therapist. You can take preventative measures on your own by incorporating Therapeutic Massage and Remedial Homecare into your lifestyle. Massage Therapy can benefit people of all ages from infants to seniors.
In BC, Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) are Regulated Health Care Professionals, governed by the same laws that Doctors, Dentists, Chiropractors and other Regulated Health professionals adhere to.
RMTs are trained to recognize and treat a wide variety of conditions,
some of which include:
Neck and shoulder tension
Sprains and strains
Repetitive stress injuries
Pain due to pregnancy
Growing pains in youth
Massage Therapy can help with:
Managing depression and anxiety
Improving lymphatic drainage
Reducing or eliminating pain
Speeding healing time of injuries
Reducing muscle tension
Improving joint mobility
Better sleeping patterns
Increasing body awareness
Reducing stress levels
Improving sense of well being
Promoting immune function
Effects of Massage Therapy
Increases blood flow, increases cellular waste removal, increases oxygen flow to the cells and increases lymph flow.
Decreases muscle stiffness or spasm, promotes muscle relaxation, improves flexibility/range of movement and promotes improved posture.
Promotes deep breathing and assists breathing in cases of chronic bronchitis, asthma or emphysema.
Sedates, stimulates or mobilizes nerves (depending on technique used)
Promotes relaxation, provides safe and caring touch, increases body awareness, clears the mind and enhances self-image.
Why is CranioSacral Therapy so important?
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a light-touch approach that can create dramatic improvements in your life. It releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.
Few body structures have more influence over your health and well-being than your central nervous system. And few body systems have more impact on your central nervous system than the craniosacral system - the soft tissues and fluid that protect your brain and spinal cord.
Every day you endure stresses and strains and your body absorbs them. But your body can only handle so much tension before the tissues begin to tighten and potentially affect the brain and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, this can compromise the function of the central nervous system - and the performance of nearly every other system in your body.
CranioSacral Therapy releases those tensions to allow the entire body to relax and self-correct. Using a gentle touch - starting with about the weight of a nickel - practitioners evaluate your internal environment. Then they use distinctive light-touch techniques to release any restrictions they find.
By freeing the central nervous system to perform at its best, CranioSacral Therapy naturally eliminates pain and stress, strengthens your resistance to disease, and enhances your health and well-being.
And because it's so gentle, CranioSacral Therapy can be effective for all ages, from newborns to elders.
What Can I Expect from a session?
A typical CranioSacral Therapy session takes place in a quiet, private setting. Your therapist begins by gently touching various parts of your body to monitor the rhythm of the fluid that is flowing around your central nervous system.
By carefully listening with the hands to locate areas of weak fluid flow or tissue motion, your practitioner can trace those areas of weakness through the body to the original source of dysfunction.
Delicate manual techniques are then used to release those problem areas and improve the form and function of your central nervous system.
A CranioSacral Therapy session can last up to an hour or more. It can be used alone or integrated with other therapies to create powerful effects.
What you experience from your own session is highly individual. The sessions are generally deeply relaxing.
What Conditions Does CST Address?
CranioSacral Therapy improves your body's ability to take better care of you. It helps relieve a full spectrum of pain, illness and dysfunction, including:
Migraines and headaches
Chronic Neck and Back pain
Stress and Tension-Related Disorders
Infant and Childhood Disorders
Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
TMJ Syndrome and Dental Problems
Central Nervous System Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Emotional Problems / Behavioural Issues
And Many Other Conditions
How Was This Gentle Therapy Developed?
CranioSacral Therapy was developed by Dr. John E. Upledger, an osteopathic physician featured in TIME magazine as one of America's next wave of innovators.
From 1975 to 1983, Dr. Upledger was a professor of biomechanics at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University.
While he was there he led a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers who performed and published the clinical research that formed the basis for the approach he named CranioSacral Therapy.
In 1985, Dr. Upledger founded the Upledger Institute to teach people worldwide about the value of this effective approach. Nearly 100, 000 therapists have since been trained in CranioSacral Therapy.
We have all heard the terms; “I am heart sick!”, “I have butterflies in my tummy!” or “I carry the world on my shoulders!”. It is well documented that our emotions have a great impact on how our bodies function. An area of physical trauma can retain the imprint of emotion. The brain can also store the overflow of emotions that we are unable to cope with into an area of the body and create a physical restriction. CranioSacral Therapy acknowledges the role emotions have and aids the body’s ability to mange the impact.
As therapists we are not able to change your history, but we are able to help your body to handle it in a better way.
Sometimes a release of emotional energy is necessary to fully discharge a trauma. In those cases, using the body as a guide, the therapist engages the tissues with CranioSacral techniques, visualization and dialoguing techniques that can guide the body through an otherwise challenging encounter with long-held emotions. The goal is to release the physical imprint of the emotion from the tissue. If the patient needs to analyze the emotion they are referred to a Counselor or Psychotherapist.
“Many patients believe that life is difficult and healing is painful. CranioSacral Therapy helps them let go of that belief. The healing process can be much more gentle and subtle”
S.H., Abbeville, LA
"Printed with permission of the Upledger Institute International"
for more information on CranioSacral Therapy please visit the
What is Visceral Manipulation (VM)?
"Viscera" relates to the internal organs of the body, such as the liver, kidneys and intestines. Visceral Manipulation is a gentle manual therapy that aids your body's ability to release restrictions and unhealthy compensations that cause pain and dysfunction. Visceral Manipulation or VM, does not focus solely on the site of pain or dysfunction, but evaluates the entire body to find the source of the problem. The VM therapist feels for altered or decreased motion within the viscera, as well as restrictive patterns throughout the body and then applies VM techniques. VM re-establishes the body's ability to adapt and restore itself to health.
What is treatment like?
VM is a soft hands on manual therapy. Underneath the pain or diagnosis is a compenstory pattern created in the body with the initial source of the dysfunction often being far from where the pain is felt. Because of this, the practitioner searches for this pattern and the source, and treats the related tissues. The treatment is a gentle compression, mobilization & elongation of the soft tissues.
The goal of VM is to increase fluidity in the tissues to promote better movement and function. As the source of the problem is released, the symptoms will start to decrease.
The treatment is usually performed in clothing that allows for mobility. You may be seated or lying on your front, back or side depending on what tissue needs treatment. Each person’s situation is different and each treatment is tailored to them.
Emotions are stored in organs
It is well documented that our emotions have a great impact on how our body functions, and this is greatly due to how receptive organs are to feelings. Different emotions affect different organs. Emotional reactions can translate into simple spasms in the gall bladder through heartburn, vomiting, feeling faint, ulcers and serious diseases. When the brain receives negative emotions it sends tension to the related organ, the organ sends tension back to the brain resulting in a vicious cycle. Conversely, a physically damaged or imbalanced organ can stimulate emotional upset. VM can break this cycle, enhance the health of the organ, and restore emotional balance.
How Do Organs Contribute to Pain and Dysfunction?
Your body is made up of many inter-related components such as bones, muscles, nerves, a thin connective tissue called fascia, as well as organs (viscera). Your organs are in perpetual motion. When you breathe, walk and stretch, your organs move in your chest and abdomen. For example, when you take a breath, your kidneys move one inch; and with a deep inhalation, they move 4 inches. In a day they move a little over a 1/2 mile. That's around 19,000 miles in a lifetime!
This movement of organs is transmitted through fascia to other structures of the body. When you are healthy, all the structures move with an interconnected fluidity. All of this movement is important as it influences activities throughout the body from the tiniest cellular pulsations to rhythmic contractions of the heart and blood flow. Optimum health relies on a harmonious relationship between the motions of the organs and other structures of the body.
There are many reasons for an organ to lose its mobility: physical traumas, surgeries, sedentary lifestyles, infections, pollution, bad diet, poor posture and pregnancy/delivery. When an organ is no longer freely mobile but is fixed to another structure, the body is forced to compensate. This disharmony creates fixed, abnormal points of tension and the chronic irritation gives way to functional and structural problems throughout the body - musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urinary, respiratory and digestive, to name a few.
Imagine scar tissue around the lungs. Because of the pull of the adhesion, with every breath, the movement patterns of the nearby structures would be altered. This could shift rib motion creating pulls on the spine. These restrictions might then show up as mid-back and neck pain, as well as limited movement in the shoulder. This scenario highlights just one of hundreds of possible ramifications of a small dysfunction - magnified by thousands of repetitions each day. This also explains how pain can often be far from the actual cause.
Visceral Manipulation can benefit:
Whiplash & Seatbelt Injuries, Chest or Abdominal Sports Injuries
Headaches and Migraines, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Back, Hip and Knee Pain, Sciatica
Bloating and Constipation, Acid Reflux, Swallowing Dysfunctions
Pain related to:
Post-operative Scar Tissue, Post-infection Scar Tissue
Women's/Men's Health Issues
Chronic Pelvic Pain, Endometriosis, Fibroids and Cysts, Dysmenorrhea, Bladder Incontinence, Prostate Dysfunction
Constipation and Gastritis, Reflux and Persistent Vomiting, Colic
Anxiety and Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
And much more
How did Visceral Manipulation Begin?
Jean-Pierre Barral is an Osteopath and Registered Physical Therapist from France. He first became interested in the movement of the body (biomechanics) while working at the Lung Disease Hospital in Grenoble, France with Dr. Arnaud, a recognized specialist in lung diseases and a master of cadaver dissection. Barral was able to follow patterns of stress in the tissues of cadavers as he studied biomechanics in living subjects. This introduced him to the visceral system, it's potential to promote lines of tension within the body, and the notion that tissues have memory. Barral's clinical work with the viscera led to his development of this form of manual therapy that focuses on the internal organs, their fascial environment and their potential influence on structural and physiological dysfunctions. He named this therapy Visceral Manipulation.
Jean-Pierre Barral began teaching Visceral Manipulation in the United States in 1985. Since then he has trained a team of International Instructors that teach around the world. He has authored numerous professional textbooks and a book for the general public, Understanding the Messages of Your Body.
"Printed with permission of the Upledger Institute International"
For more information on Visceral Manipulation, please visit
Paula is happy to offer Introduction to Infant Massage and Touch Relaxation lessons to parents and care givers at the clinic on Commercial Drive.
"My job is to help you discover how easy and rewarding massaging your little one can be." I cover the benefits of massage to babes and caregivers both and teach some basic strokes & fun movements that you can build into your routine, along with when to massage and when not to. I have a life sized soft doll that I can demonstrate on while you simultaneously massage your infant, or I can demonstrate the strokes and movements one at a time on your baby, with you repeating them after me.
I have a handout for you to take home, and several books and a video which I can lend out as well for leisurely review.
I do have a water-proof pad for the massage table but ask you to bring a few extra receiving blankets just in case they are needed."
Please speak directly with Paula when booking Infant Massage, as some creative scheduling may be required.
If possible try not to book just before or just after a feeding.
Usually a 30 to 45 minute session would work, with the option of shortening or lengthening it by 15 minutes as needed. Please feel free to call Paula with any questions or to book an appointment that she can build some flex time around.
She also offers individual infant massage treatment.
Muscle Energy Technique (MET)
A non-invasive soft tissue approach to realigning the spine, pelvis and rib cage. Assessment is done by motion-palpation to discover which specific muscle fibers are involved in the misalignment. These isolated muscles are then placed in a gently stretched position; contracted (with no movement) against resistance; and gently re-stretched. The contract/relax/stretch series is repeated 3-4 times effecting the realignment via the "muscle's energy".
What is Neural Manipulation (NM)?
"Neural" refers to the nervous system of the body, which includes the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. This delicate system acts as a communication highway throughout the body, and when it is not operating properly, pain and loss of function can result. Neural Manipulation, or NM, identifies local nerve restrictions and fixations while examining their effects on the rest of the body. The application of the gentle NM techniques re-establishes communication in the body, and improves its ability to adapt and restore itself to optimal health.
What Does it Feel Like?
NM is a soft hands on manual therapy. Underneath the pain or diagnosis is a compenstory pattern created in the body with the initial source of the dysfunction often being far from where the pain is felt. Because of this, the practitioner searches for this pattern and the source, and treats the related tissues. The treatment is a gentle compression, mobilization and elongation of the soft tissues, and most specifically the nerves. As the source of a problem is released, symptoms will start to decrease. Reaction and response time can vary with each Neural Manipulation treatment.
What is Nerve Fixation?
In the body, a nerve functions correctly only when it is able to move freely within its surroundings. Nerves can become "fixed", or dysfunctional, due to many reasons: physical trauma, surgeries, sedentary lifestyle, infections, pollution, bad diet, poor posture and pregnancy/delivery. When "fixed", a nerve cannot glide and/or stretch as we move our body, causing sensitivity, pain, and reduced optimal health.
Optimal health relies on a harmonious relationship between the different systems of the body - such as the nerves/nervous system, organs and their support tissues, and other structures. When nerve fixation occurs in one location, the body is forced to compensate elsewhere. This disharmony creates wider spread restriction, abnormal points of tension, and chronic irritation that over time can add up to functional and structural problems - musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urinary, respiratory and digestive, to name a few.
An NM therapist identifies specific nerve fixations and their global impacts on the body. Through application of the gentle and specific NM techniques, the patient's body becomes less bound by dysfunctional patterns allowing it to achieve a better state of optimal health.
Importance of Proper Nerve Function
Your body is made up of many interrelated components such as bones, muscles, internal organs (viscera), thin connective tissue (fascia), and nerves. The Nervous System is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and a network of peripheral nerves. It serves as a communication and information system throughout the body and between all of its tissues. More specifically, peripheral nerves connect all tissues and organs with the brain and spinal cord. Did you know that in a split second, peripheral nerves send messages to the brain from a billion stimuli? This information exchange enables the brain to react quickly and accurately. This is just one example highlighting the need for your nerves to function properly.
As with other tissues and systems in the body, when the Nervous System becomes dysfunctional it will cause the body to protect or compensate to help that area. Neural dysfunction also diminishes the Nervous System's responsiveness to dysfunction in all other tissues, hindering the body's ability to utilize its own innate self-corrective capabilities. This makes the body's constant search for equilibrium more difficult.
A nerve only functions correctly when it is able to move freely within its surrounding structures. Neural Manipulation therapy can facilitate proper nerve conductivity and functionality with manual techniques. NM therapy identifies and releases dysfunctional tensions and pressures in the body, thus allowing the body to make a focused, healing response that in turn results in positive changes throughout the entire body.
In essence, NM therapy improves communication within the body thereby alleviating pain related to a dysfunction.
Neural Manipulation Benefits:
Lower Back Pain
Headaches & Migraines
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Post-operative Scar Tissue Pain
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Neuralgia & Neuritis
Sprains & Traumatic Lesions
How did Neural Manipulation Begin?
Jean-Pierre Barral is an Osteopath and Registered Physical Therapist from France. He initially developed Visceral Manipulation, a manual therapy focusing on the internal organs of the body, which he began teaching in the United States in 1985. In addition, Jean-Pierre Barral and Alain Croibier, also an Osteopath from France, began to further study trauma and the consequences of trauma on tissues of the body. They discovered that any trauma to the body impacts and elicits a reaction from the entire Nervous System.
As a result, they developed therapy techniques specific to the Nervous System, which led to "Neural Manipulation" being taught in the United States beginning in 1999.
Since then, Barral and Croibier have trained practitioners around the world in their Neural Manipulation techniques. They have also authored numerous textbooks on this subject for healthcare professionals, including Manual Therapy for the Peripheral Nerves, Manual Therapy for the Cranial Nerves and Visceral Vascular Manipulation.
Jean-Pierre Barral has also authored a book for the general public, Understanding the Messages of Your Body, which discusses the important link between our organs, emotion and health.
"Printed with permission of the Upledger Institute International"
For more information on Neural Manipulation please visit
Pre/Post Breast Surgery Massage
& Home Care
Reduces stress & promotes relaxation before surgery.
Helps to reduce pain, swelling & tenderness and to increase range of motion & improve scar tissue mobility following:
diagnostic procedures, breast trauma, lumpectomy, breast cancer mastectomy, transgender mastectomy, prophylactic mastectomy, breast reconstruction, breast lift, cis female breast augmentation, transgender female breast augmentation, and breast reduction.
Learn about remedial exercises, home care & self massage techniques.
Healthy Breast Massage
Promotes and maintains healthy breast tissue.
Reduces tenderness caused by hormonal fluctuations & fibrocystic breasts.
Offers more frequent breast evaluation/monitoring, augmenting M.D. breast exams & mammograms.
Helps alleviate tenderness caused by breast congestion related to pregnancy, breast feeding or weaning.
Can assist in reclaiming breast touch as a safe and positive possibility after emotional trauma.
Self-breast massage instruction can be given in addition to or instead of regular breast massage.
Myofascial Release frees restrictions of movement in fascia and minimizes pain. Fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers, connects, and supports the muscles, organs and skeletal structures in our bodies. Since fascia encompasses the whole body, Myofascial Release is, essentially, a whole body approach.
Physical trauma such as a fall, whiplash, repetitive stress or just habitual poor posture causes fascia to lose its pliability. Since fascia is an interconnected web, a restriction or tightness in one location, with time, can spread to other places in the body like a pull in a sweater. As the tension increases, restricted movement and increased levels of pain become more likely. Tension in fascia can cause pain in other areas, so your therapist may treat other areas of the body to positively affect your treatment outcome.
The pressure during a Myofascial treatment can range from very gentle touch to deeper pressure. Some may experience a slight skin burning sensation in the skin, which is perfectly normal and safe. Others may feel a gentle to deep stretch of the area being treated.
It is important to give feedback to your RMT during the treatment, as the pressure should never be beyond your tolerance.