I've always been suffering from stiff shoulders due to long hours at the computer (plus bad sitting posture), and the stiffness will eventually 'move up' my neck and then eventually manifest itself as either my random migraine attack or my yearly cluster headache attack.
So I was really glad when I was given at chance at trying out this TCM related Meridians Tissue Manipulation (MTM) therapy at Indulge Skin & Body Lab.
MTM therapy is a form of remedial massage that uses buffalo horn tools which allow the therapist to go deeper into our muscle tissue to 'untie' the knots within, providing a much more effective relief for chronic pains, muscle stiffness and fibromyalgia. As this massage works directly on our meridians, which are the channels in our body through which our qi flows, this therapy will also help to relieve symptoms that arises from meridian blockage, such as water retention, weight gain and etc.
The areas upon which we can perform MTM therapy on includes:
5. Arms, Chest and Shoulders
For more information on their individual benefits, visit Meditrina's website HERE
For my case, I was advised to try their back therapy, which helps to alleviate both upper and lower back pains and consequently improve complexion. The therapist, Chira, upon hearing that I suffer from frequent migraines, also went on to perform the treatment on my arms, shoulders, neck and head.
I was ushered into a small and clean treatment room and given disposable shower cap and undies to change into. Chira was also very polite to make sure that I was already lying face down on the bed before she entered the room.
And before I move on with my experience of the therapy, let's see how the buffalo horn tools look like.
A total of 5 different tools were used as shown, with 3 sizes of the horn-shaped tool, 1 small spatula-shaped (rounded plus flat tips, and 1 flat plate with 4 different edge detailing. The flat plate gave a sensation that's closest to __ (gua sha) while the other 4 tools produced a much deeper, specific pressure. Depending on the area and intensity of the 'knots' encountered, the therapist will switch between the 5 tools to give the best effect.
My therapy started off with the application of this Soothing Moxa Pain Relief Essence on the major meridian points on my back, namely two sides of my neck, shoulder blades, mid/lower back and base of my spine.
If you understand Japanese Kanji or Chinese characters, you'll know that the product name can be loosely translated into palm's acupuncture. Indeed, as explained by Chira, this quick acting pain relief essence adopts nanotechnology to allow the essence of the ingredient to penetrate into the skin to give a 30 seconds DIY acupuncture session to alleviate the pain at targeted area.
Using her palm, Chira pressed the product on my skin until I felt this warming sensation before patting the area lightly to complete the application.
With difference in level of meridian blockages at different areas of my body, I experienced a significant difference in the time taken for the warming sensation to be felt.
After application of the Soothing Moxa Essence, Chira then started the massage with buffalo horns using the Ageless Herbal Cream with Chasteberry extract ($178), winner of the Cozycot Women's Choice Award 2012. Unlike other oil massages, which leaves your skin oily and in need of a shower, this cream gets fully absorbed into your skin in the course of the massage to give you many benefits, such as:
1. Smoothen skin texture and work on skin renewal
2. Promotes blood circulation and reduce appearance of wrinkles
3. Gives a firmer and more curvaceous bust line
4. Promote stronger immune system
5. Improves vitality, stamina and endurance
6. Strong anti-oxidant effects help to increase defence against free radicals
7. Alleviate PMS, menopausal symptoms
8. Supports bone health
9. Increase muscle strength and physical fitness
10. Restore physical and mental energy to optimal levels
11. Speed up recovery from illnesses
And for the buffalo horn massage, it goes with the usual TCM theory of ____,____, which means if you have blockages, it's going to hurt. And of course, it hurt a great deal for me, with the worst pain experienced at my left shoulder blade, which explains the usual migraine and cluster headaches on the left side of my head. The knot was so bad Chira could hardly get the horn to move and she had to switch to the flat plate to ease it out first before she could get the horn to work, calling it a 'big project'.
And just like what my usual TCM doctor has been telling me, Chira could easily deduce that I suffer from weak lungs (hence the usual colds and 100-days-coughs) and weak gastric with bloat from all the knots she located in my back muscle tissue. And by constantly easing out these knots to unblock my meridian blockages, it will help to alleviate all my current pesky health issues.
And as preempted by Chira right after the treatment, parts of my arms and back started to bruise up slightly the next day, together with a stinging pain on the skin. But compared to bruising from __ and cupping, these bruises are way lighter and could be easily overlooked at a glance and goes away on the 3rd day for my case.
But all these in exchange for better health, better complexion, and most importantly no more migraines and the dreaded cluster headaches, why not?
Immediately after the massage was over, I sat up and felt a certain lightness to my shoulders and back. I tried flexing and swinging my arms around and the muscles were not tense, my shoulders even felt softer and not so 'hard', it was really quite amazing.
There was some soreness, as if you've had a major workout but as I always say, any sort of muscle soreness is welcomed because that always means that your body is healing, repairing and getting better.
Even when I moved my neck from side to side my muscles didn't have the strain that it usually had, it's almost as if my body was all fresh and light again. As if major weights were being lifted off my shoulders and I absolutely loved it.
My back felt more flexible, not as tense as it was and totally weird but I felt younger even! I know I'm far from being labelled old but perhaps they were right, I've not been taking good care of my body and allowed it to 'age' further than it is supposed to.
Here's me outside Hub's door cause I was done a little bit sooner than he was.
Hubs had the same sentiments though I think the therapist he had was a little more unforgiving on him, maybe because he is a guy. He said she showed 'no mercy' with her strength and he recommended I give his therapist lady a go. Of course I said a huge big 'NO!', I like my therapist just fine, thank you. ha!
We were both so impressed with how we felt after that we decided to work towards a better sense of wellbeing by taking on a package so we could go back for a few trips and really get our bodies back on track.
While with one session we could really feel the difference, given our situations it probably isn't enough to get our chi properly flowing... and all that jazz.
So if you ask me, while yes I do feel these massages can be quite an indulgence, doing it once in awhile to really understand what's up with our bodies and to properly de-stress and unknot all the tension and stress from work, chores, life, is really a good feeling.
You'll really feel that a great weight has been lifted and even walk with a spring in your step after!
Even though it comes with a little bit of pain. No pain, no gain! But this is the awesome kind of pain, I assure you ;)