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Why You Shouldn’t Neglect Your Shoulder Pain



Pain free movement is often taken for granted. It isn’t until you reach out to brush your hair or pull on a sweater that you realize how crucial having a full range of motion is! Without a proper treatment plan, that annoying pain can become an incapacitating injury. In this article you’ll learn the anatomy of impingement syndrome, and what steps you can take to treat it before surgical intervention is your only option.

Every body has a different and unique body. For ages this saying has been used to help build self esteem, and anatomically it makes sense. In the shoulder girdle, there is a bone process on each end of the collarbone called an acromion. For 59% of people, this bone structure is flat or slightly curved. In the remaining 41% of people, this bone is shaped like a hook. If you are in the latter fraction of people, your hooked acromion can cause painful impingement over time with poor posture and overuse. 

If you’re noticing that you can’t raise your arm without pain, it’s time to see your local registered massage therapist. The subacromial bursa (a little fluid filled balloon between your muscles and bone) is usually the first structure to become irritated. As the shoulder impingement advances the muscle tendons can become inflamed (tendonitis) and fibrosis forms. While this damage is reversible, the next progression is tendinous rupture. At this stage, the tiny acromion bone often is undergoing bony changes and surgery may be required to be able to move your arm without pain.

Why force yourself to live with shoulder pain when it will just cause further damage to your body? A massage therapist can treat the hypertoned and compressed muscles by utilizing tendinous release and pressure point release to decrease the tension and allow better slide and glide between the body’s structures. At later stages of compression, massage can be helpful in decreasing the fibrotic tissue by bringing fresh blood flow to the tissues and realigning collagen in the inflamed tendons. At Burrard Massage Therapy, we don’t believe our treatment ends after your session.  Besides performing a deep tissue massage, your therapist can inform you on homecare and ergonomic work choices that will allow you to take your health care into your own hands. 

How Massage Therapy Compliments Pregnancy



Pregnancy is a state of wellness associated with a women’s body adapting to foster and nurture the growth and development of a fetus. The changes that the woman undergoes enable her to bear a child while allowing her to continue on with her activities of daily living. Often people have a tendency to blow off their own health as expendable. This is a personal choice, but dynamics begin to change when others are affected by such decisions. Once considered an old wives tales, for two decades research has been backing the age old claim that stress can negatively affect child birth. The most notable of correlations between stress and childbirth are pre-term delivery and low birth weight.  Statistically one in ten babies will be born before they are due! There is also an association between a child’s developed IQ being lower when the mother has had periods of high stress during pregnancy.


One of the changes the body undergoes in the first trimester is the connective tissue of the low back forming a support network that carries the extra weight of the fetus and stabilizes the woman’s vertebrae and pelvis. In layman’s terms, the body creates a sling of fibers to cradle the baby in a way that distributes the weight evenly as possible. After the woman’s body has established this structure, the massage therapist can safely perform deep techniques that target the lower back, buttock and hip muscles. A treatment aimed at these specific areas aids in relieving points of tension along the fibrous sling while maintaining the support of the expanding abdomen.


 Massage therapy is a non-invasive and safe method of relieving the constant aches and pains of pregnancy while giving the mother a mental and physical break. Innovative pregnancy pillows now allow a pregnant woman to lay face down comfortably. This position allows muscles that are in a constantly overworked state to take a momentary, and much needed, break! The luxury of being positioned face down allows a treatment consisting of long relaxing massage techniques which are helpful in reducing the swelling in the lower limbs that plagues many pregnant women. The extra weight travels down from the abdomen to the last load bearing location, the feet! A relaxing foot massage helps to alleviate the mother-to-be of any distress, elevating her mood and mental state.


Massage therapy has been shown to relieve the physical pain that presents during all trimesters in safe manner. It also decreases the stress hormones within the body, relaxing the mom to be while potentially benefiting the birthing procedure and the future baby’s IQ. Either way, massage therapy is a win-win situation for the mother and child!

Insurance Benefits for Massage Therapy

You’ve Got Massage Therapy Benefits!

Now, what does that mean?



You’ve worked hard throughout your life to get yourself into a position that allows you access to the much sought after prize of extended benefits. Now, what? How do you turn your elusive benefits package into a tangible massage therapy appointment, and more importantly, how do you claim these treatments and get your hard earned money back into your account where it belongs.

To help you out, we’ve researched the reimbursement process for registered massage therapy (RMT) with a couple popular insurance companies.  You might notice repetition in some of the steps listed, and that’s due to the majority of these companies creating a simplified claiming system to make it easier for you, the consumer. We hope this will make utilizing your well-deserved benefits less ominous so you can enjoy your treatment without worrying about your finances.

Many people assume that a doctor’s referral is required in order to book a claimable massage therapy appointment. This is false. In reality, the only thing required for you to book a massage therapy appointment is a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and an available slot in their schedule. Doctor’s notes are commonly only needed for ICBC and WorksafeBC claims only. Extended health benefits allow you to come in for treatment anytime you like and for any ailment you have.

Once you have booked and received your treatment you’ll pay the full price of the massage treatment for the time allotted and will be given an official RMT receipt. This piece of paper is your proof to the insurance company that you did, in fact, receive and pay for the treatment.

Online Submitting

            Many companies have a process for online submitting. If we haven’t created a step by step guide for your specific insurance broker, fear not! The process is very similar for each company. With online submitting, you go to your insurance broker’s website and sign into your plan with your plan number and password. You then complete your claim form, and send in your claim virtually.  While you are not required to mail in your receipts with your claim, you are required to keep your receipts safe, and send them in only if requested. This method of submission is instantaneous and you are generally done filing your claim the second you hit the ‘send’ button!


With Sunlife Vision Insurance following 2 easy steps takes only a few moments, and allows you to send your claim in online. What’s the benefit of this? Your payment will be directly deposited into your bank account within 48 hours of clicking ‘send!’

1: Make sure you’re registered for online access by either visiting or by phoning in to 1-877-SUN-LIFE (1-877-786-5433). You will need to know your policy number (037000) and ID number.

2: Sign in and submit your claim! They’ll ask for the practitioner’s name and medical registration number. 

*Keep your original receipts.

To keep yourself organized at the tap of a button, check out the Sun Life Mobile app and you can submit your claim before you even leave your practitioner’s office!

Need more information or have some quick questions? Call 1-877-SUN-LIFE or visit for some answers.


1: Register to the online website , make sure you’ve got your policy number and ID number handy. 

2: Fill out a few tidbits about your claim to double check that you can, in fact, submit your claim online. Things they’ll want to know about the claim are if it’s through WCB or ICBC. 

3: Sign in and submit your claim! They’ll ask for the practitioner’s name and medical registration number.

*Keep you original receipts.

For visual learners out there, check out this fantastic video Bluecross has released on the simplicity of online submitting:



How to Find the Right Massage Therapist

Massage therapy has become popular among many people who believe in an alternative, holistic approach to their well being and dealing with pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. Getting an effective and beneficial massage treatment always depends on your choice of a therapist. When we choose a therapist, we have to trust them to put our body into their hands and we need to build a trust with a therapist and believe that the training they have is sufficient enough that they will be able to help you with there proper and specific techniques. Finding a Massage therapist is a key that we want to find with someone who can give us great treatment and make our pain go away. Those are two different things. Dealing with pain is a primary issue for a therapist that has to work with, and hopefully the therapist can somewhat reduce the symptoms so we can feel better. Often a good therapist will be, depending on the length of the treatment, able to work on the specific cause of the visit and use part of the treatment to make the client relax and comfortable before the finish their treatment.

These days there are many institutes that offer full time school for massage therapy professions and more therapists are getting in the work force to offer therapeutic massages.

Every therapist learns the same techniques and same materials according to the standard of the province and college they belong to. They have to go through intensive learning of musculoskeletal anatomy, physiology, pathology and practical portion of the training. Students also gets exposure to work with some more complex cases and pathologies like neuron pathology, spinal injuries and acute and chronic disease under supervision of their instructor.


▶ What Do You Want from the Massage

There are various types of massage, and the techniques are different for all. First of all, you need to find out what you desire from a massage treatment. Are you looking for a relaxation massage or a deep-tissue massage, acupressure or a craniosacral massage? Get information about various types of massages and find out which one you need. Find out about all therapists who have proper training and experience in that particular therapy. Often in British Columbia people have learned most of these modalities and they later get even further training for their continuing educations.

▶ License and Certification

A registered Massage Therapist of British Columbia is registered under provincial government and they have to have standard knowledge and understanding of human physiology and anatomy to able to communicate and describe the condition of a patient and collaborate with other practitioners like doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors and often with insurance companies for legal cases like work injuries or car accidents.

▶ Personal References

Licenses, certificates, and other details can no doubt make the therapist seem good enough, but it will be more helpful if you get a personal recommendation for a particular therapist from someone you know. A personal referral will make the therapist more trustworthy, and you will feel more relaxed and confident in getting a massage from him or her.

▶ Online Reviews

The Internet has become one of the best sources of information and communication. If the therapist is a thorough professional, they will most probably have their own website. You can go through the testimonials written on their website. You can even visit websites which are especially dedicated to massage therapists where you find detailed reviews of various therapy sessions. You can even get your queries answered through the forums provided in these websites.

▶ Experience

though very small, the chances of a massage therapy going wrong do exist. Though this is a rare case scenario, you have to take all possible precautions to avoid any such mishap. So, go for a therapist who has rich experience in their field.
That is not always the case with therapists though, yet it is important to look at the therapist’s experience but sometimes new therapists in the field can be as good as experienced ones. You just have to try them and give them a chance, after all we all have to start from somewhere and gain the trust of the client.

It is important if your massage therapist gives you home care and some heads up on proper exercises and stretching so it can prevent other problems. While we are at school one portion of our training is all about home care and educating the clients about the body and their common issues and how to improve them.

You can make a note of all the questions and queries you have about the massage and even the therapist. Make sure you tell the massage therapist about your present health conditions and preferences, if any, like room temperature, allergies to oils or lotions, massage pressure, etc. Find out the fees or cost of the session beforehand. Pregnant women and people with any serious health ailments should consult their doctor before opting for any massage.

It is very important for us as a therapist to get feed back from you and reviews so we can improve and become a better therapist and be able to perform to our best to help you with great and high quality of care.



Shem RMT

Boost Up Energy Using Acupuncture

Boost Up Energy Using Acupuncture

As the rain rolls in and the days get shorter, fall has officially arrived in Vancouver. The cold weather and darker days have some people feeling the winter blues. Lack of energy, body aches and mood swings are some of the typical symptoms from seasonal depression. Acupuncture is the natural remedy for boost your energy and having your body living in harmony with the natural cycles of the season.

Studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and other neuropeptides that suppress pain. Endorphins are neurotransmitters in the body that produce an analgesic affect and help to decrease the pain-releasing signals in the body. It is one of the major reason acupuncture is good for body aches and mood swings.

The ancient Chinese had focused on recharging our body and revitalizing our energy. Now is the time to replenish energy and conserve strength. Bears have been doing it for ages with hibernation, so how are human bodies any different? Acupuncture can help to unblock the stagnated energy in the body and guide them back onto the right path, giving the body a kick start on the long winter ahead of us.

With the holiday season just around the corner, come in for a relaxation treatment and start off tomorrow feeling refresh. Use up your health care benefit before it expires.


Headaches and Massage Therapy

 massage therapy for headaches







Almost everyone has suffered through at least one headache in their lifetime, while many people are plagued with this pain monthly, weekly, or even daily.

Typically, headache sufferers will take a dose of painkillers to try to decrease the pain so that they may continue working. Often, this method of treatment for headaches has little or no effect on the throbbing pain and if used continuously can have damaging effects on the person’s liver.

A safe alternative to painkillers that has been scientifically proven as beneficial is massage therapy. Massage Therapists are trained with advanced knowledge of anatomy to enable them to decipher which muscles are under extreme tension and the best way to decrease muscle knots. At the start of the appointment, your therapist will talk with you about your job and posture to look for which muscles are at the root of your tension headache. Using a combination of heat, trigger point release, and stretching your therapist can create a customized technique to decrease the tension and tailor a homecare routine to prevent the headaches. If the client is dedicated enough to commit to a treatment plan and motivated enough to perform the homecare routine as instructed, the headaches can become more manageable and even decrease in severity and frequency. 

How Massage Therapy and Hydrotherapy Can Work Wonders

Hydrotherapy treatment uses all forms of water in solid, liquid or gaseous states to have its therapeutic effects for specific conditions. Hydrotherapy has a long history in different cultures of people who believed that water has a healing power once it is used in different forms or temperatures. Today, hydrotherapy has been used with Massage Therapists , Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Spas. For example, heat often has been used post-treatment of tight fascia and chronic muscular pain. Heat in hydrotherapy is used to assist a therapist with increasing blood flow to the region which allows the therapist to reduce tightness and increase nutrients to the needed muscles. Cold has also been used more in the acute stage of an injury like strains, sprains and injuries which cause inflammation to the effected area. Often people make the mistake of not knowing what temperature should be used for what specific condition they wish to treat. First we need to understand what physiological effect each temperature has on the body and how it affects our nervous system.

Effect of heat: local heat is often used by therapists to improve blood flow to the needed region during the treatment. Heat commonly has a relaxing and comforting physiological effect.

Cold effect: cryotherapy is another term for the application of cold or ice.

When cold is applied to the local region it reduces the temperature on the skin, muscles and joints. That effect can be helpful to reduce inflammation to the region.

Cold tends to block pain transmission or have a counter effect against heat.

For example during muscle spasm, cold is often used to reduce firing the muscle spindles which are in charge of sending neuro-impulses to the muscle fibers.

In any form, when hydrotherapy is used to control the temperature on an injury, it is important to remember that too hot can be harmful to the body and it can have a negative effect like the production of blisters or make the muscle tissue sensitive. Temperature over 39 C is considered hot. Always use a layer between the skin and the thermo pack or pad. Always read the instruction of the heating agent for safety. Cold packs also have to be used carefully since ice can also cause harm or damage to the skin and the surrounding tissue. Always use a wrap on the ice pack in a towel to avoid direct contact with skin.

Whether you use heat or cold applications, you need to consult with your therapist to guide you to use different temperatures in different stages of the injury.

Massage Therapists of BC are intensely trained on hydrotherapy during their  practical and theoretical schooling during their massage therapy education. In fact, hydrotherapy is part of the curriculum and includes most kinds of modality and forms of hydrotherapy and UV therapy.

City Chase

Burrard Massage Therapy was proud to be part of Vancouver’s one of the most exciting events, CityChase – Canada’s largest Urban Adventure, where an individual or team of two overcomes challenges hidden all over the city and competes in this fun event!!

We treated CityChase participants at the finish line, and it was wonderful to see such an active, fun-seeking crowd.  The CityChase participants enjoyed our post-event treatment and we hope they will make Massage Therapy a part of their fit lifestyle.

Here are some photos we took at our Massage Therapy station:


What is a Rotator Cuff Tear in the Shoulder and how an RMT Can Help

A rotator cuff tear occurs once a shoulder tendon is injured. There are many grades of tear; they are categorized for their shape, size, partial tear, complete tear and the nature of the injury.

The rotator cuff is comprised of a group of four muscles: infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. The joint that is part of the rotator cuff is the glanohurmerus joint. Beside this muscle there are other muscles like pectorals and rhomboids that are involved in the movement of the shoulder known as the rotator cuff.

We also need to know that our rotator cuff is one of the most active regions in the body with a vast variety of range of motion that allows us to complete some complex movements in our active daily living and many different sport fields.

Rotator Cuff Tear Explained.

A rotator cuff tear commonly is injured due to repetitive use injures. Unnatural tension to a tendon due to muscle imbalance, due to postural issues like tight pectoral muscles, head forwarded posture and kyphosis on the upper spinal region can contribute to this. Wear and tear of tendons can also be a cause of this ailment. Patients with repetitive injuries complain of shoulder bursitis before developing this tear through the tendons. People with rotator cuff tears are not able to lift or rotate their arm and they experience significant pain associated with shoulder movement.

Other common causes to rotator cuff injuries are lack of mobility, inactivity that can lead to stiffness of the shoulder and weakness of the shoulder muscles. Overuse of the shoulder joint after a period of inactivity, poor blood supply to the rotator cuff area (common in increasing age), falling on outstretched arms and a gradual weakening of the shoulder tendons, associated with hyperactivity are also common causes of rotator cuff injuries.

 Practitioners like RMTs or Physiotherapists will indicate the injury by testing the range of motion in the shoulder. Partial tear to the rotator cuff can cause pain when the arm is lifted up and in a certain arc. The test can also identify as painful arc syndrome.

A complete tear to the rotator cuff sign and symptoms:

Tightness in the shoulder, limited movement in the shoulder joint, muscle weakness during activity like lifting, catching and cracking sounds, pain during the day and pain at night during sleep which can lead tiredness and insomnia. Pain also can be triggered by specific activity.


Diagnosis is made on the basis of physical examination and some imaging tests. In X-rays, there are some visible signs of tear such as formation of bone spurs and narrowing of the space around the rotator cuff tendons. Some commonly used tests for diagnosis are MRI’s, arthrograms and ultrasounds.


There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options for the treatment of rotator cuff tears. The non-surgical options include a combination of medications and various therapies such as physical therapy and cold therapy. Anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers are helpful in controlling the symptoms of a rotator cuff tear.

Massage therapy can help with balancing muscles in the region, Mild joint mobilization can also get rid of stiffness. Massage therapy can also help with post surgery if there is a complete tear and can help with scar tissue, increasing the range of motion and over all maintenance of the shoulder girdle. As a therapist, I have been treating clients with shoulder injuries, painful rotator cuff symptoms and muscle imbalance of the upper trunk. I have learned that massage therapy is a better approach to correct the underlying problems like muscle imbalance, through trigger point therapy and joint mobilization, these treatments can be a safe and smart choice to treat a common injury such as pain in the rotator cuff.


RMT – Vancouver, BC

The Hip Flexor Muscles and Massage Therapy

 massage therapy for hip flexor pain

Hip Flexor Muscles are the primary muscles used to move the hip forward during walking or running.  Illiopsoas and rectus femoris are the main muscles. They are attached to the body of lumbar vertebrae, inside of the iliac bone and insert into the lesser trochanter  in the area of the upper femur and rectus femoris, and follows the attachment with the rest of the quadriceps muscles. The action of the HF muscles is flexion of your hip and has some action on the core and lower extremities for stabilization. HF plays a very important role in activities like cycling, running, skating, hiking and etc., and strain of the hip flexors can often cause pain along the location of the muscle and around the front of the hip into the groin.

Although this muscle is often tight or strained in active groups of  people, it often gets neglected and can become weak even in active people and can cause same kind of pain symptoms due to weakening and inactiveness. This is often true, especially, in the case of weakness in the core muscles. If the core muscles (or muscles in the lower abdomen) are weak and are not able to stabilize the pelvis, the flexor muscles in the hips take the pressure, trying to compensate for the core’s weakness, and are overworked. Commonly, a straight leg test is used by practitioners to measure the strength of this muscle and it ranges from grade 3 to normal, which is 5 (test is performed by pressing down towards floor while client lying on the back and holding leg straight up to about 70 degrees and the practitioner will apply downward pressure and resistance which should last up to 5 seconds to indicate the grade)

Flexor pain is often caused due to the overuse of these muscles. It can also be caused due to acute trauma. Many times, while sprinting, kicking a ball, cycling, etc., there can be instances when a person feels a pull in the flexor muscles of the hip. This is said to be the origin of the pain in the hip muscle region. Due to sedentary lifestyles, the flexor muscles become tight and have poor flexibility and this contributes to the injury. If the muscles are tight, there is an increased amount of tension on the tissues. Many a time, increased tension along with an explosive movement leads to an injury.

Massage therapy can help with most of the common problems like tension and tightness in the hip flexors, and some techniques used by Massage Therapists can even stimulate the muscle and awaken them.

A Registered Massage Therapist is trained to treat this muscle and is able to reach the body of the muscle and treat them, and often with few specific treatments the problem will get better. It also has been said that by addressing pain and releasing the tension it can often reduce lower back pain. This is true if there is tension or a trigger point in the hip flexor, and the pain can refer toward the centre of the back and lower lumbar region.

If you run, hike, cycle or even work at an office you have to learn to properly stretch the hip flexor muscles. Learning some basic exercises to how to strengthen your core and hip flexor muscles can also improve the performance of the HF muscles and it can also help prevent any complications like tightness, strain, tear and instability of your core and lower extremities.