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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.

Forward Head Posture – Massage Therapy

Forward head posture: this common postural defect increases the gravitational forces of the head and may lead to hyperextension of the head on the neck, flexion of the neck over the thorax, and posterior migration of the jaw. Myofascially, there is lengthening and weakening of the anterior cervical soft tissue and hyoid muscles and hypertrophy of the masticatory muscles, shortening of the muscles of the upper neck region (suboccipital muscles). This could also cause derangement of the cervical vertebrae beneath the cranium (C1-C0). There would be tightening of the myofascial of anterior chest wall as well. Forward head posture can affect the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles that can also compromise the range of motion in the shoulders which can lead to shoulder injuries.

massage therapy for forward head postureAs a Registered Massage Therapist for the last 6 years, I have been treating common forward head posture problems and I have noticed the clients who most commonly exhibit forward head posture problems are the ones who use computers and have to work mostly at a desk and stationary areas. Others that have FHP are people who carry heavy bags or luggage frequently. People often ignore FHP and don’t think of it as causing future problems, so typically they believe that rest and other quick alternatives will address the issue. Unfortunately FHP, beside constant pains in the neck, can lead to other problems like cervical degenerative disc disease, tempromandibular joint dysfunction and as it progresses it could also reduce lung capacity because of the effect of the upper ribs and movement restriction. Physical therapy is a better choice of treatment and it is safe and drug free. Massage Therapists can help by assessing the tight muscles and the muscles that have not been used and have weakened over time. The treatment would combine inhibitory techniques by loosening and relaxing the tight muscles and stimulatory techniques by stimulating weaker muscles. Massage Therapists will also be able to give clients with FHP some tips to correct their posture and some specific stretches while at work as well as some tips for postural awareness so the client can avoid forward head posture and associated problems.

BHCMT – Proud to Offer Acupuncture in Vancouver

The musculoskeletal system is the pillar of our body. The combination of muscles, bones, nerves and all the other surrounding soft tissue provides our body with protection, movement and structural support. Muscle strain, tendonitis, torn ligaments, bursitis, nerve impingement and bone fracture are varied types of pain that can be experienced by the musculoskeletal system. These aches and pains may be accompanied by stiffness, tightness, inflammation, difficulty in movement and even immobility. Whether its pain and tension in the neck and upper back after prolonged hours of desk work or acute back pain from heavy lifting, acupuncture can be a safe and effective alternate treatment to ease pain and discomfort.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has been used for more than 2500 years to bring healing to the body and mind. In recent years, acupuncture has gained more recognition and popularity throughout the world. The World Health Organization recognized its effectiveness in treating sciatica, shoulder pain, arthritis, carpal tunnel, osteoarthritis, etc. The Chinese have used acupuncture to treat all sorts of musculoskeletal pain for thousands of years. It benefits both acute and chronic conditions. This Chinese methodology is based on a system of energy and meridian pathways that connect the body and the mind together.  The meridians are pathways that allow energy to travel throughout the body. When there is a blockage along the meridian, energy flow has been disrupted, and pain is experienced. Similarly, when acute sciatica occurs, the energy in the lower back is blocked. Therefore, needles are inserted in the lower back and distal area to stimulate the body to increase the healing processes.

Inserting the disposable filiform needles along the energy points and the trigger points of the strained muscles helps to reduce swelling, reduce tension and reduce pain. When the needles are inserted into the muscle, they also serve to increase blood circulation and energy flow to the local area. Treatments for the more chronic types of pain should be combined with other therapies such as massage therapy to enhance the soft tissue healing and speed up the recovery process. Patients should also try appropriate exercises and stretches to strengthen the injured muscles.  


Cindy Huang, RAc, BSc (Kin)
Acupuncturist in Vancouver

Do You Like To Grind? The Grouse Grind, That Is…

Hiking is one of the most common outdoor activities here in Beautiful Vancouver, and we are blessed to be surrounded by mountains and trails. One of the most common trails for hiking, both for locals and for tourists from all over the world who visit Vancouver during summer holidays is the Grouse Grind trail, located up the side of Grouse Mountain in the North Shore Mountains of the Pacific Ranges in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Elevation: 1,231 m (4,039 ft) from the sea level. Every summer people come to do the grind and test their fitness level and boast about their accomplishments to their friends.

The Grouse Grind trail is a steep, nearly vertical trail, and recently the staff of Grouse Mountain have reinforced the trail with steps to make it easier to ascent.

It usually would take an average person with a good fitness level about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes to summit the trail, but having said that, because of the elevation gain hikers usually feel short of breath and start feeling heavy legs and slow down closer to the top, slowing their pace. There are also hikers that train all year round and have built special endurance and fitness levels, enabling them to do the grouse grind in under 40 minutes or less.

There are some precautions new hikers should consider while doing the grind – to be well hydrated and to carry water with you. Wearing thinner and loser clothing helps with comfort and keeps you cooler while you are hiking up as well (sometimes during the summer temperature can rise above 25C +/-).

As a regular hiker and trail runner, I have noticed that there are times when I want to improve my hiking and trail running  time, and I have to make some improvements to my muscle strength and muscles flexibility to accomplish this.

What Muscles are Used When Hiking?

Trekking up hills or mountainsides is hard work, and it engages multiple muscle groups in tandem. Here are the muscles used most strenuously:

• Gluteus group
• Quadriceps
• Hamstrings
• Calves
• Abdominals
• Lower Back
• Obliques
• Ankle and Knee Complex
• Inside and Outside Thigh

The muscles listed the above can vary in people differently – some people will have a stronger muscle group but are not necessarily flexible while some people have less strength but more flexibility. A hiker should usually consult with a professional and find out what muscles need to be strengthened and what muscles need to be stretched to find the right balance.

Commonly after a vigorous hike like Grouse Grind it is recommended to stretch post hike for about 10-15 minutes and to hold each stretch longer than 40 seconds.

Post-hiking can cause some pains and aches due to repetitive movement and storage of metabolic waste like lactic build up in the major muscles like gluteus, quads and hamstring groups. Massage therapy is usually recommended as a natural healthy alternative treatment to loosen the muscles and flush out the lactic build up in the muscles.

Once the seasonal hiker gets into a more regular routine of hiking there will be less discomfort. Keeping your lower extremities strong and doing regular exercise will make you a better hiker and improve your performance so you can enjoy your beautiful summer day in Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver BC. Canada!

Shem Sharifi, RMT, and a true out door lover!