Self Help Massage Tools!

massage

In between massage sessions, here a few tools you can use:

Here is a partial list of body tools – (self help devices that allow you to do body work (massage, acupressure) without the need of assistance).

TheraCane – An acupressure tool that loosens tight, painful muscular areas.  You use leverage and slight downward pull to create the desired pressure wherever you want.  This device is especially designed for the back of the neck, mid-back (between shoulder blades), upper back, sides of neck and shoulders.  It can even be used all over the body as a stretching aid.

The Stick – A non motorized massage device used by serious athletes to loosen trigger points (knotted up muscles).  The flexible core with the revolving spindles easily molds to various body contours.  This tool is great for the legs, especially the calves, and can be used effectively on all major muscle groups.

The Massage Stone This device was designed with the professional massage therapist in mind.  It is supposed to aid the hands, not replace them.  The stone may be used over clothing so it can be used often.  J   When heated, the Massage Stone drives the heat deep into the muscle tissues, relaxing the muscles for deeper massage.   When chilled, the stone can help reduce inflammation from a sports injury.

The Trigger Wheel – A 2” nylon wheel on a 4” handle for deep massage.  The Trigger Wheel works on trigger points and be used directly on skin or through light clothing.  It works the way a tire rolls back and forth on pavement. It is very effective in reaching specific sore spots, such as small areas in the neck, hands, wrists, arms, legs and feet.  It’s small enough you can carry it with you and use it throughout the day to keep pain at bay.

The Foot Massage A 2”x9” roller with raised knobs for foot massage, and rubber rings to protect the floor.  A super tool for tired feet. The studded knobs give you pinpoint access to the bottom of the foot.  This is used to stimulate nerve endings, reduce discomfort, and improve circulation. If your job is sedentary, use this tool on the job.

Breath Builder This device was originally designed for musicians to develop breath control; however it is excellent for anyone who desires to develop restorative deep breathing.  You blow into a tube and the pressure of your breath keeps a ping pong ball afloat in the cylinder.  It forces you to use your diaphragm muscles and to breathe correctly, with the goal of increasing your lung capacity.

The Back Revolution– This device is an inversion device which keeps your pelvis stabilized and decompresses discs and works wonders for store, stiff necks. Health professionals recommend using it for 70 seconds, 2 to 3 times a day.  Can help you control persistent back and neck pain.

The Pain Eraser 1 An exceptional hand-held tool that is firm enough for deep massage yet soft enough for more tender parts of your body, including your face.  Access arms, legs, hands, feet, back etc., easily with this high quality massage tool.  1-1/2” wide roller is made of 100% natural rubber with 36” fingers.  Great for travel.

 

Why It’s Better to Be Gumby (Flexible)

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I haven’t always been the best when it comes to stretching, but I have vowed to make it more of a habit from here on in.  As I approach the half century mark the latter part of this year, it has become abundantly clear to me that I need to be more flexible.  I have the cardio/weight lifting habit down, but am seriously lacking in the stretching department.

Since I can’t seem to make it into yoga as much as I would like to, I did some research on some worthwhile stretching books. I have two really good books already, but wanted something new.   I found an excellent one entitled:  Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition by Bob Anderson I plan to scan copies of relative pages so that I may forward them on to family/friends/clients/colleagues!  If you are new to stretching, or want something for just about every sport or activity you could think of, this is the book for you.  Here are highlights from the book:

Stretching When to stretch?

Before you begin your day in the morning

At the workplace to release nervous tension

After sitting or standing for long periods of time

When you feel stiff

At odd times during the day, i.e, when watching TV, listening to music, reading, sitting and talking

Stretching_2 Why stretch?

 √Release muscle tension making the body feel more relaxed

√Help coordination by allowing for freer and easier movement

√Increase range of motion

√Help prevent injuries such as muscle strains/sprains.

√Make strenuous activities like running, skiing, swimming, and cycling easier because it prepares you for the activity; it’s a way of signaling the muscles that they are about to be used.

 √Helps maintain your current level of flexibility, so as you do not become stiffer and stiffer over time

 √Develop body awareness; as you stretch various parts of your body, you focus on them and get in touch with them; you get to know yourself.

 √Helps loosen the mind’s control of the body so that the body moves for “it’s own sake” rather than for competition or ego.

FEEL GOOD!!

Prevent Arthritis Pain!!

I subscribe to the idea of using the food we eat as medicine to keep the body healthy. I was motivated to look up foods that prevent or ease arthritis because it seems to be an issue for many.

Following is a list of 7 types of food to prevent arthritis pain:
1) Green tea
2) foods with Omega-3 fatty acids
3) olive oil
4) food rich in beta carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin
5) foods rich in Vitamin C
6) antioxidant-rich food containing the anthocyanins
7) and food containing spices of turmeric and ginger

And for every list of “do’s” there is a list of “don’ts.” Avoid the foods if you have arthritis:
1) saturated fats
2) trans fats
3) fried food in general
4) refined carbohydrates
5) and foods high in simple sugars

 

 

 

Hot or cold compresses for achy muscles/ joints?

Both hot and cold compresses can ease pain, but the trick is knowing which one to use when. Any time you have a sudden onset of discomfort (either from a new injury or a flare-up of an existing one), apply a cold pack for 20 minutes, several times a day. Icing the area decreases blood flow to the injured region, which helps prevent swelling and reduce soreness. Ice is nature’s anti-inflammatory, and with all the controversy over pain medication these days, it’s a inexpensive, safe, smart choice. If you live with chronic achy pain from back pain or arthritis, heat is better; it increases blood circulation, soothing muscles and stiff joints. Many of my clients rave about the one-use disposable heat pads and wraps available at the drugstore—you simply stick them on and go.

Find Painful Muscle Relief Through Trigger Point Massage

What exactly is a Trigger Point or, Myofascial Trigger Points (TrP)?  They are simply a firm, tangible, tender spot found in any given muscle group with symptoms including deep, aching pain, numbness, inflammation and a loss of range of motion.  Many people would compare these spots to knots.  In my practice, I see these occur primarily in the back/neck and Gluteal Muscles, but they can be found on any muscle in the body.  These “knots” are also frequently accompanied by referred pain.  Referral Pain is pain that is felt elsewhere from where the source is.  For example, if I was applying pressure to a tender Trigger Point in the Lower Back of a client, they may also feel that tender pain occurring in their Hamstring.

There are several causes for these painful spots:

  • Over-training and/or improper form
  • Muscle weakness
  • Car Accident
  • Poor Diet
  • Beginning a new exercise program
  • Emotional and/or physical trauma
  • Insomnia/sleep disorders

Trigger Point Therapy has become very popular since its first use in 1843.  Dr. F. Froriep, a German Physician, found tender spots, which he named “muscle callouses” in the muscles of his patients.  He discovered that treating these specific spots brought immense relief.  There has been a lot of research on this issue since, but the most recent and well-respected is from Janet G. Travell M.D. and David G. Simons M.D.  Dr. Travell worked with terminally ill patients.  She found that her patients complained more of and had more concerns with the pain instead of the serious illness that was being treated.  She dedicated her practice to pain syndromes and alleviating patients’ specific pain.

Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.

The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing contracted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy regularly can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.

Self Massage – Trigger Points http://saveyourself.ca/tutorials/trigger-points.php

Back Pain – PSO What???

 


The psoas is a rope-like muscle located deep in the stomach, which runs obliquely from the spine to the femur. The psoas is joined at the hip, literally, by the iliacus, which runs from hip to thigh. Together, the psoas and iliacus make up the iliopsoas–the body’s most powerful hip flexor.

Why should runners care about a hard-to-find muscle with an unusual name? The psoas is the muscle that enables you to run.  When you lift your knee, the psoas contracts. When your leg swings back, the psoas lengthens. For a runner averaging 180 strides per minute, the left and right psoas each contract and lengthen more than 5,000 times during the an hour run. That’s a lot of stress and strain on a band of muscle that’s only about as thick as your lower forearm.

The psoas also promotes good posture. Along with a coordinated team of core muscles–abs, obliques, lower back–the psoas helps stabilize your midsection and pelvis. Every time you stand, walk, or run, you’re engaging the psoas. If the muscle is compromised, either by injury or tightness, your running inevitably suffers.

YOU MIGHT HAVE A PSOAS INJURY. . .

If you find yourself shuffling more than usual, feeling a twitch in your stride, you might have a psoas injury. If you’re experiencing pain running uphill, walking up stairs, or doing any other activity that requires you to lift your knee, you might have a psoas injury. If you have hip, groin, or glute pain, you might have a psoas injury. If your lower back is aching … etc., etc…

The psoas is complicated.  Most runners don’t walk into their physician’s office and say, “Doc, my psoas is killing me,” because they don’t know about this muscle. They complain of other symptoms, from the lower back down to the foot.

Either way, it’s not enough to treat the psoas alone.  All issues of tightness, poor posture, weakness, and muscular imbalance need to be addressed together for successful resolution of a psoas injury.  Whether a strained psoas leads to low back pain or an achy back triggers an injury to the psoas, the symptoms should be treated in tandem.

If you can’t pin down which came first in the causal injury chain, the psoas is a great place to start. By treating the psoas, runners often find relief from pain in the low back, hip, hamstring, and groin.

YOU MIGHT HAVE A TIGHT PSOAS. . .

Try this: Lie on your back with both legs straight. Pull one knee towards your chest. If the other leg lifts off the floor involuntarily, then your psoas is too tight. Now try the other side. Muscular imbalances are common, especially among runners, whose side-to-side discrepancies are reinforced through repetitive movement.

The number one culprit for a tight psoas is your chair.

Sitting for long periods puts the psoas in a continually shortened state.  Muscle memory maintains this shortened state, even when you head out for a run.

A short psoas can cause several postural problems: lordosis (arched lower back), anterior pelvic tilt (pelvis tipping forward), and hunching. Running with any of these postural dysfunctions can lead to a myriad of other injuries and issues, including hip, groin and lower back pain. Our bodies simply aren’t designed to sit all day.

But unless you’re in a financial position to quit your day job and become nomadic, you can’t avoid sitting in a chair. What can you do? Take a stand, early and often. Make it a habit to get up and stretch regularly. When you sit, pay attention to your posture. Don’t let your lower back arch. Sit up tall, like your momma told you, and don’t slouch.

Try and avoid excessive core work.  Doing too many sit-ups actually trains the psoas muscle to be short. And in running, you want the psoas to relax and extend. If it’s too taut, then the psoas can’t lengthen. Without that length, the psoas can’t contract with as much force. Six-pack abs should come with a warning label: Runners beware–too many sit-ups may cause psoas tightness.

Core is beneficial only in small doses. Too many crunches can wreak havoc on your psoas.

LENGTH BEFORE YOU STRENGTH

Whether you’re just recovering from a psoas injury or dealing with chronic tightness, start back slowly. Avoid any activity that aggravates the psoas, like hill running, until the pain subsides. If the psoas feels stiff or tender to the touch, enlist muscle release massage. Once the psoas is released and relaxed, the real work begins–undoing all those hours of sitting, at your job, in your car, at home. Regular stretching is the best at-home antidote to a tight psoas. (See the psoas stretches listed below.)

Remember, though, that your psoas didn’t get tight in one day, and the pain you experience is not going to get resolved in a day. You’re re-training the muscle, which takes time. So be patient and gentle. Overstretching the psoas can trigger a myotatic reflex, in which the muscle, instead of stretching, contracts and shortens. Ease into the stretch without straining, aiming for a lengthened sensation.

Lengthening your psoas not only decreases your risk of injury, but can also open up your stride. Picture the long sweeping stride of an Olympic runner. Now imagine your prototypical old man shuffler, skimming the sidewalk with each step. Whose psoas is shorter? More than likely, the shuffler’s. And whose is stronger? Without a doubt, the Olympic runner
Lengthening the psoas can open up your stride. It can cure a litany of injuries, improve your running posture, and lessen tightness and pain in the back, hip and groin. Sit less, stretch more and get ready for your running to improve.

Psoas Stretches

1) THOMAS STRETCH

Sit tall at the end of a table, with your thighs halfway off . Pull one knee to your chest and lean back. Your lower back and sacrum should be flat on the table. If there’s any rounding in your back, or tipping of your pelvis, then you’re pulling the knee too far, so loosen your hold. The other leg should hang free off the table. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds for each side, and complete at least two or three repetitions.

NOTE: Physical therapists use this stretch as a flexibility test for the hip flexor. To pass, the posterior thigh should touch the table, and the knee should passively flex at an angle of at least 80 degrees.

2) KNEELING LUNGE

Kneel on one knee, with the front leg forward at a 90-degree angle. With your pelvis tucked, lunge forward, easing into the stretch without straining. If your psoas is tight, your tendency may be to arch your lower back; make it a point to keep the back straight. Raise your arms overhead for an added abdominal stretch. To vigorously stretch the psoas, complete 20 reps on each side, holding the lunge for 2 to 3 seconds.

3) WARRIOR POSE

Step one foot 3 to 4 feet in front of you. Lunge forward until your front knee is at a right angle. (Readjust your foot position if necessary.) Turn your back foot out about 45 degrees. Keeping your back foot firmly planted, and your head, shoulders, hips and knees facing forward, raise your arms overhead. Relax your shoulders; don’t let them inch up. Lift your rib cage away from your pelvis to really stretch the psoas. As in all yoga poses, breathe deeply and easily. Don’t strain. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

More info about the psoas and more stretches:

http://stronglifts.com/the-psoas-is-it-killing-your-back/

 

 

 

Why Do I Get Painful Muscle Cramps?

 

Here is a  very interesting article on the causes of muscle cramps:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/why-do-i-get-painful-muscle-cramps-when-i-work-out/article1632891/

The article explains muscle cramps being caused by imbalance between nervous impulses, a sudden loss of electrolytes, and a poor training schedule.

 

Runners: Gluteus Medius Exercises For IT Band Pain

The gluteus medius muscle is located in the upper part of the glutes, just below the hip bone (iliac crest).  The gluteus medius muscle is extremely significant in stabilizing our hips during exercise.  It is weak in most people and this weak point can be a major source of problems in the lower back, SI joints and IT band.  Running or jogging can reveal long hidden weakness in this muscle, but you don’t have to be an athlete to have gluteus medius problems.  Because simply standing, walking, or sitting requires participation of the gluteus muscle, clients that lead mostly sedentary lifestyles often develop weakness here that leads to different pain syndromes.

Here is an interesting article explaining the importance of the gluteus medius muscle as well as some exercises to help strengthen it.

http://www.running-physio.com/glutemed/

 

 

 

Surprising Reasons You May Be Experiencing Pain

Believe, it or not, the following are possible pain triggers:  Flip flops, smart phones, your wallet, driving, active video games, cheese (bummer, because I love cheese), couch potato syndrome, your baby, etc…

 http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/ss/slideshow-reasons-for-pain