Monthly Archives: March 2012

This should be seen by every woman!

“According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, people take an average of 10,000 steps a day. High heels shift the force of each of those steps so that the most pressure ends up on the ball of the foot and on the bones at the base of the toes. (If you wear flats, the entire foot would absorb this impact.) A 3-inch heel — most experts consider a heel “high” at 2 inches or more — creates three to six times more stress on the front of the foot than a shoe with a modest one-inch heel.

As a result, heels can lead to bunions, heel pain, toe deformities, shortened Achilles tendons, and trapped nerves. In fact, women account for about 90% of the nearly 800,000 operations each year for bunions, hammertoes (a permanent deformity of the toe joint in which the toe bends up slightly and then curls downward, resting on its tip), and trapped nerves, and most of these surgeries can be linked back to their high-heeled shoe choice.

The problems can travel upward, too. The ankle, knee, and hip joints can all suffer from your footwear preferences. When you walk in flats, the muscles of the leg and thigh have an opportunity to contract as well as to stretch out. However, when wearing your high-heeled shoes, the foot is held in a downward position as you walk. This keeps the knee, hip, and low back in a somewhat flexed position, which prevents the muscles that cross the backside of these joints to stretch out as they normally would. Over time, this can lead to stiffness, pain, and injury. High heels can also cause lower back strain, because the heel causes your body to pitch forward more than normal, putting excess pressure on the back.”

These are the best reasons to get a massage regularly.

These are the best reasons to get a massage regularly.
1. Set those endorphins free!

Endorphins are much talked about these days. They’re basically chemicals released in the brain. They are actually natural painkillers, and when released, they make us feel good over all. Other specific effects of endorphins are changes in appetite, a feeling of euphoria, and even the release of sex hormones. The bottom line is that endorphins are good for us!

So what do endorphins have to do with massages? The fact is that whenever you get a massage, the pressure exerted on the skin triggers your nervous system. In turn, this stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain. No wonder you feel much better after a massage!
2. Help lower your blood pressure.

Getting massages on a regular basis has been shown to have a positive effect on blood pressure problems. There are actually special kinds of massages that are targeted towards stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which results in regulating your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. Needless to say, you should not consider this as your primary mode of treatment if you have serious health problems. Consult your doctor to see how this alternative form of treatment can help your condition.
3. Work on your posture.

Sit up straight! Don’t slouch! Watch your posture!

You probably heard those commands so many times as you were growing up – I know I did! My mother was a stickler for posture, and yet I didn’t really pay much attention – much to my dismay. These days, though, you can look to massage therapy to help you improve your posture. There are special programs which are designed to “train” muscles to maintain the correct position. Muscles support our skeletal system, and are integral to proper posture.
4. Strengthen your immune system.

Believe it or not, massages can help boost your immune system. How so? The reason lies in one key advantage of regular massages: stress relief. We all experience stress in our daily lives. No matter what kind of job you have, what lifestyle you live, there will always be a certain amount of stress in your life.

Stress can become manifested in bodily malfunctions. If not dealt with properly, or if it is not released, stress can cause you to become physically ill one way or another.

This is where the benefits of massages come into the picture. Massages are a great way to release stress, and when received on a regular basis, help manage stress levels efficiently. Without high stress levels, your immune system will be much better, and you can ward off common diseases much more easily.
5. Hasten the recovery process.

Whether you got injured playing sports, you just had a surgery, or you just had a bout with the flu, massages can help you get back on your feet more quickly. The reason is that massages improve the circulation of blood. When you have more efficient blood circulation, oxygen and other nutrients are distributed throughout the body better. This mere fact helps in repairing tissue that needs repaired and helps in hastening the recovery process in general.
6. Get rid of toxins faster.

The human body takes in amazing amounts of toxins on a daily basis. We may not mean to do so, but it happens. The good thing is that our systems were designed in such a way as to efficiently get rid of these toxins. There are times, however, when our bodies cannot keep up with the amount of toxins. Lymphatic massage is quite helpful during these times. This kind of massage targets the lymph nodes, which are basically our purifiers. With a lymphatic massage, we give the lymph nodes a helping hand in flushing out toxins from the body.
7. Sleep better.

If you do not have any major health issues, there still is a very good reason to get a massage: to help fall asleep and to help experience quality sleep. The idea goes back to the basic concept behind getting a massage: to feel good and relax. At night, if sleep seems to elude you, perhaps you simply need to de-stress the events of the day away. A simple one-hour massage can make you feel relaxed enough to fall away into dreamland.

Respiratory Problems ~ How Massage Can Help

Respiratory Problems ~ How Massage Can Help
There aren’t very many people who, at first glance, would think of the lungs and respiratory system as gaining any great benefit from massage therapy, but those people are far from accurate. Massage therapy, when conducted by a skilled practitioner, can create some wonderful and helpful results when it comes to your lungs and ability to breathe more effi…ciently.

The respiratory system’s function is to allow oxygen exchange through all parts of the body. The space between the alveoli and the capillaries, the anatomy or structure of the exchange system, and the precise physiological uses of the exchanged gases vary depending on organism. In humans and other mammals, for example, the anatomical features of the respiratory system include airways, lungs, and the respiratory muscles. Molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide are passively exchanged, by diffusion, between the gaseous external environment and the blood. This exchange process occurs in the alveolar region of the lungs.

Other animals, such as insects, have respiratory systems with very simple anatomical features, and in amphibians even the skin plays a vital role in gas exchange. Plants also have respiratory systems but the directionality of gas exchange can be opposite to that in animals. The respiratory system in plants also includes anatomical features such as holes on the undersides of leaves known as stomata.

To have a great benefit on the respiratory system, the muscles around your torso, including the diaphragm (your main respiratory muscle) and intercostals muscles (between the ribs) must be massaged. Most people don’t immediately think about these muscles when considering whether or not they want to have a massage. You need to have an established and trusting relationship with your massage therapist before allowing him or her to work in this area of your body, due to sensitivity and emotional issues that can arise when working near the chest. Females, especially, need to be cautious, due to the proximity of the breast tissue. A good therapist, however, knows how to use proper draping (covering) techniques to avoid exposure and will discuss any sensitive issues or concerns with you prior to the massage.

Massage therapy impacts the respiratory system by increasing your pulmonary functions. The loosening of the often tight respiratory muscles allows them to move more freely which will in turn aid your breathing by allowing the lungs to expand and contract without inhibition. Your ability to inhale and exhale will be enhanced, allowing oxygen an easier path into your body and carbon dioxide and easier path out.

Relaxed respiratory muscles contribute to a lower respiratory rate, or number of breaths you take per minute. If your muscles aren’t constricted, your lung capacity will increase. You’ll find yourself taking longer and deeper breaths instead of short and shallow breaths. For the same time, those who generally feel short of breath, also known as dyspnea, should not feel short of breath as much or as often.

Another great benefit on the respiratory system is the decrease in asthma attacks experience by those who have had regular massage therapy. This relates back to the relaxation of the muscles and the improved pulmonary function. We’ve given the lungs a chance to relax and work more efficiently and individuals who have regular massage treatments find that they are less dependent on their inhalers or asthma medications.

Massage therapy also helps to reduce tension around the larynx by reducing the tension in the muscles of the neck and throat region. Singers and public speakers take note – you use more muscles when you speak and sing thank you think – taking care of these muscles might just help you increase the longevity of your career!

Certain massage techniques can and will help increase fluid discharge from the lungs by loosening phlegm, especially when certain tapping or tapotement techniques are done on the back. Unfortunately, if you have a respiratory ailment that causes fluid buildup in the lungs, you shouldn’t approach this as a therapy without the aid of a trained respiratory therapist. A good massage therapist will not start banging on your back with the intention of loosening phlegm without a strong knowledge base concerning your medical history. Otherwise, massage may be an excellent addition to the therapies you are using to control your respiratory illness.

With that said, I’ll again remind you that you should always check with your doctor and/or massage therapist to determine if massage is right for you. Always disclose your full medical history to your massage therapist. Until next time, be safe and relaxed!

Why Massage Therapy Should Come First in Treatment of Pain:

Why Massage Therapy Should Come First in Treatment of Pain:
Massage Therapy has been around for thousands of years. Every culture in the world has some form of massage, or bodywork, as a healing therapy. Today, massage therapy has become somewhat of a lost therapeutic art as new technology advances medicine with laboratory-created chemical compounds and the latest electronic diagnostic and treatment devices. Though wonderful, these modernizations have also removed the innate healing effects of human-to-human contact. The simple act of touch is so powerfully soothing, that it can reduce heart rate, release endorphins, and regulate breathing. There is no replacement for the healing power of touch.

One should think of massage therapy as natural medicine. It falls into the category of alternative medicine, but loses the spotlight to other more intriguing therapies, such as acupuncture and yoga. Although it’s not as glamorous, massage should be considered as the very first therapy when it comes to treating pain in the body. Here’s why.

The human body contains over 650 muscles. In the average person, muscle makes up about 40% of body weight. At any one point in time, specific muscles in the body are working to keep the body functioning properly. Therefore, muscles are continuously active in sustaining life. For this reason alone, one should make sure that their muscles are in the best shape possible. Massage addresses the muscular tissue and can help muscles regain suppleness and contract efficiently.

Skeletal muscles help lymphatic fluid flow from the tissues back to the heart. When muscles contract and relax, lymph is pushed throughout the lymphatic vessels. The muscular pumping action encourages systemic movement of lymph. The fluid circulation allows for proper immune system function, cellular waste removal, dead blood cell removal, and excess fluid removal for every area in the body. Consider that the effect of tight, constricted muscles will not only impede lymphatic drainage, but residual effects would be edema, poor trauma healing, and poor immune system function.

Muscles are innervated by nerves and supported by blood vessels. Clearly, an unimpeded nerve conduction pathway will allow muscles to contract completely. But, a blocked or pinched nerve may cause a muscle to feel weak, fatigued, or possibly painful. Blood supplies fresh oxygen to muscles and removes lactic acid along with other byproducts of muscular contraction. Without good blood flow, there will be lack of strength or cramping. Sometimes tight, knotted muscles can block or impede the flow of nerve signals and blood. This blockage starves muscles and causes pain. Also, some muscles can pinch off the blood or nerve supply to other muscles, thereby creating a rippling effect downstream from a problem area.

Massage should be used for regular body maintenance. At the very least, a relatively non-active person should receive a massage once a month. This regular bodywork is a good way to keep up muscle function and stave off injury. For more active people, muscles should be massaged more frequently. It is easily forgotten that the body is a machine that needs care for optimal performance. Consider that people will put more money into car maintenance than into body maintenance. It should be a planned part of the personal financial budget and not taken as a luxury when discretionary income is available.

 

What are knots in muscles?

What are knots in muscles?
Many of my massage clients ask “what are knots and what are the causes?”

Knots are also known as ‘trigger points’ they are defined as highly irritible areas of skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in over stressed bands of muscle fibers. The palpable nodules are small contraction knots and a common cause of pain in each and every one of us. When a trigger point is compressed it may bring about tenderness and referred pain.

Trigger points are caused in part by reduced blood flow to an area that reduces the available oxygen. As a result, certain muscle waste builds up. Over time, this area can become very sensitive. An area is considered ischemic if less than 5 pounds of pressure causes tenderness.

Effective treatment For Trigger Points:

Being trained in sports massage I often use a technique called NMT – (Neuromuscular Massage). This is a very effective treatment that incorporates deep pressure directly into the areas that are effected using thumbs, knuckles, elbows, or various tools.

The pressure is skillfully applied to the trigger point for several seconds and often repeated to release the knot. These short repeated compressions help break up the pain pattern by interrupting the pathological reflex circuits. As the session continues the muscle tone becomes normalized. Each session is completed with a period of gentle relaxing kneading massage.

The benefits of NMT:

# Improved Posture
# Restored Mobility
# Reduced Pain
# Decreased Tension
# Reduced Pressure on Nerves
# Rebalanced Biochemical Function

Some pain and soreness is to be expected for a day or so after releasing these trigger point areas.

Prevent back, neck and shoulder pain from prolonged sitting and bad posture

Prevent back, neck and shoulder pain from prolonged sitting and bad posture

Back, neck and shoulder pain is the natural result of prolonged sitting at work behind a computer, as is bad posture. This can cause headaches and excessive tension in neck, shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists, back, hips, thighs and legs. The result is increased fatigue to the muscles and ligaments supporting the lower back and this can eventually lead to tissue injury and spinal joint dysfunction. Avoid these problems by posture correction, exercise and correct use of equipment.

Symptoms of back problems due to excessive computer use include:

* Back and neck muscle spasm and pain
* Back and neck soft tissue inflammation
* Back, neck and shoulder pain on movement and involvement of other muscles as a reaction
* Referred pain to buttocks and thighs or up the spine

Preventing back and neck pain while sitting is not an exact science as there are many differing opinions on the subject. However, there are some common denominators on which most chiropractors and other medical professionals agree:

Tips to Prevent Computer Related Neck and Shoulder Pain

* Do not slouch in front of the computer or lie in bed and work on a laptop.

* Do not work for hours in front of a computer without breaks.

* Do not ignore back twinges and back pain, hoping that the problem will resolve itself.

* Avoid taking pain or anti-inflammatory medication when in pain from using a computer. This will serve to mask the symptoms but can lead to serious injury or permanent nerve damage in the long term.

* Do not sit on one leg or sit with legs crossed as this causes additional strain to the back.

* Do not perch a laptop on the lap and stare down at the screen – this places extra strain on the neck, spine and arms.

Buy a chair that encourages you to use your back muscles, such as a stool chair with no back or arm rests. Lower back pain can be reduced or eliminated by strengthening the lower back muscles through active sitting exercises.

Buy an ergonomic keyboard and mouse and ensure that the height is adjusted appropriately.

Have a break every hour and do stretching exercises like neck rolls, chin tucks, cupping head in hands behind the head and extension exercises.

Visiting a Chiropractic Clinic

A chiropractor is a medical professional who treats spinal column dysfunction. Back and neck pain may be the result of the back being badly aligned and the chiropractor sets out to relieve the problem by manual manipulation, exercise, massage and the application of heat, cold and light.

Massage Therapy to Relieve Back and Neck Pain

If done correctly, massage therapy can help to relieve back pain and tension. It is best to find a therapist trained in techniques that address back pain issues and has a knowledge of muscle imbalances relating to back pain, such as sports injuries. Massage therapy should never be considered a substitute for proper medical attention where there are serious back problems.

Tennis Ball Self Massage Technique

Tennis Ball Self Massage Technique
The Guardian Three-Minute Fix Tennis Ball Massage by Trevor Chisman.

The humble tennis ball is probably one of the best self-massage tools you can have in your armoury. Forget about the expensive, colourful and strange shaped massage tools on the market and get yourself a couple of tennis balls.

The basic idea of tennis ball massage is to trap the ball between your body and something else, this could either be the floor, a wall or even another body part. Be inventive and see what works for you.

The goal of tennis ball massage is to achieve a ‘release’ by applying just the right amount of pressure, enough to get the muscle knot or trigger point to release but not so much as you irritate it. The sensation you feel should be strong but satisfying, what it often referred to as ‘good pain’. If you have to grit your teeth it is probably too much pressure, ease off a bit, you need to be able to relax whilst doing this.

Once you have found the right spot and the right pressure to use, relax as much as possible and wait for the sensation to subside to about 75% of its original intensity. This is the ‘release’ of the knot or trigger point. This may take anywhere between 10 seconds and several minutes.

Tennis ball massage is usually most effective in massaging the large hard to reach muscles of the back and hips. Many other places can be massaged with this technique but tend to be quite awkward to position and apply suitable pressure.

Tennis ball massage usually only provides temporary relief from your symptoms, you will need to continue seeing your therapist to really get the trigger points and knots de-activated.

Here are a few tips that will help to make the effect last longer.

* Only deal with a few knots at a time, starting with the worse
* Use heat as well, have a hot shower or bath before hand or use a hot water bottle to heat the area first
* Avoid physical exertion for 24 hours after treating the knots
* Move and stretch the muscle after gaining the ‘release’ of each knot

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