Monthly Archives: May 2013

Just Breathe..

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Just Breathe
The Simplest Means of Managing Stress

Our bodies aren’t shy about telling us that we are stressed out! Muscle tension, backaches, stomach upset, headaches, burnout and other illness states are ways in which the body signals to us the need to relax. Rather than run for that anti-anxiety medication, we can utilize our easiest, natural defense against stress: our breathing. The way we breathe can affect our emotions and mental states as well as determine how we physically respond to stress.

Fight or Flight Response vs. Relaxation Response

The general physiological response to stress is called the stress response or “fight or flight” response. When we experience stress, hormones activated by the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system flood our bloodstream to signal a state of readiness against potential threats to our well being. While these hormones serve to help us act quickly and with great strength during emergency situations, they exemplify the concept that there can be “too much of a good thing.” Chronic stress results in excess release of stress hormones, which can cause immune-system malfunction, gastrointestinal issues, and blood vessel deterioration, among other health complications. Over time, such symptoms can evolve into degenerative diseases like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

We can help preserve and enhance our health, though, by refusing to fall victim to chronic release of stress hormones, even if we are not able to control when or how stressful situations challenge us. We can learn to effectively manage our physiological reaction to stressors by teaching the body to induce a relaxation response. A relaxation response counteracts the effects of the fight or flight response by helping to boost immune system function, reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels, and protect tissues from damage caused by stress-hormones.

Breathing and Relaxation Response

The way we breathe affects our autonomic nervous system (ANS), the branches of which signal automatic physiological reactions in the body, like the fight or flight and relaxation responses. ANS activity is outside of our conscious control. The ANS is responsible for managing our breathing, heart rate, body temperature, digestion, and other basic processes necessary for survival. While the sympathetic branch of the ANS initiates the stress response, the parasympathetic branch induces a relaxation response. Our somatic nervous system, over which we do have conscious control, makes possible the movements of our eyes, limbs, and mouths, for example, as well as how (not whether) we breathe. Thus, we can, through somatic manipulation of our breath, affect which ANS branch remains active, especially during moments of stress.

One of the best means of inducing a relaxation response is through diaphragmatic breathing: inhaling deeply through the chest and virtually into the stomach. Engaging the diaphragm may be the key to inducing a relaxation response through deep breathing because the diaphragm’s close proximity to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve which supplies approximately 75% of all parasympathetic fibers to the rest of the body, and may be stimulated through diaphragmatic movement. Conversely, thoracic breathing that is limited to the chest cavity is associated with the sympathetic branch stress response.

Self-Empowerment through Breathing

Situations may catalyze stress for us when we are uncertain about them or unable to control their outcome. We may feel helpless, overwhelmed, fearful, or forced into stifling our true feelings, and may experience additional anxiety over our inability to control the resulting hormonal fight or flight response. The key to stress management is recognition that while we may not be able to control the stressor, we can always control our reaction to it. We have choices: whether to relax through diaphragmatic breathing techniques until we feel ready to make beneficial decisions, or to just react while on sympathetic branch automatic pilot. Even if we don’t find a solution to the stressful situation, choosing to take time out to breathe protects our bodies from detrimental effects of stress.

Upon experiencing fear or anxiety, our diaphragm involuntarily flattens and we breathe in a shallow manner as our body prepares for action. Armed with the knowledge that we can create a counter-response by breathing deeply, we can change any automatic course of action. When a stressor engages us, we can consciously control the speed and fullness with which we inhale, trusting that a relaxation response will happen as long as we keep breathing in this manner and do not lose patience. Recognizing the need to breathe diaphragmatically is half the battle; actually doing it is what empowers and frees us.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Techniques

To practice diaphragmatic breathing, lie down on your back or sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your back as straight as possible (maybe against a wall) and close your eyes. Place your hands on your abdomen. Slowly inhale, filling your lungs and what seems like your stomach, to the point where your hands rise with the breath. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale completely. Repeat this process for many breaths, savoring the recognition that you are sending life-sustaining oxygen to all the cells of your body.

One of the keys to creating a relaxation response is to “be the breath.” Focusing on the breath helps you be present. When thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them, let them go, then refocus the mind on the sound of your breath. Perhaps visualize a relaxing scene or imagine continuous ocean waves slowly rolling into the shoreline. Maybe listening to peaceful music or repeating a mantra in your head that brings you serenity will help you free your mind of distracting thoughts. Your memory is another tool you have to facilitate relaxation. Recalling a time of great happiness can help you replace negative feelings with pleasant ones. Tapping into your particular spiritual belief system at this time might also help you relax; some people find that saying a prayer while breathing deeply can help decrease stress.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Offers Multidimensional Benefits

Bridging the mind and body through deep breathing is a multidimensional experience. Because the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS are regulated by chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, rather than neural impulses from the brain, brain stem and spinal cord, these branches are influenced by our emotional responses to environmental stimuli. Neurotransmitters create physiological reactions by relaying information based upon our feelings to various cells within the body. The digestive tract is especially rich with neurotransmitter receptor sites, which may explain “gut feelings.”

Fear, for example, initiates thoracic breathing associated with sympathetic branch activity. When we breathe in a shallow manner, we utilize only half of the alveoli (air filled sacs) in our lungs. Diaphragmatic breathing employs all the alveoli in our lungs while helping the body and mind relax. By repeatedly expanding our lungs to full capacity, we improve our metabolism by increasing oxygen supply to the rest of the body, promoting detoxification in the lungs, and enhancing digestion.

We may also be able to change the emotions which engendered the stress response by releasing their power over us through the breath. Clear thinking and creative decision-making may follow and lead to more positive emotions. The multidimensional effects of deep breathing illustrate the complex connections between the mind and the body and enhance our understanding of stress-related disease prevention and treatment.

When It Comes to Stress, Be Your Breath

The solution to stress lies within us. Nature has given us a defense mechanism with which to combat the physical effects of stress: parasympathetic nervous system activity catalyzed by diaphragmatic breathing. While breathing alone may not resolve the issue stressing us, it can empower us to healthfully adapt on mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual levels.

Consciously breathing is a core element of mind-body philosophies such as yoga, meditation and Tai Chi (diaphragmatic breathing as described in this article most closely resembles meditation). Mind-body disciplines, such as Yoga and Tai Chi, which embrace specific postures and/or fluid movements offer added benefits of improved balance, flexibility and circulation. Regularly practicing diaphragmatic breathing through any mind-body technique can help us establish a relaxation routine. When something is routine, we can “just do it” (i.e. let our thoughts go because we don’t need to think so much about what we are doing). A movement –based breathing practice may be the best means of relaxation for more physically active people, and can be a great way for less-active folks to get some exercise.

For some, spirituality may permeate the mind-body breathing practice. The role of spirituality in stress management may relate to how we perceive situations beyond our control. Wayne Dyer, an inspiration guru, lectures and writes that we are eternal spiritual beings who are having temporary human experiences, which seems like another way of saying “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Believing in a higher power (whatever that means to us individually) can relieve us of the perceived burden of always having to handle things on our own.

Learning to cultivate a relaxation response may involve trying various methods until you discover the one that works for you. Finding a technique that you enjoy is the key to making it a lifestyle habit. When you feel the effects of stress… just breathe.

Massage Can Reduce Migraine Headaches

Massage Can Reduce Migraine Headaches

I've had a migraine/headache for 6 days straig...

I’ve had a migraine/headache for 6 days straight. Today was so bad I couldn’t concentrate on what I was saying. I’m not even sure I knew WHAT I was saying because of the pain. I even mixed up two people’s names and felt really dumb afterwards. Anyone got a migraine cure? 🙂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Occipital-nerve A new study published last year shows the massage can reduce migraine headaches.

The article is titled “Massaging Over the Greater Occipital Nerve Reduces the Intensity of Migraine Headaches.” (http://www.scielo.br/pdf/anp/v65n3a/10.pdf )

Good news for you…massage feels great and can help you relieve pain!

To better understand how massage can help your migraines, let’s have a simple anatomy lesson. I am assuming you don’t know where the greater occipital nerve is. And since random rubbing hasn’t proven to be effective for migraines, you probably will want to know where to massage or be massaged.

 

 

The Greater Occipital Nerve (GON) runs through the middle of the Suboccipital Triangle– four small muscles on either side of the upper neck. The GON innervates the scalp and areas over the ears. When our neck muscles get tight, epecially our occipital muscles (think base of the skull), irritation of the GON occurs. And you know what that means…a headache!

Tight muscles and nerve irritation can make even the happiest person miserable. The benefits of massage are unmistakable- muscle relaxation, increased blood flow, and stress-reduction. Now you can add headache relief to one of its many benefits.

massage-item-neck Self-Massage or Partner Massage
1. Start massaging the neck and shoulders
2. Work your way up to the base of your neck (where the GON starts). Focus on any areas that are painful and tight. Many headache suffers have knots in their muscles, called trigger points. If someone pushes and holds a trigger point, you will feel the pain shoot up the head and recreate the headache. That’s the spot that should be relaxed with massage and Trigger Point Therapy .
3. Finish up by massaging the scalp where the GON nerve endings are located.

The Benefits of Combined Osteopath and Massage Treatments

The Benefits of Combined Osteopath and Massage Treatments

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Back pain, neck pain and headaches are just a few of the painful and distressing conditions that affect many of us at some time. Osteopath and massage therapy used in combination, from a powerful healing approach that addresses your pain on many levels. Whether your pain is the result of traumatic injury, orveruse or illness, Osteopath and massage combined can greatly speed your return to a pain-free productive life.

What is Osteopath Care?

Osteopath is based on a simple but powerful premise: With a healthy lifestyle and normally functioning spinal joints and nerves, your body is better able to heal itself. That’s because the spinal cord, which is protected by the spine, is the main pathway of the nervous system. It controls movement, feeling and function throughout your body. Osteopath care focuses on treating joint dysfunction of the spine, known as sublimations. This joint dysfunction can put pressure on the spinal cord or on the nerves that exit through the spinal cord. The result is pain or other symptoms, such as numbness or tingling, both at the site of the misalignment and frequently related sites elsewhere in the body. Osteopath use adjustments to return the bone to a more normal position or motion, removing pain and ill health.

Why Massage is Important?

To understand the importance of massage, it helps us to understand stress. Stress is an automatic reaction to anything we perceive as a threat. In a stressful situation, our response is fight of flight. It doesn’t matter f it’s danger or the stress of everyday living. Our body responds with tensing of the muscles, shallow and more rapid breathing, increased adrenaline, heart rate and blood pressure. Hopefully, once removed from the stressful situation, things return to normal. However if you find yourself consistently under a great deal of stress, it becomes more difficult to let go and relax.

Therapeutic massage and stretching can help you regain and maintain proper alignment. When muscles are relaxed and restored to their optimal length, correct posture and alignment are more easily sustained.

Massage can trigger the relaxation response, relieving the negative effects of stress and restoring balance in the body. Some positive effects of the relaxation response include slower heart rate, deeper breathing more relaxed muscles, and better internal circulation and digestion.

Massage
Complimentary Health Care

Therapeutic massage is an age-old remedy, which has proven to be an effective complement to Osteopath care. Both are based on belief in the innate power of the body. Together Osteopath and massage facilitate the natural healing process by keeping the body in proper alignment and ensuring a free flow of nerve impulses and circulation of fluids.

Problems in the musculo-skeletal system can impede the natural healing process, and often cause dysfunction and pain. Most Osteopath doctors would agree that it is important to treat soft tissues such as muscles and tendons to help prevent and correct subluxations, and lessen the accompanying pain. Together, Osteopath and massage provide you with a more complete and effective system of health care.
Massage and Adjustments

Local massage is often used in preparation for adjustments. Massage relieves the muscle tension and warms up the soft tissues in the area, making joints more pliable and more easily adjusted. Many Osteopaths themselves (or an assistant) prepare an area with local massage.

A Therapeutic massage can also be good preparation for an adjustment. In addition to preparing the immediate area of concern, it helps you relax.

Supporting Your Home Care

To the extent that both Osteopath and massage therapy help resolve your pain and improve mobility, you may find it easier to stretch and exercise. This can help you maintain and even improve the flexibility, strength, and balance needed to prevent tension, injury and new subluxation.

Massage is also a powerful tool for helping you to become aware of areas of chronic tension or postural problems, and to understand how these affect your body mechanics. You can take preventive measures on your own before pain develops.

Massage Supports Osteopath…

-Recovery is normally faster and more complete when
you address multiple components of your pain.

-Osteopath treatment often proceeds more easily, with
less discomfort, when soft tissue has been relaxed with massage.

-You may be less anxious and more ready to receive
Osteopath adjustment after a relaxing massage.

-Adjustments frequently last longer when muscle tension is
released that might otherwise pull your joints out of alignment again.
And Osteopath Supports Massage

If you are seeking massage therapy for pain but find your pain persists,
recurs or even worsens after your massage, Osteopath could help in these ways:

-If your pain involves subluxation, Osteopath adjustments may give
immediate relief as your joint is restored to alignment and mobility.

-You may find that surrounding soft tissue heals quickly once
it is no longer subjected to the stress of misaligned joints.

-The joint movement in Osteopath adjustments can sometimes relax
deep layers of soft tissue that can be difficult to reach with massage.

-Your Osteopath can use x-rays and manual diagnostic techniques to
elevate other possible causes for your pain and can make appropriate referrals if necessary.
Your Total well-being is the Goal

Massage and Osteopath are compatible natural therapies that share the goal of your total well-being, not simply an absence of illness. Both offer natural, effective, safe and drug-free techniques. they can be used as preventive as wall as restorative therapies. Both work to resolve the cause of your pain rather than treat isolated symptoms. Used in combination, they can help you maintain your optimum health and enjoy life to the fullest.

What is a Kinetic Chain?

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What is a Kinetic Chain?
from The American Council on Exercise

The concept of the kinetic chain originated in 1875, when a mechanical engineer named Franz Reuleaux proposed that if a series of overlapping segments were connected via pin joints, these interlocking joints would create a system that would allow the movement of one joint to affect the movement of another joint within the kinetic link. Dr. Arthur Steindler adapted this theory in 1955, and included an analysis of human movement. Steindler suggested that the extremities be viewed as a series of rigid, overlapping segments and defined the kinetic chain as a “combination of several successively arranged joints constituting a complex motor unit.” The movements that occur within these segments present as two primary types—open and closed.

Open-chain Movement
Steindler defined open kinetic chain is defined as a combination of successively arranged joints in which the terminal segment can move freely. In an open-chain movement, the distal aspect of the extremity, or the end of the chain farthest from the body, moves freely and is not fixed to an object. Here are some examples of open-chain exercises:
Seated leg extension
Leg curl
Bench press
Dumbbell biceps curl
Lat pull-down

Closed-chain Movement
Steindler defined closed-kinetic chain exercise as a condition or environment in which the distal segment meets considerable external resistance and restrains movement. In a closed-chain movement, the distal end of the extremity is fixed, emphasizing joint compression and, in turn, stabilizing the joints. Closed-chain exercises, such as the examples below, are considered to be more functional than open-chain exercises.
Squat
Leg press
Wall slides
Lunges
Elliptical training
Stair stepper
Versa Climber
Push-ups

Understanding how the body and all of its segments work together is essential for developing effective exercise programs.

Expert Massage Techniques for Tennis Elbow

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Expert Massage Techniques for Tennis Elbow

Looking for suggestions for your next massage on a client with lateral epicondylitis? This article gives a summary of the massage techniques used to help this injury from three experienced and prominent therapists.

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a very common disorder of the lateral proximal forearm. While it has an athletic sounding name, tennis elbow can affect anybody participating in an activity that places excessive and repetitive stress on the wrist extensors, flexors, supinators or pronators.

Tennis elbow can cause severe tenderness on the lateral side of the elbow. The affected area becomes painful during extension, flexion, supination or pronation of the wrist, or finger extension. The pain becomes more obvious if resistance is offered against one of these movements.

Massage therapists are often recruited to help during recovery from tennis elbow. Below are summarized lists of massage therapy protocols for this disorder by three prominent practitioners. Incorporating the methods used by others with your personal experience can be an excellent combination to create your own effective therapeutic routine.

According to Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB, in the Assess & Address column in Issue 109 of Massage Magazine, choose your massage techniques for tennis elbow in these sequential steps:

Do compressive effleurage, general sweeping and cross fiber techniques to reduce tension and enhance tissue mobility.
Perform deep compression broadening strokes to the wrist extensor muscles. Compression broadening techniques enhance the ability of the fibers to spread and broaden as they go into concentric contraction.
Lengthen the tissue by using longitudinal stripping of the posterior forearm muscles.

Art Riggs, Certified Advanced Rolfer, CMT, in the book Deep Tissue Massage, offers the following guidance when treating someone with tennis elbow:

Have the client lift his/her wrist against your resistance to determine the specific location of the strain pattern.
Focus massage on the supinator muscle, as it is a common culprit of tennis elbow.
Soften all of the arm muscles, including the lower triceps.
Design a conservative stretching and strengthening program for your client. It is important to begin modestly and increase intensity of this program slowly.
Instruct your client to refrain from the offending activity.
Frequently apply ice to tender forearm muscles.

In the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies Sports Massage manual with James Mally, ND, additional suggestions for tennis elbow are given:

Apply cross fiber technique to the extensor tendons near the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.
Apply ice after the cross fiber friction massage for 10 to 15 minutes, until numb.
Use Soft Tissue Release by pressing into tender spots along the extensor muscles while the client flexes his/her wrist and fingers.

While a massage therapist is just one professional that may be consulted to treat lateral epicondylitis, it can be an extremely effective choice. The information provided above is intended to give you some ideas so that you can formulate your own tennis elbow treatment plan.

There is a possibility that deep massage, stretching and strengthening of vulnerable tissue can perpetuate an injury, so proceed with caution. Caution entails having a full understanding of the disorder you approach, enlisting cryotherapy, communicating with your client, beginning conservatively (both in duration and intensity), advancing slowly and consulting with other healthcare professionals when needed.

Understanding the Healing Process

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Understanding the Healing Process
How the Body Repairs Damaged Tissue

Many people arrive at my office injured, afraid, frustrated, bewildered, and in pain. Occasionally, they view their bodies as enemies that have betrayed them. My job is to act as a liaison between my clients and their bodies. One of the most valuable services I offer is helping clients understand the healing process, in a meaningful way, and empowering them to get involved.

A critical step in developing this ability is deepening your understanding of how the body repairs damaged tissue. You must recognize specific events that occur following an injury and common signs and symptoms associated with tissue damage and repair. This will help you identify where clients fall in the healing continuum, what sensations and functional changes they might expect, and ways you can both support the restoration of optimal function.

Phases of Healing
We can break tissue healing into three phases: the inflammatory response, repair phase, and remodeling phase. Each phase has a specific purpose and is characterized by common signs and symptoms.

Inflammatory Response
Healing begins immediately following a traumatic injury with the inflammatory response. The magnitude of this response depends on the severity of tissue damage and may vary from one person to another. In this phase, injured tissues release chemicals that draw resources to the area, alert the body that damage has occurred, and inhibit function to prevent further injury. Five cardinal signs characterize inflammation and can be remembered with the acronym SHARP: swelling, heat, a loss of function, redness, and pain.

Initially, surrounding blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow to the injured area. This delivers the white blood cells and nutrients necessary to clean up and wall off the injured area. Affected tissue becomes hot and red as blood flow increases. Over time, capillaries become more permeable or “leaky,” allowing nutrients, white blood cells, and clotting proteins to move out of the circulatory system and into the damaged area. Affected and surrounding tissues become swollen and may feel boggy since plasma, the fluid component of blood, also leaks into the area.

The pain sensation produced during the inflammatory response is global (felt in a large area) because it is chemically induced and affects both damaged and surrounding tissues. Clients typically describe constant pain over a broad region that significantly limits function. They may have difficulty isolating the injury location during this initial phase and difficulty resting or sleeping is common. These symptoms continue as long as the inflammatory chemicals remain active within the tissue.

A secondary purpose of the inflammatory response is to limit function in the injured area. Forces or activities that injured the tissue must be stopped in order to prevent additional tissue damage. Swelling, muscle spasm, and pain inhibit function and clients typically experience a loss of mobility, strength, and endurance as a result. Alternate movement strategies or compensation (like limping on an injured ankle) may occur immediately following injury. Compensation is normal and necessary to minimize further injury while maximizing function. Educate clients about the purpose of inflammation to help decrease the stress and frustration associated with acute pain and loss of function.

Repair phase
The inflammatory response gives way to the repair phase once the injured area is walled off and debris from injured structures is removed. Signs and symptoms of inflammation subside and construction begins to replace or repair the injured tissue. Clients often report more specific areas of pain as the chemicals of inflammation dissipate and healing processes centralize in areas of damage.

During the repair phase, new blood vessels grow in the injured area, maximizing transport within the tissue. This new transport network delivers materials necessary for repair and removes metabolic waste. Fibroblasts, cells that generate extracellular matrix and collagen fibers, begin producing granulation tissue, a fragile form of scar tissue, filling gaps left after the removal of damaged structures.

The amount of granulation tissue produced and time required for repair depends on the extent of tissue damage and ability to deliver the necessary materials for construction. Once adequate granulation tissue is produced, temporary vessels are deconstructed and fibroblast activity decreases. The tissue is now ready for regeneration of new cells or production of permanent scar tissue.

It is important to note that granulation tissue will not tolerate forces required for full return to activities of daily living. Clients are tempted to test the injured area as inflammation and pain localize, symptoms become more intermittent, and function improves. Because of this, reinjury is common during the repair phase, sending clients back to the beginning of the healing process. Educate clients about the fragility of granulation tissue and advise caution when returning to activities previously modified or avoided due to pain and inflammation.

Remodeling phase
The third and final phase of the healing process requires construction of permanent tissue, typically strong scar tissue made from a dense network of collagen fibers. As function returns and various demands are placed on the new tissue, the structure must be reconfigured to adapt. It does so by deconstructing and reconstructing the collagen fibers according to specifically applied forces for maximum strength and flexibility. This process of aligning collagen fibers along the lines of stress is called remodeling and is the primary purpose of the final phase of healing.

Initially, the collagen fibers that form the substance of mature scar tissue are arranged randomly, spreading in all directions. As forces are placed through the tissue, some collagen fibers are destroyed, allowing greater flexibility, while others are reinforced, providing increased strength. The collagen network continues destroying fibers that limit necessary motion and reinforcing fibers that resist tension as greater and more varied stresses are applied to the tissue. Ideally, the new tissue will offer maximal flexibility and strength, according to the demands placed on it during the remodeling phase.

The pain associated with inflammation gives way to that of ischemia during the remodeling phase. Blood flow to the injured area decreases as capillaries are deconstructed and mature scar tissue forms. Clients overwhelmingly report decreased mobility as dense networks of collagen replace granulation tissue, making soft tissue less pliable. Pliability may be further diminished if adhesions form between fascial layers in affected and associated areas. Trigger points often develop during this phase due to increasing ischemia.

If compensation has been necessary throughout the healing process, chronic dysfunction may occur in associated structures. This includes hypertonic muscles, abnormal movement patterns, and referred pain from trigger points. Many of my clients become frustrated as pain moves to new areas (associated structures from compensation) and mobility decreases. Again, this is quite normal and indicates progress through the healing process.

Remodeling may take months or years, depending on the severity of injury and demands placed on the tissue. Success in this phase requires gradual progression of functional activities followed by appropriate tissue adaptation. Encourage clients to return to activities previously modified or avoided with the intention of retraining the injured tissue (with physician permission, of course). Help them recognize compensatory patterns, improve body awareness, and return to more functional movements. Supervised activity may be necessary to restore full function, requiring assistance from physical or occupational therapists or fitness professionals.

Supporting the Healing Process
There is no specific time frame associated with the individual phases of healing. Several factors, including the amount of damage, location, type of tissue injured, general health of the client, preexisting conditions, medications, nutrition, and hydration all influence the time needed to repair injured tissue. We must rely on signs and symptoms rather than time frames to determine when clients have moved from one phase to the next and how best to support the process at any given time.

Support the inflammatory response by limiting use of the injured tissue. This allows the body to isolate the injured area, clean up debris, and mobilize supplies necessary for repair. Focus your treatment sessions on associated structures while avoiding direct manipulation of injured tissues as the body completes this process. Traditional management of acute inflammation includes protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injured area (PRICE), which minimizes further injury and decreases inflammation.

Massage also supports healing by helping clients shift from a sympathetic nervous response (fight or flight) to a parasympathetic response (relaxation). Stress associated with injury, whether from pain, physical reactions, or emotional responses, diverts energy and resources away from repair processes. It may also interfere with sleep, additionally limiting healing. During the inflammatory response, work with clients and their health-care team to reduce pain and stress and achieve adequate sleep to maximize healing.

As the inflammatory response gives way to the repair phase, your efforts shift to maintaining function, minimizing compensation, and increasing circulation. Direct techniques continue to focus primarily on associated structures, but you may now begin addressing injured areas more specifically as inflammation subsides. Remember, clients will experience less pain (localized and intermittent rather than global and constant) and improved function, but don’t be tempted to work too aggressively on affected tissues. Remind them of the fragility of granulation tissue and the consequences of overuse.

Once the remodeling phase begins, treatment becomes much more aggressive. Focus on breaking up scar tissue and adhesions, increasing range of motion and circulation, and eliminating compensatory movement patterns. Clients embark on a systematic return to normal activities as you work together to achieve optimal tissue alignment and coordinated movement. This may require professional oversight from therapists who specialize in therapeutic exercise and neuromuscular reeducation.

Conclusion
Recognize specific events that occur following an injury and common signs and symptoms associated with tissue damage and repair. This helps you identify where clients fall in the healing continuum and anticipate what sensations and functional changes they might expect. Reduce fear and frustration by explaining the events following an injury and highlight ways you and your client can both support the healing process.

Know about Leg Cramps & Natural Treatment~

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A deficiency of potassium or calcium can cause leg cramps. To this effect it is important to increase the intake of foods high in potassium and calcium such as bananas, oranges, strawberries, dried fruit, fresh orange juice and grapefruit juice, beets, dr.sharib azmi spinach, mushrooms, and fish.

Increasing your consumption of dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt can also boost your calcium intake. Nuts such as almonds and foods like tofu and sardines are rich in calcium as well.

Research indicates that magnesium-rich foods can also prevent leg cramps. Add green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale along with wheat germ and pumpkin seeds to increase your magnesium levels.

Try These treatment they can help

Now it’s time to move on to the treatment. There are several home remedies you can use for leg cramps. Firstly, you will need to put ice on the affected location up to 20minutes until the tissue feels cold to the touch repeat an hour later allowing the muscle to warm back up . To remove the cramp, you can stretch the leg and move toes toward the head and hold for 20 seconds relax and repeat . This is usually very effective method. Try performing some exercises and massages. This will help the muscles to relax and decrease the pain. Also, include a lot of calcium and potassium in your nutrition. One of the causes is dehydration, so if you experience leg cramps, try to drink as much fluid as possible. When you want to work out, always try to stretch first, and then gradually increase the intensity of the exercises. Another available method is acupressure. You will need to apply pressure on the spot, for 30 seconds. This needs to be repeated as many times as needed. You can also contract muscles which stand opposite the cramped muscles. It is very important to relax and lose up the muscles. Also we have stated that the muscle needs to be stretched. To do this, sit on the floor, stretch the leg, fold the toes, and move as closer to the knee as possible.

 

What is a chronic holding pattern?

263207_456976957724411_2048067932_nWhat is a chronic holding pattern?

I ‘ve identified 3 types of holding/constriction that occur in the body.

Physical/Physiological
Emotional
Mental

These holding patterns cause limitation and chronic conditions that, over time will become very difficult to unwind. The more holding occurs, the more that the body learns to hold, which results in more holding, and so on and so on.
It’s helpful to identify the type of holding that’s present in any given area of your body if you’re going to be able to release that holding pattern and create greater freedom in your body, and therefore in your life.

I’ll describe each of these types of holding.

Physical/physiological holding is caused by the body’s own mechanical and anatomical condition. For instance, if you have one leg longer than the other, you’ll chronically compensate by limping, which will result in a holding in the hip and pelvic girdle. Or if you lack calcium in your system, your muscles will relax less readily remaining in a constant state of contraction. Physically and physiologically caused holding patterns can often be addressed or remedied if they are identified properly.

Emotional holding patterns are the result of chronically unresolved emotional issues that take up residence in the tissues of the body. Anger, guilt, resentment, blame, avoidance, when not addressed do not disappear. They just become covertly embedded in your body. Some schools of thought believe that it’s necessary to identify the life experience that caused the emotional holding in order to free up that energy.

Mental holding patterns are caused by a belief that we persistently attach to. That belief may pertain to the body, or may seem completely unrelated. Either way, the unconscious attachment to that belief will result in a restriction in the body. If you think about it, how could it be otherwise. After all, all nervous system activity, controlling every tissue; organ, muscle and bone in the body, originates in the brain, the same place thoughts originate. Clearly these will influence each other. So bringing beliefs and thoughts into conscious awareness can have enormous affect on the body’s freedom or lack of.

Watching the body’s holding patterns in every day life, during exercise, dance or yoga practice, and exploring the 3 possible causes of holding patterns above, can reveal valuable truths about your body’s wisdom. Learning to refer to the wisdom of your body will give you profound access to your embodied power, helping to reduce injuries and live more vividly. Be curious and see what you discover!

Wonderful psoas muscle info!

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The Psoas is:
(A) A remote tribe in Papua, New Guinea. (B) A revolutionary computer operating system. (C) The muscle that is the key to your structural stability.
By Liz Koch

If you guessed C, you’re correct. Buried deep within the core of your body, the psoas (pronounced “so-az”) affects every facet of your life, from your physical well-being to who you feel yourself to be and how you relate to the world. A bridge linking the trunk to the legs, the psoas is critical for balanced alignment, proper joint rotation, and full muscular range of motion. In yoga, the psoas plays an important role in every asana. In backbends, a released psoas allows the front of the thighs to lengthen and the leg to move independently from the pelvis. In standing poses and forward bends, the thighs can’t fully rotate outward unless the psoas releases. All yoga poses are enhanced by a released rather than shortened psoas. (When you reverse your orientation to gravity in inversions, however, the psoas must be toned as well as released to maintain proper spinal stability.)

Whether you suffer from a sore back or anxiety, from knee strain or exhaustion, there’s a good chance that a constricted psoas muscle might be contributing to your woes. Getting in touch with this deeply buried muscle can be humbling at first. You may discover that you’ve been doing many poses by contracting your core, instead of relying on your skeleton for support and allowing your more peripheral muscles to organize around a toned but flowing and spacious center. But if you persevere, psoas work can add new insight, openness, and stability to your practice. Though your psoas may not be as easy to sense as your biceps or hamstrings, improving your awareness of this crucial muscle can greatly enhance your physical and emotional health.

Along with improving your structural stability, developing awareness of your psoas can bring to light fears long locked in the body as unconscious physical tension. Intimately involved in the fight or flight response, the psoas can curl you into a protective fetal ball or flex you to prepare the powerful back and leg muscles to spring into action. Because the psoas is so intimately involved in such basic physical and emotional reactions, a chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you’re in danger, eventually exhausting the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system. As you learn to approach the world without this chronic tension, psoas awareness can open the door to a more sensitive attunement to your body’s inner signals about safety and danger, and to a greater sense of inner peace.

Meet Your Psoas
To locate this powerful muscle, imagine peeling your body like an onion. The first layer is the skin; next come the abdominal muscles in front and the massive muscles of the sides and back. One layer deeper lie the intestines and another layer of back muscles. Continue peeling each layer until just before you reach your skeletal core: There in the center of your inner universe rest the psoas muscles. One on each side of the spine, each working independently yet harmoniously, the psoas attaches to the side and toward the front of the 12th thoracic vertebra and each of the lumbar vertebra. Moving through the pelvis without attaching to bone, the psoas inserts along with the iliacus muscle in a common tendon at the top of the femur.

A healthily functioning psoas provides a sensitive suspension bridge between the trunk and the legs. Ideally, the psoas guides the transfer of weight from the trunk into the legs and also acts as a grounding wire guiding the flow of subtle energies. Working properly, the psoas functions like the rigging of a circus tent, stabilizing your spine just as guy wires help stabilize the main pole of the big top.
In addition, the psoas provides a diagonal support through the trunk, forming a shelf for the vital organs of the abdominal core. In walking, a healthy psoas moves freely and joins with a released diaphragm to continuously massage the spine as well as the organs, blood vessels, and nerves of the trunk. Working as a hydraulic pump, a freely moving psoas stimulates the flow of fluids throughout the body. And a released, flowing psoas, combined with a stable, weight-bearing pelvis, contributes to the sensations of feeling grounded and centered.

Psoas/Pelvis Relationship
Think of your pelvis as the foundation of a balanced skeletal structure. For your pelvis to provide this stable base, it must function as part of the trunk rather than as part of the legs. Many people mistakenly think of their legs as starting at the waist, perhaps because so many major leg muscles attach to the pelvis. But skeletally and structurally, your legs start at your hip sockets. If your pelvis tilts forward or back or side to side every time you move your legs, the bones can’t bear and transfer weight properly. Your psoas will then be called upon to help protect the spine by stabilizing your skeleton. Since the psoas can contract and release independently at any of its joint attachments, it can compensate for structural imbalances in many ways. But if you constantly contract the psoas to correct for skeletal instability, the muscle eventually begins to shorten and lose flexibility.

Shortening the psoas leads to a host of unfortunate conditions. Inevitably, other muscle groups become involved in compensating for the loss of structural integrity. The pelvic bowl tips forward, shrinking the distance between the pelvic crests and the legs, and the femurs are compressed into the hip sockets. To compensate for this constriction, the thigh muscles become overdeveloped. Since full rotation of the thighbones can no longer occur in the hip joints, much of the rotational torque is transferred to the knees and the lumbar spine—a recipe for knee and lower back injuries. In your yoga practice, if you feel strain in your knees or lower back in seated and standing poses, your body may be telling you that you need to lengthen your psoas.

In addition to structural problems, shortening the psoas limits space in the pelvis and abdomen, constricting the organs, putting pressure on nerves, interfering with the movement of fluids, and impairing diaphragmatic breathing. Finally, by limiting your options for movement and by constricting your center, a shortened psoas decreases both your vitality and your connection to the sensations at your skeleto-muscular and emotional core.

Losing touch with your core can happen in myriad ways. You may be born with structural imbalances that eventually lead you to engage the psoas for support. All sorts of physical traumas can compromise the optimal, healthy functioning of your psoas: injuries to the pelvis or spine, surgery, broken bones and joint injuries in your feet and legs, even a torn ligament from overexuberant stretching in yoga. No matter what their source, muscular imbalances that compensate for injuries, overdeveloped muscles, and chronic muscular tension all add to structural instability that affects the psoas.

In addition, our living environment often does not support the proper use of the psoas. From car seats to constrictive clothing, from chairs to shoes that distort posture, many features of modern life curtail our natural movement patterns. In fact, a chronically tightened psoas may date back to your first steps. Baby shoes that constrict the foot, impair the movement of bones, or limit ankle mobility can alter a child’s skeletal balance and stifle psoas vitality. Other child-rearing paraphernalia can add to the problem. Rigid plastic baby carriers limit movement, eliminating the natural protection and give-and-take of a mother’s body, and playpens restrict the crawling essential for neuromuscular and skeletal maturation. Walkers give infants a false sense of stability, encouraging them to stand and walk before the bones are fully formed and ready to bear weight. Rushing development in this way teaches children to rely on their psoas muscles, rather than their skeletons, for support.
Either emotional trauma or an ongoing lack of emotional support can also lead to a chronically contracted psoas, and thus to a loss of core awareness.

If your fight/flight syndrome is triggered into constant arousal, eventually you lose contact with your inner world. One psoas workshop participant, for example, recalled her mother repeatedly admonishing her, “Look where you’re going, young lady.” Constantly receiving the message that her body couldn’t be trusted led her into chronic anxiety. She realized she literally watched every step she took, forcing her skeleton to sag under the weight of a drooping head.

As an adult, learning to consciously release your psoas can rekindle vital energies by re-establishing your connection to your body’s internal signals—your instinctual somatic wisdom. Releasing your psoas encourages this process by allowing you to trust your skeletal stability instead of holding yourself up by muscular effort. Sensing your bones supporting weight translates into a physical and emotional feeling of “standing on your own two feet.” With a properly functioning psoas, the bones bear weight, the muscles move the bones, and the joints connect the subtle energies of the body. Energy flows through the joints, offering a sense of continuity, like the string flowing through a pearl necklace that transforms it into something more than the sum of its parts. The psoas, by conducting energy, grounds us to the earth, just as a grounding wire prevents shocks and eliminates static on a radio. Freed and grounded, the spine can awaken.

Once you’ve learned to sense and release your psoas, you can apply these lessons to your yoga practice and everyday life. Keeping your psoas released during yoga practice liberates attention previously directed toward your contracted core, allowing you to sense more clearly the delicate balance of action between other muscle groups. And freeing your center creates a sense of relaxation and calm that can infuse all your activities. In his poem “Burnt Norton,” T.S. Eliot wrote a phrase that perfectly captures the inner stability and peacefulness that accompanies a properly functioning psoas: “the still point of the turning world.”

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