Frozen Days…

Chances are – if you’re local – you saw lots of sleet, freezing rain, and like 4 snow flakes the last few days. (I wish there had been more snow!)

If your days were anything like mine they involved some or all of the following: sitting, eating, restricted exercising (if any), TV, movies, Netflix, walk the dog, run back to house with dog, laundry, Facebook, emails, sledding, random dance parties in the house, sleeping on the couch – I think you’ve got the idea. Our lives were very different these last few days. No working, no driving, but lots of being sedentary.

How does all that affect our muscles?

Muscles are designed to move. When we’re spending more time not working the muscles and then we do something like sledding or walking on ice, it’s pretty startling to the body. We end up holding our bodies in awkward positions. From tensing when we are walking on ice, to bracing for impact at the bottom of a hill we are sledding down, to shivering – our muscles are tense.

Add to that a poor diet (because who is really watching what they eat when they’re stuck inside a house all day) and technology – iPads, computers, cell phones – and you have the perfect storm.

Now to the important information – why am I taking the time to mention this?

Winter happens. Being sedentary and involved in technology and losing track of good eating habits happens. However, there are ways to avoid being too lax when these frozen days hit.

  1. Try to keep more fresh foods in the house. By not keeping the bad stuff around, you’re much less likely to eat it. (Especially on a snow day when you’re stuck in the house with no transportation.)
  2. Keep moving! I’ll be the first to admit that exercising yourself and your dog in the house is a real thing – it does help to have dog on the smaller side. Take time to stay in motion when you’re in the house. You can keep up with chores, call friends and walk around your home (I’d suggest the pacing then the cleaning), or do what I did and run suicide drills in the hallway with your dog. Note to readers: the dog always wins. Every time.
  3. Water! Hydrate people, hydrate! If nothing else this ensures you’re getting up to walk to the bathroom frequently – thus helping with the 2nd bullet point!
  4. Bolster yourself. If you are going to spend a good amount of time watching Netflix, football, or reading it’s worth it to sit in positions where your body is more relaxed and supported. This helps tremendously with muscle tension – even on a normal day.
  5. Take a yoga class with Jaclyn Groff before you have snow and ice expected! The soreness stays with you the entirety of the storm. (Thanks, Jaclyn!)

Here’s to some sun-shiny days this week!

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B.

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When Will I Be “Normal”..

Wouldn’t we all like to know!?

I’ve had quite a few clients recently that are surprised they’re still battling the same issues. For others, they’re surprised their issues have migrated.

The simplest explanation? – your body needs constant care. Issues can often change as your body starts to realign properly.

So what does that mean for treatment? I check in with clients before every session. This helps me figure out the best plan of action for that day. I combine the knowledge of issues we’ve been working on with the concerns my client has been recently struggling with. It also helps to track where the real problem lies. Sometimes the issue is really resting in your quads even though you’re having pain and tightness in your lower back. Seems crazy doesn’t it?!

The body is a weird and wonderful creation that we’re always learning more about. So don’t get down and out if you’re “still” wrestling with pain, tightness, etc. If you’re not experiencing the same bad sensations during the time between your massages, but your massage therapist is explaining that it still exists that is a good thing. Your body is changing for the better!

And the more self-care you do at home, the quicker you’ll feel better and get back to a more “normal” state and the longer you’ll experience that benefit.

(This is where I leave you to go get your foam roller…happy rolling!)

Until next time,

B.

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The (Skin)ny on Massage Therapists and your Skin

What could massage therapists possibly do for your skin? What could they know about you from simply working on your largest organ (your skin)?

Well, your therapist can tell a lot about your health from your skin. For one thing, we can tell if you’re well hydrated. The more water you drink, the more pliable your skin is. (That’s a fancy way to say that with good water intake, your skin moves well.)

We’re also great with early detection of skin differences – namely anything that takes on a different color, texture, or shape – like moles. Many teachers and colleagues of mine have mentioned skin differences to clients. All would recommend the client see their dermatologist, and some would find out that there was something seriously wrong. Of course, most of the time there was nothing to worry about, but it’s nice to know someone has your back!

Massage therapists can also tell how you use your body. Even if we never ask what you do for a living, what your hobbies are, or if you stand or sit during your day – we can typically guess what those answers are pretty accurately. I remember in school trying to apply what learned about body mechanics to see if I could guess a person’s work activities and/or hobbies.

Once we graduate from school, we are posture hawks! What do I mean by that? We can tell if someone’s posture is off even the slightest bit from many yards away! It’s actually a bit scary to have that talent. I notice all the time when people have “text neck”, one leg shorter than the other, or if they’re favoring one side of their body (sometimes indicative of an injury).

The human body is an amazingly crafted puzzle. So what are some massage therapist favorites to keep your body working with you and not against you?

1) Make yourself a priority
2) Drink water! Please.
3) Use sunscreen this summer. And reapply.
4) Do the homework your massage therapist suggests. There is a reason it’s recommended.
5) Sleep. You know, the good sleep. Where you actually get to REM sleep. It is so necessary for your body to have that uninterrupted time to rejuvenate.

Enjoy the summer, guys!

Stay cool. Stay safe. And stay hydrated!

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Hot Tips for Hydration

It’s Monday, guys!

How was your weekend? If you were in the Triangle this weekend, you’ll know we got lots of water – rain! So I was thinking the best way to celebrate that is to give you some helpful tips with hydration. You know..talk about water! Here we go..

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1. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces.
You’ve typically heard to drink 8 glasses of water a day. The problem with that? Everyone’s glass size isn’t going to be the same. How do we avoid that? We focus more on drinking half our bodyweight in ounces. Its a very helpful goal to have throughout the day and it makes you focus on the glass size more carefully.

2. Drink 1 liter (32 ounces) in the morning before you do anything else.
I’ve started to do this over the past year and it’s quite amazing. Everything feels like it’s moving better, you’re focusing better, and it definitely gives you a reason to leave your desk and hit the restroom for the rest of the day.

3. Make it accessible for yourself.
By making it easier and quicker to drink water, you also make it more appealing to keep drinking water throughout the day. What do I mean by this? Put a straw in your water, don’t keep a lid on it, make sure you have a very large bottle so you don’t need to refill it so often, etc. It’s simple, but it works.

4. Colder water helps burn more calories.
Yes, it’s true! When you drink colder water (which is totally personal preference), you burn more calories. The process your body goes through to make the water closer to the temperature of your body helps to burn them.

Take these tips and put them to good use, peeps!

B.

Top Three Tips for Runners

Today was the day of the Boston Marathon 2015! Awesome job to all the runners!

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I’ve had many runners visit me this April. It seemed like the temps went above 50 and all of the sudden, I met lots of runners seeking help! (Thank you, April!)

My runners typically have busy lives,  intense schedules, and some rock-solid goals in mind. I want to break down my plethora of tips for you guys! I’ll keep it short, sweet, and simple.

TIP #1
STRETCH
Please. Just do the stretches. After you’ve worked out is typically the best time to stretch. Why? You’re muscles are warmer and more pliable, and it’s also a nice way to cool down and help things settle after you’ve jostled them for a long time. Dynamic stretching is my preferred way to warm up prior to running. This includes things like: leg swings, arm swings, & side bends. This was a great resource I found.

TIP #2
FOAM ROLLER/TENNIS BALL/LACROSSE BALL
These tools provide you with so much therapy! As a runner, you should not be without at least one of the above. Massages are great, chiropractic adjustments are wonderful, and going for other types of workouts outside of running are all great ways to increase flexibility, strength, and endurance. But, typically, these types of professionals do not live in your home. When that happens my friends, your life is complete! In all seriousness, having one or more of these self-massage tools is helpful because it gives you great insight into what’s happening in your body. You become more familiar with postures that aggravate your body, you know where your range of motion is limited, and you learn how you can help yourself.

TIP #3
REST
I did it. I said it. By “rest” I mean everything from proper sleep at night, to taking naps if you need them, to backing off workouts if you need to. Injuries happen. But rehab also needs to take place. It’s important to let your body heal. And yes, sometimes that means backing off. This does not mean you’re lazy or that you’re failing! This means that you care enough about yourself and your body to give it the time it needs to recoup so you can come back stronger!

Let me know if you have any other great tips that have worked for you or a runner in your life!

Until next time…
here’s to hoping your running shoes don’t end up looking like mine (above)!

B.

April = Stress Awareness Month

Did you happen to know that April is Stress Awareness Month?

We are already aware of our stress and stressors of course, but this month is more about getting into those channels of how to manage our stress.

I’d love to know what some of your favorite methods of stress-reduction are!

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I’d like to share a few ideas – maybe it will inspire some of you to try new things!

… Yoga
Do you ever just feel like you need to go to that yoga class that you can just barely make it to?! I’ve done that on a few occasions. This month, try to make it to a class or two. Yoga does wonders for your mind-body connection. This is great for leaving everything that’s bothering you outside the studio doors and focusing on you for a bit.

… Exercise
Yes I separated this from yoga. Why? Because I’m saying exercise in more of the sense of “I need to go sweat this out, get worked up, get my heart rate elevated.” Maybe this means a room of punching bags, a wide open trail to run through, a block to kick in half, or those good old weights to lift overhead. I support and encourage everyone to get out there and do something positive that gets you moving. This physical movement is a great way to get you to mentally move through anything that is stressing you.

… Writing
For some, writing is a great way to express and work out any issues they’re having. Being able to write what is bothering you, why, and how it could be fixed is very therapeutic. This isn’t even something that needs to be shared. Write for yourself!

… Driving
Seems strange, but I’ve often found driving around the Triangle to be therapeutic. I feel like this is because I can give myself time to think through things. I’m also physically getting away from anything that’s been stressful.

… Arts & Crafts
Create stuff!
That’s all I have to say about that.

What’s the point here..?

Find something you’re able to do and get a stress release. Do something fun, playful, serious and thoughtful, or random. Dance your socks off or jump in puddles when it rains! Make April your month to try new ways of working through stress.

Cheers!

B.

Driving Tips for Hips & Wrists

Congratulations, everybody! We’ve almost made it through the week. Just one more tiny little day to go.

While you ponder how to make time go faster..

I’m going to tell you a bit about how driving hurts your hips and wrists, then explain habits that can help keep you out of the danger zone.
I first started to really pay attention to my hips and wrists when driving when I was in massage school. All my focus was on proper alignment and body mechanics. I wanted to figure out what was wrong and fix it.
I started noticing wrist pain and popping sounds. I was feeling my knee crack a little when I’d drive with it bent. And my lower back often felt off on one side, but fine on the other.
Below are a few of the things I noticed, and how I helped to correct them.

HIPS..

What hurts?
– leaning forward
Not only does this bug your hips and lower back, this bothers your entire spine – up to your neck.
– sitting on your wallet (guys!)
This is becoming less of a problem. I think because so many of us are aware of the negative impact sitting on a wallet has for our body mechanics. But the problem does still exist.
– anything that causes one hip to be above, behind, or in front of the other
Uneven hips can be caused from how we spend a prolonged time sitting. If you’re not paying attention to keeping level hips while sitting, this could lead to things like numbness and tingling, a burning sensation, and back pain.

What can help?
+ tucking your hips (clearly I’ve been at Pure Barre)
Many people don’t realize that our overly tight muscles have an impact on our musculature. If we “tuck” or roll our hips under, we protect our lower back area and our hips.
+ sitting back in your seat
Remember how leaning forward is a problem? Try sitting back into the chair. It’s there for you.
+ keeping knees above hips
One of the chiropractors I work with utters this phrase at least 10 times a day. This is so important – not only for sitting in the car, but also sitting at your desk.

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WRISTS..

What hurts?
– bending
Whenever your wrists are bent, it’s a bad thing. This can cause muscles to be overly tight and the opposing ones to be overly stretched. The body needs balance.
– tight grip on the wheel
More than likely, if you’re gripping the wheel tightly, you’re also bringing your shoulders up to your ears. It’s important to be mindful of any way your body is physically displaying emotions – such as fear, anxiety, or road rage.

What can help?
+ alternating dominant guiding hand
If you alternate which hand is the dominant one when driving, this will help give your hands a necessary rest time.
+ keeping proper alignment
In massage therapy school, one of the most important pieces of advice we were given was to keep everything in as straight a line as possible. In this example of keeping wrists in alignment while driving, this particularly applies to the thumb and wrist area. Think of always wanting a straight line from the tip of your thumb to your forearm. This will help to not bend the wrist so much.
+ deep breathing
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.. Deep breaths are so important to our mind/body connection. When you’re driving and you feel a little road rage-y, take a few deep breaths in and slowly exhale. This will calm your body and help your mind stay more alert.

Until next time, enjoy these pics from the road trip last weekend that inspired this post!

Bye!

B

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