SELF-MASSAGE 101 WORKSHOP

OCTOBER 15th
1-2:30pm

It’s finally here! The workshop designed to show you how to help yourself. Using tools you probably already have scattered around your house, this workshop will give you a step-by-step guide to self-massage. You will understand what causes muscle tension, learn useful tips on how to create good self-care habits, and leave with a better range of motion and more pliable muscles.

For the class you’ll need: 2 tennis balls, a lacrosse ball, and a foam roller. Cost for the class is either $30 (bring your own balls and roller), or $45 (balls and roller provided). You’re encouraged to bring any other self-massage tools you have.

Sign up here!

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Anatomy Moment: Iliopsoas

What is your iliopsoas? Where is it? And why should you care?

In the most basic description, the iliopsoas is part of the “Hip Flexor” group. The iliopsoas muscle is actually a duo consisting of the Iliacus and Psoas Major muscles.

They’re the strongest for the job they do – flex the hip. But to get to know each muscle more intimately, see below..

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ILIACUS
Actions: Flex the hip, Laterally rotate the hip, Flex the torso toward the thigh, Tilt the pelvis anteriorly.
Attaching: at the top of the hip bone to below the hip joint. You could think of it as where you’d put your hands on your hips. Your iliacus rests under where your fingertips land.

PSOAS MAJOR
Action: The same as above plus assist to laterally flex the lumbar (lower) spine.
Attaching: from the lower spinal vertebrae to below the hip joint. It extends diagonally from your lower spine to the front of your hip.

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When would you use these beauties? Standing, walking, and perhaps while doing sit-ups – to name a few examples. If you’ve taken [especially] a yoga class, you may have heard the cue to not fire from the hip flexors.

Often times – because of the job they do – it is easier for us as humans to engage the hip flexors instead of our abdominal muscles. If you find yourself becoming too familiar with your hip flexors (over-using them), then you might want to remind yourself where your abs are. 😉

Another common way to anger your iliopsoas is to sit for long periods of time without taking breaks. You see, the flexors do want to work and be useful, but they don’t want to be over-worked. They also don’t want to remain in a scrunched up position while you sit all day….. [This has been a paid-for advertisement from your iliopsoas.]

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Please allow me to now give you plenty of options to apologize to your iliopsoas.
1) Drink water. This will actually solve two problems – keeping the muscles hydrated to keep fresh blood and nutrients pumping, as well as to get you up and walking to the bathroom. Thumbs up for hydration!
2) Selfmassage. (If you’re already a client of mine, I feel your smiles through the internet.) I have found that using a dimple softball for this area works best. It’s wider than a tennis or lacrosse ball so it really enables you to get to the muscle belly. You could also use a tennis or lacrosse ball on top of a foam block or a couple books.
SET UP: (for your right iliopsoas) Lay flat on the floor on your back. Using your fingers find your belly button, go right about 3″ and down 1″. Place the ball here. Roll to your belly (keeping the ball in place). At this point, just breathe with your body resting and the ball pressing into your iliopsoas. Let your breathing and gravity do the job.


3) Stretch. My favorite stretch is a simple one you can do on your bed (morning and/or night).
SET UP: (for your left side) Lay flat on your back in a bed or on a couch with your left leg draped off the surface. The end. …Seriously, that is it. Stay here for as long as it feels good. (Numbness and tingling mean you’ve gone too long.)

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What I detailed was a brief summation of the iliopsoas. If you’d like to geek out over some fun anatomy terms and visuals, check out this helpful video. An added note.. the plural of  “psoas” is “psoe or psoi”.

B.

**Thanks to Trail Guide to the Body Flashcards by Andrew Biel for the iliopsoas actions and attachments bit.

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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5 Types of Meditation to Add to Your To-Do List

Top of the morning to ya!

(I hope that seemed Irish – given St. Paddy’s day tomorrow and all!)

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I hinted last week at wanting to explore meditation with you a bit more. Today I’m going to list 5 of my favorites. They’re all easy to start with if you’re a beginner, and easy to grow with if you’re an avid meditate-r.

GUIDED MEDITATION
Is my absolute favorite type! I have one I listen to often by Deepak Chopra.
This is a great style of meditation – especially for newbies.
Guided meditations are typically recordings you listen to. There’s often music in the background, and there is a speaker who leads you through mantras, visualizations, etc.

PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION MEDITATION
Being a bodyworker, I really like that this is a great meditation to get your muscles in on the action too. I was introduced to this style of meditation in massage school. My tiny class of 4 women would lie on the floor or a massage table and listen to our instructor tell us to tense our toes for a breath, and then release the tension on an exhale. We worked from our feet to our faces and it was the most wonderful feeling when we were finished with the exercise. Fortunately, we did this typically toward the end of class, so it was okay when no one wanted to get back to school work!

VISUALIZATION MEDITATION
I feel like this is the meditation style that is most often thought of. This is when you’re lying or seated comfortably and you use your imagination to guide your mind elsewhere. Somewhere relaxing. This can be difficult for beginners. The idea is so “out-there” in the beginning, but you’ll get there with practice!

FOCUSED MEDITATION
This is another style I found while in school. We were taught using a candle as a focus point. That’s all you really need to do. Just focus on the object at hand. Thoughts wander in and out of your head, but it’s peaceful.

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
Is about paying attention to, but not interacting with thoughts coming to mind. This is probably the most expert level in this post. You can be by a river, on a mountain, or in your living room. The trick is to not do anything with the thoughts you have.

I hope you’ve learned a little about meditations! Perhaps you’ve found something valuable in the post. Or maybe you’ve figured out these meditations just aren’t for you. Any outcome is the right one. : )

Happy Monday!

B.

What’s with this Breathing?

So I was sitting in a yoga class Sunday. First thing noted?

Notice your breathing.

Then I went to Pure Barre today. One of the last notes of the class?

Take your biggest, deepest breath of the day.

What do I often tell clients before sinking into a trigger point?IMG_5852

Take a deep breath in.

And now I’m downloading my favorite meditation that’s going to tell me – you guessed it – breathe deeply while silently repeating this mantra.

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So…what’s the deal with this breathing thing? Why does everyone encourage you to take a breath at every opportunity? And who says it has to be deep and filled with purpose?

The answer? Breathing should be intentional. We do it so often without a thought – thankfully. It’s good for the mind to be centered and connect back with the body. When we give the breath meaning and priority in our days, we put ourselves back at #1. We allow our bodies to do what they do best – keep themselves healthy.

Our lives are so filled with activities, deadlines, appointments, priorities, responsibilities, meetings – have I stressed you out yet with the list? Everyone needs to take a minute and just breathe. You need to build deep breaths into your day.

Now that you’re with me on this whole intentional breathing thing, try to add it into your routine in the morning or at night. Find a meditation you click with, take a yoga class (may I suggest Cary Flow Yoga), sit out on the porch (now that the weather is awesome!), or have an afternoon snooze with your best furry friend. Whatever that moment can be for you to take some deep, meaningful breaths is – find it!

B.

PS: Check out this article I found on LifeHack about meditation helping preserve gray matter in the brain. I’ll share my favorite meditation next week!