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.

Coming Soon!

Hi guys!

Plans are in the works for me to soon offer a few workshops.

One will be geared to teams/pairs/couples/duos/moving buddies. The goal of this workshop is to give you guys the basic tools to feel more comfortable in giving mini massages to loved ones and friends! This has been such a topic of interest for many of my clients and people I meet. I’m very excited to be able to help you guys help each other!

Another workshop is going to be (hopefully) held more frequently. This workshop is going to show you how you can help yourself. With this class, I’ll be guiding you on how to work some of the most common tension areas. We will work from head-to-toe using several self-massage tools, including foam rollers, tennis balls, and lacrosse balls. I’m a huge proponent of finding ways to help prolong the benefits of massage between sessions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you attended classes such as these, what would you want to learn? 

B.

Those Trapping Traps..

Oh how I love word play!

Let’s get right into it – the traps. The full name is Trapezius, but that makes it sound more like a contraption used in the circus.

Where are the traps? What do they do that I need to know about? Allow me to explain…

The traps cover a larger area than most of you may realize (please see the picture below). I’ve also inserted an image from the 4th edition flashcards by Trail Guide to the Body to help you identify where these muscles attach and what actions they’re responsible for.

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Times you may notice these boogers? When you’re holding your cell between your shoulder and ear. Also when you’re tilting your head back in attempt to show your feeling of boredom.

The traps are one of the “hot spots” for where people think their tension resides. What is actually happening is this: when you’re stressed because of the traffic you’re stuck in or the fact that you’re going to miss a presentation because you’ve missed your flight, your body is displaying that stress. Your body physically displays all your emotions. When your body contorts itself to display those emotions, there are muscles contracting to put you in those positions. When the muscles are contracting like that for a lot of time on end, it’s like you’re giving those muscles a workout you didn’t intend to. They’re getting stronger and those tight spots are getting tighter. Eventually leading to reduced ROM (or range of motion) and often times pain.

So what can you do to help yourself if you have issues with your traps?

  • Static stretching of the Neck and Scapula. Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 12.06.04 AM(http://www.health.harvard.edu/shoulders/stretching-exercises-frozen-shoulder)Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 12.08.18 AM.png(http://precisionfitpb.com/stretching-for-strength-training/)
  • Self myofascial release such as foam rolling. These are some of my favorite tools for the traps: tennis balls, lacrosse balls, and foam balls. Recently I’ve become a huge fan of using dimple balls for the traps and any other muscle with really solid muscle spasms.
  • Take breaks! If you work at a desk, taking breaks can be hugely beneficial. It might not seem like much, but even looking up for a minute or two or standing up for 30 seconds could help break the constant muscle contraction.
  • Hydration! As always – drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces per day to keep you on track to not dehydrate. Your muscles are thirsty! Also – this is a great way to get those breaks in.

Until next time!

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.

How Massage Can Help You

Good evening (insert clip of Jeff Dunham with Achmed here).

I’m going to describe a typical client. Your mission is to make sure you don’t match any of the description – I dare you!

You have headaches regularly. (Fun stat: “normal” amount of headaches per year: 2-3. ..yeah.)
You go to the gym…sometimes. You kind of workout…sitting on the stationary bike while watching TV counts, right?
You notice your back hurts after sitting all day at work. You sometimes make it out of your chair to run to the restroom or grab a quick lunch (or to run home at the end of the day). Your neck hurts and you find yourself leaning into your work. Literally – like you are in the computer. You are one with the computer.
You are off balance frequently. Possibly leading to falls here and there.
Your wrists or elbows pop or feel uncomfortable sometimes, but you can’t figure out why.
You have an old sports injury that just won’t stop rearing its nasty head.

Now that we’ve determined you match something on or related to items on the list, let’s really talk. What can massage do for you?

Here’s another question I ask my clients – have you ever really given massage a chance? By this I mean..
– Have you tried using massage as a consistent means of helping heal your body, or keep your body in a wellness state?
– Have you done your homework between sessions (“no” is not the correct answer here)?

If, for any reason, you answered “no” to the above two questions, massage may have been your saving grace and you just didn’t know it. Massage should be done on a regular basis for best results. If a client only gets a massage here and there, what I’ve found is that the muscles start running the show again and causing problems.

The muscles become tight again and the massage generally doesn’t feel as relieving as it should (if done on a consistent schedule). Our lives don’t stop after a massage. Our muscles and bodies are never truly given a moment to chill out and do nothing. That means that those muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia that were just worked on are going to go back to being angry and tight if they aren’t kept in check. This happens simply because we keep using them.

I mentioned doing your homework between massages. Before giving homework to my clients, I ask “Are you going to do a couple stretches if I go over them with you?”. I need to know that you’re in this wellness plan with me. It takes my effort during your massage and your effort between massages to keep your body well. This means: using the tennis ball, breaking out that foam roller you purchased a year ago, waking up and stretching, drinking half your body weight in ounces every day, etc. It may sound challenging and daunting, but won’t it feel good to feel good?!

Let the message from this post be this:

Massage can work wonders for your body. It can relieve physical and emotional stress, promote proper circulation, increase range of motion, and give you a general sense of well-being. Massage can do all this and more for you. But the real healing is when you decide you want to help yourself.

B.

5’s on the First: Top 5 Self-Massage Tools

Today is the first Monday of 2015! As such, I’d like to introduce my first theme (of many) – 5’s on the First. 5’s on the first is designed to be a handy intro to 5 quick tips, resources, and much more.

To get started, I’d like to talk about the importance of self-massage. The more you do on your own as a client, the better your massage sessions will be and the longer you’ll feel your results of the massage last. I talk with my clients about this topic daily! Let’s get started..

5. Thera Cane
http://www.theracane.com
Although this is mostly only talked about with clients who are familiar with therapeutic tools, this is a very useful tool for anyone. You might need an instruction sheet for the first few uses, but you’ll get the hang of it! The Thera Cane is very useful for those hard-to-reach spots (ie. knots in your back). Many stores sell them nation-wide, and they can also be found online. If you feel like you’re not getting in the groove with it still, take it to your next massage – we love show-and-tell!

4. Foam Roller
These are some of the easiest tools to come by. I highly recommend foam rollers for use with larger muscle groups – glutes, quads, etc. They are great for getting a generalized self-massage. I typically suggest the use of a tool for general massage before using a tool which gets more specific. This allows the fascia and muscle tissue to break up easily, allowing for a more gentle massage.

3. Your Hands, Fingers, & More
Shocking! You’ve been blessed with a set of self-massage tools right in your own body. You’ll often find me working on my palms with the point of my elbow, working on my scalenes (topic for another day, guys) with my fingers, or working around my pec attachments with the palm of my hand if it’s been a particularly grueling day for my upper body. If you need some specific advice, don’t be shy – ask your therapist!

2. Tennis Ball
I’m sure my clients will read this one and roll their eyes – I’m the queen of tennis balls! I proudly keep one in my bedside table, in my car, and occasionally in my purse. They’re portable and help really get into some trouble spots for clients. I love using them to get into hip attachments, around the scapula, and placing two tennis balls in a sock and resting my head on them (placed at the base of my skull). A helpful rule of thumb – keep away from most bones – the scapula and hip are exceptions. Always check with a therapist about exact placement.

1. Foam Ball
Honestly foam balls and tennis balls are tied for my top tools. I absolutely love anything that’s portable. It allows for no excuses to use them! Especially with my world travelers, self-massage is key! I picked up my foam ball from a therapy center nearby – Trinity Wellness Center in Raleigh, NC. (http://www.trinitywellnesscenter.net) The staff was in the midst of a team lunch, but was still kind enough to let me pick up one of my all-time favorite massage tools. Similar items can be purchased online. This foam ball is great for some general, but mostly specific work. I use it mostly on my quads and glutes.
Foam Ball

It’s important to keep in mind that we all have different struggles and each situation requires a different bag of tools. Talk to your therapist about your goals and individual concerns.

Best,

B.