Posts Tagged ‘muscle’

 

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.”

Helen Keller

Do you suffer from chronic neck and upper shoulder pain on a regular basis and can’t figure out why? Perhaps you are one of the 66-90% of the population that suffers from a very common condition know as Forward Head Posture (FHP).42lbhead_free

FHP can be recognized when, from a profile or side view, a person’s ear is positioned in front of the shoulder rather than directly over it – in proper posture. This condition caused by poor posture causes the head to lean forward and for every inch that the head falls forward the head gains 10lbs worth of weight on the muscles of the neck and shoulders. The addition strain causes these muscles to work much harder to hold the head from flopping forward. When this type of stress is put on muscles for a long period of time, the body reacts by laying down scar tissue in the muscle fibers for stability. The strain on the muscles and the addition of scar tissue limits flexibility and causes additional pressure on the nerves in the neck which increases pain and fatigue. If left untreated and FHP becomes severe enough, it will not only cause long duration tension headaches, but can also increase blood pressure, cause disc herniations, arthritis, pinched nerves, and even distortions in the eyes and ears that could lead to mental disorders.

Over a period of time, forward head posture can lead to a “hunchback” like Igor!

Over a period of time, forward head posture can lead to a “hunchback” like Igor!

There is hope in correcting FHP: starting by identifying the incorrect posture through postural analysis, the following step would be to stretch out the muscles the have become tightened then strengthen the weak muscles so that you are able to hold your head up in proper posture. It’s always good to seek the advice of a professional, such as a chiropractor, to ensure there aren’t any major skeletal problems as well as a massage therapist to help ease the tension in the muscles. The same professionals can show you the proper stretches and exercises to prevent the havoc of FHP!

 

Have you ever wondered how it can be so easy for some people to do certain motions such as holding proper posture, swinging a golf club, or speaking a different language, when it seems so difficult for you? Maybe you are curious about how workouts become easier after a short period of time? The body has a process called Muscle Memory. Does this mean that each muscle has it’s own memory?

Muscle memory refers to brains ability to learn how do a movement, then recall those actions and send the correct nerve impulse down the spinal cord  to the neuromuscular junctions where the nerve meets the muscle telling it how to move. Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at Quincy College in Massachusetts explains that “your brain creates pathways through your central nervous system, and movements become automatic.”
Nerve impulses follow the path of least resistance and this is why it can be difficult and even painful to learn new movements. As muscles weaken, become injured, or are put in compromised positions such as bad posture, they become bound by toxins and scar tissues that limit movement. The fewer resistance in the muscles the easier it becomes to retrain muscle memory and less painful the process will be.

A NeuroMuscular Junction is where the nerve meets and muscle. This is where the brain tells the muscle when and how to move.

A NeuroMuscular Junction is where the nerve meets and muscle. This is where the brain tells the muscle when and how to move.

Most people suggest working through the pain and difficulty, but you don’t necessarily have to take that route. Therapeutic massage and proper flexibility training helps to break down scar tissue and assists in removal of metabolic waste build up in the muscles. This allows for easier training of the muscle memory, so if you are starting a new workout, wanting to optimize your performance, or more importantly improve your posture try adding regular massage therapy and a good stretching routine into your regiment to improve your memory!

 

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

Leonardo Da Vinci

It seems these days that the good name of massage therapy has been severely tarnished. The media has a tendency to sexualize massage and the emergence of  many  non-licensed “Massage Parlors” don’t help to justify the legitimacy of massage as proper healthcare. I can’t tell you how many times my profession gets mocked in a social setting by using the terms “rubdown”, “masseuse”, & “happy ending.”

The concept that massage therapy can be easily misconstrued is not difficult to see. Many clients are asked to disrobe in a private room and have someone touch them in a soothing way. History hasn’t helped this misconception either. Many times throughout history, brothels have been masked by the facade of a massage therapy studio. The truth is there is that Massage THERAPY is nothing like the misconception people may have of the profession.

Truth to the matter is that licensed massage therapists go through extensive schooling as well as testing the therapists knowledge on anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, as well as moral code. It truly is a slap in the face of the profession and those who have invested their time, money, and passion into the business of helping people. Understand that there is nothing wrong with your significant other giving you a massage at the end of a hard workday, but when you need more specific help you can rest assured that massage therapist out there trained in understanding the complex relationships of muscles and movement associated with the human body.

In the field of massage therapy there are many different modalities that show how diverse the profession can be utilize to the benefit of  the public. Continuing education that is required for massage therapist to retain their license allows the therapist to excel and keep them at the forefront of their specific specialties.   It is this reason you are seeing the Allied healthcare community become more supportive of the profession and why you see massage therapists in rehabilitation centers, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and chiropractors. The medical professionals understand and trust the importance and many benefits of therapeutic massage.

 

“A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence”

David Hume

I know that I write and post a lot about the benefits of massage and how it is great for general health and well-being. It’s easy to assume that when reading this it’s biased and swayed because it’s my business and I am a massage therapist, but the real truth is that I never believed that massage was anything more than just a luxury. That statement right there is blasphemous to my fellow therapists I’m sure, but I have to be honest so that you understand that Massage Therapy has truly changed my life!

Like many of people who only understand massage from what they see in the media, I really thought that massage was all about relaxing with candlelight, incense, and ambient music. It wasn’t until I applied for the Physical Therapist’s Assistant program at my local community college and was denied due to a lack of volunteer hours, that I was introduced to the clinical side of massage. I decided it would be worth my while to at least give it a shot, so I applied and was required to take several medical pre requisites. Pre requisites for a massage class? I knew at this point massage therapy had to be more serious than what I interpreted.

After getting accepted into the program, I was introduced to the program director and future mentor Steve Jurch. From day one Steve took a very scientific and clinical approach to how massage, or soft tissue treatment, can really make a difference in overall health and wellness. Throughout the program, which was almost 2 years long total, I learned more about biomechnical movement, muscular anatomy, and kinesiology than I had ever thought I would. I was also able to see and experience first hand how different the therapeutic approach really was and how immediately the results could be. It changed the way I felt, moved, and even perceived my environment.

My belief in massage therapy became greater and greater over the years, but in the early stages of my career I was still reluctant and somewhat skeptical. I had to ask many questions and do significant continuing education before I started seeing my treatments really effect people in a positive way. There have been many clients that I have worked with since then that have avoided surgery, regained range of motion, reduced painful and stressful symptoms, and so much more! Massage therapy has been around for many years and has been used to treat people for all kinds of aches, pains, disorders, and illness with great results. How can I not believe in this after seeing first hand many different times!?

It may have taken me some time to convert my skepticism, but I have been a massage therapist for over 10 years and let me tell you…if it can change my mind, I’m sure that it can change yours as well!

“The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

Voltaire

This morning on a commercial break while watching the news I watched 3 back to back ads for over-the-counter pain medications. First off, I was baffled as to why they would play 3 different ads for the same product and secondly I was taken away by the fact that there are people out there take take OTC pain meds multiple times on a daily basis!

As soon as I could, I had to get to a computer and do some research and what I found was quite mind-blowing. Pain killers are the number one purchased OTC drug and many that are taking these pain killers are misusing them. In a study done by WebMD, it showed that ” nearly half of the 175 million adults who take over-the-counter pain relievers admit to exceeding the recommended dose, and few are aware of the potential risks.” The same research informs that “16,500 people die and 103,000 are hospitalized each year because of NSAID-related problems.”

over-the-counter pain killers can help manage but over time they do more bad than good.

over-the-counter pain killers can help manage but over time they do more bad than good.

Just like almost all medications that are ingested in pill form, they have to be processed by the liver and after time of continual use of the drugs, the liver can start having problems of it’s own. In addition, after repetitive use of drugs, the body adapts to the medication and more is require to achieve the same result. You can easily see how this is very unsafe and can potentially be fatal.

Low Back pain is at the top of the list for the needs of pain medications

Low Back pain is at the top of the list for the needs of pain medications

Now I’m not knocking pain medication all together, but there should be no real reason that you have to take it on a daily basis. After all, the medication only treats the symptoms not the cause. To really be effective you need to try and figure out the cause and then treat appropriately. In my experience as a massage therapist, I have found that many people are taking pain medications due to low back pain and severe headaches. In many of these cases these conditions are accompanied by poor posture. Without getting to in depth (I will save that for another BLOG), when the body starts loosing it’s correct posture, structures start to shift. Muscles on one side of the body become tight and on the other side of the body become overstretched. This in itself can cause significant and noticeable pain, but add to that when the muscular imbalance occurs that joints that were meant to move smoothly become compressed and dysfunctional. Blood vessels and nerves can become compressed if the postural alignment is to far from the norm.

Overuse and Misuse of OTC pain killers can cause serious Liver damage.

Overuse and Misuse of OTC pain killers can cause serious Liver damage.

You will read many articles that dispute the fact that there is no scientific research or proof that pain has anything to do with improper posture, but I say find out for yourself. Massage Therapy has been proven to relieve pain in the muscle fibers as well as alleviate headaches and help to restore posture, all with no real negative side effects. Ask any person who has received a massage if they felt better afterwards and if their pain was reduced and that should be proof enough that therapeutic massage is a better option than consistently over using OTC pain killers. It’s natural, it has been used for thousands of years, and it gets results!

“Memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

-Oscar Wilde

Have you ever wondered how it can be so easy for some people to do certain motions such as holding proper posture, swinging a golf club, or speaking a different language, when it seems so difficult for you? Maybe you are curious about how workouts become easier after a short period of time? The body has a process called Muscle Memory. Does this mean that each muscle has it’s own memory?

Muscle memory refers to brains ability to learn how do a movement, then recall those actions and send the correct nerve impulse down the spinal cord  to the neuromuscular junctions where the nerve meets the muscle telling it how to move. Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at Quincy College in Massachusetts explains that “your brain creates pathways through your central nervous system, and movements become automatic.”
Nerve impulses follow the path of least resistance and this is why it can be difficult and even painful to learn new movements. As muscles weaken, become injured, or are put in compromised positions such as bad posture, they become bound by toxins and scar tissues that limit movement. The fewer resistance in the muscles the easier it becomes to retrain muscle memory and less painful the process will be.

The brain sends signals down the spinal cord to tell the muscles what to do...don't let poor posture and toxins get in the way!!

The brain sends signals down the spinal cord to tell the muscles what to do…don’t let poor posture and toxins get in the way!!

Most people suggest working through the pain and difficulty, but you don’t necessarily have to take that route. Therapeutic massage and proper flexibility training helps to break down scar tissue and assists in removal of metabolic waste build up in the muscles. This allows for easier training of the muscle memory, so if you are starting a new workout, wanting to optimize your performance, or more importantly improve your posture try adding regular massage therapy and a good stretching routine into your regiment to improve your memory!

 

“Diligence is the mother of good luck ”

-Benjamin Franklin

 

It’s no surprise to anyone that athlete’s will do just about anything to optimize their performance. Athlete’s will do extended training, extreme workouts, and learn new techniques to take them to the top. Another  element that many may not consider is the use of therapeutic massage to achieve better results. The utilization of massage for athletes is not a new idea, massage has been used by athletes for many years to produce better outcome in their respective sports. In fact, “in the first Olympic games of 776 BC, athletes received massage before an event. Afterwards, the competitors would take a dip in a hot bath, receive massage and then dip in a cold bath to prepare their muscles for the next event.” There are many benefits of massage therapy that can promote an athlete’s recovery and
optimize their performance.

Whether you are enjoying a recreational adventure race...

Whether you are enjoying a recreational adventure race…

Massage is a form of passive stretching so the application will help to keep the athlete’s muscles flexible and prepared for intense work. The amount of stress and damage done to an athlete’s muscles during their activities produces waste and pain in the body. Providing massage will help increase circulation which brings fresh blood that is full of nutrients to the areas needed, which reduces recovery time. Increased circulation also helps with the removal of the harmful wastes in the body as well as decreases pain that may limit performance. Relaxation is one of the simplest and best benefits of massage this will help the athlete to calm the nervous system which reduces anxiety, improves focus, and makes it easier to sleep which helps in the recovery process. Recently, researchers at McMaster University reported that deep massage after an intense workout actually causes muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria! Mitochondira, the powerhouses of our cells, are responsible for converting nutrients into useful energy. This research makes it easy to see why the addition of
massage to an athlete’s routine would help them on their road to gold!

...or you are training at an elite level, massage can  help you get the gold!

…or you are training at an elite level, massage can help you get the gold!

“Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies.”
– Bobby Jones

The weather is cooling off and the Summer is coming to an end and here in Charleston, that gets those who golf quite excited. The cooler weather makes it more appealing for golfers to get their game on!images (1)

Golf has become the most popular sport worldwide and according to the National Golf Association there are approximately 26.2 million Americans 18 years of age or older playing at least 1 game per year. Whether one is playing a weekend game for recreation or participating in regular tournaments for competition, the golf game has become more than just a mental game and has become a very physical game. Golf is a whole body activity with a focus targeted at the core muscles. Without proper conditioning, training, and preventative maintenance a golfer could find themselves in chronic pain and frustrated with a game that is not quite up to “par.”

There are many factors that can lead to injury and an unsatisfying game including minor trauma, lack of warm up, overuse of muscles, and the most common a poor posture. These factors can cause pain in many areas throughout the body seeing as body is completely connected, but the main areas that seem to be affected most include the shoulder complex, hips, and the low back. Golfers should be fully aware that the body is made to heal itself and should be educated of how to listen to the body for proper care and preventative maintenance. Therapeutic massage therapists are a great tool for any golfer looking to recover, reduce pain, and gain a better game.
Therapeutic massage therapists can start by simply assessing posture to figure out what muscles are overstretched and what muscles are too tight. Following the assessment, the golfer will soon be educated on anatomy and physiology and how it relates to their golf game. Through communication between the golfer and the therapist, goals and
expectations should be set followed by stretching, sports massage, and even
strengthening exercises. Stretching and massage are key elements to increase blood flow and range of motion. By increasing blood flow the body is able to deliver nutrients and remove wastes more efficiently allowing a quicker recovery. Increasing range of motion will assist in returning the body to a neutral posture and allow the body to move easier which in return, will reduce pain, injury and will have the potential to improving swing techniques producing a better game.

Sean Fister, 3 x World Long Drive Champion and advocate of Massage Therapy

Sean Fister, 3 x World Long Drive Champion and advocate of Massage Therapy

Focused treatment to affected areas including proper core strengthen, stretching, adequate hydration, and therapeutic massage has been proven to improve ball striking, drop game scores, and reduce injury, slicing, anger and frustration. Changing the “bad habits” of old postures can prove to be a bit daunting, but the rewards of better health and an optimized golf game are well worth the time and effort. Since most golfers out there are willing to do just about anything to be as pain free as possible, why not give therapeutic massage a try?

“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body. ”
Arnold Schwarzenegger

How many times have you caught yourself avoiding working out because you are too sore or are not getting the results that you are looking for with weight training due to the lack of that extra push? What if there was a way to get around those obstacles? Thereis a way – Therapeutic Massage!
Lactic acids build up in the muscles due to exercise leads to DOMS or delayed
onset muscle soreness, poor muscle fiber and joint movement, and difficulty in the healing of the muscles. Studies have shown that massage flushes the muscles of built up toxins, including lactic acid. Massage also loosens the muscle fibers increasing the joints’ range of motions; therefore, allowing the muscles to repair and increase in size and strength at an accelerated rate. Receiving regular therapeutic massage in conjunction with your normal workout routines will not only help the muscles heal faster, but also
significantly reduces pain and soreness. By having the ability for your muscles to recover and build strength faster, you are able to get back to training sooner and gain more of your desired results.
Studies have also shown that massage is also a great way to decrease blood
pressure and increase energy giving you a euphoric effect that will make working out more fun and more desirable. The best part of it all is that therapeutic massage is not targeted at one specific group. The benefits of therapeutic massage can be appreciated by everyone from the competing body builder to the semi-pro athlete to the everyday person trying to get back in shape and stay fit.

“I am very serious about no alcohol, no drugs. Life is too beautiful.”

 –Jim Carrey

 

    St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and there are several thing we think of when we think of this Irish holiday such as leprechauns, shamrocks,  and alcohol. I personally do not partake in alcohol at anytime and that’s my choice. For others, alcohol is a part of everyday life. When it comes to health and  wellness, I believe it is important that people should be aware of how alcohol can affect muscles and recovery.   

Alcohol is part of many cultures and societies of the world. Whether it’s celebrating holidays, relaxing after a long day of work, or just socializing with friends; many people like
to enjoy several “adult beverages” every so often.
    Many doctors and experts claim that having a drink a day, especially red wine, can have
positive effects on heart health. The biggest problem that many people face is that they don’t stop at one or two drinks;many people overindulge. Too much alcohol in the body
negatively affects the mind, body, and muscle recovery.
    Our bodies recognize alcohol as a toxin, the same as a low grade poison. The liver’s
job is to filter the blood of this harmful substance, but it can only do so at a slow rate. It
takes around an hour for our body to filter one “average” drink depending on size, sex,
race, & age. Any more than the allotted amount for the set time and damages start taking
place.
    According to studies from Montclair State University, alcohol impedes muscle growth
by diminishing protein synthesis and the production of Human Growth Hormone. Alcohol has also been shown to reduce Testosterone and ATP in the body. The above facts make it much more difficult for your muscles to heal and recover as well as providing essential
energy to get through the day.
    It’s important to be aware of these facts about alcohol to maintain health and wellness.
Remember that moderation is the key.

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