Posts Tagged ‘Posture’

 

“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!

 

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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 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!

“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.”
― Aldous HuxleyThe Art of Seeing

 

As you have read before in past BLOGS,  low back pain is among one of the most frequent injuries suffered by most in the world. One of the main reasons for low back pain is because of Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction. The SI Joint can be anatomically defined as the articulation where the Ilium of the Hip bones meet the Sacrum. The joint itself is protected and surrounded by many ligaments and muscles. Now why is this information so important to you?SIJOINT

The SI Joint is responsible in acting like a shock absorber to disperse energy from the upper body to the lower body and vice-versa. Each SI Joint is supposed to move independently as you bend, twist, squat, and take steps. It’s easy to understand that if the SI Joints aren’t moving properly
it would cause pain and difficulty in movement in our body just the same as if the shock absorbers on a car were to malfunction, it would be a pretty rough ride.

Sudden trauma such as falls, sports injuries, and car accidents can top the list of reasons for SI Joint dysfunctions, but poor posture can also contribute as well. Whether it is an accident or just poor posture, the body will respond by tightening the muscles that surround the joints as well
as laying down scar tissue in the ligaments and tendons. This is the body’s response to protect it from additional injury, but if proper recovery and treatment isn’t followed, the scar tissue and tight muscles remain, causing limited motion in the joints which eventually leads to more problems.

The best way to keep fluid motion in the joints and avoid future
problems is to stay loose and retain great posture. Seek help and advice from professionals such as chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists. They will be able to provide you additional information, assessments, treatments, and advice to optimize your SI Joint health and keeping you moving!

“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?

“You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.”
– Robert Anton Wilson

I was recently asked, “why would  my muscles be tender to touch and achy even if I haven’t injured myself ?” The truth is that there is more than one reason. Poor posture and unhealthy diet top the list and are the two more important reasons that I would like to briefly discuss today.

The muscles in the human body are designed to move fluidly through a designated range of motion where they will hold the body in proper posture. Due to our jobs and lifestyles, our posture deviates from the “proper” form and causes our muscles to overcompensate to regain the posture. When the posture can’t be achieved because the muscles aren’t strong enough, the body lays down scar tissue and causes the muscles to stay in spasm and act as a “cast” to avoid from deviating any further from the norm.  Muscles that are in constant spasm become over worked and fatigued which annoy the nerves that innervate with the muscles. Irritated nerves become highly sensitive to touch, in fact too much aggravation to the nerves will cause the muscle to increase spasm and start the cycle over again. If this cycle continues over and over again, it will soon effect more of the body’s function that just the muscle.

Unhealthy diet can also contribute to nerve annoyances in the muscles, causing them to be overly tender to the touch.  In today’s world, most foods that are purchased are filled with synthetic additives, preservatives, and harmful chemicals. Consumption of these foods effect our bodies from the cellular level in our digestive tract and has a domino effect to our brain and muscle fibers. Think of  the internal body as an open cut in the skin and now think of the foods of an unhealthy diet as dirt. When a wound in the skin is kept clean it heals quickly with little scarring but on the other hand if the wound is dirty then there is a high risk for pain and infection. When you eat poorly the internal pain associated with that diet can even cause you to deviate from your proper posture as well. It’s easy to see that the better you eat, the better you feel overall.

Sensitive muscles that are tender to the touch can quickly become annoying to the point of effecting your everyday life. The goal to avoid this is to remove the root cause. You can easily alter your diet to keep your insides healthy. As far as posture goes, it would be best to start with professional analysis to identify the postural defects. The next step would be to help realign posture. Stretching, Strength Training, and Therapeutic Massage are great ways to  achieve these goals. Stretching the appropriate muscles that have been tightened and shortened due to poor posture, as well as strengthening core muscles – as well as all other stabilizing muscles in the body will help to keep the body in it’s proper posture. These tasks alone can be daunting and troublesome and this is where therapeutic massage can make a difference. Many know that massage can help to reduce tension in the muscles and stretch muscle fibers, but what most don’t understand is that massage can stimulate weak muscles to activate and help flush unwanted toxins from the body. With this combination, you can live a life with minimal pain and discomfort.

Over my career I have had the opportunity to work with many sports of which I study the movement patterns needed for each specific sport. As a Sports Massage Therapist, one on the most important responsibilities is to identify postural imbalances and what muscles are limiting full range of motion that  would impede the needed movement patterns to be successful.  The next step is to treat the limiting muscles with appropriate flexibility training and therapeutic massage to restore and optimize the proper movement patterns that will improve the athlete’s performance and better achieve their goals.

One sport in particular holds a special place in my heart and that is wrestling. In my high school years, I wrestled for 4 years and because  of that I understand the needs, desires, and movement patterns better than any other sport. Recently, I have been asked back to my Alma Mater to utilize my skills to help the wrestlers recover quicker and improve their performance. I look at two main things that produce challenges for proper movement patterns for these wrestlers; posture and joint range of motion.

Next to Gymnastics and Dancing, I believe wrestlers have the greatest need for proper posture and increased flexibility. If a wrestler has poor posture it will lead to an unfavorable stance making it more difficult to both defend and attack as well as making it easier for the opponent to overcome and score. When a wrestler has limits in their joint range of motion, not only will it be difficult to get in to a solid stance, but it makes it much more difficult to execute moves as well as increasing their chances for injury. If the wrestler sustains a severe enough injury, it calls from immediate removal from competition which adds and unwanted amount of psychological stress that can further effect their performance. How do we easily avoid situations like these? Identify the main culprit; tight unconditioned muscles.

Treating tight muscles to release adhesions and increase flexibility of the muscle fibers will in turn lead to smother movement because of less restrictions and scar tissue that  cause muscle to “stick”.  Treatment will also increase recovery because as muscle tissue becomes looser,  blood flow increases to the local area and it is in the blood where nutrients responsible for recovery are held. Performance is also increased due to proper treatment because as you add the previous results, when there less pain then there is less physical and psychological limitations.

The amazing part of treatment like the treatment that  I use with the wrestlers is that it can be applied to any sport! The only aspect that  has to be modified is that the intention has to be shifted to the specific needs of the  restrictions to movement patterns for the specific sport being assessed.