Summer Vacation: We’re all looking for Stress Relief.

finger family travels at the beach as concept

We look forward to it all year long. We head to the beach, or the mountains, the warmer weather, the countryside, a change of scenery and an escape from our everyday responsibilities. It may be a week or two. It may be traveling to far, far away or taking short day trips. Whatever the distance or the destination we look to relieve the effects of stress that have accumulated over time.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes even going on vacation can be stressful! There’s the planning and the packing. Will your means of getting there work out without having to stress over connecting flights or hours in standstill traffic? Depending on the number and ages of the people you are traveling with, there can be many different plans for what will be done once you arrive at your destination. Some folks want to head “straight for the beach” and unpack and settle in latter. Others want to get that behind them before they can truly start to unwind. Some may want to “check out the town” or head out to the outlet stores or local treasure shops to catch the first of many, hoped for, bargains or mementos. Some folks want to”pack in” as much activity as they can while others just want to “veg out”. It can be stressful successfully navigating everyone’s expectations of this precious and limited commodity called vacation time.
So with all that having been said, here are a few suggestions to (hopefully) increase the chances that you don’t return from vacation, in need of a vacation!

🙂 It all starts with communication. Doesn’t it (or shouldn’t it) always! Time for a family / group meeting. If you have decided on a location, get a feel for who might fall into the above mentioned categories. (I’m sure you’ll discover as many categories as there are people going.)

🙂 Discuss group time vs individual time. Find out if there are any common interests and if there any special “most do” activities for anyone.

🙂 Look to share the inescapable everyday responsibilities so that no one person is saddled with them. For example, create a shopping list and take turns getting the groceries. Take turns making meals. Dinner is a nice time to reconnect after a day of everyone “doing their own thing”. New experiences and new discoveries can be shared with the group. In doing so, you never know, you may turn a “shopper” into a “ocean watcher” or vice versa!

:-)Try not to chisel any plans in stone, but instead, go with the flow. This way expectations and disappointment can be (better) held in check.

🙂 If aches and pains turn up from increased physical activity or stress finds it’s way into your vacation time, check out a local massage therapist. They can provide a “reboot” session and get you back into vacation mode again.

Planning a journey

So how does all of this relate to Therapeutic Bodyworks, you might ask? Receiving regular Massage Therapy sessions can be the escape and relief that you seek in a vacation. Imagine feeling de-stressed, refreshed and renewed in the middle of your demanding work week! Ready to get out, and have more to give, toward “getting the job done”! When you take advantage of one of my massage packages, you can decompress from stress as frequently as you’d like without having to wait for months on end. Some customers come every two weeks to get a handle on their stress, then shift to monthly massages. Imagine feeling as relaxed as you do at the end of a “beach day” in the middle of a work week! That’s what a massage session can do for you. Really! Call or schedule your next vacation, I mean massage, from the booking page, here on the website!

Here’s hoping your vacation is all that you hoped for! When you get back home, and before you fall back into that daily routine, schedule your next appointment. You’ll thank me for it. 🙂

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

What are those knots I’m feeling?

Depositphotos_40039989_mThe knots that you feel, that so often bring you to a massage therapist are actually muscles that have gone into spasm. Muscle spasms may also be called a cramp or Charley Horse. (Hmmm, not sure who Charley was or how a horse got involved – but I digress…)

These spasms can occur in all types of muscle, but in this case I am referring to skeletal (voluntary) muscles. Those that we use for movement and / or stability. Muscles contain both fast and slow twitch fibers. Muscles responsible for movement tend to contain more fast twitch fibers. (Think of a sprinter or the Rabbit of that well known race.)  Muscles responsible for our posture / stability tend to contain more slow twitch fibers. (Think long distance runner or the Turtle of same said race.) They tire less quickly.

Muscle spasms can have a sudden onset, such as when someone “throws their back out” from an overly strenuous activity. This type of pain can be severe, stabbing and incapacitating in nature.

When an injury such as this occurs, muscles that were intended to be the “movers” of our body are called upon to become the “stabilizers” that keep us upright. This is the body’s attempt to splint a vulnerable area and prevent further injury.
A sprinter does not a good long distance runner make and so those muscles quickly tire, creating a cascading effect as more muscles are called upon to “get in on the act” of movement, stabilization and prevention of further injury. Ouch!!

Another example of muscle spasm occurs with sustained, lower level effort that can produce a duller, aching type pain that may also include a burning sensation (as surrounding nerves are impinged upon). It is not as incapacitating in nature as a sudden onset muscle spasm but gets our attention as everyday activities are accomplished with less range of motion and some degree of discomfort that we manage to tolerate.

So What can Contribute to the Development of Muscle Spasms?

  • Injury to the muscle. (Some blunt force trauma)
  • Overuse of a toned muscle. (A Wt. lifter lifting too much wt.)
  • Overuse of a weakened muscle. (A weekend warrior over doing it.)
  • Posture during use of the muscle. (Twisting or bending with lifting)
  • Sustained poor posture. (with walking or sitting.)
  • Dehydration.(This can cause individual muscle fibers or muscle groups to stick together. Think of a clump of spaghetti that’s tough to separate).
  • Electrolyte Imbalances secondary to dehydration. (Electrolytes are substances within our blood necessary for proper muscle contraction).
  • Repetitive movement / Cumulative trauma (names given to activities of daily living like long hours of computer work, or driving).
  • Gravitational Stress (this one is not going away and takes on more significance if our posture is challenged as well).
  • Emotional Stress can be a contributor as well.

So What can I Do once I have a Muscle Spasm?

If the spasm is sudden onset / activity related :
Ice packs can block the pain sensations. Later, heat can help the relaxation process.
(Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use to avoid further tissue damage.)
Massage can work out these knots / spasms (also the lower intensity, sustained spasms described above) and get you back on track.
Plan to incorporate pre and post activity stretching and sufficient hydration through out the day.
For more persistent muscular issues a visit to your physician may be needed to explore the cause and perhaps treat with other pain relievers or muscle relaxants.
If your being troubled with sudden onset muscular pain or dull aching muscles: schedule your appointment TODAY and Get Back to Your Life!
(See Medical Disclaimer Blog post.)
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CORE EXERCISES

Getting ready to hit the slopes, the ice skating rink, ski cross country or perhaps some snow shoe hiking? Get ready by improving your core muscles with these exercises.

Drawing in maneuver: Assume a 4 point stance on hands and knees keeping spine straight from head to glutes. Draw the lower abdomen up and in while breathing naturally. When performed correctly, the lower abdomen will elevate before the upper portion. The spine should remain straight at all times. Do not roll the spine into an arch. You can raise your leg up, and out to the side (as in the B) to include some glute and thigh work, to help engage and strengthen those muscles as well.

Step by step instructions: Place a mini-band just above your knees. Get down on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor. (A) Engage your abs, and slowly raise your left leg up to the side until it is inline with the hip. (B)

Floor Bridge: Begin by lying flat in the floor, on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, toes pointing straight ahead and arms by your sides. Draw your navel towards your spine and squeeze your gluts. Lift your hips off the ground while keeping your navel down in and your glutes tight until you form a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Hold for 5-10 seconds and slowly return to the floor momentarily then repeat.

Pilates woman shoulder bridge exercise workout at gym indoor

Of course, when beginning any exercise regime, check with your physician first.

 

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Illustration showing the bones of the shoulder

Frozen shoulder (also known as adhesive capsulitis) is a condition characterized by pain and a loss in range of motion of the shoulder joint.  The shoulder is a “ball and socket” joint. The “ball” is the tip of the arm bone (the humeral head) and the socket is the glenoid fossa. Together they form the glenohumeral joint. The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up the shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. In the normal state, the shoulder joint has more range of motion than any other joint in the body. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the joint causing painful, restricted movement. The limits in motion can lead to a functionally useless joint.

What Causes It?

The cause is not always known. In some cases, Frozen shoulder has been associated with circumstances of prolonged immobility, as with recovery from a broken arm, surgery in general, rotator cuff surgery in particular or after a stroke. Age (40+), sex (females) and some medical conditions (Diabetes, an over or under active Thyroid or Parkinson’s disease) can be a factors that increase the likelihood of experiencing this condition.

Treatment Options

Treatment goals involve controlling pain and maintaining as much mobility as possible.  Your doctor will probably prescribe “over the counter” pain medications and physical therapy exercises to preserve and eventually improve the range of motion that you currently have. Other options and interventions exist that can be explored with your physician in the treatment of this condition. Massage therapy is among those options. It addresses the muscles of the shoulder and the surrounding musculature of the shoulder that may be guarding or bracing against further painful movement, or assisting in movement when that is not the muscle’s “typical” job. This can lead to an extension of pain, soreness and limitation in movement beyond the frozen shoulder region.

If you think you may have frozen shoulder see your physician for diagnosis. Then call for possible massage therapy treatment options.

Water Wise

Depositphotos_8452909_xsDid you know that if you use the feeling of thirst as your signal to replenish fluids, your body is already on it’s way to a state of dehydration?

Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60% of your body weight. Every system in your body depends on water. We loose up to 20 oz of fluids each day before factoring in any activities and our bodies have no way of replenishing this on it’s own. Some of the signs of dehydration include: thirst, headache, dizziness, lightheadedness and fatigue.

So how much should I drink? It is a simple question with no easy answer. Your water needs will depend on many factors including your health, how active you are and where you live. The Institute of Medicine determined that a healthy adult male living in a temperate climate should consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total fluids (this would include water contained in foods you may eat). A healthy adult female in that same temperate climate; 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total fluids a day.

What about the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day? That’s about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation. Although the “8 by 8” rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it is easy to remember. Drinking at least 8 glasses a day and including foods high in water content is a good way to reach your target fluid intake.

Factors that influence fluid replacement:

Exercise- If you sweat, you need to drink extra fluids to compensate for that loss. Short bouts of exercise: rehydrate with 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 cups. Intense work outs lasting more than an hour will require more fluids. You may also want to alternate with a sports drink.

Environment-  Hot humid weather or heated indoor air can both create a need for fluid replacement.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding- This is a time of great changes within a women’s body and there is an increased need for fluid intake in these circumstances. Consult your doctor for your specific fluid replacement needs.

Illness and Health Conditions- Fever, vomitting or diarrhea will cause fluid loss, you will want to increase your fluids. Your doctor may recommend rehyration solutions. Some circumstances on the other hand, such as heart failure, some types of kidney, liver and adrenal conditions may impair excretion of water and even require that you limit your fluid intake. Consult your doctor in case of illness or health issues for their specific guidelines.

So, what fluids should I choose?- Water is best. No surprises here! Avoid fluids high in suger or artificial flavors or other additives. Caffinated teas, coffee and soft drinks will cause you to loss more fluids than you are consuming. (It is suggested that you consume 2 glasses of water for each caffinated beverage you consume.) An occasional caffinated beverage is OK, but don’t count on them for fluid replacement.

Is there a way to know if I’m adequatley hydrated?- Generally, if you drink enough fluids so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 6 or more cups of colorless or light yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.

If you are committed to a healthy lifestyle and long-term health, make drinking water a habit and a priority in your life.

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

What a Pain in the Neck!!

Studio shot of sportsman with pain in neck

We’ve all been there at one time or another.

You have a stiff, painful neck with a decrease in normal range of motion (AKA pain with movement).

What the heck is going on??!

Casual Businessman With Pain In His NeckFirst let’s take a snapshot look at the structures and function of the neck. You have the delicate cervical spinal vertebrae that make up the bony support for the head (while encasing the spinal column through this region). Between the vertebrae are the shock-absorbing discs. There are layers of muscles, large and small that are responsible for stability and movement. There are major blood vessels and nerves that course through this region as well. The neck is a complicated place, so that stiffness and pain can arise from problems with muscles, nerves, vertebrae, discs or any combination thereof.

The neck’s main function: to hold up your Big Ole Head!  (Estimates vary, but your head weighs between 8-10 pounds!) That’s a lot of “mellon” atop a rather small pedestal. If it were just to sit there, that would be work enough, but with what we put it through in the course of even an average day, it’s a wonder we don’t always have a real Pain in the Neck!

So what to do?

That depends on the cause. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, fallen for any reason hitting your head or hurting your neck, you should seek immediate medical attention so that the extent of your injuries canWoman Painfully Carrying Boxes be determined. The same is true for any sudden onset of severe pain, numbness or weakness. These would all be circumstances where massage would be contraindicated until a medical evaluation has been done.

When your neck pain is not readily connected to an injury episode, it may be the result of everyday living. Perhaps you slept awkwardly, carried one too many packages at the same time or spent too much time on the computer. These are the circumstances where massage can help get you back to your old self.

Man trying to sleep on couchLastly, if your neck discomfort has not improved after massage, a few days of rest and home remedies, it’s still a good idea to get it evaluated by your physician.

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog post)

 

Book a massage online or give us a call!

 

Remaining Resolute about your Resolutions or Resolutions Arrrrrgghhh!

Running outsideRESOLUTIONS: can strike fear in us.

Fear of FAILURE.  

Fear of the PAIN of the PROCESS.

Even Fear of Success.

For that matter FEAR of FEAR itself……OK…I’m sorry… but, you get the idea?

It’s publicly declaring your intentions to CHANGE something about yourself or do something completely different. Yicks!!

There’s lots to consider before “putting yourself out there.” Here are my 2 cents worth (?) on the topic along with the source of what has worked so well for me.

Weight loss, starting an exercise program, vowing to eat a better diet, learning something new; resolutions can run the gamut.  For best results I’ve found:

Rule #1    Make it YOUR resolution, not someone else’s for you.

Even if it’s your Doctor’s recommendation, you know in your gut whether or not you’ll comply as you walk out the office door. Am I right? (We’ll talk more about those things that certainly ARE the right thing to do, that you have just been putting off, later.)  So start with what matters to YOU.

Rule #2  Make your resolution REASONABLE. No: I’m going to drop 20 lbs in 2 weeks or the like. (Here’s the nurse in me talking: Any major diet / exercise changes should  first be discussed with your Physician. Just do it!)

Rule #3   Don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the task. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve tried before and failed. Don’t be afraid. It’s immobilizing.

Rule #4 Create a plan. Write it down. It gives your resolution  legitimacy. This should also take some of the angst out of the process as you take the big, scary  change and break it down into do-able, progressive steps. It allows you to track your progress and see how far you’ve come. It also allows you to evaluate your strategy and make changes before heading too far in a less than productive direction.

Rule #5 You need to do at least ONE thing, every day, to get you closer to your goal. Document it. I found that if it was something particularly unfamiliar to me (aka scary), I was better off doing it as soon as possible in the day so it didn’t loom ever larger as the day progressed. It lead to a sense of relief and accomplishment that could positively color the rest of the day.

Rule #6 Is your plan getting you where you want to go? Don’t be afraid to rethink your original plan if you’ve found a better way, progressed faster than you thought (Yaay!!) or are not progressing as fast as you think you could, Change your plan! Nothing is chiseled in stone here.

Rule #7 Repeat steps 5 &6 until you reach your goal. (Yaaaay!!)

Rule #8 Don’t beat yourself up for miss-steps. There’s no point in it and to do so can grind your efforts to a halt. In the words of Miss Scarlett:” Tomorrow’s another day! ” See Rule #3 and proceed!

Hmmm a strategy for success in under 9 Rules?    Sweeeet!!

But wait a minute, back to that pesky scenario of when you know it’s something you should do, but you just keep putting it off. No… I did not forget….for I have been here too!!

Let’s go back to 1998.

It’s a late September night and I’m flipping through the TV channels. I land on an infomercial by Anthony Robbins (stick with me here!). I’d seen him before on TV and was intrigued by his story, and so, I listened. At the end of the program I bought the 30 day program: Personnel Power II. It came and I promptly put it on a shelf, until the following January. Why, you might ask? Well, because I smoked at the time. I’m not talking occasional cigarette, I’m talking, if I was awake, I was smoking. Not cigarettes left unattended (how rude!), no, SMOKING!! As a nurse I knew all the reasons why I shouldn’t. Smoking was my pal, and my crutch and certainly what happens to others wouldn’t happen to me (Really, Claire??!) I had tried (and succeeded) a number of times to stop, only to restart for one reason or another, feeling the sense of failure that accompanies that merry-go-round. (See Rule#8). I knew the program would address such a transgression and I wasn’t sure I was ready to say good-bye to such a good friend.

None the less, I started the program on January 1st of 1999 and by day three he addressed my transgression (Dagmabit!).  The difference here was that he used what he called the “Dickens Process”. Check it out on You Tube for the best explanation, but it involves evaluating your present situation. What it costs you physically, emotionally, financially, relationships wise and so on. Not just thinking of these things, but feeling the impact of those costs, and then projecting and compounding that impact out over 5, 10 and 20 years.

On day four of the program I stopped smoking. No kidding, and remarkably it was without angst or struggle. The benefits of not smoking far outweighed the costs, on so many levels, of continuing to do so.

Certainly they always had! Where I had failed by thinking it through, trying to stay busy, sheer will, and acupuncture (Which did work,  but not in face of really needing a crutch.) FEELING the impact made all the difference in the world. I knew I didn’t want to be the me I saw 20 years out and still smoking like that. Heck, if there would even BE a 20 years out! I’d been Dickens-ed and it worked! I finished that 30 day program and I credit much of what I have achieved to it.

So the next time your Doctor or a family member or a friend suggests a resolution that you know in your heart you should take up, rather than dismissing them, perhaps, allow yourself to be Dickens-ed. It worked for me and I sincerely hope it will work for you as well.

Ahhhh,  there IS a Rule #9 to add to this effort.  Different things work for different people. Should you find that this strategy is not the “Holy Grail” for you, that it was for me- KEEP LOOKING, KEEP TRYING and NEVER GIVE UP ON THOSE THINGS YOU WANT TO CHANGE OR ACHIEVE IN YOUR LIFE!

MAY YOUR COMING YEAR BE BLESSED WITH PEACE, the CONTENTMENT of RESOLUTIONS KEPT and, of course MASSAGE!

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

Snow Shoveling 101: Seven Suggestions to Prevent Backpain

Blackman pressing an ice bag on his aching back

Blackman pressing an ice bag on his aching back

Since many people are engaging in the necessary task of snow shoveling and hurting their backs in the process, I wanted to post a checklist of things to consider before heading out in the cold. I’ve scoured the internet and come up with a compilation of suggestions that seem to make the most sense.

Here goes:

  1. Many posts remarked that shoveling snow is like an athletic event. One estimated that the average shovel of snow can weigh around 16 lbs, in wet snow conditions, and if a quick pace was maintained that in 10 mins. you could have lifted 2,000 lbs. of wt.!! Sooo…Consider your present state of health. If you have heart trouble, high blood pressure, breathing issues, back issues or just don’t physically feel up to the task, it may be best to wait and/or enlist the help of family, friends or neighbors.
  2. Layer up your clothing. If you’ve got a big job ahead, you’re going to perspire. Taking layers off keeps your clothes from getting damp which can lead to lowering your core temperature and hypothermia.
  3. Hydrate before and after to replace fluids lost through perspiration. Avoid caffeinated drinks that may raise your heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. Most posts seemed to favor the ergonomically curved shovel as it requires less bending of the back to use. These shovels are well suited for pushing the snow aside vs lifting and throwing the snow. Supporting the shovel at about belt height can lessen the strain on back muscles as you push.
  5. When using either type of shovel: Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Take a wide grip on the shovel and if you lift the load of snow, hold it close to your body. As you lift with your legs (and not your back), lift your chin up as well. This keeps your spine in better alignment during the effort. When you throw the snow: step into it. Have your nose follow your toes! No twisting of your back when throwing the snow.
  6. For wet sticky snow, spray the shovel with Pam to prevent it from sticking to the shovel.
  7. Rather than taking on the whole pile of snow at once, consider smaller shovels full. Maybe 3″ at a time. It will take longer, but when your done, you’re done. Your less likely to have to then start nursing an aching back!

Should all of your best efforts still result in a sore back, give me a call to make an appointment. 🙂

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)

It’s cold and flu season :-(

Flu or Cold. Sneezing Woman Sick Blowing Nose

As cold and flu season descend upon us, it’s a good time to remind you that getting a massage when you’re not feeling well is not a good idea. Massage stimulates your circulation. In doing so, if you feel as though you may be getting ill, if you are coughing, congested or feeling weakened, or if you are not fully recovered, massage can actually make you feel worse. It is better for you (and for me too ) to reschedule your appointment, if you’re not feeling well.
Also, should I find that I’m not feeling well, I will call you so we can talk about rescheduling. No one needs a massage and a cold as a parting gift!! Stay rested, stay well and hope to see you soon.

Seasonal Stress

Fall

Although seasonal transitions are natural and normal in nature and in our bodies, these changes have their own demands.

Modern ways of living also place their stresses on us in the fall.

  • We strive to keep up our yards as the winds blow down the leaves and branches.
  • Kids and adults alike are back to school.
  • We often make up for summer vacation by putting in more hours at work.

These demands can catch up with you, at the same time we become exposed to illnesses that require a vigorous immune system. All of this makes fall a very good time to renew your commitment to self-care.

Along with eating well and exercising, remember to schedule your massage.

When you come in for your appointment, check in with yourself. Are you a little chilly? Ask for an extra blanket or for the table warmer to be turned up to a toasty temperature.

Consider scheduling a European Hot Stone massage.

Do essential oils sound appealing? Lemon can boost the immune system, eucalyptus soothes a scratchy throat and rosemary relieves achy muscles.

This season, enlist the healing qualities of massage as an ally to help you let go of physical and mental strain, and come back into balance in this breezy, changeable season.

(See Medical Disclaimer Blog Post)