Have you visited this blog in the last few days and wondered why there was no entry? Well, the 31 blogs in 31 days challenge has finally been reached! My 31st entry was Thursday!
Whew! I am taking a short break.
Making daily entries does take time and I need to spend more time doing some other things! I'm also having a short holiday to re-charge myself(and making blog entries is not on my list!)
On my return, I will be participating in a blogging course - honing my skills ever further!
Reflecting on the challenge, some entries seemed to easier to write than others. The words just seemed to flow. For other entries, the ideas were more difficult to express. They were really only "half-formed" with more thought and research needed.
I hope you enjoyed reading the entries. I would love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have.
p.s. Have you checked-in with your body recently? Massage is such a great way to develop body awareness and to keep your body fit and healthy!
Have you heard of the word borborygmus?* Do you suffer with borborygmus during a massage?
Well, the first answer is probably “no” and the second the answer is “yes”. Borborygmus means the rumbling sounds made by the movement of gas in the intestines! It is perfectly natural.
I am a massage therapist. Many of my clients try to apologise for a “rumbling stomach”. I always tell them the noisy stomach is a compliment. Those noises are indicating that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are being re-balanced. What?!
Your body's involuntary nervous systems are wired for survival. The parasympathetic system keeps you going: breathing, eating, sleeping, and other life functions. The sympathetic system is the flight or fight system. It gets your body ready for action to get you out of danger. These two systems have opposite effects on the body. The activity of one system affects the other. So when the sympathetic system is active , it “dampens down” the activity of parasympathetic nervous system.
When you are stressed, it is the sympathetic system that is turned on. To relax, it is the parasympathetic system that needs to be stimulated.
It is not only the client who may have rumbling stomachs! There are the occasions when my own stomach starts to make noises – is it lunchtime? I normally don’t say anything so as not to disturb you, the client. As you relax, you may be in your own world and completely oblivious of extraneous noises. My talking would only disturb your “thoughts”.
This did create a laugh recently. My stomach was doing a lot of rumbling (not particularly loudly). My client could hear noises and finally said “Is my stomach making those noises? I can hear stomach rumblings but I don’t feel them!!” I laughed and said “No, it is my stomach. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice!" We both laughed.
So borborygmus is telling me that your body is starting to relax. It is no longer “wired for action”. Yes, your body can speak – you just have to know what it is saying!
*I came across this term from a short article done by Walt Fritz, PT. Here is the original article.
Do you think of your body in mechanical terms? Parts wear out but with the wonders of medical science the parts can be replaced. So you work hard and play hard. You may be concerned about blood pressure and cholesterol, but if you get aches and pains, it is just an indication that the body is wearing out. That is certainly what most doctors will say “It’s your age”.
Have you ever wondered why some parts (such as joints) wear out? If the body is designed to move, why should it be wearing out? To blame it on age is an easy cop out.
I would like to suggest that one of the reasons that joints wear out is related to the way you move or even don’t move! In short, the way you use them!
The way in which you move may not be “optimal”. This doesn’t mean the problem is genetic. The way you move could be due to bad habits, poor posture, to a previous injury, or it could be structural.
There are many ways to move a given joint. As an example, look at the knee for instance. It is described as a hinge joint so it can only bend and straighten. Seems simple but did you know that there are at least five muscle groups that cross the knee? Can you appreciate that with this many muscle groups crossing the knee, a slight difference in tension in one of the muscles/groups will affect how the joint moves? The knee will still work but the pressure through the joint may be greater than it needs to be. Over time, this will change the joint and result in pain. This does not mean that you need a knee replacement. If the tension in the muscles crossing the joint was eased*, the way the joint moves will change, and what you feel will also change!
How you think of your body affects how you treat it. So how do you think of your body? I would like to know.
*to ease muscle try massage
I thought today we would explore your body knowledge and use the eyes to improve flexibility! Enjoy.
First let's see if thoughts can help with movements.
Have you ever thought about where your neck starts? Many people just point to the area below their jaw. Well it actually starts much higher up. It starts at the level of your ears!
Slide your index fingers from the edge of your jaw upwards until you fingers hit bone and your are more or less underneath your ear lobes. This is where your neck actually starts. It's much longer than you think!
How does this make your neck feel? Do you feel there is more space between your shoulders and your ears?
Know something else? Your head balances on your neck. Your ears mark the middle of your head. Your neck starts at your ears, so your head balances on your neck!
With this knowledge how does your head and neck feel? Looser and lighter?
Let's explore moving your head.
Nod your head gently up and down as if you are saying "yes". Feeling restricted?
Nod your head downwards. Keeping the head down, move only your eyes to look up towards the ceiling (don't move your head- yes, I know this feels odd.) Hold this for a few seconds. Relase and return to the starting position. Now nod your head backwards. Keeping your head back, move your eyes to look down towards the floor. Hold this for a few seconds. Release and return to the starting position. Now just nod your head up and down. Is it feeling easier?
What about rotating your head from side to side as if you are saying "no". Feeling restricted?
Turn your head to the left. Now keeping the head still, with your eyes, look to the right. (Feels odd?) Hold for a few seconds. Release and return to the starting position. Now rotate your head to the right. Now keeping your head still, with your eyes, look to the left. Hold for a few seconds. Release and retrun to the starting postion. Now rotate your head from side to side. Does this feel easier? (Repeat the hold and look a few times to improve movement.)
How does your head and neck feel? Drop me a line, I'd like to know!
Yesterday, I talked some about fascia: what it is, how it supports and shapes the body, how it can create pulls in the body. To regain freedom of movement, the fascia needs to be released.
There are many different ways of doing this. One approach is myofascial release. The underlying principal is that myofascia reacts to heat, pressure, and tension. So how can therapist do this with a client lying on a massage table?
Basically, the therapist determines where some of the restriction is and leans their hands onto the client’s body. This is the pressure part of the technique. The heat is generated by the hands and the client’s body.
(A digression – are you aware of your own body heat? First give both your hands a good shake, just to wake them up. Now with your arms by your sides, elbows bent, comfortably hold your hands up with the palms facing each other. Hold them about 6 inches apart. Can you feel any heat between them? Slowly move your hands closer together. Stop when you can feel a warmth between them. Before your hands touch, you should be able to feel a warmth – your body’s heat!)
Back to the release. With the heat and the pressure, the connective tissue will start to “melt”. The therapist will now gently apply a slight pull (stretch) to the tissue. The hands slide apart as the tissue underneath
To you, the client, the sensation can feel like a “rope burn” or a subtle stretch. You beome aware of connections – a pull is going through your body. (This process can give the sensation of a rope burn.)
This whole process is slow – it takes at least 90 seconds for these changes to occur in the body’s tissues.
By changing the underlying fascia, space is being created in the body - space for the muscles which are encased in fascia to move, space for the joints to move freely. Your body stocking no longer restricts you - it now fits you! Explore myofascial release.
It has taken anatomists a long time before they realized that fascia wasn’t just gunk that just got in the way of more important tissue: muscles, bones, and organs. Fascial tissue is the support for the human frame. We would just be a shapeless blob without it!
An example of fascial tissue is the white membrane that surrounds a leg of lamb.
If you don’t like looking at meat, have a look at the orange above. Yes, there is lovely juicy orange flesh. Notice though that the orange flesh is separated into “portions” by thin but tough white material (the pith).
The pith is equivalent to fascia. It supports and separates the sections of the orange. Not only that but if you look at a section of orange, it is itself comprised on very small “droplets” of orange tissue! Without these smaller partitions, the juice would flow out as soon as you cut the orange. (Partitions within partitions!) Fascia is separating, shaping, and supporting the cells – it makes the orange.
Back to your body. Muscles, bones, organs, vessels are supported, separated, and protected by fascia. Fascial tissue gives the body its shape. It is like a body stocking.
Just like a body stocking, no one part of the body moves in isolation. When one part of the body moves, there is a subtle pull/stretch throughout the body - all other parts move to compensate. By the same token, this means that if one area of the body is restricted, then other areas must stretch/change to maintain balance and function. (see how in this picutre raising the arm creates wrinkles in the sweater!)
Fascia is not inert. It reacts to trauma and inflammation. It reacts to forces applied to it such as poor posture habits. Fascia shortens and solidifies. The body gradually loses its flexibility. Movements are not as fluid; joints don’t move as easily. The body becomes limited by tight restrictions – like wearing a sweater that is too small!
Because fascia is reactive, what shortens can be lengthened. How? That's for the next blog entry!
This is just a short story - where you feel the pain may not be where the problem is!
I had a client who was complaining of pains in their knees. Sometimes they were finding it difficult sometimes to walk. The pain was in the knees. They had been to the doctor who thought that there might be "some arthritis" in the knee. "It was to be expected at that age!"
I suggested that a massage session might help to release tightness in the surrounding muscle tissue. This would reduce compression forces coming through the knee which in turn should make knee movements easier. At the very least, they might as well enjoy a massage session!
After doing a short health screen, I then had a look at them. I asked them to stand up in their bare feet. I looked at how they were standing. The first thing that struck me was nothing to do with the knees but with their feet. Their feet were pronated and it was quite noticeable! (By pronated, I mean their feet were rolling inwards so there was more weight on their big toes. The inner arch of their feet was closer to the floor than one would have liked.)
I asked if anyone had ever made a comment about their feet. They said "no".
I then asked them to look at their feet. Could they see that their feet were tending to roll inwards? Did they feel their bodyweight was more on the inside (big toe side) of their feet? Could they shift the weight more to the outside of the foot? What happened with the knee? Did it feel better?
Basically the position of the feet was stressing the knee. So the whole time they were focused on their painful knees, the "problem" was the position of their feet!
This was a case of looking at the whole picture because as the saying goes "the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, the..." Pain is likely to show up at the "weakest link"!
Well, it is a sad fact that it actually is! It is the pull of gravity! Your body is constantly reacting to the pull of gravity. It isn't something that we normally think about but gravity is always present. Your body is always in a balancing act which other people see as your posture.
When you are talking about posture, it quickly becomes a question of "good posture". With a good posture, there should be a minimal amount of muscle contraction being used to stay upright. To put it in technical terms - the body strives for conservation of energy.
So what is good posture, where is the balance? I'm not sure I know. (There seem be quite a few opinions on this matter.) What I have observed is that when we try to correct our posture, we tend to do it from the the top down. Yet we contact the ground with our feet!
If you think of posture from the head down, then you happily accept the advice to "pull" your shoulders back. (Generally this advice leads to frustration as your shoulder/back muscles tire from all this effort!)
Wait a minute. If posture is a balancing act, then the fact that you are being advised to pull your shoulders back is suggesting that your shoulders are actually being pulled forward! So why not stretch the muscles on the front of the chest so the shoulders can now balance on the body. Having the shoulders balanced is certainly easier than constantly pulling them back!
Of course, the shoulders won't balance easy on the body if the back and pelvis aren't balanced and if we look further down, what are our feet doing? (I didn't say posture was easy!)
And we haven't even mentioned the position of the neck and head! (If the head is forward, then you are making work for your neck muscles.)
So how balanced are you?
Are your muscles having to work too hard against the pull of gravity?
Think of how much more energy you would have, if your body wasn't "working so hard"?!
If you are in pain and visit a massage therapist, the first thing they want to do is to make you feel better. The therapist will do an intake assessment and decide whether they can help you.
Assuming they can help, you are then asked to disrobe and lie on a massage table. Using their hands and a massage lotion or oil, the therapist will massage the areas that are tight or otherwise contributing to your pain. You may drift off into a light doze as you start to feel better. When the session is finished, the pain may not be completely gone but "it feels easier".
A different scenario.
You are in pain and visit a therapist who offers Rossiter Workouts. As before, an assessment is made.
Having determined that the workout may help you, you are then asked to lie down on a mat on the floor. You are shown the "lock position" that is needed for a Rossiter stretch. You are instructed in the first stretching move. The therapist then explains that they will be using their foot to apply pressure to your body. You are to tell them when to stop adding pressure - that is "enough for you".
Once the pressue is applied, you are then coached through the stretch. These are not "soft stretches". You are fully engaged in the process!
There is an initial shock "that the stretch (now that pressure has been added) is hard to do. There is a feeling of a good hurt". You have full control throughout the workout. "Too much pressure!" "No, I can't stretch any more." Throughout the workout, the therapist is asking: "How do you feel" "Do you feel any difference, better or worse?" These responses guide the therapist as to what to do next.
At the end of the session, you feel different, the pain is gone. You are engaged in your own healing process!
Which approach to getting rid of pain do you prefer? Want to be in control of your own recovery? Contact a Rossiter Coach.
I'm not sure what the next innovation in massage therapy will be but-- You don't need to lie on a massage table to have a massage.
You don't need to take your clothes off to have a massage.
You don't need to have an hour off the have a massage.
You don't even have to leave the office to have a massage!
So what am I talking about?
Chair massage, this is the clothes on, no oil massage that is designed for doing in the workplace but can be done anywhere - exhibitions, conferences, wellness events, pamper events. Sessions are normally short (5 to 20 minutes) so it is easy to fit a massage into a busy schedule!
Chair massage is normally performed on a special chair. (There is picture of one at the bottom of the page.) Some people seem to think they are looking at a chair of torture, but that is before they sit on it. In contrast to most chairs, you don't sit back on this chair, you lean forwards onto the chair.
So what makes this such a comfortable chair? There is a chest rest and a face rest. So when you lean forward, there is cushion support for your chest. Ahh, your body can relax. What a wonderful feeling to relax! (I have even had people fall asleep during a chair massage so they must have found it comfortable!)
When sitting on the chair in this leaning forward posture, it is easy for the therapist to massage the neck, shoulders, and back. Aches and pains can be quickly and simply addressed. Back pain, neck pain, long standing shoulder issues, headaches, have all been helped with a massage on a chair.
Massage is normally extended to the arms and hands. (You use your arms and hands in most of your daily activities but how often do you stretch them out?) Issues such as forearm tension, elbow pain, stiffness in the fingers, have been helped with massage.
Never had a massage before? Try a chair massage. What could be simpler?! Especially if you live in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire!