by Julie Mills-Watson
Time…..Game Time…..Work Time….. School Time….. Quality Time……Time!The Game…..Playing the Game…..Sitting on the side lines……Winning….Losing!
Well, my folks there are only 24 hours in a day for each and every one of us, so how are you going to spend it? Are you going to play full out with the time you have or are you going to let it slide by and sit on the side lines?
As I thought about what I wanted to share with you in this month’s newsletter, I was struck by TIME! The players have to play their best in the short amount of time that is on the clock. We have to perform our best for the short amount of time we are on the time clock at work. Are we going to let the trivial things in life take over the time we have or are we going to make the most of it?
Being a massage therapist, I frequently hear that people don’t have time. Time for therapy, or to eat right or stretch or exercise or sleep! Not enough time!
I’ve touched on this subject in several of my past newsletters, however, I wanted to approach it a little differently this time. I really want you to get this – your body does not lie. When I work with my clients, I can actually feel the stress, fatigue, and over-used muscles that result from pushing the envelope and abusing….time. Those upper traps are often drawn upward and knotted due to stress and from sitting at the computer for hours on end. I hear complaints that pecs and arms are numb and tingling. This is due to the muscles being so tight. The brachial nerve is being compressed which causes neurological issues throughout your arms. The mid thorasics, or the area between the shoulder blades, are so hardened and tight that it hurts for some clients to move. The lower back is actually spasmed and extremely tight. This causes pain to sit or stand.
How do we get like this? Why are we in so much pain? The answer is simple. You take an Advil to get through the day and ignore the pain. You ignore your body telling you to take a break, stretch, and take care of you! Getting a massage is the last thing on your list because you consider it “pampering” yourself and by no means do you have time for that!
Well, from a therapist point of view, a massage is exactly what you need! You need touch! It is amazing how the body reacts and releases tension with simple touch. There are several therapies used to help with chronic pain and tension. I thought in this edition I would talk about Myofascial Release and Neuromuscular Therapy. They are extremely effective treatments for muscles that have been over-used and tense.
Myofascial Release is a specialized stretching technique used by physical and massage therapists to treat individuals with a variety of soft tissue problems. This technique focuses on the stretching of the fascia. The fascia is a thin tissue that covers all the organs and fibers within each muscle of the body. The stretch is guided by feedback the therapist feels from the client’s body. This feedback tells the therapist how much force to apply, the direction of the stretch, and how long to hold the stretch. Small areas of muscle are stretched at a time. Sometimes the area is so small that the therapist can use only two fingers to stretch that part of the muscle.
Each release technique contains the same components. The therapist finds the area of tightness, then a light stretch is applied to the tight area, then the therapist waits for the tissue to relax, and then increases the stretch. The process is repeated until the area is fully relaxed.
Most clients are surprised by how gentle Myofascial Release is. Some clients fall asleep during treatment. Others report going home and needing to take a nap. Most patients find this type of therapy to be a very relaxing form of treatment.
Neuromuscular Release (trigger point therapy) is less gentle and can sometimes be uncomfortable. The therapist applies firm pressure to knots or tight, tense, muscles that have been overused or injured. The pressure is continued until the muscles relax. Applying constant pressure to an acute, tense, muscle sends a signal to the entrapped nerve to release. This allows the entire area to relax and soften.
Neuromuscular release restores much needed blood and oxygen to the muscle and affected area. This allows the muscle to function with less pain. This type of therapy works by addressing the following six factors which can increase pain in the body:
- Trigger Points – highly irritable points in the nervous system that show up as knots in the muscles.
- Nerve Entrapment/Compression – a nerve getting pressed constantly between the surrounding structures. This can lead to chronic pain.
- Postural Distortions – this results in the underdevelopment of the supporting muscles and thereby leads to their weakening. This leads to the over-use of the reactive muscles which become fatigued and sore.
- Nutrition – lack of adequate cellular nutrition leads to an overall weakening of the entire system. Movement of the tissues brings about stimulation of the lymphatic system which improves immune function.
- Ischemia – in a condition such as Ischemia, the cells and tissues get a reduced blood supply and become under-nourished. A lack of blood and oxygen leads to numbness and deferred pain.
- Stress – stress plays havoc with the functioning of the nervous and musculoskeletal system. Relieving chronic tension helps reduce nerve stimulation and allows the body to wind down and relax.
You can do a lot of things at home to keep your muscles and body in great shape.
- You can use a Pilates Foam Roller to do passive stretches to open up your chest and stretch the back.
- You can get up from the computer and do door stretches to help your arms and pecs and back.
- You can drink lots of water to keep the vertebrae hydrated and the discs cushioned.
- You can take a break and walk around to rest your brain and de-stress for a moment
- You can set your alarm on your phone and do a body check in to see if you have eaten, taken a break, stretched or even laughed!
All of these things sound so simple but are, once again so very important. You do not have to be in pain and suffer. Take steps today to feel better and have a wonderful quality of life! I gotta go – don’t want to miss the kickoff!