Massage Concepts, Part 2: Home Care, By Shanna Arno, LMP, CYT And Owner
You have established a relationship with your therapist, set the goals or focus for the sessions, and have a regular schedule. You have most likely heard your therapist speak about home care. Great ideas are a recommendation to offer icing an injury, or inflamed area, taking a hot shower, taking an Epson salt bath, performing certain stretches and being shown how to lengthen muscle groups, going a walk, and offering specific exercises to increase tone and use of the muscle.
If you are a client of mine, you have certainly heard a few of these comments as well as me showing you how to get a hold of certain frustrations with your body mechanics.
“Rotate your shoulders back, stand up straight, and be conscious with the way you walk, noticing the placement of your feet stepping on the ground. Focus on full breaths, heat and ice your body.” One of my favorite body awareness techniques I love to offer: “Try standing with your heels, sacrum, shoulder blades, and head all touching a wall. This is proper plumb line posture. Practice this”. Some may feel as though they may actually fall forward. The more awareness or conscious thought one can bring to the body, the better presence they can maintain with body mechanics. I love to offer a few ideas for each client, every session. We all have a plethora of different body aches any given day. One quick tip to always remember before we dive into a few ideas to help….Always use cold! Heat is great – when you are not in an acute (first 48 hours) situation. If you use heat, always close it with a cold pack. For some that sounds awful, but if there is already an injury, there is probably inflammation, toxic build up and lactic acid. That needs to get out, so flush it by closing the area with a cold pack. If you love the idea of heat, use it for sure (again not a new injury), but always end with a cold pack so nothing sticks around creating more havoc.
Alright, here are 5 ideas to be aware of to help facilitate a more correct posture to limit or decrease common pains.
1. Rotate the shoulders around to allow the palms to face forward when walking.
This means standing up straight. Sounds easy enough right? Descend the shoulder blades toward the spine, which will force the shoulders down the back, then creating an opening for the front shoulders to have space. Drop the shoulders from the ears as well. This helps the front shoulder complex muscle group to lengthen (the pectoral group, front rib muscles and even neck) as well as allowing the muscles of the back and neck complex to reduce the strain/ pain. This can help to reduce headaches too as active trigger points can lessen.
2. Take deep full breaths.
The average person breaths about 20% capacity. Fuller breaths allow for more oxygen to re-generate muscle healing as well as increase circulation. This helps to decrease inflammation, promote faster healing, and also increases longevity of activity. This is imperative. Especially as we age. Full lung breath also forces the intercostals (muscles between the ribs) to engage, which also prevents the ‘old person hump’ as we see on occasion in those darlings in the 3 phase of their lives.
3. Notice the placement of the feet as you walk.
Each step should offer a ‘complete step’ whether it is a quick or slow pace. The 4 corners of the feet should all touch: pinky ball corner, big ball corner, and each of the sides of the bottom of the heel. This offers proper displacement of weight for the body suspension to be carried. Not walking properly over a period of time causes the joint pain, plantar fascia issues, fallen arches, and so on. There are 11 joints and 26 bones, and 2000 nerve endings in the foot, so take great care in the dear soles that help move you!!! Conscious walking will then radiate energy of the mind to the other aspects of the body. You will feel a change in the knees and hips. Walking properly could alleviate hip pain!
4. Engage the core of the body.
Whether you’re just walking, hanging out, lifting a box, bending over to pick up a kiddo…. engage your core! Too many injuries to the low back are felt due to the lack of proper body mechanics regarding the use of the muscles of the belly. This goes beyond the Rectus Abdominals. When twisting, or leaning forward be sure to engage the obliques. These are the muscles of the abdomen on the sides that allow us to bend at an angle or twist. I hear of so many injuries with ‘I just bent to pick up my kiddo and bam!’ Bend at the knees friends! Use your powerful legs to facilitate! Constant over use of the muscle groups over a period of time is usually the culprit when a muscle finally gives out. Again, engaging the core to facilitate any movement whether getting dressed, picking up a kiddo, turning to check a blind spot in a car for goodness sakes, engage your core. The micro movements over time are the ones that tweak the body.
5. Stretch the Hips and Legs to save your back!
We over use those poor low back muscles, and then pay the price. Get a wide stance and use the powerful leg muscles! They are meant to be helpers, so start to take advantage of them if you aren’t already. Most back pain I tend to see in my treatment room is due to the lack of stretching the hips, glutes, hamstrings, and side body. When I address a low back issue, I always check the hips for alignment, and check out those powerful hamstrings. They are often the least cared for, over used, and need a whole lotta love. If you receive treatment from me, you are already aware of this, as you know. The answer? Of course you know I will tell you all to stretch more. If you tell me you don’t have time… my answer is: make time! Save 5 minutes MINIMUM at the end of a workout to stretch those muscles you demand so highly to work. They have just worked out and are in a state of contraction. If you don’t stretch, you are asking these muscles to stay in this shortened, working position. They forget (they have short term memories) what their proper resting position is and then they stay contracted, it then hurts and that’s not fun for anyone. They also get a bunch of junk stored in these shortened tight areas. Then my job working them out becomes a bit more exhausting for you. If have limited time, I always recommend to get it in after the workout. Optimally it would be a bit before and after, but for certain, stretch after. I don’t care if you stretch in bed! I often do! Thread the needle, side knee twist, knees in to the belly. All these reduce strain on the hips, the sacrum, the glutes, IT bands, and hamstrings.
I love helping the clients I see. I cannot ‘fix’ the entire body. I can HELP re-train the muscles and facilitate with a great deal to get you on your way to be pain free, but without YOU, and the care and work at home, I offer a temporary fix. I know when a client is not doing their part of the job. It is challenging, I know. The demands we have for the vessel of the body are astounding. I am busy too! I have to constantly stretch, relax, ice, foam roll, get massage, etc. Each of us has to make the commitment to love and nurture our bodies. That, in a nutshell is the trick. We are so busy, how do we make it work? Take the time to make time. Schedule it in! You schedule everything else! Take 10 minutes in the morning, or at bedtime. Commit to you! I have a plethora of tricks of the trade to share with anyone interested to make the commitment for self care and body maintenance. As always, drink more water, love yourself better, and offer yourself compassion as you do to all those you honor in your life. YOU are beautiful!
For more information, contact the shop, read our other blogs (posted bi-monthly on Fridays), and visit us! We love serving your preventative care needs!