Our Body is talking to us ALL the time; it’s our lifelong best friend. It constantly sends us messages about how it’s feeling and through listening to and feeling what it’s telling us, we can make adjustments in what we’re doing to keep it “happy”. With the intention of living a long and happy life with little or no pain, doing all of those things we love to do (like dance well into our 90’s and beyond) it’s worthwhile to take the time to listen to what our body is saying. What it is saying and how it is saying it speaks volumes about some of the adjustments and fine tuning it wants us to make.
Massage Therapy clients are often surprised to discover how the parts of their body are all connected. They often don’t consider that pain in one area of the body may be related to problems in another area. The realization of that connection can often make sense once awareness is created.
Our Spine is one of the key structures in our body, without it we’d be like mushy beanbags on the floor, unable to stand erect and unable to move. This amazing part of us gives protection, support and a base for our muscles and ligaments to attach to so that we have mobility. Honouring the spine’s natural curvatures and giving it the space it needs to move is essential.
It’s important to remember that the spine is just a bony structure and that muscles move bones (not the other way around). Keeping our spine healthy means keeping our muscles strong, stretched and flexible. When we tune into all the ways in which our spine and other bones are able to be moved by those amazing muscles we remove a lot of limitations.
Massage Therapy, Yoga, stretching and strengthening exercises all give our muscles the support they need for us to move freely with flexibility and without pain. Besides good nutrition muscles need oxygen (our breath work) and water (the Brain is 90% water, Muscles are 75%, Bones are 22% and water protects and moisturizes our joints....it’s a key ingredient to keeping us moving!)
In our fast paced way of living we often become unaware of what our body is saying or we suppress (pain killers) or ignore it (gotta get that last thing done) until we have time to listen. Sometimes we become so used to ignoring our body that we don’t notice that we’re moving differently or limiting our movements to avoid the pain they cause...we adjust and limit, adjust and limit and soon don’t realize there are many more ways we could move around if only we were aware.
Taking a few minutes throughout your day, in your normal activities to check in with how your body is feeling will go a long way to make this a natural automatic response and keep you active for many years to come! If you’re not sure book in for a Massage Therapy session and let the therapist help in creating more body awareness.
The two previous blogs helped with protecting and nurturing those hard working, snow shovelling muscles but you do need to think about some Massage care! Here is a special for you for this week!
So you have practiced great body mechanics, or maybe not (see part one here) and the job is complete (for now). Looking after those hard working muscles needs your full attention, now, to avoid becoming stiff and sore or experiencing muscle spasms later.
Nurturing the muscles needs to carry on for a few days and not just the day that you worked them hard. Here are the ideal ways to nurture yours;
1) STRETCH! You may be exhausted but take 15 minutes to STRETCH those muscles after the shoveling workout. Heavy labour and intense exercise causes muscles to bunch and knot which puts an added strain on ligaments, tendons and joints.
Gentle stretching encourages muscles to relax and open. Pay particular attention to stretches for your back, sides, neck, shoulders and arms.
2) SOAK - toss a good dose of epsom salts (1 to 2 cups) into a hot bath and soak for at least 15 minutes. Epsom salts give muscles an extra dose of magnesium which is absorbed quickly through the skin. The magnesium combined with warm moist heat from the water is a perfect combination to relax any tightness in the muscles and put heat into the joints.
3) MASSAGE - as soon as you can book in for a session! So many clients will come in a week or two later because they have "twinged"a muscle and they don't know what they did. The heavy work out from moving snow may not feel sore at the time, however, if muscles are not given a full recovery it leaves them susceptible to a knot or spasm from what may seem like a move that was slight. Massage treats all parts of the muscle and encourages it to recover fully and to rest.
Has this happened to YOU?
You wake up in the morning and can hardly turn your head, severe pain in your neck and perhaps shoulders and you have no idea why. You didn’t do anything differently yesterday, just woke up like this in the morning. And … it hurts!
Wry Neck happens as a result of shifting or turning the head too quickly (which can happen while we’re asleep). The Menisci between the vertebrae or joint surfaces in the neck becomes trapped during the turn and the joint locks. So why doesn’t it happen every night? It may be that you slept with a cool draft on your neck muscles (open window?) or lifted something the day before that created a small muscle spasm which was made worse while turning during the night.
Why write about this? I have clients that come to me with this condition quite often. The pain can be severe and perhaps not just in the neck, but in upper back and shoulders too. Some experience headache as well.
First step is to REST! I probably don’t need to say this because the pain is so severe it is difficult to move anyways, but remember that the muscle needs some time to heal and release the spasm.
While many therapists recommend putting ice on the area, I always recommend to work with what feels best to you. For myself, I find heat works better. So while resting be sure to have an ice or heat pack on the areas.
The next and most important thing is to get yourself in for a massage as soon as possible in order to loosen the spasm. A massage to the back, neck and shoulders often brings immediate relief. Massage for wry neck is wonderful! It loosens up the muscle spasm which encourages the joint to unlock and release the menisci. Sometimes it will take a couple of sessions to ease the spasm.
After the massage continue to “baby” your neck. Keep the area warm, soak in an Epsom salt bath and the next day, very gently, stretch the muscles in and around the area.