Help Your Back While Helping Others

July is going to be a very special month at Beth Cruz, LMT. This month, I would like to express gratitude to those who have worked very hard to ensure that we all have the opportunity to speak and live freely. From service men and women, to civil rights activists, social workers, counselors, humanitarians, etc. we all owe their hard work and passion a huge “thank you”.

During the month of July, 25% of all services purchased with me will go directly to RAINN. RAINN is an organization which aims to “prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure[s] that rapists are brought to justice.” In my line of work sexual slavery and abuse is a real and urgent issue. It is something I would like to bring your to attention and educate you so we can give back in a real and tangible way.

As a way of expressing my gratitude to a very special organization that has grown dear to my heart, I would like to set aside a call to you this month.

Please tell EVERYONE you know about this special during the month of July! I would love to be able to give back as much as possible and tell others about this great organization. You can learn more about RAINN, their programming, education and how they use their funding at www.rainn.org. 

If you would like to learn more about human trafficking’s impact on the profession of therapeutic massage and our society, please see “Hiding In Plain Sight” by Heather McCutcheon.

“Oh My Aching Neck!”

As any LMT will tell you, the most requested area to massage is the neck and shoulders. Without a doubt you feel tension or pain there too. Because this is by far the most requested area to receive work I thought it would be helpful to address this issue with a series on neck and shoulder issues, discussing posture and ergonomics, and what we can do to help alleviate some of it. Let’s start  out this series by discussing posture. Continue reading

No Excuses For Knee Pain

During my fitness regimen to do a total body overhaul for the wedding I’ve noticed that many people avoid many different exercises because of knee pain. I believe we should all be free from pain and obstacles in search of better health! And believe me I know that there are definitely some cases that require physical therapy or surgery (i.e. a torn meniscus or ligament etc.), but most cases of knee pain are entirely able to be relieved at home through proper exercise and stretching.  Great news for you and your wallet, right? And as a past sufferer of knee pain and swelling I know these methods work. So here are the three factors I have found to be major contributors of general knee pain:

– overused and extremely tight quadriceps and calf muscles (anterior and posterior knee pain)
– underdeveloped and weak quadriceps and calf muscles (anterior knee pain)
– IT band syndrome aggravation (lateral knee pain)

So how can you know which category best describes you? First of all know this: YOU and only YOU know yourself and your body best. So listen to it! One of the many tools I use as a massage therapist is palpation. Palpation just means observing through touch. Feel your quads (front of your thigh), your calf muscles and the side of you knee and thigh. Do any of these muscles feel tight or ropey? If so, this is a good indicator that you need to stretch! At the end of this post are diagrams of basic stretches for each muscle group. If you don’t feel tightness but softness then that is probably a good indicator you should build muscle. This doesn’t mean you will turn into a beefcake but remember this:

Strong muscles also strengthen and support your joints and bones — so stay strong!

Now, if you feel tightness or pain on the side of your thigh or knee, this could be an indicator of IT band syndrome. You can stretch the origins of this connective tissue (glutes and hip flexors) to try to relieve tension but most likely you will need the help of a trained massage therapist to help get your IT band un-adhered from your muscle. Another technique to help is rolling. You can use a foam roller or muscle roller. Lay on your side on the roller and very slowly roll your thigh across the roller. It will likely be very sore and tender so work slowly, breathe, and listen to your body.

So remember, knee pain doesn’t have to keep you down. Do those lunges, squats, etc. Run that mile! Climb those stairs! Try out these stretches and strengthen those legs. And, if you have questions I am happy to answer them or find you a qualified individual who can. Stay happy and healthy!

calf-stretch

Standing Calf Stretch: keep knees and toes straight

iliotibial-band-anatomy-and-it-band-foam-roller-exercise

IT Band and Roller

quad stretch

Standing Quad Stretch: Keep knee close to your other leg and push your hips slightly forward

Fresh food, friends and chair massage!

Incredible and exciting news folks! I will now be providing chair massage at the Grant Park farmers market in Sunday’s!! Come say hey, grab some coffee and donuts, get your groceries, see friends and come rel-a-a-a-x at the Cafe of Life tent! See you all there!!

-Beth Cruz, LMT, NCMT