“Oh My Aching Neck!” – Part 2

Finally, the much awaited part 2 of the series! Ok so during Part 1 of “Oh My Aching Neck” we talking about posture and what sort of strategies we can use to counteract bad posture and neck pain that results from it. In this post we will talk a little more on the “What can be done?” instead of the “How and Why” of neck pain and tension.

First and foremost, I would encourage you to check out the “Home Care” page if you already have not. That is where I direct most people who don’t have much time or want to try something simple and relaxing at home. If you have already visited there or would like to try something more keep reading below. I will be addressing two areas; the ones I am most familiar with and have seen the best effects.

Stretching

First, there is stretching. It does take some time but if you do it first thing in the morning or right before bed, trust me, if makes all the difference. I prefer the morning so it gets your blood flowing and encourages you to breathe and start your day on a good, healthy note. There are some very good and simple stretches for your neck that you can see below. If you feel motivated, stretching your back and shoulders is helpful as well since they are connected and are the foundation of your neck and head.
When stretching always remember to b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Breathing has been shown to relax the body and mind. Holding your breath only encourages your muscles to tense more. Secondly, do not stretch to pain! Stretch until it feels good and relaxing and you can push a little further each time if you’d like a deeper stretch. The point is to relax muscles, not tear them.
Below are a few images of stretches that help alleviate tension in the neck, head and upper back.

Neck Stretch

neck stretchy

Massage At Home

While it is ideal that you see your favorite LMT for a great massage to work out those specific aches and pains, we understand that you can’t always make it to see us. Massage at home is a great way to help work through some tension and soreness when you’re in a pinch (literally and figuratively!). Below are some tools and short videos that show how you can do some simple massage techniques at home.
The first tool that I use at home is a Thumbby. The Thumbby is great because it is basically like a detachable thumb. It’s slightly softer than a human thumb but the same width and you can use it to pinpoint sore spots at the base of the skull, upper traps and in between your shoulder blades very effectively. An added bonus is you can also stick it to a wall and lean against it. Perfect for those spots you can’t reach on your own. As a LMT I use this regularly. If you can’t find/afford a Thumbby I have had clients tell me they also use tennis or lacrosse balls that work well too. Click on the picture below for purchasing information.

ThumbbyProd250x250

My second favorite product is Nelly Herbal Neck Wraps (they also have larger packs for the back or eye packs as well). Nelly packs are great because not only do they have herbal benefits, they are also aromatherapeutic. Lavender, Chamomile, Vanilla, Spearmint, Eucalyptus and others make the pack not only relaxing but also invigorating. Great for headaches, neck tension and sinus congestion. The reason I love these packs more than others is because of the ability to be heated for moist heat (what most neck problems need) and to be put in the freezer. This makes the pack great for inflammation, acute injuries, chronic injuries, tension, a great way to relax after using a Thumbby or getting a massage or just a nice after work treat.

nelly pack

By no means are these meant to be cure-alls for all neck pain. If you’re experiencing pain longer than a week please seek the advice of the health professional of your choice. If your pain is out of the scope of your favorite LMT’s experience they should be able to recommend someone to you who can help. If you live in Georgia I am happy to help or recommend you to someone who can. The reason I posted these options above is from my education in training as a Licensed Massage Therapist and from my personal experience and experience with my clients. For more information on relieving muscle pain and tension please see the Home Care page on this website. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to leave a comment on this post or email me at bethcruzlmt@gmail.com. I am happy to help you anyway I can! Enjoy the post and I’d love to hear your feedback.

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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.

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

Wellness Wednesdays are HERE!! (Lucky you!)

essential oil massage

Great news everyone! Wellness Wednesdays are here at the Cafe of Life Building! That means all of you (old clients, new clients, haven’t heard about us yet, etc.) get

$10 off a 60 minute massage

on Wednesdays until April 10! All you have to do is email me at:  bethcruzlmt@gmail.com  with your:

  • Name
  • Best phone number
  • Time preferred (this is not a guarantee but we will get you as close to your time as possible)

So…now there are no excuses for putting off that massage any longer. Do something great for your health and enjoy doing it! Be sure to take advantage of this limited time special and I hope to see you ALL there!

With Love and Joy,

Beth Cruz Warner, LMT

Get In the Know!

According the ABMP, March is massage education and awareness month!! This month I will be updating the Resources and Research page, posting printable handouts from the national massage boards and associations on the benefits of massage for a variety of conditions, and educational diagrams for home care and stretching. So, stayed informed and empowered and keep checking back the website throughout March for great ways to stay healthy and surprising facts about massage you may have never known.

— Beth Cruz Warner, LMT, Nationally Certified

Now Offering…..Chair Massage!

Have you ever felt like you just can’t make it through your 2 o’clock slump? Do you get headaches and shoulder tension from sitting and looking at the computer all day? Are you feeling burnt out but can’t afford to take a vacation? What can you do about it?

Why not ask your boss or HR director to bring in a massage therapist to do chair massages?? Why?

  • A break in your workday can give you time to refresh and be more productive after lunch.
  • Chair massage raises employee morale
  • Chair massage relieves head, neck and shoulder tension

Below is the information for chair massage services. Services are available for office settings, health fairs, trade shows, conventions and more. Chair massage prices are based upon one therapist for the allotted time. For additional therapists, add $50 per hour, per therapist. Please inquire by email to me at: bethcruzlmt@gmail.com

1 hour chair massage – $65

2 hour chair massage – $125

3 hour chair massage – $190

Choosing the Best Type of Massage for You!

As you may or may not know, the world of massage is constantly growing and gaining new methods of practice. In the world of massage therapy we call these methods “modalities”. A single therapist can practice multiple modalities and use different techniques from each one during a single session. With all the technical words and jargon floating around, some of it gets misinterpreted (i.e. deep tissue massage does not necessarily mean hard pressure). So, how do you know which type of massage is best for you?

Below we will discuss just a few of the more common modalities of massage therapy. If you are interested in more specific modalities please feel free to comment on this post and I will send you links of how to learn more.

Swedish

When people think of massage this is usually the type of massage they think of. This includes long, sweeping strokes as well as varying pressure and “kneading” motions. Because of the nature of the strokes, this type of massage encourages good circulation of blood and lymph. This type of massage can be very healing and relaxing. What most people consider deep tissue massage is Swedish techniques used with a much firmer pressure.

Deep Tissue

This type of massage does not necessarily mean there is a great deal of pressure applied. Deep tissue describes how your therapist works with soft tissues. In this case, the therapist will be working deep within the muscle belly; working through fibers to create increased range of motion (flexibility) and decrease muscle spasms.

Deep Tissue Friction

This modality is particularly beneficial for those who have had recent injuries or surgeries. Once an incision or acute inflammation has healed, deep tissue friction may be applied. The objective of DTF is to create a more functional scar by breaking up scar tissue and helping the collagen fibers form in a more organized fashion. By doing this a person can gain greater ease of movement, less visible scars, and increased circulation, which is vital for an area to regain good functionality.

Pregnancy Massage

Many women find relief from aches, pains and low back issues with massage during pregnancy. The body goes through many physical and emotional changes during pregnancy and massage can be an immense comfort during the transition into motherhood. Typically, massage is not performed until the 2nd trimester. And, if you have any complicating factors (i.e. diabetes, pre-eclampsia, positive Homan’s sign, etc.) a note is usually required from your OB stating that you are safe to receive massage therapy. This type of massage is able to be modified in many ways to allow for the comfort of mother and baby.

Thai Massage

Typically, the client and therapist are both clothed in loose clothing and working on mats on the floor. Thai techniques can also be incorporated into table massage as well though. Thai massage can also be known as a type of assisted yoga with focus on deep stretching and breathing to encourage the flow of “prana” or life energy. Thai massage can be both relaxing and invigorating!

Reflexology

Reflexology is based upon the theory that there are reflexes in the ends of energy channels in the body (i.e. the hands and feet. And sometimes the ears) that have reflexes which correspond to organs within the body. By applying pressure and stimulating these organs reflexology creates balance.

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) or Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger points are spots within a tight muscle that are tender when pressed and can cause pain in other regions than the area being directly pressed (therapists called this referred pain). There are different types of trigger points that have many different causes (physical, emotional and chemical factors). Neuromuscular techniques can be both gentle and aggressive in treating trigger points, but all encourage the muscle to relax and bring blood back to an area where it was restricted before.