“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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Congrats To The Winner!

We just drew our winner from the folks who put their names in the jar from the farmers market AND……

Congrats to TES!

She has won a FREE 30 minute massage with complimentary aromatherapy. Feel free to send her congrats and well wishes here and they will be passed along.
Please continue to visit us at Truly Living Well Urban Agriculture every Friday 2-7pm. The address is listed below and it is not to be missed! Soon we will even have my very favorite yogi Angela (see her info on the Wellness Partners page!) teaching yoga in the garden. How great is that? Plus, you never know when I will have surprises to give away so be sure to stop by!

Truly Living Well Urban Agriculture
75 Hilliard St.
Atlanta, GA 30312
www.trulylivingwell.net

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.

Farmer’s Market Fridays!

Tomorrow is another Farmer’s Market Friday!! Will you be joining us? We hope to see you there for more great food, friends and fun. What’s in store this week?

  • Chair Massage by donation (part of your donation goes straight back to the market to help fund healthy and affordable food for everyone in our community)
  • Free, cold bottled water! Stay hydrated and cool on the first day of summer in Atlanta
  • The chance to win a free 30 minute massage! Just put your name and email in the jar. Drawing will be held July 19th.

Come out and see us and the rest of the vendors at Truly Living Well Community Urban Agriculture Market!

Every Friday from 2-7pm

75 Hilliard Street
Atlanta, GA 30312

(please keep in mind Auburn Ave is closed for Atlanta Street Car Construction but Irwin St. is open)

“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

Mother’s Day is Close! What Have You Gotten Her?

mommom

So sorry if I haven’t been super active on the website in the past week. Having a wedding can tend to have the effect of a black hole on your time. But, my sweet mother also had a stroke on Tuesday and I’ve been spending my days with her in the hospital and talking to doctors about her care. Good news is she is recovering well and they anticipate a full recovery! Continue reading

Calendar Update

We are finally having our wedding! Please make a note of these dates below as days that I will be unavailable for massage therapy. I am more than happy to see clients before or after these dates.

We are very appreciative of those of you who have sent your congratulations and well-wishes. Thank and we will see you after April 28!

Closed for massage therapy on:
April 24-27
May 2-5

Do you Yelp?

If you’re anything like me you use Yelp to find ratings on just about everything from hair cuts to housing. And what is the first thing we look for? Either how close it is to home or how many stars they have in their recommendations. And just like kindergarten, the more gold stars, the better!

Well, it’s true that people use Yelp to find their massage therapists too. Head on over to Yelp and take a peek at the page. I’d love to hear your feedback. Feel free to leave comments here, but if you’ve had a massage with me you can even leave feedback on Yelp so those little stars add up. Thanks so much and click below for a direct link to the Beth Cruz, LMT, Yelp page!

Click here to Yelp about Beth Cruz, LMT

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