“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.

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

Happy National Massage Therapy Awareness Week!

Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful but Happy National Massage Therapy Awareness Week! This is the one week of the year where I have the opportunity to let know you more about the profession that I love and benefits you so much! Take a moment to explore the Resources & Research page.

Also be sure to look at this Consumer Survey done by the American Massage Therapy Association! Below is a summary of the information they collected. You can view all of the information here:

  • 75 percent claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the past 12 months was medical (43 percent) and stress (32 percent) related
  • 50 percent who have ever had a massage, received it for medical reasons including soreness, stiffness or spasms; to relieve or manage stress; for prevention or to improve quality of life; injury recovery; to keep fit or healthy/wellness and to control headaches or migraines
  • 50 percent said their doctor has either strongly recommended or encouraged them to get a massage
  • 89 percent believe massage can be effective in reducing pain
  • 87 percent recognize massage can be beneficial to health and wellness
  • 44 percent say medical benefits would motivate them to have a massage

7 Reasons to Get Massage TODAY!

7. You’ve been putting it off for a while now

We drive by little massage therapy shops everyday that remind us about massage but do we ever stop? We always say “I’ll go next week” “When things slow down” “When I go on vacation” etc. etc. But we all know….next week turns into the week after, things don’t ever really slow down, you’re already spending money on vacation and feel guilty spending more money on a massage. Do something GREAT for yourself today. Call a licensed therapist who can address your issues and give you an EXCELLENT massage!

6. Because there’s no time like the present!

As I said above “I’ll go next week” never actually turns into “next week”. So why not stop in today? Sure you have errands to run, lunches to pack, laundry to do, and dinner to make. So does your massage therapist but we’re here for you. One hour out of your day for yourself and your health can make a phenomenal impact on your ability to get things done with more energy and less pain. So, TODAY is YOUR day! Make the most of it!

5. Your stress levels keep rising and you need to rel-a-a-a-a-x!

When your body is stressed it puts stress on your organs and muscles. Your muscles will tighten in a “fight or flight” response, always on the ready. Your organs will either work harder or your digestive system will slow down in order to protect you. Your adrenal glands (on top of your kidneys) will secrete cortisol, which over an extended period of time can cause fatigue or exhaustion. But, good news!! Massage is great at relieving stress and lowering those cortisol levels. (ps – if you want to read more about how, go to the Resources and Research page)

4. Relieve pain!

So many of us deal with pain on a constant basis and believe it will just go away. Sometimes it may but it will usually resurface later. Why not address the issue now? Muscles tension, soreness, headaches, spasms, and carpal tunnel type issues and more can all be addressed with massage. So don’t delay….feel 100%!

3. You need to recover from a multitude of activities!

Whether you just ran your first 5k, your fifth marathon, traveled around the world, or manage a house of kids, we’re ALL involved in activities and even the activities we love can take a toll on our bodies. Massage is a perfect way for your to recover from the things that keep you busy. Whether you need to relieve muscle tension, need reflexology for your feet, want to work on your flexibility/range of motion or feel a little more energized, massage can do ALL of those things for you. Just ask your therapist which modalities they practice and whether they can help you meet your health goals.

2. Detox!

So you had a festive weekend or you’re feeling a bit under the weather? Good thing you know about massage and how it can help you detox. 😉 Massage increases circulation not only in the blood vessels but also in the lymphatic system encouraging your body to cleanse and boost immunity. Also, abdominal massage can stimulate your liver and intestines to start working harder to eliminate wastes and toxins.

1. Empowering you to make a bold choice for your health

Every time you do something good for yourself such as eating fresh vegetables, going to yoga, OR getting a massage, you are choosing to make an investment in your current and future health! You are giving yourself the power and responsibility to make the decisions about your health and how you want to feel and how you are going to stay healthy. Massage can help you get there and help empower you if you let it and if you choose it as a part of your health regimen. So schedule yourself to see your massage therapist today!!