Every one of us has been a child. And as children, we all know there are two kinds of adults: There are those who get it, who know how to talk, play, imagine, and explore like a kid. And there are, well, the rest of them. The excruciatingly boring ones, the ones who terrify us into swearing, cross our hearts, that we’ll never turn into that kind of grown up. The kind that sent Peter Pan hightailing it for Neverland as fast as Tinkerbell could take him.

You may be an adult now, one who pays bills and takes vitamins and reads about the things politicians say, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have high-quality, meaningful interactions with the kids in your life, whether they’re your own or simply the kids next door. Here are three places to start:

Ask different questions

Dinner table or car ride conversation is often stunted. Kids are great at one word answers to typical daily questions like “How was your day? Did you learn anything cool in school today?”

And every kid gets the same two questions when they see adults who are not their parents. “How old are you now?” and “How’s school?”

So mix it up! Here are some great conversation starters to ask (and answer) when you’re hanging out with kids.

  • If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
  • If you could, what type of animal would you be?
  • If you could make up a brand new school subject, what would it be?
  • If you could make up a new holiday, what would it be?
  • If you could put frosting on any food in the world what would it be?
  • If you could trade places with anyone for one day, who would it be?
  • If someone wrote an article about you in your school’s newspaper, what would you want them to say?

Exercise together

We can use the word ‘exercise’ loosely here. The key is to move around, get the endorphins flowing, and have fun.

Play the kids your favorite dance song, and let them choose one, too. Race up and down the driveway a few times. Bust out some old-school jumping jacks or a jump rope. Even 5 minutes is enough to get the blood pumping and some giggles happening.

Massage each other

Massage does not have to be a big complex endeavor. It can be quick and easy, and you can do it just about anywhere.  Watch this video together, and practice massaging other. and incorporating stories.

Create your own stories to make it even more fun. This type of anywhere, anytime massage is especially great for kids with anxiety. Try it at bedtime, or in the morning before school, or even in the waiting room at the dentist.

There you have it! Three ways to be the cool adult in your favorite kid’s life!

Get a Professional Massage together!

Really! Couples massages don’t have to be romantic. I work on Parent/Kid couples all the time. It is especially great for those special birthdays! You still get the choices (at least in my office) of:

1. Kid can remain dressed in bathing suit for comfort or disrobe to their comfort level.
2. Couples massage with two therapists present
Both of ya getting a massage at the same time side by side, in the same room
3. Couples massage with one therapist present
One of you getting a massage while the other enjoys a relaxing foot bath or just observes from the chair in the corner.

With this time of couples massage, the idea is to introduce massage to the kids at a young age, educating them on positive touch and bringing awareness to how wonderful their body can be in a safe and trusted environment. It can be as extravagant (cucumbers on the eyes and warm moist towels) or as simple as you want it to be. SIDENOTE: State of Alabama recognizes the Legal Medical Age of consent to be 14. Young, I know. But at that age, they can choose to have a parent present or not. Children younger than that, it is my policy to require that a parent be present at all times. This is for the benefit of the child as well as to allow a parent to intercede if necessary. Juvenile massage time does not mean free babysitter so the parent can go run an errand, Sorry, and sorry it has to be said.

Advertisements

cancerFamilies are in the trenches fighting cancer every day. If cancer hasn’t crossed your path,
whether directly or through a loved one, consider yourself lucky. It’s easy to feel helpless when friends and people close to you are struggling. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I’m going to give you some simple things you can do to help those who are facing the dreaded “C” word.

Do. Don’t ask.

It’s easy to say, “let me know if you need anything.” What the family needs is someone to say, “hey, I’m making you dinner.” Or “I’m babysitting – just tell me what day (or night).” Don’t give them the burden of asking. Just offer it.

Gift cards go a long way.

Treatments can sometimes take a patient and family far from home. Do a little research and purchase gift cards for restaurants, hotel chains and gas stations near the hospital they are using. A gift subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix may be helpful to someone who is bedridden. Some downtime and low key entertainment might be just what they need. And, of course, a massage gift certificate is a perfect way to care for the care givers or the individual.

Remember the siblings.

Cancer affects the entire family. Siblings often are trying to navigate many emotions like fear and jealousy. Commit to a sibling and offer to be there for them. Be a friend. Be someone they can lean on and talk to. If you send the cancer patient a gift, make sure you give them someone of equal to the sibling and include them.

Show up

Shortly after diagnosis, a family will receive calls, cards, and meals. Anything to help soothe the heartbreaking news. After time, these things fade away and the family is still traveling the long road. It could be months or even years. It’s a financial and emotional weight. Keep them in mind and reach out well after the dust settles.

It’s hard to know what to say to a family that’s struggling with cancer. But don’t disappear. Meet them where they are. Sometimes there are no words. Just be present.  Reach out and enlist the help of others to send cards, letters and other nice/silly/fun things that will brighten the family’s day. Even an “I’ve been thinking of you” text speaks volumes.

These tips might not seem like much, but it can mean the world to a family facing cancer. Long days and sleepless nights can be an endless cycle. Little gestures of kindness can bring the family loads comfort.

It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself. We’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn’t wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.

But for every article I see about self care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times and think “Who can afford that?”  And sure, I would love to have an afternoon to myself and a bucket of fried chicken, and a cookie dough chaser. But that’s not particularly healthy.
gift8So I’m a fan of realistic self care. That is, activities that aren’t expensive, don’t involve food, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time. Here’s a list of my favorites

Meditate, the easy way

If you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep during the day, napping can be  more like torture. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online, my favorites are at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website.   

Walk and a picnic

Okay, this one involves food, or just a beverage. Pack a little bag with a snack and a drink and go for a walk. Doesn’t need to be far, doesn’t need to be fancy. Just get outside, find a rock or a glade or a bench, settle in and sip your beverage. Listen to the quiet, or people-watch. Even better, bring a little trash bag and pick up litter along your route. You’ve just added in a random act of kindness to your personal time. Go, you!

Read a book

When was the last time you read for pleasure. Even if you can’t get to your library, there are plenty of Free ebooks on Amazon, and your local library probably may have a free online borrowing program. Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around.

Learn something

If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don’t feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby.  Check out Coursera, MIT or Harvard to start. (But there are PLENTY of sources for free online classes, do your own searching, too!)        

Draw

Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don’t have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.

Write a letter (this one will cost you the price of a stamp)

Remember letters? On real paper? It’s becoming a lost art, which is kinda sad. it used to be so exciting to get a real letter in the mail. Not a bill, not an advertisement, but a real letter, with news, from someone you love. It was downright magical.

If you feel totally lost and don’t know where to start, here’s a site to help you out.

Geocaching! (Pre-PokemonGo-Style)

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. There are plenty of free apps to help you learn geocaching and get started. My family’s favorite is Geocaching.com.  

YouTube Karaoke

For nearly every song out there, there’s a karaoke accompaniment on YouTube. For reals. Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now.

Play cards

Get a kid and play Uno, or find an old deck of real cards and fall into a game of solitaire.

Foot bath

You can go nuts and find a whole bunch of fancy recipes on the internet, or just throw some salt into big bowl of warm water. Put a foot in there. Scrub it a bit with a washcloth. It feels good, the warmth is calming (or use cool water if it’s a zillion degrees where you’re at), and your feet will be all soft and good-smelling when you take ‘em out.

Got a teabag? Throw it in. Got an essential oil you like? A few drops’ll do. No big whoop.

When you’re ready, dry that foot off and slather with some lotion. Or coconut oil. Or olive oil. Whatever you have is just fine. (Put some socks on to really make it last, and so you don’t slip, ok?)

And when all else fails: Nap

Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all jammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well! But if you just want to spend money on yourself, you could always book a massage. 😉 

I’ve come up with 19 potential injuries that can happen due to playing Pokemon Go. While some are due to repetitive actions that are common in the tech world, some are due to people not paying attention, people suddenly getting active after being mostly sedentary, and others just from being active in and of itself. I’m not saying you are going to get all of these or even if you are going to get any of these, but it’s good to be aware of things that massage therapy can either prevent, or assist in healing in the long run.

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is the girl using cell phoneswelling inside a narrow “tunnel” formed by bone and ligament in the wrist. The tunnel surrounds nerves that conduct sensory and motor impulses to and from the hand, leading to pain, tingling, and numbness.
  2. Cubital tunnel syndrome: Similar to Carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms include numbness and tingling in the ring and small finger and soreness in the inside of the elbow or forearm.
  3. Tenis Elbow: This is actually tendinitis or swelling of the tendons that causes pain in the elbow and arm and is caused by repetitive movements.
  4. Texting Thumb: This can be either trigger thumb, the constriction of a flexor tendon in the thumb caused by repetitive gripping motions with symptoms that include a painful popping or snapping when the thumb bends and straightens; sometimes the thumb even becomes locked in a curled position. Or it could also be something as simple as arthritis of the joint where the thumb joins the wrist.
  5. iPad/iPhone Hand: This is caused by holding a device in the same position and repeating the same motions over and over again, this type of repetitive strain injury sometimes must be fixed with surgery due to the damage done to tendons, ligaments or muscles.
  6. Photosensitive seizures: Many games and devices contain certain light flashing patterns that can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy.
  7. Computer Vision Syndrome: These are eye problems that result from prolonged digital device use(computers and any other back lit screen). Most commonly, people experience eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.
  8. Palmar hydradenitis: This is the the formation of painful lesions on the palms of the hand from holding a device for extended periods of time with a tight grip.
  9. Bible Bump: Also known as ganglion cyst, this is a swelling or lump in the wrist resulting from jelly-like substance that has leaked from a joint or tendon sheath. It is called a Bible Bump because of the history of banging it with the largest flattest object in the house to make it go away, and that was usually the family Bible.
  10. Reflex sympathetic dystrophy: This is a condition characterized by dry, swollen hands and loss of muscle control; consistently painful, it is usually caused by acute injury.
  11. Tendinitis: This can occur anywhere in the body, it is a tearing and inflammation of tendons connecting bones to muscles.
  12. Shin Splints: Your shins have to bear up to 6 times your weight while you exercise, so foot-pounding activities like walking can cause problems for the muscles and surrounding tissues and create inflammation. The strain and leg pain results from strong calves pulling repeatedly on weaker muscles near the shin.
  13. Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs from your heel bone to the ball of your foot. When this dual-purpose shock absorber and arch support is strained, small tears develop and the tissue stiffens as a protective response, causing foot pain.
  14. Bunions: A bunion develops when the bones in the joint on the outer side of the big or little toe become misaligned, forming a painful swelling. Walkers with flat feet, low arches, or arthritis may be more apt to develop bunions.
  15. Low Back Pain: Walking doesn’t usually cause lower-back pain, but the repetitive movement can make an existing lower-back injury worse.
  16. Morton’s Neuroma: If tissue surrounding a nerve near the base of the toes thickens, it can cause tingling, numbness, or pain that radiates to surrounding areas. It may feel as though you’re treading on a marble.
  17. Bursitis: Although there are many potential causes of hip pain, it’s common for the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion the hip joint to become inflamed with repetitive stress. People with one leg slightly longer than the other are more susceptible to this kind of hip pain. Too much walking without building up to it can also be a cause.
  18. Runner’s Knee: Every time your shoe strikes the ground, your knee feels it. Eventually, your kneecap may start to rub against your femur (the bone that connects your knee to your hip), causing cartilage damage and tendinitis.
  19. Stress Fracture: Tenderness or pain when you press on a specific spot on your foot or lower leg, you may have a stress fracture—a tiny crack in a bone. Most common in the lower leg, they happen when your leg muscles become overloaded from repetitive stress because the shock is absorbed by the bone, rather than the muscle. This can occur if you ignore a shin splint, for instance, because the continued strain on muscles and tissues will eventually shift to the bone.

And these don’t even begin to address the issues of not watching where you are going, not paying attention and stepping in a hole to twist and ankle, tripping over something, running into something, or walking into an unsafe area.

Please be responsible, pay attention, and if you do end up with an injury that can be addressed by massage, give me a shout, I’ll be glad to let you hunt pokemon around my office between sessions. 😛

In the United States Body Shaming is so prevalent we are almost oblivious to it. It starts in school elementary school and doesn’t seem to stop. This year, EveryBODY deserves a massage week is this week and I felt it necessary to relay the importance of EveryBODY getting a massage despite what they may look like! bodyshaming

I have a daughter who already complains of being FAT! And She’s not … she has a nice little figure for her age. Healthy in all ways!

So I plead with you, regardless if it is your child, your parent, your sibling, your spouse, your friend or even yourself. Just SAY NO to Body Shaming.

In the massage industry, we therapists see all kinds of bodies. Fat, Skinny, Tall, Short, Hairy, Bald, Scarred, Pristine, Tattooed and any number of other differences! As a massage therapist (at least for me), we see muscle and fascia, adhesions, and the way bodies move. Honestly more often than not, as I work my eyes are closed and my fingers are doing the seeing.

Please don’t be afraid of being too big to get a massage. I’m not going to look at your fat. My table holds a LOT of weight, and I actually have extensions on my table to make it wider. I have yet to have a client book that was too large for my table. muscle fascia

Please don’t be afraid of being too skinny to get a massage. Despite being “skin and bones” skinny people really do have muscle too and it needs attention just like anyone else.

Please don’t be afraid of being too tall. It’s ok if your feet hang off the table for a bit, and I can make some adjustments to ensure your comfort.

Please don’t be afraid of being too short. If I can work on an infant, I can work on you!

Please don’t be afraid of being too frail and weak to get a massage. I have techniques that are less invasive and are of the lightest of touch so that you too can enjoy a nice hour of relaxation.

Don’t want to get undressed? That’s ok too! I can work around clothing and still work to relieve your stress.

Forget to shave? Let me just say that the woman who didn’t shave all winter has NOTHING on the hairiest of men I’ve worked on, and not shaving doesn’t bother me.

Too hairy? Bah! I can work with that. I have plenty of hairy men who leave feeling like they are floating on a cloud after having their knots reigned in.

Embarrassed by a bad tattoo? Chances are I won’t notice it and if I do, I won’t mention it unless you do.

Have a bad scar? Not a problem! Did you know I’m if not the only, then at the very least one of the first Scar Release Therapists in Alabama? I may not be able to make it go away, but if you want me to work on it, I can at least try to help it be more functional, less painful, less annoying and less obvious. If you don’t want me to work on it, I’m not going to judge you over it.

As a massage therapist it is my intent to ensure that every BODY on my table is treated like the King or Queen they are. That my hands show compassion, empathy and love the only way they can by doing the best they can with the massage.

When I say that my office is a judgement free zone, I mean it on every level! Every body tells a story of the life it has lived long past and recently. Every BODY is perfect for the soul that owns it. Love your Body It’s the only one you will have!

Except for head colds, headaches are the most common human ailment. In fact, headaches beat out backaches as the number-one cause of time lost from work. Approximately three out of every four people will have at least one headache within the year.

Headaches1.jpgSome headaches, like migraines, are caused by a disturbance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. However, according to Dr. Janet Travell and Dr. David Simons, specialists in musculoskeletal pain, “It is now becoming clear that tension headache is usually due to trigger points.”

Trigger points are small knots that develop in muscles. These knots or mini-spasms make pain travel to different areas of the body, often nowhere near the knot itself. For example, trigger points at the top of your neck can send pain directly into your eye.

The name trigger point comes from the fact that these knots can sit in your muscles for ages without causing pain until something “triggers” them to become active. Common triggers include fatigue, stress, poor posture, repetitive movements at work and cold drafts.

Massage therapy is a proven way of treating trigger points for long-term headache relief. In one study, researchers found that chronic headache sufferers had dramatic relief after ten massages that focused on treatment of trigger points.

Although you may get some relief with general relaxation massage, long-term relief depends on correctly identifying and treating specific trigger points which are responsible for your pain. Single muscle trigger points can often be eliminated quickly and easily, sometimes within one or two treatments.

In more complicated cases however, it may take significant time and your active participation to get lasting results.

When should you see a doctor?

In a small number of cases, severe headaches may be a warning sign of a more serious disorder such as very high blood pressure, stroke, bleeding in the brain or even a tumour. The following signs should send you to a doctor immediately:

  • you suddenly start having severe headaches, especially if they are your first ones and you are over 35 years of age
  • you have a severe headache during or immediately after physical exertion or straining
  • a headache with fever and neck stiffness
  • a headache accompanied by confusion or difficulty speaking—especially following a blow to the head, even one that occurred several weeks earlier
  • a headache accompanied by inflamed, clogged sinuses – it may be the result of infection and build-up of pus in the sinus passages
  • any increase in the intensity or frequency of headaches
  • your headache treatment guide

Many people use painkillers to get rid of their headaches. Don’t take painkillers for extended periods without consulting with your doctor. Because some medications, even over the counter drugs, have unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects it’s always best to rely on non-drug treatments when possible. Here are a few suggestions:

Relaxation training. Relaxation has been shown to be extremely effective in the management of headaches. For example, one study published in the journal Headache in 1989 found that migraine sufferers who were taught relaxation exercises had 30% to 40% fewer attacks over the course of three years. The subjects were also better able to cope with the attacks when they occurred and required less medication.

Cold. Reusable gel packs are an inexpensive and simple solution that can be used in place of or as an adjunct to medication. Keep the gel pack in the freezer. At the first signs of a headache put it in a tea towel and wrap it around your neck. About 70% of headache sufferers will experience some relief with the use of gel packs. If your headache gets worse after applying the pack, it is possible that the cold pack may be aggravating a trigger point.

Heat. Some people find that heat is better than cold at relieving headaches. Most gel packs can also be heated. They are generally safer and more effective than heating pads because they mold nicely to the shape of our neck and are less likely to cause burns. A hot bath or hot shower may even be better. Headaches caused by trigger points generally respond well to heat, whereas migraine headaches may be aggravated.

Headaches2Exercise. Regular exercise helps relieve stress and tension and thus can be an excellent way to prevent headaches. Neck, back, and shoulder stretches also help relieve tension and are essential for trigger point headaches. Ask your massage therapist for stretches that are appropriate for you.

Improved posture. Sitting improperly, at a computer terminal for instance can create tension in the muscles and trigger a headache. Slouching is particularly problematic as it prevents you from breathing normally and shortens the muscles in the back of your neck.

Get to the cause. A headache may be your body’s way of telling you that there is some underlying stressful problem in your life: a troubled relationship, an unfulfilling job, or an upcoming exam. Your headaches may go away only after these stressful situations are resolved.

Massage. This is one of our favourites simply because we know it works so well. Many people think that massage provides only short-term relief. However, research shows that not only is massage effective at eliminating headaches, but the relief can last for months. Part of the effectiveness lies in the elimination of trigger points. As well, regular massage can actually retrain your nervous system to decrease the tension in your muscles on a more permanent basis.

If you have specific health concerns consult your medical doctor. The information in this blog is educational only and is not intended to replace the advice of your personal health care providers.

Step into my office and allow me the chance to help you find peace and melt your stress away. Take a moment to enjoy the subtle fragrance of delicate layers of essential oils used in previous sessions. Nothing overpowering, only a hint a healthy aromatherapy.

Allow the dimness of the room to quiet the brightness of stress in your life and the coziness of my office to embrace you in an affectionate hug that lets you know “It is OK to let go of everything that is hindering you”. You can just make out the hum of an air filter drowning out other noise behind the soft music in the background. The music is melodic and dreamlike encouraging you to give in to the rhythms with your breath and heartbeat which seem to slow down and match the gentle pulse.

Tell me what is bothering you and let me work my magic. Maybe it is pain, or maybe it is inability to move the way you used to. Maybe it is emotional or mental, and not just physical. Whatever it is, know that it is ok to let it go, even if it is just for the time you are in my office. This is an office of sacred safe space. No judgement here. No stress. No anxiety. Only peace, tranquility, quiet, slowness.

For just a brief moment, I leave you in peace to soak it all in and to remove yourself from the everyday bustle of life. In the corner is a chair, a hanger, and a shelf for you to place your belongings. As you prepare yourself for your massage, please remember to remove all things that will hinder you from receiving the highest and most beneficial treatment that will allow your body to heal on all levels. This includes clothing and jewelry as well as thoughts. Take a moment to unplug, turn off the ringer on your phone. In this hour there is nothing that is so important that it can not wait for just a little while. Allow yourself to fully enjoy this time for the moment of healing it can be. You deserve this moment. You need this moment.

Carefully, tuck yourself onto the freshly cleaned, cloud-like linens embracing the massage table, allow the sheets and blankets to enclose your body and settle in around you. The gentle warmth of the table entices you into a state of relaxation before I even make my way into the room. You lay face down with your head supported in the soft memory foam face-cradle that allows you to breathe freely, anticipating the massage to come.

Stay tuned for part 2!
Until then feel free to book a non-virtual massage today!

OMG, if I could count on one hand how many people’s primary complaint is neck and shoulder pain, I wouldn’t have a job! Seriously, I can just about guarantee anyone walking into my office is going to have a complaint of EITHER Neck & Shoulder pain or Low Back Pain if not both.

People with neck and shoulder issues often have their pain return before their next massage appointment. Work, play and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while folding laundry, doing yard work, playing on the computer or any of the other million things you do.

What can you do between professional massage appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are some ideas.

Take a Break

Take short breaks as often as you can if you sit at a computer all day. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you’re chained to the desk, you can rock out a little Deskercise to stay loose.

Get the kids into it

Have a short yoga break together! There are plenty of videos made especially for kids, and the moves are just as beneficial for adults. Bonus: got a little one averse to naptime? Try the lying-down postures here and maybe you’ll get a short break.

Heat it

Just 10-15 minutes of heat on your shoulders can make a huge difference in how your tissue moves and feels. You don’t need a fancy heating pad, you can make one at home pretty easily. Check out this DIY tutorial.

Self-massage

Try it, you might be surprised how much it helps! It’s not complicated, just grab a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball, or even a red rubber ball and check out these techniques.

Choose the right pillow

superb_new_PILLOW_SILO_775_jjYou spend about one third of your time in bed, be sure it’s cozy for your neck. Side-sleepers have different needs than belly-sleepers. The right pillow at night can help you all day. I have a limited supply (FOUR) of Bed Boss Superb Pillows at the office. I like them because they are #1 shredded memory foam, so they keep their shape, but offer support too. #2 have a cooling gel insert so my head doesn’t sweat at night. #3 It’s just right for shaping it myself regardless of how I’m sleeping. They retail for $70 but the ones I have I’m selling for only $40. But once they are gone, they are gone. 

A few minutes of self care every day, little changes, can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment! Book your appointment online today! 

I tell my clients time after time to listen to their body. One way to listen to your body is through Bodywork and Exercise. What does that mean? How do you listen to your body?
screaming back large.png
It means you have to be aware of what your body is telling you. Do you need to stretch a little more? Do you need more water? Did you overdo it? Are you imbalanced on one side of your body? Regular Exercise and Bodywork both can keep you in tune with your body. Ever ask … “How’d you know I was hurting there?” or “I didn’t even know I was hurting there until you worked on it!” This is because of that disconnect between what is happening in the body and what the brain accepts as reality. My working on that area helps to bring that area to the forefront that your brain can know what’s going on there.
The following was written by by Ruth Werner
You have to give us credit: as a culture, Americans are incredibly interested in getting fit. We invest every year in new diets, exercise programs, and supplements for weight loss and improved energy. Low-range estimates suggest that Americans spend about $2.6 billion each year on gym memberships alone.
We also tend to pitch full speed into any given commitment. If we’re going to get fit, by golly, we’re going to do it now, regardless of how long it took us to get into our current state. We don’t do things by half measures, and moderation is not in our nature. So how do we keep ourselves injury-free while honoring our commitment to exercise and get healthy?

Does It Have to Be All or Nothing?
We all know that starting an exercise program doesn’t actually mean we’ll finish it. When we throw ourselves into an ambitious new routine, we are likely to overdo it and get hurt. Then, we get discouraged, and may give up entirely, only to start the cycle over in another year or so.
Overdoing things in the gym or on the sports field seems to appeal to our competitive spirit–especially when we’re surrounded by others who all seem to be doing better than we are. Combine this kind of human drive with poorly trained athletic trainers who give bad advice about form, pacing, and effort, and we have a recipe for potential problems.
Exercise is only effective when it occurs without injury. Any new exercise program requires some caution, even if it is comparatively easygoing. And more challenging programs are safest and most successful when new participants build up their activity levels carefully and receive excellent guidance about form.

When It Goes Wrong
We accrue musculoskeletal and fascial injuries throughout our entire lifespans. In the best circumstances, they heal well, with a minimum of internal scar tissue, and function returns to practically normal levels. When things are ideal, that sprained ankle you got playing soccer at age 12 doesn’t affect your ability to walk in your 30s. The lumbar strain you got from picking up the heavy laundry basket 15 years ago resolved well, so at 62, it won’t hinder your golf game. We are able to adapt to minor injuries, and we learn how not to exacerbate them.
But when we introduce a new exercise program, especially if that exercise program is more demanding, or demanding in different ways than we have experienced before, we risk the flaring up of old injuries. Scar tissue does not have the weight-bearing capacity of healthy muscle or connective tissue. This is when that old sprained ankle may make itself known, and that weakness in your back will definitely have opinions about your new routine. Sometimes you might feel like your new commitment to fitness was not the best idea.

Injuries Can Happen Any Time
CrossFit is one program that gets a lot of attention because of its reputation for being especially demanding. But any type of exercise can lead to injury if correct form is not observed. Zumba, Jazzercise, and other dance-like programs bring a risk of foot and leg injuries, including sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures, because the risk for twisting at the knee is so high.
If you aren’t paying close attention to your own limits, even yoga can be a source of soft-tissue injury: delayed soreness, problems at the neck and sacroiliac joints, or other injuries. One massage therapist reported seeing several injuries related to a prolonged yoga headstand, probably in a student who was not ready for this challenge.

How Can Massage Help?
Massage can help you deal with pain or soreness from your exercise regimen and can also help shorten recovery periods so you can train more efficiently. Although massage therapists are not primary care providers, and cannot diagnose conditions or prescribe specific treatments, your therapist may be able to offer excellent advice for dealing with a fitness-related injury. He or she may also have suggestions about warm-ups, cool-downs, and postexercise stretching, or be able to point you to an appropriate coach or other professional for specific exercise needs and to help prevent future injury.
The incidence of exercise-related injury has a lot to do with people not paying attention to their own needs. One of the many things massage therapy offers to people who want to become healthier and more fit is the chance to become more aware of your own body in a powerfully positive way. Increased body awareness and self-appreciation may be the best tools for helping you increase activity levels without hurting yourself. In this way, you can reach your goals with power and joy, rather than with pain and injury.

Ruth Werner is a former massage therapist, a writer, and a continuing education provider. She wrote A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology(Lippincott Williams + Wilkins, 2013).

As far as joints are concerned, the shoulder is truly remarkable. It moves in absolutely every direction. The only other joint that is even somewhat close in terms of the different types of movement is the hip. But even there, the mobility is much more limited.

You need a lot of movement in the shoulder to perform everyday activities. The ligaments that hold the upper arm bone, the humerus, in the socket are quite loose to allow for this wide range of motion. Because they are lax, they don’t do much to hold the shoulder together.

What really holds the shoulder together and stabilizes the joint are muscles that are referred to as the rotator cuff. There are four small muscles that run from the shoulder blade to the humerus. These muscles completely surround the humerus like a sleeve or cuff. They are very dynamic, contracting to stabilize the shoulder when needed or relaxing to allow you to move the arm freely. The movement of our shoulder is so free and easy that we often take it for granted.

How does a shoulder “freeze”?

Frozen1.jpgFrozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, usually starts with a minor injury. For example, you may jar your shoulder by tripping and breaking your fall with an outstretched arm. It may also start after an inflammatory problem, like a little tendinitis or bursitis of the shoulder.

Because the shoulder is painful, you’ll often limit your movement or stop using your shoulder to avoid any discomfort. Although it’s important to rest your body if it’s injured, the rest period should be limited to just the first 24 to 48 hours following an injury. If you restrict your movement for any longer than that, adhesions, constricting bands of fibrous tissue, start to form within the shoulder joint.

You are always moving your shoulders, even if it’s brushing your hair or reaching behind you to close the car door. Because of this ongoing movement, adhesions don’t normally have an opportunity to develop. Limit your movement for several days, however, and this fibrous tissue starts to stick to the ligaments in your shoulder, especially in the lower part of the joint where the ligaments are most lax.

Once these adhesions begin to form, the shoulder starts to feel stiff and uncomfortable. You’ll limit your movement in response to the pain and the reduced movement causes more stiffness. Before you know it, you’re trapped in what seems to be a vicious cycle.

If you don’t take care of the problem immediately, it will progress from a little discomfort to severe pain that interferes with your daily activities and your sleep. It can become difficult or impossible to do simple things like brushing your hair, doing up your bra behind your back or even reaching your arm back to put it into the sleeve of your coat.

Over time, you will be unable to lift your arm. Your shoulder, in a sense, becomes frozen, hence the name. The pain in the shoulder can be intolerable and will likely spread into your neck and arm as your body tries to compensate for the lost movement.

If you catch the problem early, you can recover relatively quickly with some regular massage and some self-care exercises that you can do at home. Otherwise expect a lengthy and somewhat uncomfortable course of treatment to regain your normal pain-free movement.

The conventional treatment for a severe case is manipulation under anesthetic. A surgeon will put you under and while you are asleep will force your shoulder through a full range of motion to pull apart the adhesions. Sometimes surgery is used. In either case, don’t expect a quick fix. This kind of treatment is usually followed by several months of physical therapy or massage therapy.

For moderate cases, doctors may use oral anti-inflammatory drugs, or they may inject cortisone or anesthetic medications into your shoulder to reduce the pain and inflammation.

Your massage therapist will typically treat frozen shoulder through a combination of massage techniques, stretching and possibly joint mobilization procedures. This will be combined with exercises that you must do between treatments. Your therapist will suggest a treatment schedule that is best for you. You’ll likely need frequent short treatments that may last for many weeks.

An ounce of prevention …

Benjamin Franklin is noted for saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This cliché couldn’t be any more true when it comes to frozen shoulder. To avoid the pain, disability and cost associated with treating frozen shoulder, be proactive.

Frozen2.jpgIf you injure your shoulder, see your massage therapist immediately. They can help you with the problem and give you exercises to prevent frozen shoulder from developing. It’s usually minor shoulder injuries that lead to frozen shoulder, so don’t think that because it’s a small injury that it will be fine if left alone.

If you have any shoulder pain, even minor pain that lasts for more than two days, pick up the phone and call your massage therapist. Unless you’ve seen someone with frozen shoulder, it’s hard to understand the pain and suffering you’ll save yourself.

The frozen shoulder mimic

Here’s something that most health professionals, including your doctor, don’t likely know: Trigger points in one of the rotator cuff muscles can mimic the exact same symptoms as frozen shoulder.

There’s a rotator cuff muscle underneath the shoulder blade (scapula) that is called subscapularis. It can develop knots or trigger points that cause symptoms that are almost exactly like symptoms of frozen shoulder. These knots refer pain into the shoulder in the same way and cause your movement to be limited in a similar pattern.

Unlike frozen shoulder, however, these trigger points can be deactivated, sometimes very quickly. Relief can be had after only a few sessions.

Most massage therapists are able to assess for these trigger points and help eliminate them from your muscles. So if you suspect that you are developing frozen shoulder, book an appointment with your massage therapist so they can check for this frozen shoulder copycat.

Your therapist may do hands on work to the muscle to get rid of the knot or they may use a gentle stretch technique where they will have you first contract and then relax the muscle as they pull it into a stretched position. There are a variety of approaches that can be taken and your massage therapist will choose the most appropriate techniques for your needs.