Stretching is so misunderstood. If I were King, I would change the word to releasing. Stretching is about letting go of the tension in your muscles. This tension can come from thoughts throughout your day or physical activity. A Neurosurgeon once said to me, ” Ever seen a stressed guy look relaxed?” He’s correct when we are stressed we tighten every muscle in our body. When having a bad day you may hold more tension in your shoulders, hips, hands, or feet, but it is also throughout your body. This tension will cause compression on your bones, nerves, and blood vessels. The compression on your spine can lead to bulging discs, herniated discs, tingling down an extremity. An example would be bike riding. As a biker is hunched over the handlebar, the compression on his/her spine is increased as they are holding up their head. The muscles of the chest begin to contract as they steering their bike, again increasing compression. As the compression increases in the cervical spine (neck), it pinches the nerves going down to the hands causing tingling and numbness. By releasing the chest muscles and the muscles on the front of the neck, the pressure on the neck will release. Increasing the strength of your back muscles will only make it worse.
The compression on your joints will cause your joints to wear out leading to joint replacement and surgeries to treat the pain. Every joint have muscles crossing over them. As the muscles harden from working out, it reduces the spacing in the joints which will squeeze out the synovial fluid, a lubricant the body naturally puts in your joint. Left untreated, this compression can cause bursitis, which is telling you your joint is too close together, and later damage to the cartilage. By learning to stretch properly, you can relieve the pressure on your joints as well as the nerves and blood vessels. You don’t need to know the names of all your muscles, but understand how you work mechanically will reduce your risk of injury.
The biggest issue that people have when stretching is understanding how much of stretching is more mental than physical. If you pull your muscles too hard, massage too hard, or try to force the muscle to release, your brain will fight back in fear of you hurting yourself. Your brain will not let you hurt yourself unless you force it, which is crazy! Listen to your body and when you stretch, feel the stretch from start to finish. If you are tight, only hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Holding a stretch for a long period of time is fone if you are flexible, but if you are not, then stretching is about re-training your brain to believe you can actually do the stretch. Be safe and free your body!
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Golfers are always looking for ways to improve their golf game. Is it the golf clubs, the golf balls, the shoes, or the training? Some may think if they get stronger in the gym, their distance will improve. Some may even get into stretching, but unfortunately, too many times the stretching is ineffective. All of these factors will improve your game, but understanding how stretching affects your game could be the most important one.
Let’s talk about the ankles, which I call the Rodney Dangerfield of the human body. I will include the calves in that assessment as the calves control how well the ankles move. We have all done the standard calf stretches, leaning against the wall with one foot back or standing on a slant board or curb, leaning forward trying to extend the Achilles tendon thinking we are stretching our calves. Once you understand how the calves work, you will quickly see how ineffective these stretches are for golf or any sport. There are actually 4 calf muscles in each calf. Some of you may have thought there was only one. There is an inside calf muscle which controls the inside part of the arch. When this muscle is short, or tight, the person will walk on the outside of their foot, supination. The outside calf muscle controls the outside of the arch and when it is tight, the person will walk on the inside of their foot, pronation. The two middle calf muscles run the length of your leg forming the Achilles tendon and continues into the arch. These control the up and down motion of the foot. Most healthcare people treat the foot with special insoles and shoes as if there is something wrong with your foot, but in reality, it is your calf. Why is this important to you?
As a golfer, your swing starts in your feet. Try swinging a club in your bare feet and feel how your feet move across the floor. How much movement you get is based on how flexible your calf muscles are to free your ankles. When these muscles are tight, there is a lot of torque on the knees, hips, and low back. When a golfer is stiff, they will tend to muscle through a swing using their upper body and that is where many injuries originate.
The best way to stretch these calf muscles is using a yoga strap or rope. Never use a stretchy band as they were designed for strength training. Sitting on the floor with your back against the wall, place the strap around the ball of your foot. Do not use your leg muscles and do not pull hard! Stretching is not about the pressure, but the releasing of the muscles. As you gradually pull the strap back, feel the middle calf muscles releasing. Do not lean back with your back, we are not wrestling a horse! Your ankle should be able to bend to 110 degrees. Do not force it, as the muscles will tighten and your stretch has stopped. There should be some pain. However, too much pain and your muscles will contract which will cause you to be in strength training mode. Hold each stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Next, rotate your foot to the inside and repeat the stretch. You should feel this on the outside of the calf. Again, do not force, but allow the muscle to let go. Finally, rotate foot to the outside and repeat the 3-5 second hold and repeat 8-10 times. You should feel this on the inside of the calf. If your ankles are really tight, do these every morning and every night before you go to bed.if you suffering from night leg cramps, this will resolve the cramps. If you cannot sit on the floor, try a hardback chair with an ottoman.
During your day, place a golf ball on the floor and gently press down on the ball as you are sitting. Do not do this standing.No Pain, No Gain will not be your friend. Do not roll it around as I want you to pinpoint sore spots on the arch of your feet. Rolling around is fun, but it doesn’t solve your problem. The problem is hitting the ball farther with better movement. Keep that in mind! Check out my website at www.MuscleRepairShop.com
Have you noticed that more and more people are having knee issues? Too many people are having their knees replaced, why? Some will say it is old age, others will relate it to an old injury. The truth of the matter is, some do happen due to a past injury, however, most happen due to poor mechanics throughout their lives. The shoes you wear, how you walk, other flexibility of your hips and ankles. I want to address each of these areas and help you better understand how this could happen to you.
Let’s begin by saying the pain in your knee isn’t because you were born with a bad knee unless you had a birth defect. We are not just trying to stop the pain, as that is symptom-based thinking, but we want to solve the problem in what we do to create the problem. Once you change your thinking than seeing the why will become clearer.
How you walk is a real key in how knee pain you will endure. Have you ever seen a person walk and their legs seem bowlegged, but you remember they were not bowlegged when they were younger? Chances are this person walks on the outside of their feet. When a person walks on the outside of their feet, they will have a tendency to push their hips out on each stride and that causes the knee to get pushed out as well. This movement will shorten the inner thigh muscles which attach to the lower half of the knee and shorten the inner calf muscle which is attached to the upper half of the knee. Over the years this movement will cause the inside of the knee joint to be closer together than the outside. This will lead to arthritis, or rust, and cartilage damage that may lead to a knee replacement. If you think you are walking on the outside of your feet, walk barefoot in your house slowly. Feel how your feet contact the floor or you can look at the bottom of your shoes. if they are worn on the outside, that is a clear sign you do. That is better than Dr. Scholl’s machine. To change the habit, practice walking on the inside of your feet around your house until your feet start to contact the ground flatter.
Next your shoes. If you wear arch supports, they will shift your feet toward the outside edge. Do not pull them out and start walking without them. After the pain, you will not like me anymore. Stretch your calves first and soften your feet with your hands. You can get the calf and hip stretches on my website, www.musclerepairshop.com. Shoes contribute to knee pain by the heels being too high or too much arch support which prevents the ankle from bending through its full range of motion. This will cause shin splints and tight calves which will affect the knee joint. These types of shoes will affect the flexibility of the hips as well. When the ankle cannot bend completely, the hips cannot move through their full range of motion either. This causes the front of your thighs to shorten, hamstrings to shorten which again cause damage to your knees.
As you can see most knee pain has little to do with the knee and more to do with what we do every day. Learning how to protect your knees and can give you a lifetime of pain free living. If you already have some knee pain, these stretches can improve and maybe stop the pain too. Give it try or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you figure out what to do.
Nearly 10 million people per year suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome(CTS) each year in America. We are clear on the symptoms and what is exactly causing the pain at the moment of pain. However, we are not so clear on things we do to cause that pain to occur. Every health care practitioner can explain that the pain comes from the 4 tendons running through the carpal tunnel on the bottom side of your wrist are inflamed and presses against the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. The question is, what causes the tendons to inflame?
The inflammation is not the same inflammation you get when a part of your body swells or edema. That can be stopped by using ice. The type of inflammation is caused by the repetitive use of the forearm muscles in the bottom side of your arm. The term repetitive use does not mean doing the same thing over and over, but the continual use of these muscles. The 4 muscles on the bottom side of your forearm, the flexor muscles, allow you to grip anything you want to pick up, move, or hold. Driving your car and holding too tight on the steering wheel. Playing a sport that requires you hold a racket, bat, or club in order to play. Holding a cup of coffee, typing, or writing can cause this inflammation. There is no way to stop the inflammation from happening because we all do these things daily and are not going to stop.
There are several treatment plans available that most people have tried with limited success. Strength exercises may help in the short term but will cause the pain to get worse over time because you are shortening the muscles. Braces are very popular and do help in relieving some pain, but without changing what you are doing daily, it is just going to get worse. Plus over time the brace will stop working as well too. Injections can help as a short-term relief, but again, it will come back. Finally, surgery is a treatment many doctors use and it is only a short-term fix for your pain. I know it can be frustrating, but the problem is, we are not looking at the cause!
Any time you use your hands and fingers you are creating inflammation in the flexor muscles( bottom side) of your forearm. As the muscles contract to move your fingers and hands, they are burning the fuel ATP which leaves a waste product in the muscle fiber called lactic acid. You cannot drink enough water to wash it out. there are no pills to make it go away. The only way to get rid of it is to massage it out and then do a couple of simple stretches for your wrist and forearm. When you are massaging your forearm, don’t just rub, but use your thumb to press in various spots on your forearm looking for sore spots. When you find one, maintain the pressure, and breathe allowing your brain to release those muscles. Your forearms should be as soft as cotton candy regardless of how strong you are. Work up and down your arm.
The first stretch is to stand next to a table that you can place your hand flat on the table.Make sure your fingers are pointing behind you and lean into the stretch. Not too hard as your brain will fight with you, but just enough that you can begin to feel the stretch. Breathe and let your brain release the muscles in your forearm. The second stretch, make a light fist with the affected hand and bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on top of your fist and gently pull down. This will stretch the fingers that are tight from gripping too hard. Finally, place both hands together, like you are praying, keep both against your stomach and press one hand down to stretch the bottom wrist. Be sure to always do both sides in each of these exercises. You can see videos on my website.
For many people, the type of massage they receive is irrelevant because they are usually so tired, the client is basically paying to sleep on the massage table for an hour. Due to living a hectic and stressful life, anytime we can lay down and have someone rub our body, especially our back or feet, our body will relax and we will more than likely fall asleep. Remember how your mom used to do that and it felt so good! Many people believe that this is a great massage. In reality, how would know if the therapist was great at massage because you were not there consciously to feel what they were doing. If the therapist has to wake you up when you turnover and you go back to sleep, then the therapist could have just stood there and rubbed your body, regardless of any technique they ay have mastered. This is a flaw in our thought process about determining a great massage from a simple rub down. There are 226 different types of massage and every massage therapist is a little different. Every therapist has a different educational background therefore their style can vary. Massage is about trust which means, you need to talk to them. I am not talking about a lengthy conversation, but talk about the technique and how it can help you. The therapist needs to know what medications you are taking, what treatments you are currently having, and how you feel overall. These questions are important because the therapist will be moving fluids and affecting tissues which can negatively affect your health.
Massage therapy requires communication between the therapist and the client. As the therapist is finding areas of your body that are tight or sore, they can coach you to breathe and release using your brain to let go. Muscles are just as emotional as they are physical. Physically, your muscles can feel tight and sore, however emotionally they can feel atttacked if the pressure is too much. If the therapist can communicate with the client when to breathe, then as a team you can release your muscles, blood will flow better, and your body will feel more at ease. When a client goes to sleep, the brain has been turned off, so even if the therapist pushes really hard, all your body will remember is soreness after you wake up. The next time someone touches you, your body may flinch, feel pain, or you may feel a tickle. This is because your body doesn’t remember why, but it knows something is not correct and it reacts.
What of level of undress should you do? That should be up to you based on how comfortable you feel at that level of undress. I have done massages with clients that are totally nude to totally dressed. It doesn’t matter, as long as the client feels comfortable. Sometimes, the client may be allergic to the oils or just doens’t want to be oily when going back to work, then doing a massage fully dressed,or lightly dressed, can be done.
I have found that with certain clients suffering with fibromyalgia or polymyalgia, combining massage with light stretching works best. In this situation,it is best to have the client fully clothed with clothes they can move around in. This reduces the soreness brought by the disease and allows better freedom of movement.
Bottomline is get to know your therapist and feel comfortable in their surroundings. Few people are allowed to get that close to you and you should make sure of your trust of the therapist and the surroundings. Ask for their credentials and understand what they will be doing to you. Research the technique to better understand if that particular technique will actually help you. A good therapist will recommend another therapist that does a different modality that could help you.