My Stretch n’ Release Technique requires you to do three things including self-massage to stop your pain. The first key is stretching, the second is self-massage, and the third is releasing from the mind. Today I want to begin with self-massage and why that is so important. Then you can see two videos I have added below that will demonstrate how to do self-massage.
The Importance of Self-Massage
Self-massage is actually better than a full massage in many ways. That is not to say a good full massage by a therapist is terrible. There are many benefits to a full massage like relaxation. With so many Americans qualifying as sleep-deprived, a full massage allows them to relax, put their phones down, and just sleep. There are some therapeutic values as well, however, our muscles are very emotional and require some massage daily to prevent future pain.
When you learn how to give yourself a good massage, you have control over how much pain and stiffness you have in your life. On the physical side of the muscle, we move all the time. Even when we sleep or sit in a recliner, we are always moving. Every breath we take our chest rises and falls, stomach rises and falls, which means the ribcage expands and contracts. There are muscles between the ribs, abs, and chest. By not massaging these areas, the spine can become compressed placing unnecessary force on the discs. Then if you add movement like walking or lifting things, you engage the larger muscles which will also need a massage.
What is Self-Message?
Self-message is not rubbing your body as you have seen a therapist do in a massage session. These are called strokes and the point of the strokes is to help with relaxation. Self-massage is more about getting the muscles to soften and let go. The goal is to keep your body soft, regardless of how strong you are. I know that some of you thought hard muscles meant more strength. Others want hard muscles so that nothing jiggles. The truth is soft muscles are healthier for your joints and discs.
Unlike the strokes of the therapist, self-massage is done with the pads of the fingers and the pressing on one spot at a time as you breathe out to release the tension in the body and muscle. When you press on a spot and it feels painful, the temptation is to press harder. This is what we have always heard. As the goal in the gym is to have a hard body or buns of steel. Hard bodies are usually in pain from stiffness. Pressing too hard will cause the body to react by tensing the muscle to stop the pain. The muscle will feel better immediately following the increased pressure due to muscle fatigue, but the pain will come back. This is the same as strength training and is creating more lactic acid in the muscle tissue. This is not what we want to stop the pain and prevent it from coming back. Be gentle with yourself and feel the muscle letting go by relaxing it under your thumb or finger.
How to Give a Self-Massage
When you give yourself a massage, think about what you did in the last 24 hours. If you walked a lot, then your calves or thighs may be tight. If you were sitting a lot, then your hips and thighs may be tight. If you were lifting things, the chest and shoulders may be tight. the idea here is to think about how what you did relates to how you feel. Pick an area to begin and use your hands to feel the area. In the beginning, it is a little more difficult because you are not sure what that area should feel like, so test it and learn. if you press the area and it is sore, you know you are in the right area. If not, try another area. if you still feel nothing, maybe you are not pressing hard enough, but just go a little deeper at a time. If you can press all the way to the bone with no pain, that area is probably good. Most people just press with no thought process of how it feels. learn how you feel.
When you find an area to work, press just hard enough to feel the pain, but not so hard you cannot breathe. If you press too hard the brain goes into the “Fight or Flight Syndrome,” and will fight back by tightening the muscle. Remember, you want the muscle to relax and soften so you can stretch it better. Take your time and learn how you feel. You will the pressure until the pain stops, then move onto the next spot and repeat.
On the backside of your body, use a tennis ball and use it against the wall. Place a tennis ball in a sock and place it between your hip or back and a wall. Do not roll on it, but, like with your fingers, press and search for sore spots. I do self-massage all the time. I work on my calves while sitting in a chair and talking to someone. I massage my thighs while driving my car. I massage my arms while resting and my chest anytime I can. By keeping my muscles soft, I have less stiffness and pain than my peers. You can do the same, just create a habit of doing it.
When your muscles are soft, things will jiggle, and they are supposed to move. You are 70% water. If you are rock hard, you are basically an ice cube with 2 little legs. This is not healthy. The softening of the muscles will give you more energy as it takes less energy to move the same distance, more power as you will have a better range of motion, and more stamina as you are not fighting with tight, stiff muscles. Softening your muscles will make you feel younger and better than ever.
Want to Lose a Few Pounds?
Softening your muscles will help you feel more like moving. The more you move, the better you will eat, and the healthier you become. I learned that when I lost 105 lbs. in 1997. Most think if you eat less, you will lose weight. the truth is, you need to move as well to keep it off. When you are overweight, you do not feel like moving much. Your diet has probably increased the inflammation in your body, making you feel stiff and fatigued. Softening those muscles can help improve those feelings.
Learn About Stretching
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About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop Founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.