45-Minute Session for Only $55!
We all wish we had more time to spend on ourselves. But each week seems to be more hectic than the last - so what's a good solution? A shorter massage therapy session! Prioritize yourself this month with my amazing special offer.
Any time this month, you may schedule a 45 minute session for only $55! Considering my 30 minute session is $50, and my 60 minute session is $95, this is a great deal! (It's also a great reason to leave work an hour early to treat yourself!)
I'll see you in my Westport office!
This simple tool is incredlbly powerful and beneficial
One of the easiest ways to care for your tight muscles at home is with a foam roller. This tool is relatively new in the home market, but has been used in physical therapy treatments for years.
The basic principle of foam rolling is that it physically creates space between muscle fibers and their connective tissue, called "fascia". Fascia wraps around all the muscles in our bodies like thick rubber bands, and although research is still progressing on it's makeup and function, it is believed that it affects our nerves (READ: pain) and can hold it's own tensile strength. It's therefore beneficial to attempt to relax the fascia to both relieve pain and increase mobility.
One basic principle to consider before you begin foam rolling: We can consciously tense muscles, but we cannot consciously tense fascia. Recall that the tenet of foam rolling is fascial separation; therefore, the fascia needs to spread easily. Since it lies on top of and around muscle, it is critical that the muscles are loose and soft. So when performing any foam rolling, never tense your muscles as you roll. I like to envision the foam roller as a rock in the middle of a stream, and my muscles as the water, flowing over and around the rocks freely. So remember to keep your muscles loose!
I believe the upper leg and hip are the easiest areas of the body on which to use a foam roller, so those are the areas we'll discuss below. Both groups of muscles stretch approximately from the top of your hip to just below your knee. After performing these maneuvers, you should notice increased flexibility and mobility and decreased pain.
Front of the Leg/Quadriceps Group
1. Begin with the foam roller directly under the top of your pelvic bone. It should feel uncomfortably high on your pelvis; this is where the longest quad muscle begins. Push your body up with your forearms into a loose pushup position, so that you are resting on your forearms and allowing your body weight to lay over the foam roller.
2. Engage your core and start to roll toward your knee. If you notice any tight areas as you're rolling, pause there and roll a few more times.
Side of the Leg/IT Band/Tensor Fascia Latae
1. Begin by laying on your side, legs stacked on top of each other, with the foam roller under the very top of your pelvic bone. Prop yourself up on one forearm, raising your body slightly. Place your other hand in front of your body, for stability.
2. Using that hand to push yourself, slowly roll toward your knee, pausing to spend more time on any tight areas. Move your arms around as necessary to support yourself; you should never feel like you need increased upper body strength to perform this exercise; it should be about using the foam roller as a fulcrum for your body.
These are my two favorite exercises using the foam roller. What are your favorites? Do you have any other ideas for exercises using this tool? Chat with me at my Westport office, comment on my blog, or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you! In the meantime, take good care of yourself between massage therapy sessions!
For your neck and jaw tension
Stress. Tension. A tight neck. Headaches. It's definitely the time of year for these common complaints. Your sternocleidomastoid muscle can often be the culprit. We use this muscle constantly when we keep our head up, and even a tax it a little more when we keep our heads slightly forward, such as when using a computer or driving. It can also be related to terrible jaw pain and aches, as it attaches to the jawbone. What can we do to alleviate this pain? The “mermaid” stretch.
The sternocleidomastoid (or “SCM”) is a conveniently named muscle, in that it tells us where it attaches in it's name. “Sterno” tells us this muscle attaches to the sternum, right next to the collarbone in the center of the chest; “cleido” indicates the clavicle, or collarbone; and “mastoid” is the name of the edge of the temporal bone of the skull, that is, the edge we feel directly below our ears.
It's also one of the most superficial muscles in the body, meaning it's very easy to feel. That also means it's very easy to test for tension and stretch! To feel your SCM muscle most easily, lie flat on your back, turn your head to either side, and lift it toward the ceiling. Touch your neck and you'll feel a giant muscle pop up. This is your SCM. Knowing that we need to turn our head to feel this muscle gives us a clue about how to stretch it, as we'll discuss below.
Lie on one side of your body, legs stacked, with your lower arm perpendicular to the rest of your body, out in front of you, palm up. Try to keep a straight line in your entire body, rather than bending your legs at the hip; activate your core muscles by pulling your belly button into your spine. Raise your top arm directly up, toward the ceiling, holding it straight.
Drop your head to the floor. This is the crucial element of the stretch; we learned that turning our head activates this muscle, and turning it away in this position is the opposite motion, which will relax and stretch it. At this point, you can drop your head straight down to the floor, or even play with the angle of your chin to stretch different points of the muscle where they connect to your jaw.
With your head still dropped, stretch your top arm over your head, trying to touch the wall nearest your head.
Slowly move your arm toward your body, imagining dragging your fingers across the ceiling.
If you notice a point where your arm is moving and your SCM feels tighter, pause and move your arm and/or jaw in little circles. This will help move the smaller muscle fibers in that particular area.
Hold the stretch in any position for as long as you feel you need to. Repeat on the other side.
This is my absolute favorite stretch to perform after sitting for a long time, such as in a car or at a class. If you notice a little tension in your jaw after talking and partying, give this stretch a try. It has been shown to be involved in jaw pain and headaches. You might be surprised to note how tense this muscle is when you stretch it! If you feel more neck pain than can be helped, it's time to book a massage therapy session with me. I'll see you in my Westport office!