Are you one of many that the pain or muscle tightness in your neck and shoulder returns before your next appointment?
Neck and shoulder issues are common and often these issues can be reoccurring. Work, play and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while doing household chores, gardening, playing on the computer or phone, or any of the other million things you do.
What can you do between your maintenance appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Well here are some tip/ideas to help you with self-care.
Take a Break
This is often overlooked. Take short breaks as often as you can, especially if you sit at a computer all day. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally it is best to get up and move around a bit, but even if you're chained to the desk, you can rock out a great “deskercise routine” to stay loose.
Get the kids into it
Get the kids involved. Have a short yoga break together! There are plenty of videos online made especially for kids, and the moves are just as beneficial for adults. Want a bonus? There are lying-down postures and maybe, just maybe you could grab a quick naptime.
Heat helps your tissue and blood flow. Just 10-15 minutes of gentle heat on your shoulders or neck can make a huge difference in how everything moves and feels. A wheat bag is great here as it is portable and most work places also have microwaves to use. Remember if you need to upgrade or need to purchase your wheat bag, we have stock, so pick one up on your next appointment.
Try it, you might be surprised how much this helps! If that’s not your thing you can always use one of the fantastic spiky massage balls. These are easy to use and you don’t need much pressure to help. Ask about one next time you visit.
Choose the right pillow
You spend about a third of your time in bed, so make sure it's not only cozy, but supportive for your neck. Side-sleepers have different needs than belly-sleepers. Make sure you sleep on the right pillow and this can help you all day. Remember to replace your pillow as well when you aren’t’ getting the support you need.
A few minutes of self-care every day, some little changes, and you can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment!
The standing desk. We are always reading about them. It is being sold as the answer to a lot of issues we face. There is a big shift to get people to stand and move around more as sitting for long periods is not good for you. So here is the idea of the desk that allows you to stand while you work instead of sitting, but is it any better than the traditional desk where you sit down to work.
The Standing Desk
I like the idea behind it and yes I agree that you need to move around more. For those of you that work in an office, it could help you to do this, but there are some things that most people have forgotten about when it comes to the standing desk.
Standing for long periods for most people is uncomfortable. Just think about when you are standing in a queue for a checkout. Do you have good posture? The common standing positions I see are:
For most people you don’t have the strength in your core muscles to keep the good posture required to use a standing desk, even for shorter periods of time.
The Seated Desk
While this is the traditional desk, being cheaper in cost, it can have its drawbacks as well.
Again posture can be an issue as well as getting your desk set up properly to work at (read more here).
You are more likely to slouch in your chair or lean on one arm while using the mouse while seated as well. For some of us additional equipment is needed to ensure that your set up is right e.g. foot stool.
Once set up properly though we can alleviate most issues.
What should we do?
I have seen many issues that are caused from sitting at a desk all day, but most can be helped by getting the set up right and having plenty of breaks. I do agree that we need to get up and move around more and the standing desk is just one option for this. In-fact working at a computer and/or desk for long periods without any rests or breaks is not good for you. Seated or standing, both have pros and cons.
What we should do is ensure that we:
Always remember to have good posture, plenty of breaks and look after yourself and you will find that the desk is not as harmful as it seems.
Once a week I go to a one on one Pilates session. I love my Pilates session and I have an amazing instructor. Each week my core muscles are trained to be stronger and do a better job, a job they were meant to do, but as everyone knows don’t like to do sometimes.
Core muscles can be lazy
Your abdominal muscles can be lazy, especially if you are feeling tired. They don’t like to work and they inevitably switch off or in some cases, stay tuned out and let other muscles take over the job. This creates tension and restricted movement elsewhere, usually the back for me. We do so much on a day to day basis that requires these muscles to work that for them not to function or not work fully can really overload other areas of your body. Sometimes it takes a bit of mind of matter to get them doing what they should be doing, but once that habit is formed it is a lot easier.
My posture has improved. Who knew I could actually be this tall. When your posture improves, your shoulders aren’t rounded, so you do feel taller. The area I notice this the most is when I am helping someone who is lying on the table. I can now easily feel when my posture isn’t right and I am able to correct this, averting any occupational aches and pains that could come my way.
When I help someone I always look at both sides of the body to help with balance. Strength and balance can also be different when working out. Doing certain Pilates exercises you can always tell which is your more dominant side as it likes to take over or the exercise is a lot harder to do on that side. Also when stretching you can always tell which side is tighter or less flexible. With this in mind you are able to help and work the not so strong side so the body is more balanced in action.
Help for other exercise
When doing other exercise whether it is walking, cycling or even weights you can find you can sometimes be stronger than you think. Those wonderful core muscles have been working so when you do any other exercise you find it can be easier as you are stronger. This is because your core is doing the job it was meant to do. Core strength is also fantastic at helping you walk hills and stairs too. You are able to walk up with pace and you don’t bend over so you still have the space to breathe as well.
Core Strength is amazing
I still have heaps of training and work to do, but it is amazing to do a certain Pilates exercise and actually get there all on core strength. You never thought you could actually do some of these exercises that you see, but you actually can.
Who knows maybe one day I will be able to do some of these wonder woman moves that my instructor can, but for now I will just try to make it through “the hundred”.
Recently we did some redecorating. The room we use at the clinic got a makeover. Being novice DIY’ers in this area we were researching and asking heaps of questions to make sure we got all the steps right.
This got me thinking of what we do when we have a complex or old injury that someone has come in for some help. Following the steps can be vital in getting a great result and of course working as a team to ensure everything runs smoothly.
First step prep
When decorating this means clearing the room of everything. That is a job in itself. Then there is filling in the holes in the walls, sanding, then clean. As they say if you take the time with your preparation most of the other steps go well.
When you have an old or complex injury there is a lot involved. There will be different areas of muscles involved that aren’t part of the injury, but they have switched on to keep you moving or to do some day to day activities.
First is to make sure you share everything when it comes to what is happening. You may not think that the inside of your knee has anything to do with your back or shoulders, but it does give me a good picture of how your body is supporting you and what other areas need help and support as well.
Well who thought this task would be the most time consuming. Thinking this would be easy we just taped away, but what a job. Get this right and as the professionals say, the lines are good and the job looks good as well.
Getting the body ready to get help can be for some people a slow process. We usually start off by addressing balance, stance and usually sleep patterns are the first to improve.
Order of work/assistance
When painting from ceiling to floor, did you know there is an order you should do this to ensure it is easier. We learnt this when asking questions but once you know it makes sense – ceiling, trims and doors then last is the walls. Of course don’t forget your base coat, primer before anything.
We start by working on the outer or first level of your muscles. There are many areas of muscles and we can’t help a deep level muscle without giving the first level the attention it deserves otherwise the pain/tension cycle will continue.
The colour, the whole reason you starting doing this paint job in the first place.
This is when we start to target the actual injury. All the other affected areas have settled down and aren’t causing any issues. For some this does mean that this area can seem more painful or tight as there is nothing else causing issues. When this happens some people think they have gone backwards when in fact everything has been narrowed down to the specific or targeted injury area.
Finish and Maintenance
When done you stand back and look at your handiwork – pleased expression on your face, well I did. First DIY paint job and it wasn’t too bad. Then comes the return of the furniture, and then maintenance. Maintenance you say, what do you need to do for maintenance of the room – well that is actually the cleaning and keeping it tidy.
This is when I see excitement on the faces of my clients. They are doing some normal everyday activities they couldn’t do before or they have started back doing something that they couldn’t do before the injury – the ultimate goal they had when coming to see me. They can do more and achieve more than before.
What is good to do now is to keep the flow and rhythm going that we have achieved. Keep your body moving and working the way it should. Schedule in your maintenance sessions. They could be every 4, 5 or 6 weeks apart. This usually depends on how your body feels with these breaks. Does going to 6 weeks means your muscles are quite sore and tight? Maybe try 5 weeks apart and see how that goes.
For me, personally, I have a session with a colleague every 4-5 weeks. This keeps me moving and in tune to help you.
By following the steps and working together we can make a difference and you can do more and achieve more.
You have to look after the family, then there are the household chores to do, and then there is work. On top of this you know you should exercise to keep strong and healthy.
You’re exhausted, stressed and sleep deprived.
While you sleep your body does most of its healing. If you think about it when you aren’t feeling the best you sleep quite a lot. Your body needs to rest and recover and your mind also needs to relax as well. When you are stressed your body produces cortisol to help you cope which in small doses is ok for you, but if you are constantly under stress your body is always on alert.
Your muscles are always fired up ready to go. Then it happens. You have done this activity so many times before, but this time your back doesn’t like it. You wake up and you can hardly turn your neck. You trip or slip on something and then you have hurt or back, shoulder, or leg.
Does any of this sound familiar?
You have missed or ignored all the signals. You haven’t rested, relaxed or given your body time to heal. By being constantly on the go, our bodies will eventually tell us by having an injury or illness and this will slow us down. You can create this muscular tension, which reduces your flexibility, and range of motion. Sleep can become more difficult as there is pain and your body can feel very unbalanced.
By taking some time and investing in your health, I can help you to:
Don’t set yourself up for an injury. Book some time out and look after yourself. Give me a call and together we can help your body recover.
Winter sports are here, so whether you are a weekend warrior, an elite sportsperson, or helping out with the kids sports team, here are 4 tips to help with your warm up.
1 Don’t stretch cold
You need to warm up first before stretching. Getting the blood flowing into those muscles before stretching can also mean you don’t injure yourself. When you are cold, you might need to do more of a warm up, but still start slow and steady.
By stretching cold you are trying to stretch muscles and other soft tissues that don’t have enough blood flow in them to do anything and of course if you’re cold they are cold as well.
Slow, gentle jogging or a run is a good start. This also gets your lungs working as well.
2 Don’t over stretch
Stretching helps increase the blood flow into your muscles and it also helps with flexibility. This gives your muscles more movement. However let pain be your guide. Only ever stretch to your ability, don’t push the stretch. You want to get your muscles working, not injure them.
Remember if a stretch causes pain to stop straight away. The stretch maybe too deep to start off with, or it may not be the stretch for you. There are plenty of stretches out there that work the same muscle group, sometimes it is a matter of finding the ones that work for you.
3 Stretch all muscle groups
Whatever sport you are doing you will use all muscle groups, so stretch them all. They may not be the main muscles that you use, but they will be used, so look after your body and stretch them all.
Remember your shoulders are linked to your back and your back is linked to your legs. Are you seeing the picture here? By forgetting one group you can affect another group very easily. This is why a lot of injuries can affect muscles that we don’t even think we are using.
4 Learn what works
Everybody is different and that goes with warming up as well. Yes there are the same stretches and the same type of warm up that everybody does, but you need to know what works for you.
Learn what your muscles needs. Here are some different scenarios.
It could also change depending on the weather e.g. if it is really cold or even rain could change what you do.
Sometimes we tend to forget the importance of a good warm up. By looking after yourself before during and after whatever sport you are doing, you can decrease your chances of an injury which keeps you enjoying the activities you like doing.
If you are unsure about what stretches to do or how to do them, let me know, I would be happy to help.
Busy-ness is the trend these days. People carry over-packed schedules like winning trophies. “I’m SO busy at work!” “How do you have time to do that? I’m too busy to read/watch TV/exercise/do anything fun.”
Too much “busy” could be making you tired, sick, and probably cranky.
When do you relax? “Relaxation” is a word we hear often, but don’t know always know what it means. Here, I’ve compiled some options for you.
re·lax verb \ri-ˈlaks\
More importantly, what does relaxation mean to you?
It’s your job to figure out what you enjoy doing, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from work or home jobs?
You can make your own definition of relaxation.
Then, make time for that.
You have a schedule. Write in special time for a hobby, a nap, massage, your favourite show, a weekend getaway, a new class, ANY thing you enjoy can be relaxing.
Here are some ideas:
Taking care of you is important. And, self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who depend on you. So find the thing that mellows you out, and make it happen!
1. Referral Pain
When you leave pain and try to carry on with your normal everyday activities it’s like you have told your body that the issue is not big enough yet. The affected muscles e.g. lower back can’t do the job they are meant to. This leads to other muscles doing extra work. They are doing their job and the job of the muscles that are already sore. Our bodies can automatically do this, so sometimes it is hard to know. Instead of having pain in a localised area, this leads to a bigger area of your body that is sore and tight and now overworked, e.g. upper back and/or shoulders. The pain has been referred on and now instead of a small group of muscles, it can lead to pain in other areas, shoulders, neck or even headaches. This can make recovery longer and also can be difficult to find the original source of your pain.
When you sleep your body does most of its healing. However, when you are in pain your sleep is disturbed. When you don’t get enough sleep your body can’t do much of this natural healing. This also means your pain can seem more intense or severe as well. I can help by relieving inflammation, and settling the nerves which can be a big cause of your pain. With this relief getting some good quality sleep can be achieved.
When in pain we can change our normal body stance/positions. We can limp on one leg, not turn our head properly, even by holding ourselves differently when we walk if there is pain in your back. By doing these changes you can make your pain feel better, but in doing so you can cause issues for your posture. Again if the pain is left for a long period of time postural changes can happen which can cause more issues for you and make your recovery longer.
Get your pain sorted now. Give Body Target a call on 027 717 3660 and let’s get this sorted sooner rather than later.
Not getting the right set up with your computer can cause you a lot of pain and discomfort.
You could have one or many of the above issues and by not having the right set up when working on your computer you can increase your chances of having pain or discomfort.
Your muscles work together, but by leaving one set sore or tight e.g. your neck, you could increase the possibility of having more muscles overworking and causing you more pain or discomfort e.g. neck to shoulders, arms or wrists.
If you are unsure about your set up or you think this could be contributing to any issues you are having, let me know and I can go through this with you. Sometimes just a little tweaking is all you need.
You use your computer every day, but if you get the set up right you can help yourself.
At Body Target I can be a part of your plan to improve your general health.
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider adding regular sessions of Bowen Therapy and Myofascial Release Therapy to your new wellness routine.
1. Stress Relief/Muscle Relaxation
Every year we spend thousands of dollars and many hours seeking relief from illness. Many of which are stress related, such as headaches, migraines, musculoskeletal conditions, raised blood pressure, and breathing issues.
I can help by reducing muscular tension. This encourages greater blood flow, releases muscle tension and helps to calm your mind. Also improving circulation and enhancing sleep. All of which helps to reduce stress and it may help you avoid illness.
2. Reduces Pain
Clients who have regular Bowen and Myofascial Release therapy sessions, say time spent recovering from injuries is less. They also have less pain due to muscle tension. This means more time enjoying the activities you really want to do.
3. Improves Sleep
Sleep encourages the body to rest and heal. When stressed or in pain, we don’t get the best quality sleep. By using slow gentle moves, we are encouraging your body to relax, which improves your sleep and your energy levels.
4. Improves Circulation
Bowen and Myofascial Release therapy helps improves the circulation of blood. This means more nutrients are able to be distributed through the body better. This helps to repair tissues and can help in the speed of your recovery.
5. Increases Flexibility
Any physical trauma, inflammatory responses and/or surgical procedures can create restrictions and pressure on our body. I can help to restore structural and integral balance, which can decrease tension or tightness and restore normal sensation and movement. This helps to increase your flexibility, power, strength and range of movement.
Let us work together on your healthy New Year’s Resolution.
Give Body Target a call on 027 717 3660.
After getting her life back with the help of Bowen Therapy, Caroline Karton knew it was something she needed to learn for herself, so she could help others.