As a massage therapist, a HUGE part of my job is to educate clients so I can equip them with the information they need to help their chronic pain on their own time. In my eyes, I am not doing my job right if someone has had numerous sessions with me and we haven’t made any progress. A tremendous amount of the healing comes after the massage, it comes from the clients willingness to take action and do the exercises.
Over the years I have seen many types of injuries but for the most part I hear over and over the same complaints, sometimes even verbatim. Neck, Shoulder, and low back are the most common areas but the hip/glut area also has it’s own hot spots I often see.
It doesn’t take me long to identify a trigger point, at times when I have a new client I surprise them with my ability to hone in on a trigger point so quickly. Since I have been a massage therapist for 14 years I can say with confidence I know some stuff about muscle.
After a treatment session I always offer advice on ways for the client to help themselves, I know massage is expensive and for many it is simply not in the financial cards to come back month after month. This is why I often have a few items around the office to quickly show them. This will give them an idea of what I am talking about and things they can do to help themselves with just a small investment. Before I go into self-care items you can buy I want to share a few freebies that might help you as well!
Self Care Strategies:
It may be a surprise to you but the majority of my clients are white collard office workers. You would tend to think it would be someone with a labor intensive job, but that’s not the case. I have a lot of labor workers as well, but I would say the majority of my clients are those that site at a desk all day.
The human body was not meant to sit still like that, we were meant to MOVE . The majority of my sessions are spent warming the muscles just so I can stretch and elongate them. Most of my clients relief comes from me simply opening up the muscle to allow fresh blood to enter the area. Yes it is always better when someone else does the work for you, but I’m expensive! Besides the expense, as we get older life only seems to get busier and busier so finding time for yourself to get a massage or go see a chiropractor is often difficult. Regular stretching will do so much for you it’s insane, but people don’t do it! Check out these stretches, they are simply, you need no additional space but your desk or cubical, so no excuses:
These are some basic but highly effective way to keep your body from sustaining common injuries I see everyday. Focus on the head, neck and shoulder areas especially but don’t forget about the hips and hands as well.
Having trouble finding balance in your work and home life? You want to workout but you don’t have time or the energy after work? Then try these low impact, high result movements that with time and dedication you will feel better and start to see some results.
Your hands and shoulders get it the worst if you are busy all day typing away. So be sure to give your hands some love every change you get. As a massage therapist I am constantly stretching my hands, at work, at home, in the car at a stop light, I am relentless with hand stretches.
All of these stretches can be applied at home and they should be if you are experiencing chronic pain throughout the day. To get your body back to a healthy place it will take work but it is not impossible. I hope you believe me when I say that. I absolutely understand your frustration with the pain you feel on a daily basis. It breaks my heart to listen to my clients stories of their pain, try these stretches and commit to it! You may just surprise yourself.
Things to consider outside of work:
For many, the bad body posture and poor repetitive motions don’t stop at 5 o’clock, we carry those bad habits with us everywhere we go. Common bad habits:
- Heavy purses
- Wallets in back pocket
- Excessive cell phone and video game usage
- Sleeping on your stomach or side
It is absolutely unnecessary for you to carry a 15 pound purse everywhere you go. I tell my clients to dump everything onto your bed and pick out what you use everyday and put that into a small purse you carry with you. If you still feel the need to have your other items, keep a larger purse with those items in that and keep it in your trunk for when you need them.
In addition to lightening up your purse try to be conscious of how you carry your bag.
- Try to switch sides often
- Alternate from shoulder to forearm as needed
- Or rock a fanny pack 🙂
You guys can be just as guilty for having way to much in your wallets. Take a second or two and clean that thing out! Once you have lightened the load be sure NOT TO SIT ON YOUR WALLET. It is perfectly fine to walk around with it in your back pocket but try to remember not sit on it.
- Take it out when you are at work
- Don’t drive with it in your back pocket
- Or rock a fanny pack as well!
3: Excessive cell phone and video usage
This is a big problem for all of us. When you spend every minute of the day looking at a computer and then looking down at your phone or sitting on the couch, arms extended forward playing video games, it is killing your body!
It may come as a shock to you but there is a great big awesome world out there just waiting for you! Shocking I know, but seriously guys you need to get off your whatever devices and move your body.
- Look someone in the eyes
Everywhere I go, everyone is looking down and they are missing this amazing experience called LIFE! I highly recommend you try it sometime.
4: Sleeping on your stomach or side
I can completely relate when it comes to seeing improperly. I was a dedicated stomach sleeper then I got pregnant and became a side sleeper and now I am all over the place. When you sleep on your stomach, you are forced to rotate your head to one side or the other. When doing this night after night, your neck muscles will be in a constant state of flexion and when a muscle is flexed absolutely no blood gets through the area. This is how you wake up with a stiff neck.
While sleeping on your stomach you may also notice shoulder pain on one side or the other. This is due to the fact you likely have one arm stretched above your head. Anytime you have a limb extended above your heart, blood can not flow to the area. By doing this night after night you could potential whined up with some serious issues like frozen shoulder.
Side Sleeping: Side sleeping is a bit better but you can still have some issue with this position. Prolonged side sleeping can lead to shoulder, neck and hip issues. However, some proper pillow placement could help ease these pressure spots. If you do not use pillows to offset the pressure of sleeping on your side. You can expect decreased range of motion in your shoulders and decreased range or motion in your neck impacting the carotid artery and brachial plexus.
Side sleeping can also play a part with hip pain. As you lay on your side your hip will dip inward towards your center. Night after night of this and you can be certain you will be needing my services sooner then later.
If you are going to sleep on your side, have it be your left side.
Sleeping on the left side lets the stomach and pancreas hang naturally because our stomach lies on the left side of the body. This can make sure the body keeps creating pancreatic enzymes and will help other digestive processes.
The Best position to sleep in is on your back with a medium size pillow under your neck and preferably a small bolster under your knees. I do realize this position will not work for most, I’m just stating the facts as they are presented to me 🙂
Dehydration is something I talk about a lot and that is because so may of us are in a constant state of it and it is killing our muscles and joints!
Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive.
Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work properly. For example, water:
- Gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements
- Keeps your temperature normal
- Lubricates and cushions joints
- Protects sensitive tissues
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:
- About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
- About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
For a more comprehensive overview of proper water consumption please click here. Now it’s time to get into the fun stuff. I compiled a list of items that I have used over the years and have suggested to clients. There is one item on the list I have not personally used but it was suggested to me by a client who thinks it is just amazing and he said it deserves to be on the list.
6 self-care products under $40
1: Foam Roller
I have been using foam rollers for years because you can use them for SO MANY THINGS! Foam rollers are not just for the gym, they are for anytime you have muscle aches. I.T. Band pain- roll it out, Glut pain-roll it, our Caffs bugging you, guess what you can roll that too. These things are awesome and easy to use, this particular one comes with a little how to guide for any beginners out there. Check out Amazon for the current price
I am new to using Lacrosse balls for self care and pain management. In preparation for this article I purchased a set to try them out. First I must warn you, if you have a dog you should probably open the amazon box in another room because my big goofy girl was awfully dissipated when she learned those were not for her. Lacrosse balls are dense small balls that can fit in the pawn of your hand. They are made of rubber and the two pack I recommend come in blue and red. They are dense but they have a little give and they are best for your shoulder around the shoulder blade and for your feet which I enjoyed that quite a bit.
To use the lacrosse balls on your back, lay on the floor and place one or both balls in between your shoulder blades and just rest into them. Once you body becomes used to them you can then start to move your arm around to get a deeper stretch. When rolling out your feet, you can do this sitting or standing while to apply pressure. I recommend sitting so you do not lose your balance and it is easier to apply deeper pressure as needed. Check Amazon for price
This next item I have literally owned for 14 years and I have used it a million times. I bought it when I was in massage school and I use it on my clients and myself. The still point inducer is for headaches brought on by the contraction of the muscles in the back of your neck. The back of your neck right where the spine begins you have a muscle group called the occipitals. These muscles may be small but they are powerful. Many tension headaches are brought on my the occipitals and the still point inducer was designed specifically for them. Although, over the years I have also used this tool for low back pain and glut trigger points as well. It is a thicker foam but it does have some give to it so it’s perfect for most people as it is easy to use and comfortable. Click here for the latest price
4: VooDoo Floss
Full disclosure, I have not used this product but I have a client who says this stuff is legit! VooDoo tape is a strong, latex band that can help stabilize any area you apply it to. When using voodoo floss I recommend you watch a few YouTube videos to get better acquainted with it. This band will help with increasing range of motion and decrease swelling. Click here for price
5: Yoga Wheel
A yoga wheel is a fun tool to work with. If you Google images of this item, you will likely see a lot of super skinny yoga ladies doing poses that don’t seem possible. OK, I am not a super skinny yoga chick, but that doesn’t mean this tool is not helpful. You can do a variety of movements with the wheel, but I chose this item for this list based on its ability to open the chest and massage the spine in a way I could see an average person be able to easily do. Once you became comfortable with the wheel you could really explore your flexibility and have some fun with it to. Click here for current price
I have talked about massage cupping a lot on my site, why? Because they work! Silicone massage cups can be used for both personal and professional use. I have used massage cups for 2 years and I believe in there ability to heal so much I just order 2 more sets yesterday (which I will have a video for later). You can do so much good with cups, it’s crazy. If you suffer from pain, you should have a set on hand to use. If you would like to learn more about the art of cupping massage please click here. Once you purchase you first set be sure to check out my videos for tips and trick on how to correctly use them.
That’s a rap:
OK guys, as always I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions regarding any of these products don’t hesitate to ask. If you liked the article and would like to see more articles like this, give me a thumbs up below.