Posts Tagged ‘stretching’

Sciatia and Stretching

Working on Your Sciatica With a Stretching Routine

Lots of the clients who come for back massage or sports massage in Ely Cambs are suffering from sciatica. So what exactly is sciatica? In simple terms if it is muscular then it is caused by one of your buttock muscles pressing on your sciatic nerve and irritating it which will send symptons down your leg.

If you have visited your GP and he thinks your problem is caused by compression of the nerve by muscle rather than a herniated disc then he may well have sent you away with a prescription for pain killers and you are not sure what you should be doing about this discomfort now.

Well firstly, if you keep living your life the way you have been living it, it’s pretty certain this won’t be the only episode of sciatica you suffer. You can’t change your job or your commute – unless you live quite close to work in which case you could get up a little earlier and walk it. What you can change is what you do with your body in your leisure time. Seek out a remedial massage therapist to give you some advice on your posture and how to correct it, some hands on physical therapy to ease the symptoms and advice about a sequence of stretching to loosen up your tight muscles.

Stretching and massage can help you to get you body back to functional balance. Even in people who exercise regularly muscles can become imbalanced. Some will become short and tight and will pull the skeleton in odd directions causing pinching and pain. Think about it , you have a big pile of letters, you need an elastic band on each end to secure all these letters but you have one short thick one and one long thin one. How is your pile of letters going to look when you have secured it? It’s going to look wonky! That is how your body will look with one tight muscle and one overstretched one, the tight one needs stretching to restore balance.

Fixing sciatica need not always be a major thing and seeing a remedial massage therapist could well help you make big changes to your life.

Ignoring Hamstring Stretches Leads to Low Back Pain

Runners Remember, Ignoring Your Post Run Stretching

Routine Will have an Impact on Lower Back Pain

Tight Hamstrings are a nuisance to us all. It’s not just runners who suffer from tight hamstrings. They are the set of muscles on the backs of your thighs, comprising the semi- tendinosus, semi-membranosus and the long and short head of the biceps femoris. They run rom the ischial tuberosity – your ‘sitting bone’ along the back of the femur to the bones of the lower leg just below the knee. Their job is the flexion and extension of the leg.

Sometimes genetics will determine that you have short hamstrings, sometimes the things you do will cause it. Either way you should do your best to keep them long, strong and felxible.

Tight hamstrings pull on the pelvis tilting it upwards and altering the whole mobility of the spine and giving you an unattractive pot belly! This not only looks unattractive but causes low back pain. Stretching legs out after running – and don’t ignore the quads either because this will lead to an imbalance – is an important part of your training.

Add to stretching a good deep soft tissue massage at least once a month and your will ward off low back pain. Keeping mobile if you have a sedentary job, a regular, if not daily, yoga routine and a visit to you remedial massage therapist wsill all make a huge difference to how your back feels. Your massage therapist will be able to give youlots of lifestyle and exercise advice and stretches which will keep you in good shape.

Tight Hamstrings and Lower Back Pain

Tight Hamstrings and Lower Back Pain

If you are suffering from lower back pain the first thing you need to do is a bit of detective work to help work out what is causing it. The first port of call is your health professional. Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether your lower back pain is caused by an underlying problem. You would be well advised to seek the help also of an Osteopath, look for one locally on the General Osteopathic Council website where you will find registered practitioners for your area listed.

One of the causes for lower back pain can be tight hamstrings. If the hamstrings are overly tight then they shorten the posterior sling, tilting the pelvis backwards at the hip joints and deactivating the gluteus maximus – the power house of your body. This can cause all sorts of problems, probably the most troublesome of which is lower back pain.

When I see a new patient I do a quick check to see what their glutes and hamstrings are up to. Usually I find hamstrings are busy doing the work of the glutes! Very friendly of them, but no use to you whatsoever, you need your glutes to be working efficiently. Often even when patients are specifically exercising the glutes it will be the hamstrings which are doing the work and getting tighter and tighter, which will just exacerbate a low back problem.

Stretching the hamstrings and learning how to exercise your glutes efficiently will help. Lie on the floor with one knee bent and the foot on the floor. Hook your hands around the knee of the other leg and then raise that leg  into the air. Gently pull the raised leg into flexion and until you can feel the pull in the hamstrings and hold for a minute or so. Repeat with the other leg. You should do this daily.

It may take some time to release off tight hamstrings, massage can help enormously in this process, helping to break down fibrous tissue and restore suppleness.

Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Stretches for Neck and shoulder Pain

We are all working hard right now to get our desks clear in time for the holiday season. Stress levels are rising and this leads to neck and shoulder pain and tension.

Long hours at your desk or craning towards your laptop in the evenings can really exacerbate neck and shoulder pain. Don’t underestimate how much lifestyle can affect your body.  The key factor in muscle pain is often just the sheer number of hours you spend doing the same old things with no respite.I am always amazed at how much people expect their bodies to do without exercise, or worse, if they are actually taking time to exercise, without stretching out.

If your neck and shoulders are hurting then take a break. Go and get a coffee, Do a few simple stretches. Your neck and shoulders do a big job supporting your head and sitting hunched forward over your desk closes up your chest and puts strain on the muscles which keep your shoulder joints moving freely. Some gentle stretches will prevent these muscles from getting locked into position – remember to do the stretching gently, the idea is to make the muscles more comfortable not to pull them in the process.

Here are a few simple stretches you can try, always proceed gently and don’t overstretch.

The Levator Scapula is always a nuisance, it runs from the base of your skull to the corner of your shoulder blade. Always try to keep your head in a neutral position, as though it were floating from a balloon. If you feel a burning point of pain between your shoulder blade and spine about mid-way down your shoulder blade try gently dropping your head forward and then stretching it to an angle of approximately 45 degrees first in one direction, holding for a slow minute and then in the other direction. Remember to drop down the shoulder which you are stretching away from. If you move your head slightly more towards your shoulder it will then stretch the Trapezius along the side of your neck too.

To stretch across your upper back , stretch one arm out straight in front of you and with the other arm placed just above its elbow, pull the straight arm gently towards your body until you can feel the stretch behind your shoulder blade. Repeat with the opposite arm. It is essential  that you stretch your chest muscles to relieve the pressure on your back, you can do this whilst you wait for the coffee machine! Just stand in a door frame with your hands placed at chest level on the frame, then just lean your body forwards through the doorway until you feel the stretch on your chest and hold until its your turn at the coffee machine.

I would always advocate regular massage for neck and shoulder pain. It does lots to ease the tension in the upper body. It can sometimes take a little while to reap the benefits, many patients come to me in desperation after conventional medicine has failed to ease their symptoms. Often though, just one treatment will make a significant difference.

Is Massage an Effective Treatment for Muscle Pain?

Is Massage an Effective  Treatment for Muscle Pain?

What is massage and is it really an effective in the treatment of muscle pain and spasm? Manual therapy in the form of massage and stretching of the musculature has been practised for hundreds of years. In his writings, the Greek physician Hippocrates stated ‘rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose or loosen a joint that is too rigid’.

Neither muscles which are over tight and inflexible or conversely, lack tone and are therefore too lax will work efficiently.Massage skilfully applied can have the effect of mildly increasing muscle tone. Massage will never be a replacement for exercise but it increases the blood flow to the muscles bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients via the arterial circulation. These are exchanged for waste products released from the muscles during massage which are then removed by the venous circulation.The very act of massaging the muscle causes the muscle to react which helps to improve the muscle tone at the same time.

Massage has been widely used in the treatment of muscle pain since the beginning of the last century and is still the most effective way to remove ‘trigger points’-areas of knotty fibres in the muscle which may cause extreme pain, referred pain or sometimes just a reduction in the working efficiency of the muscle.A skilful therapist will be able to elongate the contractured sarcomeres within the muscle helping to restore to normal length and function.

There are many massage techniques which can be used to release tired contracted muscles.The majority of these massage techniques should not be particularly painful. It is important for massage to be applied slowly. When I am working on my patients at my practice in Ely I use a pressure release technique to remove trigger points. It requires considerable manual skill. Identifying and treating trigger points requires a sensitive touch. The massage therapist has to be able to find the trigger point by palpation and apply pressure to it within the patients comfort zone, identifying the point at which it releases thus reducing the muscle pain.

Trigger points are very often implicated in muscle pain though most people will never have heard of them. If you are suffering from muscle pain it may well be that you have active trigger points, especially if you perform repetitive actions during the course of your day.If you live near to Ely it would be well worth coming in to have a course of treatment with me to alleviate your pain.Once your muscle pain has been treated with massage it is certainly beneficial to have regular massage. Massage is as important an adjunct to a healthy lifestyle as eating sensibly,exercising regularly, stretching your muscles, hydrating properly and getting plenty of sleep. A healthy body needs to relax and de-stress, touch has been shown to be beneficial,massage is soothing and relaxing, it increases blood flow flushes out toxins and smooths out the muscle fibres and it has been shown to reduce blood pressure for a significant number of hours afterwards. In brief it is good for you.