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6 Areas to Target for Immediate Relief with Massage

6 Areas to Target for Immediate Relief with Massage

If you suffer from aches, pains, or stiffness, you might assume you have two options: spend a fortune on a massage therapist or just live with it.But there’s a third option: self-massage.

Foam rollers, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, sticks — they’re all cheap, convenient, simple to use, and incredibly effective. Use them for just ten minutes daily, and you can reduce muscle pain and tension while increasing your flexibility.

Self-massage tools increase blood circulation and smooth out “knots” in your muscles and connective tissues caused by dehydration, overuse, and injury. The longer these adhesions go untreated, the tighter the surrounding muscle becomes and the more pain you feel. Here are six ways self-massage can help. Watch the videos to see James Kilgallon, CSCS., creator of Mazlo’s Body Maintenance Program, show you how to perform each technique.

1. You will reduce lower back pain.

If you’ve never experienced lower back pain, you’re one of the lucky few. The lower back is a prime target area for pain because the spine, made up of 33 small bones called vertebrae, must carry the weight of your whole body. Lifting weights, running, jumping, and chronic sitting all place stress on the lower back.

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One highly effective way to reduce lower back pain is to massage the quadratus lumborum (a back muscle) and the erector spinae (muscles running along the outside of the vertebrae) with a small, dense ball like a lacrosse ball.

2. You will relieve tension headaches.

Do you slouch at a desk all day? Do you feel stressed out and overwhelmed? If so, you’re a prime candidate for throbbing tension headaches. Tension headaches are often caused by muscle contractions in the head and neck. They can be relieved by kneading the upper trapezius muscle (located near your neck and shoulder) with a massage stick.

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3. Your hips will become more flexible.

Why do you need stronger, more flexible hips? Well, if you’re a runner, you’ll run faster. If you’re a cyclist, you’ll pedal with more power. If you lift weights, you’ll lift heavier. If you don’t do a lick of exercise, you’ll be able to bend over to pick up a dropped pen without groaning.

Plus, if your hips can move every which way, you’re less prone to injury and better able to perform basic movements like squatting and bending. Yet most of us have limited hip mobility and flexibility. That’s because our quadriceps (upper thigh) muscles are tight; so are our iliotibial (IT) bands, the bands of connective tissue that run along the outside of the upper thigh. Foam rolling the quads and IT bands will loosen up this tissue.

4. Your posture will improve.

Hunching over your computer all day creates muscle imbalances; in other words, some muscles become short, tight, and overactive while others weaken out of neglect. The resulting imbalance leads to pain and makes us prone to injury. Enter the “peanut” tool. Rolling your back on this simple device (you can make it yourself!) will loosen and relax your back muscles, so you can hold yourself in a more upright, natural posture.

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5. You will reduce foot pain.

Whether you’re sedentary or you work out daily, you may have encountered pain in the connective tissue (plantar fascia) that spans the bottom of your feet. It can be caused by injury, overuse, a sudden increase in activity, even weight gain.

At first, plantar fasciitis isn’t awful. You feel tenderness in your heel or arch, typically first thing in the morning, and the pain subsides as you start walking around. But as the condition progresses, stepping from your bed onto a hardwood floor feels like stepping onto a bed of nails, and the burning pain follows you around all day.

Massaging the soles of your feet with a tennis ball can remove adhesions in the plantar fascia that can’t be stretched out. It also sends blood flow to your feet, warming up your foot muscles for additional exercises you may do.

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6. Your shoulders will be more resistant to injury.

Shoulder pain and injury is more common than you may think. Whether you feel a twinge of pain while picking up your kids or have severely limited function and chronic discomfort from too much overhead pressing, self-massage can help. The best tool for releasing adhesions in the shoulder muscles is a lacrosse ball.

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Sharen Ross

Marketing Strategy Consultant

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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