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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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