Three exercises that will solve lower back pain

Chiro-Hands-1170-360-1024x315 Three exercises that will solve lower back pain

 

It’s time to put away the Panadol and grab your exercise mat! There are 3 basic movements that you can do at home that will set you up for a pain free lifestyle.

  • “What are the best exercises to perform to prevent low back pain?”

This is a question we hear a lot in our clinic. The below exercises are my ‘go-to’ for prevention of low back pain. They are straight forward and effective. They have been termed ‘The McGill big 3’ – named after the researcher Stuart McGill.

Stuart McGill is a spinal biomechanics researcher from The University of Waterloo, Canada. The goal of these core exercises are to create spinal stability and endurance – which is essential for                                                                                                                      creating a stable foundation for the lower back.

  • “How do core exercises help my lower back?”

    Let’s talk briefly about muscle movement first. Whenever a muscle contracts to perform a movement, this muscle is considered the “Agonist” muscle. Every agonist muscle has an opposite muscle that is generally relaxed. This is known as the “Antagonist” muscle. The definitions are below:

*Agonist muscles cause a movement to occur through their own activation.

*Antagonist muscles are simply the muscles that produce an opposing joint torque to the agonist muscles.

Chiro-Hands-1170-360-1024x315 Three exercises that will solve lower back painWe experience this every time the arm moves to pick something up. The bicep and tricep muscle in the arm work together as a team. When one is contracting, the other is relaxing. The arm does not bend unless both muscles are involved.

Similar to the team work between the bicep and tricep muscle, the abdominal and back muscles are opposites. Both are required for efficient movement of the torso. When one side of the team is not engaging properly or is weak, the opposite muscles will get over loaded and fatigued.

By strengthening the core muscles, you are training the torso to work together as a unit. When the core is strong, the lower back does not have to work as hard.

The exercises aim to tighten up the front and sides of the core, while supporting the spine and remove gravity from the equation. The exercises are of a low intensity and are safe to perform;

 

Chiro-Hands-1170-360-1024x315 Three exercises that will solve lower back pain

Curl up – 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Bird dog – 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Side Bridge – 3 sets of 8-10 seconds holds, each side.

If the above rep scheme is too hard, you can always modify it by reducing the number of reps and work your way up to the noted rep scheme.

Try doing these exercises before training as well, as it has shown to tighten and stiffen the core.

Perform these exercises once a day, not into pain. If you do have questions, pain or discomfort when performing these exercises, come in and see us and we can either correct your technique or advise you on alternative exercises.

 

 

Chiro-Hands-1170-360-1024x315 Three exercises that will solve lower back pain

 

References:

McGill, S.M. (1997) The biomechanics of low back injury: Implications on current practice in industry and the clinic. J. Biomech. 30: 465-475.

 

McGill, S.M., Low Back Disorders: Evidence based prevention and rehabilitation, Human Kinetics Publishers, Champaign, Illinois, 2002.

 

Everyday activities that might be causing your neck pain

Being a massage therapist is more than just treating the issue at hand. You may think we are just being chatty if we ask you a few questions, but really we are trying to understand the bigger picture of your lifestyle and what can be causing your pain or tension. Here are a few everyday activities that can make a big impact on pain and posture.

1. Chewing Gum

While gum chewing isn’t a health threatening habit to have, over time it can make an impact on the muscles around our mouth. Our bodies weren’t designed to be chewing for hours at a time, so when you chew gum it is possible to overwork the jaw and surrounding muscles in the neck and head. I encourage my clients to be mindful of the time they spend chewing, and make a note if they are getting tension headaches related to chewing (especially during stressful times). Why not take a “gum detox” and just see what happens?

2. The Handbag

Handbag, or shoulder bag as it usually ends up being, is a main cause for shoulder and neck pain. Your body works really hard to keep you balanced when you are carrying 5kgs on one side, and has to make changes to the alignment of the spine to keep you centred. Many of my clients will take a purse, laptop bag and gym back to work and come in with shoulder pain every single month. While it might not look super trendy, a backpack with a chest/stomach support strap (this is very important!) is very effective in distributing the weight and reducing back and shoulder pain.

3. Your Pillow

When was the last time you changed your pillow? Do you love your pillow?

We spend 5+ hours a night attached to it, so it had better be treating us well! The main rule of thumb when purchasing a pillow is that you should feel comfortable on it. This especially applies to density. As for shape of the pillow, a higher pillow will be better for side sleepers (so your neck isn’t angled to the side), medium for back sleepers (ideal sleeping position, ideal posture), and low for stomach sleepers. If you are a stomach sleeper and are experiencing regular neck pain, there is a good chance your sleeping “posture” is contributing to that pain. It’s a hard habit to break, but I would encourage you to try sleeping on your back if possible (even for a couple hours at the beginning of your sleep cycle).

We stock several types of pillows at the clinic – check them our next time you’re in and we can answer any questions you might have.

4. Grinding of Teeth

Some people have a subconscious habit of grinding or clenching their teeth when they are stressed, or when they sleep. Solutions can be discussed with your dentist, but something as simple as a bite plate worn at night can reduce jaw tension, pressure on fascial muscles and prevent damage to teeth. If you are a regular “clencher”, perhaps at work or when you are doing sport, both massage therapists and chiropractors can help to relieve tension in the face by performing soft tissue work to the affected muscles.

While the list isn’t extensive, these common actions and habits can go undiscussed for years at a time and end up contributing to huge amounts of tension build up in the neck and head. A simple change can create a world of difference, so if you are curious about making any of the changes suggested here,  just try it out for a week and see how you feel.

 

3 Involuntary things your body does in a Massage

In addition to feeling relaxed and having looser muscles, what else happens to your body during and after a massage?

Massage Therapist Amanda tells us some of the involuntary things your body does in a massage.

1. Your core body temperature drops

Massage taps in to the autonomic nervous system, the system that processes our flight or fight reactions. Our basal body temperature is the lowest temperature attained during rest, and is usually lowest during sleep. However, when you are incredibly relaxed during a massage, you can start to feel cold due to the 0.2-0.5 degree Celsius drop that is happening in your body.

2. Your stomach starts to rumble (and you might fart!)

Again, the parasympathetic nervous system has been switched on, and your digestive system recognises it is a good time to get to work! It is time to “rest and digest”. As we all know, sometimes digestion can release gas – don’t worry, your therapist won’t be upset or surprised if you let one slip. We are all human, and besides, it happened involuntarily!

3. You feel very dehydrated and need to urinate

During a massage, the transport of fluids is assisted by your therapist, during the hour of kneading your muscles and working through dense areas of tissue. Any metabolic waste that would naturally be processed by the body have just been given the “move on!” by the massage therapist, and travel through the circulatory system via the kidneys to be filtered out. The kidneys release waste through the urine, so if you always have to go to the toilet after a massage, now you know why.

Don’t forget to drink water – your body will need to replenish any fluids lost through urination, and the extra water will help assist with filtration.

These are things that a client will not often mention, but are perhaps thinking of during the treatment. It is then important for the client to communicate with the therapist if there is something else they need. After several years treating, I have learned to pay attention to the body cues from clients, however massage therapists aren’t mind readers, so don’t be afraid to speak up. For example, if you find yourself getting cold, don’t hesitate to ask for another towel/blanket. If stomach is uncomfortable after your digestive system starts working, ask for less pressure around the abdomen. And finally, if you need to go to the toilet – ask! Your therapist would rather have the treatment disrupted, than have you laying there in discomfort for the remainder of the treatment.

I hope you learned something from this short blog post. If there are any questions you would like answered, you can email me at amanda@totalhealthbrookvale.com.au . I look forward to seeing you in the clinic!

5 Things Massage Therapists Hear All The Time

What are the top 5 things massage therapists hear all the time?

Amanda gives us a funny insight into the world of massage therapists.

With more than five years experience in the industry, amounting to 100’s of hours treating, I’ve found there is a common trend to the questions people ask me. I have no doubt it is commonplace across the industry to hear these things, and thankfully most of which I’ll touch on here are innocent and non-offensive. I’ve worked in three massage clinics on the Northern Beaches, however I’m certain what I’ll elaborate on here is not contained only to this area.

So if you have said these things to a therapist, all good! It’s normal! If you have considered asking these questions, finally you will receive the answers.

1. Your partner must be so lucky! Does he get massage all the time?

Answer: No way! The lucky bugger gets to book in just the same as everyone else. Work is for working, home is for relaxing. More often than not I ask him to give me a massage… he reaped the benefits when I was doing my Diploma training.

IMG_3031-300x200 5 Things Massage Therapists Hear All The Time

2. Do you get sore hands?

Answer: Generally, no. It is important to schedule little breaks and do stretches to keep our greatest asset healthy.

IMG_3031-300x200 5 Things Massage Therapists Hear All The Time

3. You must be really strong!

Trade secret, we use bodyweight and posture to get most of the pressure. That’s why it is usually exhausting when you try and give your partner a massage at home – the proper setup is important! However, that being said, I have developed some stronger than normal forearms over the years…

IMG_3031-300x200 5 Things Massage Therapists Hear All The Time

4. Do you ever get massaged?

Answer: I get the most massages when I work in a clinic with other therapists (like Holly!), and  occasionally I try out friend recommendations and get massages on holiday. Unfortunately it’s not as relaxing until the second or third treatment with them, since I am constantly critiquing their treatment.

IMG_3031-300x200 5 Things Massage Therapists Hear All The Time

5. What do you do when someone is really hairy???

Answer: I give them a really good massage! We see all shapes and sizes, so some hair isn’t a problem at all.

IMG_3031-300x200 5 Things Massage Therapists Hear All The Time

 

So I hope that cleared up some of the questions circling in your mind while you lay on the treatment table. I really love massage and getting to chat with my clients, so please don’t hold back if you actually have a question! We don’t like to talk too much about ourselves because the massage is YOUR time, however it’s nice to get to know each other.

If you would like to know more about me, or book a treatment, then click here

Sport Remedial Massage

Northern Beaches Sports Massage explained by Holly Mason

Northern beaches Sports Massage therapist Holly Mason goes into detail as to the benefits of sports massage for both professional and every day athletes.

Although sports massage is specifically tailored to sporting injuries or ailments it is primarily designed to prevent and relieve conditions and injuries associated with exercise. This means sports massage is of great benefit to ANYONE that exercises and not only professional sports people, contrary to its name.

Sports massage focuses on areas of the body that are overused and stressed. The purpose of sports massage is to relieve the tension that can build up in the body’s soft tissues while we are exercising. How does it differ from your average remedial massage? The techniques used throughout a sports massage are often more vigorous, approaching the muscles more deeply to stimulate circulation of blood and lymph fluids and to break down any adhesions (knots) that may be present within the muscle fibres. These techniques are designed to enhance an athlete’s endurance and performance pre event and to decrease their recovery time post event.

Why do we need sports massage? What are the benefits?

Sports massage has many benefits for both the professional athlete and the average person. This includes those of you who regularly go for jogs around the block, take the dog for a walk and play your local game of netball or footy. Sports massage has both physiological and psychological benefits that have an overall impact on your performance. Benifits include:

Promotes Flexibility

Exercise can lead to muscle rigidity especially if you overtrain. Sports massage helps to relax overly tense muscles and provide additional flexibility. Often therapists will include a range of stretching during their treatment to encourage a greater range of motion as the muscles relax.

Shortens Recovery Time

Sports massages are ideal to help the body deal with stress and prevent injury. A sports massage will increase your blood flow and lymph fluids which assist your body’s natural healing process by speeding up waste removal. It also helps to reduce any swelling and inflammation associated with physical activity. Sports massage can be used to treat a number of injuries including shin splints, tennis elbow, sprains and strains, and corked thighs.

Helps Eliminate By-Products of Exercise

Lactic and uric acids are natural by-products of exercise and each can be lessened with an increase in blood and lymph flow to speed up waste removal.

Prepares the athlete psychologically

Sports massage does not only have physical impacts on an athlete. Psychologically, a sports massage can prepare the athletes body and mind for optimal performance as it leaves them feeling invigorated and focused. Sports massages can also instil confidence as an athlete feels more prepared after treating any muscle ailments and soreness.

Prepares the athlete physically

Sports massages prepare an athlete physically by decreasing muscle tension and fatigue and improving their heart rate and blood pressure. The increased blood flow is also very beneficial to athletes as it contributes to improved endurance during training and competition.

leg-massage-300x300 Northern Beaches Sports Massage explained by Holly Mason

Sports Massage

Pre and Post Event Sport Massage

Pre and post event sports massages are designed specifically to help athletes perform optimally and recover quickly after their event.

Pre event sports massage is typically a short and specific treatment performed within the 24 hours prior to a sporting event. The goal is to increase blood circulation and flexibility, and to prepare the athlete mentally to ensure optimal performance. Pre event sports massage focuses on the muscles that will be used most during the event and applies techniques that are fast paced to leave the athlete feeling invigorated and ready to go! Deep tissue massage before an event is contraindicated as it may cause too much of an increase in flexibility and may interfere with muscle strength and timing which the athlete is not used to. Experienced therapists will always have the athlete’s event goals in mind as they are performing the treatment.
Post event sports massage aims to assist with recovery and return the athlete to training as soon as possible without any soreness or injury. Post event, the goal is to calm the nervous system and ease tension within the muscle fibres. The focus is on improving blood flow to tight muscles and re-establishing the athlete’s range of movement. As a result, post event sports massage decreases the chance of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and reduce recovery time. This means the athlete can get back to training quicker without feeling stiff and sore! Post event sports massages are recommended directly after the event for a light rub down and within the few days after the event.

Northern Beaches Sports Massage

Want to incorporate sports massage into your training regime? Interested in hiring our therapists for your event? You can contact us here.

For more about our Services, our Therapists and how to book and appointment visit our massage page by clicking the link below

http://totalhealthbrookvale.com.au/massage-at-total-health-brookvale/

pregnancy massage

Pregnancy Massage explained by Remedial Massage specialist Amanda Suppes

Pregnancy-blog-image Pregnancy Massage explained by Remedial Massage specialist Amanda Suppes

The benefits of pregnancy massage

Every woman’s pregnancy is different, experiencing changes on a daily basis. For many, it can be stressful, uncomfortable, or painful at times. Pregnancy massage by an experienced professional has many benefits both physically and psychologically, which we will explain in this blog post.

Most importantly, is pregnancy massage safe?

In most cases, massage is safe and beneficial for both the mother and baby. However, if you have any questions or concerns as to whether massage would be safe and appropriate for you, please ask your healthcare provider. Deep massage to the belly area is not recommended, and the most important part of the treatment is to ensure total comfort for the woman. The treatments at Total Health are performed on a special pregnancy bed that allows the woman to lay face down (which is safe for a short period of time), or in side lying position if that is more comfortable. Some contraindications to massage include existing blood clots, flu-like symptoms, hypertension, placenta previa, severe abdominal pain, and migraine headaches.

Is massage safe in the first trimester?

Some practitioners will not perform massage during the first trimester due to the risk of being associated with a miscarriage, however, there is no scientific evidence to support that massage can cause miscarriage. The main limiting factor in the first trimester is that the woman may be experiencing nausea or vomiting, in which case the massage cannot be performed.

Pregnancy massage has many benefits.

Just like normal massage, pregnancy massage can bring the woman a sense of deep relaxation. It taps into the part of the brain that releases endorphins, which lower the body’s responses to stress. Even if you are not under stress, this release also encourages a better immune response.

The physical benefits of pregnancy massage are decreased pain, increased flexibility, improved circulation and improved tissue health. Below are a few common symptoms that can be helped by pregnancy massage.

Pregnancy massage can help relieve the following symptoms;

Sciatica

Women can experience symptoms of sciatica due to the pressure put on the lower body later in pregnancy. Sciatica related pain can be relieved through stretching, movement/exercise, and release of the lower back and gluteus muscles.

Fluid Retention

Pregnancy massage can assist in moving fluid from the extremities to help relieve pressure in feet, legs, and hands. A gentle pressure can be very effective and also very relaxing. As the pregnancy progresses, it can become very difficult to reach the toes, so getting a professional (or someone close to you) to massage those areas will bring great relief.

Back Pain

The chest is getting heavier, the core muscles become less effective, and the baby begins to pull everything forward. Often, by the end of the second trimester a woman will begin to experience 0ccasional back pain somewhere along her spine, and sometimes around the ribs. Pregnancy massage can refresh those long and painful muscles and increase circulation to them, ensuring the tissues remain healthy. Many women find relief in a pregnancy massage just from lying face down on the bed for an hour, which can take the pressure off the back.

Left Shoulder Pain

Later in pregnancy, it is recommended that the woman lay only on her left side while sleeping as to not restrict blood flow to the baby. This can take it’s toll over a few weeks and the left neck and shoulder can become locked up. It is important to maintain balance in the body so you don’t end up with one shoulder higher, and a firm pregnancy massage can help break up those knotted muscle fibres.

In summary, pregnancy massage is a wonderful gift that you can give yourself or someone else! There are so many benefits, and every woman should savour the few moments she can have just to herself before welcoming the baby into the world.

We offer a special of $20 off a one-hour massage treatment, for your first pregnancy massage with us.

Just mention “first time offer” when booking and state how many weeks you will be at the time of treatment.

BOOK HERE

Questions? Email Amanda at amanda@totalhealthbrookvale.com.au 

Trigger Points explained by Remedial Massage specialist Amanda Suppes

20130719-_MG_6691-300x200 Trigger Points explained by Remedial Massage specialist Amanda Suppes

The truth behind ‘Trigger points’

So many clients ask me “What is a knot?” “Why are my muscles so hard and painful?”. In this post we discuss tight muscles and the painful points found in them called trigger points, also commonly referred to as muscular knots.

Trigger points can affect your body by:

  • Causing pain and discomfort
  • Limiting range of movement (which leads to muscle compensation)
  • Decreasing tissue health if surrounding muscle is contracted (decreased flow of essential body fluids)
  • Creating pain in other areas of your body
  • Possibly engaging other trigger points, known as satellite points

Now let’s focus on where the knots are generally found.

Each muscle has fibres that run in one direction and do two jobs – contract and relax. Muscles can get stuck in contraction or spasm due to several variables which I will explain by using examples:

Overstimulation

Our muscles can get overstimulated when we use them in new or unfamiliar ways. When we do this, the muscles will often contract to protect the body. Take for example, going back to doing exercise after some time off. Your muscles are now expected to work for longer periods, work faster, and perform unusual movements. Immediately after, or the next day, you find your body stiffened up. This is because your body was not accustomed to the movements and felt safer “holding” the muscles in close to the body, giving them time to recover and relax.

Another common case I see is after a client has woken in the middle of the night, all of a sudden feeling a pinch or twist to the neck. While seconds before their neck was relaxed in sleep state, a sharp movement shocks the muscles and it go into spasm.

Overuse

I like to use a “stress relief ball” as an example of overuse. If you continue to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze the ball, you start to crossover from overstimulation to overuse.

Fibres in your muscle bands get tighter, don’t want to stretch out as far, and points start to get tender. Hello trigger point! Your muscle gets so tired from the stimulation and wants to protect itself, so it doesn’t extend to its normal healthy length.

When clients come in presenting pain due to a sedentary job, it is generally due to a combination of overstimulation leading to overuse. For example, your lower back is put under pressure continuously due to long hours driving. Initially your back muscles are a bit surprised at the effort needed to maintain that sitting position, so  they gets sore. If you push through that, you are then overusing the muscles in the area and they hardly have the ability to go back to a healthy length.

Dehydration

Your muscles are like sponges and are happiest when they are well hydrated. If your tissues are dry and weary, they are less likely to have a healthy flow of body fluids through them, and are more likely to lock up.

Stress

This is a causative factor that is harder to measure by scientific means, however it is a self diagnosis and complaint from many of my clients. Stress seems to manifest itself in tissue. If you are unable to feel free and released from stress, your body retains in the muscle tissue.

However, painful spots don’t have to be localised to only the belly of the muscle. In many cases, pain felt in one area can be relieved by treating another, sometimes on the opposite side of the body. In this instance that pain is what we call a referred pain, which has been the focus of many studies and books. This leads us to ask the question if the trigger point is only a nervous response triggered by the brain, as opposed to an actual physical nodule in the muscle causing the pain.

So how can massage therapy help treat muscular pain and trigger points once they have formed?

Massage therapy is one of oldest forms of healthcare with written records dating back to China and Egypt in approximately 2500 BCE. Just because it is an ancient form of healthcare doesn’t mean it’s outdated. On the contrary, it gives massage credibility as it’s stood the test of time.

By treating the body naturally, without the use of drugs, massage assists the body’s natural healing process. Massage has been proven to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system which decreases the brain’s threat perception (for example, if long hours at work manifests stress into your muscles) to allow the body to relax and also decrease pain.

Techniques such as direct pressure on the point, frictions across the muscle, and long deep strokes can be applied to the body. The effect of massaging a general area as opposed to a particular point creates a more comprehensive web of pressure that can still dissipate pain and soften the body. A good massage therapist will work with intention to relieve the pain, and check in with the client along the way to ensure techniques are being effective.

Over the years I have completed 1000’s of hours of treatments, improving my client’s wellbeing and lifestyle. No two treatments have been the same, and nor should they be. Each body is different, and even from day to day everyone’s body changes. One thing is universal though, we are only given one body in this life, so we had best take care of it.

If you would like to learn more about massage or have questions you would like answered in future blogs, please get in touch on facebook or via email. If you would like to experience massage first hand you can click the booking button on the right hand side and I will be happy to treat you!

Amanda Suppes

Remedial Massage Specialist
Total Health Brookvale