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We love to say we gain flexibility with stretching, but so many times I hear clients say they are stretching without much change to flexibility and length. There is a great reason for that!

Stretching feels good- it lubricates joints, it gets things moving, it releases stuck fascia (especially if you are doing more active stretching like leg swings or moving from one position to the next repetitively). But studies have shown that in order to lengthen soft tissue (muscle and fascia) by stretching, you’d have to diligently stretch every day for at least a month to feel any change! Unless you happen to be under 10 years old or so- then your tissues might hold the length much easier ūüôā

Enter in the amazing foam roller- occasionally I worry this little tool will put me out of business, well, not really, but you get what I mean. Utilize it! A different, new study compares flexibility¬†effects of stretching compared to foam rolling and if either hamper athletic performance when done as a warm-up. The study found that foam rolling by far increased flexibility compared to stretching!¬†And it didn’t hamper athletic performance. This would also confirm how massage (just like foam rolling) helps increase flexibility when done correctly and if that’s the intention. So,¬†a foam roller can be your own personal massage therapist at home.

There are of course areas where that foam roller won’t be able to affect because of positioning, etc.. That’s when you could use some knowledgable hands to guide your tissues to lengthen and release. Seek out a massage therapist that knows their stuff. Working with someone who knows myfascial techniques & trigger point therapy is a good place to start if you want increased flexibility.

And why do you want to be more flexible?! Well, I know some elderly people who cannot reach up to the cupboard because it’s too painful- they have lost their flexibility… and I’m pretty sure you’d prefer full range of motion in your joints– this prevents injuries, keeps you mobile, and as you age you’ll need less help doing the simple things.

So, treat your body well, keep it moving, and add in a foam rolling session. There are a ton of ways to utilize it, and youtube is a great resource if you’re not sure where else to turn.

What has been your experience with stretching and foam rolling? Have you already discovered the difference in your own personal experimentation? Would love to hear your comments below!

With heart,

Leah

Pic 1- Upper Trapezius Trigger Point Pattern
Pic 1- Upper Trapezius Trigger Point Pattern

After sitting poorly at a computer from a long day at work, it is common to feel some neck tension and possibly experience a few headaches. One of the most common muscles causing this pain is your trapezius. Stress or hormonal issues might feel like the cause, but they are commonly switches that turn on the already existing trapezius trigger points, thus turning on that pain pattern and discomfort.

The Much Massaged Trapezius

Your trapezius muscle attaches from the bottom of your skull, out to your shoulders, down your mid spine, and along the spine in between those areas. It forms a trapezoid, hence the smart anatomical name. The upper trapezius is a prime culprit in many headaches (see pic 1), and the lower trapezius trigger points refer pain into the neck/shoulder area where the upper trapezius attaches (see pic 2 below).

Putting pressure on these trigger points releases them and can greatly decrease pain and tension, if the red pain pattern is what you’re experiencing. However, until you correct the root of the issue (usually postural and/or neck weakness), the pain and headaches will continue to return.

Preventing These Nasty Trigger Points

trapezius 2, 3 trigger points
Pic 2- Upper & Lower Trap Trigger Points

So, not only is it helpful to work out the trigger points causing your pain in the neck, but accessing and massaging the front of the neck, to allow the head to float back into better alignment (and not be so protruded) prevents trigger points in the trapezius from forming again.

Because you have many nerves and arteries close to the surface at the front of your neck, it’s important to seek out a skilled massage therapist, and one who is familiar with postural work or myofascial techniques.

The other area that is widely overlooked regarding neck pain and headaches, is your shoulder (or glenohumoral) joint.

If your shoulder is sitting forward in its socket, chances are, your trapezius muscle is working hard to hold it back from gravity. Just like a forward head, this forward shoulder creates trigger points in your trapezius muscle, usually in the lower trapezius, which works counter to your pectoralis minor- that little, nagging muscle pulling your shoulder forward and down.

Again, it’s so important to lengthen the FRONT of the shoulder, and engage/strengthen the muscles that help pull your shoulder back and into its socket. Your massage therapist can help lengthen the front muscles and fascia of your shoulder, and you can do some exercises to strengthen and maintain that length…

My Favorite Videos On How To Engage Weak Shoulder Muscles

Wall Angel: Helps to Lengthen & Strengthen

Easy Shoulder & Neck Opener

Yoga Sequence for Neck & Shoulder Tension

The last 2 videos are made by a good friend and fellow structural bodyworker. I highly recommend her stack your bones apps for improved body alignment and coordination.

If you’re experiencing neck pain or headaches ¬†that don’t reflect the pain patterns discussed here, you likely have trigger points in another muscle acting on the head and neck. Feel free to post your issue or give us a call 801-878-6044 to visit one of our highly skilled Salt Lake City massage therapists.

 

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I see more and more people each year suffering from allergies, and I want to say, you don’t have to!! I write this as a previous allergy sufferer myself, and I understand your pain. Allergies are no fun, and they are actually a sign that your body, especially your immune system,¬†is not functioning up to speed. Many¬†people also start to develop other inflammatory issues (arthritis, headaches, colds often, skin reactions, etc), so you want to nip this in the bud. And I’m here to say, it’s absolutely doable!

A little bit about allergies- they are caused by an increase in inflammation from bad gut flora which affects your regulatory T cells of your immune system. The reg T cells stop functioning well and that’s how you get allergies. Ignoring them or taking allergy meds¬†won’t help your situation in the long run. You want to get at the causes…

Inflammation is caused by a number of factors

– car and factory emissions- this not only hurts us directly, but it causes plants to produce more pollen. For example, diesel fumes can increase your sensitivity to ragweed pollen sevenfold!

– the air you breathe in your home. Chemicals used in cleaning supplies, some furniture, carpet glue, etc..

– harmful products like soaps, shampoos, lotions, makeup, etc. Some of which get absorbed in your skin, and others are harmful to breathe in, not to mention harmful to ocean life.

– the western diet is highly inflammatory. It’s filled with refined foods like bread, pasta, sugary treats, cereal, bad oils like vegetable and canola. And remove most¬†processed foods¬†because they have environmental toxins¬†and chemicals that were used in their processing methods and added for preserving, etc.

5 things you can do to help relieve allergies for good 

1. Get rid of chemical laden cleaning substances in your home. If you have been considering ripping out that carpet, go ahead and do it! For a list of products that are healthy for you and your family, go to the Environmental Working Group’s website.

2. Use clean (no chemical laden or inflammatory causing) products on your hair, skin and body. To see if your products pass the test or to find some that do, go to the EWG personal care product website

3. Eat phytonutrients like bioflavonoids, folate, vitamin A, etc from fruits, veggies and herb sources (eat the rainbow!)- they nourish T reg cells and enhance detoxification. Flavonoids help increase and diversify your gut flora which is necessary for digesting your food and healing leaky gut.

4. Eat organic. Enough said.

5. And most importantly, stop consuming allergens and inflammatory causing foods! Dairy and grains are high allergen foods. Also¬†refined¬†sugar, and other processed foods which have hidden inflammatory causing chemicals and refined ingredients. Dairy is¬†an allergen for many people, specifically because it is pasteurized and homogenized which takes away a lot of it’s digestive enzymes. Cow’s dairy, in particular, is the worst, as it’s harder to digest than goat and sheep dairy.

If you want to know more specifics about how to heal your gut, and decrease inflammation which is causing your allergies, arthritis, skin issues, weight issues, headaches, fatigue, etc.., please be in touch. I am a nutritional counselor and have helped many with inflammatory issues.

I’d love to be your allergy consultant, so please be in touch if you have any questions or concerns. A free 45- min consultation over the phone or in person can bring some clarity to why you’re suffering with allergies.

All the best,

Leah