Headaches interfere with the quality of a persons life. Trigger points, nerve entrapment and vascular compression can be responsible for headache pain. We have been very successful in reducing or eliminating the frequency and intensity of headache sufferers. Diuretics such as coffee, tea and alcohol often play a role in dehydrating the muscles that affect nerve compression, vascular compression and the formation of trigger points. Drinking too many things that dry out our systems, coupled with a reduced water intake can be a recipe for headaches.
Here a few tips that may help to reduce headaches and their intensity:
DRINK MORE WATER
USE ICE PACK ON BASE OF SKULL AND NECK
REDUCE COFFEE, TEA AND ALCOHOL
Pain on the side of the face is usually related to the closing of the mouth, or, opening of the mouth. Sometimes the jaw gets stuck open. Sometimes the jaw gets stuck closed. Both can be very painful. We work the outside muscles and the inside muscles (with gloves). Most TMJ pain is from a tight masseter (outside) muscle or the medial (inside) pterygoid muscle.
TMJ pain is no laughing matter. It is usually chronic and changes the quality of life. The cause is usually over use. Repetitive actions like chewing gum, beef jerky or ice chips can overload our muscles of mastication (chewing). Ice packs can help reduce some inflammation and pain. You can assist the healing when the pain is relatively low by using hot packs for 15 minutes and then gently stretch doing the "angry lion". That is opening your mouth wide to the point of medium tightness for 3-5 seconds, then release. Brief rest, 10 times total. Rest. Repeat 2 times. Written as : 10 x 3 Angry Lion Jaw stretch. Open far and wide.
Shoulder problems are very common because we use it more than any other joint in the body. Even if your mobility is restricted, chances are your shoulders are working. It is indeed a complicated mechanism. As a ball and socket joint, the shoulder has a lot of rotational ability, with that comes all the different muscles to move it to different points within the rotation. Establishing the specific muscles involved for an individual injury just might take an expert. Some shoulder pain patterns overlap each other, disguising which one is responsible. This is where our Neuromuscular training comes in. We help identify the injured muscle by the "tonus" or tightness of the muscle, coupled by the tenderness and lack of range of motion.
FRONT SHOULDER PAIN
Their are at least three muscles that can be responsible for this pain. Two are right there in the front, and the most common one is actually on the shoulder blade called the infraspinatus. This is a classic 'trigger' point, and one of the most notorious.
REAR SHOULDER PAIN
The "pulling" muscles of our shoulders work closely together to bring the arm back and to rotate. This where most of the rotator cuff muscles are. Many tendon attach and cross over each other here. If one gets injured it usually affects the others.
The large muscle on top of our shoulder that joins the neck is the trapezius muscle. We all like that one massaged. Most of use "hold our stress" there. We 'turtle ' by raising our shoulders for no good reason at all. LET GO! or...you can hold heavy weights in each hand and relax for a minute. Feel the stretch. Rinse, repeat 2 or 3 times. It can really help many muscle problems from neck to shoulder to elbow.
Many people suffer from upper forearm pain from activities such as bowling, playing an instrument, racquet sports and typing. It is usually a tight flexor or extensor muscle. A fairly easy fix compared to some other joint dysfunctions.
Try placing a rolling pin on a towel on the counter, then roll your tricep over the rolling pin. Start at the elbow (not on the elbow) and gently roll your arm forward up to the armpit. Roll it back and do it again, and again. Gently increasing the pressure to a slightly uncomfortable level. Keep your entire arm out straight with palm up while massaging your tricep.
Tennis elbow is often diagnosed by a physician from pain and tenderness in the elbow region due to a shortening of the supinator muscle Dr. Janet Travell states in her infamous book "Myofacial Pain and Dysfunction" that about 60% of 'tennis elbow' diagnosis' are incorrect and that anconeus muscle is really the one responsible. She also states that the tricep muscle is usually involved as well if not more so. We agree. Most elbow pain starts with an over used, shortened tricep muscle, that leads to a tight shortened anconeus muscle.
LOW BACK PAIN
Low back pain affects us all at one time or another in a lifetime. Some people suffer much more frequently. Billions of dollars are spent on rather dubious treatments. Here is the most common cause of low back pain that I have seen in my 30 years of bodywork: It may seem strange but it comes from tight thigh muscles, quadriceps. Really. When the quadriceps get tight from too much exertion or simply being overweight, they pull down on the pelvis, via their attachment and rotate the pelvis forward.
The counter strain then forces the lumbar vertebrae to bend farther than it normally would, forcing one side open and the other side more closed. The compression squeezes the disc (cushion) and results in either just an irritated nerve, a bulging disc or over time a herniated disc. Getting that space back is paramount. That is where we come in. By using deep tissue techniques, intense stretches and a knowledge of what causes what, we can often help or eliminate the problem.
Hip pain can be from overuse, not enough use or injury. The ball and socket joint of the hip really takes the load of most force and pressure through out a lifetime or...less. Tight muscles crossing the hip joint can compress the joint itself. The joint is encapsulated in a bursa. Bursitis is a common diagnosis for hip pain but what does it really mean? Bursitis is a combination of two words. One is a noun, a physical thing. The bursa. The other, a description of a condition or syndrome. Hence, the "itis". The bursa is the capsule around a joint, like a shoulder or elbow. It holds a slippery fluid to keep the joint "oiled" if you will. Inflammation and "itis" generally mean the same thing, which is Oww!..should I use heat or ice!
Applying ice packs on the painful area of the butt and low back for 15 - 20 minutes can relieve some pain by reducing the inflammation. Warming up the area by walking or soaking in hot water and then stretching afterward can help to heal more than stretching alone can.
Stretch the hip muscles by laying down and cross 'bad' leg over good leg, with the 'bad leg' knee bent and foot planted on outside of good leg. Use "good leg' arm, to pull ' bad knee' toward bed.
The sciatic nerves exits the spine in the low back and then branches off many times in many places as it innervates muscle groups all the way down to the foot. Often the pain we feel is in the hip and runs down the side of the leg, possibly to the outside of the ankle. Sometimes it affects the main branch of the nerve and runs down the center of the rear and center of the afflicted leg. The pain may refer all the way to the bottom of the foot. Both of these pain patterns are usually an entrapment of the sciatic nerve branch that runs through three problematic areas. These muscles are rotators of the femur called the piraformis, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. Oddly enough the gluteus maximus rarely develops problems.
IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY!
Don't resort to anything too crazy now! It is life disrupting to say the least. You have to sit down, right? The sciatic nerve is very necessary to keeping you mobile. Be nice to it. Remember, it's usually just a hip rotator muscle, not a vertebrae in your back. Sometimes it is coming from sustained damage to the disk/nerve in the lower vertebrae. It is a good idea to find out from your doctor if their is stenosis or a bulging/herniated disk that may be the source of the pain. MRI's may be a crucial tool to determine this.
The quadricep muscle, or front thigh muscle, has more trigger points in it than any other muscle human body. The reason for this is basically because it is the largest muscle group we have. Walking upright does have some drawbacks. We load up the muscle group even more when we gain a few pounds.....or many. The extra torque on our pelvis rotates it downward and forward, which results in undue stress on the lumbar vertebrae.. BACK PAIN!
Probably the most overlooked cause of low back pain, knee pain and many other pain syndromes, is by far... the QUADRIDCEP. Sitting a lot shortens up the quadricep. Excessive sports can shorten up the quadricep. Not walking much,...can shorten up the quadricep. Creating a dyhyrated body can shorten up the quadricep. Stretch some, you upright mobile primates of the 21st century....STRETCH!
THIGH (QUADRICEP) PAIN
We owe everything to our quadriceps! Really. They are the powerhouse that holds us up. Our anatomy is almost identical to all other mammals. What is amazing is that we and only we, stand up. The other species support their bodies on four limbs. Our difficultly is balancing our torso's on a pivot that it is subject to gravity, muscular imbalance and age related weakness. Look in 'KNEE PAIN' for a quadricep stretch. The quadricep is the source of many muscular pain dysfunctions from thigh and hamstring "pulls", to LOW BACK PAIN, KNEE PAIN, and other oddities like TMJ dysfunction, hammer toes and upper back pain. These oddities are created by changing the muscular support system for the body, by rotation of the pelvis thus changing how the structure supports itself. Remember, we are only renters of this magical muscular thing we inhabit. We were not born with the knowledge to understand how it works. Luckily some people have been studying.
HAMSTRING PULL (INJURY)
Hamstring injuries are basically a result of the same cause. The quadriceps over power their "counter balance" muscle on the opposite side. The stronger muscle group wins the tug of war, and the weakness of the hamstring loses as the quadricep pulls and forces an elongation of the weakened muscle. This sets up a recipe for ...an injury. Look in 'KNEE PAIN' for stretching help.
Knee pain is something most of us can draw a memory upon. As a 'hinge' joint, the knee only moves in one plane. It is like an elbow joint, simple but put under enormous stress and pressure. Doctor's often explain that the protective tissues are compromised from time and pressure. I believe that is how you create a diamond.....anyway...our quadricep is so strong...so large...that it can pull the force of 4 large muscle groups into one single tendon that attaches just over the kneecap on the tibia bone. If this muscle group shortens for whatever reason, it will put undo compression on the joint. The knee joint. Doctors will talk of the results of the compression, ie., the torn meniscus or simply state that " your knee is bone on bone. You have no cartilage left.". O.K., maybe this is you, and now it's too late. Damage has been inflicted.
But,...what if the Doctor that told you many years ago, when you first went to them for your knee pain, that if you stretched out the tight muscles that were compressing your knee joint......might just give you back the space you really needed to FIX THE PROBLEM. I know, it's weird...but let's just imagine.
Some simple stretches can help with chronic or acute knee pain.
STRETCH YOUR QUADRICEP -
Back up to the bed or kitchen counter and place your upside down toes on a small pillow behind you. If it hurts in the front of your thigh, your doing the right thing. If it hurts too much...stop.. Find that balance of a medium pain you can endure. Now, just stand there with support of a chair or dresser or something with your hand. Hold for one minute. Put the leg down and do the other side. Rinse and repeat 3 times. Try to do this at least twice a day. 10 times would be better. Remember..."it hurts so good".
HAMSTRING STRETCH -
If your "knee" pain is just under the knee cap slightly to the inside or outside then it is most likely coming from tight hamstring attachments. Most common is the inside pain below the knee cap. In this case stretch the hamstring group by putting your heal up on the bed or higher....or lower depending how limited your range of motion is. Bend from your waist and stop as soon as it gets tight. Do not allow the knee to bend. Gently reach for your knee or foot depending on your flexibility. Go slow and do a little bit a lot of the time. Not a lot a little of the time. Clear? Remember to stretch only after warming up through exercise, heat or dancing.
Foot pain/ ankle pain
One of the most frequent foot pain syndromes we have seen over the years is heel pain. Often referred to as "plantar faciaitis ", this pain in the heel is a monster needing to be slain. Unfortunately the diagnosis can be misleading. Plantar is the surface of the bottom of your foot. Itis means inflammation. So....plantar faciatis means, literallly, a swelling on the bottom of the foot. It is rare that the bottom of the foot is the culprit. More times than not, it is the trigger point in the soleus muscle under the big calf muscle, the gastrocnemius. This hidden and notorius muscle is often the responsible party.
By addressing the contracture and corresponding trigger point, or knot, we can release the tightness pinching the nerve that runs down to innervate the heel. Thus helping to relax the structure 'squeezing' the nerve that is causing the irratation.
PLANTAR FASCIITIS? HEEL PAIN
This very painful and weird new strangeness in our lives is experienced my many people of all ages. This list includes athletes and desk jockeys combined. Myself as well. No fun.
One way to wake up grumpy is stepping on the ground and feeling a surprising sharp horrible pain in your heel with every step you take as you head for the bathroom.
HEAL IT...STRETCH IT
Put your ball (front) of your foot on the edge of the bed or a chair. Now, push gently downward with your heel while at the same time, move your knee forward over the big toe. If you can. You should feel a stretch in the achilles tendon area and up a little. Hold for 15-20 seconds and release. Rinse, repeat 2 to 3 times. Best to stretch warm, 2 to 5 times a day.
Outside ankle pain
The bone we touch on the outside ankle is the lateral malleous of the fibula bone. Whew! Bones generally do not hurt. The tendons may pull, via., injury, overuse or a short leg syndrome and cause pain by pulling from the attachment point to the bone. The muscles directly involved are the peroneus group, though some names have been changed to protect the innocent. It is difficult to stretch these muscles, but not to overstretch them.. Many "twisted ankles" are due to these muscles shortening from a quick overstretching of the tendons attachments. Deep tissue work along this lower leg muscles can really be a game changer for this problem.
Pain in the wrist is to often thought to be carpal tunnel syndrome. Often it is a syndrome evolved from overuse of the forearm muscles through behavior like typing. Oww! The forearm flexors that allow us to grab things get too tight. They swell and inflame. This causes the tendons to swell as well. All this inflammation pushes on the nerves that carry information to and from our hands. Viola! Pain and numbness.
Some call it by a name...carpal tunnel syndrome.
I call it the puppet show. The contracting muscles that move the tendons attaching to the 'puppets bones' are the forearm flexor and extensor muscles. These muscles shorten and pull the tendon that pulls on the attachment of the finger bone to cause the movement of 'squeezing' or holding. So... squeezing too much shortens the muscles, and they swell and push against the nerves in the conduit they share. If the PROBLEM is addressed and not the symptom, true healing can occur.
Wrist pain aka., carpal tunnel syndome
In over 30 years of therapy, very few who have come to us with a wrist pain problem, have left without some relief. Many have left with near to complete recovery. Wrist pain is usually a result of years of overuse of the flexor forearm muscles, from things like typing, hammering, playing instruments or anything else that we have to squeeze our hands to do. Deep tissue work in the forearm, may bring relief soon.
A nerve conduction test will show irratated nerves but it will not show the reason why. A word so often left out of conventional medicine.....WHY?....The simplicity of it is that a muscle has shortened up for some reason that SHOULD be explored. Not the resulting inflammation of the tight muscles victim.
Of course, the thing that separates us from the apes is the opposable thumb. We are masters of the thumb, the amazing appendage that gave us the advantage to go further than mankind had ever gone. We wear these babies out all the time. Especially anyone that uses their hands....Oh, I guess that's just about everyone.
Flip your hand over with arm outstretched in front so the thumb points away from you. Reach out with your other hand and use your index finger to 'sneak up' on the thumb from underneath, hook and pull down with the elbow locked. (Yea. The elbow with the bad thumb.) Hold for at least 30 seconds. Keep doing it and work up to a full minute.
NECK PAIN/STIFF NECK
Stiff neck syndrome is life changing. It is difficult to turn your head in your car, to safely see traffic behind you. There is generally one muscle that restricts rotation of the head. That makes our job easier. The levator scapula muscle is the muscle that turns our head from side to side. It attaches to four of our cervical vertebrae, which is why when in spasm it pulls the vertebrae closer together. Then nerved get involved. When it is not working properly we are acutely aware of it's non performance. Hence, wow! THIS REALLY HURTS!
So.....we don't . Turn our heads, that is. Hurts too much. By restricting the motion we actually make it worse. It is a terrible pain in the neck! Is there a relationship between our feelings and our muscles? Could our muscular tension be, in part, due to our relationships, and how we are responding to them?
ICE - ICE - ICE
TURN YOU HEAD AWAY FROM THE PAIN SIDE WITH YOUR HAND
DO THIS WHILE LYING DOWN, RELAX NECK, DON''T MOVE HEAD
DON'T TIP YOUR HEAD BACKWARD INTO PAIN!!
HE'S SUCH A PAIN IN THE NECK!
Neck and upper back pain are common complaints among the masses. I don't think this is anything new. But....because of our modern day behaviors such as sitting at a computer all day, our bodies are rebelling. Your noggin weighs in between 9 and 13 pounds. It wants to rest on a stable platform, yet you force it out in front of the rest of you, most of the time. Guess where the muscles are that hold it there, uh huh, right where you hurt. Weird huh?
HOW TO GET SOME RELIEF:
LAY BACKWARDS OVER A YOGA BALL, BELLY BUTTON UP, KNUCKLES ON THE FLOOR
STRETCH CHEST MUSCLES AND STOMACH MUSCLES
UPPER/MID BACK PAIN
That nagging, irritating pain right next to your shoulder blade that you can never seem to find or get rid of? That wicked thing? Yea. We know. As forever as it may seem, it's not true. You don't have to live with this aggravating pain. There are answers.
First of all let's discuss why we have so much pain and discomfort in our back side. It is.....drum roll..........coming from the front, (more often than not). We are bent over at our desk jobs, our factory jobs and our teaching jobs. This constant bending ends up shortening the muscles that take us there. Once this happens the back muscles spring into action to pull us back. The problem is we spend so much time in a near 'fetal' position that our backs just cannot compensate. They tighten up because of the incredible counter-strain place upon them by the "sitting" muscles, and spasm to protect themselves. But really, they are selfish, they are protecting you from yourself. Protecting themselves from your lack of knowledge.
# 1 ON OUR PAIN LIST
A burning, painful area between our shoulder blades is possibly the most common complaint we have seen in our careers. This problem is ancient and increasing because of modern technologies. Look around and you will see a large part of our population with their faces folded to the floor as they gaze into their cell phones and computer screens. It is not unusual to see a young person as well as the elderly with a rounded shoulder posture.