Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Infraspinatus Muscle and Shoulder Joint Pain

Infraspinatus Trigger Points often refer right into the front of the shoulder, and can feel like the pain is coming from deep in the joint itself.  Pain will sometimes even refer down the arm and forearm, and possibly into the back of the neck and head.
The infraspinatus muscle, illustrated in the picture, externally rotates the arm, and stabilizes the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) during arm movements.
Trigger points in this muscle can cause pain while sleeping on either side.  They will also flare when trying to do up a bra behind your back, or when bringing your arm forward to brush your teeth or hair.
This can make it difficult to perform activities such as putting your arm into the sleeve of a jacket, reaching into a back pocket, zipping up a dress with a zipper in the back, or fastening a bra.
Active infraspinatus trigger points can lead to feelings of fatigue in the shoulder, making it feel heavy and weak.  Grip strength and shoulder range of  motion may decrease, and it can be difficult to find a sleeping position, unless you prop up on a pillow or chose the recliner for your bed of choice.
Infraspinatus trigger points often become activated due to repetitive use with movements such as reaching behind you to a night stand or desk if your office setup is less than perfect.  Reaching up for prolonged periods doing activities like curling/straightening your hair can also overtax this muscle.
Corrective Actions therefore would be to limit movements such as those listed above.  Supporting the muscle when sidelying by hugging a pillow may also help, or using a hot pack on the infraspinatus for a few minutes before bed.
Tennis ball self massage is great for this muscle, and can be done either on the ground with the ball under the shoulder blade, or with the ball in a sock or nylon.  Simply hold the end of the sock, resting the ball between your shoulder blade and the wall, and leaning back against the wall to reach the desired pressure.
Infraspinatus can be stretched by elevating the arm parallel to the floor and then drawing it across the front of your body (use the opposite arm to gently pull the affected arm across your body by the elbow.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Find your Little Piece of Heaven - Simple Health Idea #4

Lives are hectic.  They are filled with work, running kids/elderly parents to activities and appointments, fitting in exercise, errands, groceries, and planning/preparing healthy meals.  Just when you think that the schedule has no budge room, you add on volunteer hours and that big project that your son/daughter, or you need to get done by a certain deadline.

Frazzled doesn't even begin to explain the way most of us feel by the end of the week.

Stress accumulates and accumulates, and silently picks away at our reserves until we are at a breaking point.  Tempers flare, emotions run wild, only to cause more stress, and so the cycle continues.

We need to find something, a little piece of heaven, that we can retreat to when we feel the tension rising.  This is such an individual thing, but try out a few different things, and once you find your heaven, make it a priority in your week, or your month.  Make it an appointment that is non negotiable.

It might be a bubble bath with the door shut, soft music playing, and a good book.  It might be going for a run with your dog, or a buddy, or all by yourself to your favourite viewpoint.  A Thursday night yoga class, a massage once every week or two (my personal favorite - ha ha), coffee in bed on Sunday morning, going for dinner with your significant other (or a friend if your significant other is the cause of your stress ;)

No matter what resonates with you, and brings you that moment of pure bliss, make it a habit and take the time to stop, let everything else go, and savour the moment.  Take a deep breath, and then hop back on the crazy train!

One of my favourite running viewpoints.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wrap and Roll Vegetables

I love my vegetables, but sometimes a green salad is just a little boring, so take that salad and wrap it up!

 Rice paper is a great way to wrap up salad.  Simply wet a rice paper round, place your veggies of choice inside, and roll them up!  The wet rice paper holds everything together. You can use shredded lettuce, shredded carrot, cilantro, chopped avocado, shredded cabbage, olives, thin sliced red pepper, chopped tomatoes, sprouts, chopped cucumber, and thin sliced turkey, prawns, tuna, or any other form of protein you would like.  You can also add rice noodles to the mix, and I love a sprinkle of turmeric!

Seaweed wraps are another great option.  Use similar ingredients to above.  You can use some rice as well to make it more "sushi" like, or use finely shredded cabbage instead, which has a rice-like consistency.  For seaweed wraps, I add all ingredients to one end of a dry square, leaving about an inch of open seaweed at that end (enough to roll over your mound of veggies), then roll up from that end.  Once the roll is made, wet your finger with water and dab along the open edge of the wrap, to seal it up.  Let the roll sit for a few minutes for the moisture of the vegetables to soften the seaweed, and then cut into one inch pieces.  A bamboo sushi mat makes this process much easier!

Have some fun with your vegetables, and enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Try Lavender to Support Sleep - Simple Health Idea #3

Over the last year, we have added the use of high quality essential oils to our daily living.  There are many areas these oils have greatly enhanced our lives, but one of the biggest "habits" we have adopted is a drop of lavender essential oil on a tissue under my 10 year old sons pillow before bed. 

My son has always been a fairly good sleeper, but was wide awake one night past bedtime.  I asked if he would like to try a drop of lavender under his pillow, and he obliged.  At first he didn't like the smell, but within a minute he relaxed and fell asleep.

Fast forward to the following night, and he asked me if I could put another drop of "the stinky stuff" under his pillow again.  It is now a nightly ritual, and he won't go to bed without it.

Lavender essential oil is very calming, to both mind and body.  It is great diffused into the air, inhaled, or applied topically. 

I use Young Living Essential Oils, as they are extremely high quality, pure oils. The company has solid business practices, and stand by their products.

Please note that I do have a financial interest in this company, and if you have a look at the website and like what you see, please use my direct link to sign up and order, so that the company knows who to thank.  The absolute best place to start is the Premium Starter Kit.  This kit includes 10 essential oils that can be used daily in a variety of ways, plus a diffuser, many samples, and instructions to get you started.  Shipment usually arrives within a couple of days of ordering.

I know that I don't usually advertise a company on this blog, but I can't believe how much using Young Living oils have helped support our already healthy lifestyle, and I know they can help you too.  This is a very simple health idea - easy to use, fun and effective!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Simple Health Idea #2 Eat more Greens

Simple Health Idea #2

Green vegetables are an important part of any healthy diet.  They fill you up with fiber so that you aren't as nibbly for the bad stuff.  They are full of vitamins and minerals, supplying your body with an abundance of nutrients.  They are low in calories, so you can eat a whole lot of them and satisfy your need to nibble without loading up on sugar and fat.

So why oh why do we not eat more green veggies?  I take a bit of time every Sunday afternoon to wash and chop celery, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower and put them in a vegetable keeper in the fridge.  I do not put them in the vegetable crisper though, I put them on a fridge shelf at eye level.  That way when the fridge is opened up, the veggies are the first things that you see.  I realize some of the vegetables I mentioned are not green, but they are just as important!

Another thing we do in this house is make a BIG green salad.  This is enough for a few meals, and is kept in the fridge without dressing.  If you pre-dress is the salad will go soggy.  Then at supper time, I take out the amount we need, add a few extras, and then dress it.  The next day we will use the rest, add some different extras for variety, and maybe a different dressing.  I sometimes simply squeeze fresh lime juice on for the dressing.  Just be frugal with any high fat dressings that you chose, as they can turn a healthy salad into a fat laden monster!

Other easy ways to get some greens into your day is to blend them into a smoothie.  Spinach, kale, lettuce and parsley are all wonderful additions to a smoothie.  You can add a little, so that you don't even notice the greens, or add a lot and have a "green" smoothie.

Shredded zucchini, carrots, and chopped spinach can be added to almost any soup, stew, omelet, and even baking.  Shred or chopped very finely and finicky eaters won't even know it is there.

Greens are so nourishing and cleansing to our bodies, and can be used at every meal.  So make sure you have at least one serving every day!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Self help for sore hands

As a massage therapist, my hands can get achy, but many other professions lend themselves to over use of the hands as well. Mechanics, secretaries, horticulturalists, and crafters are just a few examples.
So here are a few tips to help those tired achy hands after a long day!

1) Contrast Bath: If you have double sinks, fill one sink with comfortably warm water - think bath temperature.  Fill the other sink with cold water.  You can even add some ice and make it nice and cold.  Plunge your hands into the warm sink for 3 minutes.  Lift out, and immediately move them into the cold water sink for 30 seconds. Then lift out and back into the warm for 3 minutes.  Repeat up to three times, ending in the cold.  Your hands will feel alive and invigorated!

2) Paraffin Bath: This is great for achy arthritic finger joints.  You can find paraffin bath treatments at many dayspas, or purchase a unit for personal use at major drug stores.  The paraffin heats deep into the tissues, providing soothing relief, and leaving hands soft and silky.

3) Self massage: My favorite tool for self massage of the hands and fingers is an eraser.  You can dig into the muscles without tiring out an already tired thumb!  Just hold the eraser in the opposite hand, place the tip into the palm of your hand and press down. It feels especially good in the big thumb muscles (known as the thenar eminence).  You can also roll a tennis ball around in the palm of your hand, adding pressure either with your other hand, or by rolling the ball on a hard surface using the palm that you are massaging.

4) Strength Training:  Strengthening finger and forearm muscles may help prevent over use injuries, as a stronger muscle is more tolerant to strain and over use. This is best done when your hands are feeling good, however, as you don't want to overwork an already tired tissue.  Grip strength tools or stress balls that you squeeze are great for training.  Water exercises like swimming and aerobics help strengthen your wrists and fingers as well due to the resistance of pulling them through the water.

5) Stretching: gently extending the fingers back, either one at a time or together can feel good after doing flexing movements repeatedly during tasks such as typing.  Keep it gentle and hold for 20 seconds or more. You can stretch the thumb by gently pulling it away from your fingers, and slightly back.  Some of the muscles controlling the fingers start in the forearm, so stretching your wrist in flexion and extension with a straight elbow can also help loosen tension felt within the hand.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Walk A Day - Simple Health Idea #1

We all know that regular activity is important for good health and wellness, and yet so many of my clients do not exercise daily, or even weekly.  It is difficult to know where to start sometimes, so exercise is put off again and again.

I always like to keep things simple, and walking is a simple.  Walking is one of the easiest exercises to perform on a regular basis.  You can make it as tough or as easy as you like, and it can be done rain or shine, inside or out.

I recommend a good pair of walking shoes, and possibly an umbrella or rain jacket, but other than that, no equipment is necessary.  If you are new to exercise, walking is a great place to start.  Nothing is too small, a simple walk around your block after dinner is better than sitting on the couch, and if you do it everyday, the calorie burn adds up!

I urge you to take a walk every single day for the next month.  2 minutes or 2 hours, or anything in between.  Flat paved road, grassy knoll, single track trail, or hilly hike.  Go to what ever comfort level you need.  You can even stand in place and march on the spot, or sit in a chair and alternately lift your legs up and down if standing is a challenge.  Movement is what matters here, and any little bit that engages a muscle is going to be beneficial, so no excuses!

Have a friend, spouse, child, or pet join you if you need someone else to help make you accountable and get you out the door.

Too many people decide to take up exercise after a long hiatus and sign up for a boot camp class, or learn to run 5 km. clinic.  For some this is fine, but if you have been away from exercise for a significant amount of time, it is so much better to start small.  Don't let your ego get in the way of success.  If you start out at too high an intensity, you run the risk of injury, and then its back to the couch!

So Start today - stand up, lace up those shoes, and give it a go!