Whether you work at a desk, in a classroom, or in a shop, many people these days often endure long hours in "closed-chest" posture. It is SO important for those in this type of situation to remember to stand up and "spread your wings" for a little while. The "swan stretch" can help you more effectively combat the long-term postural effects of this type of daily routine, ensuring that you feel healthier much longer into life than those who neglect to stretch throughout the day or week.
For this stretch you will need to stand in front of an average sized doorway that has enough wall space on either side to securely place your hands. Stand facing the doorway, just before the threshold. Raise your "wings" (arms) up like a swan getting ready to fly away. Place your hands on either side of the door opening, upon the wall (or woodwork, if applicable). Step one foot slightly forward and gently lean your upper body through the threshold, passing your head and body between your raised arms, to achieve a nice comfortable stretch to the upper chest and anterior shoulders; you may feel this stretch into the arms as well. Return to your starting position, both feet together. Adjust your hand position up or down on the wall to alter the specific area being stretched. Repeat the stretch, leaning through the threshold, with this new hand position.
Repeating this process, find your areas of restriction and stretch them out nicely. If you are prone to high anxiety, experience high stress at work, or are one to easily become tense simply from sitting too long, we recommend repeating this stretch multiple times throughout the day.
The "closed-off" chest posture can contribute to neck, back and shoulder pain, headaches, digestive disorders, and so much more. Be sure to spread your wings today and give those muscles and organs some nice, healthy space. *As always, use caution when performing stretches. If in doubt, talk to you doctor before performing any new activity.
For more stretches, or to schedule a relaxing massage, give us a call at The Great Escape in Chadron 308.432.4558. By appointment only.
Stressed out? Need to relax, revitalize, renew, refresh, restore, or just calm down? We have an hour relaxation massage session with your name on it... or if you're REALLY tense there is an hour-and-a-half deep tissue massage option too. We can help relieve those painful areas of hypertensive muscle in your back, shoulders and neck; reduce the level of that stress induced headache; and get your anxiety under control again. Give us a call today and schedule your "great escape"! You'll be glad you did.
The Great Escape
Massage & Wellness Center LLC
Located in Chadron.
By appointment only.
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Just think "JAWS" to remember what this shark stretch is all about. Apart from taking a jumbo bite out of our daily meals, our jaws don't often get the stretching that they very often need.
The temperomandibular joint (now you know why they simply call it TMJ) is surrounded by several muscles that assist in talking, chewing, and clenching those teeth. Dysfunction of this joint, often due too stiff ...muscles and tight fascia can contribute to headache pain, jaw pain, "tooth" discomfort, as well as the formation of satellite trigger points which can cause discomfort in surrounding areas. If you are prone to clenching your teeth under stress or grinding the teeth at night (aka: bruxism), regularly stretching your jaw muscles can help.
Sitting upright, gently open your mouth as wide as is comfortable, like a great white shark, until you feel a nice stretch, hold for 6 seconds, then close your mouth again. Repeat 3 times. If you feel or hear clicking or popping sounds, it may be an indication that your muscles need to be stretched more regularly. Ideally, this stretch should be done in conjunction with the "giraffe stretch" to help loosen restrictions in the front of the neck.
How wide should you be able to open your mouth? Experts suggest that you should be able to easily place your first three fingers in your mouth (vertically, at the middle knuckle), as a healthy stretch goal.
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What's all the buzz about "fuzz"? Simplified, the fuzz (aka: fascia) is the dynamic soft tissue webbing that holds your body together. Now, healthy fuzz is a good thing, but when we have a buildup of fuzz, we end up feeling stiff, old, and out of shape. Fascial restriction (fuzz buildup) is no fun, and is not terribly well understood by most.
We thought it might help you to hear Dr. Gil Hedley's 5 minute overview of the "fuzz" (facia), in order to make more sense of the myriad of times your massage therapist, personal trainer, physical therapist or doctor tells you to stretch, to make regular appointments, and to exercise. (We promise, there's a reason for it, watch the video to find out why it's so important.)
P.S. If any of you have ever de-skinned chicken meat, you may have noticed the "fuzz," or more appropriately, "fascia" that holds the skin firmly to the meat.
Awkward as it may feel, something like a "leaning penguin", this stretch is EXCELLENT for loosening tight muscles and fascial restrictions along the entire spine. This stretch may be felt anywhere from the neck down to the lower abdomen, throughout the back, the upper chest, the ribcage, and sometimes even into the arms or legs.
Standing tall with your back up against a bare wall for support, imagine yourself as a proud little penguin. Place your feet shoulder distance apart on the floor, lift shoulders up and roll them back resting your shoulder blades down flat on your back where they belong (hands should both be facing forward now, like little penguin wings). Now, keeping your face forward (to create a nice, even side arch in the spine) lean gently to the left. [NOTE: The penguin in this image is more flexible than you'll ever be, so don't try to actually tilt your head upside down, or you may end up falling over! Remember, a nice, gentle, even, spinal arch to the side is what you are going for; head in line, eyes forward.] Take five deep, slow, relaxing breaths, and lean into the stretch a little more with each breath. Come slowly up to starting position. Realign your shoulder blades (remember: lift up, roll back, drop down; hands facing forward). Lean the opposite direction, again take five deep, slow breaths, and slowly come back up to starting position.
This stretch can be done evening and morning to help ward off low back stiffness, upper body tension, and even postural distortions in the pelvis and spine.
*CAUTION: If you are prone to dizziness or have trouble with vertigo this stretch may not be right for you. If you have had any kind of surgery in the abdominal or spinal region, it is advised you talk to your doctor to ensure this stretch is appropriate for you situation. Please use common sense and appropriate caution when performing stretches of any kind. Though an appropriate stretch will generally cause a mild degree of healing discomfort, stretching should never be outright painful.
If you would like to know more about how to perform this stretch, or have other questions, please feel free to call us at 308.432.4558
The"monkey stretch" is an excellent way to help resolve pain and tension in the shoulders, neck, arms and upper back. As fascia (the intricate webbing that holds the body together) becomes restricted under the arms, it can pull on the surrounding tissues limiting movement, reducing blood and lymph flow, and contributing to pain and dysfunction.
A proper monkey stretch is done by grasping a sturdy bar or ledge overhead, then slowly dropping the body down by bending the knees (feet still anchored on the ground). Leaning into the stretch towards the extended rib cage, as well as gently twisting from side to side can intensify the stretch and identify areas of further restriction.
Stretching is an important self-care technique and should be done at least every other day, or 2-4 times daily when combating chronic pain. A healthy stretch should feel slightly uncomfortable, but never painful -- it should produce a general sense of well-being. (Be cautious and talk to your doctor first if you suspect bone breaks, muscle tears, or other serious injury.)
Call The Great Escape 308.432.4558 in Chadron for other stretches to try. Be sure to "Like" and "Follow" our Facebook page for health tips, special promotions, and more. Remember to share this self-care tip with your friends.
Dehydration can wreak havoc in our water-dependent body. Even mild dehydration, especially when coupled with stress or increased activity, can lead to muscle pain, spasms, hypertonicity, headaches, and reduced facial elasticity. Lack of water restricts the flow of vital nutrients and oxygen to our body cells and inhibits the body from effectively removing waste products (toxins). It can even lead to weight gain as your body tries to store and buffer these toxins in its effort to prevent illness and disease.
A simple solution to reducing pain and dysfunction is to consume pure, clean water (H2O) every day. How much is enough? Experts recommend that we consume half of our body weight in ounces each day (100 pounds ÷ 2 = 50 ounces / day). This is the minimum recommendation for adequate daily function, you might want to drink more depending upon your body's individual needs.
Remember, drinking plenty of water in the 48 hours before and after your massage can enhance the overall effect of the massage you receive and further aid in reducing or eliminating your pain complaints.
Call us at The Great Escape if you'd like to find out more 308.432.4558. Visit us on Facebook @thegreatescape4u and be sure to "Like" and follow our page for periodic specials, updates and more.
Pectoralis Major is the primary power house of the upper chest providing for arm motions such as hugging (adduction) and inward (medial) rotation. Pec Minor is a small but important muscle affecting motion of the shoulder blade (scapula) as well as assisting in forced inhalation.
Trigger points in the "pec" muscles can cause pain or discomfort primarily in the front (anterior) shoulder area, the upper chest, the bottom (ulnar) side of the forearm, and down into the forth and fifth fingers of the hand, sometimes contributing to "thoracic outlet syndrome".
At home care includes regular stretching to avoid prolonged shortening of the muscle throughout the day and night. Like the subscapularis, two beneficial stretches are the "doorway stretch" and the "monkey stretch." With care, most of the trigger points are easily accessible in this muscle group and trigger point therapy can be an especially effective remedy for eliminating discomfort and restoring range of motion and function to the chest, shoulder, arms and hands as affected by these two muscles.
For more information about these and other benefits of massage, give us call, we may be able to help you. The Great Escape in Chadron 308.432.4558. Be sure to "Like" and follow us on Facebook @thegreatescape4u for periodic specials, news and more too.
Pain in the neck? We often think to stretch the back of our neck to resolve pain issues, as well as stretching the sides of the neck too. But sometimes more effective for resolving neck pain is stretching the FRONT of the neck.
Like a giraffe reaching up towards the leaves (from a stable, seated position) extend the chin up and head back. Now, jut the chin upwards as far as is comfortable to go. When those tight muscles begin to feel as though they're starting to relax, then stick your tongue out and point it to the sky, WAY up high! (Yes, we're perfectly serious.)
The muscles and fascia in the front (anterior) of the neck often are neglected when we stretch. The tongue can even become restricted by the fascia that holds it in place. This "giraffe stretch" can help loosen all these tissues up and restore range of motion and relaxation, relieving troublesome neck pain. Have a go at it! (But make sure nobody is watching before you do ;-).) And remember, along with regular stretching, a good old massage can help too.
Call us at The Great Escape 308.432.4558 in Chadron.
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And as always, it's nice to share helpful health tips with your friends.
Contrary to popular belief, massage therapists are not mind readers, and while the human body can present very good clues as to the source of a problem, "symptoms" don't always play by the rules. Voicing your needs, observations, or concerns to your therapist such as, "I feel it most right here," "I feel tingling and numbness there," "it is worse when," "the pressure is too hard," "it feels like it's more to the left," "I don't think that's it," "that hurts, but in a good way," "could you press harder," "wow, that feels great," or "that discomfort right there is about a 7 (on a scale of 1 to 10)," are simple phrases that can guide your therapist to the epicenter of a trigger point and help them more effectively apply their techniques to relieve your discomfort or pain. Letting your stress melt away with a simple deep breath or a light sigh is also a great way to express that pressure is good, speed is correct, or that you feel the tension is easing.
So remember to keep the lines of communication open during your next session, focus your mind on what you are feeling, and share any observations with your therapist so they can make the most of you're time and your money.
Things you don't always have to communicate? If you need to move your head, your arm or your foot when your therapist is working on a different area of the body, please feel free! There is nothing worse than laying in an uncomfortable position for half an hour! So please, wiggle, move and speak up to let your therapist know you would like to readjust if you need to. Not only will this help us (we want to ensure your comfortable the whole session through), but in the end it will most effectively help you.
Thoughts, questions or concerns? Always feel free to provide further feedback before, during or after your session. Visit our Feedback page to offer anonymous information, or provide your testimony off success for others to benefit from (also partly anonymous). Thank you in advance for your constructive feedback! 308.432.4558
Jerri W., LMT, CWC
Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Wellness Coach with over 25+ years of experience in pain management, relaxation techniques and lifestyle education.
Heather R., LMT, CWC
Certified Wellness Coach and Licensed Massage Therapist with a passion for helping others achieve optimal wellness through healthier living.
NOTICE: The information provided herein is meant for educational purposes only. We accept no liability for your use of the information provided. As always, use your best judgment and if in doubt, please consult your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.