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The Three Elements for Healthy Muscles

Muscle tightness is by far the most common condition that people come into my office for. Muscle tightness and trigger points are often overlooked by most doctors which is too bad since these conditions can cause a wide array of symptoms like tingling in the arms, hands, legs, and feet; headaches, weakness in your muscles, and plain old pain.  Since muscle the primary cause of trigger points is muscle tightness the most common question I get is “if muscle tightness causes this then is it bad if I go to the gym since I am going to tighten the muscle?”

Well, ultimately the answer is that it depends on how you workout or exercise. If you give yourself the proper amount of rest and recovery I would say no.

From the standpoint of healthy muscles and joints  you need a certain amount of strength, flexibility, and endurance.  It is the right amount of not too much and not too little.

Another factor of muscle health is the state of the muscles themselves. When massage therapists talk about trigger points and adhesions we are talking about physical changes in the muscle tissue. These physical changes in muscle tissue affect the ability of your muscles to generate strength, to be flexible, and affects circulation to the muscle depriving them of the nutrition they need.

The most important things that your muscles to need to be healthy are strength, flexibility, and rest.

What Is Strength

Strength is the ability of your muscles to generate force and is important to support the integrity of your joints. There are different aspects of strength: maximum strength and strength endurance. Maximum strength is the most amount of force a muscle can produce and is usually done with one [...]

A Concept of Building Strength No One Talks About

I Had a Burning Question: Can You Train With Very Little Chance of Injury?

I spent eight years working in a very busy pain management/ physical therapy clinic. I have worked with a lot of different pain conditions as well as a very diverse population. From athletes of all sorts like runners, yogi’s, pilates instructors, cross fitters, triathletes. Probably a ton more. One thing I have always seen is that generally most push and push their bodies. Even when it is not healthy.

There are so many sources out there that believe and say that in order to be stronger you must push yourself. But if you injure yourself often and chronic injuries resurface doesn’t that indicate the strength of the tissue is overwhelmed? One burning question that I have always had is, is there a way to train with very minimal risk of injury without overuse injuries.

All the Book Said was “By Pavel” Who the Heck is Pavel?

About five years ago my burning question was answered. As I was browsing at Barnes and Noble one day in the fitness section a very interesting title caught my eye. “The Naked Warrior: Master the Secrets of the Super Strong Using Body Weight Exercises Only.”

I think my brain was just astonished to see the words “Naked Warrior.”  Then I was intrigued by “the Super Strong Using Body Weight Only” since everybody says you can not become strong with body weight exercises.

Curious, I picked up the book and looked at the name of the author and all it said was “By Pavel.” OK. This looks a bit cheesy I thought. Nevertheless I peeked inside.  As soon as I started to read I had felt that [...]

The Best Sleep Positions For a Good Night’s Rest

The most common question I am asked is what is the best way to sleep. The short answer is there isn’t any. The best way to sleep is probably the position that is most natural for your body . However, some positions might be worse than others, but with a few modifications they can have fewer pain symptoms and leave you feeling refreshed and rested.

I searched the web for some tips on best sleeping positions, and this is what I found.

 

This is my favorite video I found. Although using four pillows is a bit intense and might annoy your partner, it has some good suggestions. I particulary like his suggestion for stomach sleepers. 

Back Sleepers

When sleeping on the back place a pillow under the knees to take pressure off of the low back.  Then with pillows placed on either side you can rest your arms on them. This can prevent your arms falling asleep in the middle of the night.

 

 

Side Sleepers

Sleeping purely on your side can compress your shoulders and create aches or pains in your shoulder and make your arms fall asleep. Instead try the modified side position below.

 

 

The modified side position can help to distribute your weight more evenly and opens up your shoulders. This will take compression off of the shoulders and arms.  Begin with a pillow between your legs. Then place your bottom arm either underneath the pillow or place your arm on top of the pillow.  Then with a pillow directly behind you lean back on it.

 

 

The great thing about the modified sleep position is if you want to switch sides in the middle of the night simply roll over.

 

Stomach Sleepers

Sleeping on your stomach is often not recommended because it [...]

Should You Get Longer Massages or Shorter Massage Sessions?

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When it comes to maintaining your health, improving stress, or managing a pain condition you may want to rethink longer and less frequent massage sessions.

Whenever I put my hands on someone it is inevitable that someone will say, “I wish I could do this every day!” And why shouldn’t you? You might think that the longer a session the better. When you look at massage research on health conditions all the research usually uses twenty to thirty minutes of massage two – three times a week for five to six weeks(1, 2, 3).

Massage therapy, like any therapy, is cumalative. You wouldn’t exercise once a month to get stronger. Or take medication once a month and expect to get better. No, you would do the prescribed dosage to get the results you are looking for.

Massage therapy works in a similar manner to exercise. Exercise places a stress on the body which encourages a healthy change in the tissues of your body. Long bouts of infrequent exercise will not lead to dramatic changes in your body. Massage works in the same way.

Long periods of stress, whether physical or mental, leads to changes in your physiology. Long hours of repeated muscular force leads to changes in the muscular tissue such as adhesions (scar tissue,) lack of circulation, and trigger points (muscle knots that cause pain.)

Stressful situations also can lead to an inability for the tissue to heal, poor sleep,and anxiety.

Massage can be helpful for these conditions but these changes happen over a long period of time and to improve them will take more than a one hour massage session at once [...]

What Are Trigger Points

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If you are dealing with muscular aches and discomfort you may have trigger points. Trigger points can cause local or referred pain. They can cause headaches, pain in various parts of the body. They may cause pain that can be diagnosed as pinched nerves or herniated discs.

This video describes what trigger points are, how they form, and how to treat your own trigger points.

 

 

 
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 Matthew Snow is a Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Greenwich, CT. If you would like to schedule or make an appointment call (203) 660-0584 or email hello@h2tmuscleclinic.com 

Is It Right To Blame Poor Health On Lifestyle Choices?

 

 

 

I read a lot of blogs on health and wellness. And many times I am frustrated with the black and white stances that are taken on preventative medicine. 

In particular I read this post on the importance of strength training. The author asserts that without outside trauma most people should not have to have hip or knee replacements.

 

What really got me peeved, though, was his strong dislike for sliding stair chairs and that the real problem lies within the bad lifestyle choices and weakness in our society. 

I have worked in a Pain Management office for eight years now. I have worked with many different pain conditions and with people who can’t walk upstairs or sit down without extreme effort. 

 

While I do think it is extremely important to build strength and eat well, that does not guarantee a life without disability or pain. 

I have seen people who did take care of themselves.  People who ate clean get cancer. And I’ve definitely seen people who weight trained still have surgeries. Those people asked me “why?  I did everything they say you should do.”

We still don’t know everything. When it comes to disease, pain, and health we just still don’t understand why sometimes people get sick.

 I have also seen lots of people take control of their health and the outcomes were amazing. 

 

The problem with looking at preventable problems as the fault of the person not taking care of themselves is this: the practitioner will lose compassion and empathy for that person. 

Furthermore, the practitioner has made a judgment which may cloud further evaluation of the client’s problem. 

The truth is that health problems like these always have layers. Always. I can’t tell you how many times I made my [...]

Enhance Your Sports Performance with Massage Therapy

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Whether you are a professional athlete, use exercise to feel good and maintain your health, or use it as a discipline to keep yourself from bad habits,  there are many ways massage therapy can help your performance. Massage therapy can improve sports performance by:

Maintain the health of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments.) If you maintain the health and function of the soft tissues you can help to prevent pain conditions that force you to stop your exercise.

Help reduce muscle soreness from high loads of exercise. This can help keep you fresh and ready for your next workout

Can be used to rehabilitate a problem area (muscle strain, ligament sprain, and tendinitis.) This will help speed recovery time and get you back to your sport quickly. 

 

How Does Massage Help Maintain Soft Tissue Health?

Your performance is based on how healthy your tissue is. The muscle tendon unit provides the force of all movement and provides stability to your joints (you don’t want injury to your joints because that is the structure of your body.) So it is extremely important that the tissue is healthy and functions well.

The Most Common Soft Tissue Problem: Trigger Points

Trigger points weaken the muscle. If one muscle has trigger points other muscles take over for that muscle. This causes those muscles to develop trigger points.

Trigger points are a sensitive area in the muscle that refers pain locally or to another area.  Trigger points form from repeated use of the muscle and long held contractions of the muscle. Trigger points cause a lack of circulation in the muscle tissue and this leads to a cycle of the muscle [...]

Massage for Upper Back Pain

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Your upper back tension may start out as minor. You catch yourself in awkward positions in an eager attempt to stretch out your shoulders.  Your friends and co-workers give you funky looks as you try to crack your back or press up against the corner of a wall to get those tight spots.

At other times your upper back tension may flare up into really sharp pain as you move your neck or shoulders. Sometimes it might hurt you to breathe which really freaks you out.

Worse still, you may experience pain that radiates into the shoulder or into your arm which causes you to seek out medical help. These symptoms may seem out of the blue and unrelated to your normal upper back tension.

Muscle strain, tightness,  and trigger points in muscles of the upper back can cause these symptoms and massage therapy can alleviate this stress. 

 

 

 

Soft Tissue Problems

Upper back pain is a common complaint from people seeking massage therapy.  Upper back pain is common because it is a complex structure made of many spinal joints, rib joints, and the shoulder blades. 

The muscles that make up the upper back belong to the shoulder blades, the spine, and the neck. Many of these muscles act as posture stabilizers of the neck, shoulders, and spine lending the upper back to lots of misuse and abuse. 

Also interesting to note, many muscles of the upper back attach onto the ribs and aid in breathing.  If these muscles are tight or strained many people may report pain as they breathe in. Coughing very hard may strain some of these muscles as well. This commonly [...]

Massage Therapy Treatment for Sciatica Relief In Greenwich, CT.

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You don’t know what you did but this pain in your leg is driving you crazy. Sometimes it’s a sharp pain like a knife that keeps you from being able to just sit down. Other times it’s just a deep ache that bothers you while just sitting down to have dinner. In other instances it seems fine except certain positions bother it and you can’t seem to figure it out.

You go to a doctor and they tell you have a herniated disc. They tell you to go to physical therapy and if that doesn’t help you, you may need surgery.

You look it up on the internet and talk to freinds, and everyone is telling you horror stories of having surgery and the back pain doesn’t get better or other problems that crop up after surgery. What other treatments are there?

Massage therapy can be a very important complement to other treatments for sciatica and provide relief as well to help heal sciatica.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a symptom of pain down the leg and involves impingement of the sciatic nerve. The impingement can occur from bulging discs, narrowing of the spinal canal, soft tissue, or irritation of spinal ligaments.

The ability of massage therapy to be helpful in sciatic pain depends on what is impinging the sciatic nerve, such as spinal narrowing or disc material, and the severity of these conditions.

How Does Massage Help Sciatica?

Treating the soft tissue around the spinal joints can be essential in healing sciatic pain. The discs can go back into place and anything that can help facilitate this process is essential. 

Massage can help this process by [...]

Massage Therapy for Treatment of Neck Pain and Stiffness in Greenwich, CT

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When your neck is in pain, nothing seems to work right. Turning your head is a task which forces you to turn your whole body making you feel like a robot. Just holding your head upright is a painful ordeal. Even laying down to bed causes you to brace your body to keep your neck from excruciating pain.

Massage therapy can be a great help to many types of neck pain. By helping to decrease tension, helping to heal muscle strain, and increasing circulation that helps to bring fresh nutrients to your muscles.

Whether you have pain from muscle strain, bulging discs, or pinched nerves massage can help!

The main types of neck pain can be related to soft tissue dysfunction and structural disorders.

Soft Tissue Disorders

The most common neck pain you may feel is in the back of the neck and into the shoulder blades. The muscles of the neck commonly work as anti-gravity muscles and it is easy for them to develop overwork and strain patterns. As they work to hold your neck and head in postures such as looking down to read a book or phone, looking at a computer screen with the head forward, or carrying a bag on the shoulder.

Many of your neck muscles also attach in the shoulder blade and collar bone and have a close relationship to the shoulder. Any sports or exercise that use the shoulder can also help to cause strain and overwork the muscles of the neck.

Pain from neck muscles can cause the neck to feel stiff, limit movement in turning the neck, cause a pinching of the joints as you turn [...]