The number one thing I get asked as a massage therapist is what can I do to make this chronic ache, pain, tenderness, soreness or stiffness go away? In general, the answer is consistent full body strengthening and stretching, water and a balanced diet. That can’t possibly be the answer right? It is and here is why.
Our muscles take a lot of abuse every minute of every day. Even at rest they are being put in positions they may not like for long periods of time. All of the activities we perform in our day to day life have the ability to create physical imbalances in the body until we learn how to use and maintenance our bodies correctly. For example, most of my clients have desk jobs or have work that requires them to sit for long periods of time. That means for at least 8 hours a day they are sitting. That doesn’t include what they do in their down time to relax. Common areas of pain include neck, low back, tops of the shoulders, behind the shoulder blades and at the mid back. Sitting, especially at desk jobs (whether a computer is involved or not), creates rounding in the low back, tension in the front pecks, overstretching of the neck and shoulder blades and more if you want to also include the increased risk of carpal tunnel.
To address these imbalances it is not enough to create more ergonomic work areas or correct our posture. We must train our bodies to move correctly. To do this we must build the strength and flexibility for them to support themselves and subsequently us. I am not talking about extensive weight training or being able to wrap your legs around the back of your head. What I am talking about is more akin to personal physical therapy to improve your health and reduce pain and risk of injury.
What does building strength and flexibility mean? I am sure some of you have or are currently enrolled in some kind of exercise and may still be experiencing chronic pain and tightness. In fact, some of you may be experiencing pain and tightness as a result of your exercise. This is because what I am talking about is not just physical movement, it is mindful physical movement. It is physical movement with the specific intention of healing our area of need.
Let us take the desk job example from above. The areas of chronic pain are being caused by a weak core, weak shoulder muscles, a tight chest and overstretched back of neck. In order to solve these issues there are several muscle groups that need to be addressed.
Ultimately, this work takes time and dedication. By the time many of us start to work on our health we are trying to undo year’s worth of damage or neglect. This means that permanent long lasting results will take time. It can take up to six months or more depending on your daily dedication level.
Yoga is the next best way to combat body pain. The reason I recommend yoga over any other form of exercise is because it teaches us body awareness and strengthens not just our large muscles but our deep stabilizing muscles that hold us together on a daily basis. It teaches us to recognize where those aches and pains are coming from and where you need to strengthen and lengthen to get them to stop. Learning this means you can self diagnose and self correct so you can take command of your health. If you want a more extensive routine to heal from sitting, check this out: Combat Sitting Yoga
If you need help identifying the areas of pain and their potential causes and solutions you can always talk to your massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractor or yoga instructor. All of these professionals are trained in kinesthetics and their information can be accessed to improve your everyday health routine.
Until next time. Namaste.
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