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What’s the big deal about the foam roller?

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Massage, Recovery, Self-Care | Comments Off on What’s the big deal about the foam roller?

What’s the big deal about the foam roller?

Okay, okay. I know my clients, friends and loved ones are probably pretty sick of hearing me sing the praises of foam rollers. What the heck IS a foam roller you say? And why/how do they help? Let me try to chip away at all your questions and misconceptions.

No-they are not a cure-all for all your muscular aches and pains. No-they wont help decrease cellulite. No-they cannot combat varicose veins or spider veins. No-they are not as good as getting a session with a massage therapist. That being said though, they CAN be a huge help for those who have chronic systemic tension issues, standing on their feet all day issues, “no time to get a massage” issues, people who “like feeling good on a regular basis” issues and finally those who “like knowing how to help themselves feel better” issues. Does that clear that up? Now that you are interested, I will continue….

Now there is no substitute for getting a great massage therapist to work out your aches, pains and injuries. But the foam roller can help space out those visits to a manageable time frame for both you and your wallet. Foam rollers perform a type of self-massage that can be compared with myofascial release. Using your bodyweight and gravity, foam rollers “stretch” the fascia out and can help it become more pliable and “un-stick” it to itself and the underlying tissues (muscle). This gain of movement between the layers of tissue can help improve tightness, range of motion and gain some flexibility. Two important factors in using a foam roller best are breath and taking time/slowing down while on the roller. It is going hurt when you use the roller on a tight band of muscles. For sure. If there is no discomfort/pain, there’s nothing going on here–keep moving! Once you get past the initial OMG of it, you will see that when you breathe thru the tightness, the pain can and will subside. I would say you should roll on each muscle group for at LEAST one minute–at least. A huge thing that makes the foam roller so awesome is that it can be a completely passive event. You just lie on it and it does most of the work for you–depending on the muscles you are trying to work. You can watch TV (if you are so inclined), listen to the radio, hold a conversation, play with your kids and pets (not to mention they will love that you are on the floor with them) and all sorts of other fun things while you roll.

Did I mention breathing? You need to BREATH slowly and steadily while you are doing all this rolling. Hold your breath and you will see how quick your muscles can tighten up or simply refuse to let go of the tension–it won’t be good, let me tell you from experience! You should roll the foam roller slowly while taking deep breaths and you will find that soon, you won’t be feeling the pain much anymore. And it may not hurt so much when you go to reach over and pick up those groceries any more either.

You may not know right now what a foam roller is or what it feels like to use one, but soon after owning one you will wonder how you have gone this long without one! I promise! And if you don’t, I am HAPPY to show you some techniques for stretches in the office. Just bring your new foam roller in with you and I will go through and help you get the most out of your new piece of equipment!

 

Why an Epsom Salt Bath? How does it work?

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Recovery, Self-Care | Comments Off on Why an Epsom Salt Bath? How does it work?

Why an Epsom Salt Bath? How does it work?

I commonly see clients after a big race or event or even a training block and they complain of their legs feeling “like lead” or “full and tight”. This is usually due to a buildup of metabolic wastes and toxins that your muscles produce that, quite literally, gets “stuck” in the tissue because (*there are a number of potential reasons) but most likely is that the tissues are unable to “push” it out due to over-work. When these wastes accumulate, they cause your legs, arms, or glutes to feel heavy and lethargic, which makes doing much in the way of moving very difficult. Also, if you have been lifting and not-so-committed-to-stretching-after, you may get this buildup over time, as well.

I catch myself continuously asking these same clients if they have taken an Epsom Salt bath, and more commonly than not–they have not. Most think that something as simple or silly as a bath cannot be helpful for THEM. Or my other favorite is “I don’t like baths”. Well, get over yourself. If you want a good way to help yourself in a passive way–try this bath.

Here’s all the scientific mumbo-jumbo for what and why it can work for you that I found on the Epsom Salt Council website:

 

Studies show these benefits from the major components of Epsom Salts baths:

 

Magnesium:

*Ease stress and improves sleep and concentration

*Help muscles and nerves function properly

*Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes

*Help prevent artery hardening and blood clots

*Make insulin more effective

*Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps

*Improve oxygen use

Sulfates:

*Flush toxins

*Improve absorption of nutrients

*Help form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins

*Help prevent or ease migraine headaches tell clients to try an Epsom salt bath

I will add that taking an Epsom Salt Bath does cost you some down time in the tub, but you will feel so much better when you go to move around later!There are a few notes that I would like to add to heighten your enjoyment and knowledge of this awesome event. 

*Make sure you HYDRATE–this means water–before, during and after. The metabolic waste and toxins will be pulled out of the tissue, but so will valuable water that you need to replace to get the full effect and benefit.

*Epsom Salts usually come in 3 sizes at any drug, grocery or health store. Small milk carton, large milk carton and 6 pound bag. If you are a fairly active person and don’t really like running to the store every time you may need to take a bath, do yourself a favor and buy the 6 pounder. I think the last time I checked it cost about $6.

*Use twice to three times what you think the instructions are telling you. I believe it reads something like “2 cups per gallon of bath water”–how many gallons is YOUR tub? Unless you are bathing in a Pyrex bathtub and know the exact amounts to use, let me help you out. For most tubs and baths so that the water covers up to your waistline–use most if not all of the small milk carton size of salts. This does mean that you use roughly half of the large milk carton size of salts if you bought that one and so on.

*Use water as hot/warm as you can handle and let it cool as you soak. BEFORE GETTING IN THE WATER, pour the salts in and stir/swish/mix the salts around until you don’t feel them anymore!! DO NOT SIT ON SALT CRYSTALS, they really won’t be effective unless they are dissolved into the water.

*Plan on hanging out in the tub for about 15-20 minutes to really let them soak.

 

It’s not cheating!

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Massage, Uncategorized | Comments Off on It’s not cheating!

It’s not cheating!

I just finished a session with a regular client who began our time with a sheepish, “I have a confession. I cheated on you last week.” To which I replied (after long dramatic pause for effect) my standard, “It’s okay! You needed to get work done, and my schedule was packed. I’m glad you contacted another massage therapist and that she could fit you in! PLEASE don’t waste another thought about it!”

Now I have a confession: this scenario happens quite a bit. I won’t lie that it inflates my ego a little when clients worry that my feelings will be hurt that they saw another massage therapist. However, the ego boost quickly dwindles, and then I tell them my thoughts on ‘cheating on your therapist.’

As a massage therapist, my concern is first and foremost for my clients and their well-being. Part of that is realizing that they might want and need more than I can do for them. With that in mind, I whole-heartedly encourage my clients to try other therapists. It is important for them to see who and what is out there so they either find someone who IS better suited for their needs OR to be able to fully appreciate the work we do together.

Either way, my feelings are not hurt. If they come back, I will continue my high quality treatment. If they find someone else, I am truly glad they have found someone who is able to meet their needs. And you never know, they may come back in the future.

At Boulder Bodyworker, we think of ourselves as a team of therapists. We have worked hard to assemble a high-quality, high-functioning team, who are complementary in skills but are varied in personality and specialties. We each have different skills and focus. As therapists, we see different therapists for different issues, and we “click” with them for different reasons.

I am not at all threatened when one of my clients books with another therapist in our clinic or at another office. There are many reasons a client has for booking with another therapist. Scheduling conflicts, availability and different massage techniques are just a few. I like to know the strengths of other therapists in our area so that when a client calls, and we don’t have an available slot, I can refer them to someone I think will be a good fit.

Asking for a referral is never a bad thing. You never know when you’re going to need to get in to see someone ASAP and having that backup therapist can be a lifesaver. If you happen to be traveling, we have a database of high-quality therapists scattered throughout the nation. You never know when you might need a massage in Denver, Boston, Austin or LA (just to name a few). Don’t hesitate to ask!

So don’t be surprised if we suggest another therapist in our clinic or give you another therapist’s number if our schedule is booked. It’s because we love you and want you to feel better ASAP. We promise.

Pillow Talk

Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Recovery, Self-Care | Comments Off on Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

“How old is the pillow you’re currently sleeping on?” I ask most clients as we are
completing their initial intake form. Most pause for a moment and then either shrug
and say half-heartedly, “I don’t know,” or “not that old”. I usually smile and follow up
with “How old IS ‘not that old’?” Commonly the answer to that is one or two years or
they really can’t remember. Yikes. In most situations, for the majority of our clients,
anything more than 8 months is really “too old” to be working well and being useful for
you. There are always exceptions–medical conditions and issues that make what I am
saying null and void. And I know that I run the risk that some statements will provoke
some feelings of frustration and possibly anger. But I am speaking from experience,
both my own and a decade of being a watchful massage therapist. For the record, I am
NOT in cahoots with the pillow manufacturers. However, I have tossed around the idea
of taking my “pillow talk” on the road since this information has helped many of my
clients get a handle on chronic shoulder, neck, and jaw pain.

A few other things that get a lot of clients riled up about is that I am not a fan of down
or buckwheat pillows and I don’t care for expensive pillows. $15 to $20 is all you
should need to spend on a quality pillow that will last you 6-8 months. Now I am a
woman who appreciates a good bargain, and I am very comfortable with the “cost-per-use”
formula (thank you expensive designer jeans) however, in my experience, I have
not come to find any great difference in lifespan between a $50-$150 pillow or my
favorite $15-$20 pillow. Really I promise.

Let’s talk pillows for a moment. Pillows are there to help support the spinal cord, neck
and head. When you lay on your side, your pillow should help keep your spinal column
in a fairly straight alignment and help your head be as perpendicular to your shoulders
as possible. They should also support your neck and head so that weight of your head is
“off” your neck for the hopefully 8-10 hours you’re lying down sleeping. If you are a
side sleeper, think of a plus sign “+”. If you’re lying on your side and your head is
leans more parallel to your shoulders, that’s not a good sign nor is it good for your neck
or shoulders. Basically, it means your neck muscles (and consequently quite a few of
your deeper shoulder muscles) are “firing” (aka working) all night long to support and
control your 8 to 10 pound head. They are getting no recovery or down time to repair
and rest. Now, if this situation happens for one night, it is really not a huge deal.
However, if this posture becomes a pattern over multiple nights over multiple YEARS,
you can end up with chronic neck, jaw and shoulder pain and dysfunction.
I have noticed back sleepers think they are immune to this because they sleep on their
backs “the way nature intended.” Some don’t like any pillow at all or the others like a
little, squishy pillow they can “mold” into a roll behind their head that doesn’t bother
them. While this may work, I still believe you need something supportive to rest the
head and neck muscles so that the deeper neck muscles are not firing to hold the head
still as it turns from side to side throughout the night. So really the above paragraph
applies here too.

I know, I know–at this point you are probably saying to yourself, “So Kate, tell us…
what kind of wonderful, inexpensive pillow DO you suggest?” Okay I am going to lay
it on you.

Step One: In my experience, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have been the best resource for
well-made, inexpensive pillows that you don’t mind throwing away. Yes, I know, it
pains me too to throw pillows in the garbage, but no one will accept your “gently used
“drool collector” (not even animal shelters). For your own sanity–steer clear of Bed
Bath and Beyond, that pillow department with its two thousand kinds and types of
pillows will leave both you and your wallet dizzy and nauseous.

Step Two: Look for pillows with TWO seams around the outside. Most pillows have
only one. You are looking for the 3D pillow with two seams, sometimes called a
“gusset”.

Step Three: Choose a Firm or Extra Firm pillow. Now I know visions of lying down
with your head all jacked-up on this huge, fat pillow are dancing through your mind.
Keep reading. Pick up the pillow and place one hand on either side. If you can feel your
hand through the pillow, but not feel each individual finger, you have found a winner. If
you can feel the fingers easily, put it back and try a more firm pillow. Worst case
scenario, if when you get it home and it’s ridiculously firm, go sit on it while you’re
watching TV, working on the computer, or practicing your meditation. Any of those
should break it in nicely.

Warning: for the first few days that you sleep on this new pillow, you may shake your
fist and say, “Damn you Kate and this pillow!” Please allow 5-7 days before you throw
the pillow in the guest room and go back to your “old” pillow ways.
When you do go back to that old friend, and you will, I bet you will wake the next
morning with that old familiar ache. I want you to march into the guest room with your
“old” pillow and pick up the new one and put down the old one and congratulate
yourself. You have been converted.