Recovery

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...

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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...

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