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Sep 24th

Repetitive Stress Injuries – Causes & Treatments

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If you’ve been sitting at your computer for more than 30 minutes, take a break before reading on…
Move your body. Shake it out. Roll your shoulders. Jiggle your legs. Breathe.
Now sit back down…

Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI’s) are the result of chronic tension that you’ve built up over years of life and making the same tiny movements in the same habitual way over and over and over.

In order to understand RSI’s, we need to understand chronic tension. Tension is constant contraction in a muscle, involuntary and impossible to “just relax”. We tense up because something we’re experiencing is too much to handle – physical pain, emotional pain, anxiety, social pressures and constraints… you get the point. When an experience is traumatic enough or constant enough (think serious injuries, family dynamics, childhood trauma) the tension response moves from a momentary coping mechanism to an unconscious survival habit.

RSI’s happen only in the areas of chronic tension because the tighter a muscle, the less flexibility it has.

Let’s try an experiment (unless you have wrist pain)…
Choose one hand and rotate it in small circles moving from the wrist; notice how that feels and how it looks. Now make a fist and repeat the rotation maintaining the fist, again notice how it feels and how it looks. Now shake it all off.

Imagine holding that fist for many years, followed by getting your dream job that requires you to circle your wrist for 40-80 hours a week, indefinitely. That sounds terrible, right?!  Sitting at the computer for long hours thinking, typing, mousing, with arms extending from compromised shoulders and neck are the equivalent of this scenario. RSI’s are the result of chronically tight muscle making the same tiny movements repetitively, slowly tearing through muscle fiber, causing inflammation and compressing nerves.

So what can you do about this?
Simply breathe deeply and recite “I am relaxed. I am light.” 10x each morning and evening.


…Just kidding! Magical thinking won’t do it, but laughter is great medicine!
Because chronic tension is an unconscious habit the only way is to unravel it from the root. There are many forms of bodywork and movement therapies designed to do just this. Here is a list of a few…

Rosen Method Bodywork
a somatic therapy that treats body and mind simultaneously, addressing muscle tension as the physical manifestation of long held attitudes, beliefs, and emotional blockages.

Ortho-Bionomy: a gentle, non-invasive, system of healing that reminds the body of its natural ability to restore balance. Its principles are based on a simple and profound philosophy: allow the body to correct itself.

Mind-Body Centeringan experiential study based on the embodiment and application of anatomical, physiological, psychophysical  and developmental principles, utilizing movement, touch, voice and mind.

Vipassana Meditation: Also called insight meditation, is a Buddhist form of meditation that involves mindful body scanning. This practice leads to a clear awareness of exactly what is happening as it happens.

Feldenkrais Method: an educational movement practice based on principles of physics, biomechanics, and an empirical understanding of learning and human development. By expanding your perception and increasing awareness, you will become more aware of your habits and tensions and develop new ways of moving.

Alexander Technique
an educational process for developing the ability to avoid unnecessary muscular tension by retraining physical movement reactions.

Somatic (Body) Psychotherapy: An integration of somatic therapies (like the ones listed above) and psychotherapies. This is a holistic model works with the whole person; body and mind, thinking, feeling, and sensing.

For short term, immediate relief of pain there are even more options. The most obvious is massage, followed by acupuncture, chiropractic, and foam rollers.

Have you had success with things not listed here? Please share!

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Sep 24th

10 Reasons Why: Prenatal Massage

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Having a baby is no small feat. Your body is no longer your own, there are 10,023 things to be afraid of, every day is a new adventure and everyone has a different truth they must impart upon you for the journey. You’re racing heart first into the unknown… AND your baby’s nervous system is forming in response to yours. If massage isn’t yet part of your self-care routine, here are 10 reasons to change that…

1. Relaxation and stress reduction – Life changes are inherently stressful! Couple that with hormonal spikes, physical discomfort, sleep loss, and (you name it…) and you quickly lose track of what good feels like. Massage counters all of that by releasing muscle tension – relieving pain, calming the nervous system – decreasing anxiety, and flushing the lymphatic system – increasing immunity.

2. Reduce pain and strains – As pregnancy progresses and the uterus grows, the pelvis tends to rotate forward, increasing the lower back curve and stretching the abdominal muscles. Postural adjustments and weight gain both strain the muscles, ligaments and joints, creating fatigue, tightness and pain. Massage therapy techniques are helpful in providing relief on weight-bearing joints – alleviating tightness and pain in areas such as the lower back, hips, pelvis and ankles. Sciatica in the buttocks or legs as well as calf cramps are also commonly associated with pregnancy. Massage techniques and gentle stretching will also help decrease the pain in these areas.

3. Improve blood circulation – During the pregnancy all blood components are elevated to provide for fetal needs; by weeks 24 to 34, the plasma volume alone has increased by 40%. Resulting discomfort such as swelling, varicose veins and high blood pressure are common. The greatest change women notice is swollen legs and ankles. Swedish and lymphatic massage support circulatory function, thus reducing swelling. Massage therapy helps provide regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and fetus, promotes the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and accelerates the removal of waste products, improving both mother’s and baby’s tissue health.

4. Prepare for labor – In order to give birth with less effort, the musculature of a woman’s back, abdomen and pelvic floor must remain relaxed to allow the uterus to labor without resistance. Therapeutic massage increases muscle and joint flexibility, a huge benefit for labor and recovery. Receiving bodywork during pregnancy also contributes to self-awareness and relaxation that are necessary to actively participate in the birth process.

5. Improve respiratory and GI functions – Most expectant women tend to feel short of breath, a result of the growing uterus restricting the diaphragm area. Common digestive system discomforts include indigestion, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. By easing tension in the diaphragm and intercostals (ribcage muscles) we create more space for your organs and baby’s body – so air and food can move for smoothly.

6. Sleep Better – Relaxation is felt when the parasympathetic nervous system turns on, which is also the system that carries us into deep sleep. Relaxation combined with less pain / discomfort make for deeper, longer sleep cycles.

7. Relationship Health – You don’t get a break from pregnancy, so you need a lot of support along the way. Think of it as outsourcing – having multiple sources of support takes pressure off of your partner so that you both have more energy for eachother as a couple. And of course, when you’re feeling better, you make better company.

8. Postpartum Recovery – Not only will you have more ease in labor, you will recover faster. Massage increases immunity and blood circulation, which supports all organ function. Regardless of what mode of birth your body goes through, the benefits of therapeutic massage will continue to support you in the recovery process.

9. Making Self-Care a Habit – Many women feel selfish prioritizing self-care, but it’s actually one of the most important things you can do for your family. Relaxation makes us more available, aids healthy attachment, and decreases emotional reactivity. Habits created before or during pregnancy are much more likely to be carried on than attempting to create them in addition to being a new parent. You (and your partner) are also your child’s first role models, so do for yourself what you’d wish for them.

10. Baby’s Health & Well-Being – Everything that your body goes through, your baby’s body also goes through – pain, pleasure, stress, joy, are all experienced in baby’s developing nervous system. The more you can do to feel good emotionally and physically, the more solid of a neurological foundation baby will have.

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Sep 4th

Reflections from the Deep [tissue]

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DTleg

The words “you can go harder” ring like sirens in a massage therapist’s ears, almost all of the time. Harder is not better, and often times it is not actually deeper; it is simply more painful.

I used to wonder why people enjoyed this sort of pain so much, I’m clearly not that sort of masochist…
And one day it clicked. The more locked down we are, the more tense we are, the less we can feel – physically and emotionally. This is not to say that tense people are insensitive, often it’s quite the contrary. But there is an undeniable correlation between muscular tenacity and emotional bottling. Neurologically, physical pain and emotional pain share the same brain region. Studies show that pain killers such as acetaminophen are effective in decreasing hurt feelings just as they are in treating hurt bodies. But, I digress…

Deep Tissue is a massage modality, a therapy in it’s own right. Literally it is a method of addressing the layers of tissue that sit deeper within the body (closer to the bone, farther from the skin). It is sometimes painful, when there is injury, adhesion or scar tissue; it sometimes brings up strong emotional release. Trigger points and pressure points can be particularly intense, but even these will respond to a surprisingly non-painful pressure. In fact, deep tissue can at times be painless, even pleasurable. It always brings different sensations and intensities in different areas of your body.

Any tuned-in massage therapist can read your body, and the body doesn’t lie. The body either surrenders to touch, or it fights against it. It is unconscious and uncontrollable for the most part, and it tells what is most honest. If you notice your breath being held during a massage, consider if the sensation is actually too intense. We massage therapists are listening to the feedback from your body, and adjusting pressure accordingly. Your body will respond differently session to session, so it is important to feel into your own body during each session. There is no reward (other than bruises) for powering through it.

Rather than blindly determining what you believe you need (unless you’re actually trained in anatomy and physiology), find a therapist who you resonate with and communicate openly. Together you’ll find the pressure that suits each area of your body, resulting in relaxation, increased circulation, detoxification, increased range of motion, and decreased pain. At the end of your session, instead of feeling beat up, you’ll feel freed up. You’ll learn about your body, and perhaps gain a bit more insight into where you’re really at.

Your request for ‘deeper’ may very well be a request for someone to pummel down the walls you’ve built; maybe the deeper you seek is not in pressure but in presence.

 

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Aug 17th

E Komo Mai

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e komo mai knob

 

Welcome to Mind-Body SF online…
The place to explore and pay tribute to the madness and beauty of being human.

The musings that follow cover all things physical, emotional, spiritual; through my lens as a somatic practitioner and teacher, and an unorthodox millennial.

 

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