Tuesday, February 13, 2018

fatigue relief!

Friends, family, clients, and even I myself feel too tired most days. It is annoying to be told to try some stretch or pose or activity to alleviate this exhaustion because, I'm just too tired! However, this is a constant lesson for me: when we create time for ourselves, we find more time.

A colleague of mine, incredible visual artist and yoga teacher, Jen Van de Pol, the person who began my evening ritual of tulsi-rose tea, offered this collection of restorative poses to help combat this constant, ever-growing exhaustion.

I hope you can, as I have, rest into it to find relief.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

soak it up

A selection of Woman in a Bath Sponging Her Leg (1883) by Edgar Degas

I am a big believer in the power of a soak. 

We've come a long way in the history of bathing in America. The tradition of soaking is much longer, especially in the places with thermal pools, naturally occurring hot springs. It wasn't until mid-19th century that bath tubs were common in the States, and only in for the wealthy. At the time they were mostly used for cold plunges, to 'balance the humors'. In the mansions of Newport, RI the homes along the Atlantic had tubs with salt water AND fresh water. With the ease if modern indoor plumbing, the baths we enjoy today are much warmer and an act of relaxation.

As many of my clients know, I don't have a shower only a tub. So, most nights I find myself soaking, usually in Epsom salts. A soak is part of my evening ritual, more than just the act of bathing it is my time to slow down, reflect, and be with myself.

The benefits of soaking are innumerable. I often suggest a soak to clients after sessions, to bring heat to the muscles, to help circulation. A soak in a tub is a radical act toward your own self care. To be solitary, to be submerged, to be still, to be wrapped in the comfort of warm water.

You can get more bath inspiration from my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs: https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/herbal-bath-recipes

Monday, December 18, 2017

psoas major

Psoas Major (gif: Physiopedia)

This muscle has been coming up a lot lately. Psoas can contribute to back pain that is worse with flexion of the torso (bending at the waist), or more minutely, arching of the lumbar spine. It can also contribute to disc pain, hip pain, sciatic pain, leg length discrepancy, and instability.

deep muscles of the lower back

The psoas attaches at the anteriolateral surfaces of T12, L1-L4 vertebrae spilling down the posterior abdominal wall, over the anterior brim of the pelvis to the lesser trochanter of the femur - a common attachment site with illiacus, hence the grouping iliopsoas. Psoas is one of only three muscles that attaches the spine to the leg (gluteus maximus and piriformis are the other two).

Helping to release this muscle in its tightened, shortened state requires great focus on the table. Utilizing deep breathing techniques, as the client is supine (laying on the back), I will start to apply pressure in the abdomen between the belly button and the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS). With each exhalation a gentle move deeper, pushing aside the abdominal contents to get closer to the spine and the belly of the psoas muscles.

Stretching this muscle when you are in pain can be tricky. The easiest way is by laying on the back and bringing one knee toward the torso -this is activating the muscle. Trying not to push beyond, into resistance, allow the lower back to melt into the floor and for the femur to feel loose, free.

If this psoas/low back is not in a lot of pain here are some yoga poses I recommend: supta padangusthasanavirabhadrasana I or setu bandha sarvangasana.

Friday, December 1, 2017

plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be a miserable, cyclical pain in the foot -or even both feet. It occurs from prolonged standing, a walking stride that strikes heavy on the heel, and improper footwear. The plantar (bottom) surface of the foot becomes inflamed (-itis), often stemming from a strain of the ligament. Pain occurs at the plantar surface of the calcaneus (the heel) and can move into the "arch" of the foot, the plantar aponeurosis  -a fibrous sheath of tissue that connects the tendons of the plantar surface of the foot.

It generally hurts most during your first steps of the day, an apprehension to step out of bed in the morning and place your weight on the effected foot. It can often take time to heal. Self-care, such as stretching, icing and massage of the lower leg can help the healing process along. Below find some useful stretches:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

understanding the carpal tunnel

What is the carpal tunnel? Many clients have wrist pain here, but aren't quite sure what the structure looks like, or the pathology of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
carpal bones: scaphoid, lunate, triquetral, pisiform, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, hamate

The carpal tunnel is comprised of the 8 carpal bones (bones of the wrist) the transverse carpal ligament and the flexor retinaculum (a fibrous sheath of tissue that covers the joint to offer it more integrity). The median nerve and tendons of the muscles of the fingers and palm pass through the carpal tunnel. When the tendons are inflamed from over-use or repetitive use, they swell under the carpal tunnel, pressing on the median nerve.

I often recommend icing or an ice bath for the wrist and hands. And, stretching:

If it becomes a prolonged and severely aggravated complaint, your primary care provider might offer these treatment suggestions:

Cortisone (steroid) shot: This is an injection of the steroid -cortisone- into the joint space. It aims to reduce the chronic inflammation, beginning anew a healing process for these chronic injuries. Recovery with this treatment can be felt immediately to a week or so, and the effects can be felt for months to even years -especially when the source of aggravation is removed or amended.

Physical Therapy: A PT can provide many manual treatments, and often help to address the daily habits that might be aggravating this particular injury. By stretching. strengthening, and either avoiding or altering certain activities, pain can be reduced and recovery can occur.

Surgery: Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is a minor surgery, where a small incision is made in the transverse carpal ligament, which alleviates the pressure on the median nerve. The incision is then stitched back up. There is often a very small scar from the incision which, as almost all scar tissue, improves with massage to decrease the buildup of fibrous tissue. You may feel relief immediately, or within a few weeks or months. Recovery time from the surgery will take a few weeks before you can return to regular, rigorous use of your affected wrist.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

sun stretch

Taking a break from insurance billing to stretch and admire the sun.

"The Sun Salutation is a graceful sequence of twelve positions performed as one continuous exercise. Each position counteracts the one before, stretching the body in a different way and alternately expanding and contracting the chest to regulate the breathing." https://www.sivananda.org

Saturday, October 28, 2017