NiaMassage

Musings from the Massage Chair & Table

This is NOT what Sheryl Sandberg meant by “Leaning In”

With so many young people using cell phones, texting has exploded with expanded data features, and addictive interaction on social media. With prolonged use of cellphones, tablets and laptops, many chiropractors and massage therapists are treating ‘Text Neck’, or leaning into the screen.

Before this happens to you, these are tips that you can do to help deal with it –

  1. Dial the font size up on your screen. Whether you use your tablet, laptop or cellphone most often, sometimes the font size will cause you to squint or lean in to the screen. This isn’t what Sheryl Sandberg meant by the term. On your computer, Hold down CTRL + the dial on your mouse, and dial to your preferred size of font. On the tablet/smartphone (Apple), go to General > Accessibility > Larger Text > Drag Slider Right. Check your Android phone or tablet in the settings area, for similar prompts.
  2. Take time to look away and focus. Leaning into the screen also affects your eyesight, akin to moving to movie projector closer to the screen. It also puts a ton of pressure on your neck, as it’s holding up your head in a position that it was not really designed for it to be. For every inch you lean into the screen it adds 10 pounds of weight to your head and neck. Take a few minutes to look away from your screen, and focus on a faraway object.
  3. Look up. When you lean in to your screen for a prolonged time, it is about the
    Take a few moments to look away from the screen.

    Take a few moments to look away from the screen.

    same as repeating the same action over and over. This contributes to headaches and stiff necks. Allow your head to loll back, and lower your shoulders. Don’t worry; your head won’t fall off, even though it just may feel like it. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Definitely do this several times a day – It gives your neck and eyes a break.

  4. Use the dictation feature. One of the great things you probably never use on your phone is the dictation feature. As often as I am live tweeting (#Gladiator4Life), I have learned that dictation helps to keep up with the program, and keeps you from looking down SO often. I use the mic, and clip it in my ear. Just make sure that you proofread what it is writing, on your behalf. (Dang autocorrect!) Once the software gets used to your style, it tends to make corrections on its own.
  5. PUT THE PHONE DOWN – I get it – when I was in junior high (mumblemumble) years ago, I had classes with my best friend on EARTH all day for a year. I LOVED it; School was a daily hangout all day long. Then, we’d get home, and then get on the phone for hours. We even watched Jeopardy over the phone. This was back in the day when even the house line had a minutes plan. I truly understand what it means to just want to share every single thought with your friends all the time. But at some point, you just have to put the phone down. It’s hard to disengage at first, but actually talking in person does have its’ perks.
  6. Get a massage – Of course getting the muscles to relax increases flexibility, range of motion
    Prolonged texting with your neck craned forward without taking a break can cause a myriad of problems.

    Prolonged texting with your neck craned forward without taking a break can cause a myriad of problems.

    in your neck and relieves headaches. Prolonged texting with your neck craned forward without taking a break can cause pinched nerves, arthritis, and over time, disc degeneration. You are far too young to have to deal with that. Get a massage, or maybe an adjustment, if the problem cannot be solved with just the massage. These treatments are a great compliment to each other.

Note – This blog post is dedicated to Michele McDonald, who gave me the inspiration to write this post. If you have any questions about massage, please feel free to ask away!

Leave a comment »

Stress Free Tips for the School Year

School in the South has already started! It shouldn’t be a stressful time for parents and children alike, so here are some tips to take some of the stress out of the school year –

1. Plan ahead – No one Expects the Spanish Inquisition, but expect that kids will leave things until the last minute. Create a basket or bulletin board in a common area to hang all permission slips, reports and assignments due.

2. Keep in touch with the Teacher(s) – Make sure your child’s teacher can get in touch with you so that your kid’s ‘last minute’ assignment isn’t actually last minute. If your child knows that his or her teacher is a speed dial or click away, the less likely it is that they will try to get away with something. This also goes for parents of the friends.

3. Have the kids take ownership of their OWN homework. – When I was in school, twenty (cough, cough) plus years ago, homework took forever. I don’t think it has gotten any easier or less stressful for kback-to-schoolids to do their assignments. Kids are going to get frustrated, which will result in YOU getting frustrated. Doing their homework for them doesn’t solve their problem, at all. It saves tears and late nights, but it doesn’t solve the problem. There are a lot of apps, and free videos (especially Khan Academy) that can help your students in subjects that even you needed (or still need) help in!

4. Take a break! Taking short breaks throughout homework time lets the body relax a bit and move the blood around, giving you more energy and creativity.  Skipping breaks tends to wear you down, because the stress level never really abates. Even if you take time to do self-massage, meditate or have a dance break, all of these will help reduce stress.

These are only a few tips, but I’m sure that you have some great ones! What are your best ways to get the School Year off to a stress free start?

1 Comment »

Tactical Operations Kit for Finals Week

Testing time, especially Finals Week can be especially stressful for any student of any age. Cramming over books or a computer doing research, can tie the calmest person in knots! It can almost feel as if the Hunger Games are a real event –

Sometimes, Finals week can feel like the Hunger Games...

Sometimes, Finals week can feel like the Hunger Games…

Here are some things that can help you not only stress less during testing time, but actually thrive-

  • Peppermint – This can be Essential Oil, candles, teas or candy. This can help with clarity, focus and concentration.
  • Lavender – This can be Essential Oil, lavender buds, teas or candy. This will help calm you, and relax.
  • Chamomile – This can be Essential Oil, chamomile buds, teas or candy. This also can help calm you.
  • Tennis Ball & Sock – This can help address knots that you cannot reach on neck & shoulders.
  • Golf Ball – Self massage for feet. Roll foot over ball to your preferred pressure. Pick it up after you’re done! 😉
These can help even the most stressed student stress less during testing period.

These can help even the most stressed student stress less during testing period.

Naturespace app for iPhone, Nature Sounds for Relax & Sleep for Android – Relaxing atmospheric soundtracks. You can ‘be’ at the beach or in the woods, for hours on end to help studying, or sleep!
My Thought Coach – Meditations, guided imagery and positive thoughts for varied occasions.
Get a Massage – You may not have enough time to get a full body massage during testing time, but getting a massage is a good investment on your stress level, and those knots you get from studying and doing research for hours on end. Check to see if your Student Activities Board has Massage Sessions set up at your college or university. If not, check out ‘Find A Massage Therapist’ on the AMTA or ABMP websites.

4 Comments »

Own Your ‘Tall’!

Unless you are the World's Tallest Person, there will always be someone taller or shorter than YOU.

Unless you are the World’s Tallest Person, there will always be someone taller or shorter than YOU.

We’ve all been there – the first day of middle school – and you look around the playground or cafeteria. Your friends, who you’ve just seen, only a few months ago that were your same height, have either grown taller without you, or, vice versa. It’s not even slight; it’s noticeable. You crave being back where you used to be, just so you don’t stand out so much. So, you slouch and shrink, just to fit in.

There’s only one problem. You are where you are, for the time being. You’ve either grown as much as you can, or have more growing to do. There’s not much you can do about it, except own your ‘tall’. Unless you are the World’s Tallest Person, there will always be someone taller or shorter than you.

You were designed to stand out as you are. So, why try to conform on something so arbitrary as height! Own every inch of height you have, and don’t ever let anyone make you feel little. (Or too tall, for that matter!) Own your own version of “tall”; better yet, celebrate it!

1 Comment »

Are your feet holding your whole body hostage?

I walked a 5K this past weekend for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta. Now normally, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’ve had breathing issues most of this year, so walking even at a brisk pace was a challenge.

I walked it, in better time than I had the last time (I came in with the truck that picked up the cones at my last 5K). I was so happy that I went shopping to treat myself for a job well done, and was out for hours.

When I got home, hours later, I was tired, but wasn’t as tired as I had been in the past walks. My feet felt fine, but apparently were beginning to throw a serious hissy fit. As I slept, my feet held a meeting with the muscles in my calves.

If you've been on your feet for most of the day, and you haven't taken care of them, be prepared to be taken hostage by them.

If you’ve been on your feet for most of the day, and you haven’t taken care of them, be prepared to be taken hostage by them.

They regaled my calves with stories of abuse and mistreatment, and after all the stories, the calves believed my feet! In solidarity with my feet, my calves began to twitch, ever so slightly, my brain didn’t even notice. My feet were really upset that the brain still didn’t tell me to get up, that they gave an ultimatum – move that leg one more time, and SEE what happens next!

Again, as far as the brain was concerned, it was off the clock. ‘Time for maintenance, please come back later,’ the message replied. As I fell back to sleep, my legs shifted into a more comfortable position, and the feet seized the opportunity to wake me up.

The foot began to curl, as the calf muscles contracted. Just before it fully seized up, I bolted out of bed, and almost stood up on my foot, like I used to when I would get a Charlie horse. Once I calmed down, I took deep breaths, massaged the muscles, and got in that knot before any of the other muscles tried to gang up on me.

Now, as a massage therapist, I should know better. Yes, I see you shaking your head as you read the post. Everyone has a slip now and again.

Here’s how you can do better than I did. If you don’t take care of your feet, no matter how long your to-do list is, your feet will take your whole body hostage.

– After doing an activity, such as a 5K or a run, have a banana. The magnesium in the banana will help feed the muscles the nutrients they need to regulate and repair. Don’t like bananas? Here is a link of magnesium rich foods.

– A cool water bottle rolled under foot will help soothe sore soles. A golf ball will help address knots, but don’t press so hard, the cramp in your foot may just get worse. Apply pressure to your level of comfort only.

– Self massage always helps when you just want to take care of that knot that’s been bothering you. Again, digging into a knot may not be the best idea; bruises look cute on noone.

– Warm ups before and gentle stretching afterwards helps the muscles prepare for and recover from an activity. This is a hotly contested idea, and opinions vary widely. I’d rather let my muscles know that they’re getting ready to work, than to cramp up in the middle of an activity. Check out the last post – Leg Cramps – for some great stretches that you can do for your legs.

– A pre-event massage helps warm the muscles up and prepare them for your upcoming activity, as a post-event massage will help the muscles calm down and recover. If your event has therapists on site, go and check them out. They are there to help you!

Leave a comment »

Are you a Hipster for the wrong reason?

As you go through your day, some things you do just out of routine, some just to cope with getting through the day, and others just out of bad habit. If you stand with one knee locked, you just may be a Hipster for all the wrong reasons.

If you are standing to one side, you are having half your body doing all the work of holding you up.

If you are standing to one side, you are having half your body doing all the work of holding you up.

For the most part, your hips are there to help balance the body. (Could you imagine just having one hip?) When the pelvis is tilted to one side or the other, muscles on the opposite side are compressed into a smaller space. It’s the same as you doing the job of everyone on your team, while they are doing nothing at all. You see your team mates, and you are ticked off. That’s what it’s like when you rest your weight to one side of the body, and the other side is just there. Over time, the lower back begins to ache, stiffen, then become a real pain in the butt.

Well, how would you feel? Half of your body is doing all the work of holding you up,  and the other muscles are not doing their job; you’d get irritated, too! Your lower back will all of a sudden look like a pouty 4-year old, arms crossed.  “I’m not gonna work for you anymore!”, It is saying to you. Your backside doesn’t know what to do, so it just clenches to contribute to the job of holding you up. You begin to feel an ache in your backside that doesn’t want to seem to go away.

One great way to help get rid of a knot is to take a tennis ball and put it in a trouser sock (a clean one, preferably), place it near the knot, then massage the ball over the knot. The sock will help you place it where it’s needed, since it won’t just stay on the wall. Foam rollers work great over wide areas of muscle. You can sit on it, and apply pressure to your preference over the roller.

If you slightly bend your knees, not a full bend (you don’t want to look like the last kid picked for dodgeball), and hold your core stomach muscles, then all your muscles will help you hold you up. Now they are going to pitch a fit; they haven’t worked in a while, so they have to get back in the habit of doing their job. Don’t let them off the hook, get in the habit of standing straight. It takes 21 days to create a habit, so just be aware of how you are carrying yourself. Once you get into the habit, you will definitely feel a difference.

3 Comments »

I just had a panic attack.

I haven’t had one in ages. The last time I had a full blown panic attack was over 12 years ago, when I was lost in Seattle, and I couldn’t remember where we parked after the Seafair parade. It was absolutely debilitating, and I just couldn’t function. I had my daughter with me, and I must have scared her half to death.

I’ve since learned how to recognize what a panic attack ‘looks like’ for me, and to know how to combat the feeling before it gets out of hand. But this one, I didn’t see coming. I wasn’t looking for it, and it didn’t come on suddenly. It was one of those slow-to-boil panic attacks, very much like how one would put a lobster into a cool pot of water, and then turn up the heat.

Yesterday, I just couldn’t seem to get motivated to leave the house. I made all the tasks that I had to do be inside, and near my desk. I had calls to make, but yet, didn’t make them. I had family commitments to attend to, but didn’t go to them. I have several events the rest of this month I have to attend/run/work at, so it wasn’t an opportune time to ‘take a break’ from life. I got what I had to do in the house done, but not much else.

As the day progressed, I started to understand what was going on. I get on Facebook, and I start to see the 9/11 pictures go up on statuses and pages. I didn’t realize the date until last night that 12 years ago, we were in NY, visiting friends and family, quite by surprise (for them – we lived on the West coast, and moved back East a few days before), and we were on our way back home to Massachusetts. I was home by the time the second plane hit the tower after sending my then boyfriend to work, and daughter off to school. I remember being in the Towers 10 years before, on a date, pressing my head against the glass to look down, recalling how, even that far up, that ice crystals change over to rain, before they hit the ground. The hyperventilating began, and my heart began to race. Tears rolled down my face as I sat on the couch, just frozen to the spot, hands firmly stuck under my legs.

I had to tell myself that these events are two separate incidents, and it’s OK to be upset, but it’s not OK to stay upset. I shook myself, to bring me to the present. All I could do is sit and just be aware that it’s 2013, not 2011. I’m not in Massachusetts, by myself, glued to the TV. I closed my eyes, pried my hands away from my legs, and placed my right hand over my rapidly beating heart, and the left one over my stomach. Take a deep breath, I repeated to myself. As I got more and more calm, and aware of my surroundings, I got up and shook that mess (for the lack of a better word) off. I realize that it isn’t as easy for those who actually lost friends, family and colleagues, but sitting in that space of fear and despair wasn’t going to serve me today. What I need to do today is serve others.

As I sit here, finishing this post. I feel much better. I have clients to serve, and will shift my focus on how to help, as opposed to feeling helpless. Now that I know what was going on, and how I can do better, I think this 9/11 will be better for me than the last 12.

2 Comments »

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first!

I noticed something last week as I went to an appointment at an office. As often as I make sure that everyone else gets a break from work, I had not scheduled any for myself. I looked thorugh my paperwork, and nowhere in any descriptions for services that I offered had I scheduled myself to take a break! I remind others that taking care of yourself helps you take care of others, but I hadn’t taken my own advice. I was thoroughly irritated with myself, and changed my protocols in services.

Apparently, I am not the only one that is so busy that we don’t take care of ourselves – I found a Facebook fan page called Have You Peed Today.com.

Take some time to take care of yourself...your body will thank you for it.

Take some time to take care of yourself…your body will thank you for it.

Making sure that everyone takes a break is good. Making sure that YOU take a break is important. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Matter of fact, it should be mandatory. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care for others, either, but to not rank someone else’s need so far above yours that you don’t take care of yourself. We always honor those who are selfless, and take care of every stray and stranger that crosses our path, but berate someone that takes a few hours to go to a museum, a movie, or even just sit still and read. Why do we have to lock ourselves in the bathroom or car to get a few minutes to ourselves?

Ask your trusted friends or family members to help you out. This way, you can return the favor when they need help. If they can’t help, ask for a referral for a trusted sitter, and recharge your batteries. Most importantly, when you DO make the time, don’t do errands, and DON’T feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Make the time count!

What do you to take time for yourself? I’d love to know!

Leave a comment »

Be Your Own Cheerleader

When things don’t go your way, disappointment does happen. When things don’t go your way for a LONG time, depression and stress can set in. As much as you’d like to have others cheer you up, sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader.

Instead of focusing on the failure, focus on what you have learned instead. The more likely you learn the lesson, you are less likely to repeat the outcome.

Are you standing in your own way?  Self-doubt and negative thinking can help you create your own obstacles.  As soon as you recognize your thoughts going negative, catch yourself. Never get into the habit of rooting against yourself! 64 year-old Diana Nyad finally made her goal of swimming from Cuba to Florida – that’s 103 miles in jellyfish and shark infested water. She started at 28 years of age; It took her FIVE times to do it, and she never gave up!

Cheerleader

Are you trying to please other people, or listening/ worrying what other people are thinking? Everyone has haters, they’re there to let you know you are headed in the right direction.  Listen to your inner cheerleader – at your center, your own soul is rooting for you to succeed!

You have your own cheering section. Don't root against yourself!

You have your own cheering section. Don’t root against yourself!

Also, quit comparing yourself to anyone. This race you are running, your competitor is yourself and time. You have the same amount of time as everyone else; how you use it makes the difference. (This is a reminder to myself as well.)

I hope that these help you change the way your see your situation, and begin to cheer yourself on!

9 Comments »

Do you suffer from this?

Just Be Still

Sometimes, our best intentions can be sidelined by our thoughts scrambling for attention. Not every thought that crosses the mind is important at that time.

I catch myself  *so* often thinking this – ‘OK, I gotta get ready to go, but first, I have to make a draft of this promo, and then, I gotta do a blog post…” Next thing I know I see that something else has to be done, and I’m off task. (In the time writing this, I am now supposed to be getting ready to go to an event, but paid a bill, took a sales call, and was still trying to figure out how to finish this blog post.)

I call this “But First…” Disease.

Sometimes, our best intentions can be sidelined by our thoughts scrambling for attention. Not every thought that crosses the mind is important at that time. Making priority lists, and crossing tasks off are great, but the little tiny tasks sneak up on me, and take me off point like a pebble being washed away by a wave.

So, I take a breath, and be still. And just stop. I slow my breathing by taking deep breaths, and just become aware of what’s going on in my head. Not necessarily clear my head, but just take all the thoughts that are scrambling, and create a list of what I need to do RIGHT NOW.  A better visual description is trying to corral kids in the playground after lunch to form straight lines, to go back to class. (Shows you how old I am! 😉 )

Now, I can keep it moving…it’s an ongoing process, but I will become a “But First…” Disease Survivor. But first, I have to finish this blog post!

One day...one day.

One day…one day.

3 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: