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What Wellness is to Me -Brittany Pastorek RMT

This past September I attended a Can-Fit conference in Toronto and with the many courses I took while there, I had one with Tosca Reno, the well known fitness leader and author of the “Eat Clean” diet series.

Her lecture was on the 3 E’s of wellness

  1. Eat Clean
  2. Exercise
  3. Emotional Wellness

Eating clean and exercise are the main contributors to a healthy body but so often we forget that our emotional health affects our body as well.

Her tips were to meditate 10 minutes everyday (recommending head space or a guided meditation series), to journal at least 10 minutes everyday and to unwind from your phone.  We as a society should not be on our phones the final hour before we go to bed and the first hour after waking.  We have become so dependent on staying in the loop and not being present in the moment, which does not help with balancing our hormones and staying healthy.

Cortisol is known as the “BAD hormone” which comes into play with stress. Whereas, Dopamine is your feel good hormone and Serotonin is your happy hormone.   Oxycontin is another powerful hormone and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain.  When we hug a friend or kiss a loved one, Oxycontin increases which helps to lower the stress hormone, cortisol. Tosca suggested hugging heart side to heart side for at least 10 seconds to get the benefits of your happy hormones. Give more hugs everyday to stay healthy!  An interesting proven fact is that massage actually lowers your stress hormone, Cortisol and increase your feel good hormones. Serotonin- massage is a great modality to incorporate into a healthy life style.

The last part of her session was about the power of I am, I am strong, I am beautiful, I am powerful.  We never want to focus on the things we aren’t so every morning start by saying I am _________and live each day by focusing on what you are.  Positive thinking can change all aspects of your life!

I am strong, I am present, I am here to bring you to a healthier state!

Brittany Pastorek RMT

*Brittany is one of the great therapists at Core Elements that focuses on therapeutic deep tissue massage. Through assessment and advanced skills she can bring you the wellness you are looking for!

Book online today at www.orleanscoreelements.com

The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Children

The holistic benefits of massage are not confined to patients of any particular age. In fact, the ancient practice of massage has been shown to improve overall health in people at every stage of life, regardless of their background, age or occupation.  The medical community is increasingly cognizant of the particular ways children may benefit from massage – how optimizing the body’s performance can help support crucial stages of growth and development. Children who are exposed to massage at an early age may develop an intrinsic appreciation for its capacity to both sooth and strengthen the body.  As a growing number of Canadians succumb to stress (and stress related disease), it is more important than ever to reinforce healthy habits for a more balanced lifestyle – a practice best begun in childhood.  Massage as a therapy is effective for children whether they be infants, preschoolers, teens or even young adults, and making massage therapy a routine in the child’s life can help it to grow into a balanced and mature adult.

Massage Therapy provides endless benefits for your child, some of which include:

Sports Performance and Injury Prevention

Hockey, soccer, football, dance, or gymnastics are just a few of the sports your child may be active in.  Some children are not only involved in one, but multiple sports whether recreational or competitive.  As a parent you might be wondering can a massage help my child enhance their sport performance and allow them to be less susceptible to an injury.  Yes!  Regular massage treatments will allow for an increased blood flow to children’s growing muscles resulting in less muscles tension, an increase in joint range of motion which can decrease overall stiffness, and cause a relaxation response.  All of these benefits are sure to allow for muscles and joints to recover while decreasing post physical activity soreness and preparing your little athlete for the next sport event.

Relief from Stress and Anxiety 

We often think of stress as an adult affliction; but the truth is that even very young children experience stress and anxiety.  Children have their own exposure to stress, which can come from school, family, technology or even playtime with their peers – all are facts of life that most young people must learn to cope with as they progress toward maturity.  This stress can cause imbalance in the immune system and hormonal imbalances as well. Massage therapy can act as a stress buster for children, even when they have passed the stage of infancy.  Massage practiced regularly can help a child reduce stress, which can in turn may help a child to sleep better.

Digestion

Tummy aches is a common complaint among young children – and quite often a source of worry for parents. Although gastroenteritis, over-eating, or a food intolerance are common offenders, constipation is the most likely culprit when it comes to abdominal pain in children.  Rather than relying solely on laxatives or diet, many parents turn to massage therapy to sooth stomach ache due to digestive dysfunction. Gentle abdominal massage may alleviate colic in newborns and can be helpful in addressing other digestive issues that arise as children mature. Under the guidance of a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), parents can learn to administer the technique at home, perhaps avoiding an unnecessary trip to the ER or another missed day of school.

Body Language and self esteem

A massage therapy treatment encourages kids to communicate about what they are feeling.  Many questions are asked through out their treatment such as:  What is causing pain and describe? Too much or too little pressure?  Are you uncomfortable?  What feels good and what doesn’t feel good.  This dialogue helps them develop their ability to say what they want and don’t want happening to their bodies and it helps build confidence in their ability to communicate about themselves.  It is a great skill to develop early on in life.

What happens for a child’s first massage therapy treatment? Usually the child’s parent brings a book and sits in the treatment room with their child during the first appointment.  At the second appointment, the parent most often sits in the waiting area and at some point when the child is comfortable, the parent drops the child off and returns after the appointment is over.  However, any of these situations is fine at any point – the parent can sit in on every session or sit in the waiting area every time. It is up to the child and their consent is respected.

Children Ages 6 and 10 years seem most comfortable with a 30 minute appointment and older children to teens tend to prefer a 45-60 minute treatment, but each child is unique and has different needs and attentions spans.

 

At Core Elements we love treating children and encourage them communicate and grow to love massage, in return, teaching them to take care of them selves!

Many of our RMT’s specialize with children massage if it be for stress, anxiety,  developmental disabilities or sports performance we would be happy to help guide you and your child to the benefits of Massage Therapy.

Call 613-590-9339 or book online at www.orleanscoreelements.com

The CE Team:)

Give the gift of the Senses this holiday season!

We have the perfect gift idea for family and friends with our Essential Oil Gift Baskets!

 

For the Christmas season we have put together some of our teams favorite essential oils to share with you.

esopicThe Wellness Box contains 4 essential Oils that will help with everyday aliments at $29.99

  • Eucalyptus- For the cold season, helps strengthen immune system and fight bacterial or viral infections.
  • Lavender- Relaxing and helps you unwind, sleep or reduce stress.
  • Lime- Invigorating, leaving you feeling strong and bright.
  • Sweet Orange- Refreshing and energizing to your senses.

Our ESO Diffuser Box contains an Electric diffuser along with 5 different oils at $49.99

  • Electric Diffuser scent ball with refill tabs
  • Cinnamon Bark- Festive holiday aroma
  • Eucalyptus- For the cold season, helps strengthen immune system and fight bacterial or viral infections.
  • Lavender- Relaxing and helps you unwind, sleep or reduce stress.
  • Lime- Invigorating, leaving you feeling strong and bright.
  • Sweet Orange- Refreshing and energizing to your senses.

We also carry a variety of therapeutic needs great for stocking stuffers. Yoga tune balls, Biofreeze gel, and much more!

Visit us at 2034 St.Joseph Blvd, Orleans to pick up yours today. Limited quantity on gift baskets.

CE TEAM

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

Are you SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how Massage Therapy can help.

sadThe Winter season is fast  approaching…… shortened days, cold, snow, icy rain, and lack of sunshine.  When the seasons change many people, 1 in 5 to be exact, can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) which is serious mood altering state and can be rather intense during the late fall/winter season due to the lack of sunlight. Less sunlight in the winter, coupled with more time indoors, can trigger SAD.  It is proven to be a serious form of depression and reduce the quality of life for those with the disorder.

Sunlight is very critical to our mental well being because it helps release endorphins in the body and to regulate melatonin.  These two hormones are part of what give people their sense of well-being and translates to their feeling of vitality.  SAD is believed to be caused by the decrease in hours of daylight, lack of sun and vitamin D.

Those who suffer from SAD describe feeling sad, weepy, wanting to get away from people, and having a reduced interest in interacting or even talking to others.  Other common symptoms of SAD are: mood swings, feeling unmotivated, over-eating, irritability, depression, disruptive sleep, feelings of hopelessness, lack of concentration, and fatigue.  The National Institute of Health (NIH) classifies SAD as a form of depression.   Effective tools such as light therapy (sun lamps) along with Massage Therapy help battle SAD symptoms.
How can Core Elements help?

A recent article from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) catalogs several proven ways in which massage therapy can counteract physiological mood factors that often accompany SAD.  According to the AMTA, massage can:

  • Reduce anxiety and depression with a course of care providing benefits similar in magnitude to those of psychotherapy.
  • Increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety.
  • Significantly decrease heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure.
  • Improve mental health by reducing depression in individuals with HIV, lessen anxiety in cancer patients, reduce anxiety and depression in military veterans and lower work-related stress for nurses.

Treating those with SAD is one of the many ways that massage therapists can offer real help to their clients as part of an integrative medical team.

Therapeutic massage helps stimulate the circulatory system which can help with the release of mood boosting hormones like serotonin and encourage the body’s production of endorphins, our natural painkillers.   With decreased activity levels for many people during the winter months the circulatory benefits also help with increasing energy and immunity levels.
Many clients are using Massage Therapy as the number one tool to help them relieve their stress and tension while struggling with SAD.

Other helpful lifestyle changes you can do to combat SAD symptoms:

Routine: It can be easy to get out of routine when we are feeling lethargic and our sleep pattern is disrupted. By ensuring you go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day you avoid disturbing your body clock.

Electronics:Try to limit the use of phones, tablets and TVs just before bed. These will put artificial light into the eye and can mess up the delicate chemical balances making it harder for you to fall asleep at night.

Get outdoors: Try and spend some time outside every day. It can be hard to motivate yourself to get out but by exposing yourself to natural light you will naturally boost your Serotonin levels which will have a big effect on your mood.

Exercise: Studies have shown that exercising regularly is a great way of naturally boosting production of Serotonin. Exercise will also help wear you out so you feel more sleepy at night time, which will also help regulate your body clock.

Eat healthily: The food your body craves during winter can actually leave you feeling lethargic and tired. Plus they can lead you to gain weight which can lead to feelings of frustration and depression. Try to counter this with lots of fruit and vegetables (and make sure you treat yourself to what you enjoy too!). Some people find taking a Vitamin B12 or a Vitamin D supplement can help as well.

Reduce stress: Try to avoid planning stressful life events for the winter months if you know you naturally find this time of year harder. Things like changing jobs or moving home, where possible, should be planned for the summer. Winter can be a stressful time anyway; the holiday period can lead to financial strain and difficult family events so try to do your Christmas shopping ahead of time and don’t put yourself under pressure to go to every party you are invited to.

Ramp up the self-care: First… Book yourself a massage, then find time to unwind with craft activities or learn relaxation techniques such as mindfulness or meditation.

Book a holiday: A more expensive option but some people with SAD book their ‘summer holiday’ during winter, while others will go somewhere closer to the equator for the whole of the winter period. However, some people do report a real slump in their mood when they return to the UK so bear this in mind when considering this option.

Support:  Talking therapy, Speak to your friends and family. Ask them to read this so they understand what you are going through and why. It will help them be more understanding and supportive. Having people to talk to who are going through the same thing can also be invaluable – many ‘general’ depression support groups will also have people who suffer from SAD.

St John’s Wort:  A herbal remedy that has been shown to be helpful for some in coping with the symptoms of winter blues. Be careful when using alongside light therapy as it can make you sensitive to bright light and make sure you speak to your GP if you are using any other medication before trying.

Sharing is caring: please share this blog to help others, you never know who might need it. 

Book a massage and enjoy the benefits a massage therapy treatment can provide for SAD.  Our warm heated tables and skilled staff will put you at ease.

The CE Team

613-590-9339

 

Is training for your race causing you a pain in the knee?

This weekend is Ottawa’s Army Race weekend! The popular event brings out thousands of runners to the 5 km and half marathon (21.1 km) distances.  Many hours of training are put into the preparation for this run and with the over use of muscles comes pain and dysfunction at with many athletes.  Have you ever experienced pain at the knee cap(patella) during and /or after your run that hinders your enjoyment and efficiency? One of the most common conditions we see with training is Patellofemoral Syndrome.  Massage Therapy is an excellent modality to help repair and re-align the tracking of your knee cap(patella) so you can be at the top of your race!!

What is Patellofemoral Syndrome?

Tracking or instability problem with the knee cap (patella) that causes pain in the front of the knee. The patella has a specific gliding path that it takes in order for the knee joint to properly move.  Patellofemoral Syndrome occurs when a muscle pulls the patella out of its proper pathway, causing inflammation, pain, and degeneration within the knee joint. You can have pain only in one knee or both.

knee

What causes Patellofemoral Syndrome?

A number of issues can cause Patellofemoral Syndrome:

  1. Abnormal biomechanics- increased foot pronation, valgus leg posture
  2. Imbalance of strength between lateral and medial quadriceps muscles- pulling the patella more to one side
  3. Tight lateral quadriceps (vastus lateralis). This can pull the knee cap (patella) laterally out of its normal gliding pathway
  4. Overuse and stress to knee

 

How can massage help?

Massage can help by:

  1. Reduce any inflammation that has occurred within the knee joint
  2. Release trigger points that have occurred as a result of overuse or muscle imbalance
  3. Reduce tension in tight muscles that are pulling patella out alignment
  4. Decrease scar tissue build up and fascial adhesions.
  5. Increase mobility in tight joints such has ankle, foot, hip, knee.
  6. Provide proper self-care and strengthening exercises

Many will say rest from the aggravating activity,  this is so you don’t cause excessive damage to the involved tissue. Taking immediate attention with Massage Therapy and being disciplined with your home care exercises you can continue with your training and not fall off your plan.

Coming in for a focused and therapeutic Massage Treatment at Core Elements, followed by the attention to the below exercises daily, can help set you on the right path to recovery.

Stretching:

calf-stretchCalf stretch:
Facing the wall, standing about two feet away, place your hands against wall. Step forward with one foot and a bent knee. With both heels on the floor, lean your hips towards the wall while keeping the leg in the back straight to stretch the calf muscle. Hold for a count of 20. Repeat 3 times.

quad-stretch-standingQuad Stretch
Standing near something that can be used for support, reach back with one hand, grabbing your foot and ankle.  Bend your knee and bring your heel up towards your buttocks.  Contract your gluteal muscle at the same time to be sure your pelvis is in the right position for the best stretch. Hold for a count of 30. Repeat 3 times.

hamstring-flexibilityHamstring
Sitting on the edge of a bed or sturdy table with one leg off the edge, the other leg straightened on the bed or table, lean towards the straightened leg keeping your back straight. Hold for a count of 30. Repeat 3 times.

Strengthening:

exercise-with-pillowHip Adductor strengthening– This exercise can be performed seated or lying on your back with both with knees bent.  Place a pillow towel roll or ball between your knees.  Squeeze your knees together and hold for ten seconds. Repeat this exercise ten times.

 

wall-slidesQuadriceps strengthening– Stand with your back against a wall, with your feet one and one-half to two feet from the wall. Slowly bend your knees and slide to a sitting position as far down as comfortable. Don’t allow your knees to move forward of your feet and or you hips to move lower than your knees. Hold for ten to twenty seconds and then return to standing. Repeat five times.  If this is not comfortable try lying down on the ground and preform a straight leg lift. Raise your leg several inches off the ground and hold for 10 seconds then lower.

Foam rolling of the quads and gluteal muscles is another exercise to help break down tissue adhesions that can also contribute to the problem.

Book your massage online at www.orleanscoreelements.com or call us at 613-590-9339.

Good luck to all the runners this weekend!! We have a few of our RMT’s running as well, so we will be there cheering you on!:)

Your CE Team

What sets Core Elements above the standard? We focus on the core elements of care.

At Core Elements we understand that choosing the right Registered Massage Therapy clinic can be a daunting task.

What sets Core Elements above the standard?  We focus on the core elements of care.

 Above the Expectation in Client Service and Care 

Our clinic provides exceptional attention to detail regarding service and your health.  You are taken care of the minute you walk in our doors by our friendly reception staff that is on hand 7 days a week.  They are there by phone or email to help you with any questions, concerns and appointment needs.  All our Registered Massage Therapists (RMT’s) are full-time in the profession.  Core Elements therapists are focus-driven who provide attentive and therapeutic treatment so you can be confident your care will be individualized and effective.

Clinical Assessment and Focused treatment

Your RMT will take time to listen and assess your situation, condition and posture so a focused plan and treatment can be offered.  We listen and address what you need.  Our skilled RMT’s will further educate you of any underling issues that may actually be the prime reason of your pain to bring you to full resolution of your discomfort.

Consistent Excellence with all of our RMT’s

All Core Elements RMT’s are registered and in good standing with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO).  With the CMTO 2200 hr training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, kinetics, hands on treatments and much more, a massage therapist provides informative medical knowledge.  In addition to this certification and registration, continuing education is paramount . This is where Core Elements RMT’s exceed with excellence! We are continually reevaluating, educating and expanding our knowledge in the Massage Therapy profession so we can provide the most informative touch to our clients.  With our regular group training, we as a team set a standard for our clinic care so you receive the most consistent and excellent care with all of our therapists.  As can be expected, all therapists have their own unique approach to care but you will always receive an educated, informative, understanding, empathetic and attentive touch with all therapists and treatments.

Home Care to Help you Stay Pain Free

Education, home care exercises and stretches are just as important as the massage therapy treatment itself.  Core Elements therapists are informative and in touch with your needs so they can provide you with the proper home care, bringing you to full rehabilitation and a healthy pain-free state.  We also offer a large section of therapeutic tools and aids to help with your continued care such as foam rollers, yoga tune up balls, posture aids, heating pads and much more.

Network of Health Care Professionals

Massage Therapy is proven to be very beneficial to many conditions and aliments and it is our sole focus.  With therapeutic and rehabilitative treatment, we look at our clients comprehensive health care needs and at times the skills of other health care professionals are advised.  This is why we work closely within our community of Orleans and the Ottawa area with other like-minded health care professionals so we can confidently refer you to the best care.

Positive and Welcoming Atmosphere

Along with the therapeutic hands-on approach to health care comes another important aspect to overall wellness: Positive Energy.  At Core Elements,  improving the well-being of others is our passion and we strive to create a warm, positive and inviting atmosphere for our clients.  You will always be greeted with a smile and feel welcome. 🙂

 

CORE ELEMENTS ORLEANS MASSAGE THERAPY TEAM OF RMT’S

At Core Elements we personalize each treatment to your needs. Whether for recent injury, rehabilitation, chronic pain or stress/anxiety relief,  our growing team of therapists have the skills to meet your healthcare needs.

Call us today at 613-590-9339 or check us out on-line at www.orleanscoreelements.com for on-line booking and more information.

 

 

 

 

Self Massage home care with Yoga Tune Up balls

At Core Elements Registered Massage Therapy we believe that continuing your care at home is just as important as a massage itself.  A little home work is good for everyone:) We sell many therapy products that help with the home care exercises your Core Elements therapist may give you.  YTU (yoga tune up) therapy balls are a favored method of self care by many of our clients and we carry and sell both YTU balls and Alpha Balls.  Our own Brittany Pastorek RMT is a certified YTU instructor and she wanted to explain to all the benefits of YTU balls and how they are used.

YTU (yoga tune up) balls were designed by Jill Miller to assist with self massage and proper body self care for athletes, people with chronic pain and everyone who wants to relieve aches and pains they may be feeling.

How the yoga therapy balls help with self-care:

-They relieve aches and pains

-They enhance breathing function

-They increase mobility

-They reduce stress

-They improve posture and performance

yoga tuneThe size of the balls varies.  An Alpha ball is the large firm blue ball that provides pressure over a larger surface area and can be less intense than the original YTU balls. The Alpha ball is great for massaging muscles including the glutes, low back, hip flexors, and larger leg muscles whereas the original sized YTU balls come in a tote bag and are great for the rotator cuff, feet ,upper back and neck muscles. The larger abdominal ball is about 9″ in diameter and is used to massage the diaphragm and abdominal muscles which help greatly with posture and digestive issues.  The larger the surface of the ball the better it is for targeting bigger muscles and providing a less intense pressure, while the smaller the balls the more intensity and pressure you will feel.

YTU balls are more effective than tennis, lacrosse or golf balls as the sport balls lack a few specifics that the YTU balls were designed for.

yoga tune 2YTU balls were made with a pliable surface that permits the ball to sink into bony prominences while still contacting the soft tissue.  YTU balls were also made with a grippy surface to grab all the tissue layers when massaging.  The balls were also designed to absorb your body weight.  The harder the surface of the ball or even foam roller means they are unable to conform to the bony structures that they roll against and can cause bruising and irritation of the bone.

YTU therapy balls are a great tool to assist with home care after any massage therapy treatment.  These balls are used for self-massage to continue the great affects of your massage from your therapist and promotes improved posture as well as alleviate aches and pains creating relaxation in your soft tissues.

Brittany Pastorek Registered Massage Therapist Orleans-RMT

Brittany Pastorek RMT and certified Yoga Tune Up and fitness instructor would be happy to treat and educate you on the benefits of massage therapy incorporated with YTU care.

Brittany’s detailed bio and online booking is at www.orleanscoreelements.com 

or you can contact us at 613-590-9339 for any further info.

Core Elements transition to a new online booking calendar!

IMPORTANT NEWS FOR OUR VALUED CLIENTS!! NEW ONLINE BOOKING CALENDAR- Starting June 8th, 2016

At Core Elements we are always striving to improve our services and client care. We are pleased to inform our valued clients that starting on Wednesday June 8th our clinic will be transitioning to a paperless accounting and booking system.  We will be working with a new program that will allow our clients to fill in and update their personal information online, view past appointments, receive their massage receipts by e-mail and many more exciting features.

This seamless new booking tool will be simple and easy to use for our clients, and is Canadian based. We know how important security is to our clients, and we wanted to work with a Canadian company that is both innovative and secure to provide the best in client confidentiality and customer service.

We will be inputting all of our pre-scheduled appointments into the new system; once that first appointment under your name is booked, you will be sent a link to our new health history form. We kindly ask that you fill out your health history and personal information online when the new form is sent to you. 
FullSizeRender (4)

An example of the email you will receive with your booking confirmation will look like the image on the left.

Please click the “Complete Intake Form” to fill out and submit your current info for our paperless records.  Completing your form at home saves you time prior to your booking.  We would really appreciate your assistance in updating our records.

If you have any troubles we will be happy to help you complete your health history information form when your arrive for your next appointment on one of our clinic tablets.

We are looking forward to the future, and are excited to be able to provide our clients with a fresh and modern tool to book their appointments.

We thank you for your help and we hope to see you soon!

Your Core Elements Registered Massage Therapy Team

www.orleanscoreelements.com

613-590-9339

Have you joined us on Facebook?

We love communicating with everyone on Facebook! Our posts consist of informative information for your health and well being. Keep up date on our community events and contests as well!
Join our Core Elements Facebook page and be ready for all the helpful topics that you can share with friends and family.

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See you online! “LIKE”

www.orleanscoreelements.com

Mother’s Day Gift Certificate Package

Mother’s Day is this Sunday May 8th!!

Give the gift of Health and Wellness with our Core Elements Serenity Package.

She will Enjoy a 60 minute Lavender Orange aromatherapy massage with a therapeutic paraffin wax foot treatment and a special take home gift!

mothers day

 

Only $100 +HST

The perfect gift to show Mom how much you appreciate her hard work and love:)

Call 613-590-9339 or come visit the clinic at 2034 St.Joseph Blvd, Orleans.

More massage gift certificate options at www.orleanscoreelements.com

Stress Response System – Fight or Flight

When we have stress in our life, our brain receives a signal that registers alarm.  When this alarm bell is rung, there are many actions that take place, one of them being the release of hormones that will create a response.

These hormones are specific in affecting certain aspects of our body to allow us to react to the stressor.  For example, epinephrine and norepinephrine are two hormones that when released increase our heart rate and blood pressure.  Having an increased heart rate and blood pressure allows us to act quickly to avoid an event that we believe to be fatal such as running away from a bear.

Cortisol is another hormone that increases with increased stress.  Cortisol affects sleep patterns, slows wound healing, can decrease cartilage and bone formation, inhibit your immune system, increase fat storage creating weight gain, affect heart function and digestion.

Aldosterone is a hormone needed when you are exercising but if you are dealing with increased emotional and mental stress without physical activity the long term effect will create high blood pressure.

Our stress response system is designed to react to a stressor with an appropriate response but if we have continued stress over time and those events are unresolved, stress related diseases can occur.

Example:

Situation:  Parent worried about adolescent child who comes home 2 hours late.

  1. Anger; first 15 minutes; epinephrine and norepinephrine; results in increase in fight-or-flight response and increased sympathetic activity.
  2. Worry; next 30 minutes; with increase in anxiety, still supporting continuance of hormone response.
  3. Increased worry; next 60 minutes; shift to cortisol release; resulting in inability to sleep
  4. Recurring anger; 15 minutes; epinephrine and norepinephrine with aldosterone increase; results in increased fight-or-flight response and increased sympathetic activity with rise in blood pressure.
  5. Child comes home and is met by an angry and worried parent.
  6. Inability of parent to sleep the rest of the night because of increased cortisol levels.
  7. Fatigue the next day with irritability and a dull headache caused by effects of increased cortisol and aldosterone levels.
  8. Because of increased cortisol and aldosterone levels, parent has suppressed immune function and catches a cold 3 days later.

Mosby’s Essential Sciences for Therapeutic Massage; Sandy Fritz, M.James Grosenbach;2004;(193-196)

How stronger stomach (abdominal) and buttock (gluteal) muscles can aid in reducing back pain.

Sitting for long periods of time and possibly developing lower cross syndrome means that your abdominal muscles and your gluteal muscles will have become weak.  It is important to strengthen these muscles if you are going to improve your posture and reduce your low back pain.

There are many different types of exercises for the abdominals and the gluteal muscles.  What is important to note is the intensity of each exercise and the number of repetitions to perform.  If you are new to the exercise and have not engaged in physical activity for some time, it is important to begin slowly, performing exercises that are easier at the beginning of your strengthening program.  As you improve your strength, you will be able to choose more difficult exercises and perform more repetitions.  To obtain endurance for the abdominals and gluteals, it is recommended that you perform more repetitions with less weight.     Describing all of the precautions for these exercises would take too long to explain so if you are unfamiliar with which exercises to perform and how to do them correctly, I would suggest the help of a qualified personal trainer.  They will make sure that you are performing the exercise correctly and can provide you with the number of repetitions and types of exercises that are right for you.

abdominal-strength-exercisesGlute-Camp-Butt-Workout

How are the hamstrings (muscles at the back of the upper thigh) involved in low back pain?

hamstrings_full_body_rear_view_reflection-cropped2The hamstrings which are located at the back of your upper leg, when contracted, bring your heel to your buttocks.   These muscles attach onto the bone in your buttock region that you feel when you sit on a hard surface and travel down the back of the leg to attach around the knee region.   As you can see in the picture to the right, the hamstrings are in a contracted state. Leaning forward sitting office  If this position is held for long periods of time the hamstring muscles will become shortened.  If the hamstrings are too tight, when a person tries to rise up from a sitting position, the attachment point on the bone in the buttock region will pull the pelvis into a tilt.  When this tilt occurs it alters the posture of the low back causing pain.

To stretch the hamstrings; sit on the floor, tuck one foot into your pelvis and straighten the other leg in the direction of a V.  Point the toe of the straight leg to the ceiling.  With a flat back gently lean forward and reach towards your toe.  If you cannot reach your toe do not compromise your posture, just rest your hands on the top of your leg at the level you are able to reach without rounding your back.   Hold your stretches for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times for each leg.    Young woman seated hamstring stretch

 

Muscles located in the front of the hip can cause low back pain.

Hurdle jumper There are three main hip flexor muscles.  Two originate from the lower anterior spine and attach to the upper inner part of the femur (leg bone)   The other hip flexor is also referred to as a quad muscle.  This muscle (rectus femoris) is located on the anterior part of the thigh and travels from the hip to just below the knee.  psoas-and-hip-flexor-musclesRectus-femoris-tendon

When these muscles become short they cause an exaggerated curve in the low back contributing to low back pain.

To stretch the hip flexors:  Sit on the edge of your bed so that you are balancing on the edge of your gluteals, then Hip-Extension-in-Lyingtake one leg up to your chest and slowly lean back until you are flat on your back.  Focus on dropping the free leg towards the floor.  hip flexor stretch2 An alternative stretch is to position yourself on the floor with one leg bent at 90 degrees in front of you.  Ensure that your knee is in line with your ankle and not in front of it.  Extend your other leg behind you until you feel a stretch in the front of the thigh and up into the front of the hip reg

Crossing your legs while sitting can contribute to additional areas of pain and discomfort.

If you are an individual that crosses your legs while sitting on your chair you will add additional strain to muscles in the low back region called the quadratus lumborum muscles.  Man sitting cross legged in an office chair

If you cross your legs while sitting, you will cause your pelvis to shift and you will not be sitting equally on your gluteal bones.  The end result of this posture is the shortening and development of trigger points in the muscle located on either side of the spine.  These muscles, (QL) when contracted, will tilt (laterally flex) your spine to one side and extend your back.  One or both sides may be affected depending on the posture held.  These muscles will tire easily when sitting slouched over a desk similar to the erector spinae muscle group.

Ql muscleThe triggertrigger point -QLpoints in the low back refer pain to the low back itself and possibly into the gluteal region and lateral hip.

To stretch the QL:

Lie on your back with both legs straight to start.  Take your right arm and with palm facing the floor extend it to QL stretchyour right side.  Take your left hand and with right knee bent, pull the right knee towards the floor on the left side.  Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.  Perform stretch on both sides.  During any stretch you should feel mild discomfort, if at any time you feel pain, do not pull the knee as far over.   If this does not relieve the symptoms of pain, discontinue the stretch.

 

 

How does sitting for long periods of time create the potential for low back pain?

There is a syndrome known as lower cross syndrome.  This syndrome is the presentation of weak abdominal muscles and weak gluteal muscles with tight low back and hip flexor muscles.

Sitting for long periods of time can cause this syndrome.   In addition to the lower cross syndrome developing, the hamstrings are likely to become shortened adding to the already painful achy back that many people experience during their day.

Leaning forward sitting officeLower cross

Sitting with your back slightly rounded causes your lower back muscles to be pulled and so they will try very hard to contract to keep you in a correct position. These low back muscles end up overworking, become tight and develop trigger points.

 

You back should have a normal inward curve that when sitting should be maintained.  Having a chair that fits your body type is an option.  Others have used fitness balls to sit on to strengthen the muscles of the core developing proper posture.

Stretching the low back muscles:

Gently pull your knees towards your chest and hold for 30 seconds.  Bringing your head towards your knees will intensify the stretch so add this move as time goes on.  Repeat the stretch 3 times.  Variations include pulling one knee in at a time.  Stretching erectors

How do the shoes you wear affect your posture?

Now that the holiday season is upon us, many of us females like to wear shoes that accessorize our clothes rather than shoes that fit well and are practical.   Our posture is altered by the shoes we wear.    We have normal curvatures of our spine.  Our posterior neck and lower back curve inward slightly while our mid back curves outward as seen in the picture below, but look what happens to our curves when high heels are worn.

Posture and high heel shoes

How do you effectively change a slouched posture? (continued)

The chest muscles become very short and tight if you are repeatedly sitting in a slouched posture.   The small muscle called the pectoralis minor muscle is the muscle most commonly shortened in prolonged slouched posture.

Stretching this muscle is an important aspect of improving posture.  Because this muscle is attached to your ribs and part of your shoulder blade, when it becomes shortened it anchors your shoulder in a forward position and locks it down.

Anterior view of slouched posturePeck minor muscle

To stretch this muscle place your arm, forearm and hand flat on a wall or door jam, with the elbow slightly above the level of shoulder height.  Rotate your body away from your shoulder until you feel a mild Peck minordiscomfort.  Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.  Perform this stretch sequence a minimum of 3 times per day to increase the improve flexibility.   Depending on your job you many need to add this stretch as part of your daily routine to ensure continued good posture.

How do you effectively change a slouched posture? (Continued)

The rhomboids are key muscles in the mid/upper back that that are very important postural muscles.  They squeeze the shoulder blades together which supports the upper back.   They become weak due to the prolonged amount of time people spend in seated positions.  Rhomboids

If the rhomboids are weak you will notice that your shoulder blades will become further apart.

Rhomboids weak

To begin with, the following basic rhomboid strengthening exercise should be performed approximately 3 times daily. As your strength improves, the exercise can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, frequency or duration of the exercise provided it does not cause or increase pain.

 

Shoulder Blade Squeeze 

Begin this exercise standing or sitting with your back straight. Your chin should be tucked in slightly and your shoulders should be back slightly. Slowly tighten your rhomboids by squeezing your shoulder blades together as hard and far as possible provided the exercise is pain free.  Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.  Rhomboid exercise

(http://www.physioadvisor.com.au/8292950/rhomboids-exercises-rhomboid-strengthening-exerc.htm)

How do you effectively change a slouched posture?

Aside from being aware of your posture and changing bad habits you can assist your body to improve by strengthening muscles that have become stretched and weak over time and stretching those muscles that have become strong and too short over time.

Laptop slouchingThe muscles on the upper back are overstretched, strained and weak.

The chest muscles have become too short and tight.

 

 

The trapezius muscle which covers the area from your head, upper shoulders and back may best be known as a source of stiffness across the top of the shoulders.

There are three different sections to this muscle that have different functions.  We are going to focus on the middle section of the muscle which is being overstretched when in a slouched posture.  Trapezius muscle

If you sit at a desk for long periods of time, the muscle becomes overstretched.  When this occurs the muscle contracts to try and pull your body back into correct posture, which ultimately ends up straining the muscle.    Initially feeling of tension will start between the shoulder blades which can increase to feeling of soreness and pain that can radiate from the shoulders to the back of the neck.  This pain can increase to a constant ache that may be very hard to relieve.

To strengthen this muscle, lie on a mat or exercise ball face down.  If you are lying on a mat, use a small towel and place under your forehead.  If you are lying on a ball, look to the floor and try to keep your neck in a neutral position.  With arms extended out in front of your shoulders and thumbs pointed to the ceiling, slowly lift them up until you feel the contraction of the muscle between your shoulder blades.

Mid trap exercise

The focus is to improve the posture by increasing the muscle endurance.  Endurance training has a more positive impact to improve the function of the muscle.  Endurance training is done by performing an exercise with lower weight and by performing a large number of repetitions over a prolonged period.

There is always a variable when determining how many sets you do and how many repetitions of an exercise you should perform.   The exercises should never cause pain, so if you experience any pain when performing the exercise, discontinue and consult your physician, massage therapist, trainer,……

If you wish to improve muscular endurance, the National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends that you perform one to three sets of 12 to 25 reps at 50 to 70 percent of your maximum effort. (http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/workout-trapezius-20506.html)

Start with one set (1 time) and do as many repetitions as you can before you fatigue.  Repeat  every other day.

As you get stronger add another set (perform as many reps as you can, rest briefly and perform the reps).  Continue to add another set.  When you can complete 3 sets with numerous repetitions without fatigue you many increase the weight or continue to maintain the endurance.

If you have a job that requires you to continually put your body in a position that creates bad posture, you may want to consider performing your exercises for an extended period of time. (weeks, years…)

Do you ever experience sharp pain, numbness, dull ache, tightness or stiffness in your upper back?

Take a look at your posture.  Are you slouching?  Slouching does not just occur when sitting at a computer, it can occur when walking, watching TV, playing on your iPod or laptop and so on.  This type of posture is easy to get into and hard to get out of.  When you allow your body to slouch, it becomes accustomed to this posture, there is strain on the muscles of the upper back, neck and shoulders.

Slouched posture when watching tvSlouched sitting posturecartoon slouched

 

Do you fit into any of these postures?

Adjusting how you are sitting while relaxing, working or walking is the start to corrective care but there are other things you can do that will help you improve.

How does poor posture affect your jaw and what are some symptoms that can occur?

If you are working at a computer for long periods of time and your head is held forward additional stress is placed on the jaw joint.  The ability to open the mouth is strained and more muscle contraction is needed to perform the action.   Try it out:  Sit tall and then open your mouth.  Did it open easily and smoothly?   Now sit as though you are working at a computer and push your head forward so that your ears are in front of your shoulders.  Now try the exercise again.  Did you notice a difference?  Was it harder to open?  Was there any clicking?  Could you open it as far?  Did you experience any pain?

If you have this type of posture the muscles of the jaw and face become strained, fatigued, and sore and/or develop trigger points. (Refer to earlier posts for a description of trigger points)

These trigger points can create symptoms such as tooth ache, itch in the ear, ear aches, eye twitching, symptoms similar to sinus problems in addition to causing headaches.   So it important to constantly monitor your own posture and be aware of where your head is in comparison to your body.  Correct posture is having your ears in line with your shoulders.  Ear aligned with shoulder

In order to accomplish this, an exercise can be performed daily to strengthen the weak muscles of your neck and stretch the shortened muscles.   

When tucking your chin back make sure that you’re looking out of the top of your eyes.  You will hurt your neck if you try this exercise while looking out of the bottom of your eyes.    Start with 10 repetitions holding the head back for 5 seconds each time. Repeat this twice per day.  If you experience more pain, reduce to once a day only.  For a demo you can visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE9jjfLtO9A.

Trapezius trigger point

The most common trigger point that develops is the upper trapezius trigger point.   Forward head posture is a major contributor to the development of this trigger point.   The referral pattern is pain in the side and back of the neck, behind the ear and up into the temple.  The referral resembles a question mark.

We are all under stress at certain times of our day and our lives.  When stress occurs, without even knowing what we are doing, we will shrug our shoulders up and wear them like earrings.   When we do this, we create tension in the muscles which then causes trigger points to develop.

Other forms of stress placed on this muscle occur by:

  • holding a phone between your ear and shoulder
  • putting a heavy purse over the shoulder to carry
  • using backpacks
  • holding a child on the hip with one arm
  • sleeping with an arm under your head
  • looking at a computer monitor that is located at your right or left, for extended periods of time
  • no arm rests at your chair when working on a computer
  • extended activities overhead
  • bike riding
  • horseback riding
  • playing an instrument that requires you to elevate your shoulders such as a violin

Causes of SCM trigger points

SCM trigger points are not only caused by forward head posture.

Trigger points in this muscle may also be caused by:

  1. Awkward sleeping positions
    1. Lying on your stomach can place extra strain on these muscles.
    2. Using a pillow that is too high or using two pillows which puts your head into a flexed position
  2. Coughing hard when you have a cold or allergies.
    1. These muscles which help to elevate the chest may be recruited to assist with coughing. Trigger points can develop with the repeated overuse of the muscles.
  3. Doing activities or chores where you are constantly looking up puts stress on the muscles by overstretching them
    1. plumbing or electrical work when you are in tight corners looking up
    2. painting a ceiling
    3. installing drywall overhead
  4. Whiplash injuries
    1. Stress is placed on the SCM muscles during a whiplash incident as they contract to control the excessive whip of the head.
    2. Whiplash can occur from a vehicle accident or as the result of a fall.

SCM trigger points

Forward head posture keeps a muscle called the SCM (sternocleidomastoid muscle) in a chronically shortened position.  This muscle runs from just behind your ear to your collar bone in a diagonal direction.   These trigger points will refer a headache to the front of the head, earaches and/or dizziness.

What is unique about the trigger points located in this muscle is that they do not just refer headaches. SCM 2

SCM trigger points may also cause a migraine, a sore throat or pain on swallowing, ringing in the ears, tearing of the eyes, visual disturbances or vertigo.   So if you have had some of these symptoms and your physician has not been able to find any cause for them, you may want to have someone assess if you have trigger points.

Forward head posture

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror to see how your head is actually perched on top of your spine?   Do you feel as though you are greeting people with your nose projected forward?  Have you looked at the driver beside you?  Are they driving with their head tilted up looking out of the bottom of their eyes?   When you’re sitting at your work desk is your nose in the air?  Are you looking out of the bottom of your glasses?  Are you leaning in towards your computer?    These are examples of bad posture which can affect your health.   We call this “forward head posture”.  Weight of the head

Your head can weight anywhere from 8 – 15 lbs.  It is balanced on the top of your spine and     for every inch forward that it sits in a bad posture the weight of the head increases.

What does this mean to us?  This means that the muscles at the back of your head and neck are constantly being pulled and strained with this extra weight.   What may develop, if this happens continually over a period of time, are symptoms such as a constant burning on the back of the upper shoulders right near your shoulder blades, headaches and or migraines, jaw pain, a pain in the neck or pains that develop in the mid and lower back.   You will have restrictions in certain neck, jaw or shoulder movements such as being able to shoulder check when driving a car or being able to look down without pain.   Over time you will develop posture issues in other areas as the body tries to compensate.

Headaches and migraines can be caused by trigger points in the muscles when the head is situated too far forward from its axis point.   Trigger points are, in layman’s terms, knots in the muscles that when compressed or pressure is put on them, refer pain in a predictable pattern to somewhere else on the body.  The compression or pressure can be from a manual pressure or pressure caused when the muscle is stretched.  The trigger point in the muscle is then compressed.

There are 4 small muscles at the very base of the skull and when your posture is altered in a forward head position, these muscles become short.  For example, if you were to hold your arm with your elbow bent for a period of weeks, you would eventually not be able to straighten your arm without pain.  The muscles of the arm would have adapted to this posture and become shorter.  You would most likely have developed trigger points in the muscles as well which would be referring pain elsewhere.

The 4 small muscles at the base of the skull are called sub occipital muscles and if they develop trigger points you may get a headache deep in the skull that moves towards the eyes.

Self Help Tip:

  1. Sit in a slouched position and see how far your head moves forward.  Have someone take a picture of you from the side.  Then imagine a steel rod being placed on your stomach from your pubic bone to your breast bone keeping your torso tall.  (do not pull your shoulders back, just let them relax)  Now take another picture from the side and see if the position of your head has changed.

This posture may tire out your back very quickly so try to hold this position for one minute every hour and slowly increase the length of time when your body is strong enough to keep it there.

HOW DOES YOUR POSTURE AFFECT YOUR HEALTH?

Posture is such a fascinating subject.  Do you ever wonder why we develop certain symptoms or why we are prone to certain aliments?  From the first day that I attended massage therapy school, I was addicted.    How could muscles affect us in such a way as to cause so many issues and why did it take so long for massage therapy to become a recognized form of treatment, which could actually help people?

I was amazed to discover that massage therapy has been around for centuries and has been recognized by many countries as an art of healing.  There are many different schools of thought as to when it was originally developed but there are accounts of massage being passed down orally through generations in India as early as 3,000 B.C. or earlier.    It was an art used by the gladiators of Roman times before and after their battles, and was promoted by the ancient Greeks for their athletes.  Many other countries were known to use massage for purposes such as healing injuries, improving circulation or promoting relaxation to name a few.

Massage has evolved over the centuries to become what we know of it today.  Even over the past few decades the art of massage has evolved.  As a young teenager I can recall being taken to the “little old woman in town” when I incurred an injury to my leg while figure skating.  The “little old lady” worked out of her house and with her heavy set husband sitting on his rocking chair in the living room smoking a cigar, I was led to a back bedroom where the smell of strong liniment permeated the room.   There was a small single size bed, a chair and the perch which she sat on.   My eyes were drawn to the size of her arms and hands and I can attest to the strength of both as she plied her skill to relieve the stresses of the muscles from the injury I had incurred.

It was a marvel to me that the treatment, although very painful, was so effective in the reduction of my symptoms and that I was able to return to my sport so quickly.   I think that this was my first fascination with the art of massage.

In today’s world, obviously, there are stricter guidelines for those in the profession.  There are now schools and Colleges that teach the art, as well as governing bodies that monitor the profession to ensure the safety of the public.  Depending on which country or city you reside in, you will find that each area will have differences in the amount of years for massage therapists to become trained, differences in the techniques used or allowed and differences in the standards with regards to public safety,  but the art of massage therapy is based on a similar foundation.

So how does our posture affect our health?