Have you got pain between the shoulder blades?
Do you have an area of soreness that you feel in-between your shoulder blades or even lower?
It could be coming from that area or perhaps it's coming from the front?
Your shoulder joint is so movable and even though the joint has a similar configuration to the hip joint being a ball and socket joint, the shoulder joint moves much more freely and that is what makes the shoulder such a COMPLEX joint.
The shoulder joint has super strong ligaments and so many muscles holding the joint in place and did you know to get that much movement this joint is like a basketball sitting on a teacup.
One muscle in particular could be causing your issues you are feeling in the back and this muscle is called the Pectoralis Minor muscle. The pec minor’s is on your chest under a bigger pectoralis muscle and its job is to pull the shoulder blade down – almost tipping the top of the shoulder blade forward.
So, when this muscle shortens due to altered posture overtime, the muscle can keep the shoulder blade pulled forward, and cause issues between the shoulder blades.
What we like to do is address both the back of the shoulders and upper back as well as the front to alleviate any tightness that the pectoralis muscle might be contributing too.
The advice we give is between sessions to stretch out like this and also to use a tennis ball – which can be done up against the wall or simply used to rub over the top of the muscle with the ball in the opposite hand.
If you are having any issues regarding your shoulder or upper back book in with one of our senior therapists at Massey or Hobsonville and let us take a look at that for you.
If you are unsure of what is going on with your body and are a bit confused on what action to take please do not hesitate to give Anj a call or send an email and together we can discuss some options that might be right for you.
There is nothing worse than knowing you have a headache coming on – especially ones that are caused by Tension-type headaches (TTH), which feel like a dull or heavy, non-pulsating band of pain; usually on both sides of the head. The name comes from an erroneous belief that overly tight muscles are the main reason for the headache.
Tension-type headaches can literally stop you in your tracks, and are the most common headache; even more common than migraines. This is where massage therapy can assist you, to reduce your tension headaches, and it has zero side effects in comparison to recommended medications.
How can relaxation massage help with anxiety and stress?
I’m sure we all know the flight or fight response – (technically it's a sympathetic nervous system that jumps into action). Your body provides a bit (or a lot) of adrenaline which gets your heart rate going a bit faster; sometimes we may sweat, and we become more alert and at the ready. This inbuilt protection mechanism is valid for reacting to dangerous situations such as getting out of the way of an oncoming bus quick smart. But we sometimes keep in this state - this dis-ease of being busy – is it becoming the 'norm’?
Continuous circles of stress to situations such as; I must have this in by this deadline; I have emails I have yet to respond to; whoops there goes the phone; arrghhh I am late for the school run/doctors/work; the baby keeps crying and I can’t do anything to help; or my mind can’t slow down and I am constantly onto the next thing. What if your doing too much training and your performance is beginning to decline?
Our school children are now into full swing of term. As parents, caregivers and teachers we need to be cautious and continually monitoring our children's school bag. Primary school aged children are at risk the most and by carrying a heavy load it becomes detrimental to their health and their growing bodies.
Majority of school bags will contain a lunch box, water bottle, textbook/books, portable devices, maybe some sports gear it all starts to add up, so it comes as no surprise school bags can reach OVERLOAD quite quickly.
Why so important?
If the school bag is heavier than 20-30% of the child there is increased stress on growing muscles and spinal ligaments (which are not fully developed until 16 years old). If your child has to hunch over then this position reduces their lung volume - resulting in less air, shallow breathing and ultimately adoption of poor breathing mechanics.
What is ideal?
The “ideal load” is suggested within the range of 10-15% of child's body weight. For example a 20.1 kilograms (kg) child should carry no more than 2 kgs and a 42 kg child no more than 4.2kg.
What to look for?
Red shoulders from the shoulder straps
Complaints - 'my neck hurts', 'my back hurts'.
Walking hunched over, looking up placing strain on the neck. Headaches.
How to manage it?
Evaluate your child's pack
Massage can certainly relax you, but did you know massage therapy can do more than that.
Here are 3 good reasons why regular massage is good for the mind and body and why you should book an appointment...
1. Lessens Anxiety and Depression = Less Stress!
Stress is a fact of life but being stressed out is not. Regular massage into your working week helps you to keep stress levels in check – be it from work deadlines, extremely busy schedules, exams or personal circumstances.
Stress from sitting all day often manifests in the shoulders and neck. Be aware that long term postural stress can start appearing as low back pain and into your gluteal muscles. Massage can counteract all the sitting that you do as it works on your body’s nervous system by decreasing the feelings of bodily tension and tightness, at the same time increasing the feel-good hormones serotonin and oxytocin.
Clients often report a sense of clarity and perspective, and they are impressed by how massage not only improving their ability to move better but also gives them a restful sleep.
2. As part of your fitness routine
There is nothing quite like the feeling you get after a good deep tissue massage, and elite athletes would think of this as unmissable and crucial to their training programme. Whether you are training hard at Olympic level, are a regular gym goer or an office worker, everyone is likely to experience discomfort or tight muscular pain at some point. Massage keeps your muscles supple allowing you to move better. It is a great preventative for injury and can also prevent the onset of fatigue especially if you are undertaking a high volume of training with little rest. Add in the feel-good benefits and you have yourself a recipe for a successful performance.
3. Treating Pain
If you have headaches, discomfort through arthritis, or an injury, massage therapy can help. Massage is a drug free, non-invasive treatment. Massage can be very helpful in alleviating pain and discomfort by increasing blood flow and circulation to the area providing the tissues with much needed nutrition, aiding in your recovery. Massage has been shown to be just as successful as other treatments with lower back pain.
Massage can help relax and decrease stress, be incorporated into your fitness routine for better performance or used as drug free pain relief improving your well-being and ultimately that goal for better quality of life.
Proof you have pushed yourself
Can’t hold your arm up high enough to brush your teeth? Getting up off the couch and taking that first step a bit ‘ouchy’? Chances are you’ve pushed yourself a bit further than your body is accustomed to and you’re in a lot of pain, so congratulations on your workout and we wish you the best of luck walking down the stairs for the rest of the week!!
What is DOMS?
DOMS stands for delayed onset of muscle soreness and it’s got stealthy tactics. Essentially 6-8 hours post exercise you’ll start feeling it and it will definitely be felt when it peaks around the 48 hours mark, even more so if you’ve performed anything eccentric. "Eccentric" is when your muscle is contracting at the same time it is being lengthened. For example you walk up a steep hill and you have sore calves, or run downhill and your hammies and glutes are sore, leg day 'can't get off the toilet' or after several bouts of lowering yourself slowly under control from a pull up, you pretty much feel sore everywhere! (let's be honest).
Why does it happen?
Exercise places a large amount of stress on muscle tissue. Microscopically that stress has resulted in “micro tears” that is accompanied by inflammation (part of the healing process) which causes your pain.
Should I be worried?
Not at all. The aches and pains you are experiencing should be minor. It is a tell-tale sign your muscles are adapting, so take it as encouragement you have had a good work out!!
Will I ever be at the stage where I will not get DOMS?
Yes – if you don’t challenge your body you won't get any adaption in strength and fitness so you won't suffer any pain but you will in plenty of other ways (that's a different topic altogether). We all want to be awesome, so really the answer is No. No one is ‘immune’, it affects the weekend warriors to elite athletes. I guess this is where the "no pain, no gain" comes from in exercise (not massage by the way) - essentially the stronger you get the more inclined you are to go harder, which will result in DOMS but that’s what you want.
Is there anything that can help me? What can I do?
There is nothing proven to stomp DOMS out, but here are some #topnotchtips to help alleviate that soreness.
1. Keep it up – regular exercise will diminish that soreness as your muscles will adapt and become stronger. But there is a catch, if you challenge your muscles again or too soon you will experience DOMS.
2. Do a proper cool down – No I am serious do a proper cool down. 10 minutes max will do it, choose anything such as a light jog, or a walk and then finish with specific stretches targeting the muscles you have just used.
3. Active recovery – Do a lighter workout THE NEXT DAY, keep that bod’n’motion so to speak, and it is crucial you can talk and hold a conversation whilst you are doing this workout so that you keep it 'light'.
4. Get a sports massage. Come and see us at Top Notch, we regularly see people who are suffering from DOMS post exercise – we assist in the recovery process by reducing your pain. Massage reduces soreness when performed 2 hours post exercise (Hilbert, Sforzo, & Swensen (2002) & Ernst. E. (1998)).
1. Hilbert, J. E., Sforzo, G. A., & Swensen, T. (2002). The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness. British Journal of Sports Medicine (37) 72-75. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.37.1.72
2. Ernst. E. (1998). Does post-exercise massage treatment reduce delayed onset muscle soreness? A systemic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine (32) 212-214
If you ever have experienced this sudden intense pain, you will agree getting cramp can become extremely frustrating
We see a lot of our patients coming in regarding cramping especially in the calves (which is one of the most common places) and it makes no difference whether it be our ultramarathon runners, elite triathletes, the recreational fitness fanatic, our desk jockeys, musicians or our mums to be. It can affect everyone.
What it is not proven - Debunking the Myths
Muscle cramping mythology is said to be linked to having low electrolyte concentration after exercise, becoming dehydrated or exposed to extreme weather conditions, such as hot and humid environments, but these 'theories' which are widely promulgated are only said to be anecdotal clinical observations which have never been proven.
What is proven
Accumulating evidence suggest it is has a neuromuscular basis. Firstly it is associated with how the muscle is contracted through nerve stimulation. Secondly, it is associated with how sensory receptors (muscle spindles and Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO) play a key role in controlling the muscles length and state of relaxation (muscle tone) after exercise. For example when sensory receptors are exposed to such things as faulty posture, shortened muscles, intense exercise, and exercise to fatigue; it results in ramping up these sensory receptors to increase muscle activity, this provokes a neural response similar to a contraction and causes cramp.
What attributes to cramping
High Intensity exercise
Exercising for a long duration
Performing high mechanical loads, such as Hill running
Conditions causing premature fatigue due to going too hard too fast or being unfit
Poor stretching habits and/or flexibility
Two-joint muscles such as your calves and hammies. The most commonly affected is the calves
A genetic predispostion for cramping in your family history
Muscle stretching - this is your first port of call. Slow passive stretching is the most common and effective therapy for relieving acute muscle cramps as this ideally acts on a certain sensory receptor called the GTO which works to inhibit cramp.
To lessen the affects of cramping here are some useful strategies to implement.
1. Have a good warm up, followed by a well-controlled exercise session (avoid going too hard too soon), a good cool down with stretches and adequate rest.
2. How's your fitness? Are you fit enough to perform the activity and are you giving your body enough time to adapt to your training programme?
3. Commence regular stretching - the team at Top Notch Massage and Health can show you the right stretching relaxation technique that you can perform at home during your next massage session.
Other strategies such as incorporating plyometrics or eccentric muscle training, maintaining adequate carbohydrate reserves during competition still remain speculative.
Bently. S. (1996). Exercise-Induced muscle cramp. Journal of Sports Medicine, 21(6), 409-420.
Hoffman, M.D., & Stuempfle, K.J. (2015). Muscle cramping. Journal of Sports Medicine. Unpublished.
Schwellnus. M. P. (2008). Cause of exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC) - Altered neuromuscular control, dehydration or electrolyte depletion? British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43, 401-408. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.050401