IT Band Strain: What It Is and How You Can Prevent It

Iliotibial Band Syndrome, or IT Band Strain, is one of the most common overuse injuries experienced by runners and other athletes. IT occurs when the iliotibial band, which is the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight or inflamed. The IT band attaches to the knee and helps to stabilize and move this joint, but when it isn’t working properly, movement of the knee becomes painful. This type of pain can be severe enough to sideline an athlete for quite a long time.

Symptoms of IT band strain include swelling and pain on the outside of the knee, causing many to think they have suffered a knee injury. However, with IT band strain, if you bend your knee at a 45- degree angle than the pain will be experienced on the outside of your knee. No changes will show up on an X-Ray but if for some reason you were to have an MRI on your leg than a partial thickening of the band will show up, indicating inflammation. MRI use for muscle injuries is relatively rare, so it is best to be familiar with the symptoms of this type of injury.

IT band strain can occur from any type of activity that causes the leg to turn inward repeatedly. It is slightly more common among women, since women’s hips tilt differently from men and may cause their knees to turn in an inward direction. It affects seasoned runners as well as beginners.

You can try to prevent IT Band Strain by:

-Be careful not to wear worn out shoes. Replace shoes in a timely fashion!

-Avoid running downhill too much

-Alternate directions if you are running on a track

-Running too many miles. Slow down your training schedule if you are experiencing pain.

If you begin to experience pain, take a few days off running or decrease your mileage. This pain can become chronic if you do not give yourself a break. If you are backing off your mileage you can still cross-train by adding swimming or another gentle exercise to your workout routine.

If your pain continues, consider massage therapy for some relief and healing! A massage therapist trained in sports massage can help release tension in the muscle and fascia and stimulate the blood flow. If you are in extreme pain, wait at least 48 hours after running before seeking massage treatment and keep in mind that a very severe strain may need to be left alone for a week or more. Always communicate your symptoms and comfort level with your therapist whose aim is to make you feel better and restore motion.

Can’t Sleep? Use these Essential Oils to Bring Back the ZZZ’s!

If you have difficulty sleeping at night, it could be for a number of fixable reasons, such as too much screen time or caffeine before bed, indigestion, or an uncomfortable mattress. But, if you have created a great sleep environment and still need help falling asleep or staying asleep, you may consider adding essential oils to your bedtime routine. Essential oils help with sleep since they can help calm your body and prepare you for sleep. Research also shows that essential oils can be just as calming and effective as a sedative or sleeping pill, but without the risks or side effects.

 

Here are some oils to try for a better night sleep:

1.Lavender

Many people know that lavender is a peaceful, calming scent, but research confirms that lavender can improve the quality of sleep. Lavender has even been shown to help intensive care unit patients at the hospital have a more restful night of sleep, a big achievement considering the beeping and noise of various machines. Lavender calms the nervous system by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, which are all processes that take place as the body transitions to sleep. Use lavender essential oil in a diffuser or spritz a spray made with lavender around your bedroom.

2.Chamomile

Chamomile should come as no surprise, since a cup of chamomile tea is associated with a settled stomach and peacefulness before bed. Chamomile essential oil has a light, floral scent and will create a peaceful atmosphere in your bedroom for falling asleep. Research connects chamomile with a reduction in nightmares. Add one to two drops of chamomile oil to lotion and apply to your skin before bed.

3.Bergamot

Bergamot is a citrus oil, and while most citrus oils are known for being stimulating, bergamot has a bright feel that is also calming. Similar to lavender, bergamot can help jump start the processes associated with sleep such as lowering blood pressure as well as reduces feelings of anxiety. Bergamot is photosensitive, so it should not be used topically before going outside. Bergamot oil can also be added to a diffuser.

4. Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang essential oil is a fruity oil sourced from a tree native to Southeast Asia. It slows the heart rate and reduces blood pressure, helping to promote feelings of calm necessary for a good night’s rest. Ylang ylang  Add a few drops of ylang ylang oil to an Epsom salt bath before bed, combine a few drops with a carrier oil and massage into skin, or add to a diffuser.

5. Eucalyptus

If a stuffy nose or allergies is keeping you up at night, try diffusing eucalyptus essential oil to help you breathe easier. Difficulty breathing due to colds, allergies, or sinus pressure can lead to frequent waking up, making your night unrestful. Eucalyptus is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the swelling in the nasal passages and sinus cavities.

Four Best Massages for Athletes

Massage therapy can help athletic performance and recovery. Athletes may go through muscle fatigue or experience anxiety while training for a big event, but massage therapy can help manage these conditions, while also increasing flexibility, endurance, and minimizing the risk of injury.

Here are four types of massage that may benefit athletes the most:

1.Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage is a therapeutic treatment effective in relieving severe tension in the deeper muscle structures and the connective tissue. This therapy is recommended for athletes because they experience stiff muscles and potentially consistent pain as a result of heavy physical activity and training. This type of massage technique is more intense than other methods but will apply deeper pressure on the affected areas. Many athletes find that this type of massage helps them to recover more quickly.

2.Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is one of the most popular massage methods and is comfortable for most people. Swedish massage technique involves rhythmic stroking of one’s abdomen, lifting and pressing the skin in a gentle way to relieve tension. This massage is very effective on muscle knots and if there is pressure or pain in a certain spot or area. The therapist may also rhythmically tap the body with varying finger movements.

3.Active Release Technique ( ART)

This massage technique is used for various conditions that lead to overworked muscles, which may cause pain and impeded movement. The ART relies on a technique called “pin and stretch”, which involves applying pressure to muscles as they are elongated. The therapist will use their hands to assess muscle tightness and movement. This type of massage may be particularly beneficial to runners since regular sessions can increase the flexibility of your hamstrings. It can also prevent the buildup of scar tissue as well as treat sciatica.

4.Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point massage, or tender point massage, is a technique which uses the fingertips to conduct a concentrated kneading process. The pressure points are triggered and massaged in the right way in order to reduce the sensitivity and vulnerability of the muscle tissues during athletic activities. It can also treat muscle spasms which may lead to continual throbbing pain.

Schedule a treatment today to boost your athletic performance and recovery!

Can you Tell When Someone is in Pain?

Pain can be felt acutely such as when we stub a toe, fall down, or get a cut. It can also be a lingering, underlying feeling that may be hard for even the person feeling pain to pinpoint or identify. Massage therapy is not a substitute for care from a physician and serious pain should always be evaluated by a doctor. Here are some signs and symptoms your massage therapist may use however to help identify whether you are feeling pain and to help you feel better through massage.

Verbal Signs of Pain

A client may use words or phrases that can clue in a therapist to types of pain their client may be feeling. Phrases like, “I haven’t been sleeping well lately” or “I have had a lot on my mind”, may clue in a therapist to possible feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression in the client. A client mentioning nausea, diarrhea, or stomach upset may also indicate extra stressors that are causing these troubling symptoms. Indicating how you are feeling to your massage therapist can help them plan your massage treatment in a way that will be the most beneficial for painful symptoms.

Non-Verbal Indicators of Pain

Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint where you are hurting, you just know that something is not right. Moaning, facial griming, constant repositioning to get comfortable, and tense muscles are indicators that a person is experiencing pain in a part of their body. Your massage therapist is trained to look for these indicators of discomfort, but if you are able it is also helpful to verbalize if a specific massage technique is uncomfortable or if the therapist has uncovered a source of pain.

Massage therapy can help relieve pain of all types, since massage releases soothing endorphins while also lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Exposure to cortisol over a long period of time can cause inflammation, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and insomnia so a massage can help you restore your body to a more relaxed baseline.

Give the Gift of Massage for Valentine’s Day

Massage for Valentines Day

Roses, chocolate, and a romantic dinner are the typical way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This year, think outside the (chocolate) box with the gift of massage! Massage therapy is pampering and feels extra special, so consider a massage gift certificate or a date to get massages as a couple for Valentine’s Day.

Here are some reasons to consider the gift of massage:

1.Massage is great for Stress Relief

Valentine’s Day comes at a time of year when many of us are under stress. The holidays are over but summer vacations feel very far away. Lingering cold weather, winter illnesses, and short days can leave all of us feeling stressed. Massage therapy relieves stress by reducing the levels of cortisol in our blood. Cortisol is released into our bloodstream when our bodies are under perceived stress, and while helpful in the short-term, an excess of cortisol over time can contribute to inflammatory diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.

2. Massage is great for your Heart!

The heart is not only a traditional symbol of Valentine’s Day, it is also an important life-sustaining organ! Along with reducing stress which is bad for your heart, massage therapy is shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, two contributing factors to heart disease. Give your loved one the gift of health with a massage!

3. Massage is Pampering

A massage is wonderful for your body but also feels indulgent. You do not need to be part of a couple to indulge in a Valentine’s massage, nothing says “I love myself” in a more positive way than a pampering massage!

4. Massage Promotes Connection and Bonding

Couples massage is popular for Valentine’s Day since massage therapy promotes feelings of bonding and connection. Massage therapy increases the body’s levels of oxytocin, which leads to feelings of social bonding. Massage therapy also increases production of dopamine and serotonin, two hormones responsible for those feel-good feelings! Your bond as a couple will feel stronger after joint massage therapy.

5 Ways to Relieve Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a group of painful and degenerative conditions affecting the joints, causing inflammation and pain. Osteoarthritis, the most common type, is a degenerative disorder that worsens with age, caused by the wear and tear on the joints as time goes on. Anti-inflammatory medications, painkillers, and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of arthritis.

Working with your doctor, here are some lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your condition.

1.Get More Exercise

Exercise can help you manage and maintain a healthy weight, preventing worsening symptoms of arthritis. Carrying extra body weight puts too much stress on your joints, increasing the wear and tear on them and limiting your movement. Exercise can also improve flexibility and increase your range of motion. Weight-bearing exercise such as running may be too much for your joints, but gentler exercise like swimming can be very beneficial.

2. Hot and Cold Therapy

Simple hot and cold therapy can help you immensely! A warm shower or bath in the morning can warm up stiff muscles and joints. Heating pads or electric blankets can also help. Ice packs wrapped in a towel can be helpful for swelling and inflammation related to arthritis.

3. Change Your Diet

Dietary changes can be made to help you manage your arthritis. Adding turmeric, a bright yellow spice common in Indian cooking, contains a powerful chemical called curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain. Add turmeric to vegetables, grains, or even a smoothie for these benefits!

Adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can also help with inflammation and joint pain. Omega-3’s are naturally found in fish and other seafood, but you can also get extra Omega-3 from a fish oil pill.

4. Try Relaxation Techniques

Stress can increase the body’s inflammatory response, worsening symptoms of arthritis. Trying meditation or relaxation techniques can help decrease stress and improve symptoms. Try a midday meditation session to clear your head and cut out some time before bed to fully relax your body and mind before bed.

5. Get a Massage

Regular massage therapy can help reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints, as well as increase your range of motion. Schedule a session with a massage therapist who is knowledgeable about arthritis and be sure to communicate to your therapist any painful areas.

Three Tips for Making Your Health a Priority

Taking care of yourself may be something you think you prioritize, but for many of us, good self-care falls to the wayside when other things get in the way. Women tend to take care of themselves last, putting the needs of their children and family or job demands ahead of their health. Here are some tips to keep you on track and make 2018 your healthiest yet!

 

1.Remind Yourself Everyday that Maintaining Your Health is Necessary

Your health is essential to everything you want to accomplish! You should not feel guilty about prioritizing your health above other demands. Do you reschedule important doctor’s appointments due to work demands or your kids’ schedules? Do you skip exercising or pick up unhealthy fast food due to working late or driving kids all over town to sports practices? Skimping on sleep to keep up with housework is also detrimental. These things might seem like a daily small sacrifice but in the long-run they add up to a stressful life without good healthy habits in place to keep you going strong.

It is not selfish to prioritize your health. You must take care of your body and soul before you can adequately take care of anyone else.

2. Determine What You Need to Be Healthy

What do you need to do to eat healthy meals this week? If you need time on the weekend to plan out your meals for the week and shop for groceries, carve that time out of your schedule to get it done! Or divide and conquer these tasks with your partner so that you are not relying on fast food or takeout during the week. If you have many nights during the week where you are attending team practices or games with your children, plan some grab and go dinners to bring with you to the sports fields so you are not tempted to stop at a drive thru. Sandwiches, salads, and fruit are easy to pack and can be enjoyed on the go!

When will you exercise each day? Make your daily exercise a sacred time, don’t allow phone calls or other interruptions to get in the way of your routine.

Establishing a morning and evening routine can also help you tackle your day while staying healthy. Try to wake up at least 30 minutes before the rest of your family, giving you some time to get ready and spend a few minutes doing a quiet activity you enjoy like journaling or reading. This will also help your days begin less hectic.

Wind down at least an hour before bedtime by powering down technology. Spend some time reading in bed to help your body relax for sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get at least eight hours of sleep.

Feel free to take some time for yourself! Go for a walk, get a massage, or meet a friend for coffee! These activities refresh and restore us, letting us live more healthfully with a calm body and soul.

3.Learn to Say No!

Staying late at work, overcommitting yourself to volunteer work, and driving to children’s activities can be the little stressful details of our days that become detrimental to our health. Learning to say no to activities or commitments that will overwhelm you or that you do not enjoy can help you maintain your healthy lifestyle. Agree on a work schedule with your boss that is realistic with your and your family’s needs. Choose one or two volunteer activities per month but do not feel pressured to take on more. Let your children choose one or two activities to be part of but limit it to those since driving children to activities can place a lot of demands on your schedule. It is ok and healthy to say no!

 Beating Workplace Stress

If you are back to work after a break for the holidays, you may be remembering how stressful your job situation can be! Stress is a contributing factor to illness and chronic disease and lowers your satisfaction with your life! Consider making some changes in your workplace to relieve the stress!

Take Care of Yourself

Stressful work situations can involve long hours with too much sitting, skipping meals or relying on unhealthy fast food and excessive caffeine to make it through your day! A stressful work environment may mean you are unable to fully step away from your job, checking email late into the night or never feeling like you are fully off the clock! This is an area you can control, and it is essential to your well-being!

Plan and pack healthy lunches and snacks, drink plenty of water, and make sure that you are taking regular breaks from your desk! Get up and stretch, walk around the office and give your eyes a break from screens. Taking a break from your intense focus can also give you an opportunity to interact with other coworkers, building relationships and a stronger social network with colleagues.

Take care of yourself away from the workplace as well! Make time for regular exercise, healthy eating, and time with family and friends. Let your boss know that you are unable to check email after work hours. Schedule a relaxing therapeutic massage, read a good book, or go see a funny movie! Making more time for you makes life fun and can lower your stress level significantly!

Make Changes

Which parts of your job are the most stressful? Do you have a long commute, a demanding boss, or an overwhelming work load? Which changes could you make? If switching companies does not feel like an option, maybe being allowed to telecommute a few days per week or sitting down with your boss to have a serious conversation about your workload could make a positive difference. Nothing is likely to change unless you commit to making the changes necessary to preserve your health!

Massage Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition associated with wintertime, when less sunlight and more time indoors can trigger seasonal depression. This condition is recognized as a major depressive disorder and can drastically reduce the quality of life for sufferers.

There are many therapies available to help manage SAD, such as light therapy, exercise, and medication. Another possible treatment is massage therapy! Working with your care provider, massage therapy can be integrated into a treatment plan with positive results. Massage therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Research demonstrates that massage therapy increases the release of neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decreasing the blood level serums of hormones associated with increased anxiety.

Massage therapy lowers blood pressure, decreases heart rates, and improves circulation to the entire body. Seasonal Affective Disorder can leave sufferers feeling lethargic, but massage therapy can improve mood and helps regulate circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and restored energy.

A less severe form of seasonal mood disorder, commonly known as the “winter blues” is extremely common and may affect as many as 1 in 5 Americans. Symptoms may include less energy, difficulty waking up in the morning, and changes in the diet such as craving more sugar or starches. Massage therapy is an effective way to help our bodies respond to negative influences, such as reduced sunlight and harsh weather.

Book a massage today and reap the benefits of massage therapy! Even if you do not suffer from a seasonal mood disorder, the positive benefits of massage are great for everyone!

Starting 2018 Off with Better Mental Health

Happy New Year! Now is the time of year for new years resolutions! How can 2018 be a better year than the last one? Many of us are making ambitious plans for weight loss or lofty career goals, but the key to success in meeting many of our resolutions is to have a positive outlook and great mental health!

Better mental health and a great mindset are key to meeting our other goals! Here are some strategies for better mental health in 2018!

1.Identify Triggers

What triggers in your life bring on negative feelings or increase the stress you feel? Identify these triggers and how you can possibly avoid or reduce them this year. A negative work environment or bad relationship are factors you can try to change but other triggers like a chronic health issue may require better coping strategies.

2.Forgive and Forget

Do you have relationship issues that are holding you back? Has someone hurt you or you have hurt someone? Now is the time to practice an attitude of forgiveness, which correlates with better physical health and well-being. Holding on to grudges from issues from the past are not helping you move forward.

3.Strengthen Your Support System

How do you handle the challenges in your life? If you have unhealthy habits for managing challenges in your life like excessive alcohol consumption or binge-watching television, it is time for a change! Surround yourself with positive family members, friends, or colleagues who build you up! If you do not know many people in your area, make it a resolution to join a group, take a class, or reconnect with someone you have lost touch with! Spending time with friends and family, along with healthy coping habits like exercise, reading a good book, or having a massage are some positive changes you can make with good mental health in mind.

4.Count Your Blessings

In the age of social media, it is easy to focus on the things you do not have in life, but having an attitude of gratitude is the key to positive mental health! It is easy to get caught up in the things you don’t have or the way your life is going differently than you hoped, but constantly focusing on the good and positive aspects of your life and force your brain to change, giving you greater joy in your life and your experiences.

5. Be Kinder to Yourself

We are our harshest critics, particularly true for people who struggle with depression or a negative outlook! Pay attention to your inner self-talk and the comments we say to ourselves. When self-compassion takes the place of negative inner self-talk, you become one step closer to bettering your health! Be kinder to yourself as well in understanding that you need time to recharge and rest! Eat healthy food, take vacations, schedule a massage, or spend an afternoon with a good book! You need to treat yourself kindly!