Athletes – Increase Your Efficiency & Power Potential as a Mover by Up to 10x

What if I told you that you have as your birthright the ability as a mover and athlete to feel weightless, springy, even buoyant? What if I also told you that the same way you access this birthright allows you to need less or no warm-up time before activities, helps you recover faster and rarely get sore? And, what if I told you that this same system, when optimized, could dramatically increase your efficiency and power potential as an athlete (meaning, if you’re a competitive athlete you may just decrease times and increase speed/agility/ability)?

All of the above is absolutely available to you.

Healthy fascia grants us this birthright.

If you want to access all of the above, listen up:

We have 10 times as many proprioceptors in our fascia than we do muscle fiber.

Proprioception is the brain’s ability to detect our physical body in space, and then conduct our movements within that space.

If you’re an athlete it’s critical to know your way around whatever space you perform in right? If you’re a gymnast that means you need to know your way around the balance beam, uneven bars or how to throw yourself across the floor. If you’re a trail runner you need to have keen awareness of your terrain, ideally without that awareness interrupting your ability to run quickly. If you’re an MMA fighter you need to not only be able to control your body in physical space, but be able to predict and control someone else’s too!

All of these things require healthy proprioception.

Have you ever tried to perform a movement only to feel like you have a “dumb” arm or leg? Maybe it’s easier on one side than the other. This has a lot do with proprioception!

Let’s get nerdy for a moment:

Proprioceptors are highly specialized sensory receptors on nerve endings found in muscles, tendons and joints. They’re responsible for communicating information about motion and position between our brain and body to make us aware of our own body position and movement in space. Proprioceptors detect subtle changes in movement, position, tension and force within the body.

I’ll say it again because it’s so crazy important:

We have 10 times as many proprioceptors in our fascia than we do muscle fiber!

I’m not going to get super sciency on you, because this whole process is quite complicated when we start talking nerves, brain, muscle spindles, golgi tendons etc. The important thing is, because of the distribution of proprioceptors in our fascial system, then…

On a very physical/visceral level, our fascial system is an organ of perception!

Fascia is the main system by which we perceive ourselves – body and psyche – in the physical world.

If you have fascia that is dehydrated, brittle and/or stuck to itself in giant adhesions that aren’t allowing muscle fibers to glide quickly and efficiently or nerves to communicate effectively, then your proprioception is going to SUCK.

Think of the fascia like a superhighway for our nerves to travel between the body and brain. If that superhighway crumbles in places or gets squished to only one lane, then those nerves are going to have a much harder time traveling and communicating freely. And our sensory receptors – proprioceptors – won’t be able to communicate efficiently.

Most of us walk around every day not realizing how GOOD we can feel! We enter adulthood and get used to feeling a little creaky, achy, heavy…and since no one told us we could feel any different, that becomes our normal; slowly getting worse and worse as we age.

Well I’m here to tell you that’s NOT how we have to feel!

I do NOT believe we have to age like this. I believe, based on experience, that we can feel light, springy, bouyant and powerful as movers for as long as we want – if we take care of our fascia.

I was certainly one of those people that always felt heavy and achy, like I was carrying around a bunch of led weights…until I stumbled onto this amazing birthright we’ve been granted as human beings.

I accidentally optimized my body for peak performance as an athlete:

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Fascia, Fat Shaming and Cellulite – Are You Saying Yes to Self Abuse, or Self Love?

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Would you feel concerned if your teenage daughter, or any young woman you know, started showing up with bruises covering her body?

What if she told you she was doing this to herself to get rid of her cellulite by breaking up her fascia?

I would sit that girl down immediately and have a heart to heart about body acceptance and self love! I’d share my own struggles and triumphs with self loathing and love, and I’d share my wisdom as a fascia expert.

It may not be my 13 year old niece showing up like this (yet), but my instincts are the same.

There is a hot new product on the market right now, and…

I have to speak out.

It’s gaining rapid popularity because it’s supposed to eliminate cellulite, which the maker claims doesn’t even exist and is nothing more than tight or adhesed fascia.

A lot of you have written me privately to ask my opinion, so I knew I had to look into it. I spent a lot of time doing so and I’ve been feeling angry, sad and concerned.

I feel protective of the human body, the female psyche, and fascia – and I want to take a stand for self love.

What I saw and read researching this product was concerning to me for reasons both professional (as a fascia and pain relief expert) and personal (as a woman who once had severe body image issues).

This is NOT a product review. I haven’t used it and have no intention of doing so. I’m not in any way suggesting you shouldn’t purchase something if it speaks to you. I always advocate doing your own research, thinking for yourself and doing what feels right for YOU and your body.

I am a fascia expert and I want to speak out!

I’ve been working with people in pain using compression and active based fascial release since 2008 (click here if you want to know what I do in my private practice).

I’ve worked on people ages 5 to 80; curvy people, thin people, active, inactive, happy, depressed, self-loving and self-loathing, male, female; my clients range from amateur to professional athletes, everyday desk jockies to orthopedic surgeons…and through all this work, and my own journey with healing from debilitating knee pain, I have developed a profound respect and appreciation for the human body, and fascia in particular.

As a fascia expert I feel it’s my duty to speak up and offer an alternative opinion about fascia and cellulite.

And as a woman I feel it’s my duty to speak up about body acceptance and self love.

I’m not naming this product on purpose. If you’ve seen the ads then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Do you love or loathe your body?

By the time I turned 13 I hated my body.

I was 5’3″, I had big muscles, I had belly fat and a big butt and I knew I would never look like I was “supposed” to look – tall, skinny, toned and devoid of fat (what all the magazines and media kept telling me I should look like).

I spent years being internally abusive to myself because I was ashamed of my body and spent a lot of energy every day wishing I looked different than I did.

Can you relate?

This photo of me was taken at the beginning of my worst years of body shame (I weigh the same now as I did then). I may have had a smile on my face but there was so much self loathing going on inside, all day every day. When I think about it now I feel so sad.

I want something better for young women!

How might the world be different if we ushered girls (and boys!) through those already challenging enough teenage years by helping them – as a CULTURE – learn to LOVE their bodies, appreciate them and find a million and ten ways to have FUN and ENJOY life…instead of becoming obsessed with diets and weight loss programs and comparing ourselves to photo-shopped celebrities and models?

It took me until my 30’s to learn to LOVE my body, exactly as it is.

Right now I can tell you I adore my body. I’m so grateful for it. I love how strong I am. I love my curves. I love my butt (and so does my man!) I love my soft belly and my dimpled thighs. I feel at home in this body now. I have a reverent appreciation for every aspect of this human form I get to call home – especially my fascia, knowing the part it plays in my overall health and ability to climb mountains and run pain free while feeling light and springy.

And I gotta tell you – I have ZERO interest in this product, even though it’s meant for fascia and I’m ALL about fascia – because I LOVE my body. I have no desire to change my cellulite and bruise myself in the process of trying.

Women – our bodies are MIRACULOUS!

I haven’t had children yet; but I’m alive because of a woman’s body. My mother’s body.

Evolution gave us women a precious gift, a biological blessing because we bring children into this world: we are given extra stores of FAT so just in case of famine we have fuel stores to be able to feed babies without anyone starving!

Shouldn’t we feel grateful for this evolutionary adaptation?! It’s really quite amazing when you think about it. In years and cultures past it was the curvy women who were revered. Today, we despise this biological intelligence and shame ourselves for it. And I think that is a shame.

As adult women we teach young girls how to treat their bodies by how we treat ours – and right now, almost everywhere I look we’re still teaching young girls to hate their curves and their fat. (Though I do think it’s changing and there ARE people out there creating movements for the change I want to see, like Amy Schumer, Girls Gone Strong and my amazing friend Jade Beall.

Can we please start worshiping HEALTHY and SELF LOVING, no matter what kind of packaging those come in?

I believe we can be healthy whether we’re thin/curvy/tall/short/have cellulite/don’t have it…

I want to see us adult women teaching young girls how to LOVE their bodies.

We do this by loving OUR bodies – EXACTLY AS THEY ARE.

We do this by choosing to do things FOR ourselves and our bodies out of self love rather than TO ourselves out of self loathing.

Is cellulite nothing more than tight fascia?

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The One Rule of Effective Fascial Release, And Why Massage Doesn’t ‘Release’ Fascia

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Have you ever wondered why massage therapy doesn’t “release” fascia? I mean…those deep tissue massages hurt! They must be doing something, right?

I want to let you in on a little secret that will help you understand fascia and how to create changes within that soft tissue system that last.

First…let’s dive into a mini crash course on fascia, just in case you’re still unsure exactly what this stuff is.

What is fascia?

Fascia is a collagen-like substance that permeates the entire human body. Every nerve ending is coated in a piece of fascia, as is every muscle fibril and fiber, every muscle bundle and group, and all of this turns into tendon and ligament, which attach to our joints. Even our bones and organs are wrapped in fascia! We have more of this substance in our body than anything else.

While the picture to the right is a great example of how it wraps the muscle fibers, what that image doesn’t show is all the billions of nerves it wraps that travel within the soft tissue system, which means this stuff isn’t linear – it’s a vast and criss-crossing matrix.

Fascia is supposed to be elastic, flexible, STRONG and resilient. Since it wraps literally everything in the body that supports LIFE, I have come to believe it is meant to be almost bulletproof; like the Kevlar that protects our nerves, muscle fibers, bones and organs. (It’s much, much more than this, but this’ll do for today’s crash course).

If fascia were easily change-able we’d be in BIG trouble! Every time we bump into anything we’d damage ourselves. Heck, even sitting down would cause a re-molding of the fascia in our hips and butts if fascia were that quick to change.

Thus, it is my conclusion that fascia will not change easily due to ANY outside force attempting to change it (if it did, it would betray one of its primary roles in our evolution!)

This includes most methods of massage therapy as well as all those fancy new gadgets and gizmos one the market right now that claim to melt or release your fascia if you smash and blast it hard enough.

To truly change the fascial system, we have to ask the fascia to change itself.

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Release Tibialis Anterior and Peroneals Fascia to Relieve Pain on TOPS of Feet, Shin Splints, Foot Cramps and More

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If you have tendonitis or pain on the TOPS of your feet, cramping on the BOTTOMS of your feet, shin splints or a strained/pulled soleus muscle then you are going to LOVE this. (And those are just a FEW of the things this technique can help with).

TOOLS NEEDED: Lacrosse ball and 25+lb weight plate (most gyms have both of these).

Please take the necessary steps to do this with the same equipment I’m using in the video, because I want you to get the BEST result, and you will NOT get the same result using a tennis ball, golf ball, soft ball or any ball without a weight plate.

Let’s look at some anatomy shall we? (Hello my fellow body/anatomy nerds!)

The fascia here affects SO MANY things:

Remember, it’s the FASCIA we’re after in terms of releasing tissue, not any particular muscle(s).

The muscles are important though because they indicate which direction(s) the tissues move in terms of shortening and lengthening and acting on various joints – and it’s where and how the tissues are being asked to move combined with the fascial restrictions within the muscle groups that is what creates the pain patterns I’m about to talk about.

Tibialis anterior:

Otherwise known as the “shin muscle,” tibialis anterior (or TA for short) attaches laterally at the top of the tibia, near the knee, and (via its distal tendon) attaches to the medial cuneiform (a bone on the inside of the foot) and first two metatarsals (which lead to the big toe bones).

Got BIG TOE issues? This is definitely something to check!

TA dorsiflexes the ankle and inverts the foot.

Peroneals:

All three peroneal muscles attach to the fibula and metatarsals of the foot.

Here is where things get interesting: all three of these muscles evert the foot, but two peroneal muscles – fibularis or peroneus longus and fibularis or peroneus brevis – plantarflex the foot while fibularis or peroneus tertius dorsiflexes it!

So between tibialis anterior and the peroneals all acting on the foot in opposing ways, it’s no surprise that if the fascia gets clogged, tight, dehydrated or stuck…ANY of these actions of the foot could become confused leading to dysfunction (or pain) anywhere downstream of the knee – the ankle and retinaculum, the tops of the feet and toes, the plantar fascia, pain with eversion or inversion…and possibly pain upstream as well, due to gait changes or how the ankle affects the knee which affects the hip, etc.

Let’s explore the most common issues this release technique will help relieve:

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Mobility Work and Foam Rolling for Fascial Release FAQ – How Long, How Often, Should it Hurt or Bruise?

So you bought yourself a shiny new foam roller or lacrosse ball (or other mobility tools), or maybe you’ve had these for a while…but you’re not sure you’re doing things correctly, or enough, or maybe you’re wondering if you’re OVER doing it?

The video has it all, but here’s a recap of my 5 tips for the best self fascial release sessions:

1. How OFTEN should you be foam rolling?

This is fairly personal, or individual – meaning some people will need more while other people need less. I’m about to give you some guidelines, but no matter what I tell you I encourage you to LISTEN to your body, because it will tell you how much is enough (and the other 4 tips today will help you know what it’s telling you).

Generally speaking, for fascia health maintenance (meaning, there’s nothing ‘wrong,’ you’re not working on an injury or pain pattern) I suggest 2-3 times per week. If you just loooove your foam roller and want to do more, by all means do more.

If you ARE working on recovering from an injury or using fascial release to get yourself out of pain, then you could go after your target areas ONCE PER DAY for a week or two. Max. You do NOT need to do twice a day – if you do, chances are you’ll get pretty sore.

You certainly do not need to do your entire body every day.

2. Should you feel sore or get bruised doing this work?

The short answer is NO.

If you were in my office getting worked on by me I’d tell you that about 1 in 30 people get sore (even though what I do is FAR more intense than a foam roller or lacrosse ball). Given I’m not in your living room or gym with you and can’t control what you’re doing or HOW you’re doing it, chances are greater with self work that you might get a little sore from this.

If you’re doing things CORRECTLY, you should NEVER get sore OR bruised.

If you ARE getting sore, here are some things to check:

  1. Are you using a super hard or knobby roller? That can often cause soreness or bruising. I recommend starting with a SOFT foam roller, and maybe you’ll stick with that forever. You can work up to a harder roller but I never ever recommend the knobby ones for fascial release work.
  2. If you’re using a lacrosse ball, are you digging it into your tissue trying to give yourself a deep tissue massage? If so, you can definitely get sore or bruised. To do this correctly you want to PIN an area of your body TO the lacrosse ball (often needing to use your other hand to hold it steady) while another part of you moves. You’re trying to pin and stretch/release the fascia, NOT dig into it.
  3. Are you spending too much time on one spot? This can often make you sore – see tip #5 for more on this.

Regarding BRUISING:

I do not endorse or advocate that bruising is a good thing UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. It’s not the end of the world if it does happen, but in my private practice I avoid it at all costs (and only 4-5 people have ever bruised from my work since 2008 and it was only in small areas like the tops of the feet). I want you to avoid looking like you’ve been beaten up too! This is my personal and professional opinion and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who disagree with me, and that’s ok.

Here’s why I feel so strongly about this:

A BRUISE – meaning, a red, black and blue or yellow/green spot – is a soft tissue injury called a contusion. What causes the discoloration are small capillaries and blood vessels that have BURST and spilled their blood into the surrounding tissues. Those capillaries and blood vessels are DAMAGED. Thankfully, our body has a brilliant way of dealing with this by sending in hormones to contain the bleeding and heal the damaged tissue, so a bruise isn’t something to freak out about. However, the reason I want you to avoid bruises is because even IF you are creating some good through whatever method caused the bruising – you’ve also caused some (or a LOT) of damage. Inflammation is likely to occur, and if it’s a really bad bruise it might hurt so much you won’t want to be as active (which sucks), or it might take as much as a week or two to heal fully.

I’ve been using my body weight (sometimes all 145lbs of me) stepping on people since 2008, and soreness and bruising are NOT common. It is NOT a necessary part of healing fascia.

3. Should it hurt?

Yes. And no!

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What to do For a Pulled or Strained Hip Flexor or Groin Muscle

If you’re suffering with a strained or pulled hip flexor or groin muscle, this post is for YOU – find out why they happen and more importantly what to do about it.

Unlike other common strains, this area doesn’t follow my typical theory on strains being a symptom of reciprocal inhibition issues between two opposing muscle groups. This injury happens (in my opinion) due to the upper and lower thigh muscles working at odds with each other. Let me explain.

We have a LOT of muscles that flex the hip:

The psoas and iliacus (or iliopsoas), rectus femoris (a quadriceps muscle), sartorius, tensor fascia latae, pectiuneus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus and gracilis.

MOST of these muscles perform other actions as well, such as adduction, abduction (TFL) and knee extension.

A strained or pulled hip flexor most often occurs in dancers, martial artists, runners (especially sprinters or mountain runners who do a lot of uphill work) and soccer, football and hockey players.

What all of these sports have in common:

A LOT of quad dominance! It’s also likely during these sports that you’re asking those muscles of the thigh to both flex the hip AND extend the knee, sometimes at the same time or one after the other with a lot of power (think of kicking a soccer ball, or a jump kick in martial arts).

Of course you can absolutely experience a pulled or strained hip flexor without being one of these athletes, and the cause/solution will likely still be the same.

NO injury, unless traumatic or due to a fall or sudden impact, occurs in isolation or is due to ONE thing you do. Even if the pain comes on suddenly, in all likelihood there’s been a slow build-up of something that has made an injury likely to occur.

It is my opinion that in this case, that something is overworked and fascially restricted lower quad tissue – where the rectus femoris fascia gets stuck to the fascia of vastus intermedius and vastus medialis (two other quad muscles), and starts to pull the adductors, sartorius and gracilis towards the quads – making these muscles less able to do their job without straining to do so.

The strain or pulled muscle occurs when we ask the hip flexors and knee extensors to work simultaneously or in rapid succession. And here is where reciprocal inhibition does come into play for a moment – in order to “cock” or wind up the hip flexor and knee extensor muscles, they need to lengthen or stretch (like stretching a bow back before letting the arrow loose).

Since there is so much fascia and muscle restriction within the quads, including the quadriceps tendon which attaches to the knee joint, the brain detects the possibility of a tear happening, and in the few split seconds it takes to wind those muscles up (aka stretch them) your body starts to enact a stretch reflex by pulling the hip flexor muscles back, and since you’re already getting ready to contract them powerfully – BAM! When you do = major muscle contraction, major strain, major pain.

This scenario is different than a typical strain because it occurs within the muscle group that IS the problem, rather than its opposite.

What’s the solution?

Release that lower quad restriction!

EVERY single person I’ve worked on since 2008 that has had this issue (which includes a LOT of Jiu Jitsu people, soccer and dance athletes) has had a huge knot of restricted fascia here.

The picture on right shows the area you’re looking to target – rectus femoris and where that quad muscle meets the vastus medialis (and intermedius, which is under rectus femoris).

The video above shows you what to look for, what to do and how to do it.

Next steps:

  1. If going after the lower quad doesn’t get you the desired result, especially if you have a pulled GROIN muscle (vs high/top of the quad area), then your next best bet is to go after your low adductor fascia. You’ll also be looking for a knot there. Click here to go to my post and video for this technique.
  2. If that doesn’t get it to 100%, try releasing your TFL. Click here for that post and video.

How to get the BEST and fastest results:

  • Chances are high that if you’re experiencing this injury your low to mid quad fascia has a giant knot in it. Spend as much time as necessary hunting around to either rule this in or out. If you’ve found a giant knot, then…
  • Spend 20-40 seconds on EACH SPOT (start on the LOWEST SPOT and move up but do NOT go past your mid thigh), moving your lower leg back and forth to “shear” the fascia and release it.
  • There will likely be 2-3 spots within this low to mid quad area. More than likely it’s the same “knot” or adhesion, you’re just attacking it from every possible angle.
  • If this is an acute injury (meaning it JUST happened within a few days of you finding your way here), I would do this once a day for a week.
  • If you click to the other blog posts, PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE POST but especially the “How to get the most out of this technique” section at the bottom.
  • DO NOT USE A KNOBBY FOAM ROLLER FOR THIS! You will likely bruise your tissue and it will suck so much you may never want to use a foam roller again! I generally advocate using a soft or standard black foam roller. If you need help figuring out which foam roller is right for you, click here.

And THAT is it folks! Grab your foam roller and give this a try. Please comment with your experience or questions!

 

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What to Do For ‘Pulled’ Muscles or Strains – and How to Prevent Them!

Have you ever been playing a sport or doing your favorite activity when suddenly a muscle goes into spasm and quite literally “grabs” your attention and steals your movement mojo?

If so then you know what it’s like to experience a muscle strain, or “pulled” muscle.

There is one thing you absolutely MUST do to recover quickly – and one thing you must NOT do.

I’ll get to those in a moment.

First, it’s important to understand WHY strains happen, because – while I am sure some of you are here and currently experiencing a strain or pulled muscle – I am hoping the rest of you will use this information to prevent this from happening in the first place (can we make prevention sexy please?!)

In order to understand why and how a strain happens, we have to understand how muscles work.

Reciprocal inhibition – the key to understanding muscles and injury recovery/prevention!

I’ve had my eye on this process for over 5 years as a guiding touchstone for how to help people in pain and it’s never failed me. I’ll certainly do an entire episode dedicated to just this because the topic seems sorely lacking in the field of pain relief and injury recovery/prevention; but for now we’ll explore it in relationship to strains and pulled muscles.

Reciprocal inhibition is a process by which opposing muscle groups (and the nerves that act on them) work synergistically on a joint: one group flexes that joint while the other extends it.

In order for one muscle or group to contract, the opposing muscle or group MUST relax and stretch.

The simplest example of this is: when you contract your hamstrings your quad has to stretch and relax, right? The opposite is true as well: in order to stretch the quads, the hamstring must contract. (Think of a standing quad stretch).

How this relates to muscle strains:

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How to Release Your Pec Minor Fascia – For Shoulder Pain & Shoulder Mobility Issues

Pec minor – a small but very important muscle!

If you have shoulder issues of any kind – from shoulder pain, rotator cuff or shoulder mobility issues (including partially frozen shoulders or seriously forward rotated shoulders) then this technique should be at the top of your list for self-help techniques.

If you have breathing or rib issues this could be related as well.

Pec minor is actually somewhat difficult to get into. Pec major and the clavipectoral fascia sit on top of it, and when your arm is resting or hanging at your side you can’t get into it at all. In order to get at this triple headed small muscle and its fascia you’ll need to raise your arm and target a very specific spot for release. (I show you exactly how in the video).

To be clear, what we’re actually going after here is the fascial adhesion that can occur between pec minor and pec major (specifically the , the clavipectoral fascia and possibly coracobrachilais as well.

For such a small muscle, pec minor plays a critical role in shoulder joint, scapular/rotator cuff and rib health.

From the picture to the left you can see how (because of its attachment at the coracoid process of the scapula), if shortened or adhesed, pec minor can pull both the shoulder joint and the scapula into forward rotation, and/or elevate the ribs. Someone who, later in life, has a serious hunch or “wings” showing in the upper back – you can bet they have a very short, tight, adhesed pec minor (in addition to probably a lot of other fascial tightness in the front as well).

If you’re someone who has ribs “go out” a lot, I would instantly suspect ridiculously tight pec minor tissue. This would not be the thing itself that makes a rib go out, it just sets you up and makes it much more likely. This has been true of my clients who play lacrosse, train jiu jitsu or those who have experienced a traumatic fall or impact such as a car accident, falling onto a shoulder or their head while snowboarding etc.

How to get the most out of this technique:

  • You’ll need a lacrosse ball for this one. I do NOT recommend a tennis ball, softball, golf ball or really any other ball. This particular area is SO TRICKY to get into in a way that you can hold the position, so you’ll need the grip or stickiness of the lacrosse ball to make it work.
  • Spend however long you need to get the right spot! This technique will be almost useless (for its intended purpose anyway) if you don’t successfully find pec minor. It can be incredibly tricky to nail. Watch the video as many times as you need to get it right.
  • Look for (or FEEL for) a slight “THUMP” that would indicate an adhesion between pec minor and pec major.
  • MOVE SLOOOOOOOWLY. Slowly. Very very slowly.
  • Did I say move SLOWLY? Haha. If you move too fast on this one you’ll pop off of pec minor in half a second and not even know it.
  • There are probably only 2-3 spots MAX you can find and release here. Most people probably only have two spots worth doing.
  • Spend 20-30 seconds on each spot WHEN YOU GET IT RIGHT. If it takes 10 seconds at a time to find and re-find a good spot, that’s ok.
  • Move your arm after!
  • Notice what changed, if anything.
  • Obviously, if you have a serious impingement, mobility issue or pain present, this technique alone probably isn’t going to eliminate it. Use the search function on this website to find other techniques for your particular issue, or leave a comment with your questions.

 

If you liked this post please “like” and share it!

Subscribe here and on YouTube for new posts every Monday.

For personalized help with head to toe pain issues, click here to schedule a private Skype consultation with Elisha Celeste. SUBSCRIBE below and get $15 off your first session.

 

 

How to Choose a Body Worker for Pain Relief (Opinion)

So you’re in pain or dealing with an injury and you want the help of someone in the bodywork field to sort you out. How do you choose the BEST person for you?

This can be a daunting decision, with thousands of choices that often looks similar on paper (or the web).

If you’re NOT in pain, then my opinion is simple: see whoever you want! Do what feels good. See the person you like the most.

When you’re in pain, however, there are a few critical distinctions to make and important points to consider if you want help actually getting out of pain AND finding the root cause so it doesn’t come back.

How to choose a body worker for pain relief:

First of all, here are some very basic things to consider:

  • MANY (I would say the majority of) manual therapists – massage therapists and other body worker practitioners – are not necessarily trained to help people eliminate pain.
  • Having said that, there certainly ARE capable manual therapists and body work practitioners out there who have been trained to relieve pain at its source, and this post is designed to help you find THOSE people and learn how to differentiate between your average massage therapist or someone you would go to for relaxation vs. someone who can help you get and STAY out of pain.

First off, let’s weed out the therapists who probably CAN’T help you:

Before I list these, I want to be clear I’m not knocking these therapists or discounting their work – I think there’s room for ALL of us and room for every modality. I just think it’s important for all of us (clients and practitioners alike) to know who we are seeing and WHY, with an honest look at scope of practice. I was a massage therapist for a year (8 long years ago!) and in that time I never helped my clients eliminate their pain for good. I wasn’t trained to do that and I went through a very comprehensive training that included myofascial massage, orthorpedic massage as well as the typical deep tissue, swedish etc.

Here are the modalities and people I would NOT consider seeing if you are looking for pain relief:

  • Your corner massage chain or generic massage therapist.
  • This includes therapists whose work consists mostly of Swedish, deep tissue or very general whole body massage.

Here are the practitioners and modalities you might consider, CAREFULLY: (and use my interview questions to make a wise decision here!)

  • Massage therapists or massage businesses who list “sports massage” or something like this as an option (often an “upgrade” that you pay extra for). A lot of the time these therapists are allowed to say they practice “sports massage” when they had a few hours of training for “athletes” while they were in massage school. This does NOT mean (in my opinion) that they know how to find the root cause of pain. MAYBE THEY DO. Some people have had extra training that gives them the authority to make this claim with confidence. This is where I want to encourage you to interview people, because you never really know from the average website bio (see below for questions to ask and what to look for when interviewing practitioners).
  • Manual therapists who say they do “myofascial massage.” Like I said above, I was trained in myofascial massage but NONE of that training included teaching us how to find the ROOT cause of pain. Generally speaking, THIS IS SIMPLY A MASSAGE MODALITY or technique. It does NOT mean this person will be able to release your fascia (it takes a very skilled person to do this with their hands. They absolutely ARE out there and if you can find one of these that’s AWESOME!)
  • All other modalities that do not (necessarily) include training to find the root cause of pain, from energy work to deep body work – reiki, craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, trigger point therapy, thai massage, reflexology etc. I like to speak from personal experience and personally, I haven’t directly experienced eliminating physical pain with any energy technique. Maybe I’m not open minded enough. That said, I have friends who have and I believe them. The mind is extremely powerful! If you believe in energy work and believe your practitioner is saving your ass, then they probably will! I definitely believe in energy being stored in the body, as well as emotions, trauma etc. My personal preference is to access that energy in a very physical way. So – if energy work is your jam, carry on! As for some of the other ones I listed above, it’s for the same reasons as the above two that I list these: most of the time the training for these modalities does not include how to find the root cause of pain. This doesn’t mean there aren’t some really skilled practitioners out there who specialize in shiatsu, Thai massage or trigger point therapy that can help eliminate pain. So once again – please refer to the interview questions to help you determine if one of these practitioners is right for you.
  • ALL other body work modalities fall into this category of being potentially supportive (if you interview them and like their answers): Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, Bowen, chiropractic, Trager and Rolfing, or Structural Integration, ART, Mashing, Rossiter etc (I’m sure there are many more).
  • Just because someone was trained in something potentially helpful does NOT mean they are GOOD! Your job is to find out if they are, and their job is to make sure you know it when you call or walk into their office.

Questions to ask when interviewing a practitioner:

The very FIRST thing I urge you to ask any professional before you see them is

Question #1:

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How to Release Your Plantar Fascia – Helps Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Pain, Ankle Mobility & the Whole Body!

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This is a simple technique that will help your WHOLE body.

I’m pretty sure ALL of us could use this one!

If you have plantar fasciitis, heel pain, ankle mobility issues, big toe articulation problems or Achilles tendonitis then this is definitely a technique you’ll want to add to your mobility toolbox. Just make sure you’re taking care of the root issue first! For plantar fasciitis, heel pain and Achilles tendonitis – click here for my main technique that addresses these issues at the source.

As usual with Mobility Mastery techniques, this is NOT intended to be a massage for your feet! (Though your reward for doing the technique is massage-like 🙂 )

We are attempting to PIN and RELEASE the restricted fascia and any fascial adhesions on the bottom of the foot.

There are a BUNCH of tiny muscles down there.

The fascia that wraps each of those muscles along with the plantar fascia itself can get stuck to each other. All of that fascia can get dehydrated, brittle, inelastic and because of these things pain and all the “itis’s” can happen – plantar fasciitis, heel pain, tendonitis on the tops of the feet, big toe articulation problems, ankle mobility restriction, Achilles tendonitis…etc.

This can happen due to a variety of factors: if you’re a woman who wears high heels, it’s almost inevitable you will have one or more of the above issues eventually; if you work on your feet all day, especially if you’re not moving much but standing in place; if your body type, lifestyle, sports, habits etc have created fascial restrictions UPSTREAM, you may have PAIN here and you’ll need to find out if the plantar fascia is actually tight and restricted, or simply getting irritated and pulled on – or BOTH.

How to get the most out of this technique:

  • Make sure if you have pain on the bottoms of your feet or any of the issues listed above that you FIRST look for the root cause and go after THAT first – then come to this technique as a way to “comfort” what is hurting.
  • PLEASE USE A LACROSSE BALL! For the best possible result, a lacrosse ball is the single best tool. All other balls will NOT give you the same result.
  • If you don’t have a lacrosse ball and you’re desperate to try this immediately – use what you have and then get your booty to a sporting goods store ASAP! They only cost $6 (give or take). And then do it right 😉
  • Make sure the entire weight of your leg is resting on that ball before doing the technique.
  • Make sure your heel doesn’t drop down too much, nor your toes. Try to keep the weight of your leg directly over that spot you’re targeting.
  • Start near the ball of your foot and work your way towards the heel.
  • If you feel or hear “crunching” noises while opening your toes, you’re doing it RIGHT! That’s the feel and sound of your plantar fascia releasing.
  • If this SUCKS – you’re probably doing it right, and you can be sure your plantar fascia is restricted and needs help to relax.
  • If this doesn’t suck at all and you have pain in your feet – perhaps you didn’t find the right spot, OR – your plantar fascia may not be restricted at all, but is in pain because of something else that is. It could be your calf, your hamstring, glute or even upper body fascia. You’ll need to look for the root cause.
  • Try 3-4 spots with the technique, and then…
  • DON’T FORGET YOUR REWARD! After releasing all that fascia, roll your foot around on the ball for as long as you want. This usually feels AMAZING afterward. If you prefer a different kind of ball, a frozen waterbottle or rolling pin for this part – go for it. This is simply meant to be a FEEL GOOD endorphin releasing reward for your WHOLE body!
  • Speaking of your whole body – if you DON’T have pain in your feet, but you have pain ANYWHERE ELSE in your body and you are ON your feet all day – give this a try!
  • In fact, if you’re on your feet all day I HIGHLY recommend buying yourself a lacrosse ball to keep at work and doing this one daily, or several times a day. Your entire body will thank you!

 

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