Struggling with sleep?

At Loosen Up we often receive questions regarding ideal sleep recommendations; best positions, pillows, mattresses, etc. These are tougher questions to answer than you would think. There are many contributing factors to preferred sleeping position, pillows, and mattresses; previous injuries, room orientation, or sleeping companions. How we sleep is a personal topic and effective tips and tricks vary for each person.

There are several ways that the topic of sleep comes up with our clients here at Loosen Up. Most people are able to experience initial benefits of massage that relieve stress as soon as they’re on our table. Others feel the benefit of a nice nap once they’re on the massage table. And some experience pain relief that allows them to get a better night’s sleep once they leave our table. While massage does not necessarily affect sleep directly, what is keeping us from dozing off can be profoundly influenced by massage.

Research on the subject of how massage therapy may affect our sleep is centered around the idea that a reduction in pain will have a positive effect on our quality of sleep. This concept is one I often review with clients when they inquire about stretching and foam rolling. Like most of our clients, you may have had the experience of laying your head down to fall sleep only to feel aches and pains that you hadn’t noticed earlier in your day. This leads to tossing and turning and having difficulty finding a comfortable position to drift off. But by taking the time to stretch or foam roll before bed, you can create length in soft tissues that may have been tugging at your structure when you initially laid down. And a comfortable sleeping position may be a little easier to find.

Another one of the things I review with every client that comes in with chronic pain issues is the pattern of their sleep hygiene. We may not always think of our sleep as pattern forming, but improper sleeping positions may reinforce some structural tensions, positions such as a pillow being too large or small for the neck, or the lumbar spine being twisted in a side sleeping posture. Many persistent pain issues can actually be resolved by simply introducing a prop to the arms or legs. Setting the intention of resting your body in a supported, safe position can make a big difference on your night’s sleep.

Finally, massage, stretching, and foam rolling (and upper cervical chiropractic work) all have the effect of activating your sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your “rest and digest” state. The activation of this part of your nervous system stimulates the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters that then cause us to go into a calm and relaxed state.

If you struggle with sleep due to aches and pains, you can request a consultation with one of our therapists or schedule an appointment to come in Click Here to make an appointment or Call: (925) 289-9750. Sleep well and we look forward to hearing from you.

Chronic shoulder pain

By far one of the most common things we see in our office is chronic shoulder pain. While there are many things that can cause chronic shoulder pain, the majority of what we see is due to minor but constant muscular tension imbalance due to repetitive use. For the sake of being thorough, let’s go through a few of the most common injuries and highlight how massage may be able to help.

For any acute pain that has a specific onset and creates a lack of range of motion or severe pain, we always recommend going to see your physician to find out exactly what’s wrong. While there are techniques that we can apply without a diagnosis that will avoid further injury and may still help alleviate some if not all symptoms, your treatment will not be as comprehensive as it could be if we knew exactly what the problem is. Here is a list of some acute shoulder injuries and how we can help.

Chronic Shoulder Pain

Chronic Shoulder Pain

Frozen shoulder – This condition in notoriously suborn. While massage work that directly affects the shoulder joint can be contraindicated, Deep Tissue techniques work great in conjunction with physical therapy to help alleviate tension in muscles surrounding the shoulder joint and prevent any compensation injuries. Lymphatic drainage can help with any associated swelling.

Tendonitis – For acute tendonitis that’s associated with a strain, lymphatic drainage can help reduce swelling and expedite the healing process by getting the used up fluids out of the injury and replenishing them with the nutrient-rich fluids they need to repair. For tendonitis that occurs from repetitive use, Deep Tissue techniques can help improve circulation to tendons and muscles to restore muscular balance around the shoulder.

Torn Rotator Cuff – There are many varying degrees that someone can injure their rotator cuff. If a tear is minor and does not require surgery, massage can help with maintaining length in the muscle that is associated with the torn tendon to reduce tension on it and improve recovery time. Lymphatic drainage is also helpful for reducing swelling and improving overall circulation. If surgery is required than massage can be helpful with compensation tension in the neck and upper traps until the surgery is done. After surgery, it is recommended to wait a minimum of 3 days to try any type of massage. After that massage can be very helpful in regaining range of motion and improving balance around the shoulder.

Most shoulder pain we see in our office, however, is not acute and is more chronic in nature meaning it developed slowly and the pain most likely has a more dull, nagging quality to it as opposed to the sharp pain associated with an acute injury. These types of aches and pains typically arise from long hours at the computer, behind the wheel driving, or on a smartphone. We also see them come up when someone is performing a specific activity from a less than ideal posture (eg. pore form while exercising or bad sleeping position). There are many types of deep tissue techniques that can help you achieve better posture to minimize activities that continually reinjure overused tissues so you can gain permanent relief. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding a specific issue. You can call and speak to our front desk staff or even request a call from one of our therapists.

How to Use a Foam Roller for Myofascial Release

Using a foam roller is simple, but working some areas may take a bit of practice and some…

Lymphatic drainage and sprains/strains

Recently, on a hike in the Sierra foothills, I strained the tendons in my foot. I was convinced it was broken by the bruising and swelling that presented, but the X-rays proved otherwise. Fortunately, I knew just where to go to get some great bodywork to help patch me up and keep me going!

A few days after my injury I was having my worst pain yet. My foot was incredibly swollen, painful, and I couldn’t walk without limping – even with the walking boot on. I saw Janel for a short lymphatic drainage massage session. Twenty minutes was all we could fit in that day.

An hour later the swelling had gone down dramatically! I could walk without a limp (even without the boot) and the internal pain in my foot had gone from an 8 out of 10 – to a 2. Initially, the doctor had recommended 2 weeks in the boot than 2 weeks in a brace with a shoe. After one more lymphatic drainage massage treatment, only 2 weeks after the initial injury I was able to make it out to a 14-mile mountain bike/camping trip with no problems at all.

I cannot recommend lymphatic drainage massage for sprains and strains enough!

I’ve had this experience a few times now and it blows me away, every time, at just how effective it is. Even swelling lingering from sprains that are years old can still benefit from this work.

If you have any questions and want advice regarding massage, don’t hesitate to contact us at Loosen Up Bodywork.

Tracing Out A Problem Area – Soft Tissue and Massage Treatment

I hear the phrase “it’s all connected” often in my treatment room, as well as from other therapists.  This phrase has always frustrated me because of its vague nature.  It can leave a therapist or client with the idea that we should address all of the soft tissues in the body in one session to possibly stumble upon the solution to a persistent ache or pain.  This is not to say that a general full-body session isn’t great for maintenance or de-stressing, but the therapist and client might miss an opportunity to explore the variety of structures that surround a problem area and trace them out to see what tension patterns are present.

Assessment of range-of-motion and locating restricted soft tissue patterns through touch paints a picture of the underlying condition of the body and, more importantly, the way a client is using their body regularly.  Once we can see this picture, we can go about finding alternative ways of using our bodies to complete a job, sport, or hobby that can restore balance rather than perpetuate aches and pains.  So while it is true that many of the aches and pains that pop up are caused by tensions that exist elsewhere in the body, it’s our job as a soft tissue therapists to help our clients understand the underlying pattern so they can bring awareness to their activities of choice and move through their lives with reduced pain and ease.

For location information and to book an appointment, visit our Contact page.

Gina Tibbs, HHP, Instructor / Therapist, is the founder of Loosen up Bodywork. Gina was drawn to this profession after struggling to find permanent solutions for musculoskeletal issues of her own. She has made it her mission to help people understand how to work with their body to alleviate and avoid acute and chronic pain. She has over 15 years of experience in manual and massage therapies. Her passion is to teach, always learn more and to empower her clients and students with new and old techniques for healing every day.