June 20, 2013

Rhomboid Strength – You need it!

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Neck/Shoulders at 8:05 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

“I looked in the mirror and noticed I was turning into an apostrophe.”  If this quote describes you; take heart, rhomboid strengthening exercises could be just what you need.

Conservatively, I’d guess 75% of my clients and students have weak rhomboids. Our modern lives featuring hours in front of computers, driving, sitting with poor posture in front of a TV, etc. all contribute to the imbalance where we have overly tight pectoral muscles on the front of our chests plus overly stretched & weak rhomboid muscles between the shoulder blades.  Over time, weak rhomboids contribute to poor posture, slumped forward heads and bodies that start looking like apostrophes.


For most of us, the best remedy for poor posture is the combination of stretching our pectoral muscles, then strengthening our rhomboids.

  • Begin with the Chest Expansion Stretch; reach both hands behind your back, interlace your fingers and lift your hands away from the hips as far as you can do so while maintaining a straight spine.
  • Next, here are the two easy rhomboid strengthening exercises I can recommend for nearly every body:  http://www.muscularinjuryspecialist.com/pain-between-the-shoulder-blades.html
  • Almost everyone can (and should) do one minute of Chest Expansion Stretched followed by several sets of Shoulder Blade Squeezes daily. Then as long as you don’t have lower back issues, add in the Dart exercise for better results.

Within just a few weeks of adding these 2 or 3 simple exercises to your daily routine, you should notice a difference in your posture.  Maybe you’ll notice in the mirror less of an apostrophe and more of an exclamation mark!

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor, General Health Zealot; and owner of 2 massage businesses. www.IslandMassageOnline.com, www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com or 727-641-6941


December 12, 2012

Neck & Shoulders sore? Upper body achy?

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Breathwork, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders, Yoga at 3:55 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Try this quick remedy for chronic neck & shoulder postural strain:


The yoga pose commonly called “Chest Opener” is a great way to relieve the strain and stress of poor upper body posture. If you spend all day in front of a computer, driving, sitting at a desk; the chances are high that at times you end up with tension, soreness, maybe even pain, in your neck, shoulders and upper back. The Chest Opener is a quick and easy way to undo much of that stress in the upper body.

  • Start by standing with feet a hips-width apart.
  • Clasp your hands behind your back, interlacing the fingers.
  • Straighten the elbows and begin to lift the hands away from your hips.
  • Take care to keep your spine straight and your head reaching up.
  • Once you’ve found a stretch in your shoulders, hold in that position for 5 full, deep breaths.
  • Release.

This Chest Opener pose stretches out the pecs and the deltoids, opens up the upper intercostals and tones the rhomboids; all of which are essential muscular positions for maintaining good posture.

For best results, do this stretch 3-4 times per day; it works especially well at the end of the day and at the end of any long stretches of work in front of the computer or steering wheel.

Simply adding a bit more stretching and a few more deep breaths into your daily life can make all the difference between feeling hunched over, stressed and achy; or feeling spacious, vibrant and healthy!

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

September 8, 2012

Improve Your Desk Chair with a Tennis Ball??

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Living Vibrantly, Thai Yoga Massage, Uncategorized at 9:46 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

In these times of constant connection to our computers and gadgets, many of us spend more time sitting at our desk chairs as we do in our beds; which takes a toll on our bodies, our posture, even our emotions.

Those of you who’ve worked with me for a while have probably heard me recommend ‘a variety’ when asked which is the best type of office chair to use.  However, even the best ergonomically designed chair can become a torture device when used 8+ hours a day 5,6 or even 7 days a week..

If you must spend hours sitting in meetings, at a desk, in front of a computer; make your body as comfortable as possible by first varying the chairs and the work position.  In my office I have a regular desk chair, a balance ball chair and a kneeling chair; plus a box I can rest my computer on so I can sometimes stand while working.


Second, make sure you’re taking at least a 5 minute break every hour; get up, stretch, walk around; give both your body and your vision a rest.

Third, improve your posture.   I know, I know; it is easy to say ‘I’m going to practice better posture’ but it is a whole different thing to actually do it.  For most of us, years of slouching and rounding the shoulders forward have changed our posture; and it isn’t easy to force our bodies to keep a long spine.  We may start the day sitting with good posture; but usually, within a few minutes, we start to slump forward again.

So try this easy trick to improve your posture; use tennis balls with your office chair.  Simply place two tennis balls along side of your spine near the bottom of your shoulder blades.  Rest your back against the tennis balls which will help your spine naturally straighten up and help guide your shoulders back.


The tennis ball has several key benefits:

*The acupressure points pressed by the ball should help relieve tension through your entire upper torso.

*By using two balls, one on either side of your body; you’ll help better balance your left and right sides of your body both in your sitting position and as you’re working and reaching forward.

*Improved posture.  If you start to slump, the balls will slide and fall on the floor; so the constant gentle reminder and slight pressure of the tennis balls will help you build better posture over time.

Give the tennis ball trick a try at your own desk chair; or even in your car or on an airplane, and let me know how it works for you.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

June 26, 2012

Tight Calves? Tight Hamstrings? Sore feet? Roll Your Feet

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Hips, Injuries, Knees, Living Vibrantly, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 1:34 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Roll Your Feet with a Ball

Whether you struggle with tight hamstrings, suffer with plantar fasciitis, get leg cramps or just have tightness in the back of your body; try this simple trick for loosening up the entire back of the body from your heels to the top of your head.

The human body has one long, continuous line of connective tissue that runs from the sole of the foot, up around the ankle, up the leg, around the knee, up the thigh, over the sitting bone, up the back all the way to the top of the head ending just over your eyebrows. Tightness in any part of that chain can cause tension anywhere else along the back body. When you find yourself with tightness, tension or pain in any of those areas; start with loosening up the tissues on the soles of the feet and see how much better the entire body feels.

Simply roll the sole of your foot over a ball for 5 minutes daily. Use a tennis ball, a physical therapy ball, or when you’ve built up some tolerance, a golf ball. Begin by rolling the ball under the toes, then along the outside edge of the foot. Roll it around the arch area and back & forth across the heel making sure to treat all areas of the surface of the foot. Spend 2-3 minutes rolling each foot.

You’ll be amazed immediately at how good your feel!  Opening up all the tissues on the bottoms of the feet will cause your entire back body to loosen and relax; your feet will feel lively,  your leg muscles more open, you may even get a bit of relief from back pain or a headache.   Resist the urge to overdo this exercise, limit yourself to once or twice a day; but make sure to do it daily.   This is such a simple way to immediately feel better in your body; give it a try and let me know how you feel.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor and General Health Zealot.  Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

May 11, 2012

Improve Your Posture – 1 Easy Step

Posted in Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders, Uncategorized at 3:31 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Nearly every single one of us could use a posture improvement.  Here’s how to do it in one easy step…


Undo those hours in front of a computer, hunched over your smartphone, driving….whatever you do all day that features arms forward and looking down; simply turn your palms up every time you think of it and see a dramatic postural improvement.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to do this over the next few weeks; will keep you all posted about my results.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Yoga Instructor, General Health Zealot and Owner of  two massage businesses. Contact her directly to schedule a session:  727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com or www.IslandMassageOnline.com


March 14, 2012

Sciatica Stretch

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Hips, Injuries, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 3:43 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

If you’ve been diagnosed with sciatica, the pain that centers in the middle of the glute then runs up or down the body from the low back to the knee, you’ve probably been told that keeping the area stretched out will help lessen your pain.

The sciatic nerve as it runs through the hip is about as big around as your thumb; and it easily gets impinged by tight muscles.  Most frequently, the piriformis muscle, one of the hip extensors underneath your gluteus maximus, fanning out from your sacrum to the ball-and-socket joint of the hip, is the  culprit for muscle tightness in the hip.

Here’s the easy way to safely stretch your piriformis muscles, hopefully relieving sciatica.

  • Lie on the floor on your back.
  • Place both feet on the floor, knees point up.
  • Cross one ankle across the opposite knee just above the knee-joint.
  • Keeping your back flat on the floor, pull the crossed legs directly to your chest.
  • Hold stretch for 10 full breaths.
  • Repeat on other side.

By lying on the floor to do this stretch you neutralize and protect the low back, so if there are any disk issues or dysfunction with the sacroiliac joint; you won’t further exacerbate the problem.  In this position the focus of the stretch is squarely on the hip extensor muscles, specifically the piriformis.

Use this stretch to get yourself out of pain; and add it to your regular daily routine to keep your posterior hips open and flexible, better able to support your low back.

Suzanne Andrew is  a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master and general zealot about living vibrantly.  Contact her directly at 727-641-6941 or www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

February 1, 2012

Back Sore in the Morning?

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Ergonomics, Hips, Injuries, Neck/Shoulders, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 11:43 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

If you wake up and find your low back sore in the morning, before getting out of bed and having a grouchy, achy day; try this!

1. Pull Your Knees to Your Chest – hold for 5 breaths, then rock from left to right 5 times in each direction.

2. Twist to Both Sides –  starting with your knees into the chest, allow your knees to drop off the the left. Widen across the arms. Hold for 5 full breaths. Repeat on right side.

3.  Sitting on the Edge of the Bed, Fold Forward – plant feet firmly on floor, sitting bones on bed, bend of knees should be touching edge of bed.  Bend the torso forward over the legs, let the arms fall towards the floor.  Hold this posture 5 full breaths.

These three simple postures should loosen all the low back and hip muscles; getting rid of any tightness or shortened muscles from sleep.  So next, just stand  up and go enjoy your day!

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Reiki Master and zealot for taking charge of your own good health.  Contact her directly at: 727-641-6941 or Suzanne@TryThaiYogaMassage.com.    www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com

August 26, 2011

5 Simple Tricks to Add Stretching and Strengthening to Your Day

Posted in Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Hips, Knees, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders, Uncategorized at 8:50 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

No time for a regular workout today?  Try these  5 simple tricks to add more strengthening, stretching, balance and breath into your day-to-day living. While working out daily is great, it can be just as important to build a daily routne of adding little bitsof exercise into droutine activities.

1.  Stand while working on your computer.  If you’re not lucky enough to have an adjusting desk, work at a bar-height table, or make your own work platform by using books, overturned trash cans or milk crates to create the height needed for your computer. Standing while working on the computer helps strengthen the legs, back and torso, increase blood flow thruout the body and create a better posture for deeper breathing.

2. Balance on one foot while folding laundry.  Laundry folding has to be one of the most boring chores in the world; use it as a great opportunity to work on building balance and strength in the lower legs.  Switch from leg to leg every few minutes, and make this boring chore at least useful for your physical body conditioning.

3.   Go backless while driving.  Spend a short drive with the seat back reclined so far that you have to use your core muscles for strength to sit up instead of leaning on the structure of the seat back.

4.  Sweep and shovel instead of leaf-blowing or snow-blowing.  Sweeping and shoveling are excellent aerobic exercises that also strengthen the arms and upper torso muscles.   Sweeping and shoveling just might give you a great opportunity to focus on some deep breathing techniques, too.

5.  Sit on the floor and stretch to watch TV.  As tempting as it is to just sink down into the couch to watch TV after a long day; try sitting in the middle of the floor instead.  Stretch your body in a variety of ways, work the kinks out of your neck and back, make circles with your wrists and ankles, and practice some long, slow breaths.

Feeling better in our bodies isn’t something that needs to be put on hold while we do our chores or work; we can integrate movement and breath into all our routine activities, and do them in such a way they yield maximum benefit. Ahhhh…..

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist and Health Consultant based in St. Petersburg, Florida, who at this very minute is walking home with her groceries in a backpack to add a little extra exercise into the shopping chore.  Contact her to schedule your customized session today: www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com or 727-641-6941.

August 16, 2011

Who Needs a Kneeling Chair?

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Choices, Ergonomics, Knees, Living Vibrantly, Uncategorized at 6:13 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Originally designed by a surgeon to help his patients recover well from lower back surgery; the kneeling chair is a great solution for many of us with lower back pain.

What the kneeling chair does is allow you to sit at a desk with the hips open at 110 degree angle, versus the 80-90 degree angle of a standard chair.  This position puts less strain on the muscles of the lower back; and actually encourages use of the abdominal muscles for torso support.  In this position, your body more easily finds it natural line keeping the ear in line with the shoulder, with the hips; reducing postural strain in the neck & shoulders, low back & hips.

When the torso is in alignment and supported using core muscles; breathing is deeper and easier, which relaxes the nervous system and helps both the blood and lymph circulate more freely through the body.

Finally, because the torso is more forward than in a regular chair; it is easier to keep the elbows tucked into the body while working at a computer or writing at a desk; which will decrease strain in the shoulders, elbows and wrists.

A kneeling chair takes a few days to get used to using; expect a few days with some slightly sore muscles in the legs and a few days to train the core muscles to hold your torso correctly.

I’ve used a kneeling chair at my desk for over 8 years; and recently when my old kneeling chair finally broke I tried out a variety of different desk chairs including a standard square, flat desk chair and a balance ball chair.  After trying so many different seating arrangements; the kneeling chair is without a doubt, the best ergonomic chair for my body while working at a desk.  I encourage you to try one, especially if you’re prone to low-back pain, to see if it works for you.

Link to buy one on Amazon

Kneeling Office Chair with Wood Fram…

Flash Furniture

Best Price $71.50
or Buy New $80.99

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist and Wellness Coach in St. Petersburg, Fl.  Contact her directly to schedule a customized thai yoga massage, reiki or bodywork session or program to help you live healthier and happier in your body.  Suzanne@TryThaiYogaMassage.com, www.TryThaiYogaMassage.com or 727-641-6941

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July 19, 2011

The Best Travel Companion Ever? Your massage ball….

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Choices, Energy Work, Ergonomics, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders, Thai Yoga Massage at 5:56 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

If you’re going to be flying, driving, riding trains – really any form of travel that features long hours sitting in uncomfortable seats – be sure to pack your massage ball!

During a recent 11 day trip to the west coast; my trip included 4 plane rides across the US, two 3 hour ferry rides to Canada, plus a 22 hour train ride and countless hours sightseeing in myriad of cars.  As fun as the trip was, each day brought with it new aches and pains in my neck, shoulders, low back, hips; the human body just wasn’t designed to sit so many hours.

Luckily, I packed my massage ball.  About size of a tennis ball; a massage ball (or pt ball) is spiky and much harder than a tennis ball.  While traveling, I’d place the massage ball between my back and the seat in all the sore spots along my back, around the shoulder-blades and in the hips.  Then I’d roll it up and down the spine to release all the tension in the muscles on either side of the spine.  Finally, I’d place it between the seat and that trigger points in the glutes.  Within about 10 minutes; I’d feel so much better, ready to enjoy the next leg of my trip.

At the end of a busy day of sightseeing, I’d lay on the ball on the floor; moving the massage ball to each sore spot on my body and holding each spot about 10 full, deep breaths.  Finally, after a long day of walking, I’d sit in a chair and roll the ball between the sole of each foot and the floor for several minutes to reinvigorate tired feet.  Other uses include rolling it along the arms after a busy day skiing or playing tennis, rolling your quadriceps over it after a long run or bike ride, and resting it right under your occiput to relieve tension headaches.

Buy your massage ball online at: http://www.optp.com/ReflexBall-LE9758.aspx  These are the same massage balls many of you will recognize from our sessions; I love to use them for stubborn, stuck places in my clients’ bodies.

So if the summer ahead has any travel in it, be sure to pack your massage ball; your body will thank you!

 Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist and Wellness Coach. Contact her directly to design a customized session or program to live better in your body and, perhaps, in your life.  SuzanneMAndrew@gmail.com or 727-641-6941

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