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.

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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

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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:

Chest_Op

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

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…

http://acutakehealth.com/improve-your-posture-in-one-simple-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

 

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

January 5, 2012

Rotator Cuff Stuff?

Posted in Anatomy, Ergonomics, Injuries, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 11:38 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Are you prone to rotator cuff problems?  Strains, pains, maybe some tears.  Estimates are that 25-33% of adults suffer with chronic shoulder pain; much of that due to rotator cuff strains, pains, tears.

Surrounding your shoulder-blade, the rotator cuff is composed of 4 muscles that perform the action of moving your shoulder in its ball & socket joint.  The four muscles of the rotator cuff actually stabilize your arm in the shoulder joint so that the bigger muscles of the arms can do the work. Rotator cuff injuries; from strains to tears, usually happen during strength bearing activities where the shoulder joint is a bit out of alignment while being used strongly.  Over exercising, carrying heavy objects, and repetitive overhead reaching motions are some common causes of rotator cuff problems.

The good news is that you may be able to strengthen and rehabilitate your rotator cuff problem on your own using a couple of simple yoga poses.

Below are two articles that outline the findings of Dr. Loren Fishman – a pioneer at integrating western medicine with yoga.  After a rotator cuff injury of his own, Dr. Fishman discovered that by using the forearm platform common to so many yoga poses; he was able to relieve the pain and other symptoms of his rotator cuff injury.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/health/02brody.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/loren-fishman-md/yoga-for-rotator-cuff-injury_b_916728.html

In a nutshell, any posture using the forearm platform (wall push-ups, forearm plank, forearm downward dog, dolphin, head stand) all can help train the subscapularis muscle of the rotator cuff to take over the strength role from supraspinatus.

So if you’re already practicing yoga; you may want to experiment with incorporating some forearm platform poses into your daily workout to see how they help your shoulder strength.  If not, find an experienced yoga teacher to guide you into the poses.

Even if you’re not currently experiencing rotator cuff problems; but you have in the past or sense an instability in your rotator cuff, try incorporating some of these postures into your routine.  Prevention may really be the best cure of all.

(the information in this blog is no substitute for proper medical care; always consult your doctor before altering your exercise routine.)

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.

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

December 28, 2010

You, yes YOU, need strong rhomboids!

Posted in Anatomy, Back, Ergonomics, Injuries, Neck/Shoulders, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 7:57 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Slouching?  Headaches?  Neck & Shoulder pain? Difficulty with deep breathing? Maybe your rhomboids need a bit of strengthening….

Many of the conditions of modern life such as hours spent in front of a computer (especially laptops), driving, holding newborns, living with chronic pain or illness,  cause overstretched, weak rhomboids along the back of the chest between the shoulder blades;  along with overly strong, shortened pectoral muscles in the front of chest.   Over time, this becomes the look of slouchy posture, and often the feel of headaches, shoulder & neck pain, shallow breathing. Even the nerves, arteries and veins can become impinged interrupting nervous and circulatory system flow.

To undo this arrangement in the body,  it is important to both deeply stretch the pectoral and front chest muscles; plus strengthen the rhomboids in the back of the body.  If you’ll take a break from your computer work or driving or writing or talking on the phone every hour and do these two simple exercises; you’ll notice a difference in how your body looks and feels quite quickly.

1. Stretch the pecs and front chest muscles by doing the Chest Expansion stretch.

  • Lengthen your spine and balance your weight evenly over both sitting bones
  • Reach behind your back, keeping arms straight, interlace finger.
  • While keeping the spine long and upright, reach your interlaced hands as far upwards as possible.  Feel the stretch in your pecs.  Hold this posture for 5 deep breaths.

2.  Strengthen your rhomboids

  • With the same long spine starting posture, relax your arms down at your sides by your hips
  • Gently but firmly squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Repeat 15 times in sequence with the breath; inhaling to squeeze together, exhaling to relax the shoulder blades apart.

It isn’t unusual for the mid-back to feel sore the first week or so you practice this sequence.  But keep after it, especially if you have a tendency to slouch.  In the long-run, you’ll probably experience less pain, better posture and improved shoulder range of motion – a great pay off for a few minutes of your time.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Anatomy teacher and Small Business Coach.  Contact her directly to arrange an appointment: 727-641-6941 or  Suzanne@TryThaiYogaMassage.com

December 13, 2010

Question: What’s the best pillow to use for a good night’s sleep?

Posted in Anatomy, Ergonomics, Injuries, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders, Thai Yoga Massage, Yoga at 3:41 pm by SuzanneMAndrew

Answer: All of them!

After a weekend spent ‘fixing’ a bunch of shoulders hurt from ‘sleeping on them funny’; it seems the question of which pillow is the best for sleeping is on a lot of people’s minds right now.   The answer really is, all of them. (or several of them, at least)  And every bed should include at least one cervical pillow!

Cervical pillows are designed with a ‘roll’ or a ‘lip’ over which your head falls; either while you’re resting on the back or the side.  When the spine is in alignment; the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, veins, arteries and other tissues are all held in their proper working positions to ensure ease and efficiency in the body.

Most often, what happens when you ‘sleep funny’ on your neck & shoulder is the shoulder rounds forward in front of your torso and gets smashed by your body weight for hours on end while sleeping.  (side sleepers do seem to have the most problems with waking up sore) The shoulder tugs on the neck, which tugs back by tightening up the muscles on the back of the neck, top of the shoulder and between the shoulder blades.   Next thing you know, you wake up with a stiff neck, a head ache, a restricted range of motion, a sore shoulder and maybe a grouchy attitude!

The reality is most people shift into a variety of positions through the night; spending time on both sides, the back, sometimes the stomach.  Each sleeping position requires a different sort of pillow or pillows.  Most people find a thin and medium firmness pillow to be the perfect level of neck support for back sleeping.  If you struggle with low back pain, a nice fluffy pillow under the knees while back sleeping may be nice for a few hours.   Stomach sleepers usually don’t use a head pillow; but maybe a roll or firm pillow under the torso.

Side sleepers are the folks who really need a fort full of pillows. First, it is important to have a structured cervical pillow that allows the neck to maintain proper alignment.  Then you’ll need a big fluffy pillow to cradle in front of the body, and perhaps a second one on which to rest your top leg.  This set up allows the spine to stay aligned, the hips and shoulders to relax into the torso instead of reaching away, and a certain amount of balance to be maintained instead of letting gravity pull the joints down.

I’m a huge fan of the memory foam cervical pillows; and consider also getting a small one specifically for travel.  No need to sacrifice a good night’s sleep every time you stay in a hotel or at the in-laws house.  Since we’re ideally spending 1/3 of our hours resting in bed; it is worth the investment to get a variety and quantity of pillows to support yourself into a great night’s sleep every night!

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher and General Bloviator About Town.  To schedule your customized thai yoga bodywork session with her call: 727-641-6941 or email  SuzanneMAndrew@gmail.com.

August 18, 2010

Quick Tension Headache Fix

Posted in Anatomy, Breathwork, Choices, Ergonomics, Living Vibrantly, Neck/Shoulders at 11:43 am by SuzanneMAndrew

You know those moments; the boss drops a last-minute project off on your desk that needs to be done at the same time you’re supposed to be meeting with your rambunctious son’s school teacher to discuss his behavior problems, your in-laws are coming to stay for a week, you get a flat tire and your largest customer calls to complain. As soon as you stop to notice it, you recognize that feeling of tension creeping from your shoulders, up your neck, ready to turn into a full-blown tension headache at any moment.

Stop! You can do a 2 minute, quick-fix anytime, anywhere to relieve tension and hopefully prevent that headache from taking hold.

1.  Sit down, straighten out your spine and take a few deep breaths.
2.  Interlace your hands on the back of your skull, pads of the thumbs resting on the ridge where your skull meets the neck.
3.  Squeeze your hands together 3 times, gently pulling on the back of the head.
4.  Rub the base of the palms in big circles (keeping fingers interlaced) 3 times clockwise, then 3 counterclockwise.
5.  Press the thumbs into the canyon between the edge of your skull and the neck muscles. Move from the center of the skull on the spine out towards the ears, making circles the whole way. Then circle back to the center of the skull.
7.  Move your hands down your neck and rub the neck muscles on either side of the spine.
8.  Release arms, close eyes and take a few more deep breaths.

Triage complete, you’ve probably headed off a tension headache, at least temporarily.

When you get time, come see me. Regular massage and bodywork can be a powerful prevention tool for stress related aches and pains.

Suzanne Andrew is a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist, among other things. Call or email to schedule your next customized massage and bodywork session today! 727-641-6941 or Suzanne@TryThaiYogaMassage.com

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