One Little Thing Can Make a Difference.
I don't have TV or read newspapers. I find that most of the news is bad and I get overwhelmed and depressed. I have to limit my exposure, so I skim headlines on the internet and read just enough to feel like I am in touch but sometimes there is such bad news there is no escaping the negative feelings that are triggered. The shootings of nine people in a church by a mixed up young man was horrible. I want to believe in the best of ourselves but there is still so much of our darker nature that exists.
Sometimes I feel useless as to how I can do anything but just feel sad and pain for the many that are suffering. I am sure some of you have felt the same way. Being only one person, how can you make any difference in this big world?
There are two things you can do that seem insignificant but as Mahatma Ghandi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world" and anything big started as something small, so just focus on your little corner of the world.
1 - Smile at everyone you see.
You might be having a rough day, but are you the only one? Your smile might just make the difference in someone's day that helps them through unimaginable pain or suffering. By smiling you also lift up your own spirits and I bet you end up having a great day regardless of how it started. What about the guy that flips you off as he cuts in front of you? My mother always said, "Kill them with kindness" and I just smile and wave and try not to take it personally. Easier said than done, but I do try.
2 - Give hugs.
Touch is so important to all living things. I have written about how touch affects the mortality rates of infants. Touch is behind the reason we have three times the number of pets than people because most of us feel more comfortable petting a dog or cat instead of reaching out to another person. As a single person I am more guilty than anyone I know...I have four dogs, so I'm not pointing any fingers here.
I learned a long time ago the power of hugging. I had a friend that owned a business two doors down from my business and every morning she came a gave me a hug. At first it was a little uncomfortable because I came from a very stoic family and we didn't hug, but after awhile, if she didn't come to my shop, I would go to hers and get my hug. Numerous times I have not had the words to say to someone that was hurting, but a hug was just what they needed. If a hug isn't welcome, just a touch on the arm or hand will let them know you care.
So this week I am issueing a challenge to all my readers and clients...go forth and make a difference! Smile and hug people. Create the happiest little corner on earth.
If you come in for a massage, be prepared for a hug.
Just for fun, you might want to watch some videos of kids doing hug experiements. Here are a couple of links:
I would love to hear how your week of smiles and hugs went. Please email me or put your experience in the comments below.
You don't actually have knots in muscles. What you do have is a muscle, or group of muscle fibers that is not working properly and in a constant state of contraction, or spasm. The usual places that most people feel knots are upper neck, top of the shoulders, next to the shoulder blade near the spine, low back and in the butt muscle, but knots or trigger points can be found anywhere in the body.
Muscle fibers are long strands of tissue that connect and move bones. These fibers contract and lengthen with use and slide along side each other. When a fiber constricts and stays shortened, it can interfere with the function of surrounding fibers. The constriction causes swelling, inflammation and pain. This swelling is what your massage therapist is feeling and what causes you pain when the area is touched or moved.
When you have a muscle or group of muscle fibers within a muscle that have shortened and are not functioning correctly, it can result in loss of blood flow, lymph drainage and can affect movement. Protein fibers from the muscles can actually intertwine between fibers and they “hook” onto each other, restricting their sliding action. Studies have been done that show trigger points to have a build up of waste products such as lactic acid, pyruvic acid, protein build up from over use of the muscle and the break down of glycogen that feeds muscle tissue. With a lack of circulation waste products can't move out of the area and allow renewal of fresh blood and nutrients to the muscle. This can lead to a larger and more painful trigger point.
Compression of a trigger point helps to release fascia, the thin layer surrounding the muscle and individual fibers and forces elongation of the muscle releasing the spasm and also forces the waste products from the area allowing fresh blood and nutrients in. Accupuncture is another affective technique for treating trigger points. Depending on the size and length of time the muscle has been in a “knot”, will determine whether the trigger point will be chronic or short-term.
Massage to loosen muscles, Trigger Point to address individual problem areas, strengthening muscles with exercise and stretching muscles will help to keep “knots” at a minimum. Relaxing techniques such as meditation and biofeedback or just plain getting out in nature and moving your body will help with stress levels and a lowered level of stress helps the body be more relaxed and supple instead of tight and constricted.
Have you experienced a "knot" and what kind of treatment did you get that worked?
I get asked all the time what is the proper treatment for pain and injury and it all depends on several things:
- How old is the injury?
- Is there bruising and/or swelling?
- Is is soft tissue or bone?
There is a rule of thumb that says that immediately after an injury to apply Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE). Doing this will usually help the healing and prevent additional swelling, except in the case of a broken bone. Apply the ice, but get to a doctor and make sure a bone isn't broken!
If an injury is older than 24 hours, my personal opinion is that you have several choices but it depends on what type of injury it is.
Bruising - Applying ice to a bruised area will only cause blood to continue pooling in that area, but heat can cause swelling and more bruising. My recommendation is to do an ice massage. Freeze water in a Dixie cup and rub the area for at least 20 minutes. It will be cold and red. This does two things; it brings new blood into the area with more oxygen and nutrients for the tissues and it helps the old blood flow out and take away inflammation.
Swelling without bruising is usually helped better by ice compresses, but if movement is restricted, I would use the ice massage because just ice will cause tissue to contract and tighten.
Pain without bruising or swelling - I tend to believe that we all react differently to cold and heat. I prefer heat because I don't like to be cold, but that might not be the case for you. If you prefer cold, use cold. If you don't know, try one or the other and see how your body responds. Soaking in a hot tub with 2 cups of Epsom salts will help or using a heating pad.
If you have a bone bruise, it is going to take a long time to heal regardless of what you use, so just be patient. Soft tissue heals faster, especially if you begin treatment as soon as you are hurt.
Icy Hot and treatments like it are, in my opinion, worthless. There are ingredients, like menthol or wintergreen, that cause a mild chemical reaction on the skin and make tissues feel hot or cold. It isn't actually reaching beyond the surface of the skin. It is a placebo effect.
Aspirin helps with pain and swelling. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc) is a muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory. This means that it actually helping the healing process and reducing pain. I am also a fan of natural treatments like Traumeel, Arnica oil, etc. These have natural ingredients that are absorbed by the body and help with pain and swelling. I have used Traumeel on a client with a bad ankle sprain and it took the bruising out and reduced the swelling. Both will reduce pain.
The best thing you can do with any injury is start with ice and then listen to your body and reduce your activity or movement until you feel better. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or friendly massage therapist :)
What works best for you when you get hurt?