Flip flops *sigh*...they’re convenient, inexpensive and summer-y. It would be nice if they were great for your feet too! Flip flops are linked to many issues ranging from inefficient shock absorption to instability and over-pronation. They also mess with your natural gait pattern by interfering with the Windlass Mechanism. This mechanism refers to your metatarsophalangeal joint (1st knuckle of your big toe) extending to allow your plantar fascia to tighten in order to create a rigid lever for propulsion. By throwing off your feet as you walk, flip flops can throw off your full body—leading to a whole host of issues. So make sure you’re not going on any long, arduous walks or over-relying on those flip flops this summer!
Hiking downhill is always a little precarious for the knees. Not only are compression forces higher on the knee joint when moving downhill, but the patella (aka kneecap) can also be pulled laterally and medially furthering any chance of pain. Hiking poles are my favorite way to combat the high impact. :)
Don't tell the etiquette police, but I believe posture should be judged good/bad by the stress and imbalance it creates in the body. Case in point: sitting cross-legged. Lots of us have a favorite leg to cross, which means we probably have one side of the pelvis that hikes up and one side of the low back that's tightened (namely the quadratus lumborum muscle aka the "hip hiker"). Our bodies want to maintain equilibrium so in response to the hiked pelvis, we'll tilt our shoulders and upper spine the opposite way to make sure our eyes and ears stay level. So I guess sitting like a princess is both good etiquette and better for postural balance!
You know that feeling when your shoulders are up to your ears and you feel like you haven't actually taken a breath in an hour? It usually accompanies stress and anxiety. Shallow, chest breathing overtaxes muscles like the pectoralis minor, scalenes and serratus anterior and posterior as they work to elevate the ribs on inhalation. If you're guilty of this habit, try breathing into your belly and imagine your ribs expanding laterally, anteriorly/posteriorly and superiorly.
Who would've thought a muscle so close to the ground would be considered the "second heart"?! Our soleus muscles are so important for healthy venous blood return! Watch out though, because the soleus muscles can be underactive due to a sedentary lifestyle. They can also be overactive due to compensation patterns, as they can work extra hard to stabilize us in a standing position when other stabilizing muscles are inhibited. Keep those soleus muscles strong and healthy...your circulation will thank you!
Get a grip! Hold your tongue! Shrug it off! Exerting willpower seems like a mental task, but it turns out that our physical bodies are very much involved in keeping us in line and acting appropriately. According to a 2011 study called "From Firm Muscles to Firm Willpower: Understanding the Role of Embodied Cognition in Self-Regulation", the action of clenching muscles helps us to deal with physical pain, withstand unpleasant experiences, and overcome temptation. This may make us better and healthier consumers, but it also means that we need to be mindful of the tension patterns we create with these subtle, repetitive clenching habits.
Who says you can't be an English AND a science person?!? Sometimes treating a client with pain is like uncovering the complicated plot of a story. You've got to consider all the characters or else you're missing out on discovering the truth behind the conflict. Here we look at the example of tight quads.
Empowerment beyond the massage table...
As a bodyworker and teacher, I love helping to educate people about their bodies. I think our relationship to our bodies is vitally important to our mental health. This blog features a few tools, articles, and fun facts to help you empower your body :) -Emily