Wednesday, July 24, 2019

At-Home Massage Tips and Product Guide

Whether you’re a massage pro or a beginner, an at-home massage is a fantastic way to relax. Not only does it comes with the general benefits of a massage including improved circulation and pain reduction, but it also comes with the comfort of being in your own home. Here are some of our top tips for at-home massage techniques.

Take your time.
Slow down and focus on areas that feel tense. Try to think of areas that might be tighter than others. For example, do you often sit hunched over a desk, causing neck and shoulder pain? Perhaps you work out often and experience a lot of muscle tension in your legs? Take time to tend to the areas that need it most. Remember, it’s a massage, not a race!

Create a relaxing environment. 
Turn down the lighting and put on some soft music. Burn a candle with a relaxing scent or use an essential oil diffuser. Although you aren’t at a spa, it’s important make your surroundings as pleasant and soothing as possible. After all, the goal of a massage is to relieve stress and tension.

Avoid pinching or grabbing muscles.
The goal of a massage is to relax muscles, not injure them. Like with exercise, muscles need to be warmed up before the use of intense pressure. Use your whole hand to begin the massage. Keep your fingers together as you warm up the muscles for a few minutes. Then, slowly, you can begin to knead as necessary.

Listen to the body.
Whether you are massaging yourself or someone else, it’s important to continually check-in. If you’re massaging yourself, be mindful of the sensations you feel. If you’re massaging someone else, frequently ask them how they feel. Don’t be afraid to lighten up on the pressure, apply more massage product or take a break if needed. Listening is one of the most important components of massage.

Use the right massage product.
It’s important to use the right product for a successful at-home massage. Between lotions and creams, it can get confusing to find an option that is best suited for your needs. Premax offers a variety of versatile, high-quality massage tools. Created by spots physiotherapist Randall Cooper, these products are perfect for your at-home massage arsenal. We’ll take you through the best ways to use each Premax product.

For a quick massage, lotion is your best choice. Its lightweight formula quickly absorbs into the skin, making for a mess-free massage. Lotion is also perfect for targeting dry areas because of its moisturizing properties. Premax’s non-greasy massage lotion features sweet almond oil and shea butter for soft skin. It’s especially good for giving yourself (or someone else) a luxurious head, face or neck massage at home. Because it has the most amount of glide, we recommend lotion for gentler massage techniques such as Swedish massage.

If you want to try a more in-depth massage, a cream will likely
work better. Because of its thicker consistency, it delivers more resistance than lotion. This feature makes it easy to glide and work on larger surface areas like the back or shoulders without the product sinking into the skin too quickly. Its higher resistance also allows you the freedom to spend more time on tense areas if needed. The Premax Essential Massage Cream is versatile enough for a number of different massage techniques, making it ideal for both massage experts and beginners alike. Ingredients like patchouli and ylang-ylang have a pleasing aroma that soothes the mind in addition to the body.

We know that for sports massage and trigger point therapy, resistance is key. However, it’s just as important to have a product that assists with a smooth glide. The Premax Original Massage Cream offers both in one screw-top jar. Different to Premax’s Essential cream, this thick cream has a firm resistance, great for kneading out those knots at home. If you want to deeply concentrate on one area of the body, this cream works best. It also has a light peppermint and lavender scent, creating a pleasant aromatherapy experience.

Trigger Point Self Massage

Trigger point techniques are used in professional settings to relieve tension, both via massage and dry needling. Here we’ll learn how someone can use trigger point therapy at home, in between therapy appointments.

Who can benefit from manual trigger point therapy?

Trigger points often present as “regional, persistent pain that results in a decreased range of motion of the muscle in question”. It is common for trigger point pain to appear in muscles that maintain posture, during muscle activity. However, trigger points can also present constant pain in rare cases. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s possible that you are dealing with a trigger point related issue.

Due to busy schedules, financial obligations and a variety of other real-world circumstances, it’s unlikely that you are able to fit in an appointment every time you need one to professionally alleviate this sort of muscular tension and stiffness. However, that does not nullify the importance of relieving those muscle knots as soon as they arise, rather than waiting until your schedule permits.

Trigger point techniques are widely used by professionals in order to alleviate body stiffness and tension, but recent studies have shown that a manual or at-home trigger point massage can also be highly effective in terms of pain moderation and tension release. Self-massage for trigger points can also have “superior short-term outcomes” for patients struggling with plantar heel pain, in particular.

Finding trigger points for self-massage

The first step in manual trigger point therapy is understanding where and how to find sensitive spots that will assist in overall pain reduction. The most common physical manifestations of a trigger point are:

  • Hypersensitive area of muscle that may be slightly harder than usual
  • Radiation of pain throughout the area when trigger point is pressed on using fingers or trigger point ball

Tips for at-home trigger point therapy

If you have visited a physician and determined the exact location of your trigger point, trigger point balls can be an excellent tool for providing overall pain reduction by massaging your trigger point. One study compared this sort of trigger point therapy to sham therapy in patients struggling with unilateral shoulder pain caused by pressure points, revealing that the manual trigger point therapy was significantly more effective than the placebo treatment. To use a trigger point ball:

  • Position it on the chosen trigger point
  • For back or glute pain, place the ball between the floor and the trigger point and slowly roll in order to reduce tension
  • For shoulder and upper back, place the ball between a wall and the trigger point
  • For neck pain, use the palm to apply pressure to the ball and roll back and forth

If you can’t exactly determine the trigger point that is the root of your generalized muscle pain, using a trigger point foam roller can provide a self-massage that covers a larger surface area of muscle at a time. In addition to trigger point therapy, this type of foam roller can also be used to assist with:

  • IT Band injuries
  • General muscle tightness
  • Exercise recovery
  • Yoga or pilates

For a mixture of the localized pressure from the trigger point ball and the more general massage capabilities of the foam roller, we recommend using a spiky massage ball, whose soft spikes rejuvenate muscle by targeting tension and stimulating blood flow, similar to the effects of a professional sports massage. The spiky massage ball is used in the same way as the trigger point balls, but is often used as well for the treatment of aching feet caused by plantar fasciitis.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Compression Shorts for Adductor Pain and Weakness

Most adults have experienced a strain at some point during their lives; a strain injury can affect any
muscle but is most common in the back, neck, shoulders and legs. Oftentimes, strains are simply referred to as a "pulled muscle", which is an accurate description of what happens during a strain, since a strain is caused by a muscle being stretched beyond capacity.

When you experience a "pulled groin", you’ve stretched the muscles that are also known as the hip adductors. There are three muscles that comprise the hip adductor, all of which can potentially be affected by a sports injury.
The adductor muscles are responsible for thigh adduction and rotation, as well as proper extension of the hip. An adductor strain is most common in sports such as soccer, hockey, tennis, sprinting, rugby and baseball. That's because the adductor muscle group becomes most challenged when rotation occurs, typically during a sudden movement when an athlete changes direction or kicks a ball using the inside of their foot. During actions such as these, the groin muscles have to contract to generate oppositional forces, which places a significant load on the entire adductor complex.

While anyone could potentially suffer an adductor injury, some people are more inclined.

Factors that put you at higher risk for a groin pull include:

  • Sports & activities that require sudden changes in direction
  • Sports & activities that require sudden exaggerated force
  • Weak adductors from chronic under-use
  • Muscle fatigue from overuse
  • Improper stretching
  • Excessive pronation
  • A previous injury
  • Advancing age

Exercises to Strengthen the Adductor Complex

While injuries are never 100 percent preventable, there are ways to protect yourself. Stretching and strengthening your muscles while focusing on small as well as large muscle groups, are an integral part of staying fit and healthy.
Since your adductor complex is comprised of several individual muscles, there are a range of exercises available to you. Creating a strong and flexible hip will help you to not only prevent injuries during workouts but also in your day to day activities.

Adductor Squeeze

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • With a Pilates ring or exercise ball between your thighs, bring your knees together slowly for 5 seconds before relaxing
  • Repeat for several minutes

Forward, Backward & Side Lunges

  • Forward Lunging
  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a confident step forward onto your right leg
  • Shift your weight forward
  • Begin to bend your knees, taking care not to extend your right knee beyond your right toe
  • Lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Press the right heel into the ground to return to a standing position
  • Repeat using other leg

Backward Lunging

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a confident step backward onto your right leg
  • Shift your weight forward
  • Keeping your knee positioned directly over your ankle, lower your hips until your right thigh is parallel to the floor
  • Drive back up through the heel
  • Repeat using other leg

Side Lunging

  • Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a slow step out to the side with your right leg
  • With toes pointed forward, shift your weight to the right
  • Keeping your left leg straight, lower your hips so that your right knee does not extend past your toes
  • Push through your right heel to return to your starting position
  • Repeat using other leg

Groin Stretch

  • Take a wide stance
  • With your toes pointed slightly outward at a comfortable ankle, drop your hips
  • Keeping your chest up, use your elbows to push your knees out and back while relaxing into this position

Hip Extension

  • Beginning on all fours, shift your weight to the left and raise your right leg up behind you
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds before releasing and switching to the other leg

  • This exercise can also be performed using light to medium strength resistance tubing or a resistance band.

Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Begin this stretch as you would a lunge, taking a large step forward with your right knee
  • Kneel with your left knee on the floor, creating a 90 degree angle with the leg in front of you
  • With your palms on your lower back, slightly arch your back while sinking into your hip
  • Lean forward into your hip while engaging your core and buttock
  • Hold for 30 seconds, Repeat using other leg

Lateral Jumping

  • With feet slightly apart and knees bended to a squat position, push upward through the heels to jump side to side
  • Jump over tape on the floor
  • Jump to two opposing cones
  • Jump over a small obstacle
  • Jump onto a plyobox
  • Perform at 30- to 60-second intervals

Strain Management

A strain should be managed with rest, ice, compression and proper physical therapy. You can further alleviate pain and discomfort associated with a strain by taking an analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Alongside stretching and range of motion exercises, physical rehabilitation for strains can also include resistance and strength training exercises. Most people recover from strains within 1-2 months, however, everyone is different and proper medical supervision is advised.

Products for Groin Pain & Weakness

Athletes who are at high risk for adductor injuries can benefit from directional compression shorts, both for the prevention and during the treatment of groin strains. Thermoskin athletic compression shorts are endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, and are designed to help treat and prevent adductor injuries. These shorts are also ideal for athletes or active people who need additional support for their quadricep muscles, the lower back and hamstrings.
Thermoskin's athletic compression shorts work by applying even compression to tissues without becoming constrictive or uncomfortable. They can be worn for long periods of time and fit well under clothing including work pants.

Combating the Sedentary Workday

Whether you're at a desk all day or your work is more physically demanding, you're putting stress on your body. The wear and tear of even small repetitive movements can culminate in pains, strains, and a variety of short- and long-term health problems. In this blog post, we'll talk about how a sedentary lifestyle is affecting our health and how we can combat the effects with the help of everyday changes.

More and more of us are experiencing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. While you may make time in your life to exercise regularly, you probably spend the majority of your workday in some kind of office or indoor environment. New studies have found that if you're spending much of your workday sitting around, you're not just increasing your risk of obesity, but a range of other illnesses as well, including cancer, kidney, lung and liver disease, digestive disorders, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, nervous disorders and musculoskeletal disorders.
Daily and continual small movements such as typing also contribute to repetitive strain injuries such as Carpal Tunnel, furthering the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle. Who knew spending so much time in the safety of an air-conditioned space could prove to be so dangerous?

You don't have to give up your desk job to improve your health. Here are some things you can do to combat the sedentary workday:

Take regular breaks
We're all busy at work, and there's nothing like the satisfying feeling of a good work flow. But if you've been at your desk in the same position for over an hour, it's time for a break.

Taking a break to move and stretch can be beneficial in as little as two to five minutes. Additionally, looking away from your screen periodically helps to prevent eye fatigue, also known as Digital Eye Strain, which can lead to common workday problems such as headaches, shoulder pain and neck stiffness.
Stepping away from your computer regularly has also been shown to boost productivity, so if you're one of the many people who avoid taking breaks due to fear of falling behind schedule, rest assured that your workday intermissions can actually increase how much you'll get done.

Practice good posture
Your mother always told you to sit up straight, and now science is telling us the same thing: good posture minimises excessive force on your joints and reduces aches and pains.
To get good posture in the workplace, a proper chair is paramount; avoid sitting in bucket seats, on couches or any other seat that causes your pelvis to rock back or forward into a slouch.
When typing, make sure you practice proper form, including keeping the wrists straight and in line with your hands. This means allowing your wrists to float rather than resting them on the desk. You can also use a wrist rest to accomplish this, and ensuring that your chair and desk are both in the proper position will allow you to type comfortably like this until your next break.
Avoid using a laptop and finding unconventional places to work; while that beanbag chair might look tempting and can be a nice place to rest, it’s not a proper workplace seating arrangement.
Lastly, make sure your feet are able to rest comfortably on the ground. If you don't have an adjustable table to work at to achieve the proper balance between flat feet, supported back and straight wrists, try using a pillow and/or footstool.
Proper form when typing helps you to avoid a range of short-term aches and chronic conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition caused by nerve compression, which becomes irreversible over time. If you are currently already experiencing pain, numbness or tingling in your forearms, wrists or fingers, making the right adjustments to your posture and wearing a supportive wrist brace can help you to reverse the damage while there's still time.

Stretch and take time to exercise
A regular break at work and good posture while sitting are critical steps to staying healthy at a desk job, but nothing beats shaking off the workday like regular exercise. Exercise has been shown to contribute to healthy weight, longevity and an overall sense of wellbeing. Strength training, low-impact cardio and stretching are all important components of regular exercise, and there are endless ways in which you can engage your body in healthy movement. Whether you enjoy the gym, you prefer the outdoors or you thrive on alternative activities such as dancing, trapeze or geocaching, there's an activity out there for you.

Learn more about how to make stretching, exercise and healthy living a part of your daily habits.