Tag: muscle tension

Ice is Nice, but it can be Even Better

Most people know to ice as soon as possible after sustaining an injury, but did you know that if you ice correctly, you can often avoid more serious injury? By serious injury I mean the kind that causes recurring pain for weeks or more and won’t go away with just rest. The key is simple – as soon as you can, ice in a stretched position and ice until you’ve removed all excess heat from the injured area, so that it’s the same temperature as healthy tissue adjacent to the injury.

Icing in a stretched position is critical. For example, if you strained a hamstring, you would place the ice bag directly under the injury and sit on it, on the floor (or 2 chairs), with your leg completely straight and your torso upright against the wall (or chair back). A strained calf could require slightly different stretches: depending on which muscle is injured (there are several). The entire leg could be straight and the foot stretched back toward you with a strap. Or, the knee should be bent while the calf is stretched, and so on. If you’re not sure of the specific stretch for a certain muscle, (or if you don’t know which muscle is injured) ask any of our yoga instructors, personal trainers or massage practitioners.

Briefly, icing in a stretched position achieves two results. First, placing the muscle in a tight stretch causes newly forming scar tissue to be aligned parallel to muscle or tendon fibers. Icing ensures that the scar tissue hardens or cements in this proper alignment. Misaligned scar tissue can result in re-injury: recurring pain with a specific activity. (A massage practitioner trained in injury treatment can help to resolve the issue.) Second, icing until all excess heat is removed diminishes any secondary injury that may be caused by cell death due to lack of oxygen. (Swelling increases interstitial fluid between cells, spreading them farther apart so nutrients have to travel farther to get to cells.) Icing lowers the temperature and slows cell metabolism, decreasing the amount of oxygen needed to survive.

While we’re at it, stretching need not necessarily be part of your warm up. A “warm up” is just that – increasing the temperature in your muscles. A high velocity, low resistance activity is recommended, such as the stationary bike. Spin like crazy (with slight resistance) until you break a sweat – now you’re warmed up. While I recognize that for elite athletes stretching is a mandatory part of their warm up, it’s probably OK for the rest of us to save the stretching until after your athletic activity, when you are at your very warmest.

I’ll finish with a specific incident: while on break during my massage shift I passed one of our trainers in the juice bar. She had just returned from a run and was alarmingly incapacitated, hardly able to walk, and in a great deal of pain. “Bacon!!” she says, “You’ve got to fix me!!” I told her that, as she had just done it, there was nothing for me to fix yet (scar tissue was only just starting to form). I told her to ice herself in a stretched position. When I saw her next, she was lying on her belly, propped up on her elbows, (effectively stretching her hip flexors) resting on a bag of ice at her upper thigh/groin region. The very next day, she was moving with only the slightest limitation and fully recovered, needing no further treatment.

It’s a New Year! Time to Really Take Care of Yourself.

The time has come for those New Year resolutions to be enacted in full-effect! This is the best time of year to get connected with our amazing massage staff here at the SAC, start off the year off on a “good- well-massaged foot”. I tell most of my clients to listen to what there bodies need as the best guide to tell when they are due for a massage. For some, that is once a month and others, once a week.

We all need some good endorphins every so often, I tend to keep a bar of chocolate in my bag at all times and get a good massage every 2-3 weeks. It helps keep the cortisol levels down and the levels of serotonin and dopamine elevated. Researchers have also found increased levels of oxytocin and white blood cells!

If you are looking for a good New Year resolution, getting regular massage definitely fits the bill! If you have any questions about massage or the SAC’s massage staff, feel free to ask questions! Contact Jessie Jo Egersett at jegersett@sacdt.com or 206-443-1111 ext. 276. To book a massage just talk to our friendly front desk staff or go to the Member Reservation link at www.sacdt.com.

What do Snap, Crackle and Pop Have to do with Your Health?

Have you ever wondered what that sound is when your neck or knee or any part of your body pop’s and cracks? I know I have! Here is a brief explanation of what could be happening in your body when is makes some unexpected or rather common sounds of the popping nature.

Gases are making an escape!
Because the inside of the joint is primarily synovial fluid, (think the inside of chewels chewing gum) a wonderful fluid to keep the joint lubricated. It can have a tendency to become full of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. Weird huh? When you stretch the joint capsule via movement it will pop or crack to release the gas build up or bubbles that can occur in a joint.

Tendon or Ligament slippage
Sometimes, (maybe more for some of you due to your own special anatomy….) when you move a joint a tendon/ligament placement will change and it might move over a boney area causing a popping or snapping sound. This is pretty common in ankles, knees and wrists due to the many things that are gliding over one another.

Bumpy spots
Arthritic areas make tons of sound due to the lack of smooth cartilage and lack of fluid in the joints.

Should you be worried when a joint pops, cracks or snaps? I would generally say no. Unless there is pain with the sounds then it’s nothing to be too concerned about. However, if there is pain it would be best to consult your doc to get a better clue about the cause.