Posts Tagged ‘neck pain relief’

By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Don’t have time to exercise? Working long hours at a computer or desk?  Then this set of easy yoga poses may be for you!

Easy Desktop Yoga is a CD with a series of video exercises based on yoga, and designed specifically for computer users. International yoga instructor, Juliet Lee, demonstrates easy modified yoga exercises to calm, invigorate, or relax.

Pop the CD into your computer and choose from more than 20 yogic exercises.  Each one can be done in just a few minutes, so they are easy to incorporate into your workday.  Easy Desktop Yoga CD-ROM comes complete with a reminder program to help remind you when it’s time to take a break and stretch!

Note: One of our clients purchased the DVD and found it only works for PCs not Apple computers.

What You Get on the Easy Desktop Yoga CD

Office Warm Up (four exercises) Easy Desktop Yoga Cover
Breath Stretch
Seated Sun Salutation
Modified Sun Salutation
Moon Pose
Lunge Pose
Hip Rotation
Knee Rotation
Right Angle Pose
Neck Stretch
Lion Pose
Eye Exercise
Upper Body Twist
Upper Body Stretch
Shoulder Roll
Modified Camel Pose
Modified Cat and Dog Poses
Forward Bend

Purchase your very own Easy Desktop Yoga program here.

Check out the free download for a sample: neck stretch 2 min video here.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

I like to think of myself as not only a good massage therapist but also a good judge of massage therapists. I’ve had thousands of massages and given thousands of massages. As the owner of a wellness company, I interview many massage therapists and receive regular massage myself. Often, when clients travel or move out of town, they ask me how to find a good massage therapist.

It’s a question very similar to “how do I find a good dentist or a good doctor”. Since massage is a personal service, my first impulse is to say, ask your friends and coworkers who they go to and start there. But then, we’ve all had referrals to service people that our friends liked that were not a good fit for us. (One person may like a deep massage and you may like a lighter touch or vice versa. One person’s fantastic hair stylist may be great for that person but be unable to cut your style of hair well.)

Before you search out massage therapists, take a minute to think about what you want from a massage experience. Then when you call different therapists or massage centers, ask questions to make sure you get the massage therapist that best fits your needs.

Good questions to consider:

1. Are you going for stress relief or pain relief or both? Swedish massage or “relaxation massage” tends to be best for stress relief. Deep tissue or therapeutic massage tends to be best for pain relief. If you have a specific injury or chronic pain pattern, you will want a massage therapist with skill in relieving muscle pain, not just in relaxation therapy.

2. What’s your budget for massage?
Can you afford a weekly full hour (prices ranging from $65 to $120) or only mini-sessions (like the 15-20 minute $1 per minute chair massages offered at Whole Foods and similar places). If you have a chronic neck and shoulder pain, it’s often more cost effective to get weekly 20-minute massages than a one hour once a month.

3. Do you want someone you can go to regularly or just on a pamper yourself basis?
Spas tend to charge the most for massages and tend to be the place people go for pampering. However, some independent massage therapists may be able to offer you better prices and a really personalized pampering experience. Spas charge the most but they will give you the whole pamper yourself experience. However, if you want a regular massage your best bet is to find a good practitioner that is reasonably priced. If you can’t afford an hour regularly, try chair massage for 15-20 minutes if you want more frequent upper body massages.

4. How much do you care about the quality of the massage?
If you just want someone to pamper you and rub oil on your back while you relax and snooze away your stress, you don’t need someone with extensive experience or medical massage training. If you want someone to help you recover from an injury or deal with a chronic tension issue, you will likely want someone with a good deal of experience and skill working with similar conditions. Make sure you massage therapist meets minimal licensing and certifications standards if you want more than just relaxation massage!

5. Do you want the whole massage enchilada: the robe, slippers, the soothing music and spa environment? Or do you care more about the environment or more about the actual massage?

For the slippers and robe, go to a spa like Urban Oasis or Exhale in Chicago. For a great therapeutic massage, it’s more important to find a good practitioner. Use the locator services below and then speak with the therapist about his or her skill before you commit to the appointment.

Massage Locator Services
My top sources for great massage therapists are massage locator services (versus Google or any other search engine). Massage therapists that register with these services must meet minimum standards of training, normally 500 hours or more and have graduated from an accredited massage school.

One of the best is the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals massage practioner site here.

Massage Today also has a great service as well here.

Insider Pages is a review site that provides user comments about massage and spa services.

How Do I know if My Massage Therapist is Qualified?
In the State of Illinois, Licensed Massage Therapists are required by law to have at least 500 hours of training and graduate from an approved school. You can look up your therapists to see if he or she is licensed at this site. This site will also display a Y or N to indicate whether the massage therapist has ever undergone disciplinary action by the state of Illinois’s Department of Financial and Processional Regulation.

Other states vary in requirements. Some states do not require a license at all and allow municipalities to regulate massage. For example, in California, there is no state license. Hours of training required vary depending on the city. So some therapists in Northern California only have 100 hour of actual massage training! The Truth About California Massage Licensing here. However, at the other end of the spectrum is New York State, which requires 1000 hours of training. New York Licensing Requirements here

Still Unsure, Try a Sample Massage
Lastly, if you want to try a sample massage, your best bet is to try a chair massage at Whole Foods Gold Coast or Lincoln Park in Chicago. Or at a local health food store or mall. You can get a few minutes of massage, determine if the therapists fits your needs, then ask for his or her business card to set up a longer massage!

If you have questions about Chicago area massage therapists, feel free to contact Working Well Massage here!

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by Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Through the years I’ve had a number of massage therapy clients say things like, “I know it has to hurt to be effective,” and “no pain no gain, right?” Actually, massage does not, and should not ,“hurt” to be effective. In fact, if the massage you are receiving is so painful you have to grit your teeth or hold your breath, it likely isn’t going to be very effective.

The idea that we have to experience pain in order to heal is a holdover from the 1980’s when people were “going for the burn” and many bodywork modalities were just starting to take root. Some massage therapy schools of thought held that people were experiencing deep emotional breakthroughs if they cried out or had an emotional “release” during a particularly intense bodywork session. This led to the idea that you HAD to have a deep emotional outburst or had to feel pain to have a really “good” bodywork experience.

Since then, somatic psychology and bodywork has matured. As have bodywork practitioners. Many realize that, especially for people that have already had a physical trauma such as a car accident or injury, the body has already been through deep trauma. Working too deep, giving too much pressure, or expecting clients to have radical transformation from a single session can be retraumatizing.

Some massage therapists still hold to the belief that trigger points need intense compression to release the knot. Sometimes this is true. But holding a trigger point for too long, or pressing too deeply into a sore muscle area can cause more pain and damage than healing. (Trigger points are areas of the muscles that have a cluster of muscular adhesions or “knots” that refer pain elsewhere when compressed.)

Good Pain Versus Bad Pain
Does that mean that massage should be painless? Well herein lies the rub (pun intended). Massage is not painless any more than working out is painless. There can be muscle soreness. When we first press on a sore or extremely tight muscle area, there may be tenderness or soreness. We call this “good pain” similar to the soreness you may experience when you lift weights or do a prolonged cardio session. However, if you are working out and you “pull” a muscle or sprain your ankle, that would be “bad pain.” That type of pain indicates an injury to the tissue and requires medical attention. Muscle soreness during an exercise or massage session is not abnormal and can indicate that healing is occurring.

What About Soreness?
When a tight muscle is massaged, at first you may notice the sensation of soreness or tenderness. Initially you become more aware of that muscle area and that may include an awareness of just how very tight and sore the muscle is. Then as the massage therapist continues to work with the muscle tissue, fresh blood flows into the muscle area as the therapist presses down (as in compressions or gliding strokes). This fresh blood helps “loosen” the muscle tissue and also helps bring nutrients and oxygen into the muscle. At this point, especially in a deep tissue massage, you will likely notice less soreness in the area. If the muscle gets more and more sore, the massage therapist may be overworking the area and it’s best if you tell him or her to stop massaging that area and to move elsewhere!

That all said, after a deep tissue massage, you may feel some muscle soreness a day or two afterwards, just as you may feel sore after a workout. In essence, a deep tissue massage is like having someone else give your body a workout. Soreness or bruising lasting longer than a day or so may indicate the massage was too intense. Let your massage therapist know if this happens so he or she knows to work with less pressure for your next massage. (If you go back to him or her at all!)

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Smart phones are common tools for today’s fast-paced business world. And just as computer use has improved our lives AND added a host of new ergonomic issues, “iPod Neck” and “Blackberry Neck” are concerns for many users that hold their phones while looking down.

Smart phones are not heavy. You may think holding them won’t cause muscle tension. They are easy to hold in one hand and type with the other. But holding the phone and looking down at the small screen for long periods of time can cause unwanted muscle pain in the upper back and neck. Those that use their iPod’s as a Kindle reader spend even more time looking down while viewing the device.

Think holding a small phone can’t cause any problems? Try this test yourself.

1. Hold your phone up in front of you and look down at the screen for a full 60 seconds.

2. Notice how your neck and shoulders feel as the clock ticks by.

3. Feel any uncomfortability in your muscles?

4. Now think of how you would feel after holding your phone and looking down for five minutes. Ten minutes. You get the idea.

When you use your phone or media player you are usually focusing your attention on the task at hand, not on your muscle tension. Doing this exercise makes you more aware of how you use your body when typing or viewing your smart phone.

Smart phones need smart accessories. How can you counter the muscle strain you may get while holding your iPod or Blackberry to type?

A few simple suggestions to avoid “iPod Neck.”

1. Whenever possible, rest your elbows on a table or surface so that your arms are propped up to view your smart phone. This takes pressure off your neck and shoulder muscles and let’s you work more easily. Resting your elbows on a flat surface is free! And you can take your elbows with you anywhere you go. Just make sure the table or surface is not so slow you have to slump over to reach it!)

Find this inexpensive, portable stand here

2. Purchase an inexpensive Smart phone holder to use to prop up your device when you are on the go.

Tiko Stand

This Tiko Fold is convenient on planes, trains, at the coffee shop or at a desk. Free your hands and relax while viewing your phone or media player at one of nine adjustable viewing angles.

The Tiko Fold folds flat for slipping into a shirt pocket, backpack, computer bag, or purse. When folded into a stand, the Tiko Fold provides a universal base designed to hold the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G, Sony PSP, and practically any portable video players like your cell phone in both vertical and horizontal orientations. The Tiko Fold also holds the iPod Classic, iPod Touch, iPod Nano, BlackBerry Storm, BlackBerry Bold, most video capable cell phones, the Microsoft Zune, Sony PSP and even some ebook readers.

The Tiko stand retails for about $8.00 and can be purchased here here

3. Another alternative for holding iPods/iPhones is the Incipio Kickstand Leather Case for iPod touch 2G link here for about $24.00

Leather iPod/iPhone case

Note: Apple makes wrist band holders for iPods but the problem with these is that they still require you to bend your arm in an unnatural position to view the phone or iPod.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Do you get neck and shoulder pain when you drive for long periods? Or do you find that your office chair does not provide enough lumbar and/or upper back support?

Why settle for uncomfortable car seats and office chairs when you can easily upgrade your seating setup with a foam cushion and backrest!

For about $100-$150 you can put together your own “ergo” seating. We’ve reviewed many products out there and found the best prices and reviews on Amazon. You may be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere, but you will pay about 10-30% more from other vendors.

To save you time, we pasted the links and pictures of the products in a few separate posts about backrests and seat cushions. Find the situation that describes your issue (you are taller than average, shorter than average, of wider girth than average, etc.) and read the associated post to find out about the product we think may help you best.

We also included pertinent tips from the Amazon customer reviews so you don’t have to wade through them yourself. However, if you want to read all the reviews yourself, simply go to the link and check out the customer reviews.

One thing to keep in mind when fitting your chair with lumbar and other support, is that you need to make sure your upper back is still in contact with the seat back. According to our ergonomic experts, with a small pillow or half cushion in your lumbar region, you may actually be putting too much of a curve into your low back and forcing your upper back to hunch forward.

First off, a top-rated seat cushion for back support that extends beyond a simple lumbar cushion is the:

Obus Ultra Forme Backrest

On Amazon for $59.99

Orbus Ultra Forme BackRest

According to the manufacturer:
• Clinically proved to reduce lower back pain by 50%
• Designed for back pain sufferers, including those with chronic an severe back pain
• Encourages proper alignment between pelvis and spine
• Improves circulation and reduces pressure on the back
• Patented “S” shaped frame of backrest helps prevent & relieve back pain
• Small, medium and large sizes available

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• These are easy to use and really improve your posture, keeping your back pain free, especially on those long road trips.

• This seat works to put your whole spine in an optimum curve. It is not just a lumbar support.

• This product does force you to sit up straight, which in turn prevents you from slouching your shoulders. This may be somewhat uncomfortable at first, but it sure beats the back pain that I get from leaning back or slouching over in my chair too long.

• It’s not like a super comfort back cushion, but it serves to straight your position and gives you relief. I don’t ever feel back pain when I have this on my chair and my co-workers complain alot about their pain.

• It’s not a cushion, it really a nice back support. It’s like the way I described, a board with foam on it and it can be very comforting. I recommend this product for anyone who works in an office all day. Its a must have and it has straps for you to strap to your chair.

• Long torso people may need the large size versus the medium.

• Another reviewer gave the actual dimensions to make product ordering easier:

Obus Forme Ultra Backrest Dimensions:

Approx. (H X L X W and Weight)
Small Obus Ultra Forme Backrest – 25 x 12.5 x 3.25 — 2.8 lbs
Medium Obus Ultra Forme Backrest – 26 x 12.5 x 3.5 — 3 lbs
LargeObus Ultra Forme Backrest – 28.5 x 12.5 x 3.75 — 3.2 lbs

Obus Forme Ultra Backrest Recommendations:
Ultra Forme Backrest Size Chart:
SMALL Backrest – Under 5’2″
MEDIUM Backrest – 5’2″ – 6’2″
LARGE Backrest – Over 6’2″

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