Monthly Archives: June 2009

Core Strengthening Part 1 of 3

Core strengthening is not just limited to working your abdominal muscles by doing crunches. It also includes exercising other muscles that help stabilize and strengthen your back, trunk, pelvis and hips. In this three part series, I will be writing about three different muscles that I like to encourage my Seattle Treatment Massage clients to strengthen if I find they are weak. Strengthening these muscles is a great addition to any core workout program.

The first core muscles we are going to talk about are the hip flexors. This muscle group consist of three muscles; the iliacus, psoas major and the rectus femoris. The responsibility of the hip flexors are to bring the thigh towards the abdomen. When these muscles are weak, the hips can tilt forward and contribute to an extreme curve in your lower back. This is commonly known as a sway back or lumbar lordosis. Someone with lumbar lordosis can have quite a bit of low back pain.

I am introducing you to two levels of exercises to help strengthen your hip flexors. Do the first level of exercises for a few weeks until you feel the front-upper part of your hips and thighs become stronger, then incorporate the level 2 exercise.

PHASE ONE Exercisepelvic tilt – Pelvic Tilt
1. Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Starting by flattening your low back.
3. Tighten your buttocks and lift your hips up off the floor.
4. Lift until your lower back is totally flat on the floor and your hips are totally off the floor.
5. Breathe out when you lift your hips and breath in and lower your hips.
6. Start off with 10-20 of these depending on your strength.
7. Do this twice a day.
PHASE TWO Exercise – Single Leg Pelvic Tilt
This exercise is similar to the pelvic tilt exercise above. If this exercise is difficult for you go back and just do the Phase One exercise for a week more and then try again.
1. Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Starting by flattening your low back.
3. Raise your left foot a few inches off the ground.
4. Tighten the front of your right thigh and hip and lift your hip up off the floor.
5. Lift until your lower back is totally flat on the floor.
6. Breathe out when you lift your hips and breath in when you lower your hips.
7. Repeat with the other foot and opposite hip.
8. Alternate raising each foot, start off with 10-20  of these depending on your strength.
6. Do this twice a day along with the Phase One exercise.

The intention with strengthening these muscle is to help correct that forward pelvic tilt and bring more stability to your core so that your back gets some assistance with being upright and moving.

Stay tuned for next week and the second part in this three part series. We will learn about the adductors. Thank you for reading, PJ Harris, LMP.


Can Massage Help Heal Tendinitis?

elbow2I am going to give you all a quick rundown of information regarding Tendinitis. This injury can be successfully treated with patience, diligence and even massage.

Tendinitis is inflammation (swelling) of the tendon. A tendon is the type of tissue that connects muscle to bone.

* Heat and swelling
* Referred pain
* Burning and/or sharp pain

* Repetitive motion, overuse
* Tendon/muscle weakness
* Poor posture
* Sprains or strains are often accompanied by Tendinitis

Four Types of Tendinitis (symptoms)
1. Painful after activity
2. Painful at the beginning, goes away during and then returns after activity
3. Painful beginning, during and after activity and might inhibit said activity
4. Painful with all activity and is getting worse

Treatment Tips
1. Ask your doctor to give you an actual diagnosis
2. Ice after activity
3. Rest from causing activity
4. Massage
5. Painless stretches given to you from a Health Practitioner
6. Strengthening exercises given to you from a Health Practitioner

Some believe that deep friction massage helps stimulate collagen production in the damaged fibers. Others believe that using massage to break up the scar tissue is the key to healing Tendinitis. Either way, massage is most beneficial in the treatment of Tendinitis. Don’t wait, get relief. PJ Harris, LMP

Beware of Treatment Overload

Have you had chronic pain for a while and are ready to do something about it? Are you fed up with ignoring your pain glass-300x300in hopes that it will go away? Are you fired up to take action and do what ever you can to heal your body? That is a great mindset to be in to make a change in your life. It often is what is required to help yourself light that fire and make a difference.

Often clients come to my Seattle Treatment Massage practice and they are motivated with a capital “M” to break their cycle of pain. Those clients are usually the ones who progress the fastest. They do their exercise homework. They focus on better posture. They make their health a top priority. All of this is inspiring and quite effective.

They also might start seeing many different practitioners to address all of the causes of their pain and nip this in the bud. The  outcome of that approach can create, if one is not careful, what I call Treatment Overload. This happens when the client is spending so much time going to tons of appointments that they get burned out. They feel overwhelmed and possibly frustrated when they are not healing as fast as they would like. They then might swing to the other end of the spectrum and quit all kinds of treatment entirely.

Be very careful and balanced in your health approach. When dealing with an issue of chronic (long term) or acute (recent) pain it is important that you make decisions coming from a grounded space. I often will suggest that a client , unless it will be a detriment to their health, limit the amount of practitioners they are seeing to 2-3 at a time. It is also important to question the validity of a course of treatment that seems to not be providing results. Do not be afraid to ask your practitioner questions regarding their intention with their choice of treatment for you. Remember you are the leader of your health team.

Thank you for reading. PJ Harris, LMP.

Another Frequent Culprit of Shoulder and Neck Pain

Do you have pain on the tops of your shoulders? Do you find the more you feel stress the higher your shoulders climb or are you feeling like atlas with the weight of the world on them? This is a common occurrence in this high paced electronic age we are in. The more we invent gadgets to make our lives easier, the more complicated life seems to get. Today’s post is going to offer you a few simple ways to “shrug off” your stress.

up trapsWhen you feel tension and pain in the top of your shoulders that sometimes will run all the way up your neck, one of the main muscle reacting is your Trapezius.  I believe the whole body is involved when we exhibit poor posture, but in particular, the muscle we are addressing in this post is a part of the Trapezius called the UPPER Trapezius. One of the functions of the UPPER Trapezius is shrugging or raising your shoulders. When you keep your shoulders slightly raised or as I like to say “wear them as earrings,” this causes an amazing amount of stress on them.

So here are a stretching and breathing exercise you can do to provide upper shoulderShoulder Stretch relief:

* STRETCH – To help decrease stress in your shoulders and the sides of your neck, there is a very simple stretch you can do right there in your chair. Put your feet flat on the floor, grab the underside of your chair seat, and slowly tilt your head to the side. Breathe and hold stretch for at least 20 seconds. Remember to stretch both sides.


* BREATHE – Start to bring more awareness to your shoulder posture. Are you finding that they are raised up often? When you notice they are raised, do this simple breathing exercise:
 1. Take a deep breath in and raise your shoulders up as high as they can go.
 2. Move your shoulders as far back as they can go.
 3. Breathe out and drop your shoulders at the same time.
This should all flow in a semi-circular motion.

Both of these tips have helped many of my Seattle Treatment Massage clients decrease their shoulder and neck pain and tension. If they help you or if you have a question, leave a comment. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP.