Relief From Shoulder Pain

A Simple Self-Treatment For The Infraspinatus Muscle

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

This summer has been HOT! HOT! HOT!

HotHigh temperature records were broken not just in the USA, but all over the world!  The funny thing is it was sometimes hotter up north than down here in Florida.  A snowbird client came in several weeks ago and told me they came back to Florida because they don’t have central air in their house up north (never needed it before).  That’s pretty incredible.

Now, I won’t say it’s cool outside, but September is not quite as hot as the summer months.  Which brings me to my treatment of the month – shoulder pain.

With it so hot I believe that a lot of people are getting relief be being in a pool, or a lake, or the ocean.  People are enjoying swimming, and if you are swimming a lot, you could easily get shoulder pain. There is a muscle called the Infraspinatus that is a key muscle for swimmers, so let’s chat about it.

A Swimmer’s Nemesis And Power – The Infraspinatus Muscle

This is what the back of your left shoulder looks like if you took off your skin – fascinating!

There are 16 muscles that all insert into your shoulder, each pulling your arm in a different direction.  Each is important and you use them all every day. But we won’t go into all of them this month, we’re just looking at the large muscle inside the red circle.  (I’m not an artist so saying “circle” is just using creative license – LOL)

This is the Infraspinatus, which originates on the surface of your shoulder blade (the scapula). It inserts into the tip of your arm bone (the humerus), and when it contracts it pulls your arm back.

Think of taking a tennis serve, or doing a backstroke in the pool, and you can visualize the movement this muscle makes.

How A Muscle Works To Move A Joint

Did you ever play “tug of war” with a stick and rope when you were young?  Basically, that’s how muscles work together to move our joints.  When the side that is on the right is pulling on the rope, the stick moves to the right. The only way the stick moves in the opposite direction, in this analogy it moves toward the left, is the right side needs to stop pulling and the left side starts to pull. When that happens, the stick moves toward the left.

This is exactly what happens in our body when we want to move a joint. Two muscles insert into a bone that is at the joint.  One muscle (let’s say the infraspinatus) pulls on the insertion point at the tip of the shoulder on your arm bone (humerus), and your arm moves back.  A muscle in the front of your shoulder/chest (pectoralis major) needs to release for your arm to move in that direction.

Then, when you want to bring your arm forward, the pectoralis major contracts and pulls on your humerus, and the infraspinatus must release tension so your arm can move.  It’s pretty simple, and it’s exactly what happens with every joint in your body.

In my books, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete, I show you how to self-treat all the shoulder muscles. This month I’m going to share with you how to self-treat the infraspinatus muscle.

A Simple Self-Treatment For The Infraspinatus Muscle

As I mentioned, there are 16 muscles that move your shoulder in all the directions you do every day.  It is important to have each of the muscles free of spasms in order to have full range-of-motion. With that said, here is the self-treatment for the infraspinatus muscle.

You can use a slightly used tennis ball to treat the muscle, although it may be too soft to be effective. I’ve found a new tennis ball may be too hard. I strongly recommend that you never use a lacrosse ball as it is much too hard and could easily bruise the bone. A bone bruise can cause pain for up to a year, so it’s certainly something to avoid.

I prefer my Perfect Ball because it is solid in the center and has a layer of softness around the outside.  This softness enables you to work deeply into the muscle without potentially bruising the bone.

The pictures below show you where the muscle is located and where to place the ball.  You can either lean into the ball on a wall, or you can lie on the floor as shown below.

When you locate a “hot spot,” where it hurts as you press on the point, just stay there for 30 seconds.

Next, release the pressure for 5 seconds to allow blood to flow into the muscle, and then press into the muscle again.  Continue this until it no longer hurts, and then look for another point. Repeat this on each painful point to enable a full release of tension and relieve pain and stiffness.

Even without working on the other muscles of the shoulder, you’ll get considerable relief by treating the infraspinatus muscle.

Have You Listened To My TEDx Talk?

The title is “The Pain Question No One Is Asking.”  It points a finger at a HUGE missing piece in our health care, one that affects millions of people.  The topic is controversial, so much so that it almost wasn’t approved because it asks a question that certain people don’t want brought to light.

You can see it by going to YouTube and putting in “Julie Donnelly, Pain”.

Please “like” and “share” it with others so TED will see that this is a subject people want to know more about.  Thanks!

Looking Ahead To October

Next month we will be looking at the #2 most prevalent pain problem in the USA.  Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is debilitating, and incredibly painful.  I know because CTS shut down my therapy practice in 1997.  I’ll tell you the short version of that situation and how it was the catalyst for me developing the self-treatments that reversed it for me. I’m happy to say that the self-treatments I developed have also helped hundreds of people around the world eliminate this problem from their lives.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Relief From Neck Pain

What Causes Pain In Your Neck?

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

spring flowersHappy Spring!  My friends and family up north told me that it was a looooog winter, so I’m sure all you “Snow Birds” are thrilled to have Spring here at last.

Here in Florida, the flowers are blooming, and we’re still enjoying beautiful weather in the 70’s and low 80’s. And, of course, we are ignoring the thought of the summer coming soon.

Please Help Me

I’ve learned that for TEDx to invite me to do another talk, I need to have my current talk, “The Pain Question No One Is Asking”, shared with many people, plus I need to have comments so I can respond.  If you haven’t watched it yet, you will learn a lot about pain and how to treat it. Plus, you can help me by commenting on it and sharing it with your friends.

Maybe you have already watched it, if so, thank you.  Would you mind watching it again and adding a comment?

In either case, you can either go to YouTube and put in “Julie Donnelly, pain” or if you’re reading this newsletter online, you can go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSrxURd8ZJk&t=133s.

Thanks a lot!

What Causes Neck Pain?

This month I’ve had so many people come in with neck pain and headaches, that I decided I need to share what causes neck pain and a treatment with you. There are a lot of different treatments for the neck, some you can do, and others that you need me to do for you.

Neck pain and headaches are widespread because there are so many things we do every day that cause these two kinds of pain.  A big problem is our cell phones, and we can’t get rid of them, so we just need to know how to constantly be aware of it and treat ourselves frequently.

It’s amazing how fragile our necks are, and how vulnerable they are to injury, yet for most of us we go through life with nothing more than a headache every now and then.

Levator Scapulae MuscleIf you have had a car accident you may have suffered from whiplash, which causes horrific headaches, because the bones of your neck have been forced out of alignment.  In many cases neck pain is either caused, or complicated, by tension in a muscle called Levator Scapulae.

As you see on the graphic to your left, the muscle originates on the first four cervical vertebrae, and inserts into your shoulder blade (the scapula).

When it contracts you lift your shoulder, making the nickname for this muscle be “the shrug muscle.”

Your brain goes into your spinal cord, and then your spinal cord passes through the center of the vertebrae all the way to the bottom of your spine.

However, when the muscle is in spasm (tied in a knot) it is pulling down on the cervical vertebrae at the very base of your skull.  This pulls the bones to the side and down and pushes the bone into your spinal cord on the opposite side.

Frequently a client will come in with neck pain, or headache pain on one side, but I find the muscle tension on the opposite side.

Spasms in the levator scapulae muscle will also tilt your head to the side, and it can cause pain to your shoulder and down the upper/center part of your back.

Relief From Neck Pain

There are several effective ways to treat your neck and shoulders, the following are just two of them.  I have written books that teach many more self-treatments in case you want to learn more.

Relaxing Levator Scapulae MusclePut a ball, preferably the Perfect Ball, on the very top of your shoulder.

Bend at your hips and put the ball on the corner of a wall, pressing the top of your shoulder into the ball. Then move up and down so the ball is rolling across the top of your shoulder, from the front toward the back of your shoulder.

 

The goal is to lengthen the Levator Scapulae muscle, so it takes the strain off your cervical vertebrae. The Perfect Ball is ideal for this task because it is solid in the center and soft on the outside, preventing bruising to your bone.

 

 

Treating Levator Scapulae Muscle 2

 

A second way of treating your shoulder muscle is to press your thumb into the “well” at the front of your shoulder, just above your collar bone.

 

 

 

 

 

Treating Levator Scapulae Muscle

 

And press your fingertips into the back of your shoulder, as shown in the picture to the left.

 

Deeply press your thumb into your fingers, tightly squeezing the thick piece of muscle that is between your thumb and fingers.

 

 

Stretching Levator Scapulae Muscle

 

Then slowly drop your head in the opposite direction so you can stretch the muscle fibers.

 

You Can Help Yourself Relieve Pain Quickly

I’ve been helping people release pain since 1989, and back in the beginning I realized that the only way people stay out of pain is to either come to see me almost every day (not a great option!) or learn how to continue their therapy at home. That’s why I wrote my books, to help you help yourself on a regular basis.

pain free living book

Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living has over 200 pictures, colorful charts to show you where you feel pain and where to treat to relieve it, and detailed explanations that explain how to treat painful muscles from your head to your feet.

Clear and easy to follow, people have told me they call it “their bible for finding solutions to pain.”

 

 

 The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution has been written specifically to address the muscles that cause low back pain, sciatica, sacroiliac joint pain, and even knee pain.

Pictures and graphics, and detailed text will explain how to do each step.

 

 If you have either carpal tunnel syndrome or trigger finger, you’ll want to get the Julstro System For Hand/Wrist Pain And Numbness.

A specialized tool was developed to enable you to get the proper strength and focus on the spasms that cause both these problems.  The TotalTX tool also can be used for problems from your shoulders to your lower legs, and it’s all in the “how to” book included with the Julstro System.

Plus, with each one of these products you will receive a gift of a Julstro Perfect Ball (a $9.00 value) so you’ll have the tool to reach difficult spots, and to do all of the treatments taught in the books.

Wishing you well,

Julie

How I Treated My Frozen Shoulder

Why We Get Shoulder Pain 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Happy New Year

celebrationI love the holidays!  It’s wonderful to see family and friends, and there’s always such good food and fun, but I’m also happy when the New Year begins.  Of course, every day is a “new year”, but January 1st is like starting a whole new book of life, with unlimited possibilities.

This year, I’m not only writing goals, I am also doing something that was suggested by Pegine Echevarria.  I’m looking back on this past year and writing down as many of my successes as I can remember.  Goals are the roadmap for the future, but remembering past successes lifts our confidence that we’ll be able to achieve the goals we have set.

In fact, this year I’m going to look at each day and write down a success that I’ve had that day. How wonderful it will be on New Year’s Eve to look back and read 365 successes for 2020!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that you’re also eager about starting 2020.  Here’s to a year of adventure, joy, health, prosperity, and fulfillment of all your dreams!

Why We Get Shoulder Pain

For some reason I’ve had a LOT of clients come in with shoulder issues this month, more than normal, so it made me decide that this month’s topic should be about the shoulder.

The shoulder has more muscle attachments than any other joint in the body, which Is the reason we have such a wide assortment of movements we can make with our shoulder and arm.

There are 16 different muscles that impact your shoulder and cause movement and stability to the joint.  Each muscle is pulling in a different direction, and that’s a blessing, and a potential problem.

For example, when one muscle is trying to pull your arm forward, and the muscle that pulls your arm back is in spasm, you will have pain every time you try to move your arm to drive a car, type at your computer, or lift anything up.  And the pain can get severe if it’s not treated properly and quickly.

How I Treated My Frozen Shoulder

In 1993 I had the worst case of frozen shoulder I’ve ever seen in anyone before or since.

Every one of the 16 muscles had gone into a sudden spasm, pulling in 16 different directions.  It locked my elbow to my waistline and even the slightest movement in any direction caused excruciating shoulder joint pain.  Nobody could figure out what to do and I ended up tying my arm to my body to stop the stabbing hot knife pains I felt with even the slightest movement.  It was horrible! I knew what I would do to help you, but I couldn’t find anyone who could do those same treatments for me.  What to do?!

You know that voice that’s forever running in your head?  I was frantic and said out loud, ”What the heck am I going to do?” And a voice in my head said to me “treat yourself!”  Really, now how was I going to self-treat all these muscles when I had absolutely no movement in my left arm?  The voice said: “figure it out!”  So, I did!

It wasn’t easy, and it was definitely painful, but step-by-step I worked out how to treat each muscle using a ball, and my fingertips.  It took me five months to get back to 100% mobility, but I did it.  Next thing I knew every client who came to my office was suffering from shoulder pain. Nobody was as severe as I had been, but their situation was still very painful and limiting them in many ways.

I realized that I wouldn’t have gotten full range-of-motion back if I hadn’t been self-treating several times a day, so I started to teach my clients how to help themselves.  I didn’t have any pictures yet so I could only show them one or two techniques each time they came in, but it made a huge difference.  People started getting better, and I moved on to a new aspect of my therapy practice -– teaching people how to self-treat for permanent pain relief.pain free living book

Eventually I took pictures of each self-treatment, and I hand wrote a description of what the picture was demonstrating.  I didn’t have a computer yet, but that’s another long story about how it all became my first book (the title was so long, even I don’t remember it!).  I learned to have short titles for each book, and now every treatment I teach is in either Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, or The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. 

If you have been to see me for therapy, you know that I teach you what to do at home.  That’s definitely something most massage therapists don’t do, but my feeling is I’m only successful if you are out of pain and you stay that way.

One Important Shoulder Self-Treatment You Can Use First

We’ll demonstrate on the left arm:

 

Put a ball in your right hand and then bring your hand under your left armpit or you can place the ball as shown in the picture.

 

 

 

Lean onto a wall, moving until you find the “hot spot.”

Stay there for about a minute, either staying still or moving very slightly.

Take the pressure off the ball to let blood get into the area and repeat several times.

 

Move about, bringing the ball up further into your shoulder blade, and down toward your armpit (treating the latissimus dorsi muscle).

There Is So Much More

As I mentioned, there are 16 muscles involved in moving our shoulder and arm, and this is only one technique to ease pain and stiffness.  In my opinion, this is the #1 treatment I always teach because it helps so much, but the others are important too.

You can get every self-treatment in Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete. 

I’m also opening a weekly Zoom gathering that comes with 24/7/365 access to all the tools you need to find and release aches and pains from your head to your feet.  You can get information about it by going to www.Pain-FreeAthlete.com.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

What Is An Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Can Diet Douse The Flames?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

InflammationIf you have arthritis, colitis, bursitis, or any of the other “itis” diseases, you already know that inflammation is the enemy. Chronic, low level inflammation is also a contributing factor to heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Clearly, inflammation is a bad actor. It is something we want to avoid.

Obesity and diabetes are two of the biggest contributors to inflammation, but does diet also play a role? With all the anti-inflammation diets circulating on the internet, you would certainly think so. How good is the evidence that certain foods influence inflammation, and what does an anti-inflammatory diet look like?

The Science Behind Anti-Inflammatory Diets

ScientistLet me start by saying that the science behind anti-inflammatory diets is nowhere near as strong as it is for the effect of primarily plant-based diets on heart disease and diabetes. The studies on anti-inflammatory diets are mostly small, short duration studies. However, the biggest problem is that there is no standard way of measuring inflammation.

There are multiple markers of inflammation, and they do not change together. That means that in every study some markers of inflammation are altered, while others are not. There is no consistent pattern from one study to another.

In spite of these methodological difficulties, the studies generally point in the same direction. Let’s start with the strongest evidence and work our way down to the weakest evidence. 

Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory (I. Reinders et al, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66: 736-741, 2011). The evidence is strongest for the long chain omega-3s found in fish and fish oil, but the shorter chain omega-3s found in foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil also appear to be anti-inflammatory. 

Inflammation is directly correlated with glycemic index (L. Qi and F.B. Lu, Current Opinion in Lipidology, 18: 3-8, 2007). This has a couple of important implications.

The most straightforward is that refined carbohydrates and sugars (sodas, pastries, and desserts), which have a high glycemic index, increase inflammation. In contrast, complex carbohydrates (whole grains, most fruits and vegetables) decrease inflammation. No surprise there. The second implication is that it is the glycemic index, not the sugar, that is driving the inflammatory response.

That means we need to look more closely at foods than at sugars. Sodas, pastries and desserts are likely to cause inflammation, but sugar-containing foods with a low glycemic index are unlikely to be inflammatory. 

Fruits and vegetables are anti-inflammatory. This has been shown in multiple studies. At this point most of the research is centered on identifying the nutrients and phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables that are responsible for the reduction in inflammation. I suspect the investigators are hoping to design an anti-inflammatory supplement and make lots of money. I will stick with the fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Saturated fats are inflammatory. At face value, the data on saturated fats appear to be contradictory. Some Fatty Foodsstudies say that saturated fats increase inflammation, while others say they do not. However, similar to my earlier discussion on saturated fats and heart disease), the outcome of the study depends on what the saturated fats are replaced with.

When saturated fats are replaced with refined carbohydrates, sugar and highly processed foods (the standard American low-fat diet), inflammation doesn’t change. This doesn’t mean that a diet high in saturated fat is healthy. It just means that both diets are bad for you. Both are inflammatory.

However, when saturated fat is replaced with omega-3 polyunsaturated fats (J.A. Paniagua et al, Atherosclerosis, 218: 443-450, 2011) or monounsaturated fats (B. Vessby et al, Diabetologia, 44: 312-319, 2001), markers of inflammation decrease. Clearly, saturated fats are not the best fat choice if you wish to keep inflammation in check.

I would be remiss if I did not address the claims by the low-carb diet proponents that saturated fats do not increase inflammation in the context of a low-carb diet. I want to remind you of two things we have discussed previously:

  • The comparisons in those studies are generally with people consuming a diet high in simple carbohydrates and sugars.
  • These studies have mostly been done in the short-term when the participants are losing weight on the low-carb diets. Weight loss decreases inflammation, so the reduction in inflammation on the low-carb diet could be coming from the weight loss.

The one study (M. Miller et al, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109: 713-717, 2009) I have found that compares a low-carb diet (the Atkins diet) with a good diet (the Ornish diet, which is a low-fat, lacto-ovo vegetarian diet) during weight maintenance found that the meat based, low-carb Atkins diet caused greater inflammation than the healthy low-fat Ornish diet.

Red meat is probably pro-inflammatory. Most, but not all, studies suggest that red meat consumption is associated with increased inflammation. If it is pro-inflammatory, the inflammation is most likely associated with its saturated fat, its heme iron content, or the advanced glycation end products formed during cooking.

What Is An Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Colorful fruits and vegetablesAnti-inflammatory diets have become so mainstream that they now appear on many reputable health organization websites such as Harvard Health, WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic. Each have slightly different features, but there is a tremendous amount of agreement. 

Foods an anti-inflammatory diet includes: In a nutshell, an anti-inflammatory diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish, and fresh herbs and spices. Specifically, your diet should emphasize:

  • Colorful fruits and vegetables. Not only do they help fight inflammation, but they are a great source of antioxidants and other nutrients important for your health.
  • Whole grains. They have a low glycemic index. They are also a good source of fiber, and fiber helps flush inflammatory toxins out of the body.
  • Beans and other legumes. They should be your primary source of protein. They are high in fiber and contain antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory nutrients.
  • Nuts, olive oil, and avocados. They are good sources of healthy monounsaturated fats, which fight inflammation.
  • Fatty fish. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are all great sources of long chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are fish and fish oilincorporated into our cell membranes. Those long chain omega-3s in cell membranes are, in turn, used to create compounds that are powerful inflammation fighters.

Walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are good sources of short chain omega-3s. The efficiency of their conversion to long chain omega-3s that can be incorporated into cell membranes is only around 2-5%. If they fight inflammation, it is probably because they replace some of the saturated fats and omega-6 fats you might otherwise be eating.

  • Herbs and spices. They add antioxidants and other phytonutrients that fight inflammation.

Foods an anti-inflammatory diet excludes: In a nutshell, an anti-inflammatory diet should exclude highly processed, overly greasy, or super sweet foods, especially sodas and other sweet drinks. Specifically, your diet should exclude:

  • Refined carbohydrates, sodas and sugary foods. They have a high glycemic index, which is associated with inflammation. They can also lead to weight gain and high blood sugar, both of which cause inflammation.
  • Foods high in saturated fats. This includes fatty and processed meats, butter, and high fat dairy products.
  • Foods high in trans fats. This includes margarine, coffee creamers, and any processed food containing partly hydrogenated vegetable oils. Trans fats are very pro-inflammatory.
  • French fries, fried chicken, and other fried foods. They used to be fried in saturated fat and/or trans fat. Nowadays, they are generally fried in omega-6 vegetable oils. A little omega-6 in the diet is OK, but Americans get too much omega-6 fatty acids in their diet. Most studies show that a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is pro-inflammatory.
  • Foods you are allergic or sensitive to. Eating any food that you are sensitive to can cause inflammation. This comes up most often with respect to gluten and dairy because so many people are sensitive to one or both. However, if you are not sensitive to them, there is no reason to exclude whole grain gluten-containing foods or low-fat dairy foods from your diet.

Can Diet Douse The Flames?

FlamesIn case you didn’t notice, the recommendations for an anti-inflammatory diet closely match the other healthy diets I have discussed previously. It should come as no surprise then that both the Mediterranean (L. Gallard, Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 25: 634-640, 2010; L. Schwingshackl and G. Hoffmann, Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 24: 929-939, 2014) and DASH (D.E. King et al, Archives of Internal Medicine, 167: 502-506, 2007) diets are anti-inflammatory.

Vegan and vegetarian diets also appear to be anti-inflammatory as well. The anti-inflammatory nature of these diets undoubtedly contributes to their association with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

As for the low-carb diets, the jury is out. There are no long-term studies to support the claims of low-carb proponents that their diets reduce inflammation. The few long-term studies that are available suggest that low-carb diets are only likely to be anti-inflammatory if vegetable proteins and oils replace the animal proteins and fats that are currently recommended.

What does this mean for you if you have severe arthritis or other inflammatory diseases? An anti-inflammatory diet is unlikely to “cure” your symptoms by itself. However, it should definitely be a companion to everything else you are doing to reduce inflammation.

The Bottom Line 

If you have arthritis, colitis, bursitis, or any of the other “itis” diseases, you already know that inflammation is the enemy. Chronic, low level inflammation is also a contributing factor to heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Clearly, inflammation is a bad actor. It’s something we want to avoid.

Obesity and diabetes are two of the biggest contributors to inflammation, but does diet also play a role? With all the anti-inflammation diets circulating on the internet, you would certainly think so. In this article I review the evidence that certain foods influence inflammation and describe what an anti-inflammatory diet looks like.

For more details read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

A Novel Treatment For Shoulder Pain

My Mission Is To Help You Live Pain-Free 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Happy Valentine’s Day

Healthy HeartWhen I lived up north, February was the worst month of the winter – cold, gloomy, and while it’s only 28 days long, it seemed endless.  If you’re in the cold weather, I hope you stay nice and warm, and that you also find some fun outdoor activities to help this month end quickly.

Here in Florida, this is one of our best months!  No humidity, no rain, no bugs, and lots of sunshine.  We love February!

February is also thought of as a month to show love for another (it should be every month, but we’ll leave that alone for now).  Lovers go out to special dinners, sometimes buying expensive gifts or flowers. And many people send sweet cards to friends and family.

But the actual origination of Valentine’s Day isn’t such a loving story.  The day is named after St. Valentine, a Christian martyr who was executed in ancient Rome on February 14th in the 3rd century A.D. There was also a pagan ritual that had to do with fertility, and where women put their names into an urn for bachelors to pick from. Somehow the two merged over the years and brought St. Valentine’s Day into the more romantic sphere.

In any case, it’s now a multi billion dollar business that has nothing to do with anything religious but can be fun for loving couples to celebrate.

A Letter From A Reader

Subclavius MuscleThis past week I received an email from a reader of this newsletter.  I’ve asked people to send me a message if they have any aches or pains that they would like for me to discuss.  This is a topic I’ve never discussed before, and since it’s causing this woman distress, I decided it’s the perfect discussion for the month.

Suzie was feeling pain across the front of her shoulder, and she had painful points along the bottom of her clavicle (collarbone).  The subclavius muscle is a short muscle that originates on your 1st rib and inserts into the underside of your clavicle. You can look at it on Wikipedia (https://bit.ly/2KV7lT8) if you’d like to see how tiny it is and where to find it when you are self-treating for pain.

As shown in the graphic above, it is interesting to think that such a small muscle can cause so much pain in the front of your shoulder, and down your biceps to your inner elbow.  Even more interesting is that most people aren’t aware of this muscle, so they search other places when they are feeling pain across the front of their shoulder.  As a result, they don’t get relief, and they may even turn to pain medications.

A Novel Treatment For Shoulder Pain

If your pain starts in the front of your shoulder and radiates down your bicep, the pain may be caused by your subclavius muscle. If, you are in luck. The treatment for this muscle is so simple you can do it any place and at any time.Treatment For Subclavius Muscle Pain

Simply press your fingertips as shown in this picture.  If that exact point isn’t painful, move your fingertips a bit to one side or the other.

It will probably feel like a sharp pain, and you may even feel the tiny bump that is caused by the spasm.

Hold the pressure for a minute or so….

Release the pressure (but don’t move your finger off the point)…

Press deeply again and hold.

Do this several times until it doesn’t hurt to press on the point.

I have been working with people suffering from chronic pain and/or sports injuries since 1989. One thing I have found is that while I can find and successfully treat the muscles causing pain when people come into my office, it’s vital for them to continue their treatment at home.

A phenomenon called “muscle memory” will cause the muscle to begin to shorten as soon as we finish our therapy session.  Left untreated the muscle will tighten again in as short as 2-3 days, and you’ll have pain again.  However, if you self-treat the muscle you will continue to bring it back to its proper length, and ultimately it will stay, and the pain will be eliminated

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Relieve Stress Headaches Naturally

What Causes Stress Headaches?

Stress is an unfortunate byproduct of the festivities of the holiday season. The holidays are supposed to be fun. But you are adding all the festive gatherings, Christmas shopping, and family drama to an already crowded schedule.

Then the New Year comes. This should be a time you can relax. But no, the holiday bills start rolling in, and you have the stress of figuring out how to pay them. Then, there are New Year’s resolutions. You know you should be making resolutions, but you also know you’ve never successfully kept them in the past. Now, that is real stress.

 

 

 

 

 

That stress often shows up as tight muscles and muscle spasms that can cause headache pain. If you already have one of my books, especially either Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, or The Pain-Free Athlete, you have the tools necessary to get relief.  You can look at the colorful charts and find the area where you are feeling pain or stiffness. Then look for the muscle name that is in the same color as the shaded area of your discomfort. Then, follow the arrow and it will bring you directly to the spasm(s) that cause the pain. The figures above show some of the muscles that can cause headache pain when stress causes them to get tight and spasm.

Relief From Stress Headaches

As you see in the charts above there are multiple places where spasms will cause headaches.  Actually, there are a lot more than this, but that’s why I wrote my “Pain-Free Living” book. It’s just too much for a newsletter.

Each of the spasms noted in these two charts can be treated by applying direct pressure onto the spasm and then holding it for 15-30 seconds.  Use as much pressure as you can, but it must always be in the tolerable range, this is NOT a “no pain-no gain” situation.  It is going to hurt because you are forcing toxins out of the muscle fibers, and the toxin is an acid (from lactic acid) so it burns. However, you’ll find that as you continue holding the pressure it will lessen.

After 30 seconds, keep your fingers in the same place but take off the pressure. Wait for 5 seconds and then re-apply the pressure.  It won’t hurt as much this time because blood has filled the void and it’s already starting to heal the muscle.

Keep doing this until you don’t feel pain anymore, and then look for another point.  I call these points “hot spots” because that’s exactly what they remind me of.

Feel around your head, your neck, and your shoulders and apply pressure on each painful point.  You’ll be pleased when you feel the results! If it’s stress related, your headache pain will be gone.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Regain a Full Range Of Motion

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 

May Is A Beautiful Time Of Year

It’s MAY!!   Bring on the flowers that came from the April showers!

Of course, here in Florida we have flowers all year, so it’s our friends to the north that are enjoying a glorious array of color during this month.

In some ways, life is beginning to slow down for us.  With most of the snowbirds gone, driving is easier, the stores are less crowded, and we can park at the beach.  The weather is still beautiful so we can still go outside to ride a bike, jog, or play the sports we enjoy. This leads me to talk about a new client who came in and needed frozen shoulder treatment.

 

What Is A Frozen Shoulder?

There are 15 muscles that insert into your shoulder, each pulling your arm in a different direction.  The term “Frozen Shoulder” is used when a muscle gets so tight that it’s difficult, or impossible to move in the opposite direction.  Since there are 15 muscles pulling your shoulder and arm, the possibility of several of them going into spasm and preventing your arm from moving is huge. In fact, it’s pretty amazing that it doesn’t happen more often!

Depending on how many muscles are involved, frozen shoulder can range from a minor inconvenience to the inability to move in any direction at all.

 

Pain Can Restrict Motion

Recently, a new client, Claire, came into my office with a frozen shoulder. Claire could only lift her arm to a point where it was horizontal to her shoulder, and she couldn’t bring it backward at all.  She was in a lot of pain and nothing she tried had worked. Fortunately, I am an expert at teaching people how to treat frozen shoulders and regain a full range of motion.

I first learned how to treat a frozen shoulder when it happened to me in 1994.  Every one of the muscles of my left shoulder went into a serious spasm/contraction at the same time. I couldn’t move my elbow more than 2” away from my waistline!  The pain was excruciating!  I went to every type of practitioner I could imagine: massage (of course), physical therapy, orthopedic physician, chiropractor…in fact I would have gone to a witch doctor if I could have found one.  Nothing was working!

Finally, I decided I needed to figure out how to self-treat the muscles that I knew were knotted up and holding my shoulder and arm bound.  It took me from September until February to work it out and get my arm back to 100% range-of-motion, but I did it.  I was thrilled, and I knew I had to teach this to everyone who has any shoulder pain. If you have my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, every shoulder treatment in that book came from my journey through pain.  I know they all work!

So, back to my new client.  When I saw the movements Claire couldn’t make, I knew that the muscles in the front of her shoulder were pulling her arm forward, and her latissimus dorsi muscle was pulling her arm down. As a result, she couldn’t lift her arm or bring it back.

 

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

The next three pictures show you how to treat two of the most common muscles that cause shoulder pain.  These are the muscles that were giving Claire so much trouble when she needed frozen shoulder treatment. You’ll be using the Perfect Ball so you can really get to the muscles that are deep in the joint.

If you are having trouble lifting your arm up, put the Perfect Ball into your opposite hand and following the picture, place it onto your shoulder blade.  You need to move it so it’s on the part of the bone that is the back part of your armpit.

Move your body around until you hit a really tender point. That’s the spasm in the latissimus dorsi that is preventing you from lifting your arm up.

To treat the muscles (pectoralis minor and pectoralis major) that are preventing your arm from going back, you need to lean into the corner of a wall.

As the picture demonstrates, put the Perfect Ball onto the front of your shoulder and lean into a wall.  You can move the ball up and down by bending your knees a bit.

If in either frozen shoulder treatment you want more pressure, move your feet further out from the wall.  For less pressure have your feet closer to the wall.

Why stay in pain when it’s so easy to find the muscular source of the problem and eliminate it?

Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living . It is filled with over 100 pictures and descriptions proven to show you how to find and self-treat muscle spasms from head to foot!

Join the 1000’s of people worldwide who have discovered that tight muscles were the true source of pains they thought were from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other serious conditions.  You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by releasing tight muscles.

Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living is your step-by-step guide to pain relief!

 

 

Wishing you well,

 

Julie Donnelly

Julie Donnelly

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

About The Author

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

Calf Cramps Remedy

Don’t Let A Leg Cramp Stop You Short

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 

calf cramps remedyGetting a leg cramp while you are running can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”  If you don’t treat it properly and quickly when it is happening, you may limp to the finish line, and you can suffer from its effects for days afterward.  I will show you the best calf cramps remedy below.  First, let’s go over spasms and muscle cramps.

A spasm and a cramp are similar because it’s a shortening in the muscle fiber, but that’s where the similarity ends. A spasm is a slow-forming shortening of a group of fibers that tie up into a knot in the muscle. You can feel a spasm with your fingertips, it feels like a bump as you slide along the full length of the muscle. With a spasm, as you press down and slide, it doesn’t hurt until you get to the spasm, and then it can really hurt. But then it stops hurting as you slide off the spasm. A spasm refers pain to the insertion points of the muscle and frequently doesn’t hurt where the spasm has formed (that is, until you press on it).

Why Do Your Muscles Cramp?

calf cramps remedy muscle crampsA cramp (Charlie horse) is when all the fibers of the entire muscle suddenly and violently contract. The muscle will quickly shorten and can go into a huge knot, or it will just totally shorten.

Usually a cramp happens in your calf muscle, although it can happen to any muscle in the body.  Your calf is comprised of two major muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus. The gastrocnemius, which is shown in this graphic, originates behind your knee and inserts into your Achilles tendon.

Visualize the muscle suddenly shortening, pulling up on your Achilles tendon, and becoming a mass of tight knots through the entire muscle.

Muscles have an “all or nothing” response.  This means that when a muscle fiber contracts, it will shorten 100% of its length.  It never starts to shorten and then make a U-turn and lengthen.  A cramp is seriously painful, and if you try to stretch it out as it’s happening, you can tear the muscle fibers. In fact, that’s the reason it hurts for sometimes days after the cramp.

A Calf Cramps Remedy You Can Administer Yourself

calf cramps remedy squeezeThe best thing to do is to squeeze the two ends of your calf muscle together, which will help the cramp complete as quickly as possible. This will hurt, but for less time than the normal cramping process.  Hold your calf tightly, as shown in this picture, and continue to press the two ends toward each other.

Hold it until you can breathe normally (about 30-45 seconds), and then release. Breathe for a minute or so, and then push the two ends together again.  This second time won’t hurt, you are only doing it to make sure that all the fibers have completed the contraction.

calf cramps remedy hold sittingOnce you have stopped the cramp, don’t stretch…yet. You need to flush out the hydrogen ions (AKA lactic acid) that rapidly built-up in the muscle during the cramp.

There are many ways to self-treat your calf. If you are out on the road you can either sit on a bench or lie on the ground and put the sore calf onto your opposite knee.  Press down and hold the pressure for 30 seconds. Then deeply press along the muscle going from the back of your knee toward your ankle.

calf cramps remedy opposite footYou can also use your opposite heel and press deeply, straight into your calf.

Start at the top of the muscle and move down toward your ankle. Stop whenever you come to a point that is especially painful. The point should be close to the area shown in this picture.

Hold the pressure for 30-60 seconds, or until it doesn’t hurt anymore.  Release, and then repeat 2-3 times.

Complete this self-treatment by squeezing your calf muscle, like you are wringing out a wet towel.  This will force blood into your muscle and get your circulation moving again.

Proof That My Treatments Work

I once taught this technique at an Ironman Triathlon during a 15-minute session I was giving to the triathletes.  Several days later a triathlete emailed me and told me that he had a cramp as he was running, and he did the treatment I’d taught him.  It cost him a few minutes (he wasn’t in the top three, so the time loss wasn’t a huge issue) but he was able to get up and get back to running, totally without pain.

About a mile later he got a cramp in the other leg, but he automatically started to just stretch it like he’d always done before.  He ended up limping all the way to the finish line, and days later it was still hurting.  He wanted to let me know that my cramp treatment really worked great.  This was especially helpful because I’d always wondered what body chemistry did to the outcome of treating a cramp, and here I found out that chemistry wasn’t involved in the treatment of the muscle fibers.

What To Do After The Calf Cramps Remedy

If the cramp happens during a race or athletic event, knowing how to stop it, and these quick massage techniques, will get you back into the game. But it hasn’t totally resolved the issue. Finally, when you have the time to be detailed (after the race, in the evening, etc.), it is important to work out all the spasms and then stretch properly.

When you are treating the muscles afterward, I suggest you consider getting an analgesic cream that goes way deep into the muscle fibers. Use it when you are massaging the muscle, but don’t put it on before you play, run, or before/after a shower because it will go too deep into the muscle and burn like crazy. After you do the treatments, use ice &/or arnica gel (get it at a good health food store) to heal the bruised muscle fibers and help with pain and swelling. Arnica is fantastic, it’s an amazing homeopathic remedy that has been around for ages and really works.

Naturally you will also want to make sure you hydrate properly and that your diet, vitamins and minerals are all in balance.

calf cramps remedy bookCramping is a common problem athletes face, but with a little bit of effort you can prevent muscle injury and get back in the race quickly!

You can find the full treatments for your muscle cramps by going to my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living . This book has treatments for your entire body, from your head to your feet.  YOU are your own Best Therapist!  Stop pain quickly and easily with self-treatments you can do anytime, anyplace.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

julie donnelly

About The Author

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

TMJ Pain Relief

TMJ Treatment Can Relieve Stress & Pain

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

tmj pain reliefTMJ is the common term for a jaw condition called temporomandibular joint dysfunction. The muscle that is key to the TMJ pain relief treatment described below is the masseter muscle.  The holiday season is “famous” for increasing stress as we rush around, adding more “to do’s” to our lives. Aside from the usual work and family commitments, the holiday’s mean extra shopping, parties, and therefore, stress.

TMJ Symptoms

Common symptoms of TMJ are:

  • Jaw Pain
  • Clicking when opening your mouth
  • Clicking while chewing
  • Jaw moving toward one side
  • Ear pain
  • Trouble opening mouth fully

While there are other pains that are common with TMJ, these are the most prevalent.

A Common Cause of TMJ Disorder

tmj pain relief muscleDo you find yourself clenching your teeth? Do you chew gum?  These are two of the most common causes of TMJ.

Your masseter muscle is a small, but powerful muscle that goes from above your back teeth, to your jaw.

You can feel it if you put your flat fingers on the back of your cheek and clench your teeth.

Your masseter is used when you chew.  As you hold your fingers on your masseter muscle, clench and open your jaw repeatedly. Like any other muscle in the body, it can be subject to repetitive strain injury. Normally you open your mouth wide to put in food, and then chew. This motion both contracts and lengthens the muscle.

However, if you chew gum you are contracting (shortening) the muscle, but not lengthening it. And it stays contracted if you clench your teeth when you are stressed, or at night while you sleep.  Eventually the muscle will form spasms from the repetitive movement.

It is called TMJ because of the joint the masseter crosses over at the very back of your jaw. The problem is the way your movable jaw attaches to your skull. As the muscle tightens into the spasm, it prevents your jaw from opening properly.  When one side is tighter than the other, your jaw will move toward the tighter side. As this happens the bones click over each other and you will feel pain.

TMJ Treatment Saved This Woman From a Lifetime of Drooling!

pain freeSeveral years ago a woman came to the medical office where I had my therapy practice. Both sides of her jaw were so tight that she couldn’t open her mouth at all. She had to “eat” liquefied food through a straw and her fear was if she regurgitated, she could choke.  The next day her oral surgeon planned on severing both masseter muscles. This surgery meant her mouth would hang open permanently. This would result in her drooling for the rest of her life! What a nightmare!

Her masseter muscles felt like rocks had been stuffed into her cheeks. The medical doctor who owned the office understood repetitive strains and wouldn’t give her surgical clearance until she saw me. I taught her the following TMJ treatment, and in just 15 minutes she was opening and closing her mouth normally.

First, I worked on her muscles, then I taught her how to do it. The TMJ pain relief treatment starts with first pressing the muscles as described below, holding the pressure, and then releasing it. She did this several times, alternating between her right and left sides. The last part of the TMJ treatment is applying pressure to both sides at the same time. Then while still holding the pressure, I told her to just open her mouth slowly and she did.  Without pain!

She started to cry because she was only one day away from a lifetime of drooling. And the best part is it only took 15 minutes to solve.

TMJ Pain Relief Treatment

tmj pain relief treatmentTo begin the TMJ pain relief treatment, place the length of your three middle fingers on both jaws.  Clench your teeth so you can feel the muscle bulge under your fingers.

Press deeply on just one side, feeling for the “knot” in the muscle. Press in for the count of five, and hold it for the count of five.  Then slowly release that side and repeat it on the opposite side of your jaw. Go back and forth, repeating this several times.

Feel along the muscle and find other knots and repeat the sequence. Do this to each spasm you find.

Go to the point just in front of your ear lobe and press.  If it hurts, there is a spasm. Do the same treatment. This is a small area so you’ll probably only need one finger to be effective.

After you are finished treating each spasm, put your fingers on both masseter muscles at the same time. Now, slowly open your mouth to stretch the muscles.

That’s it!  It’s easy to apply this TMJ pain relief treatment when you know where to go and what to do.

Treat Yourself To Pain Free Living  has the TMJ treatment and also has treatments for your entire body.  You don’t need to be in pain when it’s so easy to find solutions you can do yourself.

Discover the secret of why you hurt and how to stop the pain FAST!

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

 

About The Author

julie donnellyJulie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Pain Behind The Knee Relief

Is Surgery The Only Option?

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

pain behind the kneeRecently I was speaking at a convention and a woman came to me complaining of back of knee pain that was sharp each time she stood up.  She had been told she needed knee surgery, but this was a solution she didn’t want to entertain. Her job has her sitting in one position for hours, and when I felt the back of her knee I found a small point that caused her a great deal of pain.  She needed pain behind the knee relief.

What Causes Pain Behind The Knee After Sitting?

Pain behind the knee can be caused by a small muscle called “Popliteus.” The popliteus muscle originates on the posterior side of the tibia (shin bone) and inserts into the posterior femur (thigh bone).  When it contracts (shortens) it causes your knee joint to bend.  The nickname is “the key that unlocks the knee.” If your popliteus doesn’t contract, you can’t bend your knee.

Why A Muscle Can Cause Pain Behind The Knee

The problem is caused by the muscle being held contracted for an extended period of time.  Muscle memory is a phenomenon that causes a muscle to stay in the shortened length after it has been held contracted for a long time. For example, in this case when your knee has been bent while you drive your car or sit at your desk, could cause pain behind the knee.

When you go to stand up the popliteus has shortened due to muscle memory and it won’t lengthen. You now have stiffness and back of knee pain because the muscle and tendon are pulling hard on the bones. Often a person will tell me that the pain feels like it’s “deep inside my knee joint.” It is deep inside your knee joint.

So, you sit down again, and the pain at the back of your knee stops hurting. However, it’s only not hurting because you have brought the two bones closer together so the pressure has stopped.  It’s only making the matter worse in the long run.

BTW, this is what is happening all over your body. As a muscle gets tight because of spasms or shortened fibers, it is pulling hard on the tendon attachment at the insertion point.  If you try to stretch the muscle without first releasing the tension, you are placing a greater strain on the joint where the tendon is attached.

So, what to do?

Releasing The Tension Can Relieve Pain Behind The Knee

I’ve always explained that applying steady pressure to the spasm (also called a “trigger point”) will release the tension and allow the muscle to stretch normally.  As you hold the point it will become less and less painful, and soon it won’t hurt anymore. After the pain is gone you can safely stretch the muscle without tearing the fibers.  This will release the tension and begin to relieve pain behind the knee.

Now it’s important to drink a lot of water after the treatment.  If your muscle feels a bit sore you can use either ice (wrapped in a cloth) or arnica gel (a wonderful homeopathic remedy). Ice &/or arnica will heal the bruising caused by the knotted muscle fibers.

Treating The Muscle That Causes Pain Behind The Knee

pain behind the knee treatmentI’ve written several self-treatment books and filmed unique self-treatment DVD programs, through the years. I’m happy to share this simple treatment that I demonstrate in my book, Treat Yourself To Pain-Free Living.

Put your foot onto a stool or chair. Bend your knee and wrap your hands around your knee joint.  Have your middle fingers press directly into the area behind your knee joint and put your thumbs on your kneecap. You are using your thumbs as leverage and pressing into the muscles with your middle fingers.  Move around an inch in any direction until you find the tender point and then maintain the pressure for at least 60 seconds.

You can also sit on the floor or your bed with your foot flat and your knee bent.  Press up into the back of your knee, feeling for the painful tender point.  Hold the pressure for 30-60 seconds.

End the treatment by slowly straightening your leg while you are still maintaining the pressure. You can repeat this movement 2-3 times.

It only took a few minutes of sustained pressure on the trigger point and the lady I mentioned above was out of pain!  I had her press on the muscle, and she didn’t feel any discomfort.  I checked again, and the pain behind the knee was gone.  Imagine, only a few minutes and she avoided the possibility of knee surgery.  She was thrilled!

It is always beneficial to check the muscles for spasms before you have non-life threatening surgery. Many times the pain can easily be eliminated by simply releasing the spasms that are putting pressure on the insertion point at the joint.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

 

About The Author

julie donnellyJulie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Health Tips From The Professor