A New Year’s Gift For You

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert
Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Welcome To 2021

celebrationIt seems like only a few weeks ago that we were getting ready to greet 2020. And in another way, it seems like it was an eternity ago because so much has happened during the past year. Personally, I am glad 2020 is over and I am visualizing a HEALTHY New Year for everyone!

But before we throw 2020 on the trash heap, let’s focus for a minute on the good things that happened in 2020. Yes, you heard me right – the good things!

Recently I was talking to a group of people, safely on Zoom, and someone asked us to discuss all the GOOD things that happened this year. What good things happened as a direct result of COVID-19?

For me, my therapy practice melted away and gave me many empty hours in my day. Like so many of us, the shift in income was scary. But, again, like so many of us, I decided to focus on what I could accomplish, and ignore the rest as best as I could.

If you come here to my office, you know that my therapy techniques are quite different than most of my colleagues in the massage world. I call my techniques “the Julstro Method of Osteopathic Muscular Therapy,” because early in my career I had the good fortune to be trained by a retired osteopathic physician. He taught me many osteopathic techniques that aren’t normally taught to massage therapists, and it has served me well. Even better, it has served my clients well, helping thousands of people who were at a loss for finding solutions to pain.

With my extra time, I asked myself how I could help even more people with my massage therapy techniques.

Lots Of Good Things Happened To Me In 2020

I have dabbled at training other massage therapists for several years, but COVID-19 put that training into hyperdrive! Suddenly I was creating instructional videos to teach others my techniques. A BIG shout out to Sherri Proctor for being the most talented, and patient, videographer in the world. Sherri is awesome and if you live here in the Sarasota vicinity and you need a videographer/photographer, I can’t recommend her highly enough.

We began with a series of videos demonstrating every self-treatment that are in my books, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete.

I want to thank Barbara Shelby and Greg Hurst for being my models and making what could have been a difficult task become an easy one. I wanted videos (now in flash drive format and MP4 format) so people could easily follow how to do the Julstro self-treatments. Sherri did hours and hours of editing, again doing a fantastic job. She no sooner finished one project, and I was off to a new one.

Our next project was taking the videos I use when teaching massage therapists live, in a school setting. Sherri videoed me doing all the talking/teaching I do before and after each video. This was a monumental task, and Sherri did a great job.

My goal is to make these videos available to the world, so everyone can learn easy techniques that will help them achieve pain-free living. It is a big goal, but I hope to accomplish it this year. Check on my website (https://julstromethod.com) periodically to see when those videos become available.

One More Good Thing In 2020!

In early December I was interviewed on a podcast, “Be Healthy in a Hurry.” The interview went live on Dec. 29th (https://behealthyinahurry.libsyn.com/our-first-in-between-season-show-7-julie-donnelly-internationally-known-pain-relief-expert-and-tedx-speaker), so if you enjoy podcasts, I hope you will listen to it. Just click on the link and scroll down the page until you find my podcast.

What Good Things Have Happened To You In 2020?

This month I have spent a lot of time rehashing 2020 because I think it is important to look at the bright side of this unusual year. What good things have happened to you because of COVID? Write them down, I believe you will be amazed at how many things you have to be thankful for as 2020 draws to a close.

Let’s count our blessings!

A New Year’s Gift For You

Now that the holidays are over and 2021 is here, we all need to take a breath and relax. At least that is the goal. So, with that in mind, my New Year’s gift is meant for you to release tension from your body.

A little background on this New Year’s gift. About 30 years ago I was working as a massage therapist on a cruise ship. It was fantastic! The most consistent fun I ever had in my life.

On the ship we all had multiple jobs, and one of mine was to do a relaxing meditation the first morning of the cruise. That was the seeds of the MP3 that I am sending you this month. It worked so well that people started asking me to record it. It was funny how I managed to do that when you remember that I was on a cruise ship and it was before we had cell phones or fancy recording equipment. But I got it done well enough that people were able to leave with a cassette tape they could use at home.

Fast forward to my office in New York in the mid-late 1990’s. I would talk clients through the relaxation techniques, changing them as I went along so they would address each individual’s specific problems. Then a client offered to professionally record it for me. Wonderful!

I decided to make this recording beneficial for everyone, focusing on multiple problems that can cause people to suffer from painful, and in some cases, life-threatening conditions. I am happy to say that many people have been able to get relief and turn their health around by using the relaxing techniques in this MP3. The title is “Mental Massage – Relaxing into a Perfect Body ( https://we.tl/t-HVpMxtbBTB)”. I hope you will enjoy it!

Help Me Help You

I want this newsletter to help you live a Pain-Free Life. With that said, please send me an email (Julie@JulieDonnelly.com) and let me know what you would like me to discuss. Muscles cause pain all over the body and cause the same symptoms as arthritis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, and so much more. If you have a problem, please let me know and it will be the topic for one of these newsletters.

In the future I won’t be writing one of these articles every month, but I will respond to your questions and your needs. Please help me help you by sending in your questions.

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.


Which Muscles Are Affected By Stress?

It’s Time For The Beach

Beach At SunsetThis is a perfect time to go to the beach – August is hot and humid, and the water feels so refreshing.  Of course, we now need to socially distance ourselves from each other, but for those of us in Florida that is possible when we have so many beautiful beaches close to our homes.

Most of us are sticking close to home, and summer sure isn’t what it has been in years past. The baseball season was on – then off – and as of right now, who knows!  Most of the people I know are getting through this okay, I hope you are too!

Which Muscles Are Affected By Stress?

We are living in stressful times, and chronic stress can cause your muscles to tighten. When that happens, it can lead to pain in unexpected places. When you visit your doctor, they may recommend drugs or aggressive treatments.

Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware tight muscles can be the real cause of your pain. They don’t know that there are simple treatments that can release your tight muscles and relieve the pain – without resorting to drugs.

This week I will address the top 3 muscles that are affected by chronic stress and how to treat those muscles when they cause you pain.

Levator Scapulae MuscleLevator Scapulae: This is, in my opinion, the #1 muscle that gets involved when we are under stress.  The nickname for the Levator Scapulae is “the shrug muscle” because when it contracts normally you lift your shoulders up….you shrug.

The problem is, the muscle originates on your first four cervical vertebrae, and inserts into your shoulder blade. When you are under stress it is common for your shoulders to lift up. The muscle is held tightly, and a phenomenon called “muscle memory” keeps the muscle in the shortened position. Once the levator scapulae is “stuck” in a  shortened position, when you either bend your neck to the side (bringing your ear closer to your shoulder), or you lift something heavy with your arm, pulling your shoulder down, it pulls on your cervical vertebrae.

This causes your cervical vertebrae to move and puts pressure on your spinal cord right at the base of your brain. The Levator Scapulae has been proven, in my clinical practice, to be the #1 reason for severe headaches. When it gets tight it will pull the insertions at your neck and pull them to the side and down. This causes the bones to press into your spinal cord, right at the base of your brain, and you get a severe headache!

Last month I shared self-treatment techniques to release the tightness in your Levator Scapulae muscles and relieve your tension headaches. If you are suffering from tension headaches, these techniques can work wonders.

Intercostals: The Intercostal muscles are between each rib.  When you breath in, they expand, and when they contract, you breath out.  The problem is, when you are under stress you may hold your breath longer than normal, and muscle memory sets in, and they stay in the shortened position.

As this happens you lose the ability to take a good, deep breath.  This lessens the amount of oxygen that is in your blood and that goes out to your cells.  This can cause problems all over your body.

The solution to this problem is deep breathing exercises. A friend of mine, Tara Clancy, is an expert on breathing and how it affects your entire body.  You can check her out at http://www.o2tara.org.

Masseter MuscleMasseter: Do you clench your teeth when you are under stress?  The muscle that causes you to clench your teeth is called the masseter muscle.  If you put your fingertips onto your cheeks, pressing into your back teeth you are on your masseter muscle. Clench your teeth, you will feel the muscle bulge as it contracts.

The masseter muscle (circled on graphic) is the muscle that contracts to enable you to chew your food.  Normally, as you chew the muscle shortens, and then lengthens as you put more food into your mouth.  However, if you are under chronic stress, and your teeth stay clenched, your masseter will shorten from muscle memory and put a strain on your jaw joint.  This is the cause of a condition called TMJ.

TMJ is a condition where your jawbone rubs, or “clicks,” over the bone that is just in front of your ear. It is painful, and over time it will damage the bones. When you are under stress and constantly clenching your teeth, you are shortening your masseter muscle. The now-shorter muscle prevents you from opening your jaw completely, for example, when you yawn. As you are trying to yawn your jaw flips over the bone, and it hurts.

Self-Treatment For TMJ

Several years ago, I had a client who had such tight masseter muscles that a dental surgeon was going to sever them so she could open her mouth.  This is a terrible solution because it would mean her mouth would hang open for the rest of her life. Fortunately for this client she had to get medical approval before she could have the surgery.  When Dr. Cohen (the doctor I worked with) felt her masseter muscles, he refused to sign the permission form. He told her that she had to see me first, and fortunately I was there at the time.  It took just 30 minutes for me to release the spasms and teach her how to do the treatment.  At the end of the session she was pressing into both masseter muscles and opening her mouth.  She did it easily and without pain!  She started to cry because she came within one day of having this unnecessary surgery. Her life was changed by just a simple self-treatment!

tmj pain treatment reliefPlace your fingers as shown in the picture to the left.  Clench your teeth so you can feel the muscles bulge.

Apply deep pressure on just one side for 5 seconds. Then release that pressure and apply deep pressure to the opposite side for 5 seconds. Go back and forth until it doesn’t hurt anymore.  Then find a different “hot spot,” and repeat.  Continue doing this until you can’t find any more tender points on your muscle and jaw.

To stretch the masseter muscle just press deeply into the original point on the muscle and slowly open your mouth wide.

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.

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