You Can Touch Your Toes Again

sunOne more hot month to go!  This has been an exceptionally hot summer in many places around the USA. In fact, many times Florida was cooler (mid 90’s) than some of the cities up north.  Weird!

I hope you are doing well as this COVID19 problem keeps hanging around to make our lives a challenge. When the shutdown happened back in March, I didn’t know what I was going to do.  As you are well-aware, I don’t do relaxing massage, I work with people who are in real pain.  How do I tell people to just be in pain until this pandemic passes!

Fortunately for me, and for my clients, the first client I saw after the shutdown was a medical doctor. I asked her about people coming to me and she told me if everyone wears a mask, and I wash my hands before and after treating someone, that it would be fine.  So that’s what’s been happening. Plus, I wash everything down with a strong disinfectant after each client, and all is well.

I’m seeing less people, but I’m seeing people who are in a lot of pain and are desperate for help.  As my clients have told me, I am an essential worker, and I believe they are right.

With that said, I want to tell you about a man who drove 17 hours from southern Texas to work with me for a week. Let’s call him JT for privacy.

You Can Touch Your Toes Again

Pelvis Stiffness 1JT was stiffer than anyone I’d ever seen in the past, and after a 17-hour trip, we knew he needed to come in a LOT. He ended up coming in for 3 hours a day for the first 3 days, and 90 minutes on Thursday and Friday.

When JT arrived, it amazed me at how stiff his pelvis was, every muscle that moved his pelvis, legs and low back were tied up in multiple tight knots. He has given me permission to share his pictures with you so I can explain something really interesting that I found, and how it can help you to release tension in your low back.

Day 1: JT’s hips were so locked that when he bent forward his fingertips only went to 7” above his knees.  He couldn’t bend any further than this!

I’ve already shown you how to do the self-treatment for your quadriceps using a 12”x1” length of PVC pipe, and how to use the Perfect Ball on your low back muscle.  This is where we started so the muscles that rotate the pelvis down in the front can start to release.

Pelvis Stiffness 2Day 2: First I worked on all of the muscles that insert into his thigh bone where it inserts into his pelvis. Then JT used the Perfect Ball and working on the floor he went deeply into all of the muscles that connect his pelvis to his thigh bone.

At the end of the day his fingers were 5” below his knee joint.

On Day 3 there was a set-back, his fingers were still about 2” below his knee joint but we were questioning what we were missing.  When JT bent forward, he had pain in the front of his pelvis, just below the point of his hip bone.  That’s an area that definitely shouldn’t be hurting when JT bent forward.  I kept looking at my skeleton, Max, and my book of muscles/bones/joints, to try to figure it out, and looking at the muscles of the pelvis.  Then suddenly it was so clear!

Your hamstrings originate at the base of your posterior pelvis, and they insert just below the back of your knee.  Your thigh bone (femur) inserts into your hip at an area called the acetabulum, it looks like fitting a ball into a curved cup.

This is the part I want to share with you today.

How Your Hamstrings Impact Your Pelvis

On the afternoon of Day 3, I was frustrated at the set-back. After staring at Max and my book of muscles it finally dawned on me that it was JT’s hamstrings that were part of the problem, even though it was his rotating pelvis that was causing his hip joint to be out of alignment.

I had been working on all of the pelvic muscles and they all felt pretty good, and I had done a pass down the back of his thighs, but I hadn’t focused on JT’s hamstrings. And that made all the difference!

An important point to mention when talking about a long-standing problem with tight muscles is to discuss “muscle memory.”

Muscle memory is when a muscle that has been held shortened for an extended time (which could be just a few hours) it will shorten to that new length. The problem is, you release the tension in the muscles and get relief, but the muscle shortens again, and the strain is again placed on your joints.

As JT’s hamstrings shortened, they pulled down of the back of his pelvis, and this twisted the alignment of his hip joint. Because of this misalignment, he was feeling pain in the front of his hip, and that was the piece I’d been missing.

Pelvis Stiffness 3

 

After treating JT’s hamstrings (treatment shown below) he was able to bend almost all the way to his ankles!  Only three days before JT could only bend to not even the middle of his thigh, yet here he was almost to his ankles!

 

 

 

 

Treating Hamstrings To Relax The Pelvis

treat tight hamstringsIf you have been to my therapy office, you know that I always teach how to do 1-2 self-treatments.  The reason is you need to reverse muscle memory, and the only way to do that is to do the self-treatments frequently – every day is best.

A simple way of treating your hamstrings is to put a Perfect Ball on a wooden chair, or the corner of a desk, and put your hamstrings onto the ball.

Keep moving the ball until you find tender points as these are the knots (spasms) that are putting a strain on your pelvis.  Treat each point and then stretch 

Stretching Your Hamstrings

Hamstring Stretch

 

Lie on your back and put a rope under your arch.  Start with your knee bent and lift your leg up as high as you can go without seriously straining your hamstrings.

 

Slowly straighten your leg, stretching your hamstrings.

 

Day 5 – JT is Ready to Go Back to Texas

Pelvis Stiffness 4JT is now only 3” above the top of his foot. He’s not touching his toes yet, but he feels so much better.

The best news is that JT is thoroughly familiar with every self-treatment to release all of the muscles that have an impact on his pelvis.  He’s not 100% better yet, but he’s well on his way.

How Does This Affect You? 

The important part of this story for you is that you CAN learn how to self-treat, and the odds are excellent that you can get relief from even the most stubborn of chronic pains.

My goal is to help as many people as possible to eliminate chronic pain that is caused by tight muscles, and to show they how to self-treat!

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.

How Muscles Cause Joint Pain

Preventing & Healing Repetitive Strain Injuries – Part 1

 Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT

 

Quadriceps
Quadriceps

Using the words “pain” and “free” in the same sentence causes people who love to exercise laugh since it seems to be a contradiction of terms, but it is not only possible, it’s easy to achieve. It is understood that exercising, or even just daily living, causes muscles to ache and will also put stress on joints.

When the pain begins you are told to use “RICE” (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) – but you don’t have the time, or you simply don’t want to rest! So, you keep going and just as you’ve been told, it gets worse, even to the point where you may need to stop your world!

You’ve also come to realize that resting (when you do decide to rest) only lasts for a short time, and then the pain returns. The good news is you can be a pain-free; you just need to know how to find the source of your pain and then how to effectively treat it.

How Muscles Cause Joint Pain

RICE certainly works immediately after having a traumatic injury, but repetitive stress on your muscles requires treatment of the knots that are putting tension onto the tendons and joints.  Getting back to basic anatomy will help to unravel the misconceptions that plague both athletes and non-athletes alike.  Once you understand the logic of why you are feeling pain, you will know exactly what needs to be done to immediately release a muscle-related pain anywhere in your body.

This is NOT going to be a complicated lesson in Anatomy & Physiology, but I’ve found that a little knowledge of the body goes a long way. I’m going to put the proper names for the muscles and tendons into a parenthesis so if you want to actually see the muscles that are causing you pain you’ll be able to look them up.

I always tell the clients I work with “the most challenging part is finding where the source of the pain is located, and then treating it is easy”.  This article will help you to find the source of your problem.  Let’s begin at the beginning…

The Basics – How a Joint Moves

Movement is a simple process:

1. A muscle originates on a bone.

2. It then merges into a tendon.

3. The tendon crosses over the joint to insert into a movable bone.

4. When the muscle contracts it pulls on the tendon.  The tendon then pulls on the moveable bone and your joint moves.

Example: The Muscles of Your Upper Leg

Hamstrings
Hamstrings

All joints have two (or more) muscles that determine the degree and angle that the joint will move.  While one muscle is contracting, the other muscle must relax and stretch. A good example of this principle are the muscles of your upper leg. (quadriceps and hamstrings).

The quadriceps originate on the front of your hip (pelvis), merge into a thick tendon (patella tendon) and cross over the knee cap to insert onto the front of your shinbone (tibia).  When they contract normally you fully extend your leg so it becomes straight. Meanwhile, your hamstrings originate on the lower edge at the back of your pelvis; go down the back of your thigh, with the tendons crossing over the back of your knee and inserting onto the back side/top of the lower leg bone.

Consider this analogy, if you attached your pants to the front of your shinbone, and then pulled up at the waist, you would feel the pressure at your knee and you also wouldn’t be able to bend your knee. Likewise, since your quadriceps originate up at the front of your pelvis and insert into your shinbone, when your quadriceps are tight they can’t stretch and you can’t bend your knee.

For example, to demonstrate an analogy of what tight hamstrings would do, consider what would happen if you bent your leg and then attached your pants to the bottom of your posterior pelvis (the bone you sit on, at the top of your thigh) and the back of your knee, you wouldn’t be able to open your leg up straight.  But, clearly, you don’t have a knee problem, you have tightness in the upper thigh (hamstring) preventing your knee from moving.

When this has happened you begin to feel stiffness and a lack of your full strength. Some therapists will tell you that you need to strengthen your thigh (quadriceps) muscles. You may also think you need to stretch your hamstrings, but stretching a spasm is counter-productive and can actually make the spasm become more complicated while over-stretching the rest of the muscle fiber.

In Part II we’ll look at the first misconception – strengthening the muscle will heal the pain.

Julie Donnelly is an internationally respected muscular therapist specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries.  She has co-authored several self-treatment books, including The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living  and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You.  Julie is also the co-developer of TriggerPoint Yoga. She teaches Julstro self-treatment workshops nationwide and is a frequent presenter at Conventions and Seminars.  Julie may be contacted through her websites: http://www.julstro.com  and http://www.TriggerPointYoga.com.

© Julie Donnelly 2013

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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