Recovering From A Torn Meniscus

Regain Full Flexibility And Get Back To The Sports You Love

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Happy WomanI love Florida, but I must say I really miss the changing of the leaves like I enjoyed when I lived in New York.  October was magical!  The trees painting a picture of red, gold, maroon, yellow, and green, and the smells that are so familiar to anyone who has ever lived in the north.

Fires burning to heat chilly homes, apple cider, baking pies and cookies because we could get back into the kitchen as the weather cooled down.  And of course, Halloween.

The world has changed so much.  Remember how we could go out in costume with our friends, no adults needed, and go from door to door, shouting “Trick or Treat!”  We’d come home with a pillowcase (or plastic pumpkin) filled with candy.  Such sweet memories..

What Is A Torn Meniscus?

Knee JointOne of my clients asked me to talk about a medial meniscus tear, and that is a topic that is “near and dear to me” because I had a severed medial meniscus from a ski accident.

The meniscus is something that many people aren’t familiar with, unless they have had a meniscus tear, then you definitely know all about it.  It hurts!

All of the major joints are complicated with many ligaments and other structures, each having an important function.

The knee joint is straightforward.

The lateral (outside of knee joint) and medial (inside of knee joint) meniscus cushion the femur (thigh) bone and tibia (shin bone) so your knee can bend and straighten without wearing down the bone.

Ligaments that surround the knee joint hold the bones together and form a tight, secure joint.

How Does A Meniscus Tear?

MeniscusTrauma to the knee joint, especially a twisting movement, will tear the meniscus.

In 1995 I had a ski accident where I severed the medial meniscus, but I didn’t have insurance at the time. I paid the $1000 for an MRI to find out why my knee was in so much pain, and why my knee felt like it was going to totally separate.

It turned out that I not only severed my left medial meniscus, I also tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), The ACL holds your bones together from front to back. When this tore, I felt like whenever stepped down my upper leg still kept going forward.  It was a scary feeling, I felt like my leg was going to come apart at my knee. Yikes!

Recovering From A Torn Meniscus

I need to remind you that I am not a doctor, nor do I have medical training to advise you about what to do.  This message isn’t meant to replace your physician’s advice.

When I found myself with a severed medial meniscus and a torn ACL, and I didn’t have medical insurance, I didn’t know what to do!  Fortunately, I was working along with Zev Cohen, MD.  My therapy practice was in Dr Cohen’s office, and he would often ask me to see one of his patients who were in pain when he knew it wasn’t caused by any systemic or visceral problems.  I totally respected Dr. Cohen because he truly wanted his patients to get better, even if it meant he was going to bring in a massage therapist!

As a result, when Dr. Cohen told me that my meniscus would heal with scar tissue, I believed him. And it worked!  The only glitch was the scar tissue made my knee stiff, so I started to do a movement that I believed would stretch the scar tissue enough so I could bend my knee properly. And that worked too!

Regain Full Flexibility And Get Back To The Sports You Love

A Stretch for AFTER Your Meniscus Heals 

Caution: Do Not do this stretch until your knee is completely healed. 

Stretch For Stiff KneeStand with your feet directly under your hips. Hold on to a closed door, being sure you’re on the side of the door that pushes out so you are pulling it shut as you do the stretch.

While keeping your knees straight up from your ankle, squat down, stopping when you start to feel pain in your knee.  Stay there, and then go just a little bit further.  Don’t push, it’s better to go slowly so your muscles stretch safely.  Scar tissue is really dense, it doesn’t stretch easily (if at all) so you need to slowly allow the scar tissue to loosen.

I can’t guarantee that this will work for you but let me tell you what happened to me.  I was doing this stretch multiple times a day, stopping when it would be too painful – or when I just ran out of time. Then one day – success!

One day I was squatting down and suddenly something released and I ended up sitting on the floor with my knees totally bent!

Since then I’ve been able to get back to skiing, and I have ZERO pain!

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.

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.

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.

Is Stress Causing My Headaches?

“It’s Summertime, and the Living Is…Stressful”

headacheIt’s hot out, the birds are chirping, the air is pretty still, and the rains are often torrential.  It’s summer and under normal circumstances things slow down as people take vacations or just go to sit at the beach or pool.  Normally, we would be singing that old favorite, “It’s summertime and the living is easy”.

But this year is different! This summer’s song could be, “It’s summertime and the living is stressful.

We’ve all been affected by COVID19 in some manner, life is more complicated for most of us, and stress-levels have increased for a lot of people. Since stress often causes headache pain, today’s newsletter is going to focus on relieving stress headaches.

Stress Can Tighten Your Muscles

Constant stress can tie your muscles into knots.   It is important to do things to relieve the stress that the current events are placing on your body.  Maybe you aren’t going to the gym, but you can go out for a long, fast walk.  You could even bring some light hand weights and be pumping your arms as you walk.  If you have access to a pool, swimming is a great way to get exercise without stressing the body – with social distancing, of course.

There are several muscles that cause headaches. Unfortunately, it’s rare that anyone in the medical field will check out muscles while looking for the source of headache pain.

Is Stress Causing My Headaches?

As I said above, chronic stress can cause your muscles to tighten, and tight muscles can cause headaches. I will discuss two of the main offenders today.

Treating Temporalis MuscleOne muscle that causes headaches is called the Temporalis This muscle is the shape of a fan and is at the temples of your skull, behind your eyes and above your ears.  It not only causes headaches. It also causes pain into your top teeth!

To treat your Temporalis muscle, take your three middle fingers and press on the muscle as shown in the picture to the left.

Find the tender point, only pressing enough to feel it, but not so much that you want to faint. Hold the pressure for a minute and then move your fingers slightly up and down, without sliding on your skin.

Release the pressure for about 15 seconds and repeat this sequence until the pain is gone.

Do this treatment on both sides of your skull.  Stay still on any “hot spots” as they are the actual spasm that is causing the problem. You’ll be surprised at how the pain and tenderness will diminish as you continue to do the whole treatment for just a few minutes.

Levator Scapulae MuscleAnother key headache muscle is the Levator Scapulae, a muscle that originates on your cervical vertebrae and inserts into your shoulder blade.  When this muscle is in spasm it will pull your cervical vertebrae to the side and down and press the bone into your spinal cord at the base of your brain.  

Looking at how the levator scapulae muscle attaches to the vertebrae in your neck will explain why it is an important cause of stress headaches.

The levator scapulae originates on the top four cervical vertebrae (see small box) and inserts into the top of your shoulder blade.  When the muscle contracts normally you lift up your shoulders. The nickname for this muscle is “the shrug muscle” because of its action.

However, when it gets tight it will pull the insertions at your neck 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!

Fortunately, you can treat the levator scapulae muscle, release the tension on the cervical vertebrae, and by treating the muscles in the back of your neck that become involved as the vertebrae move, you can stop the headache. It usually takes a while, maybe even two days. I wish I could tell you it’s immediate, but the important thing is you can stop the pain.

If you have suffered from headaches and your doctor has tested you to be sure it isn’t something more serious, then you’ll be pleased with the results of the Julstro™ self-treatments.

Relief From Stress Headaches Caused By A Tight Levator Scapula Muscle

Let me take you through the treatment step by step.

Relaxing Levator Scapulae MuscleStep 1: Relaxing the Spasms in Your Shoulders 

 You start by relaxing the spasms in your shoulders. While it can be awkward at first, you can very effectively treat your levator scapulae muscle by using a ball and pressing into the corner of a wall.

Put the Julstro Perfect ball directly on the top of your shoulder. Then lean straight into the corner of a wall.

Move slightly until you feel the pressure being focused on the knot at the top of your shoulder.

This treatment is for both your levator scapulae muscle and your trapezius muscle.

Step 2: Treating Your Levator Scapulae Muscle. 

Once you have loosened up the spasms in your shoulders, continue working on the levator scapulae muscle. You can also treat both by squeezing them with your fingers. We’ll demonstrate by treating your right shoulder. Naturally, you can do the same treatment on the opposite shoulder.

Bend your left arm and support you elbow with your right hand. Put your left three middle fingers on your right Treating Levator Scapulae Muscle shoulder at the point where the shoulder and neck meet. It helps if you place it so your thumb and pointer finger are close to your neck with the middle finger being the working finger right on the junction, just a bit toward the back. Your four fingers should be crooked at each joint of the hand and your palm should be flat against your body.

Staying in the same spot, relax your arm with your elbow close to the middle of your chest. In this position you will probably have your middle finger directly on the spasm point. All the strength from this move is coming from your upper arm, not from your fingers. To do that you will simply make sure that your middle finger is on the sore spot and then pull your elbow down toward the floor. Your finger will be like a hook that presses into the spasm.

If you feel your fingers getting tired, you are using your hand to give strength and not your arm. Once you feel the difference, it will be easy to do again. After you have found the trigger point and you are adding pressure to it, continue pressing into the knot.

Treating Levator Scapulae Muscle 2Next, keep your hand in the same spot, still pressing on the knot. Take your thumb, flip over onto the front of your shoulder, and push it straight into the muscle. This will move your thumb to a place that will now cause you to be pinching the knot.

You’ll feel if you have it right. You should have a fairly thick piece of muscle between the middle finger and the thumb. You can inch your three middle fingers back a bit if you find you aren’t gripping the entire thickness of the muscle.

If all you are feeling is skin between your fingertips, go back and try again. When you know you have a thick piece of muscle, grip tightly and release. Do this four times for 15 seconds each time.

 

Step 3: Stretching the Muscles in Your Shoulder

Now that you have worked out the knots, you are ready to stretch your shoulder muscles. Rotate your head a bit Stretching Levator Scapulae Muscleso your ear is angled toward the front of your chest. By doing this you will be adding additional stretch to the trigger point and releasing it at the same time.

Finally, continue holding the muscle and move your head as shown. Hold this for 15 seconds and release the pressure. When you finish, release your grip and shake out your shoulders. Then do it again, three more times, holding each stretch for 15 seconds.

You will really feel a great deal of relief when you ease the tension in this muscle.  This process will become easy after you play with it for a while and get the hang of squeezing the ball of knots that are on the top of your shoulder.

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.

Relief From Sinus Pain

Are Spring Allergies Ruining Your Time Outdoors?

spring flowersThe lovely month of May!  The air is warm, the breezes are soft, and the flowers are blooming.  We’re surrounded by nature coming alive as animal’s pair-up to again start the circle of life, and it’s all beautiful!

Hopefully, you are having the opportunity to go out and enjoy this wonderful time of year.

So many of us have been forced into inactivity due to all that is happening around the world, and not only does that add to your stress level, it also doesn’t benefit your body.  Hopefully, you are doing some type of purposeful movement at home.  My recommendation is:

  • Step 1: Exercise at home. There are many exercise programs on the internet so you can move along with the instructor.
  • Step 2: Self-treat the muscles you just exercised. Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living or The Pain-Free Athlete books are perfect to show you exactly where to find the knots that are putting a strain on your joints.  Find the shaded area where you feel tension/pain and then do the self-treatment to untie the knots in the muscle.
  • Step 3: Finish your exercise session off with stretching to release the tension in the muscle. There is a perfect safe-stretching routine taught in Focused Flexibility Training. It’s self-treatment of each muscle you’re going to stretch, followed by a 30-minute yoga routine.

Movement is important for the proper functioning of so many systems in your body, including your circulation, digestion, and your immune system.

Are Spring Allergies Ruining Your Time Outdoors?

This is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. It is a time to enjoy spring flowers, plant your gardens, and enjoy long walks, perhaps with your dog(s). But if you have sinus problems because of spring allergies, the outdoors is no fun. You may have sinus headaches. You may have sinus pressure that feels like you have a vice around your skull, pressing into your eyes and temples. You may even have a challenge keeping your eyes open.

I received several emails about sinus problems, most likely caused by spring pollen.  As a result, I figured it would help the most people by talking about how to ease the pressure in your sinuses this month. I want you to be able to enjoy the outdoors this spring without worrying about sinus problems.

Relief From Sinus Pain

To relieve sinus pain, take your three middle fingers and put them onto your cheeks as shown in this picture.  Your back teeth should be under your fingertips.

Press UP onto your cheekbones, as if you were trying to push your fingers into your eyes and the bone is in the way.

Alternate sides so you press up on your left side, hold for 5 seconds, then release while you are pressing up on your right side.  Keep going back and forth.

You can move along your cheekbone, going all the way next to your nostrils.  Then press the same way into the bone on both sides of your nose.

Finally, press into your eyebrows, close to midline, so you can be adding pressure onto the sinus cavities directly underneath your fingertips.

It will help if your head is tilted back a little so your sinuses can start to drain. Visualize pressing and squeezing your sinus cavities as that is exactly what you are actually doing!

By the way, this has also helped people who have a sinus infection because it enables the sinuses to drain, and then I always use a sinus rinse mixture and a squeeze bottle to wash the pollen out of my sinuses.

Trigger-Point Yoga And Focused Flexibility Training Update

Like so many people who are stuck indoors, I’m finding all kinds of projects that have been neglected for a long time.  One that has been on my mind, but never had enough time to do anything about, is a wonderful safe-stretching program that was developed back around 2010.

It was actually put together by an incredible yoga instructor named Ana.  Ana had a calf pain that wasn’t being resolved with yoga, so she finally searched online, and she found me.  She bought my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living,” and she also had a telephone consultation with me (I didn’t do any online meetings yet) to discuss her situation.  I told her which treatments to do and she was shocked that in just two days her pain and stiffness was gone.

The missing piece in yoga is stretching the muscle fibers without first untying the knots (spasms) that put a strain on the joints.  Yet, doing some simple techniques releases the knots and you can stretch without overstretching the muscle fibers.

Ana looked into the self-treatments for her hips and she was surprised to find multiple spasms. After treating them her yoga got better. That inspired her to do the self-treatments for her shoulders and sure enough, she had spasms that she treated, and her yoga got even better.  She knew this was something that needed to be shared with yoga-lovers everywhere.

After we met by telephone, she shared her ideas with me and Trigger-Point Yoga (TPY) was born.  Ana did an amazing job putting the program together.  I was filmed teaching an athlete named Scott how to do all the treatments taught in my book, which we called “The Foundation.”  Then Ana designed and filmed two sessions, one for the upper body and one for the lower body. Each session starts with 15 minutes of self-treating the muscles that will be stretched, and then 30 minutes of yoga stretching.

I found that athletes didn’t want to take a yoga class, but when I changed the name to Focused Flexibility Training, they were excited to do the program.

If you would like to stretch safely, without potentially tearing tight muscle fibers, I suggest you bring Trigger-Point Yoga into your home. For only $67 you can do the entire thing in your living room or den and feel more flexible than you have in a long time!

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.

Relief From Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Even if you’re not Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I think it’s one of those days that really isn’t necessarily an ethnic holiday anymore, it’s an “everybody” holiday.

I’m from New York and St. Patty’s Day is a HUGE day, with a big parade (I walked in it when I was in high school) and a LOT of partying!  The first recorded StPatrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762 because there were so many Irish immigrants.

I wasn’t too thrilled with aspects of the party part, but it’s still fun to wear green and have all the trappings of the day.  My favorites are green cookies and cupcakes (you can tell where my weakness lies – LOL).

Here are 10 fun facts about St. Patrick’s Day, Thanks to https://www.proflowers.com/blog/interesting-st-patricks-day-facts

  1. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston (1737).
  1. Shamrocks are the national flower/emblem of Ireland.
  2. Legend says that each leaf of the clover has a meaning: Hope, Faith, Love and Luck.
  3. Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000 (I don’t know about this one. I must be pretty lucky because when I was a kid, we used to always find them in the grass).
  4. The color of St. Patrick’s Day was originally blue.
  1. There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. This number is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself
  1. The real St. Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was born in Britain around A.D. 390 to an aristocratic Christian family
  1. Patrick never got canonized by a pope, making his saintly status somewhat questionable.
  1. The world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in an Irish village. It lasts only 100 yards, between the village’s two pubs.
  1. 1962 marked the first time Chicago dyed their river green for St Patrick’s Day.

Your Questions Answered

I have so many people asking me questions about the cause of their aches and pains that I’ve decided to add a new section to this newsletter – it’s a Q&A section where you can send in a question and I’ll pick one each month to answer.  I’ll explore the most logical cause of the pain and tell you where in my books you can find the self-treatment to eliminate it quickly.

Q:  When I yawn or chew my jaw clicks, close to my ear.  I can feel the bones rubbing together.  I’ve been told it may be TMJ.  What do you think?

A: I agree that it is most likely TMJ.

tmj pain treatment relief

 

If you press your three middle fingers into your cheeks, right where your back teeth meet, and then clench your teeth, you’ll feel the muscle bulge.  The name of the muscle is Masseter and it goes from your cheek bones (above your top back teeth) to your jaw line (below your lower back teeth.

 

 

When you chew, you are contracting that muscle, and you lengthen it as you open your mouth wide to put food into your mouth. Chewing gum or clenching your teeth contracts the muscle without the opposite movement of opening your mouth wide.  As a result, it’s being repetitively strained, and the body reacts by shortening the muscle fibers. This causes your jaw to shift over to the side of the shortened muscle each time you try to open your mouth.

The clicking you are feeling is the bones rubbing across each other because the muscle is too tight to allow your jaw to open correctly.  This can potentially cause real problems in your jaw, but fortunately it’s simple to reverse.

The treatment is shown on page 52-53 in Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living.  Most times you can reverse the problem after just 2-3 self-treatments.

What Causes Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades?

I had to solve a mystery in my office. A client was complaining of a pain between her shoulder blades, and after looking at the usual muscles (Rhomboids) I needed to do some detective work. It’s a little confusing, but if you visualize it while you’re reading it will help a lot.

 

Your rhomboids attach to the medial border of your scapula (between your shoulder blades).  When they contract normally, they pull your shoulder blades in toward your spine.

 

 

 

 

Your pectoralis minor muscle is in your chest, originating on your ribs and inserting into a small part of your shoulder blade (scapula), called the coracoid process.  When the pecs minor contacts normally it pulls on your scapula, moving your shoulder forward and rounding out your back.

 

 

Here’s what was happening to my client.

When your pecs minor is pulling your scapula forward it’s causing your rhomboids to be pulled up toward your head.  This isn’t a movement that works well for the rhomboids, so they go into a spasm, or at the very least they are over-stretched, and you feel the pull on the bone.

Relief From Pain Between Your Shoulder Blades

Simply releasing the tight pectoralis minor muscles allowed her shoulder blade to return to its proper location and the strain was taken off her rhomboids.

 

Looking at the pictures, begin by placing a ball on the front of your chest, just below your shoulder.  Basically, it is where your fingers are when you do the Pledge of Allegiance. Lean into a wall and bend your legs so you move the ball up and down on the muscle.

 

 

 

You can also squeeze the muscle by putting your fingertips into your armpit and your thumb in the same place as the location of the ball as shown in the picture.  Squeeze the muscle and pull down toward the floor as you are squeezing. As a bonus, you’ll be stretching the muscle as your releasing the tension in the muscle fibers.

I’m happy to say, treating my client’s pectoralis minor took the strain off her rhomboids, and her back pain disappeared!

The most important thing is she also learned how to self-treat her muscles, so the pain won’t return.

All my self-treatments are in either Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living or The Pain-Free Athlete.  If you have nagging aches and pains, you can release the tension and stop pain FAST!

Graphic Credit: Pectoralis Minor muscle graphic thanks to https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-a-pectoralis-major-and-a-pectoralis-minor-muscle

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You really CAN “Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living!”  As you already know, I’ve written a book, “Treat Yourself To Pain-Free Living“, that shows you how to self-treat muscles from your head to your feet, but maybe you would like to have me help you.

Just because you aren’t in Sarasota, Florida, we can still work together very successfully via the computer.  I’ve worked with people all over the world, and the results are excellent! To request a consult, click here.

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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. 

About The Author

Julie Donnelly

 

 

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 31 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.

Relief From Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Get Rid Of Foot Pain And Enjoy Running Again

SuccessSometimes I like to start my blog with ideas I think you may find helpful. This year, I’m not only writing goals, I’m doing something that was suggested by Pegine Echevarria.  I’m looking back on last 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 are enjoying a wonderful start to 2020.  Here’s to a year of adventure, joy, health, prosperity, and fulfillment of all your dreams!

Foot Pain And Plantar Fasciitis

Foot Pain Plantar FasciitisWith the new year here, lots of people have decided to get into a routine of walking, or running, to improve their health. I’ve also spoken to so many people about pain in the arch of the foot, a condition called plantar fasciitis.  Most people have been told to focus their attention on the foot.​

However, the muscles of your lower leg are responsible for the movements of your foot, so ignoring them and focusing on your foot is useless.

That’s like pulling your hair and then putting your focus on the pain in your head…while you’re still pulling your hair.  It doesn’t work!  You’re looking in the wrong place!​

The vast majority of pain in your arch isn’t coming from your foot, it’s coming from your lower leg.​

Stick with me, this is going to be so logical that you’ll wonder why you haven’t already heard about treatment and stretches for the real source of plantar fasciitis.

Relief From Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Let’s take a look at the muscles that move your foot.  There are many tiny, intrinsic muscles but we’re not talking about them today…we’re talking about the major movers of your foot.

In case you would like to find the muscles in an anatomy book or on the internet, they are:​

·        Gastrocnemius:  A calf muscle that merges into the Achilles tendon.

·        Soleus:  Under the gastrocnemius, the soleus also merges into the Achilles tendon.  These two muscles pull your heel up so you can stand on your toes.  When they are tight, they are pulling up on your Achilles tendon and pulling the bone up, even when you want to keep your foot flat on the ground.  This causes your arch muscle to be pulled backward, causing arch pain.

·        Tibialis Anterior:  Primary muscle causing plantar fasciitis because it inserts into your arch.  The tibialis anterior muscle is along the outside of your shin bone and inserts into the long bone on the inside of your arch.  When it contracts the foot rolls toward the outside of the foot.  This muscle also causes shin splints. When it is tight it is pulling hard on the bone and you feel pain in your arch.

·        Peroneals:  A group of two muscles inserting into the outside of your foot and arch.  The peroneals originate along the length of your lower leg bone (Fibula) and insert into the bones on the outside and the inside of your arch.  When they are tight, they pull the bones toward the outside of your foot, and you have arch pain.

These four muscles are pulling your arch in three different directions at the same time. This creates arch pain, but the source is in your lower leg!

Before jumping into the stretches for plantar fasciitis, I recommend first doing the self-treatments to release the tension in these muscles.

3 Self-Treatments For Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Treatment For Tibialis Anterior Muscle

 

To treat your tibialis anterior, place a ball just below your knee and on the outside of your shin.  Then move your leg so the ball rolls down toward your ankle.

If your arch feels like it’s going to cramp, simply roll your toes as shown in this picture.

 

Treatment For Peroneal Muscle

 

To treat your peroneals, place a ball as shown in the picture on the right.  Put your hand on your leg so you can press the muscle down into the ball.  Then move your leg so the ball rolls down toward your ankle

 

 

 

 

Treatment For Calf MuscleThere are several ways to treat your calf but they all use the same principle.  Put the center of your calf directly on your opposite kneecap.  Press your leg down so your kneecap goes deeply into your calf muscle.

Don’t slide, just rock your leg up and down, along the length of the muscle.

You can also do this treatment while sitting in a chair.

3 Stretches For Plantar Fasciitis Pain

Note: It is most beneficial to release the spasms (muscle knots) in the muscles as shown above before doing the stretches for plantar fasciitis relief.  This is the case for any muscle as it “unties the knot” that has shortened the muscle allowing you to stretch without injuring the muscle fibers.

Stretch For Gastrocnemius Muscle

 

 

The picture on the left shows a common, runners stretch for the gastrocnemius muscle.​

In order to get a proper stretch, it is important to keep your heel on the ground as you tilt your body forward.

Notice that you don’t need to be leaning forward and holding on to anything.  Stand up straight.

 

Stretch For Soleus Muscle

 

To stretch the deeper muscle, the soleus, slowly bring your bottom back while bending the knee of the leg you are stretching.​

Keep your heel firmly on the floor. ​

This stretch is deeper and often overlooked by runners, yet it is a key muscle for calf pain, Achilles tendonitis, heel pain, and plantar fasciitis.

 

 

Stretch For Tibialis Anterior Muscle

 

You can stretch both the tibialis anterior muscle and the peroneal muscles by just a slight rotation of your ankle.​

Curl your toes so the top of your toes are on the ground.​

If your foot is squared so the top of your toes are flat on the ground, this stretches the tibialis anterior.​

If you move slightly (as shown), this stretches the peroneal muscles.

 

 

You will feel the lengthening along your entire lower leg as you are doing an excellent series of stretches for plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

As a bonus, this is also the treatment for a sprained ankle!

BTW, all the pictures in this newsletter were taken from The Pain-Free Athlete. You can easily learn how to self-pain free living booktreat all of the major muscles in your body by using The Pain-Free Athlete  or Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living. These books show you how to self-treat muscles from your head to your feet, but maybe you would like to have me help you.

Just because you aren’t in Sarasota, Florida, we can still work together very successfully via the computer.  I’ve worked with people all over the world, and the results are excellent! To request a consult, click here.

Heal Your Plantar Fasciitis Naturally

You Can Make Your Foot Pain Go Away

 Author: Julie Donnelly

Just a couple of weeks ago I taught you how to make your hip pain go away. Today’s topic is foot pain. And, yes, you can make your foot pain go away as well. But, let’s start at the beginning.

How Does Foot Pain Get Started?

You Can Make Your Foot Pain Go Away
Do you suffer from plantar fasciitis?

You feel it coming on gradually. Maybe your lower leg aches a bit, but you’re busy so you ignore it. After a while every time you take a step you feel a burning that spreads along the entire lower leg and into your arch. Still you ignore it.  But it doesn’t go away, in fact, it gets worse.

Now your arch just doesn’t feel “right.”  Then it starts to hurt, but not every time you put pressure on your foot. Again, you ignore it until finally you are experiencing foot pain all the time.   Then eventually you can’t ignore it any more, it’s like a knife being jabbed into your arch. Now it’s not just hurting when you run or drive your car, your foot hurts with every step.

Almost every day you do something that causes you to lift the front of your foot while your heel is still resting on the floor. For most people it comes from straining your lower leg muscles when you are driving a car, especially if you drive often. It is even more evident if you are doing any type of city driving because you are off and on the gas and break constantly, repetitively straining all of your lower leg muscles. You just know that your foot hurts and it’s affecting your life.  You must find a solution!

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

You’ve been told you have plantar fasciitis, and you may have been told you need expensive orthotics.  Perhaps you’ve even tried them and while they worked for a short time, eventually the pain returned and then it started to hurt worse.  Now you’re told you need to replace the orthotics, but you’ve come to realize that isn’t the answer.  And it’s not the answer. The orthotics are focusing on the symptom, but totally ignoring the source of the problem.

The good news is that you can heal your plantar fasciitis naturally. Most people, including too many medical professionals, don’t realize that foot pain is frequently coming from outside the foot. The muscles of your lower leg actually are there to move your ankle and foot, not to move your lower leg (that comes from your upper leg).

The reason is simple. First let’s use an analogy that I use all the time because it’s so perfect to explain how muscles work to move a joint.  If you pull your hair at the end, it hurts at your scalp. You don’t need to massage your scalp, you don’t need to take pain medications to stop the tension in your head, and you certainly don’t need brain surgery, you just need to stop pulling your hair!  Now substitute the muscle for your hand, the tendon for your hair, and the joint for your scalp.

Muscles originate in one place, they merge into a tendon that crosses over a joint, and then the tendon inserts into a point on the other side of the joint.  When the muscle pulls, the tendon tightens and the joint moves, but if the muscle is tight it will continue pulling on the joint even when you don’t want it to move.  In the case of the lower leg muscles and the foot, the muscles are pulling your foot up from the ground, but you are pressing it down and causing the tendons to put a strain on the insertion points, which in this case are all in your arch.

How the Muscles Get Strained

Every time you take a step you are using all of the muscles of your lower leg. As you work you contract these muscles every time you step on the pedal. Lifting the front of your foot up you are using your tibialis anterior and then you press down on the pedal you are using your calf muscles. If you walk a lot, or you are a runner, you are causing a repetitive strain on the same muscle fibers. Also, while driving your car your foot is picked up in the front to go from the gas to the brake, again straining the same muscles. You do this over and over until you have strained the muscle fibers.  Eventually the fibers shorten due to a phenomenon called muscle memory.

Muscle memory will hold your muscles in the shortened position even when you don’t need them contracted. This puts pressure on the insertion point, in this case, the arch.

The Result is Arch Pain

The two primary muscles that cause arch pain are the tibialis anterior and the peroneals.  They originate at the top of the lower leg, merge into tendons where your ankle begins to slim, and then insert into the bottom of your foot.

The tibialis anterior goes along the outside of your shin bone, crosses over the front of your ankle and then inserts into your arch.  When it contracts normally you lift up the inside of your foot so you are resting on the outside of your foot.

The peroneals originate at the top/outside of your lower leg, run down the leg and merge into a tendon that goes behind  the outside of your ankle and inserts in two places; the outside of your foot, and under your arch to the inside of your foot. When it contracts normally you pull up the outside of your foot so you are resting on your big toe.

An Easy Treatment that Works

The goal with this Julstro self-treatment is to force the toxins out of the muscle fibers, drawing in blood to nourish the muscles.  As the blood fills the muscle, the fibers lengthen and the strain is removed from the arch.

Begin by treating the tibialis anterior on the front of your leg.

Foot_Pain_1

 

#1 – kneel on the floor and put a ball just outside of your shin bone.

 

 

Foot_Pain_2

 

#2 – Move your leg forward so the ball rolls along the outside of your shin bone.

 

 

Then treat the peroneals on the outside of your lower leg, sit on the floor with the leg you are treating bent and resting on the floor. Put the ball on the outside of your leg (so it is actually on the floor and your leg is on top of it) and then press the outside of your leg into the ball.  Move your leg so the ball starts to roll down the outside of your lower leg.  Your intention is to do the same as you did for the tibialis anterior (above)

Or, sit on the floor or a bed and position your leg as shown in picture #3. While using either a dowel or a length of PVC pipe, slide the pipe from just above your ankle bone to just below your knee joint.

Foot_Pain_3#3 – Using a dowel or piece of PVC pipe, put pressure on the outside of your leg and slide along the peroneals muscle from your knee to above your ankle bone.

The treatments will feel sore but that’s because you’re forcing H+ ions through the muscle fibers, and acid burns. But, it’s better to have the toxins out of the muscles and fill the fibers with blood, plus the lymphatic system will pick up the toxins and eliminate them from your body.

There are several other treatments that work to eliminate arch pain and plantar fasciitis, but I’ve found these to be the most productive, and they may be all that is necessary to eliminate the problem completely.

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 Can You Relieve Chronic Hip Pain?

Making Hip Pain Go Away

Author: Julie Donnelly

Hip PainDo you have joint pain or stiffness?  Does it hurt when you’ve been sitting and you try to get up and walk? Have you tried to stretch and either it feels good for a few minutes and then you’re back to square one, or maybe even worse, it hurts more than it did before? Do you sometimes feel like your joints are just tied down and you’re no longer flexible? Do you maybe even blame it on “old age?”  The odds are extremely high that all that’s happening is your muscles are in spasm.

If any of these statements fit you, you’ll really love today’s message.  As a bonus, at the end of this blog you’ll learn a self-treatment that you’ll love if you ever have hip pain.

I’ve mentioned many times that a tight muscle pulling on a tendon will cause joint pain, just like pulling on your hair will cause your scalp to hurt.  And, just like the only way to stop the pain in your head is to let go of your hair, the only way to stop the pain in your joint is to release the tight muscle.

Another analogy that I use frequently has to do with stretching and why you may feel worse AFTER you stretch than you did before you stretched. If you took a 12” line and tied enough knots in it so it is now 11”, and then you try to stretch it back to 12” without first untying the knots, you can see what would happen.  The knots would become tighter and the fibers on either side of the knot would be overstretched and could possibly even tear.  If the line was attached to a fixed point on either side you can imagine the strain that is happening to the attachment points.  This is exactly what is happening to you when you when you stretch a muscle that is tied up in knots (spasms).  You can see how important it is to first release the spasms before stretching.

Today I’d like to share with you how to do one of the Julstro self-treatments that we teach on the Julstro self-treatment DVD.  So many people have hip pain that I’d like to explain how to treat the tensor fascia lata muscle which is located on the outside of your hip, between your hip bone and the top of your thigh bone:

Hip_Pain_Self_TreatmentUsing a tennis ball (hollow in the center so it is a bit less intense) or a Perfect Ball (solid in the center so it gets in deeper) place the ball right where the side-seam of your pants is located – between the two bones.  If you are in a lot of pain, start by leaning into a wall. If you want to go deeper into the muscle, lie on the floor on top of the ball.  You may need to move an inch or so to find the “epicenter” of the spasm, but you’ll know immediately when you locate it.  Always make sure you keep your pressure to a “hurts so good” level, you’re in control so don’t over-do.

Once you find the spasm, which is also called a “trigger point,” just stay still on it for 30-60 seconds. Lift your weight off the ball for a few breaths and then press into the ball again. This second time you’ll find that it won’t be as painful as the first time because you have already pressed out some of the H+ ions that are causing the spasm (and the pain).

Keep repeating this for a few minutes and then slightly move your body so you can find other trigger points that are around your hips. You’ll probably find points that are a little bit toward the front of your hip, so make sure you rotate your body so you’re facing more toward the wall or the floor, and then rotate your body so you’re back is more toward the wall or the floor.

This one simple technique has saved several of my clients from thinking they needed hip surgery! It will help you move easier and with less discomfort – and often it will totally eliminate the pain from your hip completely.

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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