Relief From Restless Leg Syndrome

Muscles, Nerves, And Restless Leg Syndrome 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Never-ending Summer

HotIt is starting to cool off in other parts of the country, but it’s still hot in Florida right now. Sometimes it feels like we have never-ending summer in Florida. Thank heaven for air conditioning!

For those of us who are old enough to remember the days before air conditioning, we are even more grateful for air conditioning.  I remember being pregnant with my son in 1967, when we were living in San Antonio, Texas.  Most people didn’t have air conditioning yet, and we certainly didn’t.  I came to realize why Southerners talk so slow (remember, I’m a New Yorker).  It was so hot we just didn’t talk at all. It took too much effort!

Fortunately, this time of year seems to pass quickly, and we’ll be getting back into cooler weather before we know it.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

confusionA reader asked me to talk about RLS this month.  Restless Leg Syndrome is a tricky topic, depending on which expert you read.  The Mayo Clinic said there isn’t a known cause of RLS, but it may be caused by an imbalance of the brain chemical dopamine.  The Mayo Clinic has also said RLS can be related to:

  • Peripheral neuropathy.
  • Iron deficiency.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Spinal cord conditions.

Yes, there isn’t a definitive cause for RLS.

A friend had RLS and told me that when she took iron supplements, and totally avoided flour and sugar that her symptoms disappeared.  Then I read that iron is the worst thing to take for RLS.  Go figure!

In any case, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, so I look at the possible muscular cause of RLS.

Muscles, Nerves, And RLS 

The nerves that go to your leg are the sciatic and femoral nerves, which are the continuation of your spinal cord, separating at your lumbar vertebrae to go down both of your legs.

The femoral nerve goes underneath and through your psoas muscle and under your inguinal ligament.  It innervates your anterior/medial thigh muscles. The importance in this pathway will be discussed, but please make note of how the nerve passes underneath the inguinal ligament.

Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body.  Its pathway is so big that we’ll just say it innervates your buttocks and the rest of your leg and foot that isn’t innervated by the femoral nerve.

After leaving your spine at your low back, these nerves pass under and through some powerful muscles, and this can be a problem when the muscles are tightened by a repetitive strain injury (RSI).  When a muscle contracts it pulls on the insertion point and you move a joint.

As you do something over and over (something as simple as sitting down and staying still for a long period of time) a phenomenon called “muscle memory” causes the muscle to shorten to a contracted length, and you have a problem when you go to move in the opposite direction.

For Example… 

Two muscles, the psoas and iliacus, connect your lumbar vertebrae and pelvis to your upper leg (femur).  When they contract you bend forward (psoas), lift your leg (iliacus) or sit down (both muscles).  When you sit for an extended period of time, muscle memory causes the muscles to change to the shorter length.

When you go to stand up these muscles are too short to easily lengthen enough for you to stand up, and you feel a strain at your low back.  Both your lumbar vertebrae and your pelvis rotate forward and down as the muscles are being strained while they are lengthening.

As the pelvis is rotating forward and down, several things happen that impact the sciatic and femoral nerves.

First the muscles tighten and since the nerves are passing through the muscles, the nerves are “pinched” in the pelvic area.  This can cause the nerves to send impulses to the lower leg and foot.

Next, as I mentioned above, the femoral nerve passes through the psoas muscle and is then directly underneath the inguinal ligament.  As the muscle tightens it presses the nerve up into the inguinal ligament, causing potential damage to the nerve, and also sending impulses to the quadriceps muscles.

As these nerves are impinged and sending impulses to the muscles, the muscle fibers may respond with itching, burning, and twitching.  You are experiencing the results in your thigh, but the cause of the problem is actually deep in your lower pelvic area.

[I realize this description is a bit confusing, and I’m not going into detail here. However if you are interested, or if you have low back pain, I suggest you consider getting my book The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. This book will explain all of it in detail, and it will show you how to self-treat each muscle that impacts your low back, hips, sciatic nerve, groin, and knees.]

Relief From Restless Leg Syndrome 

Most times the order of treatment isn’t important, but when it comes to the pelvic muscles, and all the related muscles, the order is vital as one muscle can stop the entire treatment protocol from working.  This is why I wrote The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. It gives you the exact order of treatment, and has photographs of doing each treatment, along with the explanation and a graphic of where that muscle refers pain/numbness.  To try to explain it here would require my putting the book into a newsletter, so that isn’t doable.

Start by treating your anterior thigh muscles. I’m going to show you how to treat just the anterior thigh muscles that can be impacting the femoral nerve.

Use a piece of 1” x 12” PVC pipe to slide (not roll) down your thigh from the very top of your leg to your knee. Cover your entire anterior thigh and out toward the outside of your leg.

Press deeply, it should feel like “hurts so good,” not “I think I’m going to faint!”  You are in control of the pressure so keep it at your tolerance level.

If you feel a bump, that’s a knot (spasm) that is pulling down on your pelvis.  Just stop on it and roll back and forth, trying to break it up.  Keep treating any knots you find in your thigh muscles.

A Good Stretch For Your Psoas Muscle 

Next stretch your psoas muscle. There is a yoga stretch that will help to stretch your psoas muscle, rotate your pelvis back into alignment, and take the pressure off both the sciatic and femoral nerves. The stretch is called the Sphinx.

Lie down with your pelvis firmly resting on the floor.

Put your bent elbows directly under your shoulders as shown in this picture.

Lean back, keeping your pelvis and elbows on the floor.

You are stretching the psoas muscle that is rotating your pelvis.

When you are comfortable doing this stretch, then you can do it standing up:

Put your calves up against the cabinet under your kitchen sink, and your butt gently pressing on the front of the sink.  These must stay still, don’t change the pressure at all or you have moved your pelvis.

Pivot at your lumbar vertebrae, leaning back with your upper back, while keeping your head as shown in the picture.

If you feel increased or decreased pressure on your butt, you have moved your pelvis.  Keep trying until you can lean back without moving your pelvis at all.

This is a start to treating the muscles that may be causing RLS.  Since muscles are the one thing the medical profession doesn’t look at, there’s a good chance this will help you!

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.

Can Tight Muscles Make You Pigeon Toed?

Treatment To Straighten Your Ankle 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Happy July

sunThings are hot here in Sarasota – today the temperature was 95 degrees in the sun. Fortunately, my office is in the shade. On the plus side it rained, and my garden was dancing with delight.

I’m happy to say I taught a live, in-person class last weekend. It came together quickly, so there were only a few massage therapists attending, each bringing their own model. I’m so happy to get back to teaching live classes again. Zoom gets really old (as I imagine a lot of you already agree). Later this month things ramp up and I’m heading to the Florida State Massage Therapy Association Convention in St. Augustine. I’ll be teaching there too, and happily communicating with a lot of massage therapists.

My therapy practice is back to normal again. Most people (including me) have had both shots. And if someone hasn’t, I just ask them to wear a mask. Not the worst thing in the world, and much better than being in pain. I’ve missed my clients and I look forward to seeing them again.

Meanwhile, I’ve been seeing many clients who are in pain, and I’m pleased to say, the results have been really excellent. There is one person who stands out because she had a condition I hadn’t seen before, or at least I don’t remember seeing before.

A Turned-In Ankle

My client was actually in to see me for a totally different condition, but while I was working on her I noticed that her left foot was turned in.

I thought it might be a bone/structural problem, but when I took my hand, I was able to make her ankle go almost straight. As a result, I knew it was muscular, and therefore there was a good chance treating the muscle could make a big difference.

It turns out her foot had been turned in for a very long time, not debilitating, but more annoying. She didn’t know what could have caused it, but my guess was she sprained her ankle at some time in the past. She said it had been sprained years earlier.

One of the interesting facts about a muscle that is sprain, or otherwise repetitively strained muscle, is it can shorten to that new length and stay that way for years and years. I had a client in New York who sprained his ankle in 1964, and I met him in 2005. The muscles were so tight that he walked as if his ankle was fused, there was absolutely no ankle movement at all. It turned out to just be severely tightened muscles holding his ankle firm, preventing the joint from moving in any direction. It took a lot of treatments, and him doing self-treatments, but we got his ankle back to normal even after all those years!

Back to my Sarasota client……

The muscles involved ended up being the Tibialis Anterior and Extensor Hallucis Longus. Both muscles originate on the front of your lower leg.

Both muscles invert your foot (turn it in toward midline) so, in this case, her left toes were pointing toward her right arch, as shown in the picture above.

Treatment To Straighten The Ankle

The self-treatment for these muscles is easy, but it can be painful at about the point where you see the ball in the picture to the left, and again closer to the bottom of your ankle.

Just put the ball to the outside of your shinbone and press down, moving your leg so the ball is rolling down toward your ankle. You are actually making the Tibialis Anterior muscle a little longer as you press out the knots in the muscle fibers.

Curl your toes as shown if you feel like your arch is going to cramp.

In the next photo I’m showing the right ankle in pain and working with my left hand.

 

Sit with your sore right leg crossed over your left leg. It helps if you have your right ankle on top of your left knee (I couldn’t do it because I’m taking my own picture and couldn’t get the right angle).

 

Press your left fingers as deeply into the Extensor Hallucis Longus muscle as you can. If your right ankle is on top of your left knee, you will be able to use two hands to do the treatment. Just put your fingers on top of each other to get more pressure.

 

The Results

I treated all the muscles of the lower leg, paying special attention to the two muscles mentioned. I’m happy to say that when I finished and she stood up, her feet were almost straight. With more self-treatment every day, her foot will straighten out.

 

My client was originally here on June 11th, and as an update, she came in today – July 1st – and her foot looked just fine. She continued to do the self-treatments I taught her, and we are happy to say, the problem is solved!

 

I love what I do for a living, it really makes a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes in small ways, and many times in really big ways.

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.

Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis Pain

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

June, Glorious June

sunFlorida is heating up and mid-day is pretty hot, but the rest of the USA is just entering the best time of year (if you love warm weather). And I think the best part is that the days are longer so we can get out and enjoy life more.

Last month was the beginning of me trying to get in shape to do the El Camino de Santiago. This 500-mile trek was beautifully shown in a 2011 movie titled “The Way,” starring Martin Sheen.  It’s something I had wanted to do to celebrate my 70th birthday, but then I broke both bones of my left ankle in half (OUCH) and had lots of complications.  Now I’m determined to try again for my 80th birthday which is several years away.  As a result, I have a lot of time to get in shape.  I’ll keep you updated as the months go past.  Let me know if you have ever done this trip, I’d love to hear your experiences.

As the beginning of my training, I did a 5K race on May 1st – walking, not running.  I was shocked when I came in 2nd place for my age group.  Of course, at my age the competition is limited, but I still have a trophy here in my office to applaud my efforts.

It seems like a perfect time to talk about foot pain that can prevent you from walking around your house, never mind a 500-mile cross-country journey.  Let’s look into plantar fasciitis – pain in the arch of the foot.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

If you have arch pain, don’t rub your foot! There is a good chance the pain is actually coming from your lower leg.  You will understand as we discuss the logic of the body and how lower muscles cause the pain.  By the way, this treatment is also great for healing a sprained ankle, so it is doubly helpful!

The Muscles Involved In Plantar Fasciitis

The muscles of your lower leg, specifically the Tibialis Anterior, Peroneus, Gastrocnemius and Soleus, all insert into your foot.

The tibialis anterior inserts into your arch and pulls your foot so you can lean on the outside of your foot.

The peroneus tendon inserts into the bone at the outside of your foot and pulls up on the bone so your foot rolls in toward your arch.  Your two calf muscles insert into your heel bone (talus) and can be pulling it backward, so you can lift your heel up from the floor.

The culmination of these movements is your arch is being pulled to the left, the right, and backward.  Your arch hurts and too many people are addressing their arch, but not the muscles that are causing the strain.

Treatment For Plantar Fasciitis Pain 

In my books, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete, I show you how to treat all the muscles of your leg. If you are suffering with plantar fasciitis, or if you’ve had a sprained ankle, you would benefit by getting one of these books.

Meanwhile, I would like to share one self-treatment that will help.

Treating Your Tibialis Anterior Muscle

Using the Perfect Ball, place the ball as shown in the picture to the left. The ball is just to the outside of your shin bone, and just below your knee joint.

Press down on the ball and move your leg do the ball rolls down your leg.  If you feel like your arch will cramp, curl your toes as shown.

Go all the way down your leg to just above your ankle.

About midway down your shin, you will find an exceptionally tender area.  That is the knot (spasm) that is putting pressure on the inside of your arch.  Just stay still on the spasm until it releases.  Sometimes it can be so painful that you need to lift your weight up off the ball for a little bit while you collect your breath.

Keep doing the pressure-release until the pain in your tibialis anterior muscle is gone.

If you have one of my books, I suggest you do all the treatments shown in the chapter about the lower leg, including each of the techniques for the back of your ankle.

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 Groin Pain

How Can A Thigh Muscle Cause Groin Pain? 

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 Month’s Treatment – The Rectus Femoris Muscle

Rectus Femoris Muscle

Your Rectus Femoris muscle is one of the four quadriceps muscles of your thigh. It is the only one of the quadriceps that originates on the tip of your pelvis.  When your “quads” contract you straighten your leg.

I’ve written several times about the domino-effect of a string of muscles that cause low back pain, hamstring tension, sciatica, and hip/knee pain.  I call the entire treatment the Julstro Protocol.  I’ve even written a book titled The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution that explains the whole thing. This time I would like to talk about how the rectus femoris muscle can cause groin pain.

How Can A Thigh Muscle Cause Groin Pain?

It’s a bit complicated unless we go through the entire cycle of muscles involved in the Julstro Protocol, but that would be redundant.  As a quick refresher, your psoas muscle (anterior side of your lumbar vertebrae) and your iliacus muscle (on the inside of your pelvis bones) both insert into the inside of your thigh bone.  When they are strained (usually from sitting for long periods of time – including cyclists who ride for hours, or when you drive a car long distances) they shorten and rotate your pelvis forward and down.

This forward rotation causes your rectus femoris to be too long to do the job of straightening your leg, so the body ties a knot (a spasm/trigger point) on the outside of your thigh, right where your middle finger touches when you have your arms relaxed at your side.  This knot then holds your pelvis down in the front, and your pelvis rotates – down in the front and up in the back.

This is where the groin problem comes in.  Your pubic bone/groin is being moved backward during this rotation.  The muscles of your inner thigh all originate on your pubic bone, but they are now being overstretched!  As a result, they are putting stress on your pubic bone.

Just like pulling on your hair will hurt your scalp, the muscle pulling on the bone will hurt the bone, in this case, the pubic bone.  You end up with groin pain!

I’ve had people think they had a serious condition (one man was told he had the beginning of prostrate cancer!!) when all that is happening is a muscle strain.  And one that is simple to fix.

We aren’t going through the entire Julstro Protocol, even though that is exactly what I’d do if you came in to the office.  If you’re interested, the entire program is in the book.  However, I do want to show you how to do the treatment for your rectus femoris.

Relief From Groin Pain

Treating Your Rectus Femoris 

Sit in a chair and use either a 12”x1” piece of PVC pipe or a rolling pin (don’t let it roll). Starting at the top of your thigh, slide the pipe down to your knee as shown in the pictures below.  Rolling will prevent you from going deep enough into the muscle, so just slide.

Do your entire thigh, outside-front-inside.  You will likely find big “speed bumps” all along the muscles. The picture on the right is treating your rectus femoris, and the picture on the left is treating your adductor muscles which all originate on your pubic bone.  With the adductors, you may find a painful point closer to your inner knee where several muscles all join together to stabilize your knee joint.

 

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

Press deeply, but always stay within your pain tolerance level – it should “hurt so good,” but never be severe pain.

I always suggest that you do three passes down each line of muscles, and then go back and focus some direct attention on each bump (spasm) to bring blood into the area and release the knotted muscle fibers.

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 Hip And Knee Pain

A Common Cause For Pains From Hip To Knee 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 Happy April! Happy Spring!

spring flowersOne of the best parts of April (other than all the beautiful flowers) is that the weather is great in both the North and the South.  Up north, you are warming up from the bitter cold of winter, and here in the south, we still have low humidity and temps are in the 70’s most of the time.  Perfect!

April Fool’s Day is a fun “holiday” that I loved when I was a child.  It was always a challenge to catch my Mom, but I’m sure she was pretending most of the time when I told her silly things.  I wonder if kids still play jokes on their friends’ and family?

This year the Christian Easter Holiday is on April 4th, and the Jewish Last Day of Passover is also on April 4th.  So, lots of family gatherings are happening everywhere.  And there are lots of ridiculous holidays, like International Pillow Fight Day (April 3rd) and National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day (April 12th).  What will they think of next!!

Do you like to garden?  Now is the perfect time to get your gardens planted so you’ll have home grown veggies for the entire summer.  For me, it’s also a great time to do some spring cleaning and get the house in order before the summer closes all the windows and the air conditioning becomes our indoor relief.

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Happy, Happy News!

As you know from previous newsletters, I did a TEDx talk on December 6, 2020.  I was so excited. Then the Powers-That-Be decided to decline putting it on YouTube because I dared to question why muscles aren’t ever thought about when searching for the cause of pain.

I jumped through a bunch of hoops, sending peer-reviewed medical journal articles that proved that trigger points are real, and they are known in the medical world.  I had to send my CV to prove that I had background that qualified me to ask the question, and a bunch of other documents for them to ponder.

The good news is, I’ve finally been approved! 

You can either go to YouTube and put in “Julie Donnelly, Pain” so you can also see the 20+ pain explanation videos I’ve done, or you can click on this link: The Pain Question No One is Asking! It’s really important to please Like it, and then Share it with as many people as possible. The parent company, TED, will invite me back to speak if I get enough Likes and Shares.  My next talk would be to explain to people why muscles in your thigh and hip cause low back pain.  People are suffering, and they are looking at the wrong area for relief.  Your low back isn’t really the source of low back pain.

I’m communicating with an animated graphics expert to build a short video that visually explains the “why” and “which” of the muscles that cause low back pain.  It could make a huge difference for millions of people.

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A Common Cause For Pains From Hip To Knee

There are times when I am led to sharing a treatment because I had a run of clients all suffering from the same source muscle.  That is what happened for this newsletter.  In March I had at least six clients come to my office, all having different symptoms, but all stemming from the same source.

My clients complained of hip pain, thigh pain, knee pain, and pain down the outside of the lower leg.

In this case it was the Tensor Fascia Lata and two of the three Gluteal muscles: Medius, Minimus. The Gluteus Medius is directly over the Gluteus Minimus, so treating one will actually treat both.  And the Tensor Fascia Lata is right next to both these muscles.

All these muscles insert into the same area of the hip, and for different reasons, they all cause hip pain.  Also, each muscle refers pain to a different location, so you think you have a problem in these referred pain locations, but they are all coming from your hip.

This is one of the many times when working on one area will solve many different problems.

Take a look at these Trigger Point charts:

To read the charts, look at the shaded area (which shows where pain is felt) and look for the muscle name in the same color.  Then follow the arrow to the same-colored round circles with “x”. This is the trigger point (spasm) that is the source of that pain pattern.

You’ll notice that the spasm (trigger point) for the purple pain pattern is in the Gluteus Minimus at the outside of the hip, but the pain pattern goes to the outside of the thigh, the knee, and all the way down to the ankle.

The spasms for the Tensor Fascia Lata is in the same place on the hip, but the pain pattern is the hip, the thigh, and the outside of the knee.

In each of these cases the pain is being felt along the insertion points for the muscles.

Relief From Hip And Knee Pain

To relieve the muscle spasms that are causing the problem, use my “Perfect Ball” (You can use a baseball or tennis ball, but my Perfect Ball is just the right size and hardness for the job). Then, either lie on the floor or stand up and lean into a wall as shown in the two photos below.  Lean into the ball, easing your pressure onto the ball gradually.  As the muscle releases it will hurt less and less.

Then you can rotate your body, so the ball is pressing into the front of your hip or rotating so the ball is rolling toward the back of your body.  You will likely find multiple painful tender spots.  Each spot is a spasm that is putting pressure on your bones or is pulling on the tendon (called the IlioTibial Band – ITB) that is putting pressure onto your lateral knee joint. 

You can also treat these muscles by using a length of 1” PVC pipe as shown in the picture on the left.

 

This picture was shared with me by an athlete. An avid runner, she couldn’t get down on the ground, nor was there a wall that she could press into, but using the pipe and a street sign pole, she was still able to release the tight muscles that were preventing her from running.

 

This may not be perfect for you, but if you are an athlete, it could be just what you need when you’re unable to treat yourself as shown above.

You REALLY CAN Treat Yourself 

Since 1989 I have been working with people who are experiencing severe &/or chronic pain.  During those years I’ve managed to figure out why they are in pain, and how they can stop the pain by treating themselves.

It is wonderful when someone can come into my office and I can work directly with them, but I’ve found that the key is the self-treatments I teach them to do at home.  With the self-treatments you can release the tension multiple times every day, retraining your muscles to stay relaxed.

Thousands of people have been able to stop pain fast because they have followed the simple techniques I teach.

You can stop pain fast too!  Even chronic pain releases when you treat the source and not just the symptom! 

To enable you to know where to treat, and how to treat the muscles that cause pain, I’ve produced several “How To” books and DVD programs.

Visit my shopping cart to see the full line of pain-relief products that will help you overcome:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Carpal tunnel symptoms
  • Trigger finger
  • Low back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Sciatica
  • Knee Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis

In fact, you can get relief for pains from your head to your feet!

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 has been a licensed massage therapist since 1989, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries. She is the author of several books including Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, and The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

Julie has also developed a proven self-treatment program for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

 

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.

Relief From Big Toe Pain

Merry Christmas!

Christmas GiftI love the Christmas season. The colors, the smells, the sounds of music. I’m a vegan so turkey isn’t happening for me, but the array of deliciously prepared vegetables, and the variety of desserts always make me excited for this month to get underway!

We give so much to others, especially during this season, that I want to remind you to take care of yourself too.  Like they say on the airplane, ”Put on your own oxygen mask first!”  One of the best gifts you can give to those you love, is a healthy and happy you!

Eliminate the aches and pains that can make you feel grumpy, and if you have someone who could benefit from eliminating pain, please feel free to send them my way.  That includes people who don’t live near me. Contact me (https://julstromethod.com/product/pain-relief-training-zoom-us/) and we can meet on Zoom and work together to find and stop your pain. I’ll be happy to help you.

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas!

Muscles Can Cause Bunion & Big Toe Pain

Foot with toe painYour foot and toes are all moved by muscles in your lower leg. When these muscles are tight you may have plantar fasciitis (arch pain), and other foot pains, including pain in your big toe. You may even have throbbing pain in the bunion area of your big toe.

This is a bit too complicated to explain here in this newsletter, but basically the muscles are pulling the long bone (tarsal) of the big toe, so it starts to move out. Other muscles are pulling on your toes, causing your big toe to move in toward the other toes. The bone hurts, especially when you are wearing closed shoes that put pressure on the bone.

In other newsletters I’ve discussed the muscles of your lower leg, and this would be a good time to work on each of these muscles. After you have released any tension in your lower leg muscles, you can treat your big toe directly.

Relief From Big Toe Pain

Treatment For Big Toe PainThis takes a bit of explaining, but I think if you do the treatment as I’m explaining it, you’ll be able to get it done. I’m going to demonstrate on your left foot, reverse the directions if your pain is in your right foot.

Press your left thumb into your arch muscle just below your bunion bone (actually, the head of the first tarsal bone).

Put your right pointer finger between your big toe and second toe. Pull your big toe toward you (away from the other toes)

Push your right thumb directly into the bunion bone and press in deeply.

Basically, you are trying to move the bones back into alignment.

You can also buy a toe-spreader that will hold your big toe straight. I suggest you wear it while you are sleeping.

You probably won’t get it to go completely straight, but having taught this to many people after figuring it out on my own sore left bunion, I can tell you that it works.

This is a simple self-treatment, but it can really give you a great deal of relief!

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.

Nagging Pain?

Have you “tried everything” to stop nagging pain?
Did you know that chronic pain can be caused by tight muscles knotting up and pulling your joints out of alignment?
Do you do the same movements over and over, causing a strain on your joints and repetitive strain injury?
Would you like to discover how to release tight muscles that cause chronic pain?

Julie Donnelly, LMT, has been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since 1989. She has successfully worked with thousands of clients, both in her office and virtually on Zoom. Based on the techniques she has created and demonstrates in her books including Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, Julie will show you how to find and self-treat the muscle knots that keep you in pain.
It’s almost like visiting with Julie at her office, but without all the time and expense of traveling! And, it’s as simple as 1-2-3.

1 – Send Julie an email (Julie@JulieDonnelly.com) explaining your area of pain
2 – Julie will come up with a treatment plan for your specific problem(s)
3 – Meet with Julie on Zoom and she’ll show you how to do each of the techniques that will release the tight muscles that are causing you pain!

AND…..as a special bonus, Julie will send you a booklet that includes pictures of what she has just shown you during your private session.

YES! I want to learn how I can Stop Pain FAST!

Click Here to Stop Pain Fast

Relief From Headache Pain

Could A Tight Muscle Cause Your Headaches?

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving TurkeyNovember is one of my favorite months because it’s the beginning of the holiday season. There are so many holidays during these next two months, all of them joyful. The colors of the season are vibrant, the smells of delicious foods cooking are embedded in our minds, and spending time with our loved ones warms our hearts.

I come from New York and I love the beautiful changing of the leaves that happens in October, and then the way winter starts to ease into our days. If you come from any of the northern states, you probably have these same memories. Children jumping into huge piles of leaves and finally getting to wear my favorite sweaters and jackets again.

I can still smell the smoke lingering in the air as homes were warmed with fireplaces and cast-iron stoves. Shopping for that special gift for our family and friends, the Salvation Army bell-ringing volunteers, hot apple cider…the memories go on and on.

If you grew up in a warm weather State, you have different memories that bring joy to your heart. It is exciting to have this beautiful season starting again!

2020 is different than years before, challenging us to redesign the holidays. We all have our stories of how we’re being impacted by COVID19. I think this is a perfect time to focus our minds on all the things for which we are grateful. Show kindness and appreciation to everyone around us, people need it more than ever before. Count your blessings!

My prayer is that however you may be affected by all that is happening in the USA, that you will have a beautiful, happy, and healthy holiday season.

I Have A TEDx Talk Coming Up

If you have been to the office lately, you probably know I was chosen to do a TEDx talk.  My title is “The Pain Question No One is Asking.”

Headache PainPeople are suffering, yet a huge cause of pain is constantly overlooked!

The principle thought is, why isn’t anyone looking at muscles as a cause of pain during the diagnosis process.  My TEDx talk is only 9 minutes long, short and to the point.

I am most excited that my talk will bring this information to the awareness of people who are searching for answers to the cause of their pain.

It was originally scheduled for May 15th (which was also my birthday, so what a present!), but COVID19 prevented that from happening.  Then it was scheduled for November 20th, and it was still going to be live.  Oh well…COVID19 prevented that too!

So, it was finally decided to have each presenter do a video and submit it to the Team. There is going to be a two-day private presentation for everyone who has bought a ticket to the event. Ticket prices start at $17 for general admission, or $77 to be able to enter the VIP room and meet with each presenter. There are 20 presenters, with topics that range from muscles to health, from animal rights to the environment, and lots of other interesting topics.

If you would be interested in joining us, it will be held on Dec. 5th & 6th, on a Zoom “stage.” Just contact me (Phone: (919) 886-1861; Email: info@JulstroMethod.com) and I will make the arrangements for you to receive a ticket to the event.

The Muscle Of The Day

cruise shipBack when I worked on the cruise ship, which was my first job after getting my massage license in 1989, I studied what I called “the muscle of the day.”  Every day I would pick one muscle to really study.  Before the passengers would start coming in, I would list the name, location, action, origin point and insertion point of just one muscle.

I would give what I call “fluff and buff” to the entire body, except for the muscle of the day.  On that muscle I would go slow, a bit deeper, and when I found something that didn’t feel like the rest of the muscle, I would ask my clients for feedback.  They would tell me if it hurt or not, and where they were feeling it.

I worked on over 3000 people while I was on the ship (in just one year!) and by the time I got off the ship I was really confident that I knew what “hurt” feels like, and what “doesn’t hurt” feels like.  It is the foundation of my therapy practice.

My clients always are interested when I explain why a particular muscle is causing their pain.

With that said, I want to share a “muscle of the month” with you.  Each month I will take one muscle and we will talk about it for a few minutes.  I’m not trying to make you a muscular therapist, just give you a little info that will make sense when you have a painful condition.

Could A Tight Muscle Cause Your Headaches?

This month I want to share the #1 muscle that causes headache pain. When this muscle is tight it can cause headaches that are so severe that they are sometimes called migraines, and some people end up on strong medications to mask the pain.

Levator Scapulae MuscleThe Levator Scapulae originates on your first four cervical vertebrae and inserts into the inside/top of your shoulder blade.

As you see in the graphic the first two vertebrae have a special setup and it’s these two vertebrae that are causing the problem.

C1 is called “the Atlas” because Atlas held up the world.  C1 holds up your skull.

C2 is called “the Axis” because a piece of bone (called the Dens) pokes up through the center of C1. Your skull sits on this point and is the reason you can tip your head forward and back, as well as side to side.

Your brain goes into your spinal cord and the nerves travel through the center of the vertebrae and then go out to innervate every cell in the body from your head to your feet.

The problem is, when the Levator Scapulae gets tight (usually from a repetitive movement, such as holding your shoulders up when you are stressed) it pulls your cervical vertebrae to the side and down.  This causes the opposite side of the bone to press into your spinal cord, right at the base of your brain.

When someone comes into my office and says they get right-sided pain, the odds are the muscle tension is coming from the left side of the body.  As you release the tight muscle fibers, the vertebrae frequently realign by themselves (or you can go to a chiropractor) and the pressure is off your spinal cord.

Relief From Headache Pain

muscle-treatment

 

 

I have already shown you one method for treating this muscle by putting a ball on your shoulder and then leaving forward and pressing into the corner of a wall.

 

 

 

Treatment-For-Tight-Shoulder-Muscle-1

 

 

Here is another method. Put your opposite thumb into the hollow in the front of your shoulder, as shown in this picture

 

 

 

 

Treatment-For-Tight-Shoulder-Muscle-2Flip your four fingers over your shoulder. Be sure to go back far enough that you can grip a thick piece of muscle in between your thumb and fingers.

Have your elbow raised so it is horizontal to the floor.  It helps if you put your opposite hand under your elbow to hold it up.

Next, squeeze hard, really gripping the thick muscle.

Bring your elbow down close to your body.  Hold for 15-30 seconds.

At the end, continue squeezing and drop your head in the opposite direction so you are stretching the muscle.

 

Last Thoughts…

I really love helping my clients get better, so I would appreciate it if you would tell others about my work, and about my books/DVD’s etc.  My goal with everyone is to stop the pain that brought to me in the first place, and have you return each month for a tune-up until you are permanently pain free.   Depending on your situation this could take one session or multiple sessions, but I believe we can accomplish this goal.

If you have family or friends who aren’t local to Sarasota, please let them know that I do Zoom consultations for the same price as an office visit.  We talk about what is happening and then I can show them how to self-treat. With the both of us on Zoom, I can watch and make sure they are doing the techniques correctly.  It works really well. To date I have worked with people all over the world, including Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Egypt, and lots of other places.

To book a virtual Zoom consultation, just go to https://julstromethod.com/product/pain-relief-training-zoom-us/.

If you have anything you’d like me to discuss, please email me at Julie@JulieDonnelly.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.

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.

Health Tips From The Professor