Your Popliteus Muscle And Knee Pain

Treating Your Popliteus Muscle Safely

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Healthy HeartWhile February is the shortest month of the year, to our northern family and friends it is the longest, seemingly endless, month because it seems like winter is never going to go away.

Where I live in Sarasota Florida, winter brings us near-perfect days and cooler nights.  It’s my favorite time of year.  And of course, we all celebrate the holiday of love – Valentine’s Day!

Just a bit of trivia: In 1868, Richard Cadbury released the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, followed in 1902 with the first Valentine hearts from the New England Confectionery Company. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland created the first commercial Valentine’s Day cards in the United States. Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began producing them in 1916.  (Thanks to Wikipedia for all this interesting info).

I was reviewing last year as I was deciding on a topic for this month.  We discussed:

*Heel pain

*Groin pain

*Low back pain

*Restless leg

*Foot pain

*We spent two months discussing various causes of headaches,

*And now we are in 2024, this will be the second month explaining some of the many causes of knee pain.

In each of these I showed, or explained to you, how to do a simple self-treatment that can help to relieve the pain.  Each of the treatments are in my books, and many people have decided to just order one of the books, so they had the full treatment protocol for aches and pains from your head to your foot.

I’ve done self-treatment videos, and if you have come to the office, you know that I teach you how to do specific self-treatments that relate to your personal area of pain.

Before I change the way I do things, let’s finish off knee pain by talking about a little muscle that causes pain deep inside your knee joint.  It’s a muscle called popliteus.

Your Popliteus Muscle And Knee Pain

The popliteus is a small muscle that causes a LOT of deep-knee pain. It is located at the back of your knee joint.  It attaches to the bone in your lower leg, crosses the joint, and inserts into your thigh bone.  You can get a good look at it and read all about it by going to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popliteus_muscle.

Because of the location of the origination and insertion points, when it contracts normally you bend your knee.  In fact, its nickname is “the key that unlocks the knee.”

The muscle shortens and you bend your knee so you can sit down.  However, you are sitting for a while and the muscle experiences muscle memory, so the muscle now “thinks” it is supposed to be shorter.

You then try to straighten your leg and stand up.  However, the muscle is too short to make that movement, and it pulls hard on your knee joint.  Since the muscle is so deep, you feel the pain deep inside the joint, and it may feel like a knife cutting into the back of your knee.

Treatment…

Fortunately, all you need to do is press your fingertips into the muscle, hold it for about 15 seconds, and then s-l-o-w-l-y straighten your leg.  The pressure will force toxins out of the fibers, and straightening your leg will stretch the fibers.

Prevention…

When you are sitting for extended periods of time, simply stretch out your legs every 10 minutes or so.  That will stretch the muscle before it has the chance for muscle memory to shorten the fibers.

What’s New For This Year?

This year I’m going to continue explaining why various muscles cause pain from the top of your head to your feet.  The difference will be that I’ve already posted most of the self-treatments, and if you have one of my books, you definitely have all of the self-treatments.

Plus, there’s something exciting happening in 2024!

I’ve been working with my webmaster to start a yearly membership program where people can join and get:

*24/7 lifetime online access to my eBook: The Pain-Free Athlete

*a Perfect Ball (free shipping in the USA only),

*two 15 minute Zoom consultations where we can isolate the member’s pain situation, and

*access to several members-only group Zoom meetings over the course of the year.

This membership program will be renewable each year (sans the book and ball) so members will be able to quickly discover the source of their pain before it becomes an issue.

Pain-Free AthleteThis book has been called “the bible” by athletes because they could find all their answers in it.

You can also have it in your home so you can Stop Pain FAST!

 

https://julstromethod.com/product/pain-free-athlete-book/

 

Watch for more new and exciting changes happening in 2024!

 

 

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

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

About The Author

Julie DonnellyJulie Donnelly has been a licensed massage therapist since 1989, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries. The author of several books including Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, and The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution.

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

She has a therapy practice in Sarasota, Florida, and she travels around the USA to teach massage and physical therapists how to do the Julstro Method, and she also teaches self-treatment clinics to anyone interested in taking charge of their own health and flexibility.

She may be reached at her office: 919-886-1861, or through her website: www.FlexibleAthlete.com

Your Rectus Femoris Muscle And Knee Pain

Treating Your Rectus Femoris Muscle Safely

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Walking FastI hope that 2023 was kind to you and your family.  Covid seemed to come and go, with new strains popping up every time we turned around. And then there is RSV and the flu. What a year!

In December the foods all seemed to be fattening – delicious for sure, but fattening.  Which brings me to the topic of the month.  Maybe you are trying to walk off some of the extra calories you put on last month.

Walking will help burn calories, but it can also come with aches and pains from muscles getting used repetitively.

This month I want to focus on pain that prevents you from bending your knee after several days of walking more than your body is used to. It can reduce your walks to a slow hobble at best. And that isn’t going to burn off any extra calories.

One Quadricep Muscle is the Source of Pain from the Low Back to the Knee. 

You likely already know that there are four quadriceps that form the front of your thigh.  You probably also know that they are responsible for straightening your leg when you want to stand up from sitting. But there is so much more…especially for one of the quads…the rectus femoris.

Your Rectus Femoris Muscle And Knee Pain

The rectus femoris is a long muscle located in the front, and a bit toward the outside of your thigh.

The rectus femoris is the only one of the four quads that originate on the tip of your pelvis (ASIS), the rest: vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis, all originate along your thigh bone (femur). These four muscles join together and attach to your kneecap (patella).

This picture shows the muscle but fails to show the tendon that starts at the top of your kneecap, goes over your kneecap (patella), and inserts into the front of your shin bone (tibia).

It is the patella tendon that causes knee pain and can prevent you from bending your knee when you sit down or want to walk up steps. 

Think of the analogy I use so frequently.  When you pull your hair, your head hurts, but you don’t need to rub your head, take pain pills, or have brain surgery.  You just need to let go of your hair!

In the same way, the muscle is pulling down on the front of your hip and may cause anterior hip pain, and it’s pulling up on your patella tendon, causing your kneecap to move up so you can’t bend your knee, and putting stress on your shin bone.

Your knee and front of your hip are NOT the problem, they are the symptom!

The Function Of The Rectus Femoris Muscle:

Since the muscle originates on the tip of your pelvis,

  • The rectus femoris flexes (bends) the hip along with two other muscles I’ve discussed in the past, the sartorius and iliopsoas. The four quads pull up on your lower leg at the knee, straightening your leg so you can stand up.

Injury To The Rectus Femoris Muscle: 

  • In acute rectus femoris muscle injuries, a person may feel a tearing sensation at their knee, with an abrupt onset of pain.
  • Subacute injuries may present with gradual onset of pain at either the front of your hip or your knee. If you enjoy running, you may also have knee pain while you’re running uphill.
  • You may feel that you have arthritis in your knee joint. If that is the case, it is beneficial to see a deep muscle massage therapist to eliminate tight muscles from the diagnosis.  You can also do the Julstro self-treatment that is shown below to release the tension in the muscle.
  • When a muscular strain injury occurs, a person may also have moderate to severe pain in the groin.
  • Pain can be sudden, like kicking the ball in soccer or sprinting from a standing position. Or it may build up gradually as an overuse problem with repeated tearing and repeated stress.
  • Stretching, without first releasing the tension in the muscle, can cause tearing where the muscle inserts into the tendon, or tear the tendon fibers from the bone.
  • Spasms in your rectus femoris can also be caused by contractions in the muscles that impact your lower back and pelvis. If this is the case, you need to treat each of the muscles before your thigh muscles release.  I demonstrate the full treatment in my books in the chapter about the Julstro Protocol.

Treating Your Rectus Femoris Muscle Safely

There are multiple ways to treat your rectus femoris muscle and I show them to you in my books: The Pain-Free Athlete and Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.   

Using a 12” length of 1” PVC pipe, place the pipe as shown in this picture. This is the perfect position to treat the rectus femoris.

Hold the pipe loosely in your hand or hold your four fingers straight out so you are not curling them around the pipe. This will prevent tension from forming in your forearm muscles.

Press into your thigh and slide, don’t roll, down your thigh to just above your knee.

Do this to your entire thigh, outside/front/inside so you treat all four quadriceps.

I suggest you treat both thighs, even if you are only having pain in one leg.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

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

About The Author

Julie Donnelly has been a licensed massage therapist since 1989, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries. The author of several books including Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, and The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution.

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

She has a therapy practice in Sarasota, Florida, and she travels around the USA to teach massage and physical therapists how to do the Julstro Method, and she also teaches self-treatment clinics to anyone interested in taking charge of their own health and flexibility.

She may be reached at her office: 919-886-1861, or through her website: www.FlexibleAthlete.com

Your Pectineus Muscle And Groin Pain

Treating Groin Pain Naturally

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

The holidays are inching up on us, and this month is one of my favorites.  I love Halloween because the children have so much fun dressing up and going to parties.

Back when I was a child we could roam around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and having our candy dropped into the pumpkin basket or pillowcase our moms gave us.  We traveled in a pack, and our parents knew we were safe as long as we stayed in our neighborhood because everyone knew everyone.

Nowadays children go to “Trunk or Treat” parties, often with mom or dad in tow. They’re still having fun, and it’s great to see their excitement when they’re sharing with each other how many goodies they have collected.

Now, even just LOOKING at that candy makes me gain 5 lbs!  Oh well!

Happy October to you and your family!

Your Pectineus Muscle And Groin Pain

Today, we will be discussing how a small muscle that most people aren’t even aware of can cause groin pain. I’ve been working with athletes since 1989 and I’ve seen this small muscle cause such pain that it was preventing the athlete from continuing with his/her sport.  And it’s so simple to treat!

The pectineus muscle is in your adductor muscle group. The adductors are responsible for hip flexion and adduction.

Adduction is when you bring your leg closer to the opposite leg, such as when you cross your legs when you are sitting down.  Athletes who play soccer, or who ride a horse, are heavily using their adductor muscles.

As you look at the graphic on the left, the muscles on the left side (right leg) are the larger adductor muscles.

The pectineus is shown on the right side (left leg) so that it is more visible, helping you see the location of the muscle.  In reality, all the muscles are on both sides.

Since the pectineus muscle is so close to the pubic bone, it is more difficult to self-treat. You need to sit on the floor and twist yourself, so the sore side is pressing into the floor.

The pectineus muscle is often overlooked, but it can cause significant pain when in spasm or injured. Here are some of the symptoms, causes, and a simple self-treatment I have developed for a tight pectineus.

Quick Facts About Groin Pain And Your Pectineus Muscle

Causes of Spasms of the Pectineus and Adductors:

  • Muscular injuries of the adductors, the iliopsoas muscle, and abdominal musculature are the most frequent causes of acute groin pain in sportsmen and sportswomen.
  • Spasms in your pectineus muscle are also a common cause of groin pain and are often overlooked.
  • Pectineus pain often stems from an injured groin muscle. Common causes include running, kicking a soccer ball, riding a horse, and sitting with a crossed leg.

Symptoms Of Groin Pain Caused By Your Pectineus Muscle:

  • Groin pain is any discomfort in the area between your abdomen and thigh, located where your abdomen ends, and your legs begin.
  • Localized pain on the pubic bone, in the groin area, on one side or the other, is a primary indication of injury to the pectineus.
  • Pain on palpation of the involved muscle and pain on adduction (moving your legs closer together against resistance) is also an indication of injury to the pectineus.

Treating Groin Pain Naturally

You are trying to be pressing close to your pubic bone, which is shown in the graphic above.

Sit as shown and use a ball to press deeply into your adductors. Start the treatment at the very top of the muscles, close to your pubic bone, and move down toward your knee.

If you find any tender points, called “trigger points,” hold  the pressure on the spasm until it stops hurting.

You can also “pump” the trigger point, applying pressure for 15 seconds, then stay where you are but release the pressure for 5 seconds, and repeat this sequence several times until the pain point stops hurting.

You may get better leverage if you lift up your opposite hip (lift up the right hip in this demonstration), bending your right leg so you can press your right elbow into your thigh to get better pressure.

If it’s difficult with the ball, use your right hand fingertips to press on the muscle on your left side.

In conclusion, the pectineus muscle can cause groin pain when injured.

If this simple self-treatment doesn’t help, it would be important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause, especially if it is severe or accompanied by other symptoms.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

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

Treating Tension Headaches Naturally

Which Muscles Cause Tension Headaches?

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

The snowbirds are long gone!  The plus is that it’s easier to get into restaurants, and the roads aren’t as crowded.  Of course, the minus is the weather. August is the hottest month of the year.

August is definitely a s-l-o-w month in Florida.  The temperature is in the mid-upper 90’s, which isn’t really too bad for a Floridian, but the humidity feels like it’s 120°!

You walk out of your cool house, and it hits you like a wet washcloth, immediately making you sweat from your hair to your toes.

So, it’s time to just relax, enjoy the beach and read a good book.   And thank heaven for air-conditioning!

Topic Of The Month – Tension Headaches

headacheLately a lot of people have been coming to my office complaining of headaches that have plagued them for a long time…in one case for years!

This woman has been everywhere and had every test that the medical world could offer.  Nothing showed why she had these terrible headaches.  At one point she told me the pain was a 10 on a scale of 1-10.  Imagine how terrible it was for her to suffer every day from such a crippling condition.  My heart went out to her!

Fortunately, her problem was caused by muscles, the one thing that most of the medical world doesn’t consider when looking for a solution to pain.

In fact, if you watched my TED talk: The Pain Question No One is Asking, you may have already heard me talk about this missing link. (If you haven’t heard my TED talk, go to YouTube and enter: Julie Donnelly, Pain and I’ll pop up.)

Let’s talk about muscles and why they will cause headaches (and a whole lot more!).

Which Muscles Cause Tension Headaches?

While there are many causes for headaches, such as stress, anxiety, depression, head injury, or anxiety, and life-threatening causes we won’t go into here, one type of headache that is caused by muscular tension is known as a muscle contraction tension headache.

As shown in the graphics above, muscle spasms (colored circles) will refer pain to your head, even when you don’t feel any discomfort where the spasm is actually occurring (as seen in the graphic on the bottom, the Sternocleidomastoid muscle).

(Please don’t get confused with the Posterior Deltoid showing in the right graphic, or the jaw muscles on the left graphic…I just didn’t know how to delete them from the graphic)

Muscles in the neck and scalp can become tense or contract in response to stress, depression, or anxiety, leading to tension headaches.  Fortunately, in many cases, simply pressing on the trigger points (the colored circles) will release the tension being felt in your head.

To prevent tension headaches, it is important to maintain good posture, practice relaxation techniques, and use a pillow that keeps your head, neck, and spine in a horizontal plane while you sleep.

Treating Tension Headaches Naturally

There are too many treatments for headaches to include all of them in this newsletter.  If you want to know them, I suggest you get one of my books, especially Pain-Free Living or The Pain-Free Athlete.

Meanwhile, I want to share an important Julstro self-treatment that you may find works well for tension headaches:

 

Place a ball such as the Perfect Ball (shown in picture) or a tennis ball, on the top of your shoulder.

 

 

 

Lean into the corner of a wall, as shown. headache relief shoulder muscle pressure using wall

 

Keep your head close to the wall to prevent the ball from slipping and landing on the floor.

 

Bend at your hips so your upper body goes up and down, causing the ball to roll along the top of your shoulder. This will treat both the levator scapulae and trapezius muscles – both are key muscles for tension headaches.

 

Be gentle with this treatment as it will cause pain to be felt in your head as you are doing the treatment.  Only use enough pressure that it “hurts so good.”

Do 5-6 passes on each side.  It can be repeated often during the day but give a little time between each session to allow the muscle to relax.

Drink a LOT of water so the acid that you’re pressing out of the muscle will get flushed out of your body.

This may look a bit confusing, but it’s simple when you follow the directions.  And the best part is, IT WORKS!

How to Learn the Other Treatments for Headaches

If you go to www.FlexibleAthlete.com you can read a lot more about muscles and pain.  You will also find my books and other self-treatment tools by pressing on Shop.

Have a Happy Summer!  Please remember to drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated.  😊

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

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

Treating Restless Leg Syndrome

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

HotJuly is here and Florida is hot! The “Snowbirds” have gone north to the cooler weather (a goal of mine!) and life is moving in the slow lane.

Before I get started talking about our topic for the day, I want to give a big shout-out to one of my clients: Camilla Massa.  Camilla is an incredible athlete in a sport called Hyrox.  Hyrox isn’t well-known in the USA yet, but it’s very big in Europe.  You can think of it as CrossFit on steroids – pure strength and endurance events on an extreme level.

Camilla has grown through the sport and just a few weeks ago she was ranked #15 in the world. Then she went to a Worldwide competition this past week and she came in 1st place!  I don’t know where that puts her on the roster, but when you consider she was competing against the best in the sport, she has a lot to be proud of.  I’m looking forward to her returning to Sarasota, and to my office for a post-competition therapy session.  I want to hear all about the event!

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

QuestionsHopefully you aren’t suffering from restless leg syndrome (RLS), but maybe you know someone who is, and if so, this newsletter may be of some help.

It sounds so mild, but clients have told me it’s a really uncomfortable condition that affects the nervous system and muscles. The primary symptom is an unpleasant sensation in the legs that makes a person have an uncontrollable urge to move their legs. Often the legs just jump by themselves, which can make sleeping difficult.

Sufferers report sensations such as itching, tingling, burning, or overall aching. These symptoms are blamed for the overwhelming urge to move their legs.

The sensations associated with RLS are distinct from normal sensations experienced by those who don’t have the disorder, which makes them difficult to characterize. While research hasn’t been able to find any abnormalities in the brain, nerves, or muscles, it is logical that the muscles play a major role in the problem as they are the primary drivers of movement.

The interaction between the muscles and the central nervous system (CNS) is essential for voluntary and involuntary movements. Research suggests that dysfunction in this interaction can contribute to the development of RLS symptoms.

It has been observed that certain muscle-related factors, such as muscle fatigue or excessive tension, can trigger or exacerbate RLS symptoms. Prolonged periods of inactivity, such as sitting for extended periods, can lead to muscle stiffness and reduced blood flow, increasing the likelihood of RLS symptoms occurring.

Treating Restless Leg Syndrome

There are medical treatments that use medications to help relieve the symptoms, but for those solutions I suggest you see your medical practitioner.

I’d like to suggest treating the muscles from your hips to your feet to release any pressure that is being placed on the nerves as they pass through or beside the muscle fibers. I have had success in helping people release the tight muscles in their hips.

Before I share a self-treatment for your hips, I also want to suggest that anyone suffering from RLS also go to a good myofascial release (MFR) massage therapist. MFR will release tension in the fascia, the strong substance that surrounds every muscle fiber in the body.

On to a Julstro self-treatment:


You can treat all the muscles of your hip by placing a ball, such as the Perfect Ball that is on my website, or a tennis ball, on the very outside of your hip.

 

Lean into a wall and slowly move around until you find a “hot spot.” I call it that because you suddenly come to a point where it really hurts.

Hold pressure on the spot for 15-30 seconds. If you want, you can move back and forth just a little bit to press the acid (H+) out of the muscle.

Then move around until you find another hot spot and repeat the treatment.

Go all the way around your pelvis, along the length of your sacrum, around the top of your thigh bone, and along the crease where your leg meets your trunk.

Go slowly as the muscle takes some time to release the acid from the fibers, which then draws blood into the area and promotes healing in the muscle fibers.

I suggest you also use the heel of your hands and press down on your thigh muscles, sliding from the very top of your leg, like you’re trying to lengthen the muscles toward your knees. If you feel a bump that is painful, that’s a spasm that is putting pressure on your knee and hips. Just do your best to rub it out.

I wish I could say that these will heal the situation, but if it can give you some relief, then that’s a good thing.

If you have any treatments that have worked for you, please let me know so I can share them with others.

Next Month’s Treatment – Headaches

There are many causes of headaches, some life threatening and others that are the end result of tension or other causes that can be resolved. I’ll be sharing a few helpful techniques that have helped a lot of my clients.

Treat Yourself To Pain-Free Living

Pain-Free Living BookYou can locate the source of your pain, and then see how to do the Julstro self-treatments that can stop the pain FAST!

Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living has 21 colorful charts that show you where to treat to relieve pain that you are experiencing, and over 200 clear photos that explain how to do each self-treatment.

You don’t need to live with pain – you can STOP PAIN FAST!

 Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living

 

 

 

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

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

Relief From Calf Cramp Pain

Stretching Your Calf

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

sunFlorida is heating up and midday is pretty warm, 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.

But as we exercise more, especially in the heat of summer, we often experience calf cramps. You may have been exercising, running, or cycling, and suddenly your calf cramps and stops you in your tracks.

Or the calf cramps may not strike until you have gone to bed. They strike with no warning. You jump up at night with your calf screaming in pain. The calf cramps may even curl your toes and send shock waves all the way up your leg.

You want relief and you want it fast. What do you do?

What Causes Calf Cramps?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that “the cause of leg cramps is unclear.”  Isn’t that encouraging!

There are just so many potential causes of calf cramps that it’s impossible to narrow it down. Some common causes are pregnancy, exercise, dehydration, insufficient levels of certain key nutrients, and electrolyte imbalances.

Electrolytes are minerals that have an electric charge.  You get them from the foods you eat and fluids you drink.

I’ve learned that the vitamins and minerals that impact cramps are: B1, B12, D, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

I’m not a nutritionist so I’m not going to expound on nutritional causes, deficiencies, or solutions.  For that advice I suggest you go to a highly trained nutritionist for advice.  I’ve learned a lot by watching John McDougall, MD and T. Colin Campbell, PhD on YouTube.

However, my world is muscles, so that’s where I focus my attention in today’s article.

Muscle Contractions, Spasms, And Cramps

knotA little clarification of terms.  A contraction is when the entire length of a muscle fiber shortens. A spasm is when a small section of the muscle fiber ties up into what is sometimes thought of as a knot. A spasm happens slowly, so you rarely realize that the spasm is occurring. However, a cramp is when 100% of the muscle suddenly contracts 100% of the way and becomes as hard as a rock and feels like it is all knotted up.

There is a very complicated set of actions that enable us to do something as simple as picking up our cell phone and calling a friend.  You don’t need (or want) to know all the steps, so just suffice to say that each muscle fiber pulls with exactly the right power to make the movement we want to perform.

For example, let’s say you want to pick up a pen, maybe 10% of the fibers in your lower arm (that move your fingers) will contract.  But if you want to pick up a bowling ball, maybe 25% of your muscle fibers will contract.  If you then need to pick up your refrigerator, maybe 100% of your fibers will contract. (All numbers are guesses just to demonstrate a principle).

Regardless of whether you are contracting 10% or 90% of your muscle fibers, they will always contract 100% of the way.  Muscles don’t start to contract and then make a U-turn and stretch – and that’s the problem. The muscle will always contract 100% of the way before it will allow you to stretch it.

If you try to stretch while the muscle is contracting, you are potentially tearing the fibers. So, the idea is to help the muscle fibers complete the contraction, and then stretch.

This really hurts!  But then, a cramp also really hurts!

Relief From Calf Cramp Pain

I suggest you try this now when nothing is happening.  You sure don’t want to be trying to figure it out while your calf is cramping.

  • Cross your leg as shown in this picture.
  • Grab both ends of the muscle and push them together as hard as you can.
  • Hold the squeeze until you are breathing normally.
  • Release, breathe normally for a minute, and repeat.

The second time isn’t going to hurt.  You’re only doing the second squeeze in case there are some muscles that didn’t finish the contraction, so you’re helping them along.

After the cramp has stopped, then you can safely stretch your calf muscles.

Stretching Your Calf

There are two muscles of your calf that you will be stretching: the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

To stretch your gastrocnemius, as shown in the picture to the left, put one leg straight behind you, and bend your opposite knee.

 

Lean forward, bending the knee in the front while keeping your back foot planted on the floor.

 

You’ll feel a nice stretch in your calf as the gastrocnemius is being gently lengthened.

 

 

 

To stretch your soleus muscle, follow the picture on the right and bend your back leg, again keeping your foot planted on the floor, and straighten your forward leg.

 

Hold each stretch for about 15 seconds to allow the muscles to slowly lengthen.

 

Let Me Show You How You Can Treat Yourself

I’ve been teaching people how to self-treat since 1989.  As you know, I’ve written several books to show you how to self-treat to release tight muscles from your head to your feet, and I also have an MP4 program called the Julstro System that shows you how to release every muscle that causes the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger.

Did you know that I also do Zoom Consultations?  I work with people all over the world.  Zoom allows me to demonstrate to them what needs to be done, and then watch them to see if they are doing it correctly.

If you would like to work with me on a one-on-one basis from the comfort of your own home, just go to https://julstromethod.com/product/private-consultation/.  We’ll set up a date and you’ll be off to getting the relief you are seeking.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

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

 

 

 

The Iliopsoas And Lower Back Pain

Relief From Lower Back Pain

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Back PainMay was the start of the beautiful weather when I lived up in New York. April showers began to bring May flowers. 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 colors during this month. For us May is the beginning of the hot weather.

The Snowbirds are leaving Florida and heading back up north. Safe journey. I’ll miss you!  It’s funny having friends that are gone 6 months of the year.

But it also means that life is beginning to slow down for us.  With most of the snowbirds gone, driving is easier, the stores are less crowded, and we can park at the beach.  The weather is still beautiful so we can still go outside to ride a bike, jog, or play the sports we enjoy. This leads me to talk about preventing lower back pain as we become more active.

The Anatomy of The Psoas And Iliacus Muscles

In this month’s newsletter we will be discussing the psoas and iliacus muscles and how they can contribute to lower back pain. Anyone who has come to my office with lower back pain, hip/groin/knee pain, or sciatica is familiar with these two muscles being the root cause of all these conditions.

There is more to the story of each of these conditions, and I have covered them thoroughly in previous newsletters, and in each of my books. Today I want to really explain the “why” of how a muscle in the front of your body plays such havoc with the back of your body.

The psoas muscles (shown in brown in the figure on the left) originate on the FRONT side of the lumbar vertebrae and the iliacus muscles (shown in purple in the figure on the left) originate on the inside curve of your pelvis.  They join very close to your pubic bone and become one muscle group called the iliopsoas muscle group, and they play a critical role in hip and core stability.

The iliopsoas muscle group runs together to where it attaches on the top/inside of your thigh bone.

The Role Of The Psoas And Iliacus Muscles

The psoas muscles pull you forward so you can bend over, and the iliacus muscles lift your legs up to take a step. Together they are responsible for flexing your hip joint, which is important for movements such as walking, running, climbing stairs, and sitting down.

Additionally, these muscles play a vital role in maintaining good posture and providing stability to the pelvis and lower back. In fact, the only time they are not contracted is when you are standing straight and still.

When these muscles are tight or weakened, they can cause significant problems, including:

*Low back pain.

*Groin pain.

*Hip pain.

*Knee pain.

*Sciatica.

How The Psoas And Iliacus Muscles Cause Lower Back Pain

When the psoas muscle becomes tight from repetitive, or overactive, use it can pull on the lumbar spine.  An analogy I use frequently is just as pulling your hair hard can hurt your skull, the psoas muscle pulling hard on the front of your lumbar spine will cause the bones to hurt.

The pressure causes excessive curvature of the lower back. This excessive curvature can cause compression of the lumbar discs and joints, leading to pain and discomfort.

Since your iliacus muscle originates on the inside curve of your pelvis (hip), when it is tight it is common for a person to have hip pain that feels like it’s deep inside the hip.  And it IS deep inside the hip, so much so that you can’t get your fingers in more than ¼ of an inch to press on the muscle.  Fortunately, when you come into the office I can get far into the muscle and release the deep spasms that are causing the problems.

Additionally, since they merge and insert into your thigh bone, tight psoas and iliacus muscles can cause imbalances in the pelvis, leading to asymmetrical movement patterns that can contribute to lower back pain and a lot more!

Conversely, weak psoas and iliacus muscles can also cause lower back pain. When these muscles are weak, they are unable to provide adequate stability to the pelvis and lumbar spine, leading to excessive movement and strain on the lower back muscles. This strain can lead to muscle imbalances and compensations, which can ultimately cause lower back pain.

How The Psoas And Iliacus Muscles Can Cause Arthritis Symptoms

back painThink of this situation: the muscles are tight and pulling hard on the bones.  You are trying to move in the opposite direction, but the muscles are preventing you from moving in that direction.  The more you try, the more the bones hurt.

In fact, as the tight muscles pull on the bones, they can actually start to tear the muscles &/or tendons away from the bone.  The body sees this as a “MAYDAY,” an emergency distress signal.  The pressure on the bones causes inflammation to occur. You are also in danger of the muscle severing either from the tendon, or from the bone.  So, the body sends out the rescue squad of bone cells to hang on to the tendon.

Now you have:

  • pain when you try to move.
  • inflammation (“itis”) at the site of the insertion.
  • and the joint is stiff, possibly even pulled out of normal alignment.
  • …you have all the signs of arthritis or bursitis.

You may be given strong drugs that can have serious side-effects, when all that’s wrong is the muscles are tight and preventing the bones/joints from moving smoothly.

Relief From Lower Back Pain Caused By Your Psoas And Iliacus Muscles 

Don’t start by stretching!  It can cause the problem to get worse! 

muscle knotsEveryone thinks about stretching, but when a muscle is tied up in knots, you definitely don’t want to try to stretch it. You can make it much worse, or you may even tear the fibers.

You may have already heard the analogy I use to explain why stretching can hurt your muscles.

If you took a 12” length of rope and tied enough knots in it to make it 10”, and then you stretched it back to 12” again, what did you do? You made the knots tighter, and you overstretched the fibers that are not in the knot.  And in the body, both ends of this rope (muscle) are attached to a bone &/or a joint!

First you need to untie the knots — then you can stretch safely.

You can go on YouTube University and find lots of ways to stretch, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that tells you how to untie the knots.

So, I’ll tell you.

How to Find the Knots in the Iliopsoas Muscle Group and Untie Them Safely 

As I said before, you can’t really get into either the iliacus or psoas muscles that are deep in your trunk, but you can reach them where they insert into the inside of your thigh bone.

Sit as shown in this picture.

Turn your hand as shown but come all the way up to the top of your leg, right where your leg attaches to your trunk, just to the outside of your pubic bone.

You may even find it easier to press into the muscles with your fingertips, keeping your hand turned as shown in this picture.

When you find a “hot spot” you are pressing onto the spasm on the iliopsoas muscle group.

What To Do Next To Stop Back Pain Fast

I’ve discovered a LOT of ways to eliminate pain, and I’ve been doing it for my clients for almost 35 years.  However, it was frustrating that I could only reach clients who lived near my office.

When I started getting my own injuries, and then I needed to create self-treatments when I couldn’t get help from any of the professionals I went to during that time.  I finally worked it out, and that’s the basis for each of my books and video programs.

In the case of low back pain, hip/groin/knee pain, and sciatica, I suggest getting my book: The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution

You CAN find, and successfully self-treat the muscle spasms (knots) that cause pain!

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

PS: Have you watched my TED talk: The Pain Question No One is Asking?  If not, go to YouTube and enter: Julie Donnelly, Pain and I’ll pop up.  I think it’s really interesting.  If you also think it’s interesting, please share it so I’ll get invited back to go further into why muscles cause pain. 

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 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.

 

Hip And Knee Pain Relief

A Common Cause For Pains From Hip To Knee 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Spring Is In The Air

Beach At SunsetI remember as a child we sang “Though April showers may come your way…they bring the flowers that bloom in May…”

Of course, here in Florida we are blessed with flowers all year, but there is still a lovely feeling that happens in Spring.  It’s still cool enough most days to go out running, and the humidity is still low.

Traffic will soon be easing up as our friends from the north start their trek back home, and daylight savings time is giving us more time to get to the beach for sunset.  Lovely!

Fun Facts About Spring…. 

  • The earliest known use of the term “spring cleaning” was in 1857
  • The word “spring” has been used for the season since the 16th century
  • The first day of spring is called the vernal equinox
  • On the first day of spring, the sunrise and sunset are about 12 hours apart everywhere on earth
  • Spring fever isn’t just a saying. Experts say the body changes due to the temperature and can cause an upset in your health.
  • The actual start of spring varies from March 19th to the 21st, but it is commonly celebrated on the 21st.

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.

But these activities can also cause a strain on muscles, so don’t forget to take care of yourself.

A Common Cause For Pains From Hip To Knee

hip painThere 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.

Hip And Knee Pain Relief

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!

Next Month’s Topic 

In May I’ll be sharing about the muscles that cause the #1 repetitive strain injury in the entire world!

If you have, or know someone who has, low back pain, you won’t want to miss next month’s article.

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 Meniscus Tear

Regain Full Flexibility And Get Back To The Sports You Love 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Healthy HeartWhile February is the shortest month of the year, to our northern family and friends it is the longest, seemingly endless, month.

Where I live in Sarasota Florida, winter brings us near-perfect days and cooler nights.  It’s my favorite time of year.  And of course, we all celebrate the holiday of love – Valentine’s Day!

Just a bit of trivia: In 1868, Richard Cadbury released the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, followed in 1902 with the first conversation hearts from the New England Confectionery Company. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland created the first commercial Valentine’s Day cards in the United States. Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began producing them in 1916.  (Thanks to Wikipedia for all this interesting info).

What Is A Meniscus?

One 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 Meniscus Tear

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. 

Stand 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.

Relief From Plantar Fasciitis Pain

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis Pain? 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

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. I will give you information on how to set up Zoom consultations below. I’ll be happy to help you.

I hope you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas!

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

It has been a beautiful time for being outdoors the past couple of months, whether you live here in Florida, or any of the northern states. With the cooler, dryer weather, runners are back out on the road, which can lead to our topic of the month.  Plantar fasciitis is a condition that is felt in the arch of the foot and can hamper, or even stop, runners from enjoying their sport.

The good news is I’ve found that there are four muscles that are key to releasing the pain in your arch. And they are easy to self-treat with just a little direction.  These muscles are:

The calf muscles:

 

 

Gastrocenmius & Soleus. These muscles both merge into your Achilles tendon and pull up on your heel bone so you can stand on your toes.

 

 

 

The Tibialis Anterior Muscle:

 

 

This muscle is on the outside of your shin bone.  It inserts into the inside of your arch and rolls your foot out toward your little toe.

 

 

 

The Peroneal Muscles: 

Actually  TWO muscles that are on top of each other with both of them going along the outside of your shin bone,and  behind your ankle.  One inserts into the long bone on the outside of your foot, and the other goes across your arch, inserting into the long bone on the inside of your arch.

That may sound a little confusing, but if it does, take a look at the muscle by doing an internet search and it will be clear.

Together these insertion points pull the outside of your foot UP so your roll in toward your arch.

Relief From Plantar Fasciitis Pain 

The important point to consider is that all four of these muscles insert into the bones that form your arch.

When your calf muscles are tight they are pulling back on your heel bone, but since your arch muscles originate on your heel bone, they are being stretched backward.

When the Tibialis Anterior muscle is pulling on the long bone on the inside of your arch, it’s causing pain on that bone so you feel pain in your arch.

When the Peroneals are pulling toward the outside of your foot, you again feel pain along that bone.

This all sounds confusing but just think about your  arch being pulled in three different directions: to the outside, to the inside, and back toward your heel.  Of course you’re going to have pain in your arch!

It would take the length of a long article to go into the details of how to treat each of these muscles so I’m only going to show pictures of how to treat the muscles on the front of, and next to your shin.

Use either the Perfect Ball that I sell on my website: www.flexibleathlete.com, or a used tennis ball.

Kneel on the floor as shown in the picture to the left and place the ball to the outside of your shin bone.

Move your leg forward so the ball rolls down toward your ankle.  If you start to feel a cramp in your arch, just curl your toes as shown in this picture.

You’ll find a tender spot about midway down the muscle.  This is the muscle spasm that is putting pressure on the inside of your arch.

Repeat until it no longer hurts.

To treat your Peroneals, sit as shown in the picture on the right. Place the ball as shown in the picture and put your hand so it presses your leg directly into the ball.

Move your leg so the ball rolls down the outside of your leg toward your ankle.

 

Be sure to always move your hand so it stays on top of the ball.

 

You’ll find a tender spot about midway down your leg.  Stay on the point for about 15 seconds and continue to roll down your leg.

 

Repeat until the muscle no longer hurts.

Next month I’ll be talking about Achille’s Tendonitis.  The treatment for the calf muscles is the same as you would use for Plantar Fasciitis, so stay tuned…

Zoom Consultations 

This past month I worked with two people via Zoom.  Both were successful at getting a total resolution to their issue.  I’ll tell you about them next month, but in one case it was a sudden attach of severe back pain at prevented the man from even getting out of bed.  In the other case, it was a young woman who is a sub-elite runner who had been in pain for three years, preventing her from running.

I’m happy to say in both cases the individual was able to be up and about in one case instantly, and in the other case it took 3 days for a complete reversal of the painful problem.

If you know anyone, anywhere in the world, who is in pain, please let them know that they can find a solution that isn’t offered by traditional pain-relief practitioners.  They can read more about it by going to www.FlexibleAthlete.com and searching on the shopping cart for Zoom Consultations.

Here’s To Your Health 

There is a tremendous amount of information on two of my websites: www.FlexibleAthlete.com and www.JulstroMethod.com.  I believe you’ll find a lot of answers by going through those sites, and by looking at the books and video programs that I’ve developed over the years.

There is a saying “God helps those who help themselves.”  These websites and my books are the tools you can use to help yourself to Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living.

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