Posts

Hot or Cold? How to heat treat pain points

Hot or cold? Warm or chilly? What temperature treatments are best to resolve aches and pains? Temperature can in fact be an excellent way to warm up or cool down muscles, soothe or invigorate different areas of stiffness or lingering pain. But, which is best – and when?

All good questions, and important ones to ask as you continue on your quest to keep all your muscles and joints happy and healthy. My training as a Physical Therapy Assistant allowed me to learn and apply some very important practical knowledge about hot and cold treatments for injuries and pain points. 

First off, always practice caution with any sort of temperature remedy. Using a remedy that is either way too hot or way too cold can leave you with a burn, only making life more uncomfortable. Not a fun time!

Also, if you have any sort of sensation impairments, be extra, extra cautious with temperature modalities. For example, someone who is diabetic may experience impaired sensation in their limbs and would not feel the degree to which ice may be too cold or a source of heat may be too hot. And, always keep a layer (or two) between your skin and the source of heat or cold! This protects your skin, while still allowing the temperature remedy to help out your muscles. 

Secondly, there are a lot of opinions about using hot and cold remedies, but I have always found this methodology below to be helpful, especially in terms of recovering from an injury, healing, soothing inflammation, or battling stiffness. 

For tightness and stiffness, think heat. Easy to remember because you can think about the warmth penetrating your muscles and warming them up for an activity. This is what you want – your muscles to be “unfrozen” for comfortable movement and activity. For pain and inflammation, opt for cold – using ice or a cold compress to help decrease any swelling and minimize any pain you might be feeling. 

PRO-TIPS

  1. If you’re working to loosen up a chronically stiff area, you can utilize heat before your mobility and movement work for about 10-15 minutes. 
  2. After you are done with your stretching, strengthening, and mobility work in that area, you can then use ice or a cold compress for about 15-20 minutes. This will aid in decreasing any possible inflammation or soreness after your exercise and movement. 

Any questions? Let me know how I can you out and be sure to connect with me on Instagram for even more wellness and workout tips and tricks!

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. Content provided above is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, injury, or other medical issues. By participating in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Yoga with Tristan, Tristan Gatto, his heirs, beneficiaries, associations and partnerships from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Yoga with Tristan’s negligence.

 

Soothing Self-Massage for Shoulder Pain

Sore shoulders make me want to run and get a massage more than anything else! Tightness spreading across your shoulders, feeling knots (AKA “adhesions”) – not fun for anyone at any time

But, not everyone can just hop over to a brilliant massage therapist as we please (sad, but true). So, what is the best option to work through shoulder pain and get relief from aches and pains?

Thankfully, there are some great options for shoulder pain remedies that you can do in the comfort of your own home. I actually developed an entire course based around self-massage techniques (check out Issues In Your Tissues if you’re interested in even more amazingly easy home massage methods) and have included the entire shoulder myofascial self-massage section right here for you! 

Myofascial you say? Sounds…complex and otherworldly? 

I promise you, it is a very simple concept that has been proven to work wonders in maintaining muscular health and wellness. Myofascial release is a form of therapy used to treat skeletal muscle immobility and pain. The treatment works by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles and muscle groups. 

And while myofascial release and therapy are used in Physical Therapy offices around the globe, there are luckily a lot of myofascial techniques that you can do right at home, starting with this one. Designed to help you release shoulder tension and overcome pain, this self-massage is easy and requires zero props or tools. Perfection! 

Give it a try right now and soothe those shoulders!

Useful for:

  • Stiff, tight or painful upper shoulder musculature.
  • Can help to decrease adhesions (“knots”) in the upper shoulders.
  • May decrease upper shoulder pain and discomfort.
  • Before and after workouts or sports activities.
  • After prolonged sitting, frequent overhead reaching, or holding the neck in one position for a long period of time or very frequently.

Instructions:

  • Can be used every other day.  You want the tissues to rest a day in between.
  • Can be performed lying down (more pressure) or against a wall (less pressure).
  • Apply deep, SLOW pressure. (It’s going to be very tender!)
  • Can be applied for up to 5 minutes at a time.
  • Back off on pressure if too tender or uncomfortable (it will start off this way until the tissues are used to it!)
  • If you experience tingling, burning, or sharp shooting pain, please discontinue.  I advise you to seek evaluation from a healthcare provider should you experience these symptoms.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. Content provided above is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, injury, or other medical issues. By participating in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Yoga with Tristan, Tristan Gatto, his heirs, beneficiaries, associations and partnerships from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Yoga with Tristan’s negligence.

3 Tricks to Relieve Painful “Text Neck”

Do you know what your neck looks like when you’re scrolling through your phone? If I had to venture a guess, I would say it is probably at some sort of an angle, positioned downward to better stare at your device. This phenomenon is leading to more and more cases of “text neck” as I like to call it – which is stiffness and pain in your neck (and upper back) due to increased, chronic straining (AKA scrolling through news feeds, email, websites, etc across all of our super convenient devices). 

I know that I’m not immune to this problem! Practically every day I catch myself tilting my head in some weird way while absorbed in something on my screen. Today, it’s a normal and common problem, but it shouldn’t be something we all just accept as appropriate and healthy posture. All evidence points to this sort of posture creating really problematic stressors and strains on the spine. Over time, this can only lead to problems and pain. Consistency and commitment to taking care of your neck is key, as is adjusting your posture when you are on your smartphone or other devices.

In a study conducted by Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, it was found that as the head tilts forward the force place on the neck dramatically increases. When we hold our head in a healthy, neutral position, the forces to the cervical spine are about 10-12 pounds and evenly distributed, which is normal. But as we tilt our head forward the force increases:

Repetitive forward head posture and frequently hanging your head may lead to all sorts of neck problems, including early wear and tear, degeneration, nerve root impingement, herniation/bulges, and possibly the need for surgery. Imagine having a consistent force on your cervical spine that is the equivalent of 30-60 lbs? The results from that long term force cannot be good for anyone.

This graph from the study described above shows the effects of the tilt that accompanies cell phone use.

Be sure to use these best practices to decrease the strain you are putting on your neck and spine:

1. Be aware of your head and position

As shown above, even just a slight tilt away from a neutral spine practically doubles the force your cervical spine is feeling. Good posture isn’t just “shoulders back,” in this day and age we all need to be sure we are keeping our chins away from our chest and maintaining a healthy, neutral spine. 

2. Use simple neck stretches throughout the day

Even just gentle, slow, alternating ear to shoulder movements can stretch each side of your neck to prevent stiffness and cramping. This is even useful for those of you sitting in desks and around conference tables during the workday. Or students in lecture halls and classrooms! Just as you might get the urge to stretch your legs, be sure you are giving your neck some much needed time for gentle stretching throughout the day. 

3. Practice yoga poses that target neck and shoulder mobility

Naturally, as a yoga teacher, I am a huge proponent of yoga (shout out to my Yoga Prehab™ tribe!). But only because it actually works

In today’s busy world, I find that the countless clients I have worked with over the years really do have time to invest in their health and well being, even if that means just practicing a few minutes of yoga per day. 

My favorite poses (asanas) to target problematic neck and shoulder stiffness are the much-beloved downward facing dog and the ever-popular, super stretchy cat-cow. These help to stretch out and relax the neck, shoulders and even provide tension relief for both your upper and lower back. 

Pop into these even just for a few minutes when you feel that text neck tension creeping up on ya’ – bye text neck!

For a proven method to release, stretch, and strengthen these problem areas and heal from “text neck” once and for all, check out my course The Text Neck Fix. Better to spend a few minutes a day with me, than to need weeks of expensive rehab for nerve damage, disc issues, or other neck, shoulder, and cervical spine-related issues.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. Content provided above is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, injury, or other medical issues. By participating in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Yoga with Tristan, Tristan Gatto, his heirs, beneficiaries, associations and partnerships from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Yoga with Tristan’s negligence.

6 Tips To Naturally Rebalance Your Chakras To Relieve Neck + Shoulder Pain

The heart chakra (Anahata) is the area of energy in your body that is related to love, care, and compassion – both for yourself and others. The throat chakra (Vishuddha) is the area of energy in your body related to feeling heard, communicating with others, and honestly vocalizing your needs. When these centers of energy are out of balance, encumbered by stress or other emotional factors, you can actually carry those feelings of imbalance as tension in your body. 

This naturally can contribute to aches and pains in your neck and shoulders, right where those energy centers are found. Because the throat and heart chakras are next to each other, many rebalancing methods for one also benefit the other. So convenient! 

Remember that sometimes a chakra might be either blocked or overactive. Either way, these easy tips will help to rebalance your heart and throat chakras if and when they are out of sorts and imbalanced. 

  1. Speak Your Mind! Sometimes the throat chakra can feel blocked when you feel unable to express yourself. If there is something you’ve been meaning to get off your chest, do so in a gentle, honest, and mindful way. You deserve to feel heard!
  2. Go Green! (or Blue) The color associated with your heart chakra is green – specifically, emerald green, while the throat chakra is all about blue. Try surrounding yourself with these hues, or wearing something in these colors to lift and unblock those chakras.
  3. Give Thanks! For the people in your life who you couldn’t live without – let them know how thankful you are! Show your appreciation and support to those who support you – even if it’s just a quick hello, text, or email to let them know you love ‘em. Acts such as this will allow your heart chakra to really radiate. Your throat chakra is all about vocalizing and communicating, and positive words to those you care about can lift your mood and open up your throat chakra in a powerful way.
  4. Yoga It Up! Do some yoga! I love a good cat-cow sequence for healing the throat chakra. For some poses (asanas) that will target both your heart and throat chakras, join me for my Heart Reset Flow, suitable for every skill level.
  5. Turn It Upside Down! Other quick yoga-based practices for opening up the throat and heart chakras include inversions, which help stimulate the blood flow to your head, neck, and chest. Pop into a quick, gentle downward facing dog to relieve those blocked chakras and get the energy flowing. My 7 DAY CHAKRA CLEANSE is perfect for getting things realigned using physical therapy-based mobility and yoga techniques!
  6. Pamper Your Heart! Practice some self-care to help open your heart chakra. Whether it’s snuggling in to watch your favorite movie, taking some time to settle down with a face mask, or preparing your favorite healthy meal, showing yourself some love will help rebalance your chakras and get some much-needed relaxation.

Looking for more neck + shoulder remedies? Try the NEW SPINAL RESET FOR NECK + SHOULDER PAIN.  Get all my secret tips + tricks for instantly improving pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders…you won’t find them anywhere else!

How to Fix Your Tension Headache Fast 

Hmmm, maybe your house is really loud right about now? Or maybe your holiday travel or jetlag left you with a headache?

Whatever the reason, having a headache is decidedly not a great way to enjoy the holidays. 

So, let’s fix that tension headache of yours and let’s do it quickly!

First, grab a soothing essential oil (if you have some – the doTERRA brand is my fav right now). Lavender oil works really well and has a wonderfully relaxing scent. Eucalyptus and peppermint are also great for muscle relaxation and tension relief, in addition to having stronger smells that can work to clear out your sinuses. Smelling the essential oils, rubbing a few diluted drops on your scalp, and even placing a bit above your ears (avoid your eyes) close to your temples, can have an immediate calming and cooling effect. Note: Always dilute your oils with a carrier oil to protect the skin!

Hear me out on this one…I know it’s not an essential oil, but if you have Tiger Balm lying around, rub a tiny bit on the area just behind your temples, being careful to not get it anywhere near your eye (or on any pillows or clothes – it can stain). 

Get out of direct light if you can. Cover your eyes comfortably, turn down the lights, and take a few deep, slow breaths. Turning down the lights will help ease your headache if it is causing you to feel sensitive to light, and avoiding your computer and phone screens will help decrease the straining of your eyes. Slowing down the pace of your breath can help soothe the nervous system, making it easier for your body to be more receptive to decompressing and relaxing. 

Your shoulders and suboccipital muscles all tie into the base of the skull, so when there is long-term tension, pressure, twisting, and unnatural strain, you may feel shooting pain around or behind your eyes or near the back and side of your head.

Do this easy, breezy, super soothing tension headache fix with me and in under 15 minutes you will be well on your way to feeling back to your old self. No more stabbing or shooting pains in your head, neck, or behind your eyes!  Note: Feel free to turn the brightness down on your screen when you watch. This definitely helps!

I invite you to circle back to this tension headache fix each and every time you start feeling any sort of headache creeping up on you, and share with anyone you know you may be dealing with similar discomfort. There is no reason to keep suffering! 

If you’re suffering from chronic neck pain, tension, eyestrain, fatigue, and low energy, try out my Text Neck mini-course before you invest tons of time and money going to countless physical therapy appointments. Get The Text Neck Fix and start healing safely and immediately (71% off for a limited time)!

Try these effective tension headache treatments whenever you’re facing that painful, nagging ache and please be sure to check in with me and let me know what worked best for you!

Stay well, free of tension headaches, and enjoy your holidays!

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. Content provided above is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, injury, or other medical issues. By participating in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Yoga with Tristan, Tristan Gatto, his heirs, beneficiaries, associations and partnerships from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Yoga with Tristan’s negligence.

The 4 Most Effective Methods for Tension Relief 

Tension can strike at any time of year, am I right? Any time, any season, any given day your body may feel tight and tense, leaving you uncomfortable. Maybe you’re finding its worse during the winter or even just during this hectic holiday season. Whenever you’re feeling tense, put these methods to good use to experience some fast-acting relief for all your tension symptoms!

Stretch It Out

As a Physical Therapist Assistant over the last 7 years,  I have always told all my patients to take the time to stretch, no matter when or where. And now, I am telling you! Push whatever fears or concerns about looking awkward aside and get down to business by stretching anywhere and anytime you feel necessary.

You can make stretching look good, I swear. Honestly, whoever has the pleasure of seeing you will probably just assume you’re an athletic person, doing normal things that athletic people do. So go for it! I always celebrate anyone I see on the street stretching and releasing discomfort. Stretching is something everyone needs in order to stay healthy and maintain their best mobility. 

Sip, Sip

Sipping on a soothing beverage has powerful benefits for both mind and body. Mint, lavender, or chamomile are all teas that are well known for their calming properties and relaxing scents, but one of my personal favorites is rooibos. I love rooibos for it’s delicious, warming, fragrant qualities, but also because it is beneficial for blood pressure and circulation.

A lot of tension and inflammation problems can be caused or worsened by poor circulation, and oftentimes when you feel super stressed you’re blood pressure and heart rate are probably higher than normal. Rooibos works to lower blood pressure, helping relieve problematic manifestations of tension and stress in the body. My favorite rooibos blends are from Tea Sparrow; they come up with the most inventive, healthy, and delicious flavor pairings each and every month. 

Turn Up The Heat

Heat can be a great way to combat tension throughout various muscle groups in the body. If you have access to a sauna or steam room, those are great options, but you can also achieve the same results by taking a warm, luxurious shower or bath. You can even heat things up internally by doing a quick, energetic yoga sequence (with me)! 

Special Neck-nique 

Sometimes tension that originates in the neck will be symptomatic as pain in your shoulders and head. Nowadays with everyone straining their necks working at computers and looking at their phones, it is so important to address neck pain quickly and consistently. Letting neck pain linger can cause chronic headaches and migraines as well as knots and prolonged tension in your shoulders and back. 

I’ve observed this evolving trend of increasing neck trouble throughout my career, and love teaching people new techniques to get their necks right.

Try this in just three easy steps:

  1. Sitting on a chair or on the ground, stretch your left arm down by your side
  2. Then, tilt your head to the right until you feel a nice, gentle stretch along the left side of your neck
  3. Hold for 20 seconds or more, and then switch and do the other side

Super, simple stretches like this have a tremendous benefit when done consistently. To really get to the root of tension extending from your neck, get The Text Neck Fix, which I created as a tool you can use literally anywhere to quickly and effectively relieve neck pain and improve your posture (mega bonus -it’s currently on sale, because I love you all so, so much)!

Looking for more safe and effective methods to combat tension, increase mobility, and sleigh all day? Take a look at today’s Fix Yourself Fridays on my Instagram to learn more!