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.