Everyone needs a little self-improvement, right? That’s why I’ve set a personal challenge for the month of July to tweak here and there areas in my life that need some extra attention. Nothing radical mind you. Just little things I can do to bring more clarity, more joy, and more vitality to improve my daily routine.
Day 16: Do Something About Those Aches and Pains.
My Problem: It seems like every day I wake up with some new ache or pain. I don’t really mind them. Especially when I heard this quote a few years ago:
After 40, if you don’t wake up with something hurting, then you’re dead.
What I am more concerned about are the aches and pains that come from past injuries or conditions that seem to get more prominent as the years go on. For instance, a couple years ago, I was told by a mammogram technician, that I had a concave chest. Really? No one had EVER told me that before. I was amazed – and shocked. Then when I started doing yoga practice, my instructor remarked how my shoulders were extremely rounded. An “ah ha” moment happened with her comment: I have rounded shoulders because of my concave chest. So, that’s the reason why it’s getting harder and harder for me to have good posture, why I have low back pain, why I have shoulder pain, why I can’t stretch properly or touch my toes. It’s all because of my extremely rounded shoulders (that are getting more rounder each year I might add).
My Goal: Find ways to actively address my physical challenges.
My Plan: My yoga instructor who pointed out my shoulder-back-chest issue also had some advice for me to work on my situation. One thing she recommended to open up my shoulders was to lie with a pillow or some other obstruction between my shoulder blades and squeeze my shoulder blades around it. That action would get my chest muscles to stretch and open my shoulders. I placed a yoga block between my blades. The first time I did it, I was super stiff around my shoulder blades. Now, after doing it a few times, my muscles are indeed stretching, so much that my yoga instructor noticed my progress even without me telling her that I had been following her advice.
Next, that same instructor recommended a holistic practioner who would come to my house and help me work on my trouble areas.
What is a holistic practioner? Holistic healing practitioners use alternative medicine practices to address imbalances in the physical, emotional, spiritual or environmental components of a person’s life. Those “alternative medicine practices” include Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Nutrition, Yoga, Herbatology and Aromatherapy. There are even holistic practioners for cats and dogs!!!
The particular holistic practioner who was recommended to me, Cindy, is a massage therapist who includes cupping therapy, in her healing practices. Cupping is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin, mobilizing blood flow in order to promote healing.
Cindy fell in to this profession because she was helped with shoulder and knee issues and wanted to give back. She says, “It is so exciting to help others.” I might add that it was quick to see that Cindy has many inborn healing gifts that benefit her practice. She talks in a soothing, calm voice and her hands are very intuitive as she massages.
It was especially convenient that Cindy came to my house. She said being in my own environment lessens the stress of trying a new holistic approach. I would have to agree. Cindy brought her own treatment table, essential oils, and cupping set to aid her in her practice.
She talked with me first to determine my problem area(s) and then decided which holistic methods to use. She also pointed out my trigger points: areas where fascia has built up, creating scar tissue and interfering with blood flow to certain muscles. Next, she had me strip down to just some panties. She had sheets for me to lie under on the table to provide some modesty for me during the treatment session.
Each area she worked on, she explained what she was doing and how it would help me. And she let me ask questions throughout the session (I probably asked too many questions because I found the whole process so interesting. She was very patient with me). Some of the massaging was painful, especially around my neck, IT band, and forearms (yes, rounded shoulders triggers all these areas). It wasn’t the kind of painful where I wanted to cry out or have her stop. Just the kind where I had to hold my breath as she worked the muscle.
The cupping procedure was especially interesting. She placed the cups in areas she identified that needed a better blood flow, then fill them with air to create the suction. She left them on my skin for a few minutes. As the air dissipated, she would suction the cups some more until she felt they had increased the blood flow enough. Because suction is involved, it does leave marks – kind of like hickeys. Cindy told me, “The marks are not bruising. It is the toxins, stagnate blood and lymph being drawn out of the muscle. This helps promote quicker healing. By drawing out the stagnate waste from the muscle, fresh blood is able to flow to help heal and restore the muscle quicker.” The marks take a couple of days to disappear. I was sure glad it was on my back!!!
Cindy was very generous with her time, her talents, and her knowledge. She also shared with me how to effectively work on stretching my very tight hamstring muscles by using a tennis ball. Simply place the ball under the center of your foot, just under your toes, while standing. Place pressure on the ball (she said 5 pounds worth of pressure whatever that means) and roll the ball down to your heel then back to your toes, 5 times. Next do the same thing to the medial (inside) part of your foot, repeating 3 times. Lastly, do it to the lateral (outside) part of your foot, again repeating 3 times. I’ve done it once so far and it felt pretty good.
I’m thankful to live in a day and age where there is tons of information for new and different ways to assist my body with healing. It’s about time I take advantage of these methods and using holistic healing is a great start..
Day 16: Do something about those aches and pains.