Stretch that Neck

Are you slumped over a desk quite often or are you seeing children doing nothing but starring down at their electronic devices? Most likely work and wondering what is all that going to do to the health of their body in the long term or to your own body when you get home for the evening and your neck upper back and lower back are sore. On increasing basis I am seeing more and more people come in with these two problems that have a similar yet simple solution. And I will say that it's not about telling people how to live their lives it is more about working with the situation as it currently stands. So let's talk for a moment about what this really is and what is not.


The modern world is very much a lean forward society. What this has created over the last few hundred years has been an epidemic of people who feel pain in the upper neck and back also including the shoulder blades themselves. This is the result of leaning forward and bending the head downward towards the chest more often than not raining the head upwards towards the sky. As a result of many people make the mistake of the game or muscles especially in their neck and shoulders are just tight or as I often hear it "I carry all my tension in my neck and shoulders”.


The truth is that in almost all cases that a client brings to me of tightness or pain in the neck and shoulders it is that the muscles located in and around the neck and shoulders are being stretched like a trampoline instead of overworked. Think of it this way: if you were to take a plastic bag and place it into a firm grip in one hand and then place the other end of the bag into perhaps a Workmans device and start pulling it eventually what you would find is the areas are most stretch near the anchoring points not where you are pulling the bag with your hands. This analogy works very well because it mimics almost exactly what the human body is doing internally.


When we lean forward so often and use our hands and arms to perform task directly in front of us the muscles in the front of the neck and tectorial muscles in the front of the chest stir to shrink because the body gets the message that they do not need to go to their full range of motion because that's not what we are demanding of them. As a result the body starts to reduce the muscle mass and length of each muscle in the front of the body. Most often they can be felt in the scalene muscles of the neck and as well in the pectoral muscles. As a result of the shrinking mass the muscles on the shoulders in the back of the neck are pulled forward and stretched like a piece of canvas leading people to believe that the muscles are tight as in they are knotted up. This might sound like semantics but to someone who is trying to figure out how to help someone that can be somewhat deceiving which means that diagnostic palpation is always required to verify what someone is saying compared to what their body is saying.


So when the opening paragraph I discussed that there would be a simple thing you can do to help deal with this problem and here it is: we must simply learn to stretch the muscles in the front of the body back out more often which would tell the body that it can indeed function within the full range of motion. This is achieved through subtle reminders and exercises completed by a client between appointments. The reason that I often give people homework in this regard has to do with the idea that if someone is willing to do some of the work at home it makes the time they spend with me more valuable because then I can tackle the bigger issues in that area that require my special skills. It also allows me enough time to investigate other areas of the body that may be of interest to the client.

The most simple stretch I can provide people is to simply lay on the edge of the bed and place their head on the edge of the bed in such a location as to line up directly with the point of the skull meeting the spinal column. Go back approximately the length of your index finger and keep your head perpendicular to the sailing you're looking at in front of you. If you wish to enhance the stretch put out your arms straight out to your side. Move your head slowly over a period of approximately two months all the way off the side of the mattress. Is important to remember that in this particular stretch want to make sure that your only holding that straits position for 30 or so seconds it does no one any good to overstretch the area so quickly. Over the period of approximately 30 to 60 days the particle get the message that those muscles need to lengthen that are short in the front of the body and neck. This will then intern slowly release pressure from the neck and shoulders. 


For some individuals they may still have their full range of motion and the stress and tension they feel in there tissue is simply a psychological stress reaction manifested in the physical tissue. This is far more rare than people anticipate and should be treated as such that means during a bodywork session it is often a good idea to have some time to simply relax. I do offer many of my clients the ability to do a meditation massage service which is a guided meditation done during the massage to allow those physical stress reactions to stop for a duration of time during the service which will make my job much easier and make people feel much more comfortable. These manifested physical stress reactions are major problem in the sense that if people make the assumption that it is all a physical problem then they never address the psychological one that is causing it. A sure sign that this is a psychological causes in my opinion is simply asking yourself how are you sleep at night. If people in general have a problem sleeping at night and there is not a physical problem involved then it's typically a psychological problem of their brain slowing down and allowing them to sleep.


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Midyear Newsletter from Tony Schwartz Bodywork

To all of my current clients, past clients, and future clients receiving this newsletter I hope this message finds you in good health. It has been six months since the last newsletter was published. I’m just going to hit a few highlights from the last six months and what will be coming in the next six months. Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter.


It's survey time! Please go to my website and click on the banner which will link you directly to the survey page. Your survey should take about 10 minutes or less to finish. All of the responses will be anonymous. Please leave any additional information or comments in the space provided at the end of the survey. Your responses directly affect how your services are conducted so please be honest and thoughtful. The survey will be open untilJuly 1, 2017. At the end of the survey that will be a special offer you may want to take advantage of!


The start of 2017 has brought some changes and I hope that everyone will enjoy them. The decor in the office has changed a little bit hopefully making it more inviting and interesting. One of the big highlights is that new draperies that block out 90% of the light have been installed. From 11 AM to approximately 4 PM the sun gives almost perfect sunlight directly in the window this can sometimes prove to be annoying or distracting when laying in the face up position during your service. I hope this makes change makes a better service for everyone.


I am asking for your help with over the next six months is to please consider writing a review. Reviews are incredibly important for my advertising compared to most other bodyworkers. You may submit more than one review on more than one medium for example: if you wish to leave a Google review please also consider a Facebook review. If your Yelp user consider writing a review or even submit a private review at the Better Business Bureau website. All of these things now bring up my search results closer to page one. Real reviews from real customers give people confidence that they are making a good purchasing decision. Of course as always I encourage people to write honest reviews to give new potential clients an honest impression.


As a reminder to all of my clients I do provide a transition service to another service provider if you should choose to leave Minnesota. In 2016 nine clients moved to different states and at no additional charge I helped to find them another therapist in the area in which they would be living and working. I will look for their state license number as well as verify their education. I will also then dive deeper and contact the potential therapist directly and try and get some direct impressions from them about how they run their practice and whether it would be the right fit for you. If you so choose I will also send any records from my practice to there’s at no additional charge.


I wish to say a big thank you to all of my customers. Without all of you I would not be able to take care of my family and I would not be able to enjoy my life nearly as much because all of you allow me the opportunity to do what I love. I feel so very fortunate to have earned your business and I hope that throughout the end of 2017 and beyond I can continue to serve you with distinction and integrity.


Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz Bodywork.


Cupping? What the F#$%^ is Cupping

Many of my clients don't realize that I have been working with cups for several years now and I hope that this explanation will encourage people to ask questions to consider whether it's right for them. Cupping has been around for several thousand years, it's roots are based inTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and can be found in several different forms throughout South East Asia. For most American thing first exposure to cupping typically comes during the Olympic Games. Especially during the summer Olympics we will find athletes like swimmers, weightlifters, and even cyclists that use cupping as a method of preventing in helping to heal injuries. After the last Olympic Games I received a number of inquiries regarding what cupping was and if it might work for them as an individual. 


So let's begin by describing the basics of cupping itself: there are several different styles of cupping by styles (I am indicating how they apply and in some cases even materials that compose the cups being used). First we have two general categories of cups: first of the two is called “still cupping”. Still cups are those that are set into position for a specific purpose and are simply removed after the allotted period of time. The second is called “moving cups” these are cups that are placed in one location for a period of time and then are moved while still creating section. This general type of cupping is relatively new by comparison to still cups with the advent of modern technology cupping has been taken to a new level and now has a much wider use. From those two general categories let next discuss how each one can be used and the general method involved.


Still cupping is a method that originally started as a way of clearing blockage is in major joints and in certain areas of the body to assist in the cleansing process. In Traditional Chinese Medicine clearing blockage is around major joints was considered critical to health. The idea is to assess the individual and place them in strategic locations are all major joints and major meridian lines. They would be left there for a relatively short for your time say around two minutes and for others it could be more than 30 minutes. This is the method that is most often seen on television during the Olympic games or seen by more and more individuals on the street as they walk by someone with marks around the top of their neck or base of their skull. Many traditional practitioners find the term “bruise” offensive when describing the marks left behind by the cups. Cupping does not leave a bruise is actually a side effect of lifting and separating tissue and allowing blood flow into an area that was not receiving the proper blood supply before. The suctioning effect of the cups also tends to pull debris upwards towards the skin making a more visible to individuals. I tell people think of a vacuum cleaner clean your floor the section in effect of the vacuum for polled a pre-upwards out of the rug itself and into the bag. But in actuality the one body does not simply allow itself to lift the debris out of tissue it must be cleaned out by the lymphatic system. These marks are typically only there for short period of time but an extremely were cases can last several months so it's usually something you want to do when you know you're going to be covered for example during the winter months. These marks or painless and if need be can easily be covered by make up. In most cases I tell people to take a shower when they get home because occasionally the skin can leach out some of the debris this is often the case when you work on peoples back shortly after a major surgery or if they tend to be heavy smokers. Still cup session can last as little as 10 minutes or as long as 40 minutes and still allows you to go back to normal activity after the treatment is completed. Depending on your activity level sometimes it is recommended to make upping only once in a great while for major athletes and also dealing with injuries coming in every other day is necessary.

Let's move on now to gliding cups now so you can understand their function and application. Moving cups allow practitioner to open multiple meridian points in the same application this was the first evolved form of moving cups in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Like acupuncture the idea was to remove any blockages in the meridians a renter out the human body that transfer life energy into all the tissues of the body cupping was a more mechanical method of traditional acupuncture and so the moving of the cups allowed practitioners to not only get very particular point but also have a broader general impact on those same meridian lines throughout the body. There's also a modern version of the movie cup which is something called Medi-Cupping this is done by using textured glass and plastic cups which are designed to separate connective tissue and muscle tissue similar to a still cup application but over a broader area. It has many applications most popular which I have found is as a substitution for a foam roller on the area of the legs. Instead of compressing the tissue which can be very painful to the person doing the rolling the use of the medi-Cupping technique allows relatively painless means to achieve the same and in many cases can be done significantly faster. Sessions can vary in length from the slowest 10 minutes to as long as an hour and a half depending upon the needs of the client and the particular application of the preferred but practitioner.


To close out this information I thought would be best to give you more general information that's true for both methods and also how you may go about deciding if it’s right for you. In general conference sessions are priced by a practitioner either in units of general time (as I do with all my treatments) over they can be a standalone service which may be priced differently depending upon the application as requested by the client. Most cupping session in general will be priced between $20 and $50 and if they are gliding cups are typically priced in the unit of time. Every qualify practitioner should have some kind of a certificate from a reputable continuing education provider. Also these cups need to be washed carefully so you want to look for someone is following basic hygienic standards like a UV sterilizing light and is using a specific method for washing the cups in an approved cleaning product like bleach (this will of course be different for the type of cup used). It's also worth noting is that those who are pregnant and those who have bleeding disorders are strongly advised not to have cupping done unless cleared by an M.D.. One other great point to mention is that cups can be made out of a variety of materials from bamboo, glass, acrylics, even rubber.


I hope this information has been helpful if you have any questions you're welcome to contact me at Tony Schwartz Bodywork in Minneapolis, Minnesota.