Posture & Circulation Tips from My Massage Therapist
For any of you who have bad posture, or have experienced soreness in your legs, back or joints—you may really benefit from the advice I picked up during a recent massage!
Although I usually don’t like talking during a massage, this particular therapist interrupted the session (apologetically) to let me know that my body is completely out of alignment and that I’m “too young” for my joints to be off kilter in such a way (AHH!)! He went on to explain that I’ve been standing, sitting and exercising improperly—and began sharing some advice to help me straighten out and get my body back in alignment.
Here are four outstanding symptoms that I was experiencing, the causes of each problem, and suggestions to correct the problem and avoid long-term complications (which should help any of you suffering from similar symptoms).
Issue #1: Joint Pain + Soreness
Symptoms: Aches and pains in my knees, hips and upper legs—which becomes especially painful after running.
The cause: Apparently, this pain is a result of standing incorrectly. My masseuse told me that I’ve been shifting the majority of my weight onto my right leg when I stand—causing my left leg to be elongated, and my right leg to be shortened/stunted from holding all the extra weight (who knew!). He also told me that this pain can be a result of improperly running or exercising as well: not properly distributing the weight across the full base of my feet.
The solution: If you’re experiencing similar symptoms, the first thing to do is to make sure you’re standing tall, strong and balanced—so that your weight is evenly distributed on your hips and equally disrupted on your feet. When running or working out, it’s important to ensure that your running shoes are properly fitted and that you’re incorporating strength-training exercises into your overall fitness program so that running doesn’t cause so much pressure and strain on your joints.
Issue #2: Misaligned Spine
Symptoms: Pain and soreness in my lower back (especially painful after leg and back exercises such as squats and deadlifts).
The cause: My masseuse theorized that slouching and standing improperly was the root cause of my misalignment. Stress, however, is said to be the most common cause of spinal misalignment—as it creates muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, often throwing the vertebrae out of alignment.
The solution: According to BodyBuilding.com, one of the best methods to correct spine misalignment is to improve your posture by “stretching the overactive muscles and strengthening the under-active muscles.” To figure out how to do this, and identify your own posture deviations—take their “standing assessment” and refer to the strengthening exercises suggested.
Issue #3: “Hammertoe” (Bending of the joints of the little toes)
Symptoms: My second little toe is elongated and bent over (I had no idea this was a health issue!). For other people, “hammertoe” symptoms include pain or irritation of one or more toes when wearing shoes, corns and calluses (buildup of skin around the foot), inflammation/redness and contracture of the toe. Source.
The cause: Hammertoes are a result of muscle and tendon imbalance (caused by poor sole support, ill-fitting shoes, excessive walking and/or walking on rough terrain). If left untreated, the bent toe can become more rigid and misaligned over time, and will not respond to surgical treatment. Source.
Make sure that you’re wearing comfortable shoes (with a deep toe box and silicon padding) that aren’t too tight or too tall. You can also stretch out your effected toes by pulling them outward (gently elongating them). There are many great videos on YouTube offering additional treatment and information if you’re unsure whether or not you have a hammertoe!
Issue #4: Poor Circulation
Symptoms: The masseuse noticed my freezing hands and feet during the treatment—which is an every day issue for me (as well as feeling chilled to the bone pretty much all the time). After doing additional research, I learned that poor circulation can also cause unexplained digestive issues, frequent exhaustion, weakened immune system, slackened libido, dark circles under the eyes, as well as brittle hair and nails (which are symptoms that I also experience, but never considered to be related!)
The cause: Interestingly enough: spinal misalignment and cramped muscles are two big causes of poor circulation (see…it all connects!), as well as a host of other factors including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, peripheral artery disease and smoking.
The solution: My masseuse recommended soaking in a bath with 1-2 cups of Epsom salt for about 20 minutes. He also recommended boosting circulation by massaging rosemary essential oils into parts of the body that are particularly tense.
There are many other at home remedies you can explore to improve your circulation, but working on your posture is also incredibly important—as well as getting up to take short walks and stretch throughout the day (especially if you’re sitting all day).
If this particular massage therapist hadn’t taken the time to point out my specific issues, I probably would have continued normalizing the pain and discomfort I was experiencing, without identifying ways to prevent and reduce my symptoms.
So the next time you get a massage – make sure to ask your therapist to check for spinal irregularities, misaligned joints and to point out where you’re experiencing the most tension. Take that information, do your own research, and identify reasonable solutions (i.e. stretches, at home remedies, changes to your exercise routine) to correct the problem before it effects your long term health!
xoxo - Ryan
(This article first published on Best Kept Self )