The quest to reduce pain and improve mobility can be stressful and expensive. The process can lead people to lose hope and opt for surgery to relieve their pain. Payments for acupuncture, chiropractic appointments or massages can get very expensive!
The truth is that pain and lack of mobility isn’t a permanent thing if you commit to taking care of yourself. Most of the time pain can be alleviated with simple changes in your daily life like stretching, walking, changing your office chair or eating differently. The source of the pain may be from an old injury that never healed correctly, poor posture or maybe a job that requires hours of sitting each day.
Are you not as active as you once were? Maybe you stopped running because of knee pain or you’re finding that you struggle to bend over to put your shoes on and tie them.
Fortunately, there are things you can do right now, at home, that can help reduce pain and increase mobility. In this blog, I address how different parts of our body affect each other. We will look at ways to determine what areas have reduced mobility and identify what areas need some attention. Plus we will look at a variety of mobility enhancement techniques you can do on your own.
Discovering Your Problem Area
When mobility is reduced, we work on releasing adhesions in order to increase mobility. If a particular area is hurting, we look at the muscles above and around that area in order to help improve the affected area.
With chronic back or knee pain, we want to look at the feet and see what’s going on there first. Often times a person’s ankle isn’t bending and moving like it should. This affects how the foot moves as well as how the knees and hips move. You see, skin adheres to muscle and the muscles adhere to each other reducing mobility and increasing pain. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and our skin should move over each other easily. Those who have good mobility and are not in pain have muscles, tendons, ligaments and skin, known as fascia tissue that glide over each other easily.
Most of us are walking around with tight calf muscles and we don’t even realize it. Working on the calf muscles can help relieve chronic foot pain, such as plantar fasciitis, which is pain associated with the bottom of the foot or heel. Additionally, if you can’t move your ankle very well, chances are you’re going to have issues with your hips, or your knees. Most of the time, the way to reduce pain and improve mobility is found in working on improving mobility of your calf muscles.
If your knee is hurting, it’s possible that nothing is structurally wrong with the knee itself. It could be that there’s a tendon or ligament that’s restricted. If you’re experiencing pain behind the knee, oftentimes this is due to your hamstrings being really tight. One of the ways to help release pain the the knee is to work behind the knee at your calf muscle. And just below the knee crease as there are some tender spots you can work there as well that are key for improving mobility. Now if your hip hurts, your wanting to look into your glutes, or the muscles around your hip or surrounding your pelvis.
Most of us have knots at the top of the shoulder that cause pain to radiate to the neck. This is a critical point that you can get in with the gua sha tool (this technique explained in more detail later in the blog).
You may be experiencing lower back pain as a result of tight hips. Because a lot of us have tight hips from sitting all day at our jobs, this is going to further pull our bodies forward, putting some strain on our backs and glutes.
Click HERE to learn the anatomy of your neck and shoulders.
Smaller Areas Are Still Important
The elbow is actually a biggie for everybody out there. Your arm muscles are responsible for bending and straightening your elbow joint. If these muscles are tight, weak or strained, then they are going to be out of balance and start affecting each other. It’s these forearm muscles that can lock up when you are typing, texting or gaming. Elbow and wrist tendonitis are extremely common this day in age thanks to the tech world we live in!
Click HERE to learn the anatomy of the elbow.
The number one joint to have arthritis is in our thumb. We use our thumbs so much! Sadly, we don’t take care of the mobility of our forearm muscles, which help to move our thumb. Working on the mobility of the muscles in the palm of your hand can also help to reduce pain in your fingers and wrist.
Click HERE for ways to diagnose thumb pain.
3 Ways to Help Painful Areas
When you want to reduce pain and improve mobility you need to work through the sore areas at least three times a week. Have a partner help you get those hard to reach places and consider trading off with your partner to motivate each other to maintain your mobility and reduce pain. These mobility techniques will help grease your joints and get you moving.
The Gua Sha Tool
Gua sha is a tool used to increase blood flow to fascial tissue in order to increase mobility. That might sound barbaric and honestly it’s a little painful. If you use a bit of coconut or olive oil, the use of the tool will work on releasing adhesions.
Hold the edge of the tool against your skin, applying pressure while creating “painting stroke” movements. This will create some irritation – it’s this friction that gets blood flowing to areas your body has forgotten about. And if you see a muscle spasm, that’s okay, let it spasm. The gua sha technique process is actually breaking up areas of fascial adhesions, aka knots, superficial to the muscle. This helps the fascial wrapping around the muscle glide smoothly under your skin resulting in an increase in mobility.
You can use a silicone cup or a cup with a pump to create suction applied to the muscle. The skin should feel tight and tender. Discoloration that shows up as a result of the cups, such as dark red or dark purple, is a good thing because the cup is working to get blood flow to areas that have been neglected.
– Find tender spots and center the cup over those trigger points
– Leave the cup on for 10-15 minutes
– Pull it off, then work the area with the gua sha tool
This exercise is an easy way to get blood flowing into large areas. It’s effects are similar to stretching, but it isn’t as targeted for improving mobility as quick as the gua sha tool. Foam rolling prior to using the gua sha tool can enhance your results. Click HERE for a video tutorial on foam rolling.
One Single Simple Solution
One of the best things you can do to align your body and get things moving properly is to teach yourself how to walk properly. Now a lot of us have those desk jockey jobs and we end up sitting for 4 or more hours a day. This much sitting can really affect your posture which contributes to poor walking tendencies, so it’s really important to assess how you walk.
– Look at yourself in the mirror
– Look from the side and notice your posture
– Are you leaning forward? Or backward?
– What are your shoulders doing?
– Try rolling your shoulders back
– Look straight ahead and imagine there’s a string pulling your head upwards and pulling your rib cage backwards–notice how that feels
– Now try walking around the room. It may feel strange, but this is the normal posture.
A great resource for more of this information is provided by one of my favorite people, Jonathan Fitz Gordon. His website, www.corewalking.com, teaches us how to walk again.
Feel Better Today
If you’re ready to get moving, start small and build from there. If one technique isn’t working for you, try something else that does work for your body or your lifestyle. Grab a partner who will keep you motivated and help you with with those hard to reach places. Better yet—you can take turns and really help each other out!
Consistency is important, so try doing these techniques two to three times a week and you will notice improvement. If you’re struggling with this and you’re needing some help, I’m all ears. I absolutely love to talk about this stuff. Feel free to contact me today or look around my website for more information to live the healthiest life you can.