Holiday Traveling Woes: Key Steps to Muscle Care Part 2 – Keep your Head Up.

In Part 1 of Key Steps to Muscle Care, we discussed some of the many stresses of holiday travel. Now that you\u2019re going to plan ahead, bring your own snacks, water bottle, and have packed your foam roller, let\u2019s take a look at the upper body. Part 1 focused on lower body because if the lower body doesn\u2019t work then upper body doesn\u2019t stand a chance.\n

The human body is what is known as the \u201cKinetic Chain\u201d. As the name implies, the body is a series of moving parts that are all intimately linked to one another.\u00a0\u00a0 It is an interconnected unit that relies on the proper function of all parts in order to move optimally and stay pain free. This means if an ankle or foot can\u2019t move properly (due to foot wear or a previous injury; yes, even the ankle sprain you had when you were 15) something else will take up the slack.\n

A great example of this is to look at how the foot is connected to the head. Many call it different things\u2014trains, lines or sub-systems\u2014but the point is that the body is connected by muscles, thick bones, and other connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and fascia. To state it simply this line of muscles and connective tissue proceeds as follows (start from the bottom):\n

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4. Muscles (spinal erectors) attach to the sacrum, run up the length of the spine and attach to the base of skull.\n

3. The\u00a0ligament (sacrotuberous ligament) attaches to the same place the hamstrings do connecting the hamstrings to the bottom of the spine, also known as the sacrum.\n

2. The hamstrings also attach the lower leg, pass the calf muscles, sharing some muscle fibers along the way, and proceed up the femur and attach to the hip bone.\n

1. The calf\u00a0and peroneal muscles attach to the foot, come up the lower leg and attach to the upper leg bone (femur).\n\n\t\t\n\t\n

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Holiday Traveling Woes - part 2 - kinetic chain\n\n\t\t\n\t\n

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This entire series of muscles is essentially one long, continuous piece of connective tissue that has various small attachments to the skeleton on the way up. Therefore, if the ankle doesn\u2019t move correctly then muscles of the lower leg don\u2019t shorten and lengthen correctly, nor do the muscles of the upper leg, nor do the muscles in the back, and where do you think the tension ends up? You guessed it, the neck.\n\n\t\t\n\t\n

The point is that your neck might hurt, but \u201ccriminals don\u2019t cry out\u201d. The neck didn\u2019t cause the pain, it is simply where the pain is felt. \n\t

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If that\u2019s true, then why does massaging the neck make it feel better? Researchers and scientists have created several sets of principles that are based around how the body works. One of those has to deal with the nervous system in what is known as the \u201call or none principle\u201d. This means that nerves either fire or they don\u2019t fire, there is no in between. Like a light switch, your options or on or off. You can\u2019t be both on and off. Pain is either felt or it isn\u2019t. Sure there are varying degrees of pain, but you either feel something or you don\u2019t. The nervous system either fires the signal that says \u201cPAIN\u201d or it doesn\u2019t.\n

When the signal that says \u201cPAIN\u201d is firing, any small disruption can stop the signal momentarily. If your neck is hurting, for example, and you rub it vigorously the signal is disrupted and the pain stops. This is something you have been doing for years without realizing it. Remember the last time you bumped your knee or our elbow?\n

However, in the scenario of pain in the absence of an event or trauma, the pain usually comes back. The moral of the story is that unless you had an injury to your neck or shoulder, the neck tension or pain is likely due to something not moving correctly down the chain.\n

Once you have practiced releases for your lower body and you\u2019re ready to move on, here are some travel-friendly upper body releases!\n

All of the following can be done in the car or on the plane, as long as you aren\u2019t the driver or the pilot. Each release will take approximately 1 minute make sure to breath and relax throughout the process.\n\n\t\t\n\t\n

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Massage Ball | Upper Back\n

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  1. Position either one or two TriggerPoint Massage Balls on the muscles next to the spine (not on the spine). Pressure can be applied by pressing back into the chair. Or, if you are able to get on the ground and use body weight pressure that will allow for a better release.\n
  2. Once the preferred amount of pressure is obtained, begin by crossing the arms in from of the chest and performing 4 rotating motions (imagine you are giving yourself a big hug). Remember to rotate slow and breathe. Then, perform motions through the shoulder by slowly.\n\n

    Massage Ball | Chest\n

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    1. Position one TriggerPoint Massage Ball on the muscles of the chest, near the shoulder. Place the hands on top of each other and raise the elbows to shoulder height. Apply pressure by pushing into the chest.\n
    2. Once the preferred amount of pressure is obtained, begin by performing 4 pivoting motions with the Massage Ball. After the 4th motion performing 2 pulling motions by lighting gripping the ball and pulling to the same side arm pit. It is important to remember to initiate the pulling motion by squeezing the shoulder blades.\n\n

      T-Roller | Traps\u00a0\n

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      1. Position the wheel of the T-Roller at the top of the upper trapezius muscle. Apply pressure by pressing the roller into the muscle.\n
      2. Once the preferred amount of pressure is obtained, begin by pulling the T-Roller towards the shoulder and then rolling back to the staring position, repeat this 4 times. As you are rolling try to pay attention to any extra tender spots along the muscle.\n
      3. Next, remove pressure from the wheel and use the \u2018AcuGRIP\u2019 handle to apply direct compression to the tender spots. Hold these for 20-30 seconds and perform 2 pivoting motions.\n\n\n\t\t\n\t\n

Kyle Stull

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