Sinus massage techniquesThe strange, erratic weather patterns of extreme cold to spring-like temperatures are a new phenomenon to which our bodies are adjusting.  Unfortunately, our sinuses take the abuse as a result of these temperature shifts. This kind of  weather can be rough for anyone with sinus issues no matter which season it is.  In addition, the changes in temperature in the winter can be extra taxing on our respiratory system as it is constantly dealing with being indoors with dry, hot radiators to the chilly outdoors.

Often these subtle areas of our bodies are more difficult to sense and are unattended to until there is an issue. It is good to care of the sinuses before they feel discomfort.

Regularly stimulating the sinus area can be very beneficial in preventing stagnation and congestion.  The circulation caused by regular massage can help assist the sinuses with  lymphatic flow and a more optimal level of drainage.

Gently take the finger pads of your fingertips and apply light pressure to your sinuses around the orbit of the eyes under the eyebrow.  Do so not too deeply, but just enough so you feel the effect.  Circular movements work well.  Go from the middle(near your nose) to the outer part as it drains better this way.  By simply tracing the bones that circle around the eyes (i.e. the cheekbones and the forehead) you will touch upon many tension-relieving areas in the sinuses as well as some vital acupressure points. You can also try this technique using your thumbs gently. Your fingers should not get too close to the eyes but always make sure your hands are clean to avoid any infection. This technique can help relieve sinus pressure as well as tension headaches.  Getting circulation to these areas will help clear them and bring vitality to an otherwise stagnant area.

As you make your way around the eye you will probably feel areas that feel really good from the pressure you are placing there- feel free to pause and stay there a few moments.  By stopping and resting there you are giving that area some much needed attention.
As with any of these techniques if you feel pain or too much pressure stop.  This is meant as a light touch technique to help increase circulation. It is helpful to do this in the shower or the bath as the steam helps aid in the drainage.

Above is a self-help technique.   I chose this great video from Youtube to demonstrate how you can use sinus massage to help benefit a child.  I particularly agree with the way she checks in with him to see which techniques he likes best and what he may not have enjoyed.  This creates a great trust and dialogue with a child and gives them the ability to make choices in their healing.  It also encourages and fosters an ability for them to become proactive in their own healing and not simply a passive patient.

office stretchingIf you work at an office, you’re very likely to be glued to a chair for a good part of the day, which can make your body feel very lethargic and stiff. Here are 10 tips to help address those issues.  A few minutes of simple stretches throughout the day can be very effective in preventing severe health problems down the road. Your co-workers might look at you suspiciously at first while you’re doing this, but soon curiosity will lead to imitation!

1.  Gluteal stretch to help prevent Sciatica: Begin by crossing one foot over the opposite knee.  With a straight back, take a deep breath, exhale and lean forward just to the point where you feel the stretch in your Gluteal.  Pause for a few seconds and then repeat.  Do this 3 times.  Stop if you feel any discomfort anywhere.  Do not lean too far forward, as the point is to feel it in the Gluteal muscle.

2.  Peck stretch against wall to release pectoral muscles.  Place the palm of your hand against a wall. The height should be just above your head. Breath in.  On the exhale, gently turn away from it a few inches.  Do not go too far as this will tork the alignment of your shoulders.  The point is to gently stretch the pectoral muscles.

3.  Neck stretch. While sitting on your chair, sit up straight,  and look up at the ceiling for a few seconds.  This will stretch the muscles at the front of your neck and counteract the shortening of those muscles as a result of constantly looking down at the computer screen.

4.  Shoulder rolls.  Gently and slowly roll your shoulders backwards and forwards.  This will help bring circulation and lubrication to the joint.  This also helps relieve stress.  For more on neck and shoulder pain, read  “Why are my neck and shoulders so tense?

5.  Wrist stretches.  Hold your hands and arms out in front of you, palms down. Now point the fingertips up towards the ceiling.  Hold a few seconds.  Now down towards the floor holding a few seconds.  Repeat several times.  Next move your hands in circles three times in each direction.  The wrist stays still.  Lastly, hold your hands out in front of you and move each finger down separately as though playing a piano in the air (this will stretch the muscles between the fingers). Keeping your wrists in good alignment is very important in avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome. Always use a mouse pad.

6.  Thoracic inlet/outlet stretch.  Hold one arm straight out to the side about shoulder height and bend your wrist so that your fingers point up toward the ceiling.  Now, turn your head in the opposite direction.  Do this for 3-5 seconds.  This is an important area to stretch as tension in this area can cause Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

7.  Foot stretch.  Read ” A sensible exercise to relieve foot pain“.  Try the exercise sitting at your desk.  Always be careful not to strain the knees in any position.

8.  Quadriceps stretch.  While standing,  hold the back of a steady chair with your left hand.   Bend your right knee and hold your ankle with your right hand.  Take a deep breath and stretch your Quadriceps for a few seconds.

9. Calf stretch.  While standing a couple of feet away from the wall, place one foot in front of the other and lean forward with both hands against the wall.  This will stretch your calf muscles.  Switch feet and repeat stretch.

10.  Shoulder stretch Place your hands together in front of your chest in prayer position.  Connect your elbows.  Now gently lift your hands and elbows up about 3 inches.  Hold for 3 seconds and release.  Repeat 3 times.  This simple exercise will help stretch your shoulder cuff muscles.

Remember, as with any exercise or stretch, if anything hurts, you must stop immediately to avoid muscle tear or inflammation.  Stretching should feel good and not painful in any way.  Use these stretches individually or in combination.  It is not necessary to use all of them at the same time.

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People often wonder why they have neck pain and shoulder pain.  Here’s one explanation on neck pain and shoulder pain I hope will be useful.  Imagine an animal in nature that senses danger.  Instantly, its fight or flight response mechanism kicks in.  It will bring its shoulders up to its ears to protect its neck.  Very often the neck is the first place attacked because it is vulnerable and will incapacitate the victim.  We are animals and our systems work in a similar way.  For example, a car horn goes off and we’re startled-we flinch and raise our shoulders.  Notice how our shoulders creep up when we are under stress.  One of the muscles which connects the shoulder to the neck is the Levator Scapula muscle (which translates from Latin into “elevate the scapula”-the triangular bone of the shoulder). This muscle, along with the upper trapezius muscle are activated to elevate the shoulders.  Activated meaning tensed in order to use.  We are activating it constantly, even during lower levels of stress.  Add to that a heavy bag or purse,  a phone clutched between your shoulder and ear, and you will eventually create neck pain and shoulder pain.

So, what do we do?  Knowledge is power.  Now we know a possible reason for our neck pain and shoulder pain.  Acknowledge it and say to yourself,  “take my shoulders out of my ears, it won’t help me with this situation.”  Then take a deep breath-which always helps. This will become second nature the more you do it and you will find that this new position feels so much better than the old one.  The old one will feel strange the more you are conscious of your alignment.  It will become a habit the more often you catch yourself raising your shoulders, but you have to be strict with yourself in the beginning by catching or correcting yourself in the wrong alignment-awareness is key.

Here are a few tips to really support your new improved position and most importantly alleviate a good deal of neck pain and shoulder pain:

Get a good headset for your phone-you know you’ve been meaning to anyway!

Make sure your purse or bag has relatively thick straps that don’t cut into your shoulders which can be a main cause of neck pain and shoulder pain.

Doing “Lat pull downs” at the gym with light weight will help support this new position.  If an exercise causes excess neck pain or shoulder pain-stop and contact your doctor or a licensed physical therapist.

Sleep with the right pillow.  “Right” is one that helps keep you in good alignment as you sleep. The contoured pillows (usually made of memory foam) are excellent.  Experiment with different ones to find the right fit.

Try to mobilize the shoulder gently throughout the day to break up tension.  Light shrugging (elevation) and depression of them will go a long way.  If you feel this causes excess neck pain or shoulder pain consult your doctor.

I hope this makes you feel better and in less pain.  It can help your breathing, headaches, and mood to keep your shoulders and neck less stressed and out of that fight or flight response that daily living can put them in.  We can learn a lot from our animals.  Watch them stretch and decompress themselves-naturally.  Sometimes just watching them can relax you!