Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dealing with Tension/Anxiety

I could feel my tension increasing over the past few days.  I woke up with my teeth clenched (harder than usual), and I could feel my shoulders and neck getting tighter and tighter.  Because of my tension, I really didn't feel like doing much that I considered productive--I couldn't seem to focus--and so I "wasted" some time.  I responded by tensing up even more.  

When you feel tense and/or anxious, it is hard to motivate oneself to work trigger points.  (It's hard to motivate oneself to do anything.)  Even if you want to, you may not be thinking clearly, or you may feel overwhelmed and not know where to start.  You may think that it may not work anyway, etc. But, working them will help--sometimes a lot.

The number one thing to do is to start somewhere, anywhere.  There is a domino effect, and releasing the tension in one muscle will help release tension in other muscles.  Once you get the ball rolling, you will feel a noticeable lessening of tension.

I have found that if I try too hard to work my shoulder and neck muscles in the beginning, I am not always successful, maybe because I am using the muscles that I am trying to relax, and I am just too tense to make it work at that point.  However, if I work them after I have worked some other muscles, I have more success.

Today, I will give you an overview of what I might work if I am feeling tense.  Generally, I don't do this all in one go.  I might do two or three areas, take a break, and then continue later with the other areas.

First, I use the lacrosse ball against the wall to work my gluts (these are your backside muscles).  Remember not to press hard against the bone.  But, press as much as you want on the muscles.

Working the hamstrings with a lacrosse ball. 
Next, I sit on a hard chair and work my hamstrings (the muscles in back of the upper leg).  Using your body weight, move your leg over the ball, from side to side and from your knee to your sit bones.  As usual, work both legs.  If you have never done this before, you may be surprised by how many places hurt.  You may also be surprised at how loose and limber you feel after working your gluts, hamstrings and quads.   Your leg muscles are somewhat tender, so don't press too hard, but you will need to press fairly firmly in order for it to be effective.

Then, I usually work my quads (muscles in front and side of the upper leg).  The trigger points on the outer side of the leg are particularly painful.  Take it easy.  You may want to work around them at first, and gradually work up to working on them directly.  
Place lacrosse ball in the front of your thigh.  
Working the sides of your quads.  

Be sure to stay off the bones of your spine.  
I then move up to my back. Make sure to stay off of the spine.  You can work the muscles close to the spine.
If you are able to lean back far enough, you can move up to your shoulder area.

Working the serratus anterior (below the armpit).

I like to work the muscles under my armpit (the serratus anterior). Raise your arm and put the ball just below your armpit. These trigger points are extremely tender, so be careful. There are also some potent trigger points just below where the arm and back meet, on both the back and the arm.

Working the upper arm.
Work your upper arms--front, back and sides. 

Working the inside of the forearm. 
Put your hand behind your back to work the inside of the arm.  Be careful here.  These muscles can be tender.  

Working the outer forearm. 
Work the outside of the arms by leaning against the ball.

Then I use my theracane on my neck and shoulder area.

Today, I found a big trouble-maker in the back of my neck.  It is easier to work now that I have relaxed my shoulder and arm muscles enough to effectively use the theracane, and I have relaxed some of the surrounding muscles.

(Note:  Some of these first posts are adapted from emails that I sent out before I started the blog.  This was from October 12, 2011.  I am keeping track of the dates because I am always looking for patterns in my pain, including how often certain types of symptoms appear.)

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