Progressive Relaxation Exercise

This is post #3 in the 31 posts in 31 days challenge!  

Progressive Relaxation is a fantastic process to learn.  You can use progressive relaxation to reduce stress, pin-point and prevent muscle tension, relieve muscle tension, fight insomnia and help with anxiety.  It is a simple process that requires you to slow down and focus on each different muscle group slowly.  By taking the time to focus and exert control over your muscles, over time you may be able to notice when you are holding tension in certain areas when you are working.  Maybe you shrug and tense your shoulders when you are angry.  You might clench your teeth and jaws while typing a report.  The sooner you notice these things the sooner you can relieve the tension and hopefully prevent or reduce painful symptoms.

I found the following Progressive Relaxation Exercise at Natural Touch Marketing.  I use the exercise myself and I recommend it to my clients.

Lie down or sit in a chair, wherever you are comfortable.  You will tense and hold each body part for about 10 seconds and then release it completely for at least 10 seconds.  Count to yourself silently from one to ten.

1. Clench your right fist, tighten the right arm and hold them tight.  Completely relax them, and then clench again.  Relax.  Now clench and relax your left arm in the same manner.  Now observe how your hands and arms feel.

2. Stretch your right leg out.  Draw the toes of the right foot toward the knee, tighten the whole leg, and hold.  Relax and then stretch and tighten again.  Relax completely.  Now do the left leg.  Now point the toes of the right foot, tense and hold.  Relax.  Left leg next.  Relax completely and observe how your legs feel.

3. Draw together the shoulder blades.  Tense and hold.  Relax completely and tense them again.  Relax.

4. Exhale and pull the abdomen in tightly and hold.  Inhale, and relax completely.  Again exhale and pull the abdomen in tightly and hold.  Inhale and relax.  Now observe how your back, chest and abdomen feel.

5. Tighten the muscles around your eyes and mouth, and hold.  Relax and repeat.  Relax completely.

6. Now breathe and observe your body.  Notice how you feel.  Do you feel differently?

This is great for those times you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.  I also recommend doing this exercise regularly when trying to figure out why a certain muscle group always hurts or becomes tense.  Try it and tell us what you think!

Migraine Q & A

This is day 2 of the “31 posts in 31 days” blogging challenge. 

 Q- I know there are many things out there for headaches, but I’d like to hear what you have to say.  I have recently weened myself off of my Topomax due to the negative findings related to the drug for migraines.  I am having headaches almost everyday but not at all like the migraines before.  What do you recommend I do between massages? 

A- I visited MayoClinic.com to research this question.  I work mainly with tension headaches so I wanted to get accurate information about migraines.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the same things that I recommend for tension headaches are recommended for migraine headaches.


Please consult with a doctor before using or discontinuing any medications.  I am not suggesting anyone stop medications, simply suggesting a few things to do at home to hopefully prevent headaches. 

These tips are taken from the website www.mayclinic.com, but they are also things I recommend to people suffering from headaches.

*Muscle Relaxation Exercises- Progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga.  You may also try spending at least a half-hour per day doing something fun!

*Get Enough Sleep- The average adult needs 6-8 hours of sleep each night.  Your body likes to go to bed and wake up at the same times, too.

*Rest and Relax

*Headache Diary- Keeping a headache diary is great way to figure out headache triggers.  You may discover a food trigger or hormone trigger.  Learning these things may make it easier to adjust things to reduce headaches.

*Manual Therapy- Massage Therapy and Chiropractic treatments may help reduce the frequency of migraines.

In between massage sessions, you could practice progressive relaxation techniques (tomorrow’s post!), and self head and neck massage.   If you work at a computer take frequent breaks, adjust your chair and monitor, and move around as much as you can.

Do you suffer from migraines?  Do you have a way to prevent or relieve the pain? Please share in the comments!

PS.  I fight headaches with my bare hands atwww.thecomfortzonemassage.com 🙂 

6 Steps to Fight Your Headache

Headaches.  I’m sure this word brings a series of wonderful words to mind if you suffer them.  Many of my clients tell me they suffer from frequent headaches.  Headaches aren’t fun.  I decided to write about headaches today because my head hurts.  I don’t like it and I feel like whining.  Since whining isn’t helping I decided to use this energy for good!  I did a few things to make my head feel better and thought, “HEY!  I could write this in my blog for someone else with a headache to read!”  So, here you go.  Six steps to Fight Your Headache.  I tried to make it five but I really didn’t want to leave any of these steps out because they all work together.

1. Neck Rotations

You don’t even have to get up!  Start by looking over each shoulder.  Slowly.  Relax your shoulders and straighten your spine so your chest is open.  SLOWLY turn your head to look over your left ear.  SLOWLY move to look over your right ear.  Do this 3-5 times slowly.  (See the trend?)  Now rotate your head so that your chin moves in a circle towards your chest, from side to side.  Do this 4-5 times.

2. Shoulder Rotations

Take a deep breath to relax your shoulders.  Now move your shoulders in circles, forward and backward.  5, 10 to 15 times feels great.  This gets the blood moving and the muscles start to loosen.  Now shake them out a little bit.  

3. Massage Your Neck

Take one hand, with fingers together, and make a “C.”  Put this “C” on your neck vertically.  Now move your fingers.  You can squeeze, push, shake, push, or pull.  Whatever feels good at the time.  Massage each side of the neck for a bit.  1-3 minutes should be great.  Or stop when your arm starts to hurt. 

4. Pressure

At the base of your skull there are two indentations on the side of neck.  These are a great place to apply pressure to relieve headaches.  Once you’ve found these indentations take one thumb and push into one side.  Hold for about 10 seconds.  You may push lightly or you could push very hard, whichever feels best at the time.  Push 3 times on each side.

5. Face Massage

Take your fingertips and rub circles into your forehead.  30 seconds to a minute feels good.  Rub gentle circles at the temples for as long as you like.  Rub your eyebrows.  You can apply direct pressure to your brows and cheekbones.  These areas can use a little more pressure.  Now rub big circles on your cheeks.

6. Scalp Massage

Lift your hands.  Spread your fingers out and bend them a bit to look like a claw.  Put your “claws” on your scalp and rub.  Fast.  Slow.  Deep.  Gentle.  Circles.  Lines.  ANY and ALL of them!  The people around you may look  at you funny because you might be moaning and groaning by now!  Do this scalp massage as long as you want to.  

Hopefully your head feels better now!  Mine does.  Even if your headache isn’t completely gone it should feel a lot better now.  You’re welcome 🙂

I give this advice to my clients and I hope it helps you!  I like to tell people that I fight headaches with my bare hands!  

Did it work?  How does your head feel?