Many of the clients that I see have already been through multiple rounds of physical therapy or are seeing a chiropractor which means they are coming into the clinic with a home exercise routine. Some of these clients stopped doing the exercises because they didn’t help or continue to do them as a set routine in their day. I am still surprised at the number of clients that report to me that they have increased pain and discomfort when doing the exercises or after completing them. If something is causing pain is it really beneficial for you? My answer is NO. In this article I hope to share information that will help you understand the difference between exercises that are helpful and ones that might possibly hurt you.
Before starting any self-care exercises it is important that you have the understanding of what it means to listen and honor your body. Take a look and review my previous article called, “Getting the Best Results: Listening and Honoring”.
How do we get the best results from our self-care exercises?
• Learn the myofascial self-care principles. Our Inner Awareness class with Linda gets you started by teaching the principles and how to use the 4” ball. Once you have the basic foundation, your therapist will recommend specific exercises according to what they are treating in your session.
• Less is more when it comes to stretching. There is a difference between traditional stretching, which clients are given in PT, and myofascial stretching. If you are looking for stretching to be more effective and the results to last longer, click here to read Kristin’s article that describes these different styles of stretching.
• Follow the steps, don’t forget to soften. Softening is the most critical step in any MFR self-care exercise whether it be ball work or myofascial stretching. This is often the step that people skip because they are rushing to get through the exercise. Our clients that follow all of the steps (soften, stop at sensation, breathe, after it releases, find next sensation, and repeat steps) get the best results. Click here for more detailed description of the steps.
• Never force, it should always feel good. Once you start an exercise you will know very quickly whether it is right for your body. I encourage all clients to take 20-30 seconds to perform the initial softening principle. If you don’t feel any softening, then STOP or move the ball to a different area. If it doesn’t initially soften it is your body’s way of telling you that this exercise is not right for the body today. If you try it another day you may have a completely different result. Listen and honor these signals.
• Ride the myofascial rollercoaster. During treatment or self-care you should be feeling sensations go up and down. As you soften into the area you will typically notice more sensation (pressure, tightness, etc.) when you meet the restriction. This is where you want to stop. Bring your breath into the sensation and when you feel a decrease in the sensation or a softening this is the release. At this time you can continue to soften to the next sensation where you will stop and repeat the process. If you aren’t feeling this up and down sensation then stop and review the technique with your therapist. If the exercise is right for you to do then you should always feel as if you are on this up and down rollercoaster.
• Pull from your toolbox. Each exercise that your therapist provides you is filling your own self-care toolbox. Some exercises won’t feel right to the body on certain days and this is where it is important to listen and honor by following the steps above. If it doesn’t feel right store it in your toolbox for another day, but pull out a different exercise that allows you to ride the myofascial rollercoaster.
Clients who actively participate and commit to their self-care are the ones who truly get better. We only ask for you to take 5-10 minutes a day for some form of myofascial self-care. Take a few moments at the beginning of your self-care to breathe and quiet your mind, then enter into each technique mindfully. As we do this it will allow us to observe any signs, both when something feels right and when we need to stop the technique because our body isn’t responding positively.
As you begin this new way of looking at self-care you may notice struggles or have questions come up. Amy is now offering a Therapeutic Exercise session (30 minutes in person or 15-30 minutes via video chat) to help you become confident with your home exercises. If you are struggling with a current technique or looking to advance your self-care give us a call and set-up a Therapeutic Ex session with Amy. We look forward to helping you enjoy your ride on the myofascial self-care rollercoaster.