both hands massaging man's neck

Target Platysma or Neck Pain Easily using this Method!

This is one of my 3 favourite muscle names in the body – it’s in your neck and it’s called the platysma!First of all, what is the platysma? It is a muscle that begins at the jawline, right at the mandible, and runs down in a fan shape to the superior portion of the clavicle. It is responsible for helping the mouth and lips to move. Specifically, it is the muscle that we use when we react with fear or fright – when our mouth is drawn down or to the side.

Image from Wikipedia

Many therapists miss out on getting the best outcomes because they overlook this little muscle. In fact, did you know that a lot of neck-related pain can be traced to the platysma? As therapists, 75% of people entering our clinic complain of either neck or lower back pain! If you are focusing your techniques at the back, which is quite often joint-related or soft tissue around the traps, splenius, etc, then can I ask you to try this simple technique on your next neck pain client?

I could go as far as to say unless we address the tightness in the platysma. We won't get full neck movement.

Your First Moves

First, you must assess your client’s neck range. From a relaxed, sitting position, have your client lookup or go into full neck extension. Watch and be vigilant on the lift to note any tightness of the anterior neck esp the flat band of the platysma. Have your clients return to neutral or as neutral as they can. This video will show you step by step how I teach the muscle and surrounding soft tissue via way of an active glide. This way both of you are working together. Plus, they are increasing their afferent and efferent nervous system. They will also increase their agonists and antagonists, and myofascial trains.

Active Glide

For therapists out there, when we do active movements, it means that both you and your client or patients are actually actively involved in the process.

1. Stand on the treating side, in this case, stand on the right and have the client turn their head to the right, as far as they can go comfortably. 2. Place two fingers or knuckles. If you have OA issues just above their right clavicle at the midline closest to the supraclavicular notch and sink into the tissues. The fingers will be facing out towards the AC joint on the superior line of the clavicle so that you can take up the tissue along with its attachments. 3. Have your client slowly rotate their head back towards the left as far as they can go comfortably. 4. As they move their head allow your fingers to glide along with their muscle. Work with a pace that mimics the speed of the rotation and at the tension of the hypertonic muscle/fascia. 5. I always apply any technique three times before I re-assess. NB* make sure you DO re-assess! 6. Repeat the same process on the other side.

The Results

As you’re doing this, it should feel “tight” and “stretchy” or “burny” to your clients – all signs of fascia, muscle, and/or tendon. Have your clients test their range again, by moving their heads up, down, and side to side. The results can be astronomical in pain management, posture, and range. You should be able to see the tissues are not as taut as this time around.

The beauty of this work is that you can offer it to clients as homecare.  This is an attempt to release any ongoing restrictions felt in the neck. This is another cool technique that adds value along with the other ways to assist in neck pain that we've discussed in earlier videos.

Have fun and hope this helps you and your clients in the future! 
woman stretching her leg and hamstrings

DIY Myofascial Release techniques for ITB and Adductors

How long do you sit in front of your monitor every day?

Whether you're in a work-from-home or office setup, we can't deny the fact that sitting for a long time is a struggle for us. And I know how hard it is to find a comfortable position for your hips, butts, and legs. Here’s a DIY for your clients during Lockdown - the Myofascial Release and Stretching Technique for ITB Region and Adductors.Can’t access your regular massage therapist or can't afford one? No problem. Grab a tennis ball and get a cheap foam roller (simply bind two pool noodles together) and let's hit that trigger point one more time!

Myofascial Release

We talked about Myofascial Release in my previous blog, but for those who are new, let me describe it for you. Also called the trigger point release or active release technique. Myofascial Release is a technique used for treating skeletal muscle immobility. It involves applying continuous slow and deep pressure to the network of muscle/s that are stiff, restricted, or showing referral pain patterns.

Self-Myofascial Release

The fitness industry, businesses, and experts have embraced this technique because it's effective. Moreover, aside from being effective, this technique is easy-to-do and accessible.Why? Because you will do it yourself. And yes, we will be using trigger balls and foam rollers for that. Who would have thought of that, right?But first, let's know what trigger points that we will be hitting.

Iliotibial Band Track Region

The Iliotibial band tract (ITB) is also sometimes known as Maissiat's band. ITB Region is a dense group of fibers that extends from the outside of your hips and knees to the tip of your shin. The ITB serves as an important structure involved in lower extremity stability and in some instances motion.

Hip Adductors

In addition to ITB, we will be targeting your hip adductors as well. The adductors are a group of muscles that function to adduct the femur at the hip joint. Most of them are thin muscles. This group of muscles assists the equilibrium and coordination in your inner thighs.

Let's Begin! Below are the step-by-step procedures that you should follow:

Trigger Ball for Gluteal Muscles:

  1. On your yoga mat or soft flooring, lie sideways. Make sure you are in a comfortable position. See to it that you are taking most of your weight on your elbows rather than having the ball leaving bruises on your buttocks.
  2. Place the trigger ball onto the belly of your buttock muscle and locate the points that are probably exquisitely tender. Focus on the parts that cause a referral pain. When you feel that there is a referring pain down to your legs, that's when you know that you are in the right spot.
  3. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply and wait for the tightness in the muscle to start to soften off. You will feel like you are starting to have the tennis ball sink deeper into your buttock muscle.
  4. Repeat the process until you feel that the pain is relieving bit-by-bit. You can find up to 4 or 5 areas that may be tender.

Foam Rollers for lateral thighs/ITB:

  1. In the same sideways positions, find your lateral thigh right in the ITB Region and vastus lateralis.
  2. Do the same thing, Slide the roller up and down. Apply an amount of pressure that equals your own pain scale. I usually suggest 7/10 as a maximum because we want to be firm enough to relax and loosen the area but not too hard as to create unwanted inflammatory responses.
  3. Run the full length of those muscles and band until you feel like you are releasing some tensions on your lateral thighs.

Stretching Techniques for Adductors and Lower Back:

  1. Since your inner thighs affect your lower back, let's do some stretching of the adductors and lateral trunk. Start by sitting on the ground and widening your legs till you feel a good stretch along the inner thigh.
  2. Reach your arm overhead and then out to the side of the trunk to reach down to the ankle or lower limb. You will feel the right arm glide down the left leg and vice versa. This will improve cross patterning stretches and locking the “sit bones” down to keep the pelvis stabilized. 
  3. Hold each side-bend for a minimum of 10 seconds.
  4. Go as downward as possible. In that way, we open up the hip and the pelvis.
  5. Repeat 3 times on both sides.
These are the few techniques that you can use to treat yourself without the help of anyone. If you have aches and pains and want some easy to watch advice, then flick over and subscribe to my YouTube channel.Stay happy and safe folks! 😉
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