The suboccipitals are four small muscles at the base of the cranium that attach onto the first and second cervical vertebrae. They are responsible for rocking and tilting the head into extension and stabilizing the head. Shortening of the suboccipitals occurs in a head forward posture which most of us seem to have to some degree. Chronic shortening of these muscles can cause tension headaches throughout the head and behind the eyes.
This passive stretch lets gravity do the work and helps gently release the suboccipitals. This stretch also affects the craniosacral system by releasing the base of the cranium and helping free up restrictions in the dural (outermost meningeal membrane) attachment.
The Stretch: Place two tennis balls in a sock. Tie a knot at the end of the balls so they are tight in the sock. Lay down on a flat, hard surface. ie. linoleum or hardwood. Place balls underneath the skull on either side of the spine. Allow the balls to take the weight of your head completely, while relaxing your neck for 3 minutes.
Caroline just completed a course in Craniosacral Therapy as part of her continuing education. Here is an overview from her about this exciting modality.
Craniosacral Therapy is quite a departure from most techniques that I am used to such as deep tissue massage and muscle stripping, as it involves employing no more than 5 grams of pressure to elicit results. It is very interesting to learn how such a different modality of assessment and treatment can in some cases, depending on the pain level of the client or severity of the condition, create even more beneficial outcomes.
What is Craniosacral Therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, non-invasive approach of evaluating and enhancing the body’s ability to heal and restore itself. This is accomplished by working within the craniosacral system, which includes the cranial bones (bones of the skull) the sacrum (the bone at the base of the spine), and the meninges or membranes (connective tissue) which attach to the cranial bones, the brain and spinal cord, continuing down to attach at the sacrum. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced within this system. This fluid is what nourishes, protects, and maintains the physiological environment in which your brain and nervous system develop, live, and function. It is this fluid that creates the subtle movement or rhythm of the bones and membranes that may be palpated within the body. When these rhythms are expressed in fullness and balance, health and well-being will naturally follow. Due to certain stresses such as physical injury, emotional or psychological trauma, or toxicity, these rhythms can become restricted, blocked, and out of balance. CST is an effective form of treatment for a wide range of illnesses, including headaches, sinus problems, blurred vision, and nerve disorders because of its interconnected relationship and influence on all other body systems. The intention of treatment is to recognize where the restrictions are and to release them so that the body may self-correct and balance can be restored.
“Worms will not eat living wood when the vital sap is flowing; rust will not hinder the opening of a gate when the hinges are used each day. Movement gives health and life. Stagnation brings disease and death.”
-Proverb in traditional Chinese Medicine
This month we have a recipe for gluten-free energy balls. Due to the mounting research on the harmful effects of gluten and especially wheat on the human body, we try to source out yummy recipes for wholesome snacks that will be more readily digested and help you sustain energy longer. This is an easy, delicious energy boosting ball that uses all raw ingredients. They contain protein rich hemp hearts, the shelled seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp hearts are incredibly high in essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid, and omega 3 and 6. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, and have been found to reduce the symptoms of eczema.
Almond Hemp Energy Balls
Makes about 20 balls (2 Tablespoon size)
- 2 cups almond butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
- 1 ½ cup toasted oats or granola cereal
- ¼ cup ground flaxseeds (optional)
- 1/2 to 1 full cup honey or agave nectar depending on how sweet you like them
- ½ cup of nuts of any sort
- ¼ cup dark chocolate chips or dried cranberries (optional)
- hemp hearts- to roll the balls in
Mix toasted oats with other ingredients. Form balls using approximately 1 ½ – 2 tablespoons of the mixture or can form whatever size you want! Roll the balls in the hemp hearts — Refrigerate at least 1 hour before eating (this makes the balls stick together more).
We would like to welcome new therapist Kathleen Brownlee to Synergy.
Originally from Victoria, Kathleen has lived in the Kitsilano area since moving to Vancouver six years ago. Kathleen has always had the desire to work in a health care related field. As a competitive volleyball player for the past fifteen years, Kathleen was inspired to become a Registered Massage Therapist after personally experiencing the benefits massage can offer. She completed the 3000 hour RMT program at the West Coast College of Massage Therapy and uses a wide variety of treatment modalities, including: Deep Tissue, Swedish techniques, Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Release, Joint Mobilization, breath training and stretching.
Kathleen believes it’s never too late to start working on an active and balanced lifestyle. When she’s not working you can find her playing beach volleyball at Kits beach, running, swimming, and training for the Tough Mudder race in Whistler in June 2012. She looks forward to working in the neighbourhood and building her practice with Synergy!
You can book in online with Kathleen now
We are often asked what our favorite “go to” stretches are. Here are two that target the back, hip, and knee and seem to be indicated for patients of all ages and all activity levels.
1. Iliopsoas Stretch
The Iliopsoas is a group of three muscles that join together at a common insertion point to flex the hip. Due to our all too often seated bodies, this “hip flexor” complex tends to get shortened and tight. When these muscles shorten, they tug on the attachment into the low back and create low back strain. Chronic shortening here can sometimes be a major culprit leading to disc herniations. Usually people attempt to relieve this strain by leaning forward to stretch out their low back. However, this only further shortens these muscles. Instead, when you feel your low back ache, try standing up and opening up the front of the body. People who practice yoga will recognize this stretch as the warrior position.
The Stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands placed shoulder distance apart on the wall. Extend one leg back into a lunge position, keeping the foot facing forward, with your heel raised up. Move your hips forward until you feel a good stretch in the front of the hip. Tilt your pubic bone skywards slightly while continuing to draw your leg back. Hold this position for a slow count of 30. To further stretch the abdominal portion of the muscle, raise the arm up on the same side you are stretching. Remember when doing this stretch to keep your head up, your back straight, and your shoulders held back.
2. TFL Stretch
The TFL or Tensor Fascia Lata is a muscle that helps stabilize the pelvis and the knee during walking. When this muscle gets tight, it can be a cause of knee pain, IT band dysfunction, as well as meniscus injuries. Also, when not functioning properly the TFL can contribute to hip, low back and pelvic pain. When this “fan like” muscle shortens it draws the hip forward causing the gluteal muscles to work harder to try and reposition the hip. Power and endurance are then lost.
The Stretch: Lay down on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross right ankle over left leg just above the knee. This position is also the beginning of the figure 4 Piriformis stretch. Roll the lower body onto your left side, guiding the right foot to the floor. Use the right hand to open the crease of the right hip while gently encouraging the right thigh bone to draw down and out from the hip. This should cause a gentle distraction of the right hip joint and you should start to feel the stretch deep into the hip.
Hang out here for a while. It takes a minute for all of the superficial tissue of the hip to open up, and get to the deeper stretch underneath. Repeat on the other side. Remember to always come out of any stretch very slowly.