Friday, October 23, 2015

What are those soft tissues I keep talking about?

  Ok, let’s take a second try. Blogger was so kind and throw away all my hard work yesterday. I am going to try to explain what I mean about all the soft tissues I keep talking about. Like you already know, I am a licensed massage therapist and as so, I feel blessed to work in a field I truly love and am passionate about. But I am also something more. Or should I say, that I am trained in a two different ways.

Originally my massage therapist's studies are from Finland, where it takes 10 months to complete your studies and get your license. We were taught pretty much the same techniques than here in NC, but our qualification system differs quite a bit. On the other hand the muscles and joints are the same where ever you are learning your basics, so I feel pretty confident about knowing my muscles. Well, at least I have learned them (and passed my exams) twice; once in Latin and second time in English. (And by the way all the 650+ muscles also have a name in Finnish).

But my true passion is that functional and structural bodywork in which I completed 3 year program while working with my clients. We were taught to see the big picture and in my education it was crucial to see the differences between the body's left and right side, rotation in your skeleton and leg length discrepancy (pretty often caused by rotation in hip bones). We were challenged to analyze different ways to stabilize the body and see how dysfunction in joint or a problem in a  range of motion will affect to another joint. I am also able to see and feel adhesion not only in a muscle, but also in a ligament and analyze its function to the whole kinetic chain.

Pictures are about ankles; here flexion.
That being said, I pretty often start by treating your ankle, even if you make your appointment to treat pain in your neck. That is because if your left ankle (‘s joints) isn’t functioning properly, that definitely affects to your (left) knee. And if you have trouble in your knee, your body will compensate it all its best ways to keep pain away and that brings you (most probably) some trouble in the opposite hip, which tries to ease up left knee’s job. And finally, if your hips’ muscular balance is off, your spine compensates the situation and you might end up having neck issues. Sounds easy enough, right? But no, it is not that easy or predictable every time, but that’s pretty much how it goes.

This is the way my special training in Finland taught me to see your body, and I am unable to see it any other ways. I can (and I am) use many different techniques and modalities, but my inner self always wants to figure out this chain of functional and structural alignments, and try to bring your left and right side as even as they can in their current situation be. So, I work with your tendons (they attach your muscles to the bones) and ligaments (they attach bone to bone where is no muscle) as much as with your muscles. My work is always gentle, so stretching the tendon is not painful, and we’ll do it together with a client’s own movement.

But our body is not only muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones, but as I have recently learned, we have to pay so much more attention to our lymphatic system, since it is one of our cleaning processes and has everything to do with our immune system too. Lymph has its special ways and directions to run around our body, but unfortunately it doesn’t have its own designated pump (like the hearth is the pump for blood circulation). Our lymph needs movement to keep functioning properly and in many cases we (yes, I am looking at my own mirror right here and now) are sitting too much and not being active enough. The best lymph pump is to get up and walk/get up and down to your toes/run. So again, if you come to see me with that neck pain and I figure out that your lymph isn’t functioning as well as it should be, we’ll go back to your feet and start our pain relieving process from there. Just be prepared, that I could suggest you something completely different that you think you need, and so we’ll make you a customized treatment plan.

But it is always up to you. Or actually, let’s just ask your nervous system what it wants to have done. This is probably the biggest difference between Kata’s Way and deep tissue/trigger point massage (and I can do both): I don’t want to give you any pain! (And actually, no therapy, not trigger point therapy nor deep tissue massage should ever, ever, be painful.) In Kata’s Way we go as deep to your tissues than your tissues allow. So simple! If I try to press too hard, your nervous system gets activated in a nanosecond, and do you think that hyperactive nervous system will allow us to relieve any pain? Then, if you ask me to go deeper, I will tell your brains to be quiet, since I’m working with the body and not with your brains. And I say it with all my love.
And here's the extension (of one) of  the ankle joint.

Now, don’t get me wrong; my treatment will be effective and deep, sometimes even a bit uncomfortable, but if you really want some deep deep tissue work, maybe I am just wasting your time (and you are wasting money). But if you have some specific issues (tennis/golf/shoulder tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, sciatica etc.) or you just feel that something is off, please come to see me and we’ll figure out together, if my style and my skills can help you.

Your body is an amazing system and it knows how to heal itself. You just need to know how to listen. I am pretty good at listening your body, so please bring your body to me and let’s figure it out together. I am here to learn new ways to help you relieve your pain and bring your body to its balance.   

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Do you like it here?

That is the second question people ask me and it's kind of easy (yes), but also difficult to answer. I have lived in Charlotte over 3 years now, and it's not a long time to settle in. I know that there is people, who have relocated several times in their lives and they know how to mingle in in a new place. I'm not one of those.

I have lived all my life in Finland and moved only to go to college (60 miles from my home town) and after graduation started my family at my college city. And I was perfectly happy there! I never planned to move abroad and it was a huge adjustment for me. So, yes, I love living in Charlotte, but it's not that simple.

In three years here, I've accomplished a lot. I'm working, my daughter will graduate from high school next spring, we bought our own house... So we are going to stay and that is great. I have found a bunch of great friends here and I am happy just the way things are.

But: when I'm enjoying my time with girlfriends here, I miss my Finnish friends. I love Thanksgiving, but desperately miss First of May and Midsummer celebration. I enjoy warm weather, but would do almost everything to get to (original Finnish) sauna now and then. I'm used to the landscape here, but it's not my comfortable landscape and there is forest like in Finland here. And the birds sing in the wrong language!

And yet, I would not want to go back at the moment and that makes me sad: I feel like I'm betraying my roots when I'm loving my life here. And I know it's kind of stupid, but I just always need to be sad for a moment before I can truly be happy here.i know it sound weird. And it takes a lot of energy to feel so sad and so happy at the same time.

So next time you ask me how do I like it here in Charlotte, all of the above run through my brains before I can give you an answer. But my answer is: YES, I love it here and wouldn't change a thing!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Our Posture

I want to write a bit about our way of living at today's world. We are constantly sitting in our car, by our desk, with our laptop, iPhone, iPad and finally in the evening we are taking a peaceful moment by TV (Netflix, Amazon, streaming...) sitting again. Our kids are developing their thumbs and necks functional for only to look at those electrical devices. Is this the way it's suppose to be and are our bodies ready for this evolution?
incorrect sitting posture correct sitting posture
Which one you prefer: the spine that looks like reverse C or old-fashioned S?

Healthy Habits: Let&#39;s talk about <b>Posture</b>!Healthy and flexible spine has it's natural curvature  and still we all are individuals. To keep your posture best possible for you acquires some work. Yes, to keep upright position today's world needs active moving, stretching, strengthening and many times also some help from professionals.Our lifestyle makes us hunch over and rounds the shoulders too much inwards and we have to do something about it. Every day!

Many of my clients ask me one the most important questions: what kind of chair I should have? If I new the answer, I would be making and selling chairs!

What do I mean by that? I want to pinpoint a few important things that I have learned during my training and working in the health field.

1. No matter how good your chair is, if you sit on it too much, you'll eventually get some problems. Our bodies are made for moving, not sitting a long periods of time.

2. There is no optimal car seat. Even if you don't have too short or too long legs or arms or your back is made for that particular brand's seat, you are using your right leg more than left one (yes, even if you have a manual shifts in your car) and that puts an imbalance to your hips.

3. Movement is the only way to activate your lymphatic system. There is no socks, no devise, no massage that can do it for you! Yes, we need to use some help to enhance lymph here and there, but we need to move (walk, run, stretch, jump...) to keep our tissues in good nutrition. You need to do the job yourself. I'd love to do it for you, but I can't!

4. If (well, when) we have developed some structural issues, usually I call it an imbalance between left and right, stretching, moving or strengthening isn't necessarily enough. Because our bodies tend to strengthen already strong muscles and stretch already flexible ones. That is your bodies job and our body doesn't do anything wrong. Our body just wants to be economic. Just like you want to keep sitting.

5. If you have any kind of structural issues, they need to be resolved for you to feel energetic, active and balanced. We have to re-educate the muscles to move optimally. We have to stretch the tensed muscles, then strengthen them, not in the opposite order. Your yoga classes will help you way better, if you can use your muscles, tendons, ligaments and other structures balanced and optimized way.

My way of balancing the knee (quadriceps).
6. Balanced and optimized movement is always individual! Unlocking the locked tissues will help you to get the best movement out of you. I can do the unlocking and re-balancing with you, but I can't make you move. Only you can do that. And you need that movement.

Follow my blog to learn more specific instructions and come to meetme. I'll help you understand your body's functions and your individual structure! That's also the way we move in my Stretching class. That is Kata's Way™.

 P.S. A healthy posture requires training your body to stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that put the least amount of strain on supportive muscles and ligaments. Your backbone is composed of 33 vertically stacked bones, called vertebrae, that are cushioned by discs. You may think those disks and spinal fluid would be enough to protect your spinal cord and nerves. However, it is your posture that best protects your spine and the rest of your body from injury.