Link found between brain and lymphatic system

It always excites me when something new is found in anatomy. This time, they found evidence of a direct connection between the brain the lymph system, which was thought to not exist. It makes sense for it to exist, since the brain had to off-load its waste products somehow.

Interesting article about muscle fatigue

My brother does a lot of competitive endurance type sports (triathlons, adventure racing). He sent me this interesting article about muscle fatigue and how it can be an “emotion” rather than a specific physical thing.

Isn’t the body amazing? It sense when we are at the limit of some part of the system and creates the signals needs to that the whole organism will slow down. Of course, people can (and often do) override those signals which just gets us into trouble.

How Common is Low-Back Pain?

Here is an interesting article I just saw this morning.  Basically, it’s saying that 8/10 people have back pain in their lives.  That’s a whole lot of people.  Some of it has to do with sedentary lifestyles, but a lot has to do with the fact that we do a lot of activities that our bodies just weren’t created for — like sitting, computers, driving, walking in shoes.  Over time, all of this adds up and can create stress.

http://www.livescience.com/health/low-back-pain-100308.html

Of course, I recommend Rolfing or other similar body work things, but even simple activities likes stretching and getting your body up and moving can be a great help.

Placebo effect measured in fMRI machine

I find this pretty interesting.  The placebo effect is super powerful.  And regardless of what western medicine wants to believe, it plays a role in all forms of healing.  If it can be combined with actual beneficial treatments, all the better.  It’s the same as having “positive intentions”.

The article can be found at New Scientist.

Your Sinus Health

Well, it’s that time of year—cold and flu season.  So, today’s post will be about your sinus health.

Anatomy lesson of the day: you have way more sinus space than you think you do.   Most people just think that the sinuses are the space inside your nose.  That is true, but the bones also have air-filled spaces that are part of the sinus complex as well.   Basically, you have sinuses in all of the bones that make up the front of your face and even some deeper bones.  The frontal (forehead), maxilla (cheeks by the nose), ethmoid (upper portion of the nose), and the sphenoid (central bone of the skull) bones ALL have sinuses in them–on both sides of your face.   All of these sinuses drain into the nasal cavity at some point.  That congestion you feel could be coming from any of those points.

Rolfing also deals with sinuses a fair amount.  Because of the fascial connection, your sinuses are affected by the fascia and muscles in your nose, face, jaw, cranium, and neck.  Tightness in any of those places can end up causing some congestion.  As part of the 10-Series, those areas definitely get addressed.  However, work can also be done in the nasal cavity itself to help open up those passages and get things flowing again.

One self-care tip is to use a neti pot for some sinus irrigation.  If you haven’t heard of them, basically, it’s a little pot you put some lukewarm salt water in and pour it into one nostril….until it runs out of the other nostril.  Yep, you read that right.  It derives out of Ayurvedic medicine.  Basically, it helps to flush nasal irritants out and clean out those sinuses.

Tips for the wise–if you use a neti pot, make sure you use the recommended salt level.  Too much or too little salt can cause a burning sensation.  Also, you want to use lukewarm water.  If it is too hot, you can scald yourself and your sinus linings (not fun, I’m sure), and if it is too cold, it won’t be comfortable.

I just recently starting using a neti pot to work on some deep congestion issues I’ve been having.  It sort of feels like I’m drowning a bit, and feels a bit uncomfortable.  This is mainly because I hate breathing through my mouth.  But, I can definitely tell that it helps to clean out a lot of mucus from the nooks and crannies up there.

Kinesio Tape, the Olympics, and beyond

The Internet world and sporting world is a buzz with Kinesio tape.

If you’ve watched any of the Olympics, you’ve probably seen it.  It’s the black tape on shoulders of athletes like volleyballer Kerri Walsh.  And no, it’s not a tattoo, but it may have helped her and her teammate, Misty May-Treanor win some gold. You may have also seen it various pink or blue colors on a LOT of other athletes as well. Do only Olympic athletes use this mystical, magical tape?  No.  A lot of other superstar athletes have used it including Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, and whole slew of others. Sure, the makers of the tape say it’s good for athletes, but it’s also good for the everyday athlete and more run of the mill things.

So, what is the magical tape good for other than winning gold medals and Tour de France?  Basically, you could think of it as athletic tape on steroids (and from the planet Krypton).  Normal athletic tape is used for taping up weak joints and muscles to get someone moving again.  It’s not very stretchy, it’s not the nicest to remove from body hair, but it does do it’s job.

This is where Kinesio tape takes the cake.  It is significantly stretchier than normal tape–the makers claim it can stretch up to 130-140% of it’s normal length.  Try that athletic tape!  Plus, their some sort of sticky magic, I’ve seen it applied to a (hairy) forearm, and removed without even the slightest grimace.  It’s stretchy nature also allows for two types of applications–stretched and unstretched.  The way you use it depends on whether you looking to increase fluid flow to an area to aid healing, or if there is a musculoskeletal injury you’re trying to support. So, it can be used to help support injured joints and muscles to (according to the manufacturer) relieve pain and speed healing.  This is of obvious benefit as a palliative measure to anyone whose had these issues but still needed to make full use that area–so pretty much everyone.  Some of the athletes are using it in post-surgery situations to help protect them as they get back to their activities.

Another advantage over normal athletic tape is it’s width.  This allows the Kinesio tape to be cut into those fun shapes you’re seeing all over the Olympics.  The shapes are designed to follow the natural path of the muscles across the body.  I’ve only ever seen athletic tape really used to help shore up joints by wrapping them tightly in place, usually adding support at the expense of mobility.  As the name “Kinesio tape” evokes, it allows the wearer to still move with the tape in place.

The tape is also water resistant, which is why some swimmers/water polo players are wearing it, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen happen with any from of normal athletic tape.

It’s an interesting product, and I’m curious if it would be any supporting benefit to the Rolfing process.  The added lymph flow would definitely be an assist in any area that has a lot of fascial adhesions that have just been broken up to help get the re-released toxins out of the area.

Is that fat on those Olympians?

Well, the 2008 Olympics have been going on for awhile now.  If you haven’t watched, then you’re missing out on some prime examples of functional bodies and motions.

Primarily, if you watch the gymnasts and swimmers warming up.  If you see them swinging their arms around, you might notice that there is a LOT of motion in their arms.  You might even think it looks like fatty tissue moving around–which seems odd since you don’t normally see any fat on the atheletes’ bodies.

Well, what you’re looking at is relaxed muscle tissue.  When muscles and the associated fascia are at a properly lengthened and toned state, they should feel like a gel and you should be able to gently press though the entire muscle belly to the tissue/bone beneath it.  It is tight, restricted muscles that get the “hard muscle” feel that many associate with strength.  Actually, the relaxed muscles will be stronger.  When you contract that muscle, the gel turns into that “hard muscle” that you expect.  If the muscle is always in that state, it’s wasting energy by being partially contracted (or resisting being pulled apart) all the time.

So, if you feel like you have these tight muscles and not the gel like ones, what can you do?  Well, a great idea is to stretch.  Yes, it is always said, but who actually does enough?  Frankly, EVERYONE can benefit from some more stretching.  Animals do it instinctively when they get up after sleeping or laying down for awhile.  Take a few minutes and stretch when you wake up in the morning or after getting up from sitting for a long time.

For those with Restless Leg Symdrome, some leg strecthing before going to bed can be beneficial as well.  While not as direct as doing Rolfing, it does provide some benefit.  And stretching is a excellent adjust to furthering your Rolfing progress as well.

And most importantly, after doing anything “athletic” (even if you define that as house work), take those few minutes and give your body some breathing room.