Tag Archives: chronic pain

My Theory on Low Back Pain in Men

Take that big fat withered wallet OUT of your back pocket. I will personally petition for a resurgence in the coolness and popularity of fanny-packs for you guys if you would just pretty please at least take the wallet out when your sitting down!

Ok, I’m good now. Back to business. Though this little beauty of a tip may just cost me some clients who won’t need massage so much. Oh well…healing’s the goal!

What you fellas aren’t seeing from the perspective of a body worker is that you are wreaking havoc on your spine. By sitting on your wallet you are raising one side of your pelvis, sometimes by an inch or more. This tip in your pelvis eventually leads to a curve in your spine and a ton or low back pain. Check out this picture:


See! Bad ju-ju! You don’t even get a cool story to tell when you get asked about what happened to your back (sad face). Ok, I’ll take back the fanny-pack comment. You can keep your worn out old friend in your pocket while you’re up and about. But take it from me if you stop sitting on that guy all day your back will thank you. Just sayin’ 😉

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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Hypermobility…My Chronic Pain Condition

20130912-171913.jpgAs some of my clients know, and as I’ve said on my website, I myself have a chronic pain condition. I’m genetically hypermobile, meaning all my ligaments are to loose, resulting in unstable joints. It doesn’t take much for me to suffer a partial or full dislocation. Over 32 years I’ve dislocated my right hip, left collar bone at the shoulder (twice), all of my ribs at least once, my knees hyperextend and I’ve rolled my ankles so many times they don’t even bother to swell up anymore. Needless to say, high heels are not my friend.

Also, because my ligaments aren’t doing their job my muscles over tighten to compensate and try to stabilize my joints. This leads to chronic muscle tension and, if left unchecked, even calcification of my muscle tissue. That means that the muscles are so tight for so long the body decides “must be bone!” and starts throwing calcium in there, giving the muscle a grainy texture.

Yay for me huh :p Fortunately, I found massage in my early 20’s which helped a ton. The muscles stopped pulling my bones so hard, so I ended up with fewer dislocations. I have to be more careful now, and admit that I may not actually be She-Ra Princess of Power, but I have felt 100+% better since I found massage therapy. I was so impressed with the improvement I became a massage therapist.

Many of my chronic pain clients find comfort in my experience and understanding of what they’re going through. Because I was also told that I was lazy or needed to suck it up, I get very defensive of my clients who’ve been told the same. I’ve dedicated a good portion of my education and research to chronic pain conditions and the correct techniques to give them relief from their pain. We have to accept that these conditions are a part of us…but we don’t have to believe there’s nothing we can do about it. Keep looking for your solution. It took me years to find mine and I’m grateful every day that I found massage and alternative care. It’s given me my life’s purpose…and I never would have found it if I never had this condition.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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(image from en.lecturas.org)

Cross Tension & Your Mind

Did you know your brain will create tension patterns to compensate for a painful area? That one single injury can cause problems in a seemingly unrelated area? Hmmm…what does that mean for muscle tension??

Welll…say your left foot hurts from stepping on a lego. You start favoring that leg and putting less weight on it. Do that long enough and you’ll end up with a tension pattern that hikes up that left side a little for you, resulting in a pelvis that is higher on the left.

Theeenn your low back gets all grumpy, with tension on the left side and over stretching on the right. Now, since your spine is a nice straight line this throws your upper body off to the right. What happens next you might ask? Well, your brain will tell your muscles to tighten in the left mid-back vicinity to pull your shoulders back over. Inevitably your muscles, poor dumb creatures that they are, will pull to far so you’ll have to tip your head slightly to the right. Mission accomplished: Eyes now at the level! Way to go brain :p

So what do we have now: a left foot that hurts, left IT band all tight, a sore rear end, low back pain, shoulder tension, a tight neck and probably headaches. Again…Way to go brain.

Now this is a slight exaggeration of a lego incident, but similar to what we see in massage all the time. One thing in an unrelated area causing a zig-zag of cranky muscles. A cross-tension pattern.

“But how can I prevent this atrocity from happening to me” you might ask your friendly massage therapist. My advice: learn to be “body aware”. Check yourself before you wreck yourself as my honey would say (though I think he’s referring to my attitude or something *insert rolling of eyes here*).

Anywho, the pelvis is a good place to start. Go look in the mirror. Start by checking your hips at the little bony points in the front, called the ASIS. Is one side higher or farther backward? What about your shoulders? Any difference there? If so you may have an alignment issue, which can cause a tension pattern of compensating muscles. If you see any of these variations it’s a good idea to visit your massage therapist or chiropractor to check for any potential problems and prevent future discomfort.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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