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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Iron Out Those Soft-Tissue Issues

Oct 01, 2010 02:00AM ● By Sandy Saldano

You exercise, eat right and get plenty of sleep—yet you wake up feeling as stiff as an ironing board. What now?

Your muscles, or soft tissue, may be tight and shortened, a condition that causes inflexibility and inflammation that can lead to pain. To ease back stiffness, soft tissue can be “pressed,” in the same way you press your clothes when they are wrinkled. Here are some ways to “iron out” your muscles and relieve stiffness.

Nutrients: Carbohydrate deficiency can cause muscle weakness, neck pain and headaches. Protein deficiency can cause muscle cramps, low tolerance for exercise and chronic spinal conditions, as well as gas, bloating and constipation. Many people think they are eating enough healthy food, when in fact their bodies simply can’t digest what’s going into their stomachs. See a digestive health specialist who uses enzyme supplements to improve digestion.

Water: Drinking lots of water—half your body weight in ounces daily—will flush toxins and oxygenate the blood, which aids in healing and maximizes hormonal and bodily functions. Coffee, tea and soda don’t count!

Ice or heat: If you have sharp pain, do not use heat. Always apply ice, and do so within 72 hours of an injury. Ice reduces inflammation, but heat makes pain worse. If you have dull aches and stiffness, however, use moist heat for 20 minutes. Always use a towel with both ice and heat to prevent burning.

Press: Massage therapy by knowledgeable and experienced licensed massage therapists can target and treat the areas of pain. Lengthening and stretching soft tissue releases tension and causes the pituitary gland to secrete endorphins, the body’s natural tranquilizers. Regular massage calms nerves, improves circulation and flexibility, and enhances emotional well-being. You may want to try several massage therapists to find a good match.

Prevention is the best health insurance you can buy. Invest in yourself with these few simple steps, and you’ll iron out stiffness to feel strong, flexible and healthy.


Sandy Saldano, a licensed massage therapist for 22 years, is the owner of Therapeutic Kneads, Ltd., 1779 Green Bay Road, Highland Park 60035. Call 847-266-0131 or visit WeKneadYou.com.