The Fabulous, Fantastic, Fearless Foot

I now know ALL the muscles in the body.  Ha! I wish.  I mean, I think I’ve probably learned about all the muscles in the body, but I don’t remember them all.  Yet.  We just finished up learning about the lower body, all the way down to the feet.  I had no idea that feet are so complicated!!  As we learned in class, the complex nature of the feet makes them capable of amazing feets/feats (get it!!), but it also makes them prone to a variety of issues.  How many people do you know that have bunions or plantar fasciitis or heel spurs or hammer toes?  A lot of these issues are caused by misuse/abuse of the feet.  I’m going to try to provide a very high level overview of the feet and then show you what you can do to bring relief and increased awareness to the feet.  And before I forget to mention it, if you have any of these issues, neurosomatic therapy can help!!  I graduate in February, so come see me!!

Ok.  First of all.  Let’s look at the boney structure of the foot.  You have the big heel bone (aka calcaneus), on top of which sits the talus, which fits into an arch (aka mortise) made by your shin bone (aka tibia) and fibula (the bone that’s on the outside of your lower leg).  This forms the joint of the ankle.  Next you have an assortment of oddly shaped bones that fit together like puzzle pieces – the navicular, cuboid, and cuneiforms.  Next you have the long skinny bones of your foot, the metatarsals, which connect to your toes, which are made up of phalanges.  Here is a picture to give you an overview:

These bones are held together by tons of ligaments (very strong connective tissue), and connecting with these bones are all the muscles of your lower leg and foot.  These ligaments and muscles maintain the two arches of your foot. Yes! There are two arches down there!  There is the longitudinal arch, which forms your instep.  And then there is the transverse arch, which goes horizontally across your foot.  These two arches work together to absorb force from the ground and transmit it up the body.

Man, I’m just getting started.  I really wanted to discuss the the muscles IN the foot too.  Did you know there are TWELVE of them (depending on how you count them) and FOUR separate layers of muscles?  Just bonkers. But we’ll have to discuss the bonkeriness in another post because this one is already getting too long.

Let’s get to the really fun stuff. What can you do if you have foot pain?  One easy thing to do is to get a small, soft ball (I recommend a Yoga Tune Up® ball, due to its squishy, pliable nature) and step on it.  Yep.  Just stepping on the ball will increase your awareness of your feet and start to dissolve tension between all those tiny joints.  Here is a video that will guide you through an eye-opening foot roll.

https://vimeo.com/211185607

You can also increase awareness of your feet (and help bring energy down from that monkey mind into your feet, which is very grounding) by meditating on your feet.  Here is a 10 minute meditation that will guide you through that.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of your amazing feet now!  I hope you find some time to give your feet some love today.  Let me know what you think of the video and or meditation.

Have a great Sunday!

 

 

Study Tips for Going Back to School as a 40-Something Adult

A friend of mine recently asked what apps I use for school and how I keep myself organized.  As I typed up a massive text to her, I was realized this kind of info is better relayed via blog post where I can be my typical wordy self. 🙂

A little bit of background on where I am coming from.  When I turned 40, I decided to move to Florida (with my long-suffering husband) and go to school for massage therapy.  But not just any massage therapy – I chose to attend a neurosomatic therapy training program that consists of an intense 18-month course where you learn about all the organs, muscles, and systems of the body and how to treat  all of them.

My BA in Accounting and MBA did not quite prepare me for this program.  Also, being out of school for years and years also did not adequately prepare me for this program.  Also, being 40-years-old and accustomed to nice things like organic food, eating out, and cars that do not break down every week meant that I wanted to continue working while going to school, which meant I would not have a ton of time to study.  So I was on the struggle bus when I first started!

Here is how I managed to make it through 3/5 of the program whilst working 26 hours/week: organization and apps!

  1. Pomodoro Blocks.  I was introduced to this concept while listening to this book.  The pomodoro technique involves working for 25 minutes (completely focused) and then taking a short 3-5 minute break.  After completing 2 or 3 pomodoro blocks and breaks, you take a longer break of 30 minutes.  This approach was invaluable to me. I would tell myself, “Heather, just 25 minutes.  Just do 25 minutes of studying.  Then you can look at Facebook or Instagram or eat some chocolate and almond butter.  Just get in your 25 minutes.”  And I did!  Breaking up work into small chunks like this made it more manageable and helped reduce my severe procrastinative tendencies.
  2. An adjunct to the pomodoro block is my Brainwave binaural rhythms app.  This is an app that shoots frequencies into your ears (via headphones) to sync your brainwaves to a specific goal.  I would set the app to Memory Boost, set the timer to 25 minutes, and start studying.
  3. Essential Anatomy.  This app is so helpful for getting a 3 dimensional view of muscles and understanding the layers of muscles.
  4. Voice Record Pro.  For my first 1.5 semesters I used Voice Memos to record the anatomy lectures.  Then one of my fellow students told me about this program, and it CHANGED MY LIFE.  Ok, maybe a little dramatic there.  But this really is an awesome app for recording lectures.  You can easily skip forward or back 10 seconds, you can speed up playback, you can set bookmarks.  HUGELY useful!!  We learn in school that you need to hear something 7 times to remember it.  So hearing the info in class, writing up flashcards on the material, and then listening to the lectures again (while walking outside each morning), means I’m about 1/2 way there.
  5. Flashcards brings me to the next point:  Quizlet.  I personally prefer to use paper flashcards, because I learn better when I write and draw out things versus typing them.  But for people who like electronic flashcards, I’ve heard great things about Quizlet.
  6. Bullet Journal.  I have experimented with a few other planners – the Passion Planner, Panda Planner, etc.  But I couldn’t find one that had the flexibility I wanted.  So I created a Bullet Journal.  This is my second iteration of it, and I really like how it works.  I set up one page with the whole month listed on it, and then each day gets 1/2 a page.  I separate each day into two vertical columns. The larger column on the left is where I put the list of things I want to get done.  Completed items get a line through them, and items that need to be moved to the next day get a <.  In the right-hand column, I put my major goals for the day (e.g. meditation, study, reminders to slow down, etc.). I also recently started a section where I track the “language of the world” as I understand it from The Alchemist.  These are numbers, creatures, synchronicities I see in the world that make me feel as if I am on the right path.  This structure gives me flexibility,  and all the blank pages in the back give me lots of room to track the other random stuff I need t0:  meanings of numbers, ideas for workshops, goals, reminders on how to build confidence, trainings I want to take, things I want to draw, etc.  It’s a good brain dump location.  Here are some pics:

I have about 2.5 months left of school, so hopefully these tools see me successfully through to the end.  Let me know if you have any helpful study tips! Do you use a Bullet Journal?  If so, what helpful hints do you have?  What study/memory tricks work well for you?

Thanks for reading, and chat with ya’ next week!!

 

The Delightful, Dynamic, totally Dope Diaphragm

In last week’s post, I mentioned that the psoas shares attachments to the diaphragm, so I figured we might as well delve into the diaphragm next.  Please note my extensive use of alliteration within this post, as alliteration is amazingly awesome.

I should start by saying, in this post I will be discussing the RESPIRATORY diaphragm, as there are a few different diaphragms in the body.  The respiratory diaphragm, as the name implies, is related to respiration (aka breathing). It is your primary breathing muscle. Or at  least it should be.  For a variety of reasons we can end up constantly using accessory muscles like the neck and shoulder muscles for breathing. This can lead to chronic neck/shoulder tension, head-forward posture, and an amped up nervous system.  But I digress.  Man, this topic is hard to write about without octopusing off into a tangent!!

The diaphragm is a large, domed-shaped muscle that sits inside your ribcage – think of a parachute tucked up under your ribcage.  This muscle separates your heart/lungs from the rest of viscera (liver, stomach, intestines, etc.).  It forms a seal around your ribcage that enables the pressure changes that inflate and deflate the lungs with each breath.  At rest (meaning the muscle is not contracted), the diaphragm is in parachute mode – domed up inside the chest.  When you inhale, it actually flattens and moves DOWN, pulling air into the lungs, and pushing down on the viscera below.  If you want to understand this concept better, you can watch this video (and learn how to make a working lung/diaphragm model yourself!).

We take about 23,000 breaths a day.  With each breath, the diaphragm (which shares connections to the pericardium which contains the heart), massages the heart above it and the organs below it, keeping everything nice and mobile and moving stuff like blood and lymph through the body.  So you can see why I say the diaphragm is delightful, dynamic, and dope!  Such a helpful muscle!

But like any muscle, it can become dysfunctional due to misuse, disuse, overuse, and abuse (to borrow some language from Jill Miller). When this happens, your posture can be affected, breathing issues can arise (asthma, COPD), and your sympathetic nervous system (flight/flight/freeze) can become ramped up, causing anxiety and panic attacks.

But there is good news!!  Even though this muscle seems inaccessible, all tucked up under the bony cage of our ribs, it can actually be treated with manual therapy.  At the Center for Neurosomatic therapy, we learn how to work with the patient’s breath to get our thumbs up under the rib cage and treat this muscle.  And, yes, that is as uncomfortable as it sounds.  BUT, it is SUPER effective.  Each time I’ve done this treatment, the patient notices IMMEDIATE improvements in his/her breath.

If you don’t have access to a neurosomatic therapist’s thumbs, you can do some self care on your own diaphragm.  As with anything, Awareness is Step #1:

Take a moment, close your eyes, and see if you can tell where you feel your breath happening in your body……………………………………..

Done?  Ok.  Where did you feel it?  Did you feel it up in your neck?  Your shoulders?  Did you feel your ribs expand?  Did you feel your belly move at all?

If you feel all your breath up in your shoulders and neck, try focusing on pulling that breath down lower in the body.  You can use the Yoga Tune Up® Coregeous ball to help.  Check out the video here from one my Instagram Idols – the Movement Maestro.

I hope this helped you understand the darling, dependable, damn-brilliancy of the respiratory diaphragm.  Give it some love today – we think we have it rough if we have to work 50 hours a week. It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Have a fabulous Sunday, and let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Hlo Out!