The Sciaticare Ball – PRODUCT

At first glance, the Sciaticare Ball looks more like a dog toy than a bona fide massage therapy tool. It’s a textured rubber ball connected to a two foot length of rope and a wooden handle.  But, don’t let the looks fool you.  With the proper direction, this “toy” can relieve a lot of muscular pain.  The idea for the tool came when it’s creator, Dylan Jawahir, L.Ac.,L.M.T., couldn’t find the right tool for his patients to use between office visits to massage out their sciatic and low back pain.

“I would offer my patients a tennis ball rolled in a sock, or a rubber hi-bounce ball to massage out their sciatic and low back pain.  But, patients would come back to my office and tell me that they couldn’t get the ball in the correct position, or they couldn’t keep the ball in place when trying to work out their own acupressure points.” Dylan says.  “After hearing quite a few complaints, I decided to develop this tool.  Later, I found that it was useful for much more than sciatica and low back pain. That was when I thought it would be a great idea to put together a list of typical problems and how the Sciaticare Ball could be used to treat them.  It quickly blossomed into the Sciaticare Way.”

The Sciaticare Ball can be used on musculature from head to toe.  If the user can get in the right position, the Sciaticare Ball will take care of the rest.  Using the theory of acupuncture points coupled with that of trigger points, Jawahir has compiled a list of muscles that can be massaged and treated with the Ball.  Problems such as knee pain, plantar fasciitis, cervicogenic headaches, winged scapula, tennis elbow, golfer elbow, etc. can be treated just as easily as sciatica and lumbago.  The beauty is that free step-by-step instructions are available on the website (http://www.augustpoint.com/products.php) and can be downloaded for each of these common complaints.  The manufacturer claims that example videos will be uploaded by December, 2011.

Another great feature of the Sciaticare Ball is that it can be used practically anywhere.  The user can massage out pain while sitting, standing, or lying down.  Very little active pressure is required to work out the acupressure (or trigger) points.  Gravity does most of the work.  The size of the Sciaticare Ball makes it easy to drop into a workbag and take it to the office.  Plenty of office personnel could benefit from using a Sciaticare Ball for 5 to 10 minutes a day on the typical shoulder and back pain that accompanies long hours in the cubicle.  The Ball can also be used at home, on a bed, or while lying on the couch in front of the television.

The Sciaticare Ball is currently sold for $19.95 and ships for $6 flat rate.  The Ball is available directly from August Point Wellness as well as Amazon.com.  It is very durable and looks to be able to withstand years of use.  It also carries a 100% money back guarantee.

The Sciaticare Ball is worth well more than the listed price.  In fact, the value of this product along with all of the free instructional media available far outweighs most of the other products available on the market today.  As both a practitioner-oriented and patient-oriented product, the Sciaticare Ball caters well to both.  Many acupuncturists, doctors, massage therapists, physical therapists, Pilates instructors, etc. are looking for a tool to complement patient office visits with patient self-care.  The Sciaticare Ball fills that need.  The informed consumer can also pick up the Sciaticare Ball and begin using it by studying the free downloaded material from the product website.

The Sciaticare Ball is the rare product that can be used by just about anyone.  It’s intuitive.  It’s simple.  It’s effective.  The Sciaticare motto states “Empowering you with the tools to enhance your health and wellness”.  That’s just what this product does.  It gives people the power to understand their own health through education knowing that it will go a long way towards giving people the power to control their own health.

Constant Pain Between the Shoulder Blades. So, Why Treat the Chest?

Trapezius muscle.

Image via Wikipedia

“I hold most of my stress between my shoulder blades.”  Or I’ll hear “The pain is pretty constant and it never seems to go away, even after deep tissue massage.”  The story of pain between the shoulder blades is fairly common.  In fact, after sciatic pain and lumbar pain, this is the 3rd most common musculoskeletal pain situation that I encounter in my clinic.

The patient usually points to a location between the shoulder blades.  This part of the back contains two important muscles involved in stabilization and movement of the scapula, the trapezius muscle and the rhomboids (major and minor).  Upon palpation, the acupuncturist or massage therapist usually finds an “ah shi” point or tender area on the patient that feels knotted and ropy.  Therefore, it’s fair to assess that this is the source of the problem, right?  So this muscle knot gets treated, either by acupuncture, massage, or chiropractic means and provide some instant relief.  A day or so later, the patient complains that the pain returned full strength.  If this situation sounds familiar to you, then only side of the problem is being treated…the back.  So, what’s missing?  The chest.

Let’s call a muscle that moves, an agonist.  This agonist usually has one or more muscles that oppose the action of the agonist.  This opposing muscle, or muscles, will be called the antagonist.  For a nice, easy example:  Let’s look at the action of the knee joint.  If we call your quadriceps the agonist, we can call your hamstrings the antagonist.  The quadriceps will straighten the knee, while the hamstrings bend the knee.  The quadriceps and hamstrings form an agonist-antagonist pair.  A slightly more complicated joint such as the shoulder has muscles that can perform an agonist or antagonist function depending on direction of shoulder movement.

The trapezius and rhomboids together aid in retracting the scapula, or pulling your shoulders back and upward.  The opposing muscles, or antagonist to this movement, are the pectoralis minor, which protract the scapula, or pull your shoulders forward and downward.  (There are more actions of both the trapezius and rhomboid muscles, but they will be excluded for sake of simplicity.)

Tight pectoralis minor muscles can pull the shoulders forward.  Localized back pain is felt when the rhomboids and trapezius muscles revolt against the pectoralis minor by having to expend so much energy to pull your shoulders back.  The rhomboids and trapezius eventually fatigue and finally spasm.  When they finally scream out in anguish from the tension, you have a knot of pain between the shoulder blades.  Of course, this is an oversimplification of the whole scenario, but for a lot of folks, it is true.  The agonist muscles and antagonist muscles play a game of tug-of-war with your body.  In the end,one muscle wins and one muscle loses.  To avoid this scenario, have both agonist muscles and their antagonist muscles treated.

To get great relief, we suggest getting a massage or sports acupuncture session with focus on the back muscles that are tight and painful.  You will also have the pectoralis minor treated on the ipsilateral, or same side of the body.  This is a thorough treatment plan that may have the pain between your shoulder blades abate quickly and take much longer to return.

We think it’s a great idea to manage your pain between visits to your healthcare provider.  We suggest our very own Sciaticare Ball.  On our website, we have detailed instructions on how to massage out your pectoralis minor pain as well as rhomboid and upper back pain.  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.  It’s the best $20 that you’ll ever spend on you healthcare.  Now on Amazon.com.  Additionally, learn to stretch these muscles to keep the qi and blood flowing.  Good luck!

Big Toe Pain…And Gout is NOT the Diagnosis.

Dorsal and plantar aspects of foot

Image via Wikipedia

The big toe (hallux) is vital to ensuring humans continue to walk upright.  The strongest of all of the toes, it is also the largest one on each foot.  Needless to say, the halluces are probably the most important toes of all. Problems that can occur with each hallux may cause numbness, tingling, weakness, stiffness, etc., in and around the area of the big toe. With any combination of these symptoms, walking upright can become difficult.

If you think gout is the only reason for a painful big toe, think again.  Before you decide that your diet needs adjusting and you need a full blood panel done, first address the musculature supporting the hallux.  There are seven important muscles that attach and provide movement to the big toe.  Flexor hallucis longus, flexor hallucis brevis, extensor hallucis longus, and tibialis anterior are all extrinsic (outside foot) hallux muscles.  Extensor hallucis brevis, abductor hallucis, and adductor hallucis are the three intrinsic (inside foot) hallux muscles.  I’ve also included an eighth muscle, tibialis posterior, as one that can cause pain in and around the big toe although it doesn’t have a tendinous attachment to the hallux bones as the other muscles do.

On the underside of the foot, at the base of the big toe, a tight adductor hallucis may exhibit pain in this area.  Both flexor hallucis longus and brevis can cause pain and numbness in the underside of the big toe.  Abductor hallucis usually causes pain on the inside of the heel, and if this muscle is tight enough, there is accompanying pain beneath the first metatarsal.  Tibialis posterior can cause pain at the base of the big toe, but this muscle may also show pain in the Achilles region of the lower leg.

If the top of the hallux is painful, the muscles that dorsiflex (or extend) the big toe could be the offending party.  The muscles that dorsiflex the big toe are the tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, and extensor hallucis brevis.  Tibialis anterior will generate pain or tenderness in the shin as well as pain on the dorsum of the foot.  Pain caused by the extensor hallucis longus may be felt in the front of the ankle as well as on top of the big toe.  Extensor hallucis brevis will only cause pain in the location of the muscle, at the top of foot near the base of the first metatarsal.  Check all three of these muscles when pinpointing the cause of your toe pain.

To treat your stiff, tight, aching muscles, seek out your favorite acupuncturist and/or massage therapist.  Also, try a warm foot soak in Epsom salt to help relax muscles further.  Follow up your foot soak with easy stretching for both the intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles.  In conjunction with professional care, you can self-treat your muscles with the Sciaticare Ball by August Point Wellness.  Roll your foot over the Sciaticare Ball to treat the acupressure and trigger points on the underside of the foot.  Rolling the entire plantar side of your foot will do wonders to treat the many small, hardworking muscles that ache from continued walking, running, etc.  The Sciaticare Ball can also treat the tibialis anterior and can address other extrinsic muscles in the lower leg.  A regular care plan should include visits to your practitioner as well as self-care.  For your self-care, we highly recommend the Sciaticare Ball.  Visit our website to learn more about the Sciaticare Ball and how you can rid yourself of big toe pain.

Related Links:

4 Points For Big Toe Pain (Part 1)

Wake Up People!!! How to Wake Up Less Stressed and Start Your Day Balanced

I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this article woke up this morning.  Some of you woke up to the sounds of baby crying.  (Ok, that was how I woke up today.) Others woke up to a buzzing alarm clock or music.  The rest of you may have awoken by the sunlight peering into your windows.

In an ideal world, we would all wake up naturally from a sound sleep after our body has been fully rested.  It is the least stressful way of beginning the day.  But, many of us do not have that luxury.  Thus, we are startled awake through some artificial means and that gets the stress hormones flowing through the bloodstream like a shot of caffeine.  Needless to say, this is not a great way to set the tone for your day’s work.

In order to reduce the stress levels and anxiousness that can make for a grumpy morning Jack or Jill, make time for yourself to wake up.  Give yourself 5-10 minutes to get your body functions (i.e. heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature) up to speed.  A good foundation should be set every morning, so as to give you a solid footing to tackle the day’s obstacles and issues.  Call it a ritual, routine, or morning mental cleansing.  It doesn’t matter, so long as you go through some regular motions every day to prepare you for the activities you will encounter.

There are certain elements that are important to include in your wake up ritual.  They are all listed below.  At the very minimum, you should have these basic elements as the structure of your routine:

1.  Don’t get out of bed as soon as you wake up.  But, don’t fall back asleep either.  Take 5-10 minutes to complete a morning ritual before throwing off the covers and heading to the shower.  Open your eyes.  Look around.  Listen to the morning sounds, even if it is interrupted by your partner’s snoring.  Use your senses and turn them on one at a time.

2.  Focus on deep, slow breathing.  Belly breathing is the best way to ease your body into a “rest and digest” state or parasympathetic nervous system response.  By slowing the breath and inhaling deep into your abdomen, your body relaxes, muscle tension softens, and blood pressure lowers.  Carry this breathing technique throughout the entire time you are laying in bed.  If you’re feeling adventurous, try to regulate your breathing with a 4-8 count.  Count from 1 to 4 on the inhale and count from 1 to 8 on the exhale, making exhale approximately twice as long as the inhale.

2.  Take inventory of your body. Assess yourself. Just lay there and be still.  Take a moment to ask yourself some questions, such as:  What position are my arms in?  Are my feet cold?  Does my body ache anywhere?  How does my skin feel against the comforter?  Are any body parts exposed?  Is there a breeze blowing on my face from the fan?  This exercise focuses your mind directly onto your body.  In a nutshell, you are practicing the art of being present.  This is a very large part of realizing and understanding how your physical body reacts and adapts to environmental changes.

3.  Tap yourself awake.  In the previous step, you are using your brain to wake up your body.  In this step, you will be using your body to wake up your brain.  Using your index finger, lightly tap the area between the eyes.  Do this for 5-10 long, slow breaths.  Now, take all of your fingers on either hand and lightly tap your temples for 5-10 long, slow breaths.  Lastly, rise to a sitting position.  Lightly tap the occiput of your head with the finger pads of both hands for 5-10 breaths, breathing into the abdomen every time.  Now, you are ready to get out of bed.

4.  Perform the same ritual every morning.  Do the best you can.  Frequent consistency trains your body to expect when things are going to happen.  Though, maybe during the weekend you sleep in.  You may not have to do anything until noon on Sunday.  That’s fine.  Just try to be as consistent as possible.  If you can only develop this practice during the week, then great.  I assure you that soon enough, you will find yourself wanting to perform this exercise daily and it will become part of you.

If you can’t seem to find 5-10 minutes every morning to perform this sequence, then try setting your alarm clock for 5-10 minutes earlier.  Yes, it’s 5-10 minutes less sleep that you may be getting, but the rewards for practicing this morning routine will pay huge dividends in your daytime energy, both mentally and physically.

I’m positive that you will begin to see a change in the anxiety and stress that build up during the day.  You may also feel more grounded in the way you deal with others.  You may also see yourself becoming a more calm, controlled problem solver and task manager.  This routine is a great way to balance the mind and body first thing in the morning.  Even if you don’t plan to follow the above steps precisely, find something that works for you.  Have a way to set the tone for your day, so you can get out of bed with both feet firmly planted on the ground.

My 5 Best Self-Massage Therapy Tools

There are a vast amount of massage tools on the market.  Some are motorized.  Others have knobs and levers that bend and massage every sore spot on your body.  There is something for every body type.  The massage care industry has so many choices that it can be overwhelming to someone not familiar with the products available.  Therefore, it becomes difficult for the average consumer to pick out a useful massage tool to self-treat tight muscles and pain.

Let’s face it.  The economy is hurting and people won’t spend money unnecessarily.  Not everyone can afford multiple massage therapy sessions a year, let alone every month.  I’ve put this list together to help inform you about self-massage options on treating your own aches and pains.  Using self-massage care tools in conjunction with professional massage care can go a long way towards saving you time and money.

The self-massage tools that I keep in my toolbox have a combination of these criteria in common:

  • Easy to use – I don’t like to set up equipment or prepare a scenario in order to do self-massage.  If it takes more than 5 seconds to get myself and the massage tool properly oriented, I won’t use it.
  • Versatile – I don’t keep 100 different massage tools in the house.  For one, I don’t have the space.  And secondly, if I can use a self-massage tool that performs multiple tasks, I’m more inclined to use it and use it often.
  • Durable – I look for a high quality of workmanship.  If a tool is not built to withstand years of use and even some abuse, I won’t keep it.
  • Simple – A simple design is both aesthetic and appealing to me.  Less moving parts makes for less chance of broken parts.

So, these criteria help me to determine what stays and what goes.  Links to the each of the websites are included in the name.  The best self-massage tools are:

1.  The Sciaticare Ball – Yes, this is my design.  Yes, I think it’s brilliant.  Here’s why.  I’ve used countless massage tools and there are so many that require you to push and press the tender spots out.  With the Ball, I don’t have to use many of my own muscles to work out my tension.  Gravity does the work for me.  I can use it standing up, sitting, or laying down.  It works out pain and tension in muscles from head to toe.  There is very little that this device cannot massage.  Plus, it fits in my workbag and comes with me to the office so I can use it between patients or during break.

2.  The GRID Foam Roller – This is another tool that gets almost daily use from me.  I am a runner and cyclist.  With my legs doing a lot of sagittal plane (forward/back) movement, muscles like my IT band, TFL, Gluteus Minimus, Peroneus group tend to get tight.  This foam roller is an easy way for me to smooth out those muscles after exercise.  The foam roller hits that hard-to-stretch lateral thigh region and does it impeccably.  It takes a short time to learn to use it correctly, but it’s great at what it does, steamrolling muscle tension out of the body.

3.  The Index Knobber II – Please note that there are 2 versions, and this one is the ergonomic plastic version.  The Index Knobber II also shares time in my workbag with my Sciaticare Ball.  It’s small and easy to use.  It’s like having an extra hard knuckle to press on tender spots with.  This self-massage therapy tool gets used on my stubborn forearm muscles mostly, but it also gets pressed into my neck and upper trapezius areas.  The great thing about this tool is that I can also use it on my clients when I need to apply just a little more pressure during massage.  The downside of using this tool is that the hand that holds the tool can get fatigued.  Otherwise, excellent tool to have.

4.  The Ma Roller – I’ve owned this tool for about as long as I have been doing massage therapy.  It’s a great device that helps to loosen up those tight paraspinal muscles in the back.  It’s not extremely versatile, but since the back is problematic for so many, I give it the thumbs up.  It’s easy to use and can work almost the entire length of the back.  Just lay on it.  I’ve found myself relaxing on the Ma Roller for 10 – 20 minutes at a time while I do my breathing exercises.  I’ve had spinal adjustments occur naturally, just by laying on the Ma Roller.  It is made from solid wood and it looks great too.

5.  Still Point Inducer – This tool wasn’t so much a massage tool for me as it was a tool that I used during my meditations.  I liked to place it under my occiput while I carried out my meditation exercises.  It’s a nice, soft tool that presses on the scalp muscles in the posterior region of the head.  It can also be used to press on the upper neck cervical muscles just by laying on it.  The downside is that the device collapses if too much weight is over it.  And I used to use the still point inducer often, but now I just place my Sciaticare Ball under the occiput and it does practically the same thing.

If you would like to learn more about each of the products listed above, visit their websites using the links embedded in the article.  If you would like to learn more about my opinions of these products, please ask and I will be happy to answer.

Disclaimer:  As a note, I do NOT have any affiliation with any of the self-massage tools listed above other than the Sciaticare Ball.  I have tried to be as objective as possible with my assessment and these tools are what I use.  You may find that the above self-massage tools do not appeal to you in the same fashion.  Therefore, it is best to gather as much data as you can and, if possible, try before you buy.

Pregnant and in Pain? The Sciaticare Ball Can Help!

For many women, pregnancy comes with a list of aches and pains.  As a woman’s body prepares itself to carry a baby, her bones and ligaments adapt to support the additional weight.  This changing of body position is necessary, and at times, it can also lead to an unpleasant prenatal period.

Two of the most common pregnancy complaints that I see in my clinic are: lumbago (low back pain) and sciatica.  These are typical issues that arise during pregnancy.  Why?  First, the upper half of the body has to adjust to carrying an additional load (i.e. baby), one that increases significantly during the second and third trimesters.  The body tries to balance this load by increasing lumbar curvature.  The new weight distribution puts more strain on the low back when the woman is standing upright.  Secondly, while the baby is growing inside the womb, the hips are opening and adjusting to make room.  The woman’s hips tend to spend more time externally rotated (knees and feet pointed away from midline).  With the external rotation of the hips, the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve get shortened.  If shortened for extended periods of time, the hip muscles can start to spasm and pinch or irritate the sciatic nerve.

I’ve spent much time treating sciatic pain and back pain for pregnant women and great relief can be found in acupuncture and massage therapy.  These are natural, drug-free ways of reducing pain and treating many issues that arise throughout the entire 10-month journey of pregnancy.

Though, sometimes a pregnant woman will have flare-ups of pain at times that make it inconvenient for her to visit my office for treatment.  To mitigate these painful occurrences between acupuncture treatments, I started looking for a way to allow the sufferer to address sciatic and low back pain on her own.

I developed a tool that allows pregnant women to treat their own lumbago and sciatica pain between their office visits.

It’s called the Sciaticare Ball.

The Sciaticare Ball is an acupressure tool, massage tool, and trigger point tool.  It treats stubborn, tight muscles that cause body aches and pains.  The Sciaticare Ball is a versatile tool that can treat the difficult sciatic and lumbago conditions.  But, the Sciaticare Ball treats much more!  Visit our website for FREE information regarding the multitude of other uses for the Sciaticare Ball:  August Point Wellness Website

I’ve seen the other products on the market.  Comparatively, the Sciaticare Ball provides more accurate and precise treatment of your stubborn muscles to: increase blood flow, relieve pain, and reduce swelling.  The Sciaticare Ball is easy to use and accommodates the reduced mobility of a pregnant woman.  The Sciaticare Ball can be used while laying down, sitting, or even standing up.  Stay healthy before, during, and after your pregnancy with the Sciaticare Ball!

The Sciaticare Ball is a serious tool for serious pain.  I highly recommend checking it out.  I’m sure you will find it to be more valuable than any other self-care massage tool you own.