Thai Massage is all about helping the wind (lom) to move freely through the body. When the wind gets stuck, it causes pain. I see a lot of people in my practice with hip and knee pain. While the source of this pain can be from many anatomical causes (which I cannot diagnose as a massage therapist), one major culprit in these cases can be the ever famous IT band. Runners and cyclists are especially familiar with the pain the IT band can cause, as it often arises from repetitive activities. But it can also occur for people who are stuck in one position for extended periods of time, like sitting or standing all day for work.
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick band of fascia that runs along the outside of your thigh from your pelvis to your knee. Therefore, an indicator that your ITB could be causing your pain is when outside of your hip and/or knee hurts. The pain will often get worse after activity. When I was diagnosed with ITB contracture, mine also got worse after inactivity. If I ever slept on the affected side I would wake in the night with so much pain I was virtually in tears if I tried to move my leg. Yuck!
If you have experienced any pain from ITB issues or have been diagnosed with ITB syndrome you have likely been advised to foam roll the area. Foam rolling can be a nice technique. The thing is though, when the ITB is causing pain it has generally shortened and thickened and matted itself down to the surrounding structures like the quads and hamstrings. So mashing the ITB down more into these structures isn’t necessarily the most effective method. So, what to do instead? Enter… the silicone cup!
Foam rolling, and many massage techniques, work with compression - pressing the tissue down. Cups, on the other hand, work with decompression - lifting the tissue up. This is an absolutely amazing technique for matted down and adheased fascial tissue, especially the ITB. By lifting the tissue, the cups open the space between structures, stretching the muscles and fascia and allowing for increased blood flow and recovery (a.k.a. helping the wind flow freely through the body).
Silicone cups are easy to use at home on yourself as they are easy to apply and do not have the ability to suction as deep as glass cups. They are inexpensive and easy to find online, like these from massagecupping.com:
Below you will find a fabulous video that teaches all about using sliding silicone cups for the ITB. If you're not a massage nerd like me and don't want to watch the whole 15 minute video you can find the key pieces of info needed at these times:
Remember to use oil or lotion so that the cups can slide! As the tissue starts to warm up, you may be able to move deeper. Start slow, and don’t force yourself past mild discomfort.
If you have questions, contact me and let’s chat! This treatment is also available in my practice if you would like to experience it in an appointment first and get instructions in person to take home with you. And if you do try it out, let me know how it works for you!
Wishing you health and happiness! Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Thai medicine, like Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, seeks balance. The elements are constantly ebbing and flowing within us and around us, and by working with these elements we can keep ourselves balanced and healthy. As we enter the hot and dry season, excess fire can sometimes lead to some obvious (and not so obvious) symptoms of excess heat. These can include: thirst, dehydration, excessive sweating, muscle fatigue, inflammation, fever and rashes, insatiability, impatience, irritability, burn out, and more. Everyone tends to have more occurrences of excess fire in the summertime, but especially for those of us who already have a (ahem) more fiery disposition, bringing in some cooling and hydrating practices can help keep us balanced, chill and calm in this season.
A little bit of unrefined sea salt (which is full of essential minerals and electrolytes) in your water increases absorption and boosts hydration. But think outside the pink salt box! Pink Himalayan salt is great but can be more expensive, and there are so many beautiful and colorful salts to try. How much salt to add? Our bodies are great at detecting how much we need. Add just enough salt to your water to make it taste good, but not salty. Just try it for yourself - I promise you will know when you’ve reached that threshold!
Eat Cooling Fruits and Veggies
Enjoying seasonal produce is a great way to stay balanced, cool and hydrated. Think of how it feels to eat watermelon while out on a summer picnic. Or biting into that big, ripe, juicy peach on a hot afternoon. Sweet, watery fruits and vegetables are provided by nature at just the right time to keep you in balance. Visit your local farmer’s market and stock up on cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers, watermelon, berries, peaches, and more. Cucumbers and watermelon also make a delicious addition to water and add a little sweetness to make the water even more hydrating!
Take a Dip
Spending time in water is the perfect antidote to the summer heat, and can literally help to cool your fire. Take a dip in the pool, jump in the lake or the ocean if you have the chance! If water sports aren’t your thing, then you can always enjoy a cool shower at home.
Fire makes us go, go, go. It is our drive, and the impetus for movement. The hotter it gets outside, calm you internal fire by taking time to relax and find ease. Think yin yoga rather than hot vinyasa. It’s not that you can’t work out in the heat of the summer, just notice how your body reacts to certain activities. And if you start to get burnt out or irritable, see how you feel taking a few things off of your plate and finding some still, quiet moments.
Above all, take some time to check in and listen to your body. Self care is not a luxury, it is an important part of enjoying your happiest and healthiest life.
Enjoy the summer sun!