Self-Care for Purveyors of Self-Care

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Have you ever heard the phrase do as I say, not as I do? That seems to be the story of my life when it comes to my clients in my massage therapy practice, Michigan Massage and Wellness. I preach to them the value of incorporating regular massage therapy into their wellness routine. I have clients that have been coming in since day one when I opened my doors over 13 years ago, and they understand the importance of setting time aside for themselves.

So, why don’t I practice what I preach? Well for one, I can’t massage myself. I mean, I can’t jam an elbow into my trapezius and wait for the tissues to melt away…but I can do the next best thing and break out my trusty Roll Model® Therapy Balls and that’s the next best thing!

I stumbled into Yoga Tune Up® and the Roll Model® Method purely by accident. In 2016, I had my second ankle sprain on the left ankle, and it was a doozy. (I don’t just mildly sprain something, I go for a 75% ligament tear-go big or go home, right?). As a result, I developed a constant dull ache in my right hip and piriformis area. We are talking months of just enough discomfort to make me notice it. So, doing what I do, I got massages. I stretched. I did cupping. I did dry needling. I drove down I-75 on my way to visit a friend in Kentucky with a lacrosse ball wedged under my glute for an hour because sitting was when I had the most discomfort. I wouldn’t really call it pain, but again, a dull ache that was such a nuisance that I just couldn’t get comfortable after about 20 minutes of sitting. The car was the worst! I would get down on the floor into pigeon after work and get relief, but it was only temporary.

Then one day I was listening to one of my regular podcasts, Bee The Wellness, and Jill Miller was on talking about Yoga Tune Up® and these little therapy balls. Being the person that I am, I immediately went online and ordered the Treat While You Train Kit and The Roll Model Method book, and that is when I found relief.

My first ball was the ALPHA ball. I was used to lacrosse balls, but when I placed the ALPHA under my hip and started rolling, doing some cross fibering, a little contract relax and some sustained compression thrown in for good measure I knew these balls were different. I spent about 5 minutes working on my right side and a few days later (because you know, I still wasn’t making enough time for myself) I spent another 5 minutes, and then one day about a week later I noticed something. That dull, nagging ache that had plagued me for over a year was nearly gone! “What is this sorcery?!” I thought to myself, and immediately I needed more.

So, doing what I do best, I got online to the Tune Up Fitness website and started looking around at the YTU At Home program as well as trainings, because I needed to learn more. Again, I can’t give myself a massage, but these therapy balls had already quickly proved to be something that I needed in my self-care arsenal. And after I completed my Roll Model Method® practitioner training, I quickly shunned almost all of my mobility tools. Foam rollers and lacrosse balls were dead to me. No more uncomfortable rolling on dense pieces of foam or hard balls that if rolled over a clavicle would send me through the roof. I had found relief and it was glorious!

You see, I kind of hate yoga. Well, hate is a strong word, but I always found the repetitive downward dogs and planks to not really be what I needed. I would find myself staring at the clock during a class going through yet another warrior pose, just wishing the hour was up. But I felt like it was something I had to do because, you know, I spend my days fixing people and at the end of the day my body feels a bit broken. Now, when I return home after a long day of clients and roll my feet out on the originals for 5 minutes, I feel like I’m walking on air. Rolling around on my Coregeous® ball to just decompress and chill out for a few, or the occasional touch up on my hips and glutes with the ALPHA is not only so much easier to do, but there is so much more relief than repetitive sun salutations could ever give me.

After I completed my Yoga Tune Up® teacher training in 2017, I had an even better understanding of how the body works (even more than my education in massage school), and learning how different YTU is from a traditional yoga class, I was sold. Additionally, incorporating YTU along with the therapy ball work gave me relief. Relief that I couldn’t get on my own through other methods. The practicality of it all! Working on my specific problem areas, not just some generic class. For once, it’s all about me, and when I am making my days all about other people and fixing them, it’s nice to finally make my own self-care a priority again. Now, for my little alteration to the adage –  Do as I say AND as I do: Please, take 10 minutes out for yourself each day…your body will thank you.

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