Recently I was listening to a podcast called herb of the month and I thought that is an amazing way to learn something! Not only do I want to use that to learn herbalism, and this month is all about that ground ivy blooming in my yard. But also to get a better understand of the muscles of the body. When you have been a massage therapist for such a long time as I have, we get into a rut. We start going for the same muscles that have been shown to be tight on most of our clients. We all get our favorite go to areas. But there are other small muscles out of the 650 named muscles we forget about.
So this muscle of the month for me is the splenius capitis and cervicis. Ok I know that is two muscles but they are a pair. Last month was the Levator scapula. How do I study and learn these muscles deeper? I use my handy trail guides of the body book, workbook, and trigger point book. This allows me to learn the attachment points and actions of the body. However this is still only 2- 4 pages of information and if I am going to study a muscle for a month I need more than that!
I have also been palpating, massaging, and stretching this muscle on every single client I get on my table. I learned it is tight on many of my clients with many having only one side tight. This muscle is one of the muscles that rotates you head when you are changing lanes. The final way I am studying each muscle is I have signed up for Muscle Anatomy Master class. This online video class breaks down each muscle into 5 videos: drawn anatomy where is talks about attachment points, a cadaver video so we can see it on people, muscle actions, how to palpate this muscle, and last but not least how to stretch this muscle.
There is only one thing missing from all this information. What is the antagonist muscle? Knowing a muscle’s antagonist is important because in my experience we never want to treat a muscle without also taking a peek and the antagonist. One side of the neck might be tight in the spenius capitis while the other side of the posterior neck feels fine. Going around the front of the neck and you find the antagonist tight! Which is the sternocleidomastoid. Often a client may feel pain on the posterior of the neck and it is the anterior neck muscles that are tight pulling the head out of alignment. It is that forward head posture we see so often. Then the back of the neck muscles get strained. However if we never address the front of the neck we never really help a client out of their pain and imbalance. If you work with trigger points, the antagonist often has a tender point which is just as important to treat. So as you can imagine that SCM muscle will be muscle of the month.
This also has me curious what other things I can learn this way. What about an essential oil of the month! This month I have picked rosemary. This is fun because not only do I learn about it but I can experience it. I picked this one because I knew about it’s benefits with helping memory and concentration. I figure I would need it with me learning all about the muscles! However it is also great for hair loss which makes my favorite way to experience this oil is mixed with some castor oil and massaged onto my scalp. You can also use an oil like jojoba to dilute the rosemary essential oil, but castor oil although sticky also has some hair growth benefits. I plan on also using it in my diffusor and putting it into a massage oil or my bath salts. To really get to know an essential oil you need to experience it!
A reminder that using essential oil undiluted or ingesting essential oil is very dangerous. Essential oil are so concentrated it is not the same as having rosemary in your food or tea. Which would be great to do if you want to ingest rosemary. They can react with medications such as blood thinners with rosemary. It it is also an oil to avoid if you have high blood pressure. Rosemary should also not be used during pregnancy. Also using an essential oil undiluted can cause rashes or burns. However they do not always happen when you use them for the first time undiluted. It can take a handful of times and then BAM! You can’t even use that oil anymore undiluted without a reaction. More importantly it does not show that it is more effective when use undiluted. Many oils only need to be smelled to get the desired results! This book below is one of my favorites for learning about essential oils. Plus I also teach a basic aromatherapy class once a year in May during my open house!