As a physical therapist, my career is to help people discover what needs to be done to heal. There are however several concepts I use over and over that can be taught in a preventative way and administered independently. Every person possesses and is made of healing energy. Therefore, every person has the ability to heal themselves to some degree. A skilled therapist should always encourage and teach the patient how to maintain therapeutic gains. This blog was inspired by two books I am reading: Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett and Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani. The important thing about self-healing is that you have to practice it every day. I’m a bit of a hypocrite in saying this but at least try MOST of the time…I’ve noticed a difference with this approach and am striving to make it an everyday occurrence. Below I’ve outlined several techniques I use to self-heal:
Physical Therapist are skilled practitioners who utilize joint mobilization to regain functional, pain free mobility. In the absence of severe impairments, a healthy person may be able to administer joint mobility techniques to prevent injury and to make athletic gains.
Foam Rolling: I think the most universal piece of equipment for mobility and pain reduction is the foam roll. You can pretty much hit it all with the roller. Smaller, pin pointed areas are a bit more difficult to target. The most important thing to remember about foam rolling is to concentrate on a specific area for a bit. You don’t want to roll your entire spine or body at once. Pick a segment no more than 6 inches or so, and hang out until the tissue releases (this may take up 2 minutes or more–for me, it’s AT LEAST 40 seconds but may vary by person). There are about a million things and ways to roll. I’d search the internet and find some you feel are right for you.
**Rolling can be very uncomfortable, it’s important to breath, relax, and find your happy place. I promise, you will feel so much better once the tissue releases.
Lacrosse Ball and Shiatsu: Rolling on the lacrosse ball allows a targeted release. I use the ball if I’m trying to release trigger points around the shoulder blades, mobilize a rib or specific spinal segment, and mobilize the shoulder. If you can’t fathom the idea of being active anymore in one day, I recommend a shiatsu massage pillow that allows you to be more passive in the mobilization. I use my shiatsu pillow about once a week to release tension in my neck and shoulders.
Yoga (Yin Yoga): Many, if not all, of the mobilization positions are adapted from traditional yoga poses. You may not be able to fully get into each pose but simply do what your body will allow. Modifications such as props, pillows, and foot stools can be used so that you can hang out for a while to reach the release we are looking for. YouTube has great beginner Yin yoga videos that I’ve used effectively. Pick the video that suits your body.
Self-Mobilization: Some of you may be totally turned off by anything CrossFit related but I’M TELLING YOU Dr. Starrett is a physical therapist who has developed a series of joint mobilizations that REALLY WORK and can be done outside of the clinic. They are grounded in the same principles PTs all over the world use. Like I said, a healthy person can safely perform these to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and improve athletic performance.
Flossing, Cross Friction, and Scar Massage: When muscles are tethered down due to scaring, or tightness associated with habitual postures, trigger points, and chronic inflammation it is important to restore the natural glide between our skin, fascia, and muscles. Nothing is meant to be stuck together. Voodoo flossing, cross friction massage, and scar massage all target the restoration of soft tissue gliding. The principles are pretty simple and you can google these techniques to learn more. Anyone with a significant scar should definitely make sure that thing is moving adequately.
Energy Healing: The power and ability to heal ultimately lies within us. Negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions can quickly manifest to disease. Being disconnected from your God self and tethered to your earth self creates a path toward destruction. Worldly things are destructible but heavenly are eternal. We have the ability to harness the eternal and utilize high vibrational energy to evoke healing and ease. Anita Moorjani in her book describes a near death experience that illuminated her life and life purpose. Love and knowing that we are all connected residing in God’s presence is key. By truly believing this alone can raise your vibration and decrease disease. Anita does not describe specific techniques but encourages living life fearlessly.
I truly believe positive thinking can change illness. I did not say cure but change it. Again, there are many, many ways to improve your thinking without a near death experience. Mediation and prayer are a great start, realizing that no matter what state you are in, you have the ability to help and create positive change in people…you are so valuable to this universe! Chakra balancing, Reiki, Kundalini yoga, and other energy healing practices exist and may aide you in discovering your higher self and purpose.