It is mid-February and our commitment to our New Year’s Resolutions are either still in full swing, or we’ve let them slide to some degree (hopefully, the former). How many of us stick to the new workout routine past March? Why do we stop? Perhaps the resolution was made up out of frustration? Perhaps the goal was too unrealistic – not remotely achievable or too far out of our range?
It is important to set up goals that we know we can achieve. Especially if we are setting goals with our kids. We have to be the role models who don’t quit. We push through to teach them how to be responsible and committed. But, what if “the IF” happens; the unexpected event that threatens our mode of resolution?
I had that moment of utter shock when something in my left middle finger popped and the tip of the distal phalange joint fell forward, unabling me to straighten it. As someone who works with my hands, an accident like this is more than shocking. The injury was a ruptured extensor tendon. The diagnosis: Mallet Finger.
I had to apologize to all my clients I couldn’t treat right then. I must have the splint on for good 6-8 weeks and hope, once I take it off, I will be able to keep the tip straight. How could this happen? I didn’t play any baseball (or any sport, at all). I didn’t fall on the ice. My finger simply got stuck under my belt. That was it!
My commitment to keep working, keep treating my clients and running friends who are training for March Madness or/and Boston fell apart. My goal was not extreme but, as they say, “$#!% happens”. The lesson? Don’t put one’s finger under one’s belt. Better than that: Don’t wear belts. I was just told it is not fashionable anymore. I am learning how to work with fewer fingers.
My horizon is opening up and I am pursuing something new and valuable, namely pediatric education through MISA- USA’s Massage in Schools Program. For those who don’t know me, I truly believe in the value of positive, nurturing touch from a child’s early years and onward. What better place to start than in school? Through educating parents and teachers, we can create a new generation of healthy, connected, and compassionate people.
Does everything happen for a reason? I don’t like to say it, but here I am – making the best out of not-so-good situation.
If I may give advice: Set your goals, and don’t let setbacks deter you. Keep at them. Show your kids you are not giving up easily, but “play” with caution and adapt when necessary.
Furry little friends are proven to be helpful in calming anxiety. Not just for ADHD/ADD kids but for anyone. The benefits of stroking, and being nuzzled by, a furry animal can be significant.
I had a first-hand experience with my middle child, my “little spinner”, who was quiet for 4 hours when we picked up our new family member. She sat in the back seat, rubbing the back of our little 7 week-old puppy. I was looking in the rear-view mirror over and over, wondering if she was healthy, tired, or unhappy. Previously, it was nearly impossible for her to fall asleep without help. Here she was, absolutely content, petting her new best friend. It didn’t stop when the novelty of having a dog ran out. The spinning turned into walking many times a day, in the cold or/and rain, playing, feeding, and offering help.
Would I recommend a dog or cat or any furry animal to your kid with ADHD? Yes, absolutely! Could I guarantee that you would experience such a great change? No, of course not. Nothing comes with guarantees. But our Ruby is truly helpful.
Other Proven Anxiety Relievers, Alone or In Combination
I have been asked numerous times why I run. I didn’t know how to answer until recently. Running is like re-living a lifetime’s emotional experiences in mile-to-mile increments; a microcosm of life. Long-distance running requires stamina, as does life. It allows one to things through; to examine life’s frustrations, threats, and concerns, but also to consider achievements and states of happiness and satisfaction.
Starting with “Don’t over-think, just go!”
If I thought about why I should hit the road I would never leave the house. That is the moment when you just put the shoes on and go. Just go! The Nike’s Logo – JUST DO IT – is right on the nose.
The same as in life. Should I bother with doing a task? Is it really worth it? Should I leave it for another day perhaps? I fear that nothing would get done.
The same goes for “don’t give up“! This is a hard one. How many times do we not feel like pushing through anymore? Things feel too hard and/or pointless and these moments of struggle present quite a challenge. When we feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel or when we can’t see results, curling up in a blanket with a book seems a much better option then dealing with a struggle and/or disappointment. That is the time when my jaw is clenched and we just need to push through. Through tears, sweat, obscenities, we must heed the Nike call and,…well, you know it. In the end, a warm shower washes away what remains of one’s troubles and we are left refreshed.
People who suffer moderate to severe depression would laugh at my previous paragraph. To make it clear – I am referring to a struggle that is possible to conquer with a good run and a good push and a good mantra and not a depression where medication is required to help with chemical imbalances and the like. That is not my area of expertise so, sorry, I cannot be more helpful here.
Though I’m by no means a master, running helps me to set my mind on finishing, no matter what; on not allowing bad thoughts stop me from a bad result or from accomplishing my goal. The mind is constantly monitoring the body’s condition, but it can also give false signals. How do we know when we are really in distress, or when we just don’t feel up to the challenge that day? When do we wisely decide to stop and when are we to push through? Well, I guess it comes to knowing yourself, and even then it is not easy to recognize. Experience leads to wisdom and, ultimately, you become your own Master.
My recent Marathon was an experiment if I can sustain positive thoughts for the whole 26.2 without walking. If I could do it on a challenging run, I could do it in life. In theory, anyone who sets their minds on a goal has the capacity.
I do talk about the challenge with my kids. I tell them my stories, thoughts, and struggles and I hope I influence them positively. For my Spinner, experiences with our new fur-ball and runs are an amazing help. Not just for burning off the abundance of energy, but also to learn the value of commitment.
With all the children, we start with a one-mile run, going slowly and focusing on one thought. After the challenge, I ask them if they were able to sustain just the one thought during the course of the mile. More than likely, they cannot. More than likely they are going to be all over the place with their thoughts but, always, one thing gets done – they finish the run! There is something to be celebrated. Next time, we do another mile but stick to the planned-out thought. Through practice, the thought is retained and challenges are added accordingly.
Sometimes one step back can push us 2 steps forward. We just need to keep going. JUST KEEP GOING, JUST KEEP GOING. Your kid will, most likely, come home hungry and sweaty – conditions which are easily remedied. In the end, our little mission is accomplished and, invariably, we have a calmer, healthy, happier, and more-resolute child. The extra energy spent on running was helpful and the fresh air is an added bonus.
Running and snuggling our puppy is working for me and my Spinner. Another child may benefit from another sport/activity but, in truth, all that is required is the guidance of a positive coach/parent, so long as we never give up, we keep pushing, and we Just Do It!
Dear runners of The Chicago Marathon,
I’m soooooo jealous! I want to run it with my friends. I want to be as ready as they are for this special race (well, special race TO ME).
Chicago is a great city, with beautiful panoramic views, and an amazing blend of classic and modern architecture and the race itself is a pleasure for the senses. What I’ve always loved most when I did run this race is the PEOPLE. The spectators made the race easier, more fun and, inevitably, would make me run faster.
My friends put in the miles necessary to achieve that 26.2. (Oh, that “point 2”!) I have to say, I never heard any complaints from them. I have not heard tales of their struggles. I didn’t see them breaking down, crying and complaining. I admire them. They are committed, they are fast, and still able to PR (Personal Record). Some of them have, or will, qualify for Boston (my dream or, rather, in my dreams!). All their hard work will pay off. Once they finish the race, once they cross the finish line with their bodies in spasm, they will have the biggest smile on their faces. They might feel the happy tears running down their cheeks. They get their medal and proudly wear it, until they get home and hang in amongst the other ones. That feeling of accomplishment is what we work so hard for. Even while writing I am feeling that joy; Their joy.
This is where my part comes in. To see and feel their sore muscles, bruised toes, that tightness all over – this is were I get the pleasure to help them feel the release of their tight spots. I’m forever amazed how a human body can run that far. Well, only humans. No other animal could keep up for that distance and at that pace.
Draw a cold bath and sink into it. This would always be the first time I would hear everyone complaining. Don’t walk in the bath tub with your feet first. It would turn you off. It would freeze your feet and all you’d think of is escaping the torture. Slide down into the water, butt-first. Stay for a little bit. Until the feel of stinging pain goes away. After, walk slowly with bare feet. Feel the rug or carpet. Put on compression socks for a faster recovery.
Get a foam roller and just lie on it. Place it down on the floor, vertically along your spine. Rest your head and lower back on it, and open up your arms to the sides to stretch the chest. Wait for a few minutes. (Now you can be slow. Now you don’t have to be timed. Just feel and enjoy). Move the foam roller horizontally and, again, lie on it with your mid back, arms behind your head. Lift your butt up off the floor, tighten up your abdominal muscles, and gently roll yourself up and down. Feel your spine getting longer. Don’t worry about the litle “crack” sounds – just nice and slow and gentle.
If you are able to go on your knees and do the classic Cat/Cow Pose, do so. And follow with a 30-second Child’s Pose. Relax and breathe through it. After this easy routine, put ice on the areas that hurt. Have a good, nutritious meal (ie. miso soup) and sleep.
Next, visit me and we will go from there. This is where the healing process starts. Stretches, slower and steady. Static stretches, not the dynamic ones as before the race. Now we take our sweet time to recover from the inevitable micro-injuries.
You runners have trained and performed hard. Now, you are coming off of the “runner’s high” and may suffer from POSTRUN DEPRESSION. Don’t fall into it. Just glide slowly through it with a smile. Through it, not into it; stay above it. Don’t dive deep and hide. Acknowledge this part as the training of your soul. Walking/limping into a mental recovery routine with soreness is disconcerting, but try to enjoy this part, too.
A healthy recovery with proper muscle therapy prepares our athletes for another journey; another plan for the next race, be it a marathon, a 5K, or a 100m sprint. All are hard-won accomplishments and your chances of future improvement depend as much on the care you take post-race as that which you take pre-race. If you are able to effectively recover and avoid injury, you’ll most certainly be able to move on towards your next labor of love.
Spinning in circles
My middle child is smart, funny and always active. She speaks 100 miles an hour and she can get really frustrated. Her thoughts are going faster and she tries to get it out, but her mouth can’t go that fast. She starts to spin and spin and spin, moving the whole body and the story keeps coming out better. (She thinks, at least!) Everything is moving fast for us and the story is getting muffled by all the movement.
All the movement is making me sick, I feel like I am on a rollercoaster. My head starts to spin, I feel my adrenaline rising. I want her to stop and for her to just say that damn story. But I can’t. I have to ground myself to support this spinning girl and her stories.
When I couldn’t handle it anymore, I took a comb and told her I wanted to try something.
This is where it all started.
My spinning girl stopped, sat down and let me comb her arm. Very lightly, gently, almost not touching – a feather-like touch.
We pick a part of her body – forearms, shoulders, neck, back. I spend about three minutes on each. Well, on the back she wants me to stay forever. She doesn’t want a strong massage, she needs the “feather” stimulation.
This is the funny part. A kid who is not suffering from hyperactivity would think this type of touch is tickling and would be feeling wired up. In this case, this touch is “combing” (calming?).
Devote 5 minutes a day to massage. Put it on a calendar! (Children with hyperactivity like structure and routine.)
Make them choose the comb. ( It belongs to them only )
Start with the forearms. a) It’s easy to roll up the sleeve, and it isn’t the most vulnerable area. b) Your child has to get used to this form of touch if it is new to him/her. c) Keep asking how it feels! Keep asking about the pressure – harder, lighter, faster, slower… Kids are amazing in expressing themselves what they like.
Stick with it for 5 minutes, unless your kid really loves it. Then offer more.
Make a plan for the next time. I would suggest to start with forearms and then add a shoulder and the whole arm. Slow, longer strokes. To calm a child – go from top down.
Once your child gets used to this type of massage and you see the benefit, the sessions could be longer. 10 min plus.
Offering a stronger touch, with a lotion, would be the following step.
Every child is different. Every child likes different type of touch. If there are no other conditions, this really helped my kid. Every massage should come from a good place in your heart and mood. Never do it if you are angry. Massage – touch is a sacred sense. It connects you to your child. You will develop deeper understanding of their feelings. Connection on a deeper energy level can be amazing for not just the moment but for your future together.
Never force it on your child. If you see that light feather touch is making your child uncomfortable, STOP! I am just offering what helps us.
“Run, run, run!” That’s what we hear from laughing and screaming kids. It sounds so sweet when children are having fun with a “Tickler”. Is it really fun though? Is it something that we, as parents, should watch/pay attention to more?
In my years of experience as a massage therapist, roughly 80% of my clients have said to me: Oh, don’t touch here or there, I am really ticklish. Or they might say: When I was a kid I was tickled really hard.
Let’s examine the tickling mechanism —
Kids are running around and screaming. They get caught and, while being tickled, they are being touched, roughly, and in vulnerable areas like the abdomen and under the arms. It’s not always just a light touch; it can be rough for a little body and it may be reapplied over and over and faster and longer.
What do their little bodies do?
Their little diaphragms get so contracted that, often, the children are unable to talk and, thus, express themselves clearly. They tighten up their muscles to the level that they can’t even feel the rough touch. With their muscles in spasm, it’s conceivable that patterns of muscle contraction are born. Even though we hear them laughing, at first, it is pain which they are feeling.
Usually the “tickle monster” doesn’t stop the tickling process because he sees the little ones laughing. But if the reaction would be a cry, he wouldn’t continue. Naturally, we stop when we hear or see the kids in pain. Unfortunately the reaction to rough tickling is a laugh – almost like hysteria. Tough tickling works on muscle fibers, stimulating the nervous system and a natural response is to protect and tighten.
I am not against light touch tickling. While feather-like touch can produce calmness, it is a useful tools in treating kids with ADHD. (I’ll be discussing this at a later time.) However, a strong tickle that makes people laugh is actually stimulating the part of the brain called the hypothalamus which is responsible for the fight or flight mechanism. Perhaps laughter induced by a harsh tickling is a self-defense mechanism and, in the past, it was an acknowledgment of defeat from a perpetrator.
You might be asking: Why do kids start to laugh and run when we just pretend to tickle them?
Tickling stimulate the unmyelinated nerve fibers that cause pain, which causes kids to contract their muscles. The body remembers this sensation and prepares itself as a protective/defense mechanism, and unconscious muscle memory forms.
So now, as an adult, when I’m trying to work around your extremely tight back, the reaction is involuntary muscle contraction. In order to counter the muscle memory and achieve the results your body needs, I approach the area slowly and firmly, and just hold the muscles. It often takes many more treatments until my work no longer triggers the undesired sensory response. Ultimately, we are able to get rid of the tickle-induced anxiety and the residual tightness of the muscle. It takes time, but when it’s done, clients are free of pain which was a result of “damaged” contracted muscles and which was negatively affecting other connective tissues and causing imbalances.
Rules with Children
- Tickle lightly with attention to the child’s reaction
- Avoid harsh/rough/fast touch for a prolonged period of time. If someone else is doing this to your child, tell him to ask the kid if it is okay or, if too young, make them stop.
- Respect the child’s “NOs” and “STOPs”.
In following these rules, we may avoid future issues such as sensitivity to touch, insecurities, and a potential inability to be sexually-open in relationships. In addition, simply ackowledging their requests reinforces that their words count and their desires are respected.
I remember when I was a child, I ran to my grandma with my shirt up asking for a back rub. I could sit on her lap for hours….
I remember when my mom was crawling on her knees because her back was hurting so badly that she couldn’t stand up. I massaged her until the knot went away. I was always amazed by how that could help her to get up from the floor.
I remember getting really sick because I massaged her feet when she was feeling ill. Did I somehow take the illness upon me? Not sure.
Clearly, touch was part of my life since I was a little girl.
I grew up in Slovakia. I loved sports, tennis, basketball (I was way too short to be good), and running. Running stuck with me until today. Somehow I didn’t go into professional sports, but into the performing arts as I studied at The Slovak Conservatory for Music And Drama. I absolutely loved theater and singing. I was enchanted by the smell of the stage or a recording studio when I was able to do voice-overs for films in SlovakTV. It was my life, and my passion. But, I finished school and I wanted more. Something was “calling” me.
I wanted to learn how to speak English and to move to the U.S.
English is my second language so please give me a pass. Let me make mistakes without being judged. Let me use some swear words (because it’s fun!).
This blog is for me to share my passion and years of working as a Licensed Massage Therapist. I have learned a lot along the way and I keep learning and exploring. I love figuring out the unique puzzle that is each human body.
I’m still amazed how much my work/touch can change people’s lives and by how important it is, whether you are young or old, happy or sad, healthy, sick or sore. There are so many ways to help but so impresses me is what a little light touch can do for a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Or the value of hands-on caring for kids who can’t sleep, concentrate, kids who hurt from growing pains, kids who experience anger problems and tantrums. Running is a big part of my life so I will be posting my new ideas, helpful thoughts other runners out there.
The focus of this blog will be on the benefits of touch, stretching and purposeful breathing on a child’s behavior and executive functioning.
I will try my best to help parents to learn simple methods of touch in order to create a calming effect in children who need it most (and the parents who need it, as well!)
Oh, don’t forget, English is my second language, NO JUDGING.
Welcome to my blog.