A Guide To Your Muscles

Your muscles are hard at work every time you make a movement. Being able to identify both individual and groups of muscles accurately and understanding how they function is interesting and necessary if learning the art of massage.

Your body contains more than 600 skeletal muscles, enabling a wide range of movement. Each has its own role, although most actions occur through the combined effect of several muscles.

Skeletal muscles can be identified by:

  • Location – such as the intercostal muscles, located between the ribs.
  • Shape – for instance the trapezius is a trapezium, or parallelogram.
  • Size – such as the gluteus maximus and smaller gluteus medius.
  • Direction – for example, rectus abdominus (rectus means ‘straight).
  • Number of heads – if a muscle has more than one origin, or ‘head’, its name includes ‘ceps’, Greek for head.
  • Attachments – some names relate to the muscles’ body attachments.
  • Action – some are named for their effect on joints; for example, flexors bend and extensors straighten joints.

The most familiar muscles in your body are skeletal muscles, also known as striated, or voluntary muscles. They are under conscious control, but can contract in a reflex action, such as the knee jerk reaction. Muscles that contracts to move bone is called striated muscles due to its striped appearance under the microscope.

Each muscle fiber consists of long, thin strands, called myofibrils. These are made up of two kinds of tiny, overlapping protein filaments, which give the myofibril a banded appearance.

Most movable joints can flex (bend) and extend (straighten) like a hinge. Some can move in other directions, depending on the arrangement of bone ends and muscles that act across the joint. Flexion and extension are opposing actions, meaning that the muscles which flex the joint are relaxed when it is extended, while the muscles that extend the joint are relaxed when it is bent.

A muscle contracts when stimulated by a nerve impulse, which causes chemical changes to take place that shorten muscle fibers. Contraction of an opposing muscle, which is triggered by a chemical called acetylcholine, stretches the filaments of the original muscle.

When a muscle contracts it exerts a pulling force (load) on its bony attachments. The type of movement that results depends on the configuration of bones and joints that the muscle crosses.

The ability to rotate the forearm is peculiar to humans and apes. The actions used are pronation (palm facing downwards) and supination (palm facing upwards) and involve contraction of pronator and supinator muscles. The degree of joint movement possible is due to a combination of muscle strength, point mobility and the flexibility of support tissues such as ligaments. You’ll need to know a recipient’s full movement range in order to avoid putting stress on a joint during a massage session.

Muscles groups with opposing actions in the limbs are separated by tough, fibrous sheets of connective tissue call septa. These divisions help to maintain muscle alignment during joint movement. They also restrict available volume for each area of muscle. Therefore, if a muscle becomes swollen through injury or a build-up of lactic acid after exercise, compression may occur, compromising circulation to the muscle and causing pain.

Muscle fibers are bound together by connective tissue and divided into groups by a sheath. The muscle is attached to bone by a tough fibrous band, the muscle tendon. Muscles are generally attached at both ends to bone, either directly or via a tendon. In between is the belly, or fleshy part, which shortens during contraction, pulling on the most movable attachment. In most muscles the bone that moves least is the origin and the one that moves most, the insertion.

In any given task or joint action, muscles can be divided according to their functions:

  • Agonists – also called prime movers, these are responsible for the main effort in a task.
  • Antagonists – these oppose the agonist, relaxing while it contracts. Agonists and their antagonists are located on opposite sides of a joint.
  • Synergists – other muscles that help agonists, either directly, or by stabilizing an intervening joint.
  • Fixators – these are synergists that keep a bone still, or ‘fix’ it, so other muscles can pull against it.

Massage is a valuable tool for improving and maintaining muscle tone, especially if it is used in conjunction with essential oils that have muscle toning properties.

Techniques that are used in massage, such as stroking, rubbing and kneading, work in two ways; first they improve the circulation and ensure that the body’s tissues, including muscles, receive the oxygen and nutrients they need for optimum health; second, they work to break down the waste products that can become locked in the muscles.

The waste removal, in turn, gives the lymphatic system a boost, making the body increasingly efficient at eliminating the waste products that can become trapped within its systems, eventually creating problems that include poor muscle tone and cellulite.

All skeletal muscles tire easily and require periods of rest between contractions. Muscles that are constantly active such as the neck muscles are more prone to injury. Massage can help release this tension and improve the circulation of nutrients to these vital muscles.

Benefits Of The Black Elderberry

The black elderberry which has long been a folk remedy for so many years has many curative properties. These unique berry types go back to prehistorical times in the Stone Age. These berries boost the immune system, thus helping you to fight off colds and flus. They also help heart health, aid in curing sore throats and tonsillitis, bacterial and viral infections. These berries are now being researched once again for the many great health benefits they have.

Elderberries have several natural ingredients within them that make them curative for so many illnesses. This is due to the fact that they contain so many organic pigments such as amono acids, which is an important part of our health. They have Vitamins A, B, and a larger amount of Vitamin C. Vitamin C as I have said many times over the past, really empowers the immune system, which explains what I said at the beginning for elderberries fighting off illnesses. Antivirin is actually a type of protein in elderberries that serves almost as a natural antibiotic.

There were also clinical trials conducted on people that were having various flu-type symptoms in the year of 1992 and 93. People that took the elderberry extract Sambucol showed a marked improvement over those that were only given a placebo.

Other studies that were conducted within that same time period showed improvements in patients with HIV. There was a marked reduction in the viral load from using Sambucol elderberry extract.

I have also read that black elderberry extract has been very effective for helping to prevent H5N1 type of bird flu. The extract not only is effective for that reason, but it also helps to protect your healthy cells more prodcutively.

There are tannins in elderberries along with carotenoids and flavonoids. These compounds contained naturally in elderberries serve as a natural type of a laxative and also a diuretic.

Since the black elderberry has been found to fight off so many free radical types, scientists feel that elderberries help the skin to look younger. This is due to the fact that they protect a person from harmful ultra violet rays from sun.

When you consume elderberries, it is best to mix them in foods. Place them in muffin mixes, or other breads. You can also get creative and put these in a smoothie with vanilla flavored yogurt, or put a few in your wine. You shouldn’t eat them raw. If you do, they can cause effects such as a lot of diarrhea since it tends to have a laxative effect. They can also make you have an upset stomach when eaten raw.

Why Should I Do Cardio?

Cardio or cardiovascular exercise as it is known has a number of benefits for both people who are healthy and those who have various health problems.

Firstly, cardio can help you to lose weight and may also decrease appetite in some people as well as promoting an increase in lean body tissues and a reduction in body fat. However as cardio burns calories this will allow for extra calories that are eaten.

Cardio can also help to strengthen bones and joints which will help in reducing the risk of getting osteoporosis, while also helping to slow down the progression of the disease when recommended by a doctor.

Cardio is also known to decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, as the increased blood flow that happens when exercising helps to assist the body in getting rid of toxins that helps to make you feel better.

Cardio is also used to help those who have had a heart attack or who are at a high risk of coronary heart disease. This is because cardio can help to reduce blood pressure, help people quit smoking as people find at they get an incentive to quit smoking after they start a cardio exercise routine. Cardio also helps to increase the levels of good cholesterol.

Cardio exercises also provides the foundation for starting other exercise routines, meaning that you can build upon your cardio routine with other exercises such as weight training.

Remember Why You Started This Journey

If you’re like most people, you’ve started (and quit) a weight loss program more times than you care to remember. From New Year exercise resolutions to getting in shape for summer diets, we’ve all started a weight loss plan before only to fall off the wagon. Even if you have given up, now is the time to start again. It doesn’t matter how many times you start over. The important thing is that you try again.

The only people who truly fail are those who quit trying. Each new day brings with it the opportunity to succeed. Recognizing what causes our failure is one way to improve our odds of success the next time.

One of the reasons people fail when it comes to their health and fitness goals is that they have unrealistic expectations. We see the ads on television, and hear on the radio, how we can lose a certain number of pounds in 14 days. We are programmed by our society to expect quick results with hardly any effort. When we don’t get the results we’ve been promised, we feel like we have failed and give up on the whole system.

But good health is a continual process. It is not something we should expect to achieve in two weeks or even two months. There will never come a day when you can say that you have now reached your goal of good health and then expect to move on without ever having to work at your health again.

Every day, you are either getting better or getting worse. If you are doing nothing to improve your health and fitness levels, then you are getting worse. There’s no such thing as staying the same. There is no fountain of youth that will stop the hands of time for our bodies. The key then is to get on a program that you can live with. Find an exercise regimen that you can incorporate into your daily life and stick with it.

We should stop thinking of diets and exercise programs as quick fixes or temporary measures that we take to lose a few pounds. We should approach fitness as a lifetime commitment. Exercise is something we need for better health, and the added benefit is that over time the pounds we want to lose will come off.

Another reason why people fail at their weight loss resolutions is they don’t have good enough support systems. We all occasionally need someone to come alongside us and offer words of encouragement and support.

If you have a regular routine of walking in the mall, take a minute to get to know the people who are doing the same. If faces at the gym start to become familiar, learn their names and plan to work out at the same time. If you have somebody who is counting on you to be there, you will be less likely to find excuses to miss your workout.

When I was in the seventh grade, my best friend and I were the only seventh graders to have lunch period with the eighth grade classes. We didn’t know anyone in the lunchroom except each other. Neither of us missed a single day of school that year because we were counting on each other to be there. Find someone you can count on to be there to help you reach your daily fitness goals.

And remember, if you do fail, don’t look at it as final. Failure is your chance to learn, make changes, and try again the next day.

Manipulating Your Metabolism

Don’t let a sluggish metabolism keep you from achieving your weight loss goals! Your metabolism can slow for several reasons – lack of activity, because of different medications, because of your dietary habits, or simply because of your age! Here are a few tips I have found to help me in my weight lose conquest. I hope they can do the same for you.

Get your “beauty rest”. Getting enough sleep at night is crucial to your health. Our bodies require at least 7 hours of sleep at night to function properly. If you get enough sleep, you will provide your body with the energy needed to follow the rest of these steps!

Make sure you drink lots and lots of water. It is a necessity for your body to run and function properly. Since our bodies are made up of mostly water, drinking water everyday can help keep you hydrated. If you stay hydrated your digestive system will work more efficiently and help to increase your metabolism!

Do as mom has always said and “eat your fruits and veggies”. Raw fruit and vegetables require much more energy to digest, therefore they will naturally speed up your metabolism. Not to mention they add vitamins and minerals to your diet that your body may be lacking.

There is speculation that eating spicy foods will help to speed your metabolism because it causes you to sweat. You can try adding peppers or curry spices to different things and see what works best for you.

Let go of your weaknesses. Some foods hurt your metabolism rather than help it! The worst (and my biggest weakness) is sugary sodas. Try to eliminate or reduce your soda intake, as well as any processed foods! They only hinder your metabolism and the goal here is to speed it up and maintain a healthy weight!

If you don’t already do it, start weight training. Adding muscle will speed up how fast your body burns calories. It’s known that muscle burns more than fat. Not to mention the benefit of the energy boost from working out regularly.

Don’t forget that several types of medication can have an effect on your metabolism. If you have been eating healthy and working out and are still having trouble with losing weight or have no increased energy, see your doctor. There could be certain types of side effects from a prescription medicine you’re taking. Or your metabolism could also be impacted by thyroid problem. If you have any doubts, be sure to talk to your doctor about the different possibilities.

Low-Carb Meal Solutions For Diabetics

Cooking a low-carb meal for someone with Type II diabetes can be challenging. A basic rule is to reduce or eliminate white food. No pasta. No potatoes. No white bread. No rice. Here are some tasty and filling alternatives found in grocery and health food stores.

Portabella mushrooms are great in Italian dishes. For pizza, use for the base instead of pizza dough to make individual servings. Add toppings and bake just as you would bake a pizza. Or, lay out all the toppings, each person can make their own to taste. Pick the mushrooms that have the best bowl shape from the open bin rather than buying a packaged set. For lasagna, cut mushrooms in half and use in layers instead of pasta.

Speaking of Italian recipes, try eggplant parmesan instead of lasagna. The recipe at Eggplant Recipescan be used with a few substitutions. Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Use crumbled pork rinds instead of bread crumbs to provide a flavorful crunch.

Substitute yams for any potato recipe such as baked, french fries, shepard’s pie, and potato salad. For Christmas dinner, mix cut up, cooked yams with low sugar apple pie filling and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes to make a sweet potato casserole. According to the American Diabetes Association, yams are low glycemic food, meaning that they raise blood glucose levels more slowly than foods such as potatoes.

Keep low-carb bread and low-carb flat bread around. For the holidays, skip the boxed stuffing. Make your favorite home-made stuffing recipe with plenty of vegetables and dried low-carb bread. For brunch or breakfast make french toast. Use for toast and sandwiches in everyday meals. Try health food grocery stores for better tasting low-carb breads. Low-carb flat bread has good flavor and texture, and makes delicious wraps or grilled cheese sandwiches. It can be hard to find, look in the big box stores. You can find low-carb tortillas but in my opinion the low-carb flatbread tastes better.

Love Chinese take out food? Skip the rice. Buy the pints of your favorite dishes and serve over a can of Chinese vegetables.

What are the trade offs in cost and time? Portabella mushrooms cost more than lasagna pasta, low-carb breads cost more than regular loaves. Low-carb tortillas cost more than normal tortillas or bread. Preparation and cooking time are similar to traditional recipes.

You can make tasty and nutritious meals for carb-challenged friends and family with a little ingenuity. They will appreciate your efforts.

Primary Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

There are a number of ailments that women are actually at risk for developing without actually realizing it. For example, breast cancer risk factors for women are much more significant than they come to realize in many situations. Of all the types of cancer that you can get, breast cancer happens to be the most common type of cancer that women experience. Breast cancer is second to lung cancer when it comes to the leading cause for deaths in women.

Experts say that the fear of breast cancer is occasionally exaggerated and that this can prevent women from visiting their doctors in search of screening, and it may push some women into making irrational decisions regarding mastectomy when it may not be the right option to pursue. There are a lot of treatment options that are available for breast cancer, so having breast cancer isn’t a death sentence, and there are options out there for the women that have it. It is urged for women to become educated about these issues and to keep their emotions in perspective.

The breast cancer risk factors that can affect women according to the American Cancer Society can include:

  • Increasing in age,
  • Genes, as nearly 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancer has been linked to mutations found in certain genes, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are the most common examples,
  • Family history of experiencing the disease,
  • Personal history of experiencing the disease,
  • Race, as white women seem to have a slightly larger risk of having breast cancer in comparison to women of African American descent, and yet African American women tend to have a higher chance of dying as a result of this disease,
  • Earlier breast radiation,
  • Earlier abnormal breast biopsy,
  • Menstruation before the age of 12, or menopause after the age of 55 years,
  • Not having had children,
  • Using certain medications, including diethylstilbestrol (DES),
  • Drinking too much alcohol,
  • Consuming a poor diet,
  • Long term obesity

The president for the American Cancer Society has recommended exercising, controlling your weight, giving up smoking, and most importantly, talking to your physician regarding your own personal level of risk and the appropriate screening options for breast cancer. It is also recommended that you keep these risk factors completely in perspective. You need to weigh your options and your risk factors, rather than assuming that you are immune to the problem or automatically likely to struggle with it. Talk to your doctor to find out what risk factors apply to you to determine whether or not you are actually at risk of developing this disease.

Heart Disease Considerations For Women

There are a number of ailments that women are actually at risk for developing without actually realizing it. For example, heart disease risk factors for women are much more significant than for men in many situations.

Heart disease actually happens to be the leading killer both for men and women. In women, however, this condition happens to be responsible for as many as 29 percent of all deaths according to the CDC. The disease itself is not the largest problem faced by women that are suffering from heart disease. The real problem comes from premature disability and death. Dying at the age of 60 is far too young in our country, and yet there are far too many of women that are dying at this age because of heart disease. There are women that are really ill because they are suffering from heart disease because they can’t get around like they used to.

More men may die from heart disease than women, but women tend not to be diagnosed in time which is why it is important to understand the heart disease risk factors that women face just as commonly as men. We need to start thinking about more than just symptoms – We need to start thinking about what is actually putting us at risk.

The heart disease risk factors that can affect women according to the American Heart Association can include:

  • An increase in your age,
  • Heredity, including your race – People that have a family history of this disease can be at a greater risk of developing it. African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians may also be at risk of developing this disease.
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Little or no physical activity,
  • Obesity or issues with weight,
  • Diabetes

The burden that is created by heart disease in women can be very great. The earlier that folks begin to adapt healthier practices and behaviors, the lower that their overall risk will be for stroke and heart disease outcomes.

It has been determined that women are fully capable of reducing their risk of developing heart disease, and all that it takes is modifying lifestyle choices in order to increase overall health. These modified lifestyle changes should include adopting a well balanced and nutritional diet and exercise to maintain overall good health and wellness. These are the first steps to increasing heart health and warding off the risks of developing heart disease.

Reducing Your Risk Of Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 25.8 million children and adults live with diabetes. This is over eight percent of the population and this figure grows every year. The reasons for the high level of diabetes are many, but this highly avoidable condition has only been exacerbated through our collective poor eating and living habits.

We don’t really understand what causes diabetes, but we do know that we have to eat better. Millions of Americans, according to the same study, live with diabetes and don’t even know it. About seven million people live with it are undiagnosed and another 79 million are in the early stages, also known as pre-diabetes, that can be prevented through simple changes – changes that won’t likely happen due to our lack of understanding of the condition and our lifestyles.

Americans, on a whole, live a very sedentary lifestyle and rarely get the kind of food or exercise that their body needs.This type of lifestyle often results in individuals developing diabetes. People don’t realize that through simple dietary changes, you can do a great deal to reverse or reduce the impact of diabetes.

We love to snack, and far too often turn to the vending machine to get something tasty. Vending machine foods are a terrible choice because most of the options are high in sugar and saturated fats that only worsen the situation. Instead, if you want an afternoon snack, bring nuts to work with you. Almonds, in particular, do a great deal to protect the body against Type 2 diabetes. When eaten on a regular basis, in conjunction with a well-rounded intake of foods, nuts give the body the nutrients and the good fats it needs while also lowering your risk for getting diabetes.

Our understanding of fat and what it means is quite poor. The body actually requires fat, but it needs the right kinds. Milk is another food that is a great source of these healthy fats, and it is also rich in calcium and vitamin D which your body also needs. All of these components help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. If you’re a Vegan or prefer soy-milk, you can get the same vitamins and minerals through fortified options that include calcium and vitamin D.

People should be eating brown rice, because it is, after all, one of the staples of a good diet. White rice is a bad choice because it’s more quickly converted to sugar when it gets inside our bodies and can contribute to dramatic spikes in blood sugar. Brown rice is far better for you, and goes a long way towards giving the body the essential nutrients it need to stay healthy.

Sometimes all it takes are simple changes to our diet and having a good glucose monitoring system. People can live with diabetes and have a very fulfilling life, and if steps are taken to improve diet and exercise habits, you won’t have to worry about developing the condition in the first place. Do some research if you’re concerned about developing this condition or if someone you love is at risk. All it takes is making more informed decision. As far as diabetes is concerned, ignorance isn’t an option.

When You Should Consider Getting A Mammogram

Because breast cancer is so prevalent these days, it is vitally important that you get a mammogram often, which generally means once every one to two years once you are old enough to start having sex. It is vitally important that you begin to take care of your health now, and one of the ways that you can achieve this is to know when to get a mammogram for the best possible health.

Do you know if you are at risk for developing breast cancer?Unfortunately, simply being female and aging is going to put you at risk of developing breast cancer and this is why it is so vitally important that you get a mammogram regularly. The older that you are, the greater your chances will be for you to develop breast cancer in your lifetime. There are also other risk factors that need to be considered as well. If someone in your immediate family has had breast cancer for example, then you are going to be at a much greater risk of developing it your own self.

The real key to knowing whether or not you need to get a mammogram is actually knowing and understanding what a mammogram is and what it can do for you. Breast cancer is unfortunately the leading type of cancer when it comes to women. There are many people that unfortunately are completely unaware of the fact that they have breast cancer and so they do not get the help that they need until it is too late for them to do anything to stop the spread of the cancer, and at this point it can be a silent killer.

Before you know when to get a mammogram, you have to have an understanding of what a mammogram is and what it is all about:

A mammogram is a X-ray picture of your breast. Along with a standard breast exam, a mammogram that is administered by your physician or your nurse can find instances of breast cancer even during earlier stages when they can be treated in the most effective way possible. When you decide to get a mammogram, you are not getting cancer or causing cancer but you are giving yourself a real fighting chance to ward off breast cancer before it is ever allowed to become a problem in your life or to cause problems with your health.

When you get a mammogram, you are just going through a really simple test. There is a technician that takes the picture, and they place your breast in between two panels, and they are X-ray panels that push your breast in between them so that a good picture can be taken. The test may be a little bit uncomfortable and first but it is something you will not have to worry about because the test is quick and painless.