Neck and Shoulder Release: A Workshop in Self Myofascial Treatment

Woman holding sore neck, muscle soreness

Do you experience chronic tension or pain in your neck, shoulders, or upper back?

Does no amount of stretching seem to release it?

Does daily work at a computer lead to constantly stiff neck and shoulders?

Ready to take control of your health and well being, and experience greater ease of movement and relief from chronic tension?

In this workshop, you’ll learn and practice releasing common areas of tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper body through self myfoascial treatment.

Using a tennis ball and gentle, sustained pressure, you’ll be guided through simple yet deeply effective exercises to release tension in the body’s connective tissue; allowing for greater range of motion, ease of movement, and relief from tension and pain. We’ll also work with simple feldenkrais exercises, increasing somatic awareness throughout these areas.

This workshop is a small group format, allowing for lots of one-on-one instruction and guidance as you learn to more deeply understand your body’s own signals and needs and move towards greater self care and wellness.

In deepening our ability to sense into the muscles and tissue, we gain a greater ability to self regulate the body’s habitual stress patterns, creating new & healthier habits in our body-minds.

Release, Restore, and Re-set your body and mind for a powerful and transformational year! You’ll leave with a routine to practice at home, empowering you to take control of your body’s well being through regular mindful self care.

Sunday, January 29th, 4:00- 6:00 pm

Silverlake location.


Please bring:

yoga mat (or exercise mat)

water bottle

small hand towel


Please reserve your spot by following the link below. Pre-payment required.

$35 early bird (register by January 22nd)
$40 regular fee (after January 22nd)


For questions or additional info, please email

Holiday Restorative Yoga & Massage

If the holiday season has you stressed… or you simply need a deep re-set and re-charge for the new year- I’d like to invite you to join me and Carrie Janell for a deeply relaxing “Restorative Yoga & Massage” event at Kinship Yoga in Highland Park.

**This event is now sold out. Please join us for the next Restorative Yoga & Massage Night, coming soon!**



Unwind from your holiday preparations and parties with a truly nurturing experience!  We’ll begin with homemade “Golden Lattes,”  an Ayurvedic warming beverage made with coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and honey.


Restorative yoga is a practice of passive poses that utilize props to facilitate deep relaxation. Each pose is held for 5-10 minutes and made even better by gentle massage with a focus on myofascial release.



Give yourself (and a friend) the gift of deep, restorative self care and allow yourself to open and deeply receive the peace and joy of this holiday season!

Sunday, December 18th 6:00- 8:00 pm

Kinship Yoga   5612 N. Figueroa St,  Highland Park

$20 pre-registration
$25 drop-in  (if space is available- please call ahead to check!)

space is limited, pre-registration encouraged
reserve your spot at

Referred pain: the infraspinatus and shoulder pain

My new client came in for a session, reporting shoulder pain, primarily in the front of his deltoid (the muscle at the top of the arm).   The pain had started while lifting weights one day and had not gone away, worsening after time spent working on the computer.

He said he suspected it was a rotator cuff issue. After an intake and discussion of other possible causes, we got to work.

We began with treating the pectoral muscles, which were extremely tight (as is common). We also worked the attaching neck muscles, and deep release of the scalenes brought a bit of release to the shoulder joint.

Next, we went to work on the infraspinatus. The infraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles, and it lies directly on the back of the scapula. A tight, spasming infraspinatus tends to refer pain into the front deltoid, and the front of the shoulder joint (right where the shoulder meets the arm), and I suspected this was the cause of the pain he had complained about.

After releasing the other primary muscles involved, including the supraspinatus, subscapularis, trees minor, and lattisimus dorsi, we moved on to the other large back muscles: mainly, the erector spinae group, which run up and down the back and support the spine; and the quadrates lomborum, which is the large muscle of the low back.

After the session was finished, the client happily reported that the pain was “almost completely gone.” I asked where he still felt pain, and he moved his arm around, noting, “It’s almost hard to find!” He found, however, that there was still a bit of pain in the original spot.

I had him lie on the floor on his back, and I placed a therapy ball (a tennis ball will do) under his scapula, so that his shoulder blade lay right on top of the ball, applying pressure directly to the belly of the infraspinatus. His eyes widened. “That’s exactly the spot!”

His homework, I told him, was using a ball to release that muscle, exactly as we were doing. In many cases, a spasming muscle will refer pain elsewhere.  But, once the “culprit” is found, releasing the problem muscle and preventing further pain becomes much easier.

The rotator cuff muscles are not unique in referring pain in this way, but they do seem to do it frequently. Habits such as long work hours at a computer can cause tightness in the rotator cuff muscles that can often be relieved by pressure with a therapy ball/ tennis ball.   Stretching can be of value with many muscles, but in the case of the infraspinatus, which lies directly on the scapula, direct pressure is needed.

To release this muscle, lie flat on your back and position a tennis ball or therapy ball directly under the shoulder blade.  (This is tricky because it’s a bit of a balancing act).  Sink directly into the ball.  Most people are tight/ sensitive in this muscle, and you should feel it!  If you don’t feel anything, adjust around a bit until you do.  (Be sure to stay on the shoulder blade).  Once you find “the spot,”  sink in as best you can and hold steady pressure for 2-3 minutes.  Following this, come off of the ball carefully, sit up and stretch your arms and shoulders.  If you’ve gotten into the infraspinatus muscle, you will likely feel a bit more range of motion just from doing this exercise.

Questions about this muscle and related pain?  Email me at, or book a session here  if you’d like do some work on releasing the muscles in the shoulder area.

Take care of yourself and your muscles!  They’re working hard for you.

Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica

Many people are unclear about the difference between piriformis syndrome and sciatica:  “which one do I have?”  To answer this, it’s important to break down the terms and understand what we’re referring to.

Sciatica is a term that refers to pain that is caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve.   It is most often felt in the low back and radiating down the back of the leg.

“Radiculopathy” is the term for when the nerve is affected by spinal issues such as disc degeneration, a herniated disc, or a bone spur that compresses the nerve.  So, radiculopathy is a condition that causes sciatic pain.

“Piriformis Syndrome” is a condition in which the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated by a tight piriformis muscle.   Piriformis syndrome is generally very responsive to treatment such as massage therapy or myofascial release.  In some cases, even a single session can greatly relieve pain from piriformis syndrome.

In contrast, sciatica caused by a bone spur or disc degeneration is a more complex issue generally requiring long term treatment.  Always check with your doctor or primary health care provider about what treatment options are best for your condition.

The diagram below shows the piriformis muscle’s location.  Tightness or spasming of this muscle can be caused by activities such as running, driving, or long hours sitting at a desk.

pririformis muscle

Hip stretches such as “pigeon pose” can help relieve a tight piriformis muscle.   You can help prevent piriformis syndrome by performing adequate stretching before and after activities such as running, and by taking breaks to stretch throughout a long work day.

A regular yoga practice is also an excellent step to maintaining healthy hips that function at their best.  For some of the many benefits of a yoga practice, check out this article here:


Rachel Hardy, CMT is a massage therapist specializing in myofascial release and deep tissue massage. She runs a private practice located in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles, CA. For more info, click here.

10 tips for an overloaded nervous system

In my practice, I tend to attract clients who, like myself, are extremely sensitive.  Hypersensitive, perhaps.  Often both physically and emotionally.

I believe this extreme sensitivity is a gift, but it comes wrapped in a challenging package.  It is not easy to manage.

One of the challenges of living with deep sensitivity, particularly in a busy city like Los Angeles, is the propensity to overload.  It is so easy to allow our nervous systems to become overloaded with stimuli.  And when that happens, we tend to shut down (or deal with it in unhealthy ways, such as addictions).

After a recent conversation with a client, I felt compelled to create a list of tools that I use to manage what I experience as “system overload.”

my top ten tips for an overloaded nervous system:

1). Breathe.  It’s deceptively simple, and so powerful.  Breathing deeply and slowly will encourage the parasympathetic nervous system to take over.  The parasympathetic system is the “rest and digest” system.  It’s the opposite of “fight or flight”.  And we can encourage it to turn on by simply deepening and lengthening the breath.

2).  Find your feet.   This was a technique that my energy work teacher taught me, and I use it almost daily.  Bringing your attention to your feet is an instant grounding technique.  Simply bring your awareness into your feet, becoming aware of them and feeling them on the ground, supporting you.

3).  Donna Eden’s energy balancing work:  this deserves a post of its own, but suffice it to say that Donna Eden is one of the most masterful and visionary energy work teachers of our time.  Her pose titled “wayne cook posture” is a seated pose that brings instant calm to the nervous system.  It is practiced as follows:  sit in a chair with the right ankle resting on the left knee.  Place the left hand on the right ankle, and with the right hand reach over and clasp the bottom of the right foot.  (I know, it sounds a bit like twister, but bear with me because it works).  Holding this position breathe steadily in and out.  Repeat on the opposite side.

Photo on 5-14-15 at 10.06 PM

4).  Water.   Epsom salt baths are fantastic for grounding, releasing excess energy, and relaxing the whole system.  If it’s practical to be in or near the ocean, even better.

5).  Protein!   Keep your blood sugar stable with sufficient protein- your body will thank you for it, and your system will respond in healthier ways to stressful stimuli.

6).  Meditation.  An always powerful tool, relaxing the mind and bringing the focus to the breath will center you and help release the excess energy.

7).  Journaling & gratitude lists- I keep notebooks full of them.  Being hypersensitive means being sensitive to positive stimuli as well, and taking 5 minutes to journal about the positive things, people, events, and sensory input in my life has effects for miles.

8).  Be in nature.  Connect to the grass, feel a tree bark beneath your hands, breathe the fresh air, look into the night sky.  remind yourself of your place in the universe.  Let it bring you back home into your body.

9).  Let your senses rest on whatever makes you happy.  colors, music, fabrics, whatever sensory input brings your system moments of joy- find those, and keep a list of them.

10).  And lastly, be present.  Be in the moment, as difficult as it may be.  Know that your sensitivity is overwhelming, and it is also wonderful.  Be present with it. Be alive.