Sharon Butler was working as a massage therapist and Hellerwork practitioner when she developed carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. Unable to sleep through the night because of the pain and concerned about her livelihood, she built upon her knowledge of connective tissue and developed a series of stretching exercises to gently relieve the tension in her body. After daily stretching in this way, her pain soon subsided. To prove that these exercises weren't just a fluke, Butler intentionally overworked her body to bring back her symptoms. While this may not have been the smartest move, her stretching program again relieved her pain.
The magic behind her powerful exercises is their focus on fascial tissue. Fascia, which is stronger than steel, holds the body together. It wraps around muscle fibers, bones, and tendons. (If you've ever looked at an uncooked piece of chicken and noticed the glistening white layer over the meat, you've seen fascia.) In people who overwork their bodies, the fascia hardens, a natural response to prevent future injury. Unfortunately, this stiffness worsens with repeated insults to the body. Muscles, nerves, and tendons tense up and inflame even more and may even adhere to each other. Metabolic waste products can build up and become trapped instead of being carried away by the lymph system, and even more pressure is placed on the affected body tissues.
Enter Butler's exercises. The book is arranged to let you pick and choose the correct stretches to suit your needs. Too much typing, guitar playing, or gardening? Stiff neck, tingling fingers, sore upper arms, or all three? However you developed your repetitive strain injury and whatever your upper-body symptoms (or if you're smart and you'd like to prevent such problems), there are multiple stretches in Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to suit your needs. The book is arranged to help users develop a personalized stretching program with more than 40 stretches for the upper body, forearms, wrists, fingers, and thumbs to choose from. Butler thoroughly explains the importance of stretching and the correct (and incorrect) way to do it, and the exercises are lucidly illustrated.
After briefly introducing carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries, Butler presents a series of stretches and simple exercises to help relieve pain. Because gentle stretching restores connective tissue to its normal, nonbinding state, these exercises promise to alleviate suffering. Charts detailing recommended stretches for specific problem areas as well as for persons engaged in different activities precede the illustrated (with large line drawings) directions for upper body, forearm, wrist, finger, and thumb exercises. Butler stresses the importance of stretching in a careful, consistent manner. Sue-Ellen Beauregard
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