Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Obviously, nothing is fool proof.  Sometimes people get sick, despite their best efforts.  But there is so much out there that can help and not everything that I list will be right for everyone.  What helps one person stay well, could make another person sick, so always listen to your own body and take advice from others with a grain of salt.

The number one thing to look at is stress.  Because I have seen people who do everything "right" for their immune system, still be down for days to weeks with something nasty.  Running ourselves ragged and stress trump anything else that we can do for ourselves.  And I have also never seen a client with a lot of stress or who runs themselves ragged recover from the stuff they see me for, either.  I can be the high stress type if I don't take care of myself.

The number one thing to do is to find something that helps you unwind and makes you feel your best.  I love working out because I need to burn off a lot of energy in order to not feel anxious.  I am a cross trainer who loves yoga, belly dance, cardio and strength training.  Since I over heat easily, I make sure I load up on healthy electrolytes.  With the cardio and strength training, I get hot enough to need my heat off and the sliding glass door open, even in this winter weather.  When I am sweating, it feels good.  I see it as a way of sneaking in fresh air during a time of the year when we are more cooped up.  This is not a healthy practice for everyone! Some people may get sick doing this.  The reason why I do it, is because I remember my mother telling me as a kid that colds and flus have nothing to do with the weather or what season it is.  She said it's from breathing in the same stale air of being indoors all the time.  I have no idea if this is true or not, but I have noticed that I get sick less often if I bundle up and get in an outdoor walk or hike at least once or twice a week and I don't get seasonal affective disorder (SAD) anymore since doing this.  Everyone has their limits on whether or not this is safe for them.  My limit is at least in the 20's with no wind, but I prefer in the 30's.

I also make sure I get in plenty of veggies and watch the sugar.  I use a lot of lemons and garlic this time of the year as well.  I also stay hydrated since that is one thing that many people will also miss this time of the year.  I like to sweat year round.  Getting in a good sweat year round helps my muscles and joints stay loose even in the cold.  If I don't, I get pain. 

Taking care of ourselves over the holidays is important.  It's just my husband and I, so it's pretty easy for us to not over do it.  Everyone wants their families to have a nice Christmas.  Find the right balance for you and your family that doesn't make it too crazy for you.  My husband and I buy one gift each only for the people we see in person.  We don't buy expensive electronics as gifts.  What's interesting, is when we shop for nieces and nephews, we get them cheap toys and everyone else buys them expensive electronics.  Our gifts are always their favorite and they play with it for hours.

I notice people getting sick more often around the holidays.  They are usually on less sleep and surrounded by alcohol and sweets.  I take my workouts with me on the road.  I have yoga apps and workout apps on my iPad and keep a travel yoga mat in my suitcase. I wake up early enough to get it in before we need to be anywhere.  This makes me feel good and is how I feel my best.  People ask me how I stay disciplined.  When you do it for therapeutic reasons and not getting it in makes you feel lousy, that's motivation enough.  My muscles and joints fall out of alignment easily due to loose ligaments.  Being in a car to go on long road trips doesn't help, but staying fit on the road makes that impact much better. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Do I Also Offer Regular Massage?

This is a question I get asked on occasion by people seeing me for pain relief and/or energy work.  The answer is, no, I don't.  I am not the only massage therapist with a specialty who no longer offers massage.  Like every other profession, in massage therapy, there are specialists, general massage folks and those who like to do both.  Many of us who specialize don't choose our specialties.  Our specialties choose us.  When I graduated, I knew I wanted to take continuing education and do more clinical type work, but beyond that, I had no idea what the modalities and classes would be.  The right classes find me.

My own dissatisfaction with my own pain relief progress is what led me to my path.  I used to be a PTA student.  When I struggled with a pain or weakness, the teachers were quick to offer exercise advice.  Their advice would give temporary relief and then the problem would come back worse than it was before.  When I went to massage school, whenever I would seek the help of a professional massage therapist, once I would tell them about my pain and just how bad it was, most of them were intimidated and acted like they didn't want to work on me.  Those with a lot of extra continuing education in clinical work were more than glad to work with me, but no one else seemed like they wanted to.  When I was studying for the state board exam, I told one of my classmates that we were never paired up in class to work on each other.  I always wanted to because I had heard he was very good.  He told me that was on purpose on his part.  When he heard me mention everything that was wrong with me pain wise, he was scared to touch me.  He was scared of hurting me. That is when I decided that I wanted to look into extensive continuing education as well.  This really inspired me.

Fast forward to the stuff that I am offering now.  It works so well for myself and those that I work with, that I found my love.  I found my niche.  Even when I still did traditional massage, when someone comes to me complaining of pain, I am the direct type who is going to work it out in a clinical way with evaluation.  We learn who and what we are as therapists as we continue to grow.  If someone came to me with five different pain complaints and turned down my treatment recommendations stating that they just wanted a massage, my brain isn't wired that way.  Or if someone tells me about a certain pain or injury, but they see it as a gift and don't want it to go away, my brain isn't wired that way, either.  If someone comes to me complaining of pain, I am going to evaluate it in a clinical way because that IS what my brain is wired to do.

I did have many disappointed people as a result of taking traditional massage off of my schedule.  But keeping it on there would have created even more disappointment.  You see, when clinical pain specialists also offer massage, the people that are seeing them usually do turn down treatment recommendations in favor of massage.  Do you want a massage from someone who would rather do something else?  Do you want a massage from someone who is evaluating you in a clinical sense during the entire massage, even if it is only in their head?  Or keeps reminding you that they know how to correct your leg length difference if you would just let them? Or would you rather have a massage from someone who is completely present with you in your experience?  When you tell a pain clinician that you would rather have a massage, they are not present with you.  They are thinking about all of the stuff they want to evaluate and correct. They are noticing if your hips and spine are misaligned and thinking about what they could do to correct it.  They are also completely confused by someone turning down something that might work better, in favor of something that might only last a couple of days.

Traditional massages also have a lot of extensive continuing education for the therapists that are not into clinical work and evaluations.  If you just want to feel good, but don't want a clinical evaluation, these folks have way more knowledge and training than the clinical folks.  Many of them have a menu of services such as hot stones massage, salt scrubs and numerous other things that I am not familiar with.  These are the therapists that will be present with you during your massage.

It is important to know who is going to touch you ahead of time.  It is also good to know their training and niche market.  My niche market are those who want their pain treated at the root cause.  Do your homework when finding someone to work with and ask them questions.  When I was still in massage school, I wanted someone to work out my shoulder pain, but the person I contacted for it also no longer offered traditional massage.  He was not trained in therapeutic deep tissue work.  His love is Thai massage and Thai massage is all he did.  These are important things to know ahead of time BEFORE scheduling a session.  It is also my opinion that you should always speak directly to the therapist that is going to work on you.  Many places don't have that option and you always talk to the receptionist.  I have worked out of a couple of multiple therapist places, before finding my niche.  This never went well.  I was awkwardly paired up with people who were not on the same page as me.  One was privately owned and one was a massage chain.  Both experiences were a disaster for me.  I only give my business to sole proprietors.  I feel like that gives me a much better experience and a higher level of expertise. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why I Don't Receive Massages

This is an important topic to cover, because many people are confused by this.  Much of the confusion is trying to figure out how to articulate my reasons for not receiving massages without bashing other ways of healing the body.  This is not an "us vs. them" post and is not not a "this works, therefore the other thing doesn't" post.  It is my personal and professional experience.

I used to receive massages and loved them.  My very first professional massage was when I was still a physical therapist assistant student.  The purpose behind wanting the massage, was to relax me into not giving a rip about a final exam I had that day.  Before the massage, I was scared to death.  After the massage, I no longer cared and was relaxed enough to ace the exam.  I got better than I expected.  I was pain free for an entire month.  Wow!!!!  Massage IS medicine.  Who knew?  I certainly had no clue.  Unless you have had one, you wouldn't, either.  So I started going whenever I had the time and money.  Each time I went, the pain relief stayed away for shorter periods of time.  A few years later, I started seeing a massage therapist for postural work.  Same experience.  I was so wowed by the results.  I could actually walk easier again.  Before the postural stuff, I was so sure I was going to end up needing a cane in 5 years tops.  I was serious that I was going to get down to business.  I went as often as was needed to try to maintain results.  I took all of the self care advice given and did it religiously.  When I first started going, once a month was plenty.  Then the problems were coming back more quickly.  I started booking every 2 weeks, with the intention of that being temporary until I got better again.  I never got better!  I kept going every 2 weeks for years.  Toward the end, the issues were coming back within a day or two and worse than ever.  I WAS SCARED!!!!!!  Shortly after that, I took my first neurokinetic therapy class.  When I was getting the postural work done, it was mainly the psoas muscle that got released.  First day in my neurokinetic therapy class, the teacher asked, "Who all here does psoas work?"  I proudly raised my hand.  He said, "We don't do that here anymore".  I instantly thought to myself, "I want to hear what this guy has to say, because if he can fix me, I will love him forever!"  He said that there are certain muscles in the body that are dysfunctional more often than not in most people, primarily the postural muscles with the psoas muscle being one of them.  He said he used to do psoas work all the time prior to learning neurokinetic therapy and his patients were seeing him for the same symptoms every single time and he had to keep releasing the psoas muscle.  When you work on a muscle that is dysfunctional, it shuts it off even more, becoming more dysfunctional with more muscles trying to compensate for that muscle than before.  This explains so much about why my symptoms would come back sooner each time. It also explains why I don't respond well to massage and why my clients were seeing me for the same symptoms every single session.  I was the first guinea pig on the table in that class and the teacher was able to correct what was wrong in 15 minutes. My back was straighter than it had been in years and I was able to balance on one foot at a time immediately after that quick treatment.

When I got home from class, I was determined to find someone else who does neurokinetic therapy.  I drive an hour and a half to Dayton to get it.  It works well enough for me to be worth the drive.  I also have several clients who drive in from out of town to see me for the same reason.  The gal I see in Dayton introduced me to Voila Method of Structural Joint balancing, which I also do a lot of in my practice.  I now get long term results.  The regular treatments now are mostly maintenance/prevention.  Because when you live a repetitive lifestyle, you still need checked out from time to time.  Clients who were not getting long term results with massage were responding very well to neurokinetic therapy and voila method.  I used to do very deep massage.  I had a reputation of going deeper than most therapists and was nicknamed, "Helga".  My practice did a complete change over the years. 

So, getting back to why I don't receive massages.  Whenever I tried receiving traditional soft tissue work in between my neurokinetic therapy/voila sessions, whether it was deep tissue massage, myofascial release, etc., it always brought back pain and dysfunction that I used to have and then the person that I see for neurokinetic therapy and voila would have to fix it.  This doesn't mean one approach or therapist is better than the other.  All of our bodies are different.  Do I believe in massage? No!  Do I believe that it actually works?  Double Nope!  Does that mean that it doesn't work for anybody?  I have no idea since I am just one person.  When I speak to other veteran massage therapists, many of them concur that deep tissue massage doesn't work and that the more gentle the therapy is, the deeper that it works.  Many people assume many veteran massage therapists refusing to do deep tissue work is because it is hard on our bodies.  That is certainly one reason and a very valid one, but the veteran massage therapists who believe in it and still do it will work through the pain if they have any.

I occasionally get people asking for a referral for a deep tissue massage therapist if they think my lighter touch isn't the right fit for someone.  I don't refer anything out that I don't believe in.  If someone wants to find someone on their own, I will support whatever decision they want to make.  If they are seeing me as well, all I care about is that they are moving forward rather than backward.  If I think they are moving backward, I am going to say something to them about it.  I just told a client yesterday that I don't want her getting deep tissue massages while she is seeing me.  The reason why, it because she is seeing me for hip pain and dysfunction.  The glutes are one the first places a deep tissue massage therapist will try to release and we are already struggling with her glutes not firing up and trying to keep them functioning.  Obviously, the two types of treatments would cancel each other out.

There are many massage therapists who do not do massages.  When people make a decision about where they want their practice to go, it is mainly from personal and professional experience about what seems to work well for themselves and clients and what doesn't.  I don't normally like to say there is a wrong way of receiving body work, but, if you do see a massage therapist who does clinical work and massages, they should be the ones to decide what you need.  If you have 5 different pain complaints and turn down their treatment recommendations stating that you just want a massage, that will confuse them.  They may even assume that you are not interested in recovery.  Be very clear with your intentions when reaching out for support so that the person you are reaching out to understands what you are looking for. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Are You Attached to Treatment Outcome or Treatment Method?

This is an important topic to talk about.  The reason why, is because I have noticed a big correlation between what people are looking for and their ability to heal.  Many of us know our own body and know what we need.  For example, if I schedule a session for craniosacral therapy, it's because I know that I need craniosacral therapy.  I also know my body well enough to know that if has been a while since I have had it, that I need to standard protocol instead of the practitioner getting too creative.  The reason why, is because my cranium eventually feels like someone put a helmet on me and strapped it on me way too tight and releasing the cranial bones relieves that.  That is a legitimate reason to communicate that need to your practitioner, since that is very specific stuff that they need to know.

If I am seeing someone for pain relief, I go to people who are skilled in multiple techniques and prefer them to decide what they think I need, based on what I tell them is wrong.  I prefer clinical evaluations, because they give me real long term results.  I don't tell the person that I am seeing which techniques I think I need and I don't tell them which of their techniques that they can't use on me unless I have had a negative response to a certain technique.  Again, if you don't respond well to a technique, this needs to be communicated to the person working on you.

Year ago, I used to be the opposite.  And guess what?  I was not getting the long term results that I was seeking.  No matter how often I got worked on and matter what self care advice that I took, the problems always came right back, and often times, within a day or two.  Yes, I was compliant with self care advice, because I didn't want to spend more time and money on bodywork than I absolutely had to.  There have actually been studies out there that say that people who pay for their treatments out of pocket are more likely to get results vs. insurance covering it, due to being more self care compliant in order to save money. 

Now, other than communicating the important stuff that I mentioned above, I do not tell the people working on me how to do their job.  I get 1000 times better treatment when I don't.  Beyond what I would have thought was possible.  I will give an example:  A couple of years ago, I went and tried a different craniosacral therapist.  She is the creative type who didn't give me the standard, but I knew that her approach was what I would need that particular time and trusted that feeling.  All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!!  She barely touched me the whole session and I got up off of her table feeling like I had a very powerful adjustment.  I ended up needing to take a nap that evening.  You know you have had a good treatment when you need sleep right afterward.  The interesting part of that session, was we never mentioned dry eye symptoms during the assessment, because it wasn't why I was there and it didn't occur to me that craniosacral therapy would apply to that situation.  During the session, she asked me if I have problems why my eyes.  She released the bones that restrict tear flow.  After that one session with her, I was able to gradually use eye drops less and less.  Over the next several months, I eventually weaned myself off of them all together.  I was open to whatever she had to offer and, no, I did not go in there knowing what I needed.   I trusted that she would know what I need.

When I used to work out of somewhere else, prior to getting my own office, I noticed a correlation between what people were willing to let me do and their readiness to heal.  The people who were ready to heal preferred the clinical evaluations and wanted me to decide which treatments methods they needed in order to get there.  The people who were not ready to heal, preferred deep tissue massages.  One thing that I am going to say about deep tissue massages is this:  I have never personally had long term pain relief results from receiving them and clients who saw me for them were seeing me for the same symptoms every single session.  Assessing, rather than guessing, can bring about the best long term results.  Guess what?  Not everybody is ready and that's OK.  For the longest time, I wasn't, either.  One day I just woke up and told my body we weren't playing anymore and the true healing began.  Also, I have noticed a difference in readiness to heal and how attached someone is to their favorite therapist.  I have worked on other therapist's clients who have made real progress with me, but they didn't stick around long.  Why?  Those weekly sessions that they have been accustomed to for years with the other therapist's have become a habit.  They look forward to it like a social gab fest.  This doesn't mean to say that I am better than the other therapist's.  It just means that I genuinely care whether or not I am taking on someone who is ready to heal.  To me, it's not about giving them what they think they want just because it's their money.  THAT is taking advantage of people.  Being willing to see the same clients every single week for several years is my definition of taking advantage of people.  We owe it to our client's to be straight with them.  These are all important things to take into consideration when choosing someone to work with.  Does the person take the time to talk to you over the phone or e-mail, in order to determine whether or not you're a right fit to be working together or do they take anyone with a credit card to swipe or  who can sign a check?  In this day and age of instant gratification, I have heard people say they only book with therapist's who have online scheduling.  Do you book online with someone you have never been to before?  Thank about that!

Friday, December 2, 2016

What I Am Thankful For: My Health!

Thanksgiving was a week ago and I would like to take this time to express what I am thankful for.  I was on a long path for years in regard to finding a long term solution to my own chronic pain.  It's not perfect.  I occasionally have bad days.  But those days are rare.  The amount of self care that I do in between sessions from other professionals, is a a lot.

I start out my day, as soon as I wake up, laying on an inversion board for a half hour while relaxing to meditation music on my ipod.  Because if I don't, my low back is REALLY tight, no matter what workouts, yoga, etc. that I do.  Since my low back tends to compress, this decompresses it.  What an easy, simple and inexpensive way of trying to avoid disk issues, surgeries, etc.  I am so thankful to the other massage therapist, Tony,  who recommended it to me.  Out of all of the self care that I do, this is has been the most beneficial to me.  Because if I don't do it, none of the other professionals that I see are going to be able to help me.

Voila Method of Structural joint balancing is one of the therapies I provide and I am able to do on myself.  So in addition to checking myself out throughout the day, I really Voila the heck out of myself when I am having a bad pain day.  Sometimes I notice pain relief right away and other times it will have a delayed affect and I might notice pain relief the next day.

I workout about 4-5 times a week.  I do a combo of cardio (step aerobics is my favorite), strength training and yoga.  I sneak in gentle yoga on the days of the week that I do strength and cardio, because I get tight enough for traditional pre and post workout stretches to not be enough.  I sometimes do yin yoga on one of my rest days, to stretch fascia.

I have heard some people say they can't workout, due to feeling worse rather than feeling better.  If it weren't for Voila, I would be in the same boat.  I used to be primarily a yoga only person.  Now, I can get back into crushing my workouts.  Some days, I feel awesome and other days I use Voila to fix what I did LOL  I also workout with a fitness coach on occasion.  Having someone else check out my form to make sure I am moving correctly is important.  I also make sure I apply what I learned in Alexander Technique lessons.  When I workout, I have a tendency to clench my jaw and neck, but with what I learned in Alexander Technique lessons, I remember not to do that.  Boy did clenching my jaw and neck really mess me up in the past to the point of feeling like I had a head injury.

I am thankful for these self care tools as well as the wonderful alternative professionals that I see for treatments.  So much less time consuming and less expensive than doctors and hospital bills, even with good insurance.  People ask me how I have the time and money to take care of myself.  My answer is that I can't afford not to.  I know what happens to people when they don't.  When we don't take the time to care for ourselves now, we are forced to later on down the road.  I wake up a minimum of 4 hours before my first client of the day, in order to make time for all of this.  That's why I don't open until 11am. 

I am the most thankful for the continuing education classes that have helped me to find therapies that actually work for me long term.  Craniosacral therapy, neurokinetic therapy, voila method, reiki, tapping.  Because before I learned them, I wasn't getting better long term.  I am extremely thankful that I am now.  I am the most thankful that my issues never got top the point of being medical.  I get a lot of doctor's referrals and the battles those people are facing makes me even more thankful for my own health.  I am also thankful to be able to offer these same therapies to other people who are serious about getting out of pain and staying out of pain.

The biggest lesson that I have learned on my path, is that even though self care is 90% of healing, you can't skip seeing professionals.  I used to be the stubborn type who thought that I could do everything on my own from home and refused to spend any money, so sure that people were trying to rip me off.  Guess what!  I was in agony!  But, I have also learned that no one is capable of "fixing me".  The reason why, is because the self care that I am doing is the only reason the professionals that I am seeing are able to help me. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert? What Does This Have to do With Wellness?

In my opinion, everything.  I am going to share what I have noticed from personal experience and patterns I have noticed in clients.  I have read articles on the internet about extroverts getting more energy from being around people and introverts getting more energy from spending time alone.  There are exceptions and variations, as not everyone fits into one box all of the time.  I read one article that went over the variations.  According to that article, I am the outgoing introvert.  I am not shy, but I prefer most of my time spent alone.  Whether or not I'm a chatty Cathy or the most quiet person in the room, depends on how well I relate to those around me.  I noticed a big difference in my pain levels being at their worst, when I used to try to stuff this down, pretend to be something that I'm not and not express my needs.  Many years later, I am bold with my needs with very little pain.  I have also noticed a correlation in pain levels and ability to express in my clients as well.

The reason I have decided to pick this topic, is because I believe enough other people will be able to relate enough to find this beneficial.  Those who can't relate, might be able to better understand introverts.  The main premise of this blog, is to encourage you to do something for yourself.  Because if you don't, your health will pay the price.  My health is my number one priority.  It is more important to me than my family, friends and clients.  Because without it, I am no help to anyone.  For example, I get my energy from endorphins.  Caffeine either has me too wired or completely crashed, with nothing good in between.  My workout days are on the same days of the week I see clients.  I wake up early enough to do it before work.  On the plus side, I am more present for my clients and they get me at my best.  On the other hand, good luck getting a hold of me while I am getting ready for work.  And clients do often need to get a hold of me in the morning.  My phone is on silent during my workouts because putting myself first makes me a more effective therapist.  Also, as an introvert, my workouts are the time of the day that I look forward to most, because it's my "me time" to myself.  I do not let other obligations interfere and do not skip my workouts to handle a crisis.  The reason why, everyone deserves me at my best.

I am going to give examples on what I do for myself as an introvert, to be at my best.  These are examples and not advice.  Some of the stuff I do is quite bold and may not be right for everyone.  One thing I have discovered about myself over the years, is that I work better with people one on one.  That's why being a physical therapist assistant student did not work out, but being a massage therapist is second nature as if I have been doing it my whole life.  I interact with people better one on one than I do in groups.  This is an important thing to know about yourself when it comes to applying for jobs, in order to not set yourself up for failure.

One thing that I find interesting to observe in our culture, is how introverts get shamed.  Some of them are the most brilliant at their craft, but get turned down on job offers due to "lack of interpersonal communication".  How many of us felt forced into unnatural interactions due to the dreaded mandatory company party.  Just to get a lot of dirty looks over the awkwardness of not knowing what to say.  When I was a music major in college, my instrument is clarinet.  During finals week every year, there was a clarinet studio party.  It was mandatory, in order to pass our private lessons.  Forced interaction on my part led to dirty looks.  They wanted to go around the room and have everyone share their most fun and memorable music school experience.  I struggled so hard to fit in in music school, that I had nothing to share.  I hated school and was trying to stick it out for the degree.  Shaming the introvert with forced interaction is what I would call it. Also, my husband and I both had to have a grueling music education interview in order to get accepted into the music education program.  The only interviewing experience I had at that point in my life, were after school and summer jobs where the whole interview was "when can you start?"  We were both told we lacked interpersonal communication.  What's interesting, is when I switched to a bachelor of arts degree and picked communications as my minor, the heads of the communication department were shocked that I was told that and strongly disagreed.  I think I will listen to the communication experts on that one.  I did not fit in in the music program, therefore I came off and quiet and shy.  I am anything but.  I am very bold and outspoken, but that is a side of me they never saw.  How many introverts can relate to that?

Anyway, I am going to share some stuff that I do for myself to create safe spaces for myself.  I make sure I have at least one day a week where I do not have to be anywhere outside of the house.  If I do not do this, I crash and burn.  When going to my home state to visit family, my husband's father can be rather combative when he has to be right.  When we were younger and broke, we had no choice but to stay with family when we visited.  So I packed my walking shoes and wind breaker outfit and decided if there was a heated discussion, that I was leaving.  I told my mother in law about my plan.  Now that we are in our forties, we stay at a hotel instead of with family.  For the first time, I feel like I can genuinely enjoy the visits and actually miss people when we leave to come home.  I cannot be on social interaction obligation 24/7 and need someplace to stay that is just myself and my husband.  That way I can take care of myself in a way that is not considered rude if I were a guest in someone else's house.  I have yoga apps on my ipad and can wake up to yoga in my hotel room without feeling guilty.  If I were a guest in someone else's home, I would get a dirty look as if I were being rude.  When I return to my hotel room in the evening, I can shut down and read a book, without it being considered antisocial.  I was raised with a lot of guilt and lectures growing up, due to my need to shut down on occasion.  Taking care of my needs first, helps me enjoy my visits.  Before we started staying at hotels, I dreaded every visit and couldn't wait to go home.  That made me a tense person to be around and wasn't fair to anyone else.  This is why I see taking care of ourselves as selfless and not doing so as selfish.  I grew up with a mother who was not able to take care of herself first, due to no fault of her own and being around her was like constantly walking on eggshells.  When we don't put our own needs first, everyone else around us wonders when we're going to blow. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

My Own Pain and Dysfunction Improved Significantly in the Past Few Months and This is Why!

I have always worked out regularly over the years since I used to be quite large and started doing it as a way to stay fit. Up until a few months ago, the most that I was fitting in was maybe 20-30 minutes of yoga before work.  Much better than nothing, but the results were minimal for pain and dysfunction.  I felt great in other areas and it did give me an energy boost, but that's about it.  In June, I started really stepping it up with my workouts.  I have been doing longer and more challenging workouts.   I was inspired  to do this by a video I saw on Facebook.  It was a 69 year old man who has been working out for the past 20 years.  Or he may have started when he was 69 and is now in his 80's.  I was a while ago, so I don't remember for sure.  He was performing amazing feats such as balancing on his arms with his legs off to the side of his body.  After watching that video, I really got to thinking about something.  I hear people say all the time that our culture doesn't respect elderly people and just throws them away when they get sick.  We live in a culture where elderly people who are doing well is a rare thing, to the point that we have an entire population representing pain, illness and disease.  People are scared of that and will continue to be as long as that is the example that is being set for them.  This inspired me to become the best "me" that I can possibly be with no expectations.  That's right!  NO expectations!  No weight loss goals.  No goals about what I should physically be able to do with my body.  Just in the moment doing the best that I can for that day.  And you know what?  It's been an awesome ride!

The fact that I am trained in Voila for structural joint balancing and can do it on myself is the only reason I am able to step up my workouts.  Dysfunction is a real thing that people don't always recognize until it has gotten bad enough to put them on the sidelines.  I still get professional Voila/neurokinetic therapy sessions and see my chiropractor once a month as well.

I now work out an hour or more at a time.  I gradually built up more over time as my body adapted.  When I first stepped up my game, the workouts would make me want to lay down and not workout for a couple of days.  I would take one day off and then do some gentle yoga on the second day, so that I was still allowing my body to open up without overdoing it.  Now, the workouts don't do that to me anymore.  What am I doing for workouts you might ask?  This is in general, so I don't always stick to a strict regimen.  Mondays-30 minutes of strength training followed up with 30 minutes of gentle hatha yoga, to stretch out what I did in the strength training.  Tuesdays are rest days.  Wednesdays is a combination of step aerobics and strength training either with my fitness coach or to a DVD.  Thursdays is belly dance class.  I am now in decent enough shape to consider belly dance class a rest day.  Fridays are usually cardio only- step aerobics without the sculpting.  Saturdays are ashtanga yoga day.  Ashtanga yoga is NOT for beginners.  It is intense!  Sundays are a rest day.  Sometimes, if it's nice enough out for hiking, I will switch some things up a little bit, like power yoga on Friday and hiking with my husband on Saturday.  I also occasionally go to a Monday evening hatha yoga class instead of my usual Monday routine.  Ashtanga yoga is sometimes a live class or to a DVD at home.  I got myself here gradually.  These are what I do and not meant as a recommendation.  Everyone's needs are different.

I do workout with a fitness coach and attend classes at a yoga studio when I am able, in addition to working out at home.  I cannot emphasize the importance of having a professional watch you and correct your form.  That's why I won't do live stream classes.  A collection of DVDs is cheaper in the long run than paying for live stream classes without a professional correcting you.   Those of us who are self motivated can be some of the most stubborn people when it comes to paying money for things like gyms, yoga studios, trainers, etc.  I learned this lesson the hard way over the years and that has a lot of do with the pain and dysfunction that I developed over the years.  DO NOT be stubborn like I was.  I have clients who do it, too.  Just DON'T!!!!!

So what changes have I noticed in myself since stepping things up a notch?  Well, the past two times that I have been to my chiropractor, I had no significant pain to report and just had him decide what I needed based on my posture.  He took one look at my posture and couldn't believe I felt fine.  He has the sky is falling approach in my own opinion, so I take how bad he says something is with a grain of salt.  My fitness coach is also a patient of his, so when I told him how much I had stepped things up, he said that I look more fit and toned.  He also knows that I work out with Jane.  I have also noticed since concert band started back up again, that as long as I keep up with the self Voila and apply what I learned in Alexander Technique lessons, I am also doing much better there as well.  I still started to get a little sore when it was time for my Voila/Neurokinetic Therapy session, but everyone needs checked out by professionals on a regular basis, anyway.  Areas of my body that hold the most fat are feeling hollow and I am losing inches while the weight on the scale continues to go up.  I am gaining muscle for sure.  I actually read a fitness article on Facebook that said your weight is supposed to go up while your inches go down, if you're doing it right.  How do I make time?  By getting up early enough to do it before work.  I am not a caffeine person, so this is what gives me energy to work on clients all day :)

I have no idea what a good solution is for those who don't workout.  Our bodies are meant to move.  When I don't move mine, it complains.  I even have yoga apps on my ipad and a travel yoga mat in my suitcase for when I am traveling.  The reason I am able to stay self motivated is because it keeps me out of pain and I'm an introvert who loves my "me time".  Even if it means waking up early due to meeting other people later, it puts me in a better mood.  I find myself needing less sleep and having more energy as well.  Each time I do a difficult workout, no matter how hard it is, I notice the improvements and what I am able to do, that I couldn't do before.  Another favorite that I like is yin yoga.  Yin Yoga is gentle enough to be done on a rest day.  It's all floor poses that you hold for a few minutes each to stretch fascia.  Doing this once a week helps speed up my muscle recovery time.

Taking care of ourselves doesn't substitute the need for professional help.  But, if you are going to spend a lot of money to get professional help, 90% of the work is done on your own from home in between appointments.  If you don't, then you are wasting your time and your money getting professional help.  Taking care of yourself can mean anything.  I am not just talking about physical exercise. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Is Vanity More Important in Our Culture Than Health?

I have made some interesting observations in my years as a licensed massage therapist. What made me decide to write about this particular topic, is observing people ignoring health advice in favor of looking good, especially when it comes to wanting to lose weight, but it can also happen to those who like pretty shiny things, too. For example, I learned in some continuing education courses that Apple watches and fit bits, or any other device similar, affects pain and dysfunction in the body in a way that is NOT good when I do my clinical assessments. When I Google it on the Internet, there is a ton of evidence to support this. Yet, every single time I have educated people about this, their decision to wear it doesn't change. They still wear it if they already have one, or still make the decision to go out and buy one if they don't. As someone who has always put my own health above everything else in my life, I do not understand this. I have also observed that certain types of workouts help my clients get better, while there are other types of workouts that always seem to make a bad situation even worse. Not one person that I have educated about this has changed the way that they workout.

Another thing that I have observed, is people's values in regard to where their money goes. My husband and I do not own a home. We never have. Many of the people who have told me that I charge too much do. Our vehicles have always been used. When we go away, it's for a weekend and the farthest we go is maybe the next state over. When we do take a week off of work together, we usually stay home. We have never had an actual real "vacation". Many of the people who think I charge too much have. A big chunk of my income goes toward continuing education. Enough of it, to where I am being financially supported by my husband in regard to our personal expenses. I don't get facials, pedicures, manicures or relaxation massages. Many of the people who think I charge too much do. I go to yoga classes when I can. I trade services with a fitness coach when our schedules allow. And my workouts have changed significantly over the years since I actually listen to self care advice that is given to me. I make sure that I have all of the vitamins and supplements that I need. Our grocery bill is high since I cook real whole food from scratch. This is not by choice since my body is intolerant to foods that are in almost everything. Many of my clients that I have advised to see a functional medicine doctor about food intolerances won't go.  This advice comes from their pain and dysfunction always coming back. Wrong foods can do that. I make sure I can afford self care.

The purpose of this post is to get you thinking. Many of you are already aware of what is important to you and what isn't. Others, may not realize the impact of their decisions. I am a big picture kind of a person. I have the gift of seeing what impact my choices will make later on down the road. Others may prefer to live in the moment. In the end, we are all just trying to make a living and are doing the best that we can with what we have. Make sure your decisions are in the best interests of yourself and your family and you will never go wrong.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Is it Muscular or Neurological?

What came first?  The chicken or the egg?  Most of us don't know.  I even have many clients whose doctors aren't sure what is going on with them.  Let me give you a little story about what has me pondering this question.  The massage therapist that I see does a couple of techniques that I am also trained in.  Voila for Structural Joint Balancing and NeuroKinetic Therapy.  I had my session with her today.  She decided to do something different with me today, due to a class she recently took.  I was game for trying something different.  I am usually pleasantly surprised, since everything else she has done on me has been very good.  Today was different.  Many of my old pain and dysfunction patterns started to come back throughout the evening.  Since I am able to do Voila on myself, I was able to fix what I was aware of.  What she did was along the lines of traditional soft tissue work, without evaluating the cause of the tight tissues.  Voila and NeuroKinetic Therapy are evaluation and treatment.  Whenever I get traditional soft tissue work, old pain and dysfunction patterns usually do come back.

So this got me thinking about something.  Why is that?  Why to half of my clients also respond badly to traditional soft tissue work while others see other therapists in addition to me and are doing fine.  Is it because the ones who do well with it have their issues at the muscular and fascial level?  Do those of us who respond badly to it have neurological issues with tight and painful soft tissue as a symptom, rather than a cause.  I don't know!  I don't know if I will ever know.  I think the important lesson here is to always be open to trying something new and different.  This last technique of hers did not work out for me.  But you know what?  Everything else she has done with me has.  When I first started going to her, it was before either one of us was trained in Voila.  I was seeing her for NeuroKinetic Therapy.  I thought NeuroKinetic Therapy was the best, but I also realize that no matter how great of a tool you think you have, there is always something out there that is better.  I keep an open curiosity.  She took the Voila class first.  The fact that I was open to letting her try it on me, instead of being attached to it always being NeuroKinetic Therapy, opened me up to a different technique that often works much better than NeuroKinetic Therapy.  I often combine both Voila and NeuroKinetic Therapy in my client sessions, if that is what my clients respond well to.  If they tell me that one of the techniques works for them and the other one does not, then I adjust the treatment plan accordingly.  This is the beauty of being able to offer different options.  Kind of like a McDonald's drive thru LOL

Always be curious!  Always be open to trying something different, no matter how much you like your current approach.  Not doing so can doom you to not get well.  I was doing other stuff for years, prior to NeuroKinetic Therapy, that was only working for me short term.  And you know what?  I did not realize that it wasn't working at the time.  Because it was the best I had at that time, I also thought it was the best and raved about it.  Keep trying different therapies.  Keep trying different therapists.  And NEVER get so emotionally attached to your favorite therapist, that you would never consider dropping them.  People's needs change.  People move on in a way that can serve them better.  I have worked on clients who are too emotionally attached to their favorite therapist to consider anything different.  Even if you feel great and don't think you need a different approach, do yourself a favor and get out there.

Monday, August 1, 2016

What I do For Self Care!

When massage therapists give self care advice, whether it is how often to come back or what to do in between sessions, I think it is important to understand where the therapist is coming from.  My advice is based on what I have experienced personally as a client, as well as professionally from what I learn from clients and colleagues.

I do a combination of self care on my own at home in addition to seeing professionals.  Only doing one or the other has never worked for me.  This is the combination that gives me long term results and gives me the most bang for my buck.  I see my chiropractor once a month as well as my massage therapist.  My chiropractor does NOT do adjustments.  He looks at brain patterns to make sure you are functioning properly.  He sees traditional chiropractic as a scam that doesn't work.  My massage therapist does NOT do massage on me.  She also looks for brain patterns and structural balance for long term results.  She practices some of the same methods that I offer in my practice.  I have chosen these two as part of my healthcare team because I want, expect and deserve long term relief.  I see each of them once a month, regardless of how I am feeling because maintenance is where it is really at in achieving and maintaining long term results.  I know my body well enough to know that if I wait until something hurts to get it treated, it has been brewing for a long time and takes numerous appointments scheduled close to each other in order to get it better.  This is  very costly!  I drive an hour and a half to Dayton to see my massage therapist.  Picking the right fit is more important to me than convenient location.  Besides, it is convenient when Yellow Springs is your favorite place to hike :)  I make a day out of it.  My priority is getting better.  Many people are not there and it makes observing their choices rather interesting.

Many people want to know why I do not get traditional chiropractic adjustments, relaxation massages, deep tissue massage or myofascial release work AND also why I no longer offer traditional relaxation massage, deep tissue massage or traditional myofascial release work in my practice.  I have never had a traditional chiropractic adjustment.  I am hypermobile (extra loose ligaments) and I am thin boned.  It is the opinion of the medical community that I am contraindicated for an adjustment.  The chiropractor that I see doesn't believe in adjustments because he always sees the problem come back and the person is still seeing them 2-3 times a week for years.  Whenever I have received massage or myofascial release work, the problem would immediately come back and worse.  This can happen with any new therapy that you try, but should not be the case years later, as it was with me.

I have stopped offering massage and myofascial release work done the traditional way because my clients were not responding to the treatments with long term results.  After taking my first neurokinetic therapy class and learning that working directly on muscle and fascia just because it is tight or causing a postural distortion can be a problem, as experiencing that in myself and clients, I felt like myself and my clients had been scammed by the mainstream approach.  My intentions were good and I honestly believed I could get my clients better, but they were not getting any better.  I would see the people I was seeing as often as time and budget allowed in hopes of getting better, but I wasn't getting better.  If you really want my personal and professional opinion about massage, deep tissue massage and myofascial release, I felt like an unintentional fraud and scammer once I took my first neurokinetic therapy class and found out that you have know what is functioning properly and what isn't, in order to achieve long term success.

Why isn't this knowledge more mainstream?  There can be any number of reasons why.  Neurokinetic therapy and Voila for Structural joint balancing haven't been being taught for very long.  Also, there can be emotional blockages for what people are willing to accept as truth.  Most of the other therapists I have shared this information with stare at me blankly and continue to go about their ways.  When I work on clients of other therapist's who have been seeing these other therapist's every single week for years, they are not going to change their chosen integrative health team.  They look forward to it too much like a social gab fest.  If you have been seeing the therapist every single week for years, their therapy is NOT working.  The point of this entire blog post is to get you to understand what is and is NOT normal! Visual assessment tells us nothing!  Many people believe that it does.  Also, not every therapy or therapist is right for 100% of the population.  Is 100% of the population going to respond to Voila and neurokinetic therapy?  Heck no!  That is why it is good to have choices of therapies and integrative health team.

What self care do I do on my own from home?  Ohhhhh, let me see if I can remember it all LOL  Meditation, yoga, step aerobics, strength training, brisk walks, hiking, belly dancing.  I love the combination of intense sweating buckets and more gentle approaches and stuff that is just plain fun.  I am a cross trainer who doesn't believe that picking only one thing and only doing that one thing is healthy.  Plus, I get easily bored :)  I am not a fitness professional and am not passing this info off as advice.  Everyone's bodies and interests are different.  I refer out to fitness professionals for clients who want the referrals. 

What types of other things do I do diet and nutrition wise?  I am not a dietician or nutritionist, so this is NOT meant as medical advice.  This is why I am not going to say which foods I had to give up or where I have bought supplements in the past or where I buy them now.  Everyone's body is different! I refer out to nutrition experts for clients who want the referrals. I found out that many of the issues that I thought were muscular, because my muscles hurt all the time, was leaky gut syndrome.  Cutting out the foods that I am intolerant of has made the biggest difference for me.  It can be a slow process.  As of this writing, I have been doing this for over a year and a half and my body is still changing.  I used to purchase my vitamins and supplements as a very well known vitamin chain.  That is, until I read their "other ingredients" after changing my diet.  I now mail order them through a multi level marketing company whose ingredients that I trust.  I am spending less in supplements in the long run, since my body keeps requiring less and less as it keeps changing from the diet change. 

I will use myself as an example of a recent pain that I had.  My right hip has been bothersome off and on for years.  I took a continuing education course a couple of weekends ago.  I was excited that the course was at a pilates studio that I had taken another class at before.  The reason why, is because the bosu balls normally put me in a perfect posture and alignment that keeps me out of pain while I am sitting on it.   The first day of class, this was not the case.  My right hip hurt me all day to the point that I was miserable.  I kept trying to balance out the structure with Voila, but had not found what was going on right away.  I had woke up that morning to making sure that I got in some quick, gentle yoga.  The style of yoga is good for alignment and I did deep hips stretches, so I was baffled as to why my hip hurt.  When I got back to my hotel room after class the first day, my whole body felt like a hot mess.  I was tight all over with my alignment completely out of whack.  I felt terrible!  When my husband and I went out to dinner that night, I kept assessing myself with Voila while sitting in the booth.  The structures were fine.  I decided to test the 6 deep hip rotator muscles under the glute max in my right hip.  They tested as dysfunctional.  I made the appropriate correction, then made sure my structures were still balanced.  Voila!  My hip not only stopped hurting immediately, but the next day in class was the exact opposite experience.  No pain and my entire body felt completely aligned and invincibly strong as if I had a personal training session.  All just from that one correction.  I was in the car for 3 hours going home and still no issues when I got home.  That area of my hip also tends to be tight when it is dysfunctional.  If someone had done direct deep tissue work or myofascial release on it, the pain consequences for me would have been devastating.  This stuff is for  real!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

What Type of Exercise Helps Maintain Treatment Results?

I am going to tell you right off the bat, that I am not a fitness expert.  Everything that I mention in this post is my personal and professional opinion based on my own workout experience as well as what I have seen in my office and from what I have learned from my colleagues.  I am also going to tell you, that despite how great Voila for structural joint balancing and neurokinetic therapy are for maintaining long term results, my own treatments would not last if I did not have a solid workout plan.

The 2 types of people that I have NOT seen maintain long term treatment results:

1)  Couch potatoes

2)  Those who workout from ego rather than mindfulness

What I mean by the second one, is those who push themselves beyond what is healthy.  Did you know that pushing yourself beyond shaking shuts off muscle function?  That's right!  This leads to chronic pain and dysfunction.  Seeing someone like me is the only thing you can do about it because it does not come back on its own.  Listening to your body about how far to push yourself makes you much less likely to injure yourself!

I am primarily a yoga person myself.  I mix it up and do different styles of yoga.  Yoga is the most perfect system for me.  I feel aligned afterward as well as centered, grounded and calm.  Yoga is not just a bunch of stretching.  There are styles of yoga out there that challenge your strength and will make you sweat buckets.  Some styles are slow and gentle.  Others are fast moving and will challenge your cardiovascular fitness.  In addition to yoga, I belly dance, walk, hike and I do once a week step aerobics/sculpting for the purpose of cross training.  I feel that the step aerobics/sculpting improves my yoga practice.  I like hiking out in nature on a beautiful day.  All of that climbing makes my hips feel in more alignment afterward.  I make it a point to get outside for walks and hikes year round.  I have noticed a rarely get sick since making it a point not to hibernate with indoor only workouts in the wintertime.  I bundle up and still get a good sweat.  And guess what?  No more seasonal affective disorder for me anymore, either.

I have never tried cross fit or boot camp.  Several of my colleagues have told me that the only thing cross fit and boot camp are good for is business for people like us.  It is the opinion of my colleagues that these workouts are an injury waiting to happen.

I purposely stay away from anything high impact such as running , jogging, etc.  It is my personal opinion that high impact exercise has a place NEVER and can cause major joint damage that you don't recover from.

Most of my indoor workouts are to DVDs, but I also like to go to yoga classes at Grow Yoga in Grandview, OH and I also have personal fitness coaching with Jane Stauffer of The New Lifestyle in Hilliard, OH.  Jane and I like doing step aerobics and sculpting together.  I also have some DVDs of stepping and sculpt when I am not working out with Jane.  I also own numerous yoga DVDs.  I also have a couple of yoga apps on my ipad and always keep a travel yoga mat in my suitcase at all times when I am on the road.  Doing yoga first thing when I wake up while traveling gives me energy and focus and my low back and hips don't bother me from the long road trips when I make sure that I get it in.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Is Your Busy Schedule Keeping You in Pain?

I have worked with many people over the years.  If your schedule is so busy, that you never have days off, time for yourself, etc., you will want to pay attention to what I say.  I had someone call me years ago when I was a new therapist, who was referred to me by a friend.  He wanted to see me on a holiday Monday.  I take 3 day holiday weekends off of work.  Not being able to see him on that day meant he wasn't able to get in to see me at all.  The friend who referred him to me told me that he is the type of person who is always incredibly busy.  The thought occurred to me, that it isn't going to matter who the therapist is who works on him or how good they are.  The problem will always come back.  Sorry, folks, but we're not energizer bunnies.  I don't care how much coffee you drink.  If you are struggling with chronic pain and that is the kind of lifestyle you are living, stress is one of the number one reasons for chronic pain in the first place.  It doesn't have to be past emotional trauma.  Present everyday stress alone can do this.  If you are always on the move, then you are always in the state of fight and flight.  I have worked with those who always travel for work, those who care for elderly parents, etc.  Their symptoms don't get any better.  They pick me because my unique approach to chronic pain generally gives more long term results than traditional therapies.  Lifestyle plays a much larger role than any therapy ever can, no matter how fancy the therapy is or who the therapist is.  I have worked with traveling consultants who are on top of it when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.  They do the types of workouts, styles of yoga, etc., that even I can't do.  They can perform amazing feats.  But does it show in their treatments and level of pain that they report?  Nope!  Not at all.  It doesn't have to be bad stress, either.  You can absolutely love everything that you do and still have this happen if you never so much as have a moment to sit and breathe.  This is not a blaming game, nor is it a lecture about changing your lifestyle and habits.  Life happens.  There are things out of our control.  I get it.  I am only pointing out that it is costing you your health.  Only you can decide whether or not it is worth that.  I have seen what people see me for mysteriously vanish when they lose their job.  Even if they had the money to keep seeing me, they didn't need me.  This doesn't mean go out and quit your job tomorrow without a plan.  But you do need to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it, instead of just going through the motions.

When we do things from a place of mindfulness, instead of ego, we are much less likely to hurt ourselves.  Most of the injuries that people see me for are not traumatic injuries that can be easily explained.  It is stuff that just started hurting out of the blue, without an explanation as to where it came from.

We seem to live in a culture that values hard work over sanity and health.  I have done energy work on many people who stated that they were raised to believe that if they are ever idle and relaxing, then they don't have any self worth.  They feel they have to work themselves to death in order to prove themselves worthy.  When did our culture ever become so ignorant?  I always feel the most efficient and get the most work done when I have had plenty of time to relax.  If I don't pencil myself in, I do not get that "me time".

What is it that brings you joy?  When most people are asked this, they don't know.  Music and dancing bring me joy.  I play in a community concert band and belly dance.  I wake up early enough before my first client of the day to do yoga.  I need that quiet solitude when I first get up.  It gets my blood moving so that I have the energy that I need to get through my day.  I have never had a drop of coffee in my entire life.  Find what brings you joy and balance!

Monday, May 9, 2016

How Much of Our Pain is Really Ours?

We talk about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain that is ours until we're blue in the face.  But does that really cover everything?  Not even close!  In addition to offering manual therapies that help people achieve long term results in ways that traditional soft tissue work often fails, the real reason my clients are recovering long term, is because I address the whole person.  I also work within the non physical aspects of chronic pain with reiki, tapping and craniosacral therapy.  We already are aware of having our own issues from the past in regard to stress and trauma.  But did you know that most of the stuff that I help clients heal isn't even theirs to begin with?  That's right!  We can carry stuff from friends, family members and even ancestors that have passed on before we were born.  I read an article on the internet not too long ago about family members of Holocaust survivors carrying trauma from the Holocaust as if they were there themselves.

I met a local lady, Sonia Gracescott, who is an expert on how we carry on stress and trauma of others.  She said that everyone is an empath.  She said we are all on different spectrum on being on empath.  Some people are more sensitive than others.  Do you ever feel happy and joyful, just to walk into a room and immediately feel sad or feel like you could cut the tension with a knife?  Do you have a hard time being in crowds of people without becoming drained or anxious or feel like you are going to panic?  Do you carry the same physical pain as a friend or family member?  Does it seem like no matter how many specialists you see, as soon as someone mentions their own pain, you suddenly have the same pain?  These are all examples of being an empath.

The reason why this is such an important topic, is because can cause major problems from panic, anxiety and chronic pain.  This is a a topic you won't hear about in the chronic pain world.  The reason why, is because it requires an open mind.  Many would consider this topic metaphysical.  I would not have the success rate with clients that I do, if I did not work with them on all aspects, instead of just the physical.

If you are wondering what can be done about it, Sonia has written a very short book with direct and easy exercises that can be applied anytime in any place.  I have read the book and applied the exercises.  It contains the most effective thing that I have applied to date. The book is called, "Everyday Empath" by Sonia Gracescott and it is available on Amazon.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Own Self Healing Path

Many people like to know how therapists got started on their path.  My path got started shortly after I moved to Columbus, Ohio in 2001.  It was a long path to get me where I am at today.  My pain started out as repetitive stress injuries from playing the clarinet in college.  I was a college music major, so rehearsals and private practice time were as intense as studying.  Even after graduating, the pain kept getting worse and spreading throughout different areas of my body.  I knew that I wanted to help others in pain in a natural and holistic way, but didn't know what type of degree to get.  I want to take a moment right now to say, this blog post isn't just about physical healing, but mental and emotional healing as well.

I spent many months researching different degrees online.  I originally was looking at becoming a physical therapist assistant.  I realized too late in to the program that it wasn't what I thought of as the type of therapy that I want to do.  I wanted do be able to offer something unique and effective, outside of mainstream.  As a PTA, I would not have been able to offer that.  When I was in the PTA program, my pain was at its worst.  I was the stubborn type who decided I wasn't paying money to seek professional help.  I couldn't afford it.  Or at least that it what I convinced myself at the time.  I made up my mind that I was going to get better from home on my own.  I bought every stretching book, self massage tool, self trigger point therapy book, you name it.  I was going to do this without paying for professional help.  I had this!  Or so I thought.  The pain kept getting worse :(  Any relief that I did get from my self care only lasted maybe a day or two.  When the problem did come back, it was worse.

The day that I finally spent some money on a professional massage was the day of my muscle anatomy final exam in the PTA program.  I was so nervous about the test.  Another friend said when he had a massage just before an exam, he was too relaxed to be nervous, so I decided to do it.  I originally booked a 20 minute chair massage.  The therapist was running late and made it up to me by giving me a 30 minute table massage for the price of the 20 minute chair massage.  I was in heaven.  I went into the exam without a care in the world and I was pain free for an entire month :)  The reason I had booked it as a 20 minute chair massage, is because that was all I could afford.  Or so I thought.

Fast forward to when I started getting regular sessions with other professionals.  How could I afford it?  Once my views on the value of my wellness and my attitude about money changed, everything else shifted as well.  I started out getting reiki sessions when I was first attuned as a reiki practitioner.  My attitude when I first got attuned was:  Who is stupid enough to pay for one hour of reiki, when you can get attuned and have free self reiki for life?  Well, shortly after I was attuned, I was in for a rude awakening.  With attunements, a lot of past trauma can stir to the surface that needs healing.  I went an entire week after my level 2 attunements determined to do it myself, just to keep feeling worse.  I finally contacted my reiki master.  I ended up having regular sessions with her, while peeling through layer after layer after layer of stuff that I couldn't do on my own.  When I quit my job and go to massage school, I told myself that meant everything had to be fine by then, since I wouldn't be able to afford it.  Things were better by then, but I was still in need of occasional sessions.  And guess what?  I was always able to afford it when I really needed to go.

When massage school started, I was obviously getting worked on for free very regularly.  I told myself I had to be fixed by the time massage school was over, since I couldn't afford to see a professional massage therapist.  The work I had done on me in school was helpful, but to say that I was fixed.  Not at all.  I found out about a professional massage therapist who did very unique work that I was drawn to at the time.  I first started out going once a month.  It wasn't quite enough, so I started going every 2 weeks.  Every time I realized I needed to seek a professional and how often, I was suddenly able to afford it.  How?  I have learned the hard way over the years that the amount of money we have or don't have, is emotional.  When I work with energy workers who specialize in abundance, I notice a big difference.  When we change the way that we see things, the things that we see change (Wayne Dyer quote).

Now, I have lost track of how many wonderful professionals of different holistic healing disciplines have helped me out over the years.  The people that I see the most regularly would rather get worked by me, instead of being paid money.  Once I dropped judgements and conclusions about money, that is when the real healing happened and so many opportunities opened up for me.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When Pain Doesn't Go Away

When pain and dysfunction don't go away, there can be any number of reasons why.  I am going to mention the reasons that I have noticed in my years of experience as a therapist.  One obvious reason, would be if it's a medical problem requiring surgery, change of diet, etc.  I am going to go over some of the reasons that are not as well known:

-Past trauma and stress (I have never been able to help anyone is isn't open to energy work)

-Stating that nothing works (Law of Attraction)

-Only trying out a new specialist due to pressure from a friend or family member, not because you really want to

-Not wanting to give up your favorite therapist you have been seeing for years, to the point of looking forward to it like a social gabfest (If you have been seeing the same therapist every week for years, their treatment isn't working).  Once in a while checkups are a different story and a good idea.

-Thinking you will know after only one session whether or not the treatment works

-Having your mind made up before you try a new treatment, that you are only going once or twice

-Not having follow up sessions within a reasonable time that allows your body to heal (one week apart is best when it's your first session)

-Picking providers based on who accepts insurance (some of the most innovative and most effective styles of pain relief are not covered by insurance)

-Picking the provider based on price alone (being a specialist is extremely expensive due to continuing ed and trips out of state to take the classes.  Specialty classes cost hundreds of dollars more than a typical continuing ed seminar)

-Food sensitivities and food allergies

-Lack of exercise

-Turning down the treatment recommendation of the therapist

-Not wanting to give up favorite foods or favorite workout programs that could be making your pain and dysfunction patterns worse

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What the Voila Method of Structural Joint Balancing has personally done for me!

I learned a new modality less than a year ago called, "The Voila Method of Structural Joint Balancing".  It is a new modality that has been being taught for a year.  It is different from any other modality out there and will challenge everything that we thought we knew about the body, especially the muscles.  As massage therapists, we're taught that muscles and fascia are a cause of so many pain problems.  I have often wondered about the opposite being true.  I have always suspected the muscles and fascia of being a symptom, rather than a cause.  The reason why, is because the problem usually comes back more often than not.  This can be true of any new modality that your body is getting used to, but should not continue to be the case week after week over several months or years.  One example that I will give:  When I was a new therapist and traditional massage was my training and how a treated pain, I did a chair massage on a woman whose muscles felt to me like she either never had a massage before or hadn't had one for months.  When I questioned her about it, she told me that she gets neuromuscular therapy every single week.  Neuromuscular therapy is a combination of trigger point therapy and myofascial release. When she told me that, it took all the self control that I had to keep my jaw from hitting the floor.  When I questioned her about the therapist, the therapist is an excellent veteran therapist with a lot of training and experience.  How in the world can someone who gets therapeutic massage every single week from a very skilled and competent therapist, be that tight?  I pondered this for years, because I still think about that lady to this day.  As well as several other clients who saw me for the same symptoms every single massage.  I experienced the same thing on a personal level.  Every therapist I was seeing had way more education and experience than I did, that's why I went to them.  But the problem ALWAYS came back.  I was compliant with how often I went and with the self care advice that I was given.  NONE OF IT WORKED!!!!!!

The Voila Method of Structural Joint Balancing has nothing to do with muscles or fascia.  It is a simple system with very little for the therapist to memorize.  Voila works with the body's electrical system to correct loss of equilibrium.  The premise of Voila is that structure dictates function.  When the equilibrium is balanced, secondary muscle aches and pains often work themselves out.  It is a very gentle and light touch modality.  Balancing out the structure first, is like straightening out the frame of a car that has been in an accident BEFORE putting in the windshield.  Then, if you still need to work on muscles, you already have the structure balanced first.

I just came back from my second Voila class.  The therapist is able to do Voila on themselves, which is another thing that is unique about this modality.  Since coming back from my class, my chronic hip pain is almost gone.  My neck feels very balanced and loose.  Massage therapists were not able to loosen my neck.  It used to be an impossible hot mess.  My back and alignment feels much more balanced and straight.  I don't get back pain anymore.  Uneven hips, one foot digging deeper into the floor than the other, were two problems that no matter how many people I saw for it, they weren't addressing it and some of them weren't even listening to me, telling me that wasn't the problem.  I knew anything else they did to me would unravel and come back if that wasn't addressed and guess what?  I was right.  Once I learned Voila, my attitude was, "Fine, I'll do it myself"!  So many gentle a subtle ways of working with structures and the results I have been getting with myself and clients.  And with Voila, we use kinesiology muscle testing to ask the body questions.  This means always being listened to.  That's how the assessment works.  It has corrected so many things with me that nothing else would.  I even had a PTA friend do some of the more sophisticated manual therapy techniques on me such as muscle energy techniques and joint mobilizations.  The problem was always back by the next day.  I was compliant with the exercises she gave me and she worked on me every single week.  IT DIDN'T WORK!!!!  Many people are skeptical of Voila.  If you're in pain, you can't afford NOT to being open to something different.  If I were to not try anything I never heard of, I would still be in excruciating pain.

Voila is a very gentle and subtle modality.  It is a light touch modality.  It can easily look like the therapist isn't doing anything, until you feel how different you feel afterward.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What Do the Organs Have To Do With Massage?

We already know that everything in the body is connected.  I am constantly amazed at the new things that I learn on a daily basis.  Some of it I learn in classes, other therapists, clients, and from working on myself.  The organs can absolutely be a cause of chronic pain that can manifest as tight muscle.  If you have chronic pain that won't resolve, no matter what you have tried, this is certainly something to look into.  I will give some examples, using myself as an example:

The first time that I went to my chiropractor, my pain complaints were right shoulder and right hip.  He told me that was my digestive system and that my only homework was to keep a food diary.  I did it to rule it out, not expecting to find anything.  Boy was I in for a big surprise!  When I wrote down what I was eating, I was able to notice instant flare ups after eating certain foods.  Once I figured out what caused my pain and stopped eating the irritating foods, the majority of my pain was gone.  The chiropractor told me that the right hip is where the digestive system starts and the right shoulder is where the gallbladder is.  Before I changed my diet, anything that anyone tried to do for my shoulder pain and hip alignment, was temporary.  As a matter of fact, while I was still ruling out foods, I noticed that what I normally ate for breakfast made my hip pull back out of alignment.  It happened instantly and I could feel it as it was happening.  Other foods made my shoulder hurt so bad, that it burned to the point of excruciating for several hours.

Another example of another organ that affected more than I realized, was my uterus.  Years ago, I was diagnosed with a tipped uterus by a gynecologist.  The ultra sound tech told me it was tipped backward.  I did my research online and learned that being tipped backward can give you a round belly, like the early stage of a pregnancy.  Well, ever since learning Voila Method for structural joint balancing, I decided to assess myself, in regard to the tipped uterus.  As soon as I did the assessment and balanced my head, pressure on my low back and hips that I had for years was gone in an instant.  Now this took some experimenting and more assessing, in order to get it to stick.  For the first few days, it kept coming back.  I knew it by the pressure on my back and hips.  I got the bright idea and check the muscle directly in front of it called the transverse abdominus muscle.  As soon as I assessed that muscle and balanced my head, I immediately felt like someone had put me in a pair of control top underwear and that pressure on my low back and hips hasn't been back since.  Instant relief on my whole lower body from my low back and hips down to my feet.  I am also standing much straighter.  My chiropractor acknowledged noticing a big difference in my posture and the way that I stand.  

Never discredit different sources of pain and never discredit what body work can do to help.  My situation was easy to address since I am healthy.  If the organ is diseased, you need to get that checked by a medical professional first.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Foundation of Your House-Why Structural Joint Balancing is Important

You wouldn't put a new windshield in a car with a banged up frame from an accident, would you?  This is a similar concept to working on muscles and fascia without making sure you joint structures are balanced.  One way this can be addressed is with "Voila for Structural Joint Balancing".  The way that Voila is different from other modalities, is it is very gentle and works directly at the level of your equilibrium and craniosacral pumps, in order to provide the most long term relief possible.  If you picture a totem pole, the equilibrium is the top of the totem pole and the muscles and fascia are on the bottom of the totem pole.  The higher up you work on the totem pole, the more long term results are to last.  Voila also works deeply, on an energetic level and at the level of the nervous system.  Clients have reported getting relief in ways they never thought possible, after years of seeing different medical professionals for several different types of treatments.

The one takeaway from this, is to make sure that you are properly assessed.  Proper assessment should include discussing your health history in detail, in order to be able to come up with a proper treatment plan for you.  Many people are used to going to a massage therapist, going over health history briefly, if at all, and them getting on the table for a massage.  If your goals are long term pain relief, instead of relaxation, you need more time and attention to detail than this.  I was not taught proper assessment or evaluation in massage school.  This all came over time through a series of several continuing education classes.

My assessments entail muscle testing, in order to determine where something is really coming from.  When assessing a hip that wasn't functioning, Voila assessment showed the problem coming from the nose.  Once that was taken care of, the hip was able to move properly and pain gone.  My clients are fully clothed throughout the entire treatment so that they can get into different positions for assessment easily and move around in order to give proper feedback on the effectiveness of the treatment.  Once the joint structures are balanced, then I use neurokinetic therapy muscle testing to work directly on muscle and fascia that may still need attention, after the joint structures are balanced.  Neurokinetic therapy tests whether or not a muscle is functioning properly.  If it isn't, I find the muscle that is compensating for it and massage the compensating muscle, in order to get it properly functioning again.  Again, this is with the purpose of long term results.  I often find foot pain coming from the neck, and massage the neck, in order to get rid of the foot pain.  A foot massage would have only provided short term results at best, if the problem were coming from someplace else.

When seeking out a massage therapist for pain relief, make sure they are well educated on proper assessment.  If all you are doing is getting undressed and getting on the massage table without any assessment, you are receiving a relaxation massage.