September 2014

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Juice Fast

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It’s easy to unconsciously fall into habits and rituals. Three years ago, I was running a wellness program. Providing thorough supervision meant being available during the various classes we offered, some of which I taught. So I decided to participate in all of them, to show the instructors support and to grow the department by building community. After a few months of participating in Tae Kwon Do, Belly Dance, and the water aerobics and swim lessons I taught, I was down to a size six. At 6’2, that’s the smallest size I’ve ever been. Then I broke my foot.

A fall from a back deck onto concrete badly fractured my right heel. I had surgery, I now have a plate and nine screws (permanent unless something goes wrong), and spent a year recuperating. And I started to develop a deeper, more attached relationship with my couch, the television positioned so conveniently in front of it, and the Dorito bags that so wonderfully appear right next to me. Today I’m still striving to get back to the health and ease my feet used to have.

Up until now, this extended recuperation has been only very gradually building momentum, and my relationships with my couch, television, and Doritos have continued to evolve, turning into habit that now needs to be broken. Groan… Willpower is one of the most exhausting muscles to rebuild. Tonight, my habits have done me a favor.

Sitting on my couch, marathoning television, eating Doritos, I watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. The focus is on a man rebooting his health and dropping weight through a sixty day juice fast. I’ve fasted before, but not in a long time, and never for sixty days. Now, I feel, is the time to try.

Of course it’ll mean giving up my other less than healthy habits. Neither coffee nor tobacco makes much sense while maintaining a cleanse, particularly a long one. Wow, that’s scary, coffee and tobacco have been regular habits of mine even longer than the above couch scenario. Coffee won’t be so bad, I don’t drink it every day though I do dearly enjoy espresso. Tobacco though, tobacco will be a challenge.

I’d actually quit smoking two years ago, it’s tough every time. A tragic personal loss, which added to my commitment to the couch scene, created enough stress for me to justify redeveloping the smoking habit I’d conquered. Smokers are often perpetually quitting, and in the past two years I’ve had a few gos at it. None have stuck for longer than a week, but this time I’m feeling confident again.

Now for the first step, a visit to my primary care physician. In the movie I watched tonight, they repeatedly mentioned checking in with your doctor pre fast to ensure that you’re not putting yourself at risk while fasting. Though I’ve never done this before, all of my past fasts occurred on a wing and a prayer, I’ve also never committed to doing one for so long, and for two months of pure fluid nutrition, a doctor’s supervision makes a lot of sense to me.



The difference between Massage and Bodywork

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Generally speaking, the difference between massage and bodywork can be explained as the difference between Western and Eastern practices.

Massage modalities such as Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Myofascial address specific musculature or circulatory systems, working with the body by releasing specific areas of tension. These are the modalities more frequently encountered in a spa setting, and, typically, clients are expected to relax as their soft tissue releases.

Bodywork modalities like Reflexology, Shiatsu, and Reiki treat the body holistically. With bodywork, the expectation is that increased overall wellbeing will prompt individual musculature to release, and will ease and increase circulation as energetic systems clear and restore the body’s ability to heal itself.

Really, both Massage and Bodywork modalities address the same issues, they simply approach it from different perspectives, massage from the micro, and bodywork from the macro. Modalities like the Raindrop Technique are wonderful because they incorporate the best of both (aroma to address rebalancing of the energetic system, and massage techniques utilized on specific musculature).

In the end, choosing the modality best suited to you is completely individual. Often the best way to find out what works for you is to alternate trying new modalities with integrative sessions, where the therapist chooses. Communicating about what works from each can help to quickly develop your ideal treatment plan.

Should Massage Be Painful?

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Massage is a passive workout, so it is very possible to do too much. In any therapeutic session, it is important to mention any pain you might experience. In general, massage should not be painful.

It can be tempting to try to breathe through the pain. And it’s true that deep breathing will help you relax into a more sedated state, assisting in allowing the therapist to work more deeply more quickly. However, keep in mind that it is possible to overstress the body, and bracing any muscle, the way we all do when experiences get too intense, can be counterproductive to the massage.

A 1 to 10 scale can be really helpful in communicating during massage sessions. With a 1 being very little or no intensity, and a 10 representing the most intensity imaginable, describing the ever subjective topic of pressure becomes possible. The therapeutic range tends to top off around a 6, and can be anywhere within that range, from extremely light to incredibly deep, with all layers of intensity at some time needed to help the body heal.

Once you reach a 7 or above, the likelihood that you will feel sore later or the next day begins to grow exponentially. Bracing also tends to happen at this point. Simply clenching your teeth can tighten your jaw, neck, shoulders, back, and on throughout your body as habitual muscle patterns kick into effect.

Over time, the need for communication between therapist and client will often lessen as the therapist learns the client’s average threshold and preferred pressure. But though it lessens, the need to communicate never ceases completely. With an ache or unusual stress, sensitivity may increase, and your generally preferred pressure may not be appropriate for that day. Always feel free and comfortable in letting your therapist know that the pressure needs to be adjusted. We are happiest when providing the most appropriate massage for you.

The Doorway Stretch

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The doorway stretch is a great way to relieve neck and shoulder stress. The best part about it is that there are doorways everywhere, read more →

Three Towels Stretch

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RICE and Heat

With our shared typical postural habits – leaning over a laptop, driving while leaning to one side, carrying things on the same side all the time… Many of us experience some discomfort of the neck or back. One of the largest favors we can do for ourselves is the three towel exercise.

The three towel exercise is a passive stretch requiring a beach towel, a bath towel, a small hand towel or washcloth, and a piece of floor. Roll up each towel and lay flat on your back with the beach towel under your knees, the bath towel under the small of your back, and the hand towel under the curve of your neck.

This is a passive stretch, so if you feel any strain, like you might be pushing your body in any way, adjust the towel causing discomfort. Try laying this way for 10 to 15 minutes a day and you’ll quickly feel the difference.