Get Active– Prevent Injuries & Pain

 Why does musculoskeletal pain seem so widespread and common nowadays?  I have seen a heavier stream of clients presenting with, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, neck, shoulder, and low back pain, and they’re not all caused by trauma. Perhaps it’s because we’re not as active as we used to be.

 As our home and work environments have become more and more automated, we’re not spending as much of our free time engaged in physical activity, and research indicates that decreased activity may lead to muscular imbalance/ dysfunction and, ultimately injury.

Advanced Recreation Protocol

Advanced Recreation Protocol

The National Center for Chronic disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports, from decades of research, its major findings:

·         Usually inactive people can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis.

·         Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits.

·         Greater health benefits can be achieved by increasing the amount (duration, frequency, or intensity) of physical activity.

·         Daily physical activity reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illness and death in the USA, and improves health in the following ways:

Nowadays, most of us agree that physical activity helps to build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, controls weight, and promotes psychological well-being, reduces feelings of depression and anxiety, the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer.

 Muscle Balance and Injury Prevention: Most soft tissue pain and musculoskeletal dysfunctions of the neck, shoulders, and upper & lower back, hips, knees, and feet are caused by muscle imbalance.

Cervical Myofascial Release

Cervical Myofascial Release

 Our major muscle groups work in pairs, and for normal pain-free flexible operation need to be balanced in terms of strength and flexibility. For example, our biceps muscle bends our elbow and brings our forearm up toward our body during contraction in a biceps curl. The triceps muscle works in opposition to the biceps, and lengthens during the curl to allow the elbow to bend fully.

The biceps which are normally used more often, overpowers the opposing weaker triceps on clients who do not regularly strengthen the triceps with resistance training. Our corrective protocol to achieve muscle balance around the joint is to stretch the shortened biceps and strengthen the weaker triceps muscle. Another common example of muscle imbalance that causes problems is the pectoralis major muscle (chest) overpowering the rhomboids (back).

Decompressing a Hammer Toe

Decompressing a Hammer Toe

 Many of my clients, who now understand the dire consequences of muscle imbalance,  which usually result in a weakened structure leading to injury,  schedule regular sessions , and consider it an essential component of their health and wellness plan.

After resolving their pain and muscle imbalance, I occasionally refer them to a knowledgeable personal trainer, experienced in musculoskeletal corrective exercise, who will address potential muscle imbalances.

Holistic Stress Relief

 Webster’s Dictionary says holistic is concerned with complete systems rather than with individual parts. Holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body—psychologically, physically, and socially. Holistic therapists have the highest regard for their clients and treat tension from stress, as well as structural musculoskeletal dysfunctions to achieve a positive outcome within the scope of their practice. A holistic therapeutic bodyworker also realizes that there are limitations in what can be done for their clients, and doesn’t believe that their type of bodywork is the only possible solution.  

Stretching the Forearm Flexors

Stretching the Forearm Flexors

No therapist can do everything for everyone. Clients, who do not achieve noticeable relief from their symptoms within one or two sessions, might be wise to try something else—perhaps another soft tissue treatment modality, energy work, chiropractic or acupuncture. 

Three reasons why I trained and became experienced in several healing and stress-reduction modalities for relieving and eliminating soft tissue pain:

To be a holistic therapist, capable of effectively treating a wide variety of clients and soft tissue maladies & structural dysfunctions.

To help my clients become symptom free as quickly as possible.

It was my calling to relieve and eliminate soft tissue pain and tension from stress as a therapeutic bodyworker.

Gentle Cervical Stretch

Gentle Cervical Stretch

Tension from stress is the common denominator for many of my clients. In some, chronic tension from stress was a major contributor to their eventual structural collapse and painful symptoms. Others, who lived with chronic pain for months and sometimes even years, experienced tension from stress as a by-product.

Effects of Stress Overload: An overreaction to everyday stress overloads our brains with powerful stress hormones—cortisone along with adrenaline is released into our bloodstream by the adrenal glands during times of physical and emotional stress. Their cumulative effect damages and kills brain cells. In addition, other disturbing effects from sustained levels of adrenaline and cortisol include suppression of the immune system, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, gastric ulcers, and infections.

 Holistically Boost Your Condition to Stress: The good news is that we can counteract the detrimental effects of stress by practicing a wide variety of relaxation therapy techniques including: exercise, meditation, prayer, guided imagery, biofeedback, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, qigong, therapeutic massage & bodywork, acupuncture, and chiropractic. These techniques focus on returning our body/mind to the relaxation response, a calmer mind and a more relaxed body, by relieving muscle tension, slowing heartbeat, and lowering blood pressure.   

Gently relaxing frontalis muscle in forehead

Relaxing Forehead Sweep

Home Self-Care:   Suggestions for follow-up self-care at home include a simple pressure point technique that addresses specific relaxation points in the head, neck, shoulders, hands, and feet. Easy to understand illustrated instructions, from Acupressure’s Potent Points by Michael Reed Gach, will help you maintain the benefits long after your therapeutic massage session.

Six Principles of Bodywork

In the forward to Job’s Body by Deane Juhan, Dr. Ken Dychtwald articulates six principles of bodywork. His perspective confirms my professional work experiences and observations during the past 17 years of practicing therapeutic bodywork, and especially confirms how powerful and transformational bodywork can be. His words express why I am still so excited about my work.    IMG_0052

 Lengthening Pectoralis Major

  • There is no sensation or emotion that is not translated into a muscular response of some kind: These feeling states are the primary bases of our habitual postures and our individual patterns of behavior.
  • Various ancient and contemporary forms of bodywork go far beyond temporary pleasure or relief and actually alter conditioned responses, chemical balances, and structural relationships. Bodywork has the potential to deeply change and improve the given state of an individual.
  • Bodywork, by using tactile input, can actually re-educate and re-program the organism into becoming more coordinated, more flexible and more appropriately responsive–literally more intelligent. A body-mind system that is integrated in this fashion will be more able to resist depression or disease, and to attend to and repair itself in times of stress or injury.
  • Skillful therapeutic bodywork does alter the structure, the chemistry, the feelings and the behavior of a human being, and relieves discomfort, dysfunction, and anxiety.
  • Nothing is more essential to lasting positive change than self-awareness; it is the prerequisite for self-control. Bodywork is a direct and effective way to increase this awareness within an individual, releasing tension, freeing energy, and enhancing health through hands-on bodywork.
  • The most mysterious and powerful of all human interactions–touch.  
    on site chair massage by Ken Youngberg

    Releasing Upper Trapezius


A bodyworker’s skilled touch produces physiological changes having structural effects and systemic effects which alters the structure, the chemistry, and the feelings of a client, and those affecting our cellular and our circulatory systems. Current evidence and research support how these changes enhance athletic performance, prevent injury, reduce risk of muscle strain, and improve healing and range of motion.    

Myofascial Spreading the Retinaculum

Myofascial Spreading the Retinaculum


Organizing Energy Flow and Healing

Whenever we experience a traumatic event or difficulty requiring change such as death of a loved one, a major health challenge, separation, divorce, or unemployment, it’s normal for us to be overtaken with fearful negativity that affects our lives, and the flow of life force energy through our bodies.

It’s difficult to surrender promptly to the reality of a bad situation, feeling powerless and unable to move forward, physically and mentally. We become rigid from resistance and tension from the stress, and our life energy flow is greatly reduced, or stuck.

I experienced it in spades fifteen years ago when my oldest son became a paraplegic as a result of a spinal cord injury. It was difficult and painful for me to accept the reality of his major life changing event. After the accident I couldn’t sleep through the night. My mind was swamped with fearful negative thoughts, imagining the accident over and over, and thinking how it would affect him and his family’s future.

Establishing a clearer, stronger force field

Establishing a clearer, stronger force field

Three weeks after his accident, I attended one of my final Zero Balancing (ZB) classes before certification. After receiving a ZB session that first day of our weekend training, I was amazed by the positive results of my energy being re-organized by a single half-hour  session. My mind was cleared of the negative chatter, my mental & emotional wounds were healed, replaced with a hopeful attitude, and I slept soundly again through the whole night.

Eckert Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, says, Bodywork and certain forms of physical therapy can be helpful in restoring this flow [energy]. For example, when treating a stubborn case of frozen shoulder with structural bodywork and achieving only 150 of 180 degrees of full range of motion,  I impart a clearer stronger flow of life energy through the client’s body with Zero Balancing, a powerful healing system to address, what seems to me, a deeper energetic holding pattern, to achieve full range of motion.

Painless frozen shoulder treatment with compression and traction

Painless frozen shoulder treatment with compression and traction

ZB is a gentle hands on body-mind system of therapy that releases stress and tensions within the body and the mind, relieves symptoms caused by energetic or structural imbalance, encourages integration and stabilization, and can neutralize our fearful negativity, and mental / physical tension from stress.

 

Palliative or Clinical Massage?

.Palliative care is a specialized type of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients, keeping them comfortable by temporarily relieving symptoms, and stress of serious illness. Unlike hospice, palliative medicine is appropriate for patients in all disease stages, including those undergoing treatment for curable illnesses and those living with chronic diseases, as well as patients who are nearing the end of life.

 Most traditional massage therapists provide palliative care which is comforting even to a client suffering with chronic pain, but because they focus only on the symptoms and not on the cause of the pain, the results are usually temporary.

C1 - C2 Mobilization

Gentle Cervical Traction

 Massage Therapy is traditionally defined as the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, applying soothing strokes for relaxation, including gliding, kneading, friction pressure, tapping, and vibrating. Swedish massage sometimes referred to as traditional or Western massage has historically formed the basis for massage in the United States.

 When I started my business I made the decision to treat acute and chronic soft tissue pain instead of offering palliative or relaxation type massage, and subsequently started learning bodyworking modalities designed specifically for relieving and eliminating pain and body dysfunctions caused by energetic and structural imbalance. My first clients were auto accident personal injury cases referred by chiropractors, and with most of them I was able to alleviate their symptoms, delivering positive outcomes by correcting fundamental structural dysfunctions and muscle imbalances.

Stretching Distal Hamstrings

Stretching Distal Hamstrings

 It has been an ongoing challenge to define my results oriented type of clinical massage & bodywork services, and to articulate how my treatment differs from traditional massage therapy, because we do provide many of the same benefits—relaxation, heightened awareness and vitality, reduced tension from stress, and feelings of well-being, etc.

 Bodywork, which has only recently [1995] come to mean anything other than auto repair, is more encompassing, including both traditional massage as well as other approaches to working with the body, such as modalities that I utilize: Orthopedic Massage, Structural Energetic Therapy®, Myofascial Release, Soft Tissue Release, Trigger Point Myotherapy, and Zero Balancing®.

 My primary interest, when working with a client to relieve or eliminate soft tissue pain, is to evaluate, and correct the cause of the problem—dysfunctional structural and functional imbalances, instead of just temporarily alleviating the symptoms with palliative care.