Our Personal Wellness Program

As the booming wellness industry rapidly expands, we are constantly flooded with information and a myriad of choices for living a healthy active lifestyle; it can be confusing and difficult to decide what is best for us. Hopefully, with the help of several fitness professionals, we investigate and try different types of activities, finally make a decision, and possibly make some adjustments along the way until we feel comfortable with a program that fits our needs.

Angie Thompson Fitness Trainer

A Conditioned Body

The process is similar when choosing a massage therapist & bodyworker. You should try several because therapists are individuals, and our work tends to be eclectic—not cast from a single mold. Even those of us who have been trained identically, with the same amount of experience, add our own intuitive style and personality to our craft. The only sure way to determine how our work differs and which is best for you, is to experience sessions with several therapists.

When a therapist maintains presence during a session, when their mind is clear and devoid of thoughts, it makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of his or her touch—how the client perceives it, and the outcome. Because all clients are also individuals, they perceive and respond to the work differently.

Plantar fascia being lengthened from the heel to the toes

Lengthening the plantar fascia with a gentle sustained stretch

Massage & bodywork is still one of the most underrated types of health care on the market today. Its proven effectiveness for a variety of maladies is still unknown to many. Evidence based research of massage therapy is still in its infancy, but more and more is being done to not only document its effectiveness, but also to explain physiologically why it works so well. Insurance companies are also gradually discovering that it is cost effective too.

Combining therapeutic bodywork with chiropractic, physical therapy, or acupuncture can be synergistic, but it can also be confusing for the client to determine which modality is the most helpful. What works well for one person and a particular problem may not be effective for the next. Even clients presenting with identical symptoms, and treated identically by two different therapists may not produce the same results.

Hip Joint Capsule Mobilization

Hip Joint Capsule Mobilization

When a prospective new client, who is currently seeing another practitioner—massage therapist, chiropractor, physical therapist, or acupuncturist, calls me for an appointment, I suggest they continue with their therapist or doctor and not schedule with me until they have completed their present treatment. This helps them clearly determine which modality is most effective. It is also possible to overload our bodies with bodywork.

Designing an effective wellness program combined with exercise, healthy eating habits, and therapeutic massage and bodywork is best done with the assistance of experienced professionals who understand that it’s a personal program, and needs to be tailored to your specific needs in order to be successful in the long run.

Start Living an Active Pain-Free Life

Nowadays, most people would agree that exercising regularly, eating a balanced nutritious diet, and receiving massage & bodywork regularly, would be good for our health.

Start Exercising: The hardest thing about starting anything, especially exercise, is getting through the first painful 2-3 weeks where every workout is a grueling chore we would rather not do, when it’s easy to rationalize—think of all the reasons for not doing it, and quite.

Unfortunately, the fitness wannabes too often quit before their workouts become joyful and worthwhile experiences not to be missed. They fail to realize the often dramatic results of their work that would have, more than likely, motivated them to continue.    Managing Low Back PainBuilding Strong Abdominals

Start Eating Right: I don’t advise my clients on nutrition because it’s beyond the scope of my practice, and It can be confusing to choose the healthiest diet because there are so many competing ideas about nutrition. It also seems every individual case would require evaluation and subsequent suggestions from a professional for the best results.

If I were overweight and had a problem losing it, I wouldn’t hesitate hiring a professional nutritionist and personal trainer, knowledgeable and experienced in safe weight loss.

Start Receiving Bodywork Regularly: I’ve changed my thinking over the years regarding receiving bodywork on a regular basis. I usually see my clients on an average of 1-4 sessions, and only periodically—whenever they have a soft tissue problem.     on site chair massage by Ken Youngberg    Tami Photos Dec 08047

I previously didn’t encourage them to keep coming in regularly once their pain or body dysfunction was resolved because I wasn’t convinced of the need for the additional treatment. It seemed like overkill. Then I started noticing several of my clients who had been coming in regularly for years and realized that we were treating their muscle imbalances before they got to the point of causing trouble. Besides the obvious physical benefits, the subsequent relaxation was good for their psyche as well

As difficult as it is to start a new course of healthy living, the effort to eliminate pain from your life is well worth it. Pain increases stress, interferes with sleep, tends to reduce appetites and adequate nutritional intake, can raise heart rate and blood pressure, inhibits the immune system, delays healing, and is a primary contributor to depression. From Novartis, Monthly Best Practices In Resident-Centered Care.

 

A Powerful Health-Care Regimen

Most folks I know are willing to invest a few hours a week exercising to improve their health, maintain a positive attitude, and live an active fulfilling life. Research has shown the benefits of therapeutic massage and bodywork for relieving and eliminating soft tissue pain, body dysfunctions, and tension from stress. There are many other advantages of receiving bodywork regularly, in addition to exercising frequently, that is truly a wise investment in your health.

Lengthening the Quadriceps

Lengthening the Quadriceps

Clinical massage and bodywork increases your energy, immunity, joint flexibility, reduces fatigue, lowers blood pressure, enhances quality of sleep, improves circulation, releases endorphins—the body’s natural painkiller, and eliminates headaches.

Home Self-Care—Stretching and Strengthening
I encourage my clients to follow-up our sessions with stretches and exercises, tailored to their specific needs, to maintain the new muscle balance, to stretch the tight overactive muscle fibers we lengthened during treatment, and to strengthen the opposing weak and overpowered muscle groups.

Stretching the Hip Flexors

Stretching the Hip Flexors

There are a variety of self-care tools available for assisting in lengthening and releasing tension in the pertinent fascia and tight muscle fibers: foam rollers, the TheraCane, soft tissue mobilizers, percussion devices, softballs, medicine balls, lacrosse balls, Swiss balls, golf balls, etc.

The 10-10-10 Save Your Eyes Exercise  –  Eyestrain is running rampant. Our faces are fixated on our smart phones, tablets, and computer monitors, in addition to keeping current with our regular printed reading material. The exercise consists of taking your eyes away from the screen or book every 10 minutes and focusing on an object 10 feet away for 10 seconds. Give your eyes a break; Try it.

Enjoy a Spring Tonic Tea
Spring is a great time to invigorate our bodies with a tonic tea. Not all herbs are tonic herbs; some have an overall affect on several bodily systems, while others address a narrow range of processes.  22961536_m

Tonics can be taken in many forms, including tinctures, extracts, capsules—but teas
are easy to prepare and therapeutic to sip. Use organic herbs for tonic teas whenever possible.

2 parts burdock root
1 part dandelion leaf
2 parts enchinacea c/s
1 part ginger root c/s
1 part licorice root c/s
1 part nettle leaf c/s
2 parts red clover blossoms
2 parts sarsaparilla

Combine herbs and mix well. Use two teaspoons herb blend per cup of water, steep for 5-6 minutes and strain. Drink up to four cups per day as a spring tonic.

Spending a few hours every week exercising–our eyes included,  receiving massage and bodywork, and perhaps sipping a spring tonic tea to improve our health, is a small price to pay to maintain a positive attitude, and live an active full pain-free life.

 

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.

Balancing our Structure and Energy

Shortly after starting my Therapeutic Bodywork business, I experienced several unusual and unexplainable experiences with energy that were catalysts for leading me into working more with our energy systems, in addition to structure.

The first occurrence that got my attention was when I actually felt a sensation of movement, like a flowing stream under my fingers, and occasionally would feel a client’s cold hand become much warmer and softer right after touching it.

 Another dramatic event happened during my initial training for Zero Balancing® (ZB)—a hands-on system of mind-body therapy that balances body energy with body structure. I learned that by keeping my attention on my finger tips as I evaluated and treated my clients, it was possible to assess their balance of energy and structure. My fingers received clear information from my clients, like a transponder receiving radio signals. As soon as my attention was distracted from my fingertips, the transmission of information stopped.

 These experiences whet my appetite for energy healing,  subsequently led me to study ZB and become a certified practitioner. It’s a powerful body-mind therapy that engages both energy and body structure simultaneously, and uses skilled touch to address the relationship between the two.  ZB integrates Western biomedical understanding of the body with Eastern traditions of energy healing to create an innovative and effective bodywork system.♦  Clients experience deep relaxation, internal harmony, improved concentration, and enhanced overall feelings of wellness by clearing energy blocks in our bodies.

The Chakras--Centers of Subtle Energy and Awareness

The Chakras–Centers of Subtle Energy and Awareness

Treating Frozen Shoulder with Structural Technique

Treating Frozen Shoulder with Structural Technique

 Fritz Smith, an experienced osteopath, MD, and master acupuncturist, is the founder of ZB. True health is more than the absence of symptoms: it must include the capacity for contentment in life as it unfolds, Fritz Smith, MD♦

 In a ZB session, which lasts 30-45 minutes, the practitioner uses finger pressure and gentle traction on areas of tension in the bones, joints, and soft tissue to create points of balance around which the body can relax and reorganize. Restrictions in movement are released along with tension from stress. Improved concentration and sleep heightens feelings of connection, peace and happiness, and provides lasting relief from emotional distress, improving overall quality of life.

♦  Zero Balancing® Bridging the Mind and Body Through Touch

                     

A Balanced Life

I ran my last marathon in 1973 because I couldn’t continue denying that my compulsive running was the major contributor to my low back pain.

Boston Marathon 1973

Finish Line Boston Marathon 1973

Swimming laps for several months as an alternative aerobic activity, stroking back and forth in the pool for hours that seem like days, coming home smelling like a chlorine drudge, my hair tinted chlorine green, wasn’t the solution for replacing my running addiction.

She's got the physical part of a balanced life.

She’s got the physical part of a balanced life.

Next, I tried obsessive long distance cycling, averaging 3,000 miles a year for 4-5 years, riding several challenging week long rides every year through the mountain state parks, down the west coast, pedaling around Mt. Rainer and Crater Lake, and squeezing in as many regional century rides as I could.

 By now it should be apparent that I need help with balance. It’s always been a challenge to neutralize my compulsive and selfish disposition.

 The reading I’ve done about improving my equilibrium usually features the physical, mental, and spiritual areas of our lives. In a pursuit of a balanced life, I have found that wellness is much more than the integration of these three. I also need to consider how balanced I am socially, emotionally, and occupationally.

 In his book, From Confucius to Oz by Vernon Crawford, he sees the balance among three inner qualities, wisdom, benevolence, and courage—a trinity that we need if we are to ensure a wholesome balance in our lives. Why Confucius to Oz? Because proper exercise of Wisdom, Benevolence and Courage—the three Confucian virtues that the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion were seeking in The Wizard of Oz, can make you a more successful person in business and in life. The book has many practical exercises to help balance the three qualities.

 Today, I’m partially reformed physically, limiting my runs to ½ hour on grass, only a few shorter bike rides, and doing strength and conditioning workouts three times a week. It’s my new balanced program that’s working well for me now, and I’m satisfied with the results—keeping me strong enough to continue doing bodywork 3-4 days a week.

Applying a suboccipital sweep to enhance rotation of C1/C2.

Bridging the mind and body through touch with Zero Balancing

Finally, I’m learning the value of slowing down and quieting my mind for brief periods of time, doing nothing, turning off my thinking, practicing an attitude of gratitude—feeling thankful for my health, family, friends, my work, and also grateful for the awareness required to continue addressing all the other components of a balanced life, in addition to the physical part.

Practicing silence means making a commitment to take a certain amount of time to simply be. It means periodically withdrawing from the activity of speech—from such activities as watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading a book. If you stay with the experience, the internal dialogue begins to quieten, and soon the silence becomes profound. If you never give yourself the opportunity to experience silence, this creates turbulence in your internal dialogue.  Deepak Chopra