Ships and Sails

Tension in our body is a lot like tension in a boat. Too much tension in one part of the ship and the whole ship is affected. Our bodies are a lot like that. This video is my attempt at describing that!

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MS Kinesiology

On June 5th, 2015, I walked the line to receive my hood! I now have my Master of Science degree in Kinesiology.  In 2014, I also obtained my Corrective Exercise Specialist certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As a sidenote, I have been a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for a few years now.

At the gym where I work, a trainer has to have a degree in a health science field in order to do any personal training on the gym floor (‘the floor’). So, this means I can now do personal training on the floor.  Mind you, I will not be training just anyone.  I will be bringing my clients from the massage room (‘my room’) out to the floor.  We will do assessment and treatment of soft tissue in my room and then corrective exercise on the floor.  One example might be that I assess your ability to do a bodyweight (BW) squat in my room.  I will look at your form and listen to your subjective assessment of where you feel the tension. Then, I will do an assessment of passive and active range of motion (ROM) while you are lying on my table.  I will ‘treat’ soft tissue restrictions as I encounter them.  We would, then, reassess the BW squat and repeat as necessary.

Once you have achieved a squat with form and depth that I find satisfactory (according to research and textbooks), we will go out to the floor and begin adding weights in varying capacities.  As I notice a change in your form, and as you notice the first sign of discomfort, we will return to my room to treat those soft tissue restrictions. Then we would go back to the floor and repeat that exercise to ensure we have ‘treated’ that restriction as well as possible.

This protocol is not limited to the BW squat.  If you are having difficulty with a particular movement, be it the pushing or pulling of any joint, we can assess, treat and exercise that area as necessary. (Other examples might be, but not limited to, the shoulder press, bicep curl, push up, chin up, leg press, hamstring curl, or even opening a jar!)

These appointments will last 90 minutes. I know that not everyone will want this kind of attention, so I will still offer strict table time appointments for 60, 75 or 90 minutes.  These sessions will not include any time on the floor.

I am excited to begin this new phase of my journey and hope to see you along the way!

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Working with infants

(shared w/ permission from his mama!)

What a joy today was!

As a massage therapist and cranial bodyworker, I am honored that a client of mine is so appreciative of the work I’ve done for her that she has brought in her whole family to see me.  Today, it was her 2 month old grandson.  Their busy schedule worked out perfectly for them to come and see me.  The little guy had his tongue tie and lip tie revised a little while ago, but nursing was still not awesome for him and his mom.  Today was my first opportunity to address the tension in his little body.  As I felt his legs move, I was aware of more tension in the left leg, which actually traveled up through the left pelvis into the ribs (too many muscles to name, but let me know if you’d like to discuss them!).  Then the tension traveled over into the right side of the neck and up into both sides of his head.

As I began to address the tension in the pelvis, he squirmed and kicked his way out of that tension and his legs were so much more free!  During this time, I felt like I was so ‘in-the-moment.’  It so felt like he and I were just working together working everything out!  His mom and grandma were right there as well and the energy was … it was just great!  The little guy was a bit more vocal when i started to address the tension in his ribs, but it was so easy to see, as he squirmed while I lightly held on, that his right side could move while his left side just didn’t.  But as I remained relaxed and in-the-moment and allowed him to squirm and cry  (let me know if you’d like to talk about all of the muscles that are involved with moving the rib cage in addition to breathing!) I could just feel the tension change and release in him.  Believe me, he felt it, too!  Whenever I would feel something release, he would calm down.  Granted, he didn’t STAY calm for long, but to me, there was a noticeable connection between what I felt and how he expressed himself.

When the left side became noticeably easier to move, the right side became more difficult to move.  (In hindsight, the right side tension within the torso didn’t release until after we had released tension in the cranium.) At this point, we shifted gears and started addressing his head.  Now, I had recently taught a self-care class, for massage therapists, and went into a lot of detail about the little muscles within the head/cranium/face. We discussed the potential that these little muscles might have if they exert just enough of a pressure on the bone they are attached to. (Let me know if you’d like me to elaborate!)  So, as I am working on this little guy, today, it felt like I was clearly seeing these muscle connections in his head.  I could see how the tension in his right forehead matched the tension in his left temple and his poor little nose was just being pulled and pushed in the middle of that.  And then to think about how a lip tie might play a role in that … the potential was just … it was just … neat.  But the coolest thing was that as I was working with his head, he started out crying and kind of snorting, but then after a few minutes, he fell asleep.  He was still kind of snorting a little bit as he slept, but every time I felt the tension change, his noises got a little quieter.  And then there was a … bigger release and he was totally quiet as he slept.  That was just awesome!  And he slept like that for the rest of the treatment.

The tension was so dramatically different that we decided to end the treatment.  His mom let me know later that their next nursing time was noticeably better than it had been … well … ever.  And that night, he slept longer than he had in a long, long time.  I hope that his eating and sleeping will continue to improve and allow him to thrive.

What a great day!

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Plate Smashing

I’ve created this video to try to provide an example of how energy travels through the body.  In this example, however, I smash plates.  It didn’t quite show what I expected.  I expected some plates to be splintered, but not cracked, but instead plates were either cracked or they weren’t.  However, the order in which the plates cracked WERE interesting.

The video is 14 minutes long.

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Kyphosis and scoliosis

I am interested in working with people (of all ages) who have some sort of curvature of the spine … such as scoliosis and/or kyphosis. (It would be most helpful (but not mandatory) if you have not already had surgery to correct it!)

It is ‘possible’ that soft tissue work (of some kind), applied in the right places, could help with pain levels, curvatures and overall function. I’ve ordered the Schroth Method book to see if it might fit into the style of work I do.…

(If you have personally used this method, I’d love to hear about your experience!)

Treatment will probably be lengthy (meaning you’ll probably need to come in more than once or twice!) and involve a lot of very individualized stretching techniques and will be cheaper for you, in the long run, if you remember to do these exercises at home.

Just to be clear, I am not a Schroth practitioner. I’ve not taken any of their classes. I will not be doing strictly Schroth stuff. I just think this style sounds kind of similar to my own thought processes.

If you are interested in discussing this, or in setting up an appointment, give me a call or send me an email.

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Graceless Fall

Graceless fall

That was me. I was walking along 9th street and I swear the brick sidewalk in front of Teller’s reached up and grabbed my toes!  It felt like I was falling in slow motion … trying not to fall, but not being able to stop.  There had to have been a few people around who got a good chuckle out of seeing that, if for no other reason than to say, “I’m so glad that wasn’t me!”

I landed on my right knee and outstretched right hand.  Thankfully, I was able to roll over and just get up and walk away.  Someone was nice enough to roll down their window and ask if I was okay.  I laughed and waved them on, “I’m fine, thank you.”  However, by the time I got to Optimus, I discovered that I just couldn’t go down the stairs normally.  Putting weight on my bent knee was not a good idea.  I must have landed on my knee a little harder than I thought.

That was a few days ago now and my back has started to hurt, the top of my right shoulder area is irritated and I think even my neck is reacting.  As a massage therapist, I’ve been replaying the order of events that could have occurred to cause my discomfort.  Obviously, I tripped. In that motion, my right foot and leg (tibia and fibula) were stopped short from moving, while my thigh and the rest of my body continued traveling forward.  I’m guessing that my left foot was already forward because I put out my right hand.  So, the simple act of impacting the sidewalk bricks with my right foot could have been enough to jar the soft tissue of the body. It probably wouldn’t have been enough to tell anyone about, but from a soft tissue perspective, it could have been enough to create a weak link somewhere.

However, it didn’t end there. After my right thigh and the rest of my body continued moving forward, my brain tried to stop me from falling forward by trying to move forward faster.  To the naked eye, it probably didn’t look like anything, but to me, if felt like I lurched forward twice.  The problem with that is that my right foot and leg (tibia and fibula) were still somewhere behind me, unable to move fast enough to catch up.  As it tried to catch up, my knee flexed and met the bricks below me.

So now, I have impacted the bricks with both my big toe (shoe) and the medial side of my right knee.  That was enough to cause a bruising sensation right at that spot, which sent another jarring sensation up my body. Since my knee was now planted, my upper body had no choice but to accept that energy and continue to expel it upward and outward, so that I flexed my hips and torso and probably would’ve landed on my face had my right arm not already been in the forward swing.  Thus, I caught myself on the ulnar (pinky) side of my hand, which saved my face from also meeting those bricks.

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So, as a massage therapist, what does all of this mean?  What would I think about, if this happened to you and you came in to see me? Landing on my knee jammed my knee up into my pelvis.  That’s really not as horrible as it sounds, but in looking with slow motion, that’s how I would describe it.  What I feel like that did was to pull my thigh bone (femur) away from bula … super quickly … so that it stretched my hamstrings (back of the thigh), which is weird because my hamstrings were in a shortened, flexed position. However, in having hamstrings that have gotten locked short, that is putting tension into my quads (front of the thigh).  Therefore, it feels like my right quads are really tight.

All four of the quad muscles cross the knee joint, but one of them, the rectus femoris, crosses the hip joint and attaches onto the pelvis.  A tight rectus femoris could, theoretically, put enough tension into the pelvis to pull it into enough of an anterior tilt which could irritate the low back.  Thus, that could be why, after a couple of days, my low back has started to hurt.  (Summary – low back pain from tight quads caused by hamstrings which got locked short.)

The other explanation for why my low back could hurt could be from landing on my outstretched hand.

Stay with me here. Latissimus dorsi, or lats, is a muscle that attaches to the humerus (upper arm).  It’s also that muscle on your back that attaches into that diamond shaScreen Shot 5-11-2013 8.40.38 PMped aponeurosis (the white stuff in the pictures of the back).  So, by falling on my outstretched arm, I jammed my arm into hyper flexion (way up high), which stretches the lats. Because of that, the lats could be irritated all the way down through the aponeurosis and low back to where it inserts onto the sacrum.



Also, by jamming something into hyperflexion, the whole shoulder girdle gets irritated, including the 1st and 2nd ribs.  So, every muscle that attaches into this area is also irritated (scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, and trapezius just to name a few).

So, as a massage therapist, what do I treat first (after verifying that medical intervention is not needed)?  I would assess both the knee and the shoulder range of motion and determine any undue accessory motions or sensations caused by either movement.  I would probably start with whichever movement caused the most accessory pain (not acute, local pain). For example, if the knee hurts to bend it (passively), but it doesn’t bother anything else, and shoulder movement causes discomfort in the low back, I would start with the shoulder. This might mean addressing the lats, or the scalenes or pectoralis major, just to name a few possibilities. After that, I would look to the knee to see which muscles are being held short. In my case, it’s the hamstrings, even though it feels really ‘good’ to foam roll my quads.

Has this happened to you?  How many times have you tripped and fallen down hard enough to cause a bit of a limp for a while?  Our bodies don’t just shake this off.  We may forget about it after a while, but our brain stores the memory, and the pain, somewhere until the right time presents itself and we are reminded that yes, indeed, we do still have that lingering little problem.

Massage therapy can help this.  Even chronic, long-ago injuries can come back to haunt us.  Try massage therapy a few times to see if it can help you move through to the next level.


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