Do you ever find yourself unconsciously holding your breath when you’re tense? This can cause tension to build in your body and may let the chest collapse, leading to misalignment. Proper breathing provides oxygen to the muscles and body, helps you stay relaxed and centered, and even helps you maintain correct body alignment throughout your day. You can also use breathwork as part of a stress-reduction program by following this progressive relaxation exercise.
1. Begin by lying in a comfortable position without crossing your arms or legs, and focus on your breathing to create a slow, deep pattern. Inhale through your nose while counting to 10 and expanding your abdomen. Hold the breath for one second, and exhale through your nose on the count of 10. Inhale and exhale in this pattern five times.
2. Beginning with your head, tense your facial muscles as tightly as possible and count to five. Release the muscles completely, and sense the muscles feeling heavy and still. Work down your entire body, tensing muscle groups and then relaxing them. After the head, move to the neck, chest, arms and hands, abdomen, back, thighs and gluteals, lower legs,
3. After relaxing each set of muscles, mentally scan your body for any areas of remaining tension and ask those areas to relax completely.
4. Repeat the slow breathing exercise.
5. Gently begin to move your body to come out of the deeply relaxed state.
Try using progressive relaxation directly before or after your massage sessions, directly before bed, or at any time during the day as a pick-me-up. Focus on taking full, deep, even, rhythmic breaths. With a little practice, you can become more aware of your own breathing patterns and use breathwork effectively as you move throughout your day.
Are you familiar with the term “functional medicine” and do you know what constitutes a “functional medicine doctor”? Do you understand this exciting new approach to health and how it is different from traditional medicine? Has your family doctor determined your blood tests are normal and “nothing is wrong”? If you would like to learn more about maintaining your health, energy and vitality, then you need to learn more about functional medicine.
Many people do not understand that true “health” is not merely the absence of disease or even worse, the suppression of symptoms or alternation of body physiology with medication. Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defines health as “a state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. If you want to maintain your health and “age well”, you need to be proactive with diet, nutrition, exercise and even your choice of doctors. Just like a home or car, your body requires ongoing maintenance if you desire to preserve optimum health and performance.
So what is a functional medicine doctor and how do they differ from other doctors? Functional medicine doctors focus on maintaining and restoring normal physiology by identifying the actual “cause” of symptoms or a disease. They typically use different blood and laboratory tests and often use a more narrow range of “normal”. A functional medicine doctor utilizes natural treatments and lifestyle modifications to restore metabolic function, cellular health and vitality so that unnecessary drugs can be avoided and even eliminated in many instances.
Functional medicine is a special branch of medicine that uses a scientific approach of assessing how the complex systems of our bodies interact. Since every person is unique, the goal of functional medicine is to look at individual factors and restore body balance. It requires a therapeutic partnership between patient and practitioner because cooperation is the key to achieving the desired outcome. Does that sound like a better approach than what our current “health care system” provides? Truthfully, our current health care system focuses more on “disease care” than actual health or well-being because pharmaceutical medications do very little or nothing to restore normal health and metabolic function.
So what happens when you visit a functional medicine doctor? Just like all good doctors, your assessment will start with a thorough family and medical history. Next, it is very common to order some combination of blood, saliva, stool or similar laboratory tests. These results allow your functional medicine doctor to answer several critical questions. Do you have any food allergies? How is your digestive system working? Are there signs of toxicity due to excessive stress on the liver or kidneys? Are their hormone imbalances that impact the adrenals, thyroid, pituitary or sex organs? The objective of the initial evaluation is to assess how well the various organs and systems of the body and working and if one area is compensating for another? Only then it is possible to discuss the best treatment approach and how dietary changes, lifestyle modifications and specific vitamins or whole food supplements will restore metabolic balance and health.
In summary, almost everyone can benefit from the advice of a functional medicine doctor because of the emphasis on restoring and optimizing each person’s unique metabolic balance. In particular, anyone with a chronic disease, loss of energy, digestive problems, thyroid disorder, sinus problems or allergies is an excellent candidate for functional medicine treatment. If you would like to learn more about functional medicine doctors in Lakewood, Colorado or Dr. Karen Ksiazek give us a call at (303) 934-3600.
As April Showers bring May flowers, the pleasure of gardening entices many of us. Unfortunately, gardening without occasional time-outs can potentially tax your muscles and joints; this is true even if you’re agile and limber. Just think about it: some of the twisted and distorted positions you end up in are nothing less than acrobatic feats. But these positions can stress and strain your body.
That’s only part of the problem. Muscular fatigue and soreness also result from remaining in one position for too long or from repeating the same movement over and over, such as clenching your hand when you weed. And that’s exactly why a good rule of thumb is this: from time to time stop gardening and start stretching.
Let’s begin with back fatigue that results when you work in a forward bend for an extended time. It’s important that you occasionally stop to give it a break. One way to do this is to stand up with your feet slightly apart, hands placed in the small of your back, your fingertips pointing down for support. With your knees slightly flexed, gently press your chest forward to lift your breastbone upward just a bit.
If you do this motion correctly, you should experience a welcome stretch in your lower back. There’s no need to take this motion to an extreme arch of your back. In fact, it’s not recommended; excessive hyperextension (overarching) of the spine can compress the lumbar disks. Hold the stretch for about eight to ten seconds while breathing naturally and comfortably.
Another soothing stretch for a garden-weary back is the cat stretch. You might be familiar with this back-soothing movement, perhaps from an exercise or yoga class, but never considered doing it in the garden. Why not? You’re already on your hands and knees for much of your work anyway. It’s just a matter of staying there, pulling in your belly and rounding your back, not unlike a cat’s long, slow stretch after a nap. Make certain that you lower your head and tuck your chin into your chest so there’s no strain on your neck.
To stretch your lower back still more, you can go directly from the cat stretch into a follow-up stretch by lowering your buttocks until they rest on or near your heels. Keep your head low and arms stretched in front.
A quick and easy stretch is to do shoulder rotations. In addition, also do slow shoulder shrugs, which gently, but effectively stretch the trapezius and rhomboid muscles located in the back of the neck and upper part of the back. To do the shrugs correctly, you slowly raise your shoulders toward your ears as far as you can without straining (you can do this while standing or seated). The upward movement should take about five seconds, so don’t rush through it. Then let your shoulders slowly lower to their neutral position. Do three or four shrugs, making sure that you relax completely between each repetition, until the tightness is gone.
Another stretch for relaxing the upper back is the following: With your feet comfortably apart and your hands resting on your waist, slowly press your elbows back bringing them as close together behind you as you can without straining. If you do this simple movement correctly and slowly, you will feel a pleasing stretch between your shoulder blades and across your chest. Again, it only takes a few repetitions.
To relax shoulder and upper back muscles that tire when you dig for too long, particularly when the ground is hard and dry, put your tool down and place the tips of your fingers on your shoulders, right hand on right shoulder, left hand on left. Keeping your hands in place, slowly bring your elbows together at shoulder level, trying to touch them in front of your chin. A slow closing and opening motion, repeated several times, does wonders for relieving fatigue in the upper back.
Another shoulder stretch is done by placing your right hand on your left shoulder, with your elbow raised at approximately shoulder level. Using the heel of the left hand, you pull the right elbow slowly across your chest toward the left shoulder, keeping the elbow parallel to the ground. Hold the stretch for about five seconds and then repeat it on the other side. This therapeutic stretch relieves upper arm and shoulder fatigue.
Jenny Nickerson, LMT
Certified Neuromuscular Therapist
Give us a call at (303) 934-3600 if you would like to learn more about how acupuncture or traditional Chinese Medicine can enhance your health!
Absolutely! In a recent medical study, the average weight loss was 7 pounds using a 9-day program and participants reported an increase in energy as well as sleeping better.
What is Nutritional Cleansing? Foods and Nutrients? Any foods and any nutrients? Would you agree that not all foods and nutrients are created equal? So, if they aren’t created equal, which are the best? …And why so? Perhaps learning more about both would help provide you the information you need to better fuel your body to do what it was designed to do.
Imagine feeding your body what it needs daily to cleanse itself from our toxic world’s impurities and chemically laden foods. What if simultaneously, you also could take a proactive approach to prevent ill health, prevent nutritional deficiencies and yet, support anti-aging strategies for a longer and better quality of life? Could you afford to lose some excess weight? … Have more energy?…Sleep better?
Did you know your body needs specific nutrients everyday to create its own materials just to function and repair itself? Most nutrients are found in specific foods and naturally exist in our world. However, most foods today lack minerals and quality nutrients for various reasons including over-farmed fields, polluted waters, depleted soils, toxic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and now Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) that all play a role in nutritionally deficient and toxic foods. What about all the microwave and fast foods people consume daily? Did you ever wonder if excess caffeine consumption is part of the problem too? You bet!
In a perfect world where food really is food and nutrient rich, this wouldn’t be such a difficult task to stay healthy and eat to prevent illness. Unfortunately, much has changed and we must really look at what is going into our mouths and what isn’t. Also, how is our body digesting what we eat? Is the body absorbing and assimilating the foods? Is your body eliminating wastes properly? Many diseases have been linked to these problems and much is due to our culture of over-eating low quality, highly processed foods that are nutritionally bankrupt and contributing to the growing obesity rates. Guess what, there are over 12,000 food additives alone. We don’t have to eat what everyone else is eating, because the “norm”, isn’t so healthy anymore.
Let’s consider foods, some grow naturally in our environments, some are commercially grown, some come from genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and some are grown organically. From these 4 choices what would you think would be the best? Really down deep, we all really know the answers, especially when we keep hearing more and more about toxicity as well as how contaminated and overly-processed our foods have become.
In many cases we would have to eat 12 apples to get the nutrition we used to get from 1 apple in the 1950’s. The GOOD NEWS is there is a company that has been developing SUPER FOODS and “cutting edge” formulas which can help the body in so many ways by removing impurities, replenishing what we need and helping us learn more about eating to live instead of living to eat.
I invite you to come explore the next “Free Nutritional Cleansing and Replenishing Seminar” at LifeSource Health Partners to learn about what simple steps you can take, to be more proactive about your health. Learn why so many health professionals and doctors have endorsed “nutritional cleansing” as the first step to restoring health. The health benefits are amazing and the results speak for themselves. You too, can be a “Picture of Health.”
Alicia Piña, CNHP
By Jenny Nickerson, LMT
Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist
If your experience with the lymphatic system is limited to the doctor checking your lymph nodes as part of a routine office visit, maybe you should think about trying a lymphatic drainage massage. Proper lymph movement and lymph functioning is essential for overall health. Massage can support the lymphatic system, which helps maintain your health.
The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system. It is one of a number of systems of your body. The lymphatic system is composed of lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and organs. Part of the body’s defense system, the lymph nodes remove microorganisms and other foreign substances. They act as a filtration system that keeps particulate matter, such as bacteria, from entering the bloodstream.
Stimulating the lymphatic system through manual lymphatic drainage will activate all of the above functions as well as encourage fluid circulation and cell regeneration. Both actions promote detoxification, facilitate healing and support the immune system.
What is Lymphatic Drainage Massage?
Lymphatic drainage massage is a specific type of massage designed to aid the lymphatic system which uses the hands and fingers to create wave-like movements. These movements are light, rhythmic movements moving toward the lymph nodes and simulate the natural flow of the lymphatic system, which drains waste and debris throughout the body. People with medical needs and those who are healthy can both benefit from this type of massage.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage benefits are numerous and include:
Clearing areas of congestion such as swollen ankles, puffy eyes and swollen legs
Promotion of scar tissue healing, torn ligaments and sprains.
Swelling relief following plastic surgery
Treatment of lymphedema and other conditions arising from venous insufficiency
Improving chronic conditions such as sinusitis and arthritis,
Lymphatic drainage massage can be especially relaxing because they can reduce pain levels in the body. The International Alliance of Healthcare Educators states that the rhythm, pressure and motion of lymphatic drainage massage work together to reduce pain and stress and to promote general vitality and well-being.
People of any age can develop arthritis but the symptoms almost always include pain, stiffness, achiness, loss of movement, and decreased function that get progressively worse over time. The statistics on arthritis are staggering in their impact on individuals as well as the cost to society. Data from a 2007-2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) estimated 50 million (22%) of adults have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis and 21 million (9% of all adults) have arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation. The annual cost of arthritis and related conditions, such as osteoarthritis, cost nearly $128 billion per year in medical and indirect expenses, including lost wages and productivity while the annual cost per person with osteoarthritis is $5700. Arthritis can prevent a person from doing normal activities such as opening a jar, writing, playing sports, typing, exercising and even enjoying their family. So what is osteoarthritis and what are the causes, and treatment options? Even more important, how do we change the crippling effects of osteoarthritis on both individuals and society?
First, Osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease, is one of the oldest and most common types of Arthritis. It is characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of bones. When cartilage breaks down, it causes bones to rub against each other causing pain, stiffness, and loss of movement. OA most commonly affects middle-aged and older people, but can occur in younger adults or even teenagers at times. The severity of OA may range from very mild to extremely severe and it most commonly affects weight-bearing joints such as the spine, knees, hips and feet, although the hands are also a common target.
While age is a significant risk factor to OA, research has shown that OA is not an inevitable part of aging. Obesity is a predisposing factor to OA of the knees, hips and spine but injuries from sports, work, and accidents are the most common cause. In particular, car accidents predispose injured parties to developing OA of the neck, especially if they don’t receive comprehensive examination and treatment. Genetics can also play a role in the development of OA, particularly in the hands. Some people may be born with defective cartilage, slight defects in the way that joints fit together or other abnormalities that cause altered biomechanics. As a person ages, these problems lead to early cartilage breakdown which gets progressively worse over time.
The symptoms of OA vary based upon the severity of the condition as well as the age, activity level, and overall health of each individual. The most common symptoms are pain, stiffness and achiness around a joint especially after periods of inactivity or excessive use. In the spine, the most common symptom is stiffness and achiness upon awakening that improves and usually goes away with activity, but often recurs, sometimes everyday. The problem is that the frequency and severity of the symptoms, or lack thereof, do not correlate with the progressive degeneration and tissue damage. This results in delayed diagnosis and treatment that ultimately limits treatment options. Waking up with back or neck pain from “sleeping wrong” or “no reason” is highly suggestive of OA. Sensations of grinding, grating or even popping with normal movements known as crepitus also suggest poor cartilage health and possible OA. Loss of motion can occur gradually over a long period of time, like difficulty looking over your shoulder when driving. Ultimately, bony growths develop at the affected margins of the joints and may cause deformity, particularly in the hands and feet. In severe cases, calcification of the joint may get so severe that motion is almost totally lost.
In the past, treatment focused on rest, pain medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (known as over-the-counter pain relievers) and ultimately joint replacement surgery, especially for the hips and knees in severe cases. Today, emphasis is placed on moderate exercise, proper nutrition, and prevention. We now know that smokers with OA have more severe joint pain and greater degradation of cartilage. Some studies support the value of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine supplementation to support cartilage health. Proper hydration is also critical to maintaining healthy cartilage. Medical treatments typically include drugs to reduce pain and improve function although joint replacement surgery of the hips and knees is common if the pain and deterioration are severe. A commonly overlooked option is physical medicine treatments that maintain joint function, range of motion, flexibility and physical conditioning. In the spine, decompression traction is particularly effective for both relieving symptoms of pain and stiffness while simultaneously improving function and movement. Chiropractic manipulation is also beneficial because it helps restore joint and nerve function, promotes flexibility, and maintains the health of spinal joints and discs.
For osteoarthritis, chiropractic medicine services that provide relief and reduce the progression of the condition include:
Benefits of Chiropractic Treatment for Arthritis
Patients should experience a progressive reduction in pain as well as a steady increase in strength, mobility, range of motion, and the ability to perform many tasks that were difficult or impossible before treatment. Since certain types of arthritis can compromise other functions of the body relating to the heart, lungs, blood flow, nervous system and the immune function, chiropractic evaluation and treatment in conjunction with concurrent medical management can serve as an excellent way to reduce the possibility that arthritis will cause deformity of one’s joints or compromise these other important body functions.
Many people deny their pain and accept it as a condition of life. They simply put up with it and “hope” it will go away. Even worse, excessive amounts of over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription arthritis medications are taken. These products can damage the liver, kidney, stomach or other vital organs and may even result in death. Chiropractic medicine provides a drug-free treatment that can not only reduce the pain and suffering from arthritis but often even slows down the progression of the condition! This results in better mobility, improved function, and a substantial elevation in the quality of life for patients with arthritis.
By: Jenny Nickerson, LMT
Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have found that people felt about 40% less pain, and were able to stand pain for about 45% longer, when they used reflexology as a method of pain relief.
Dr Carol Samuel, who is trained reflexologist and who carried out the experimental procedures as part of her PhD studies, said it was the first time this therapy had been scientifically tested as a treatment for acute pain. She said the results suggested that reflexology could be used to complement conventional drug therapy in the treatment of conditions associated with pain such as osteoarthritis, backache and cancers .Dr Samuel said:”It is likely that reflexology works in a similar manner to acupuncture by causing the brain to release chemicals that lessen pain signals.”
Reflexology is a complementary medical approach, which works alongside orthodox medicine, in which pressure may be applied to any body area but is commonly used on either the feet or hands.
The study has been published in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
Almost everyone has experienced foot problems of one sort or another and many people wonder about orthotics for flat feet. So let’s talk about foot pain, flat feet, how your foot functions and custom orthotics.
First, your foot has to perform 2 completely opposing functions. It has to act as a stable foundation for standing and also is relatively rigid when “pushing off” during normal gait. The opposite function is to absorb shock every time your foot hits the ground. Did you now that 2-5 times your body weight is transmitted from the ground into your foot and lower extremities with every step? With running, this is often 10 times your body weight with each stride.
Your foot accomplishes these opposing functions by operating within ranges of motion called supination and pronation. When standing, the foot should be in the subtalar neutral position. If you have flat feet or fallen arches, the arch of the foot usually “falls” resulting in pronation and an abnormal position while standing. This prevents the foot from functioning within the normal ranges of pronation and supination. Over long periods of time, this imbalance predisposes the foot to developing all sorts of problems and deformities including plantar fasciitis, bunions, claw toes, hammer toes, metatarsalgia and calluses. Calluses are always a sign of increased weight bearing and provide clues about foot function as do wear patterns on your shoes.
Orthotics are shoe insoles or “inserts” that should be custom designed to each individual foot for the purpose of restoring and maintaining normal foot function during the gait cycle. Orthotics for flat feet or any other condition should be customized by a professional to insure proper function is being restored. Let me be very clear that any type of orthotic or shoe insert is NOT customized if you buy them “off the shelf” at any retail business or even an apparent “specialty store”! Custom orthotics MUST be manufactured by a laboratory based upon the doctor’s specific recommendations, otherwise, they are NOT custom.
Did you realize that truly custom orthotics are frequently different for each foot? This is because your feet are not identical and have different distortions or imbalances. It is also imperative to match the proper orthotic to each patient factoring in their age, weight, activity level, health history and unique foot characteristics. If the orthotic is not supportive enough, the flat arch will still collapse in the standing position and little benefit is achieved. If the custom orthotic is to rigid, then it may be painful or does not allow for proper foot motion and function. Therefore, it is critical to have a professional examine your feet and tell the laboratory what specific modifications are necessary to achieve normal function for each person and foot.
In summary, almost everyone could benefit from additional foot support but only custom orthotics prescribed by a doctor or similar professional are designed to be corrective. Conditions such as fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, metatarsalgia and generalized foot pain often respond extremely well to properly prescribed and manufactured custom orthotics. A good pair of custom orthotics should last a minimum of 3-5 years for an adult unless there is a significant change in weight, activity level or health status. Take our foot quiz today to find out if you could benefit from orthotics for flat feet or some other condition.
By Richard Keuhn, Chiropractic Doctor
If you’re a senior citizen, it’s not uncommon for you to experience pain and stiffness in your muscles and joints, especially following more vigorous-than-usual physical activity. Massage therapy helps reduce inflammation-related pain around your joints, which promotes the restoration of your full range of joint motion. Improved range of motion can enhance your ability to ambulate and perform your activities of daily living, which in turn can lead to increased independence and a higher quality of life.
The Mayo Clinic reports that improved circulation is one of the principle benefits of massage therapy. Healthy circulation of blood and lymph is especially important if you are a senior citizen, as you may be more susceptible to decreased circulation. Reduced circulation is particularly problematic if you are a diabetic, as you are prone to lower limb problems due to reduced blood flow to the tissues of your lower legs and feet. Regular massage therapy, in conjunction with an appropriate exercise plan, can help you prevent diabetic complications in your lower extremities. An additional benefit of massage therapy is the improved lymph flow throughout your body. Improved circulation of both lymph and blood can help you recover more quickly following injuries, and it can also boost your energy levels.
According to a 2010 study about massage therapy and health outcomes in older adults, published in the “Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies,” those who received massage therapy within the past year produced significantly higher health outcome scores in the following categories: emotional well-being, limitations due to physical issues and limitations due to emotional issues. Massage therapy can help you by reducing your anxiety, depression, stress and loneliness, and can improve your self-confidence and enhance your quality of life. The sense of companionship you derive from a visit to your massage therapist is also an important healing effect of massage therapy. Human touch can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional well-being.
By: Jenny Nickerson, LMT
Certified Neuromuscular Therapist
Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist