Here is a quick video with 3 techniques you can use to get a little stress relief at your desk. Enjoy!!
Shoulder release, forearm/wrist stretch, self massage for forearm and wrist.
I know its a been a while since my last post about opening our conscious bodies. In fact, after writing part one, I had to sit with all the questions I posed and feel how my body wanted to proceed. One of the biggest question posed was Are you willing to open yourself up to listening more closely when your body speaks to you? If you are, then how do you do that? In this part of the series I want to speak to exactly that; how do we listen?
Our body speaks in subtle ways and because of this, the first thing we must do is quiet our mind and external stimulation. It can be as simple as just sitting or lying in a quiet room to remove external stimulation. Quieting the mind can be a little more challenging and may take practice. One of the easiest ways I have found to do this is through the breath.
When I first started my career, I worked in an injury rehabilitation setting. It was an amazing experience and I was able to grow my knowledge of the body and how it works. I was very successful in treating all sorts of injuries from auto accidents, to work accidents, and even post operation recovery. However, I found that no matter what techniques I was using or what other therapies they were receiving, the clients would not fully heal. Their pain would become manageable, life would almost resume to normal for them, but there were remnants of the injury that would not heal. For several years, I thought that this was just how things worked. What if I was wrong about that-what if it is possibly to have complete recovery from anything? What if the body is more capable of healing than we ever thought possible? How can we get out of the way so our body can show us what is possible for it?
The first step in this process is opening a line of communication. Your body does communicate with your mind and being. At first, it is in subtle whispers. In our loud world of “bigger, better, faster,” it is easy for those whispers to be drowned out by impatience and the idea that what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.
Would you be willing to open yourself up to listening more closely when your body does speak to you? What if in doing this, you can be free of limited choices that you think your body is causing? And, what if this leads to a better communication between you and your body, eventually eliminating the need to cause pain altogether?
The second part of this is to trust your body. When we fall prey to injury or disease, it is very easy to stop trusting our body and to try to keep it from being harmed again. Unfortunately, this judgment that our body needs our “help” is what keeps these patterns in place. Have you ever tried to prevent re-injury by “protecting” a movement and ended up hurting yourself anyway? What if your chronic disease is showing you something you still need to look at? If you are willing to see a different perspective for your body, information will start to come from it.
I know this poses many more questions than it answers, which is why I created this blog series. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I dive deeper into these topics!
In the beginning of this year I set several fitness and health goals. Many people around me were doing these crazy restrictive cleanses like the lemon, maple syrup, cayenne and water master cleanse or juicing for several days. While I understand these are helpful for some do provide benefits, these types of cleanses are not for me. I have always been under the moderation rule, especially when it comes to eating. In early spring, a friend of mine made a statement that stuck with me. He said, “you can mask poor fitness with a healthy diet, but you can’t mask a poor diet with great fitness.” I am not sure who said this originally, but I knew that I could probably do some things to clean up what I was eating. A Personal Trainer and friend of mine, Ty Sonaty, told me about a 7 day eating plan he gives to all of his clients when they first start training with him. The idea is to clean out the bad and put in the good and you actually get to eat! I was very intrigued, because I like to eat. He gave me permission to share the grocery list and the eating plan. At the bottom of this post are links to both. With the grocery list in hand, my girlfriend Meghann and I went to Sprouts and bought everything we needed for the both of us to follow this plan for 7 days for just over $200.
The plan starts out primarily vegan, sugar free, gluten free and adds in meat in days 6 and 7. There are 2 or 3 smoothies, a salad, and snacks of berries or nuts everyday. Also if you are still hungry you can eat as many vegetables as you want to get your fill. This was the part I liked. The first two days were pretty easy. I had enough energy, was full enough and all the food was pretty good and not too repetitive. The first challenge didn’t hit until after dinner on day three. I was full from a giant salad but for some reason was standing in front of the fridge with the door open looking for something else to eat; which was quite interesting, because as I said before, I was full. I found myself getting a little flustered because my mind and my stomach were arguing over something I did not understand at the time. An hour later I made the “dessert” smoothie and went to bed. What I realized the next morning is that I had not had any sugar for three days and was having a withdrawal. Oh, well. It passed.
The rest of the week went smoothly. I had more than enough energy and felt I was eating well and enough. On day 6, I decided to weigh myself. To my surprise, I had lost 15 pounds! That is 7% of my total body weight. Meghann weighed in too, she lost 9 pounds, which was almost 7% of her total body weight. We were both amazed. We went about our normal lives that week except for our diets and had some pretty amazing results. The best part of this though, is that it really did reset my eating habits. I have found may new and healthy choices that I actually like. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still eat some indulgent things periodically like pizza and cheese, but I now have the tools and knowledge of the information my body gives me to know when I have had my fill and how to clean it out again quickly. I still use the smoothies regularly and will opt to have a salad sometimes. I have been able to keep that same 15 pounds off for the last 8 months by eating sensibly and regular exercise.
Here are the links to the grocery list and plan:
Also be sure to check out Ty Sonaty’s Denver Functional Fitness Page. He is an awesome Trainer and Kettle Bell Specialist. Thanks for reading!!!
Gluten Free Banana Apple Sauce Bread (No Sugar Added)
Organic Bananas 3-4
Organic Cinnamon Apple Sauce ¾ Cup
Raw Honey 2 TBSP
Organic Butter 1 Stick softened
Free Range Eggs 2
Vanilla Extract 1 tsp
Baking Powder 1 tsp
Gluten Free Flour Blend 2 Cups
Cinnamon on Top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix bananas, applesauce, melted butter and honey, eggs and vanilla extract til smooth, (I use a potato masher). It helps to mix the warmed butter and raw honey together first as the honey is pretty solid. Fold in Flour and baking powder. Once well mixed, place in a greased bread pan, sprinkle cinnamon on top and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For a variation try adding shaved dark chocolate or carob chips!
2-5oz Ahi Tuna Steaks
1 Handful Baby Spinach
1 Handful Baby Kale
1/2 Orange Pepper
1/2 Red Pepper
1/3 to 1/2 Cucumber
1 Medium Size Tomato
4-6 Quartered Marinated Artichoke Hearts
2 TBSP Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 Cup Feta Cheese
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 TBSP Olive Oil
Pepper to taste
Dried Basil to Taste
Dried Oregano to Taste
Dill To Taste
Put The Spinach and Kale in a large salad bowl. Quarter and slice the Cucumber and Tomato and add. Chop the Peppers and Artichoke Hearts and add. Add the rest of the ingredients.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk till well mixed. Pour over the salad and gently mix or toss so it is evenly distributed.
Preheat a frying pan with a TBSP of grape seed oil or bacon grease large enough for both pieces to fit in easily to medium high to high heat. Season both sides of the tuna with Lemon Pepper, Dill, Oregano, Basil, Salt if you like. Place the tuna in the hot pan and let cook on each side for approximately 45 seconds or less. You want to see that just the edge is starting to brown. Slice the tuna (using a sharp knife) into strips against the grain of the fish.
The tuna can be added on top of the salad in a bowl or next to it on a plate, (like the picture).
You could also slice an avocado and place over the salad for some extra omegas!
This is one of my recent favorites to prepare. It is very quick and easy and tastes great. I hope you enjoy! Feel free to omit or replace any of the salad ingredients. Kalamata Olives would probably be a great addition as well.
I have the pleasure of working on many different types of individuals from professional athletes with specific alignment and recovery needs to those who need stress relief from work/home life, and many in between. One thing they all have in common is that they have an idea of what they are wanting from their session, and it is always different. I would like to open a conversation about how the bodywork that I, and many others perform, can be much more than "just another massage." This is where some basic energetic/consciousness principles come into play.
Any experience we have is what we make of it and perfect for the moment we are in. We will never endure more than we can handle and the gifts we receive from even the worst of experiences are what make us the beautiful individuals that we are. It is when we allow these experiences to define us that lock us into different holding patterns that start to affect our lives in negative ways. Stress and injury can have a serious impact on how we make even the simplest of choices and live out our daily lives. What if it was possible to start shedding those definitions? What changes could we start to see? Sometimes being in wonder of a situation or outcome instead of defining it as part of you can be the exact catalyst needed for it to move on and stop the cycle you are in.
Do we really know what is possible for healing to take place in the body and mind? I personally do not think we do. There are many generalizations out there for how long certain injuries take to heal, as well as, a laundry list of ailments there is nothing we can do about. What I do know is that if you make it true for yourself, then it is. What if the next time you received bodywork, you opened up to the possibility that maybe everything you have been told about your ailment isn't true for you? If you are open to receiving more than thought possible, could you allow yourself to have it? I have seen miraculous things occur for clients who have been willing to experience a new possibility for their body and life by getting out of their definitions and judgements of themselves.
For me, as a therapist, I am constantly asking questions while performing my work. Sometimes they are out loud, looking for an answer and a way in. Sometimes they are to myself to get out of my own head. I am just as guilty of defining what I see as everyone else. One thing that sets me apart is that I am willing to see other possibilities as they show up and change my course if needed. If I get stuck in a diagnosis of one of my clients, it does not allow me to be open to seeing other things that could be what is actually going on with them. Many times simple coaching on how to let go can be the difference between a basic feel good session and a life changing experience.
So what does this mean for you and bodywork? The simple answer is, be sure to let your therapist know of what you are wanting out of your session and be open to whatever else may come of it. Also, be willing to know that your body is far more capable of healing than we ever thought possible and your bodywork experience could be far more profound.
Saute the veggies in the butter for 5 minutes or until everyone notices something smells amazing. It is this point you will want to add some of the other seasoning as well. Start with a teaspoon of each.
Add water enough to cover the veggies and the chicken breast or carcass. Bring to a rapid boil stirring enough to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pot.
As that boils the, squash should be finished up. Spoon the good stuff out of the squash into a bowl. It should be soft enough to do this easily. Scrape as much from the peel as you can. Feel free to taste some as you do this. Poor the left over water from the squash pans into the soup pot. After all the squash is spooned away from the skins put it in the soup pot. Once again, add enough water to just cover everything. If you used a chicken carcass now is the time to remove it and debone it. This is also the time to add the diced Heirloom Tomato. You can remove the skin of it if you want, but not necessary.
Keep this at a medium boil for about 45 minutes. This time allows the flavors to meld and gives you time to clean up your mess in the kitchen so far. Once the mess is cleaned up lower the heat to low and add the cheese. It is best if you break it into small pieces or shred it. Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted and slowly add half of the milk while stirring. The milk smooths out the texture and lightens the color.
Now that all the ingredients are together use some sort of hand or wand mixer to emulsify the soup. This blends it all together and makes a nice smooth texture. This is also when I like to taste it and add the rest of the seasonings to taste. I find a little more salt and sage gives it a nice pop at the end. The longer you blend the smoother it gets. At this point you will want to remove it from the heat.
Portion into bowls or cups and top with a dollop of Creme Fraiche, the fresh sage and crisped shallots. To achevee the crisped shallots, slice it very thin and saute over medium heat with butter until browned. Enjoy!
Hello again! This week, a client asked me what the effect the technique I was using had on her muscles. I realized there is a lot of information on the benefits of massage out there but little in the way of what it is actually doing to the tissue. I am going to try to explain some simple principles most massage therapists rely on to gain all those great benefits so you can see that there is much more going on than just relaxation and stress relief. Without being too technical, I will talk about three commonly used techniques and why we use them.
The first technique people feel when receiving a massage is usually some sort of sliding or gliding movement. These strokes cover the entire body part being worked on, are usually rhythmical in nature, and used at the beginning and end of each body part. Initially, this technique is used to spread out our oil or lotion and begin warming the tissue. As the tissue warms, it gets more pliable, circulation increases, and we can feel the knots and tensions easier. This stroke is also an assessment technique to begin finding areas that may need more attention. One of the biggest benefits; however, is how this technique engages our nervous system. It starts to slow down our nerve impulses and gets us out of the "fight or flight" system and into the "rest and digest" system. Lastly, this movement is used to flush the tissue after more aggressive work. This is done in a toward the heart direction and can greatly reduce the soreness after a massage.
After warming the tissue, pressing or squeezing techniques are used. These are very slow or sometimes do not move at all. These are the techniques we use to go after those knots and pesky contractions that cause pain and dysfunction. When a muscle is in a contracted (flexed) state, matching its level of resistance can usually get it to start to relax. Sometimes it takes a few seconds, sometimes a few minutes. I like to look at it as causing it to work harder until it gives up. Most contractions causing pain are a reflex or guarding response to some sort of over-use or injury to the tissue. These techniques can disengage that reflex when used properly. Once the guarding response is stopped, easier, more efficient movement is possible.
The last technique I will talk about is passive and active movements. These are when your therapist stretches you, has you move on your own, or has you resist against something. Movement techniques are performed after the other techniques and are used to re-educate the muscles and nerves. When muscles are tight, they limit movement. The previous techniques break everything up and stop the contraction process. These movements allow the connective tissue to expand and shows the nerves that there is a new possibility for motion. They help the other work stick.
Many other techniques are used at different times depending on what we find in the tissue, but these are the big three. We even combine them at times. If you are ever wondering why or what your therapist is doing, don't be afraid to ask! We are usually more than happy to let you know what we are doing and why. I hope this helps shed a little light on what is going on in your tissue and muscles when you receive bodywork. Thanks for tuning in and Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!!!!
"Be sure to drink plenty of water." "Some soreness may come out in the next couple of days." " Gotta flush out all those toxins." Ever here these things from your massage therapist? I have too. I have said them to many clients as well over the years. But lately, something different has started to come to mind when leaving a new (and regular) client with a to do list after a session. What if what happened after a massage was entirely up to you and your body? Why does relief have to include discomfort? Do you really need to drink plenty of water? Why do things hurt sometimes after a massage? I will try to answer these questions and give a description of what to expect after body work.
My clients always ask if they should drink plenty of water. I do think hydration is important, but it is just as important to be hydrated going in to receive a massage as it is to drink water afterward. There is flushing of the tissue that occurs during a massage and drinking plenty of water can help that process. My advice here is to just keep yourself hydrated at all times and you don't have to worry about increasing that after receiving body work. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces a day. Simply put, if you are 150 pounds, drink at least 75 oz of water a day.
Soreness after a massage can be equated to soreness after working out. You are having your muscles manipulated manually and the deeper the massage, the longer the recovery can take. That being said, what you should feel is a tenderness in the tissue, but your movement should easier and more efficient. I also have clients tell me that they feel different sensations for brief periods that they were not expecting. For instance, they came in with a sore low back and after the session had some sort of twinge or soreness afterward in their hip or knee or shoulder, usually only lasting from a short few minutes to a day. This is usually because a change in structure has been made and the body is adapting and realigning itself to the new found freedom. This is a good way to see just how connected everything is and you should discuss these feelings with your therapist the next time you see them. If that soreness lasts longer than 3 or 4 days (in extreme cases) or it starts to turn into a real type of pain, contact your therapist and ask them about it. Many times, underlying issues can start to surface with bodywork and your massage therapist can direct you down the right path for your situation to continue the healing process.
Should you drink plenty of water? Yes. Always. Will you be sore? Maybe. It depends on the session and how adapted your body is to the work you are receiving. Finally, if you are ever concerned about anything you are feeling after a session, ask your body what it is requiring. You know your body better than any one else and it will tell you if you are will to listen to the subtleties. You can also ask your therapist or doctor for direction as well!
Thanks for reading! Please leave any comments or questions!
Nate Ewert, RMT