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Monthly Archives: July 2011

What am I, a sadist or something?

Actually, no, despite what people accuse me of when they find out what I do.  I don’t enjoy hurting people.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I do feel a little surge of satisfaction when a client walks in to my office claiming “you can’t hurt me,” and then I make them cry ‘uncle;’ but I have a bit of a spiteful streak, just ask my mother.  Generally speaking, I don’t want to hurt you or anyone else.  The goal of every session is to help, not hurt; unfortunately, sometimes they’re one and the same.

So, how can you decrease your chances of feeling pain during a session?  Every once in a while, it’s completely unavoidable.  Breaking up scar tissue isn’t fun for anyone; and everyone’s got an extra-sensitive spot, whether it’s the IT bands, or the ilio-psoas, or the bottoms of your feet.  However, most pain can be avoided with two little tricks.

First, there’s water, water, and more water.  Dehydrated tissues are like glue that’s begun to dry out:  it’s really thick and hard to move, and I’m in the business of moving tissue.  Well hydrated tissues are like, well, watery glue:  runny and extremely pliable.  I can tell as soon as I start working who’s a big water drinker and who’s chosen diuretics for their liquid intake instead.  Diuretics are anything that cause the body to expel water; such as caffeine and alcohol.  Sugar requires so much water to process that it also causes dehydration, so even caffeine free pop and juice can lead to gummy, sticky tissues.  I cannot tell if you just chugged a bottle of water before your session, unless I start pressing on your bladder.  Nor can I tell you had three cups of coffee this morning, except by the fact that you’re having an awfully difficult time lying down.  What I can tell is what your patterns are.  When you’re thirsty, do you reach for water or pop?  Do you start every day with a pot of coffee or a cup of herbal tea?  The more hydrated you are habitually the less pain you’ll experience during your sessions.

The second little trick is talking to me.  Everyone has different sensitive areas.  And everyone has a different pain threshold.  Until you let me know where your boundaries are, I have a hard time reading your mind.  Sure, there are clues people give off, that I’m well-trained to pay attention to.  Holding your breath, clenching your jaw or fists, and a fluttering of your eyelids may all indicate that we’re working in a place that’s not at all comfortable.  But it’s better for me, and you, if we don’t get to the place where you’re holding your breath at all.  And since you’re the expert on your body, you’re the only one who can tell me “we’re getting close to the edge of what I can take.”  So please do!  Communicating with me about what areas are sensitive and when you’d like me to slow down or ease up can go a long way in making sure you’re not jumping off the table.  You’ll also get better results if we’re not causing problems in your jaw while working on your IT bands.

While I try my best not to cause unnecessary pain, much of the responsibility lies with you.  So quit assuming it’s fun for me to see you jump, please.  I’m only here to help.  I promise.

I’m really excited because last night I got to spend the night at a farm.  Some friends of mine are farm-sitting up in Niwot and they had me and a couple girlfriends up for a slumber party last night.  I was in absolute heaven.  Not only do I dream of someday having a little farm of my own, but this was a really sweet pad with super-plush carpeting, a hot tub from which we watched the stars, and, best of all, a giant trampoline!

Trampolines are fun and all, but what’s the big deal?  Well, despite the risk for sprained ankles, broken necks, and twisted wrists, trampolines can actually be good for you.  I learned about this in a book called Crazy Sexy Diet:  Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! by Kris Carr.  As I may have mentioned, a few months ago I did a 3-week cleanse with a bunch of friends and that cleanse came from this book.  The lovely Ms. Carr has had cancer for the last 8 years and has been keeping it under control through diet, exercise, and lifestyle and this book goes into all the details.  In it, she talks about rebounding, or bouncing on a trampoline, and how good it is for detoxing.

Wait, what?  The theory goes that when you bounce, your body, and therefore every cell in your body, experiences being in and out of gravity, over and over again.  This alternating between gravity and non-gravity acts like a pump to flush the bad stuff out of your cells.  Hence, bouncing like a little kid makes your healthier overall.  According to Kris, you’re supposed to rebound for 35 minutes a day.  And if you do it with friends, on a soaked trampoline in the moonlight, you might just laugh your head off like I did.  We all know laughter’s the best medicine, so it’s really a two-for-one kind of deal.  And who doesn’t love a BOGO?

Greetings from muggy Chicago!  I’m here in my hometown spending some time with family and seeing a few clients, but mostly just sweating, despite the fact that everyone here keeps telling me it’s “so much better than it was!”  My sister and her boyfriend are fitness nuts and just went for a bike ride and it got me to thinking about exercise.  Clients ask me all the time, what exercise do you do?  What’s the best exercise?

I think the best exercise is the exercise you enjoy doing.  Period.  Sure, swimming is low-impact, but I’m a sneezy mess for days after I spend time in the pool and chlorine dries my skin out.  I love weight training and it builds bone density, but a lot of people find it boring (not to mention the stench that fills most weight rooms).  There’s a pro and a con to every form of exercise out there.  But if you exercise, your body is better for it.  And if you enjoy the exercise you’re doing, you’re more likely to do it again.  So I say, do what you love and skip the stuff you dread.  If you like to run, then run.  If dancing is your thing, dance the night away.  Pump iron, play tennis, bike to work; whatever gets your blood pumping and your limbs moving.

If you’re trying to achieve a specific goal, such as bulking up, slimming down, or preventing osteoporosis, there are exercises that may suit your needs better than others.  And if you have questions about that stuff, feel free to ask, as I’d be happy to help find something that works for you.  But what I’m really good at is helping you do the things you love, only better.  I want you to exercise pain free (except for that good feel-the-burn pain).  I want you to exercise without injuring yourself and without imbalances that may lead to injury down the road.  And I want you to be the fastest, strongest, bendiest you can be.  So go out there and sweat and call me when you want to take your workout to the next level.

And as we talked about two weeks ago, shortening your back line is no good.

Remember that conversation about plantar fasciitis?  Remember how your fascia from the bottoms of your toes is connected all the way to the fascia covering the top of your head?  That line of fascia, all along your back, is called your back line.  Let’s take that information and think about flip-flops for a minute.  ‘Tis the season of intense heat, trips to the pool, and picnics in the park and I see flip-flops everywhere I go.

When you wear flip-flops, your toes have to hang on tight, lest one (or both) go flying.  And once in a while, for a few minutes here or there, that’s just fine.  If, on the other hand, you spend all summer with your toes hanging on for dear life, well, the fascia in your feet will tighten up.  As will the fascia in your calves, and your hamstrings, and your glutes, and your low back, and your mid-back, and your upper back, and your neck, and the back and top of your head.  Yuck.  That’s a lot of tight fascia. Like, your whole back line.

Which is not exactly what we’re looking for.  In fact, we’re looking for quite the opposite.  What we really want is a bunch of loosey-goosey fascia that’s all fluid and supple-like.  Slippery, slidey, juicy fascia.  Not dry, stiff, stressed-out fascia.

If you want to feel the difference flip-flops can make, try this exercise:  Go for a small walk, barefoot.  Walk around your house a few times, or a park, or the block.  Feel your whole foot contact the ground, from the initial contact of your heel, to the final push-off with your toes.  Let your toes spread out and gather all the information they can with each step.  Notice how your legs swing and how your hips feel.  Notice your arms swinging, and your back and shoulders moving as you walk.  Notice your breathing and how easy it is.  Get a sense of how it feels to walk barefoot.  Now, put your flip-flops on and go for the same short walk.  How do your toes feel?  Can you gather the same amount of information with your feet?  How do your hips and arms feel?  Any change in your back or posture?  Any change in your breath?  Which feel more ‘right,’ barefoot or flip-flops?  And if you can feel a difference after a 5 minute walk, how do you think your body feels by the end of the summer?

I know flip-flops are convenient.  And really, what else are you going to wear to the beach?  But if you can wear them as little as possible, your body will thank you for it down the road.