Becoming “Immune” To Medications

Before I start, I want to again say that I am not a doctor. I do not pretend to be trained in prescriptions or medical diagnosis. The things I discuss here are based on my observations as a Licensed Massage Therapist, personal experience and conversations with fellow colleagues in the alternative care realm. Now, here’s my theory on this gem of a subject 🙂

For some, a medication can seem to loose it’s effectiveness over time. Many assume they’re “becoming immune” or “getting used to” the medication. Then what happens? Your doctor either changes your medication or increases your dose to give you some relief.

What if what’s really occurring is a form of chemical addiction? When someone is addicted to a chemical their brain creates a sensation or need to force you to give the brain more of that chemical it’s addicted to, yes? So the medication reduces the problem…but once the brain is addicted it creates the problem again so you keep giving the brain the chemical in the medication it craves.

For example:
Sleeping pills – You can’s sleep so you start taking sleeping pills. Take them for long enough and the brain stops creating it’s own sleepy chemicals (like melatonin), creating a need for you to take more sleeping pills in order to get sleepy.

Nasal spray – Your nose is plugged so you give it a squirt. Squirt to often and the brain creates more mucous and inflames the sinus tissue, creating a need for more spray so you can breathe.

Pain Medication – Now here’s a hum dinger few have thought of: You’re in pain so the doc man gives you something with…let’s say an opioid (derived from opium) like Percocet (since we all know that’s addictive, right?). Brain LOVES opioids after awhile. Now what do you think the brain would need to create for you to take more pain medication?? That’s right…MORE PAIN! Bum deal huh!

The point in my little rant here is this: If you’re looking for a bandaid for your chronic condition – go for the pharmaceuticals. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve just had a tooth pulled, broke a bone, have the flu or some other right-now-type-problem then take those suckers! They’ll do their job for those acute issues.

But if you’ve got a chronic pain, frequent headaches, constant constipation, depression, sciatica or other ain’t-going-nowhere-soon-type-problem then consider finding someone who will look for the cause rather than just treat the symptom with a magic blue pill.

I’m not gonna lie; it may take some time, and you may have to actually participate in your own healing (like loose a few pounds, stretch every day, meditate or change your diet). The up side is that you’ll actually be treating the problem instead of throwing a little dirt on it and hoping it goes away. It won’t, and if I’m correct in my logical deduction, it will come back as an angry Hulked-out chemically addicted pain in the butt an elephant gun can’t kill. Doesn’t sound fun at all now does it?

Want to start looking for the real cause of your problem? Here’s a few places to start. I know first hand these people will do everything they can to find the root of your problem and get you feeling better.
Body Harmony Massage – Meridian, ID – Specializes in pain management/chronic pain conditions
Vitality Acupuncture – Meridian, ID – Acupuncture for a variety of body & wellness issues
Boise Integrated Chiropractic – Boise, ID – Chiro who combines many other forms of treatment
Back 2 Life Chiropractic – Meridian, ID – Chiro with in-house x-rays and long term treatment plans
Guaranteed Healing – distance Chakra/Energy Healing (don’t knock it ’till you try it!)

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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(Image from nytimes.com)

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10 Common Habits That Cause Back Pain, Part 2: Poor Posture

Back Pain Part 2

White Oak Family Wellness

spinal curves The human spine illustrated with “neutral” curves

This is part 2 of a 10 part series about common causes of back pain and what you can do about them. Click part 1 for the first post which was about sitting too much.

For part 2 we are going to discuss your:

Poor Posture

That’s right, when your mom told you to sit up straight, she knew what she was talking about. Poor posture can play a large role in aches and pains as well as your psychological well-being (depression and decreased energy as indicated in this study). Many people don’t realize the damage that they are doing with their slouched sitting,  slumped forward shoulders and forward head posture.

On a musculoskeletal level, sitting in a slouched posture greatly decreases the activity of two of your most important spinal stabilizers (the multifidus and the internal oblique muscles). On the other…

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10 Things Massage Can Help You Achieve in 2014

Massage can help a body in so many ways, and it’s recently dawned on me that many of the benefits are linked to a lot of New Years Resolutions.

Through receiving massage and becoming aware of your body and how it functions, you can enjoy physical and emotional benefits to help you reach your goals. Here are some examples:

1. Stress Less
Massage, primarily Swedish Massage, is well known as a relaxation technique. It relaxes the nervous system, slows breathing, and can even give you the physical and emotional sensation of sleeping even if you stay awake. Once your body is in a relaxed state, stress levels naturally decrease. After your massage you may feel groggy, which is normal and will fade once you get moving again. However, even after the grogginess wears off your body is energetically in a more relaxed state and mentally you can feel more aware and less sensitive to your daily stressors.

Be sure to actively participate in your relaxation if that is your goal for the massage session. Inform your therapist that you want to relax, close your eyes, tune out the world, breath slowly and deeply into your stomach, and feel your body release all your stress tension. Once the therapist is done with an area, forget about it. Forget you even have an arm or leg once it’s been worked on. Just let it be numb for awhile. Fall asleep if that’s what your body tells you is needed. Just be.

2. Work Out More
Muscle soreness can be in part due to muscle waste, like lactic acid, remaining in the muscle tissue. Tight muscles are constantly in flexion, so are constantly producing this muscle waste. They are also literally squeezing out their own blood supply, which prevents blood from flushing out these toxins for your body to process and remove.

Massage relaxes muscle tissue, which increases blood circulation in the area. By doing so, the muscle waste is flushed out by the blood. Once this waste is removed that work-out soreness is greatly reduced as the lactic acid is not longer built up. Not sore = better and more effective workouts!

3. Take Better Care of Yourself
Many people have very little idea of how their body moves or where pain starts. When we ask some clients “What time of day does your pain start?” or “What movement causes you pain?” we often get a blank stare. They only know they have pain. There where or why is a foreign idea.

Touch through massage brings an awareness to an area. Your therapist may find areas of pain or tension you were not even aware of and so didn’t know needed treated. May times these areas are interconnected. Once you become aware of what starts and sets off your pain you can take preventative measures. You’ll know what you can and can’t do, and when to get treatment before the pain actually starts.

4. Address Cellulite
Cellulite is basically fatty tissue that us protruding through your fascia, the tissue that connects your skin to the muscles underneath. When this happens the fatty tissue pushes the skin out, and the areas where the fascia is connecting skin to muscle won’t stretch as far as the spaces under the skin. This causes the skin to pucker where the fascia is pulling on the underside of the skin.

A Cellulite Massage is a specialized technique that stretches the fascia and levels out the fatty tissue, reducing that “cottage cheese” appearance by smoothing out the area. The fatty tissue should still be addressed with exercise and a healthy diet, but it’ll be a lot easier to see the results of your sweat-fest when the area doesn’t look so lumpy.

5. Be More Active
If you have pain, being active can be…well, painful. Massage can release muscle tension and trigger points, strip adhesions and scar tissue, correct postural deviations, improve blood flow, release pain-relieving chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, and so much more.

Pain is many times a vicious cycle. You have pain so you’re less active, but not exercising causes more pain. Massage can help to reduce the pain to allow you to be more active and get some exercise, which in turn will continue to reduce a lot of pain.

6. Be Happier
Those with chronic pain know it can take an emotional toll as well. You’re in pain, which sucks. You can’t do the things you want to do, which sucks. The pain seems to either not be getting better or is getting worse, which sucks!

Reducing your pain and being able to go back to doing some of the things you’ve had to give up can do wonders for a person’s overall well being. And when you’re happy, your brain releases more happy chemicals that can also help reduce pain!

7. Better Rest/More Energy
Stress and pain are two major causes of people loosing quality winks. As we touched on earlier, massage can help with both of these which can go a long way towards a better night’s rest and more energy the next day.

Additionally, once the initial “massage drunk” wears off, may people feel an increase in energy and focus after receiving massage. They’re not as distracted by pain or stress, and they’re full of all those happy chemicals flowing through their bloodstream. Many people report having more energy for several hours, days and even weeks after their massage.

8. More patience
Admit it. When you’re tired, stressed, sore or in pain you’re not exactly Mother Teresa. Reducing these stressors can go a long way to helping you get through traffic, your co-workers, kids and daily life.

Additionally, we’ve become a quick-fix society with our health as well. It’s become preferred to take the magic pill or latest fad diet than get to the root of the problem. Massage can make you more aware of what’s really needed, and you can physically feel the difference it can make long term instead of settling for the quick cure.

9. Open mindedness
Alternative medicine, although becoming more popular and widely accepted, is still…well…”alternative”. Many will still continue to dismiss us alternative care providers as “witch-doctors” and “rip-offs”. Never-mind that what we now call “alternative” has been around longer than modern medicine.

Once you’ve seen the effectiveness of massage you may consider trying other forms of alternative care, like acupuncture or chiropractic. Maybe after that you’ll try energy work. Once you’re willing to be more open minded about things with less judgement in your eyes you might just realize there’s a wealth of knowledge and possibilities for you to discover.

10. Better Self-Image
Massage can help you get past body issues. We professionals do not hold judgement on any body shape, type, more or hair follicle. Many clients realize after being accepted by their massage therapist that they were making a bigger deal out of their body issues than what is actually there.

So you see, massage is much more than a glorified lotion application. I’ll admit massage cannot do all the work for you; but through massage, self care and self discovery it is certainly a viable tool to help you on your journey to what you might wish to accomplish.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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(Image from nytimes.com)

10 Common Habits That Cause Back Pain, Part 1: Too much sitting

Are you causing your own back pain?

White Oak Family Wellness

Modern sitting habits lead to back painIt has been estimated that 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives (1). In fact, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the Global Burden of Disease. With staggering statistics such as these it has become ever more important to not just treat back pain but to teach those with back pain how they can help themselves. This is a 10 part series in which I will discuss some of the most common habits that lead to back pain and what you can do about them.

In part 1, we are going to discuss one of the most prevalent habits in the modern world:

Too much sitting

Think about it, you spend most of your life sitting. You’re probably sitting right now (that’s a freebie since I know you’re reading this). You sit at your desk and work…

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New Years Commitment – The Followthrough

Continuing on from our first post of the year, “”Resolutions” Are For Sissies – Commitments Are For Real”, today we’re diving in. Hey, I’m on this ride with you remember? Have you already forgotten this idea only hit me a few days ago?? I gots me a few commitments too!

So, you’ve made a commitment and you’ve written it down. Now, what are you going to do about it? You’re going to make a plan, that’s what you’re gonna do!

A plan is a series of organized events carried out in order to reach a particular goal. Yes? Good, made sense to me too 🙂 I’m a to-do-list’er so that’s how I’m going to run this gig. Lists keep me on task, and I feel good about getting to cross things off as I accomplish them.

So here’s what my plan is:
1. List each month on a piece of paper

2. Write whatever I need to do next to each month.
In the case of tile, let’s say January – decide on tile, February – save $100, March – save $100…etc. etc. July – rip out tile & install, August – enjoy awesomeness!
Or, for going to the gym or limiting coffee maybe make check boxes for each date you intend to go in a month and check them off. Whatever is going to keep you on task and motivated.

3. Now get hopping! It’s already January so ya better get started 🙂

4. Don’t get hung up on the end goal, like loosing 20 pounds. Focus on the commitment to doing something! The loosing of pounds is just a perk and will happen automatically as you honor your commitment to DOING it!

Really, if you’ve done your soul searching earlier you know this is something you really want…for you. The only one who can weasel out of a commitment to yourself is you. So if you really want it then do it, because if you quit there’s no one else to blame. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Good luck friends and feel free to comment if you need advice or a little moral support. Share your commitments, it’ll make you feel more accountable. Tell us and your friends about it. We’re all connected and here for each other. Blessings!

“Resolutions” Are For Sissies – Commitments Are For Real

20140106-170747.jpg
Happy 2014! The new year is here and everyone wants to start out on fire, right? So why not get serious about it folks?

I’ve recently been thrusted into a little journey of self discovery. I spent the last month of last year thinking about myself for a change and what I’m going to do about some things I’ve discovered about myself and ones closest to me.

While on this little journey, with some wine in my empty kitchen on New Years Eve, I had myself a little epiphany. I decided resolutions are for sissies! Resolutions are usually thought up around 11:50 and fizzle out shortly thereafter. Like that glass of Champagne at midnight after an evening of hard liquor; a good idea at the time that leaves you with a headache of regret after, realizing you didn’t really think that one through.

Commitments, however, are hard and usually require forethought and continued effort. So I thought, instead of a “resolution” that will loose it’s thunder somewhere around Valentine’s Day at best, how about a “New Year Commitment”. A solid commitment to and for yourself.

Run with me people I’m on a roll here…I’m telling you this is gonna be a hot trend!

Be specific. Generic and general statements like “get in shape” won’t motivate you or keep you accountable. This is a COMMITMENT! You know, like “I swear to love, honor, cherish, blah blah blah for the rest of my days until I die” type thing.

Basically, search your soul a little here. What’s REALLY important to you? A fitness goal? Quitting a bad habit? Having a better relationship with the honey, kids or friends? Accomplishing a goal (even a small one like kitchen tile 😉 )? Taking better care of you? Once you figure that out, think of at least one specific thing that can get you there. That’s the commitment we’re making this year – the specific thing. Not the grand end goal that’s to daunting to tackle, but accomplishing the baby steps to get there so we stay motivated by milestones!

Again, be specific. I commit to:
Go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday
Do a sugar cleanse twice this year
Do something for only myself at least “x” times per week
Only drink coffee on Mondays (because Mondays suck 🙂 )
Get a massage every three weeks
Go on a date with my partner, kids, friends, etc. once a month
Tile my kitchen by June
Run “x” miles per week by August

Now we’re going to treat this like a marriage license, or better yet a mortgage! I commit to pay “x” every month until “x”. No getting out of this one baby! Write it down and keep it where you’ll see it everyday. Heck make it look pretty and put it in a frame if you have to! Now put up your right hand and say it with me now: “I (state your name) am making a commitment in 2014 to (blank)”.

The idea here is to keep it on the forefront of your mind. You don’t need to do a daily affirmation (not that it would hurt) but if you can see it everyday you’re more likely to keep it up. If you read it everyday it remains important.

Stew on it for a few days before you decide on something concrete. Then come visit me here again in a few days for the next post on how we’re going to make this sucker happen!

An Introduction to Deep Tissue

Great info on Deep Tissue Massage 🙂

Christopher Hess LMT

As I have alluded to in a previous article, prior to my career in massage, I was the office manager at a wellness center that specialized in orthopedic & deep tissue massage. As an avid runner and cyclist, I was acutely aware of the perils of overtraining, poor recovery, and injury, yet had not received any kind of massage geared toward my training. Very soon after taking the position, I experienced my first Deep Tissue massage. While it was not the first massage I had ever received, it was the first I would have with a directed purpose. I knew within seconds that I was in for something I was not accustomed to.


The history of massage is an interesting one. I have touched on that in the past. It has evolved over the centuries from a simple form of hand and finger pressure, to complicated techniques with…

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