Bowenwork: A Unique Approach to Healing and Pain Relief

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Massage Topics, Questions Clients Ask, Wellness Ideas | 2 comments

BowenworkI first heard of Bowenwork from a friend who lives with multiple sclerosis. She raved about it’s gentle ability to make real change in her pain levels. And now I’m excited to offer a new type of healing work for you!  

This week’s blog is a guest post by my Bodyworks colleague, Lorelei Nissly, LMT who is a certified Bowenwork practitioner. Look for our ad in the Lancaster-Berks Natural Awakenings print magazine, including a special offer for 50% off your second Bowenwork session.

Bowenwork is a unique and exciting approach to healing and pain relief. A gentle, soft tissue relaxation technique, Bowenwork is an unusual form of bodywork because the moves are performed, without oil, in specific locations on the body, followed by pauses of several minutes, to allow the body to integrate the effects of the work.

You are thinking, “But what can it do for me?” Bowenwork can be beneficial in a wide range of situations. It can assist in recovery from traumatic injury to chronic illness, depending upon each individual’s capacity to heal. Also, many clients report that Bowenwork is the most relaxing bodywork they have ever experienced.

Some of the conditions that often respond favorably to Bowenwork are:

  • Back pain and sciatica
  • Neck and shoulder problems
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbow
  • Sports injury and most traumatic injuries
  • Migraines and other types of headaches
  • Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Hip, knee, ankle and foot problems
  • Anxiety, shock and grief
  • Digestive and bowel problems
  • Earache and TMJ problems
  • Menstrual and hormonal irregularities
  • Groin pain, pelvic tilt and uneven leg length
  • Respiratory problems and hay fever

So that’s an impressive list. Now, how does it work? A Bowenwork practitioner acknowledges the body’s innate intelligence and intrinsic ability to heal itself. Light pressure stimulation to muscles, tendons and fascia, as well as gentle rolling actions over the tissues, send nerve reflex signals, triggering responses not only at the site of the moves, but throughout the whole body. The inputs are received by the body on many levels. More specifically, Bowenwork resets dysfunctional tissue tension patterns in muscles, tendons, fascia and joints. This results in changes in the stretch-length of muscle fibers and joint realignment, via spinal reflexes and the central nervous system.

The concept of minimal touch is central to Bowenwork. Often only a few sets of “moves”, along with several pauses for the work to integrate, will produce noticeable benefits. Heart and breathing rates have been observed to slow down as Bowenwork signals the central nervous system, encouraging the resetting of abnormal tension patterns and postural imbalances, restoring optimal organ function, detoxification and elimination of waste products and improved lymph drainage, oxygenation and blood circulation to tissues.

The Bowen practitioner facilitates a deep internal process within the client’s body, which creates a state of relaxation. This can occur rapidly or over a number of days after the session depending on severity, chronicity and the body’s individual ability to heal.

Well then, what’s it like to receive this work? Sessions of Bowenwork differ from massage in their application technique. While massage is generally a hands-on method with the therapist applying oil or lotion and being in constant touch with the client, Bowenwork uses no oil and combines minimal light moves, often over clothing, interspersed with hands-off periods to allow the client’s body to relax and respond. The practitioner usually leaves the room during these periods.

Bowenwork is best performed as a stand alone procedure, not incorporated with any other bodywork. This keeps the subtle work clear from other influences, input and over-stimulation to allow client and practitioner to assess true progress. We start by scheduling two sessions, one week apart to set the basic foundation of the work. A week after the second appointment, we know more about how your body is responding. At that point, client and practitioner decide together how to proceed.

Because this technique is so effective, it has been widely embraced by a broad spectrum of health professionals who are impressed by the diversity of problems it can address. Bowenwork is now supported throughout the world by the Bowenwork Academy and a large faculty of dedicated, accredited instructors.

The name “Bowenwork” honors Tom Bowen who pioneered and perfected the work from 1950 until his passing in 1982. Mr. Bowen was extremely busy in his Geelong, Australia clinic, performing about 13,000 treatments a year on the clients who traveled to him and benefited from his gifts. Toward the end of his life, he entrusted a very few people with documenting his techniques and teaching the work to others.

Bowenwork is being taught and practiced all over the world. Now that I am trained to do this highly effective work, I can offer it right here in our local community. I invite you to make your appointments with me at Bodyworks Integrative Health soon so that we can see how your body can be “Better with Bowen.” Look for our ad in the Lancaster-Berks New Awakenings print magazine, including a special offer of 50% off your second Bowenwork session.

I look forward to helping you with this amazing technique, to reduce your pain and increase your function, energy and ease.

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Home Cooking for Your Health

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Cooking at Home, On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I recently read an article in the New York Times where two of my favorite writers covered one of my favorite topics: cooking. Not a celebrity chef cooking but US cooking in our homes.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the article … “[Michael Pollan] says: “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

In my house the main cook is my husband. His grandfather was a chef / short order cook /restaurant owner. He learned to cook because that’s how the division of labor worked when he was growing up. He was bad at waking everyone up in the morning, so his sister took over those duties. And he took over her duties in the kitchen. And thus … he loves to cook. Early in our marriage I did some regular cooking, but after a year or two we discovered that everyone was happier when he cooked most of the time. I know I am super lucky! Not only does Cris like to cook … he makes delicious, interesting meals!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Given this situation, I especially thought it was interesting when the article quotes Pollan saying, “We need to complete that uncomfortable conversation about the division of domestic labor, which the food industry deftly exploited to sell us processed food,” he says. “But if we’re going to rebuild a culture of cooking, it can’t mean returning women to the kitchen. We all need to go back to the kitchen.”

Although Cris and I are invested in being healthy, we don’t count calories or obsessively exercise. And most of our health-indicating blood tests come back in the “healthy” range most of the time. We believe it’s because we rarely eat food just from boxes or drive-up windows. In fact, I’d estimate that 90% of our food is home-cooked.

Contrast this lifestyle with some folks I know. For example, I have a massage client who has never used her stove in the 7 years since she bought it. One day I was talking to the friend who helps us keep our house clean (super grateful for her help too!) about how much work it can be to clean our kitchen. I happened to ask her if this was pretty common among her clients. She said that as many of her clients don’t cook as do cook. Wow!

One of my favorite wellness authors, Marc David, says this in his Eater’s Agreement:

“I recognize that at its deepest level eating is an affirmation of life. Each time I eat I agree somewhere inside to continue life on earth. I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence.”

Don’t you love that idea? Our fridge has an important sticker on it … too important for the car bumper. It says, “Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.” Even if you are just cooking for yourself today, aren’t you worth that love??

 

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Health Coach or Fitness App?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in On My Soapbox, Questions Clients Ask, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Someone recently asked me, “Why would I hire a health coach when I can download a free fitness app to keep me on track?” And, you guessed it, I have an answer to share with all of you!

Don’t get me wrong—I love fitness apps like LoseIt and MyFitnessPal. In fact I think that these apps are the food diary of the twenty-first century. I remember my first venture into Weight Watchers back in 1990. We received a small paper booklet every week and were told to write everything we ate in the booklet. Then a few years later a calculator-type tracker was available—for about $75 I think.How things have changed! Now these FREE apps have millions of entries in a database that users can continually add to. The apps can tell you all kinds of different nutrition information about that snack or restaurant meal. They approximate your home-cooked meal’s nutrition value with ease. Lots of advantages … including all the things an app will tell you about calories burned during your day. You can even count the calories involved in cooking your dinner!

App or Coach

So what does a health coach offer that’s different? I can only speak for my approach, but one thing a health coach does is consider each client as a wholly individual being. The health coach does so much more than focus on calories in and calories out. Even the prevailing health wisdom is calling that an outdated approach.

While every health coach has an area of expertise or specialization, they know how to incorporate that knowledge into the reality of a client’s day. For example, I work primarily with people who are interested in addressing chronic pain and inflammation through holistic and nutritional means. There are some very specific steps towards this goal, but based on my experience I can determine whether or not those steps apply to you.

A few days ago, I was working with a young woman who contacted me because food shopping and knowing healthy from unhealthy was very difficult for her. After four sessions, including a grocery store tour together, we reached a really important moment. It started innocently enough with a conversation about how great the grocery store tour was for her confidence. And all of a sudden, my client was making connections about her food-related childhood experiences and the fear she feels today. It was a tissue and tears moment, and it cleared away a lot of her tension about food.

This story is a perfect example of what health coaching offers that ISN’T available in a free app. Health coaching offers recognition that each client’s needs are individual. It offers a place to discuss not just what to eat but why to make adjustments. Together clients and health coaches create sacred space where big emotional connections happen. The coach shares practical tips like recipes and lessons in label reading—in a way that’s easy to absorb.

Most importantly the health coaching relationship offers trust, hugs and love—invaluable encouragement!

 

Ready to get started feeling less pain and more energy? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute get acquainted call. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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Now Offering Reflexology!

Posted by on Feb 17, 2013 in Massage Topics, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I am thrilled to announce that our fantastic massage therapist Lorelei Nissly is offering Reflexology treatments! She has been practicing reflexology for some time, and we are officially adding it to our menu of services as of this week.

Reflexology is a therapeutic foot massage that helps rejuvenate your mental, emotional and physical well being. It improves health by stimulating the circulatory and nervous systems. All of the reflex points in our feet connect, via nerves and meridians to particular organs and body areas, promoting healing, releasing tension and increasing stress resilience. Foot reflexology will leave you feeling peaceful, relaxed, and like you’re walking on clouds.

You may book a separate reflexology session or add it on to your massage treatment. Give us a shout to try it!

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Why Do You Need a Health Coach?

Posted by on Feb 10, 2013 in Questions Clients Ask, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Have you ever heard about health coaching and wondered why it would help you? It’s a pretty new field in wellness and health care, so you probably aren’t alone! My answer is simple … so simple that I wanted to tell you “face-to-face.” And it takes just 45 seconds to watch this video. (It’s my first one ever … so be gentle with me ok?)

I specifically help people living with chronic pain and inflammation make simple nutrition and lifestyle changes that minimize their pain and maximize their energy! Why, because I know just how you feel … and I’ve worked hard on developing some solutions for myself that I’d like to share with you!

Ready to get started feeling less pain and more energy?!?? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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My Gluten Free Story … So Far …

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Gluten Free, On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Lots and lots of people are out there in the blogosphere and health world talking about eating gluten free. I’ve been listening to them for years—have you? Well, I finally joined onto that bandwagon. Here’s a little bit about why I did, and more importantly what it did for me.

Every time someone brought up eating gluten free, my  response was the same. “Maybe someday I’ll change but I’m not ready right now.” Honestly that’s just a nice way of saying … give me a good enough reason and I’ll consider if it would be worth it to me. I love bread and all things wheat, so being gluten free sounded like a small bit of hell right here on earth. But just in case, I eliminated processed breakfast cereals and limited my bread consumption … okay but I still had the occasional pizza or subs or cookies or cakes. I definitely found that the more healthy, clean, unprocessed choices I made, the better I felt. But gluten-free … nope, I wasn’t ready yet.

Well, about 3 months ago things started to shift. As you know, my primary health coaching focus is working with people who live with pain and inflammation. Since that’s my everyday world as well, I spend a lot of time researching this type of information. When I read a great book hoping to gain some insight for a newly diabetic family member, the connections really started to click. What? A book about diabetes talked about gluten? Yup – and inflammation … and the connection between the two. And I found an article that seemed credible covering the connection between autoimmunity and gluten. And I read another book about the connection between thyroid issues, autoimmunity and gluten too. More reading and more credible, scientific connections ensued. And I decided to it was time to give gluten-free living a try.

Making pizza with a cauliflower crust ... no gluten here!

Making pizza with a cauliflower crust … no gluten here!

Know what really flipped the final switch? Well I just happened to stand on the scale one morning. The previous evening I’d had two small pieces of pizza and a few baked, breaded shrimps. Shocker – the scale showed I had gained four pounds overnight. Nothing else in my food the day before was inflammatory. But four pounds of water/inflammation packed on just from a “moderate” serving of wheat-based stuff. You should know that I’m not super worried about my weight – it’s healthy and I’m fitting in my clothes. That’s another reason why four pounds overnight just seemed crazy.

So with all of this information, I figured maybe there is some truth to the connection between gluten and inflammation. And I thought to myself, “let’s give it 4 to 6 weeks and see how I feel. If there’s no change, I’ll just go back to gluten.” And how long did it take to see and feel a difference? Not 4 to 6 weeks but 4 to 6 DAYS! Truthfully, I am still finding things that have changed … and it has been about 10 weeks now. Here’s what I noticed:

  • Flexibility (what I noticed first … and as a massage therapist this change is very helpful … plus it’s easier to get on the floor and play with the grandkids)
  • Major reduction in morning stiffness, especially in my hands (again, so helpful when I have early morning clients)
  • Strength or more muscle soreness (I think keeping my muscles strong will ultimately benefit my joints, so this is important to me too)
  • Major changes in how clothing waistlines fit (small weight change too, plus every single piece of clothing is looser & all muffin tops are gone)
  • Less swollen feet at night (I stand for up to 8 hours each day, so this comfort level change is huge)
  • Less wildly uncontrollable hunger (I used to say my stomach was really a headless monster but not anymore …)
  • Less irritability, especially around hunger (this is huge because I have been attributing irritability to hormone changes … maybe not so much)
  • Calmer emotions even in times of great stress (so I’m in the sandwich generation and a small business owner … need to be calmer every day)
  • Less brain fog – not “losing words” or my train of thought at all (super helpful and makes me feel a lot less crazy)
  • Changes in muscle definition and general tissue quality (now you can see my muscles, plus they feel looser and less tense to both me and my massage therapist)

I can’t say for sure that going gluten-free will help you with these issues. (But I would wish good changes of any type for you!) I can’t say for sure that I will always experience being gluten-free as a positive force in my life. But I am hopeful … and that makes all the difference each morning when my feet hit the floor. Don’t be surprised if you see a few gluten-free recipes peaking up here, and some more conversation about the benefits. After all, sharing information is what I’m all about!

Looking for support in going Gluten Free? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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