7 Holistic Changes that Improve Pain Relief

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Holistic Pain Relief | 0 comments

Photo credit: www.chuckgoodenough.com

© Chuck Goodenough | www.chuckgoodenough.com

I believe that creating holistic pain relief in your life is a series of small steps that together add up for big gains. Figuring out what works for you is like solving one of those complicated multi-dimensional puzzles with layers and tricky little secrets. BUT … today I am sharing a few of the tricky little secrets I have learned over that last several years with you. Let’s unlock that puzzle together!

  1. Getting more sleep:  Sleep can be elusive when you are living with chronic pain, but a good stretch of uninterrupted sleep is key to a better day. Sleep is the time when your body is naturally designed to heal, so it’s critical to improving pain relief. But what can you do when the pain keeps you awake? First step: reduce your caffeine intake during the entire day especially later afternoon and evening. Switch from regular to decaf to green tea to water to taper off gradually. Second key element: turn off the electronic devices at least 15-30 minutes before you climb into bed. Studies show that this light is particularly stimulating for your brain—just at the time you need your brain to slow down. Third option: consider dimming the lights throughout your house starting at dinnertime. This creates a ritual that allows your body to wind down naturally towards sleep.
  2. Reducing “comfort foods”:  Comfort foods don’t make you comfortable! Most of the foods we turn to for “comfort” have ingredients in them that promote inflammation and therefore pain. These include trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils), white sugar and similar sweeteners, wheat flour and gluten and dairy (for some of us). When you are feeling well and energetic, make the time to cultivate an appreciation for a new style of comfort foods. Switch fresh fruit for store bought cookies. Choose naturally salty foods like a few olives instead of handfuls of chips. Taking small steps to readjust your taste buds will help you make less inflammatory choices when you’re seeking “comfort foods.”
  3. Learning to say no:  Letting your schedule get overloaded helping other people can be a significant factor in chronic pain. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be a giving person. But be careful with your boundaries and your energy. If helping the same person (organization, club, team, etc.) all the time is creating a drain on your energy and pain in your body, you may want to take a pause on that practice while you address your own health. As a colleague reminded me recently, “No” is a complete sentence. You can also say, “Not now” instead of no. Remember that taking care of you is top priority if you want to help others in the future!
  4. Reducing highly processed foods:  these processed foods are on our grocery store aisles and restaurant menus. Did you know that most restaurants specifically design their menu items to layer fat, sugar and salt (often over and over) throughout? This makes the food practically irresistible, especially after the first bite. So when you feel like an entrée, appetizer or dessert is too wonderful to stop eating … maybe you should wonder what you’re taking into your body.
  5. Asking for help more often:  maybe you’re great at saying no, at making healthier food choices … but have you developed a “healing team?” During my experience of chronic pain, I have learned that various types of healing work help me in different ways that are all equally important. For example, having a massage therapist for soft tissue pain helps in a different way than the counselor who helps manage the emotional aspects of chronic pain. And sometimes we don’t need professionals—we just need to ask our friends or family members for a little extra assistance. In my house this has meant “letting” other people do the dishes after family dinners. I used to be afraid they wouldn’t be done “right,” now I treasure the break and enjoy a little playtime with the younger kids.
  6. Knowing when to use ice packs:  today’s practical tip—if you have pain and don’t know it’s origin or cause, it’s usually safer to use ice than heat for pain relief. Heat can increase inflammation in an area, and this may be the opposite of what your body needs even when it feels good. That said … trust your body’s reactions. If the ice makes a muscle spasm worse, you may be better off with some heat.
  7. Increasing hydration:  For most of us … it’s hot out there right now! Please be sure to drink enough water to counteract all that heat. Side effects of failing to hydrate properly include: headache, muscle aches, brain fog, fatigue, poor digestion, and more. Today is the day to start carrying around a bottle of water and drinking from it regularly. Your body will thank you!

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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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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