Friday, July 11, 2014

Stretching and Massage Class from Bodyworker Seminars
This week I took a live, hands-on continuing education class from Heath and Nicole Reed at Bodyworker Seminars. It was paid for by Massage Envy, for which I am grateful, and they even provided lunch. Because I took two days of classes from Bodyworker Seminars last year, I knew to expect a well thought out, well presented burst of therapeutic knowledge, based on the decades of combined experience and education from the teachers. The one thing I feel did not exactly meet my expectations, which is not necessarily a bad thing, was that the class spent much less time on stretching than I expected. We did hear a lecture about stretching and learned a few stretching techniques to apply to our clients, but we learned several more lotioned elbow techniques than stretches. I guess the "And Massage" portion was bigger than the "Stretching" part of the class title. After my decade of stretching clients daily, I was pleased to hear their fresh look at incorporating movement and stretching based on Thai massage, Yoga, and several other perspectives. From this class, I have several ways to refresh my daily practice, which is really the point of taking continuing education, right?

Some key things I learned:

Nicole Reed lead a warm up where we stretched ourselves, grounded ourselves, and tried to heighten our awareness of what it felt like to be inside our own bodies. During this time, she said,  "A small adjustment can create a big change." We were doing a straight leg stretch with one leg resting on the massage table while standing on the other leg. We held that hamstring stretch for several breaths and then she directed us to evert our foot on the stretching leg. This was a change of millimeters which created a dramatic change in the feel of the intent of the stretch. Likewise, she also told us to dorsi-flex the foot during another stretch to protect the knee. I can't wait to try that with clients who have sketchy knees and see how much of a difference it makes to their comfort level. 

Another eye opening concept was how much science is changing and adapting in stretching theories. There is a lot of new research and practice coming out in the last decade. It is an exciting time to be a myo-fascial therapist. For example, stretching actually strengthens soft tissue structures, it does not just relax them. When you stretch, the muscles have limited length, but fascia has far more adaptability. Most of a stretch actually addresses the fascia. The collagen, which is one part of the fascia, aligns to the line of force or tension and more collagen is built into the structure when regular, consistent stretching occurs in the same tissues.  

When we are injured, the body throws down a disorganized patch of fascia to temporarily protect and immobilize the area. After the injury is healed, stretching therapies can re-organize that patch into a stronger, more appropriate, more mobile design. Speaking of injury, there are 10 times more sensory neurons in fascia than muscle, which means 10 times more pain sensation comes from the fascia. Making a stretch feel nice to the client relies much more on fascial manipulation to create balance, than muscular focus. This is also why myo-fascial release is key to resolving chronic pain.

Heath and Nicole spent a long time explaining why sedentary lifestyles create immobility and long term musculoskeletal dysfunction. Aging is highly controllable by movement and expanding mental boundaries of what you believe your body is capable of. You have to practice not being fearful of breaking yourself with stretching. On the aging topic, they say you must "Prevent trouble before it arises." You should plan ahead for your old age physically just like you do financially. Genetics are not permanent because attitude, nutrition, movement and environment can change your gene expression. David Wolfe has been talking about "Epigenetics" lately too, which is the same concept. 

Another way of looking at the aging process is that your entire body, at the atomic level will be replaced in about 2 years time. We will have NONE of the atoms in our body 2 years from now, that we have today. If we get our atoms from breath, environment and food, we can see relatively quick results if we make positive choices today. (I'm kind of extrapolating from what Heath said about 2 years and new atoms, not directly quoting.)

The last thing I want to mention that I really loved about the class the other day was a quote they shared from Dr. Ida Rolf, "Movement is the physical acceptance of change." That's certainly something to meditate on!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Eat Move Sleep Book Review

I just read through an accessible, informative wellness book called Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes. The author, Tom Rath has a rare genetic condition that makes him incredibly susceptible to cancer. He has compiled a book full of his lifestyle choices that have helped him to beat the cancer progression clock. I like this book because most of the tips are easy to implement and have a sound scientific basis. 

If I could change one thing about the book, I would organize it a bit differently. Each chapter has one piece of each topic- Eating, Moving, and Sleeping. Sometimes they are related, other times, not so much. Each chapter is bite sized and useful, so it's not a big deal, but I was a little distracted by the organization. 

Here are some quotes from the book which give you an idea of the kinds of topics he covers. All of these claims are backed up with evidence and/or personal experience. 

"Sitting for many hours encourages fat cells to congregate near your rear."

"A mere 20 minutes of moderate activity could significantly improve your mood for the next 12 hours."

"When your body's motions are not aligned and balanced. Using one side of your body far more than the other, for example, can create uneven wear and serious back problems over time."

"One spinal surgeon put it, be careful to avoid bending, lifting, and twisting in particular. During these three motions, your spine is the most vulnerable to injury."

"Exposure to light in the hours before you go to sleep suppresses melatonin levels. Lower melatonin levels make it hard to fall asleep, decrease sleep quality, and could even increase the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. "

"Getting more protein from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish will also increase your intake of omega-3's, which are deficient in most people's diets today."

"I keep pictures of my wife and kids directly above my desk and treadmill. This reminds me that my staying active matters as much for the people I care about as it does for myself."

"Use plates with a diameter closer to the length of your hand than to the length of your foot."

"The impact of plate color alone is quite dramatic. They found a clear contrast between food and plate keeps people from overeating."

"Sleep is a treasure, and it should be valued as one. Yet for many of us, sleep is the first thing we cast aside."

"If you structure your activity to end on a high note, you are more likely to do it again."

"Exercise creates an immediate benefit for your memory."

"Higher levels of physical activity are consistently related to greater brain volume."

"Vigorous workouts in the hours right before bed are likely to improve sleep significantly."

"People who were on teams with more social influence increased their odds of losing weight by 20 percent."

"Pick one food you eat even though you know you shouldn't. Give it a nickname that will make you think twice about eating it."

"People who eat breakfast are smarter and skinnier."

"Eating breakfast foods with a low glycemic index prevents spikes in blood sugar later in the day, which could make for better choices in the afternoon and evening."

"Data show that people who spend more than four hours a day watching video are more than twice as likely to have a major cardiac event that kills them..."

"Researchers found that for every extra hour of total commuting time per day, you would need a corresponding 40 percent increase in your salary to make the added car time worthwhile."

"People with severe sleep apnea had a 65 percent higher risk of developing cancer."

"During a 3 week disruption [of sleep patterns], the participants' glucose control went haywire...could easily set the stage for development of diabetes and obesity..."

This book contains a great deal of wisdom and I highly recommend it. I found personally that it gave me some fresh ideas and perspectives for tweaking the way I eat, move and sleep. Because I am such a nerd about these health fundamentals, I frequently re-evaluate how to optimize them for myself, and this book both reminded me of shortcomings and encouraged me to overcome them. 

Dr. Hyman Mind Body Green Interview

Here is an INTERVIEW with Functional Medicine Doctor Mark Hyman. In it he talks about food, nutrition, how to optimize your health by balance between food and movement, and some exciting changes in the healthcare system. 

Some key quotes:

"You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet." Meaning that to compensate for poor dietary choices, you have to spend an impossible amount of time exercising. He uses the example of having to run a marathon everyday if you eat a Supersize McDonald's meal everyday. 

"The microbiome...and gene expression changes with every single bite you put in your body." It does not take weeks or months to give yourself positive wellness progress. He goes on to speak about quality of food being the key to the long term plan. 

"Sugar is a recreational drug." I compared sugar to over the counter pain relievers in a prior post and here he compares sugar to tequila. You would never pour a shot of tequila in your morning coffee, have a tequila filled candy bar in the mid afternoon and follow dinner every night with a bowl of tequila with chocolate sauce. The point is that sugar is way too prevalent and our bodies are functioning like we are walking around drunk all the time. 

"The higher fat vegan diet people lost more weight... and had better metabolic profiles..." We can't be afraid of fat, but the quality of fat is what has been throwing off our understanding of how it works in the body. Plant based fats, like nuts and seeds, avocados, and coconuts are extremely helpful to boosting health. Conversely, canola oil, which we generally buy when it is already rancid, is horrible for your health. 

What does the good doctor eat? "I eat mostly plant foods." His example goes from 75-90% veggie. He says his favorite fat is actually lamb fat. He indulges with dark chocolate covered almonds.

Dr. Hyman also mentions the Glycemic Index and how powerful it is to controlling hunger and hormonal reactions. 


The last big point of interest for me in this interview was how Dr. Hyman helped develop the Daniel Plan with Dr. Daniel Amen the "Brain Doctor." He asks what would we serve to Jesus Christ is he came to dinner. Would we serve God-made food or Man-made food? Good question.