orthopedic massage and zen

September 17, 2008

All right. So I won’t shut up about this type of massage because it is truly wonderful. It is the most effective type of body therapy I have ever experienced and the only thing, along with chiropractic, that alleviates my pain in the neck!

It is based on the Hendrickson Method and it brings together several techniques: massage, mobilization, and neuromuscular re-education, along with Eastern energy practices. These techniques stimulate the synthesis of new cells, rehydrate cartilage, and realign soft tissue. In a nutshell, it aims to provide pain-relief and functional rehabilitation.

Orthopedic massage addresses most orthopedic conditions including: 

  • Low back pain, whether acute or chronic
  • Neck pain and loss of motion in the neck
  • Hip degeneration
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Knee pain and stiffness
  • Bursitis of the shoulder and hip
  • Chronic conditions such as arthritis, stiffness, and loss of motion
  • Foot pain, including plantar fasciitis
  • Pain and stiffness in the thumb and fingers
  • Numbness in the arms, hands, legs or feet

The experience is one of a kind as well. Fully clothed you lie down on your side, and hug a fluffly body pillow. No getting naked or being slathered with sticky oils. The therapist works on your back, shoulders, hips, legs, neck, and head on both sides of the body. If you have postural issues (such as mine sitting on my ass all day in my hunchback pose), the therapist  will also work on your shoulders and arms. The technique is truly innovative as it involves mobilization to mimic ocean waves. In plain English this means that the therapist will rock you back and forth as he or she applies pressure to certain spots. Rock you! You feel like a baby in the womb (as I imagine it to be anyway). How nifty is that?! Other techniques involve having you do slight resist/release exercises to teach your muscles to relax (most of us because of stress have muscles that are permanently contracted causing tension and an array of issues). Throughout the session the therapist explains what he/she is doing and the reason for it. 

This in combination with chiropractic adjustments is what really fixed my stiff neck and a myriad other problems such as lower back tension and tense shoulders. And for the price of a regular massage or less you get a wonderful hour of true physical therapy. You have to try it!

The 2 therapists (Jeannie Greer and Bud Brett, who BTW are fantastic), I have tried have been at Cira Chiropractic (650.508.9111, 1701 Laurel St, San Carlos – tell Tony, the admin, that I sent you and specify orthopedic massage-and while you are at it get an adjustment with Cathy, a fellow CrossFitter who is basically who I aspire to be when I grow up, wonderful is an understatement).

You don’t have to travel far though, go here and do a search by your zip code to get more practitioners or call Bud (510.581.0121)or Jeannie (650.631.6627) directly as I believe they can travel to you or work in several places around the Bay Area. Get to it and send me a thank you note. 😉 

This is what it feels like


the right sock

September 17, 2008

We have been fitted for shoes enough times to come out of Road Runner’s dizzy. But what about socks? I have found that socks do make a difference between feeling dry, cushioned, and blister free and being wet, pissed, and about to do the Hoobie just before getting to the goal line ;-).

Cheer up though. To the rescue is Women’s Health magazine with 6 Great Tips for Picking the Right Sock and a drilldown on several sock types.

can having the flu be good for you?

September 10, 2008

My chiropractor, who by the way has god status in my eyes, recently sent me a newsletter with this interesting tidbit:

For thousands of years healers have viewed the cold, flu and fevers as some of the most powerful weapons your body has for cleansing and healing itself. Getting a cold or the flu, while a very uncomfortable experience, is not only a powerful way your body detoxifies you but also provides another significant benefit. Studies report that the cold and flu may protect you from getting cancer: 

Abel et al interviewed several people for a study. Among them were people with carcinomas of the stomach, colon, rectum, breast, and ovary as well as controls (with no history of cancer). A history of common colds or influenza prior to the interview was found to be associated with a decreased cancer risk. [Abel U, Becker N, Angerer R et al. Common infections in the history of cancer patients and controls. J Cancer Research Clinical Oncology. 1991;117(4); 339-344

Subjects who reported a history of infectious diseases (e.g., colds, flu) showed a 30% reduction in risk of brain tumors. [Schlehoper B, Blettner M, Preston-Martin S et al. Role of medical history in brain tumor development results from the international adult brain tumor study. International Journal of Cancer: 1999;82:155-160]

If you have a bad cold or the flu do not suppress your fever or other symptoms with drugs. Instead respect what your body is telling you; work with your body to cleanse and detoxify your system. If you don’t, you can stay sick longer. As researchers have reported: 

Taking aspirin or Tylenol for the flu could prolong your illness by up to  3½ days. [Plaisance KI et al. Effect of antipyretic therapy on the duration of illness in experimental influenza A, Shigella connei, and Rickettsia rickettsii infections. Pharmacotherapy. 2000;20(12):1417-1433]

So I guess having had the flu once already this year and those 3 nasty colds can be  good after all. Who knew?! The moral of this story is that there’s a silver lining to every tragedy. 😉

sleep rules

September 9, 2008

This week has found me attending to a few late night commitments. Mind you a late night for me is anything after 10pm. My snooze time has been compromised. Not good. I crave sleep during the day (and buckets of coffee) and given the choice I rather take a nap than eat. More importantly I’m cranky and fantasies of running amok with a blunt object around the office come to me way too often. Not good for my boss. Ha ha.

Sleep is important. Check. Why is it that it can ruin my day so much to have a bad night’s sleep? CrossFit SF has the answer.

We already know that brain function is slightly decreased with missing sleep. But the real reason sleep matters is because all of the good hormones and growth factors that are released during the deep sleep, stage 3 and 4 periods. This is your body’s time of peak anabolic activity (build muscle, burn fat, repair tissues, etc.) and occurs throughout the night but with diminishing efficacy.

If you aren’t getting enough of this deep, quality sleep, chances are you aren’t optimizing recovery or performance. You are in fact creating stress hormones that are trying to kill you. Your body treats lack of sleep like a direct stressor, the same as starving, or being chased by a lion. So quit being so cavalier about your late nights and crappy sleep.

The goal is to get as much stage 3 and 4 sleep as possible. To this end, here are a few sleep hygiene guidelines.

1) Try to go to sleep at the same time every night
2) Avoid coffe and alcohol before bed
3) Sleep in the blackest, darkest room possible
4) Sleep in a cool room
5) Treat your sleep as importantly as you treat your workouts and nutrition

Think of sleep as recovery. And recovery completes the exercise and nutrition trifecta.


Keep a sleep journal for a week. Track hours slept/bed time/awake time/ and note when and how much caffeine/alcohol was consumed before sleep. Also note how your performance was during the day. See any patterns? Are you trashed by the weekend. How much “blue time” are you serious about getting in the chart above.

Women’s Health magazine also has a special report about the need for good sleep and another really good one on taking back the night (good if you are the one high-fiving all 100 sheep).

all hail the mighty egg

September 9, 2008

I am a big fan of whole eggs. For some reason they get a bad reputation but they are little nutrition powerhouses. There’s a misguided belief that the cholesterol in eggs (found in the yolk) raises the cholesterol levels in your body and puts your ticker at risk. But research supporting the health bennies of eggs is piling up. And several studies–including a recent one in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found no link in healthy people between eggs and either heart attack or stroke–have debunked the bad-egg myth. As with everything moderation seems to be the key to keeping everything in check. 😉

Some reasons eggs rock: 

1. They may reduce your risk of cancer 
Whole eggs are one of the best sources of the nutrient choline (one large egg has about 30 percent of your RDA). A study published this year found that women with a high intake of choline were 24 percent less likely to get breast cancer. Note: Choline is found mostly in the yolk, so feel free to ditch the egg-white omelets.

2. Eggs keep your peepers peeping 
Yolks are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that have been shown to ward off macular degeneration–so you’ll still be able to eyeball hotties from afar when you’re 80. 

3. An omelet a day can shrink your waist 
Louisiana State University system researchers found that obese people who ate a two-egg breakfast at least five times a week lost 65 percent more weight and had more energy than women who breakfasted on bagels. “Eggs are more satisfying than carbs, making you feel full longer,” says Kristine Clark, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State. 

4. Your abs eat them up 
These little orbs contain a certain sequence of amino acids that makes egg protein easy for your body to absorb. Which means a hard-boiled grade-A is an ideal muscle-repair food after a butt-busting workout.

All eggs contain the same basic good stuff, and the large ones pack only 72 calories each, so you really can’t go wrong. But depending on your eating habits, special eggs may be worth the extra cash. Labels to look for:

Organic These eggs were laid by chickens that aren’t fed nasty slaughterhouse byproducts, antibiotics, or certain additives. 

Omega-3 Enhanced If you rarely eat fish, buy these to snag more of the heart-healthy fatty acids. 

Fresh Farmer’s Market Eggs Without a question, the best tasting eggs ever. Period.

stone aged

September 9, 2008

A recent dietary study by Per Wandell Ph.D. found that 14 people who ate a Paleolithic diet (lean meats, vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, no processed foods – sound familiar?)  for 3 weeks shed an average of five pounds.

Not only that, they also lowered their BMI by 0.8 and their blood pressure by 3 points all of which are good preventors of heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 killer of adults in developed nations.

So continue to eat like a caveman…there’s good science behind it. Unrelated but just because:

strike a pose

August 26, 2008

Body and Soul magazine came up with a brilliant idea, yoga and stretching poses that are targeted to each day of the week. All you need is 5 to 10 minutes to melt stress away.

Monday – Seal Pose
It stretches the belly and aids digestion; restores the curve in the lower back (great to counter long hours of sitting).

Lie on your stomach with your legs and feet relaxed. Then, reaching your arms forward along the floor, straighten them just enough to lift your torso into a gentle backbend. Do not strain or force; this should be a very passive and subtle stretch. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then release. Repeat for 1 to 5 minutes.

Tuesday – Supported Seated Forward Bend
Stretches hamstrings and inner thighs; releases tension along the spine. Quiets the mind and promotes focus; stimulates the sixth chakra, which activates intuition and wisdom.

Sit on a cushion on the floor with your legs extended on either side of a chair. Fold forward at the hips and rest your forehead and arms on the seat of the chair. Take deep, slow breaths through your nose and hold for 3 to 5 minutes.

Wednesday – Supported Goddess
Releases tight hips, stretching the groin muscles; connects you to the grounding energy of the root chakra, located at the base of your spine.

Lie on your back with the bottoms of your feet touching and knees splayed to the sides, resting on pillows or rolled blankets. Feel your spine on the floor. Place your palms on your belly or rest your arms out to the sides, palms up. Let your belly slowly rise and fall with each breath. Remain here for 3 to 5 minutes, or however long you like.

Thursday – Supported Pigeon
Opens the hips and groin. Quiets the mind and promotes emotional release. When we sit all day, our hips get congested, this pose helps us let go of stress and pent-up emotions that build up in the body.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, swing your left leg around, extending it straight out behind you, tops of the feet and toes against the floor. Fold forward at the hips. For added support, put a folded blanket or pillow under the right hip. Rest your forehead on a cushion or blanket and relax into the pose for 2 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the other leg.

Friday – Supported Child’s Pose
Releases the muscles in the back; gently opens the hips; boosts your energy.

Sit back on your heels with your legs folded under you and the tops of your feet on the floor. Open the knees wide and bend forward at the hips. Rest your forehead (or your chest) on a pillow or blanket and keep your arms slightly bent. If your buttocks don’t reach your heels, place a blanket under your thighs. Relax and breathe deeply for 3 to 5 minutes.

Saturday – Supported Reclined Twist
Helps the whole body (including the hips, spine, digestive system, nervous system, shoulders, and chest) unwind; promotes digestion and detoxification.

Lie on your back, dropping your left knee across your body to rest on a pillow or blanket. Shift your hips right to avoid over-twisting the lower back. Rest your arms, elbows soft, on the floor over your head. Turn your head in whichever direction feels most comfortable and breathe into this gentle stretch for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

Sunday – Supported Fish
Stretches the shoulders, neck, and chest; improves posture and deepens breathing, countering a forward hunch. Opens the heart and the throat chakras, bolstering courage and encouraging authentic expression.

Roll up a thin blanket and lie on your back, resting your shoulder blades on the blanket. If your head doesn’t comfortably reach the floor, place another blanket or small pillow underneath. Let your breath rise and fall naturally, and stay here for 3 to 5 minutes, or as long as you like.