Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is Sports Massage for You?

Alright, so you may not be a star athlete playing on an NFL team, but you ARE physically active, right? So why use massage therapy only as a special “treat” for when you feel emotionally stressed out? The truth is that different massage techniques can also help heal your weekend-warrior, sports-related, and gym induced injuries. In fact, sports medicine has employed massage therapy as a complementary treatment for decades!

Have you ever seen a personal trainer massaging the legs or arms of a professional athlete during a big game? Well, that's not just for show. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases says the rubbing, pressing and body manipulation involved in massage therapy works to soothe muscles and increase blood flow. This, in turn, helps relax tense, sore, or overworked muscles. And, a further study published in February 2012 in Science Translational Medicine found that massage therapy can reduce inflammation and promote muscle healing on the molecular level.

What does this mean? When we exercise, we're actually tearing and slightly damaging our muscles in order to build them up to be stronger over time. In the short term, this can cause inflammation. Sometimes taking an aspirin will help with the momentary dull pain that comes after exercising. This study suggests that getting a massage after exercise has similar effects.

But the benefits don't stop there. Massage therapy can also help prevent sports injuries when used as part of a conditioning routine. Regular massage can help stretch tight muscles and increase flexibility in athletes, which results in less risk of injury overall.

So whether you're a professional athlete with a strict training regimen or an average Joe or Jane who likes to run a few miles before work, massage therapy can have a place in keeping your body fit and ready for any type of exercise.

As always – Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!
 

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

3 Tips for Transitioning the Winter Season

Living in Houston, we don't get the dramatic seasonal change that our neighbors to the north get; their brisk fall transitioning into blustery winter... Even so, as Houstonians our bodies must adapt to our own change. It is important to take care of yourself during this time of transition so that you can be at your best. I've listed some tips and tricks to aid you on your path towards a smoother season shift - despite our "warmer than the north" temperatures.

Getting Physical
No matter what time of the year it is, exercise should be top of the list especially in our cooler seasons. When the winter season rolls around for us here in Houston and temperatures drop to a mild chill, I find jogging or cycling outdoors to be especially pleasant. And while our cool fronts are known for bringing rain; that should not be a reason to tone down the exercise frequency or stop at all. Running the treadmill indoors or taking part in a group class or indoor boot-camp is always an option. Even if you have the means, hitting up your local gym is always better than sitting sedentary.

Eating healthy is equally important. Especially with the holidays that go hand in hand with the winter season, gifts packed with sweets and large dinner parties will always be a temptation, but finding ways of maintaining self control and keeping your health in check should always be a top priority.

In an Emotional State
S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a real problem when the days get gray and the night gets longer. Although the weather outdoors maybe cold and desolate, that doesn't mean you have to be the same way. Keep your emotions in check and don't let the gray weather blues get the best of you. When the holidays approach and things get hectic, don't overload yourself. Keep things simple and realistic. Instead of trying to please others, think about the social activities that would keep you happiest and healthiest. That way you won't overwhelm yourself physically or drain yourself emotionally trying to cater to everyone else's demands. Who cares what others might think? In the end, all that really matters is that -from the start to the finish- you are happy, healthy and enjoying your life.

Relax!
Unfortunately, with this time of year, finances and schedules don't let you de-stress as much as you might need. However, temporary escapes like the spa or a near by weekend vacation can be just as relaxing. Even a simple indulgence like getting a manicure or pedicure will do the trick, and you can always count on me for a massage. ;-)  While enjoyable outdoor activities such as hiking or trips to the beach might be more limited, seeing a comedy, or picking up a good book can be an indoor substitute. Try to steer away from activities such as shopping and eating out. Not only do they start creating a dent in your wallet, but they also can become a stressful event if self-control is not in check.

So with these tips in mind, I hope you have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

As always – Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!
 

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pillow Time

I have got to say that my sleep is always best when I’ve got a cool pillow to rest my head on. Nothing starts your day off better than getting a good night's sleep. And, since getting a full night’s sleep is essential to overall health, finding the right pillow can help.

"Pillows can not only impact the quality of our sleep, but also how healthfully we rest and recharge," says sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of ‘Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep.’

Just as a good pillow can help your health, using the wrong one can make you miserable.  A bad pillow won't be the cause of any of these problems, but using the incorrect pillow can worsen headaches, neck pain, shoulder and arm numbness, discomfort, and induce sneezing, and wheezing. All of which can keep you from getting a good night's rest.

Don’t forget that if your pillow is old, it is more than likely overflowing with dead skin cells, mold, mildew, fungus, and dust mites. Just the thought of this can keep you up at night! LOL! So, when is it time to buy a new pillow? Experts say the general rule is to buy a pillow every 12 to 18 months - definitely replace it after two years.

Before you buy a new pillow, consider your sleeping position. A “good” pillow will help keep your head in what is called a 'neutral alignment.' This means your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders without bending back too far or reaching too far forward. Consider the following:

If you sleep on your back:
Use thinner pillows, so your head is not thrust too far forward, and you should look for a pillow with extra loft in the bottom third of the pillow to cradle your neck.

If you sleep on your side:
You need a firmer pillow, one that fills in the distance between the ear and outside shoulder.

If you're a stomach sleeper:
Stomach sleepers should use a very thin, almost flat pillow. You may not even need a pillow for your head, but is you suffer from lower back pain, consider tucking one under your stomach.

For more information on getting better sleep, visit Dr. Michael Breus’s official website – TheSleepDoctor.com.

As always – Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal
johnaaron-massage.com


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!
 

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lessen Pain by Losing Weight

It’s a known fact that as we age we tend to have an increase in muscular and joint pain. It slowly creeps up on us because the actions that lead up to the symptoms are gradual, unassuming and thought to be a “normal” progression of aging. Take the few extra pounds we gain during mid life as an example. Left unchecked and you could be a candidate for obesity in no time.

The Institute for Preventative Foot Health discovered that obese people have a 40% increase in lower body joint pain. This makes sense because walking can place up to three times your body weight on your feet, knees and hips. Every step can wear joint cartilage and compress nerves which can lead to a life of chronic pain.

What’s the solution? Unfortunately, because pain is considered a “normal” symptom of aging, lifestyle solutions are often ignored in favor of treatment through medication. Let’s face it; when joints cause you pain, it’s much easier to just pop a pill to make the hurt go away. However, in this scenario only the symptom -not the cause- of pain is being treated. Until the cause is addressed, you are doomed to a dependency on medications to gain relief and thus tip the first domino in a chain reaction of events that rapidly lead to physical degeneration.

One counter solution is to lighten the load placed on your joints. Losing weight has been proven to reduce the wear and tear placed on lower body joints. Less wear means a decrease in joint pain thereby allowing you to remain mobile and active throughout your later years. However, the benefits don’t stop there! Losing excessive weight can help shrink your risk of a wide range of diseases deemed “age appropriate” such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The latter of which can also cause pain due to diminished circulation and nerve damage.

I realize that while this may be a simple solution; for many, losing weight is a tremendously difficult task. My suggestion is to seek professional help. If you are at a loss, feel free to call or email me for a referral toward an appropriate health and lifestyle professional. In some cases all that may be needed is a good exercise routine and a tweak of your dietary habits. For others, a physician or medically based program may be the best fit.

Either way, there is help to treat your chronic pain that doesn't require dependance on medications. So don’t settle for the excuse that pain is an unavoidable symptom of getting older! In many cases it’s not – and I’ve got many clients to prove it!

As always – Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal

Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!
 

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wellness Is Always in Season

Yes, I know. Halloween just ended... But, like it or not, the "Holiday Season" is officially here and that's what I want to write to you about.

Did you know that this Holiday Season we are expected to attend an average of around 30 hours (or more) attending parties, social events and family gatherings during the next 8 weeks alone? The number surprised me: that's nearly 5 hours of partying a week! What's more alarming is that those hours don't even include your shopping, travel time or the hours spent cooking in preparation for those parties and events! So, with this in mind, I offer 3 simple tips to help maintain your health, wellness and "sanity" through this flurry of holiday season activities.

Relax Your Muscles. After spending time on your feet, sit down and actively relax your muscles by tensing and relaxing each large muscle group. Start with your head by doing some gentle neck and shoulder rolls. Then work your way down through your hands, arms, legs and finally your feet. This is one of the easiest ways to ease tension in the body as it builds up. Stay limber.

Up Your Hydration. Start your morning with a mug of warm water and the juice from half a lemon. The ritual of this practice gives you the chance to set your intentions for the day, and also reap the benefits of the vitamins from the lemon to help maintain optimum body performance while also starting the day with water to help hydrate against the drying cooler weather, too.

Keep Your Sleep. Daylight Savings Time aside, bear in mind that while the days grow shorter, the body still fully needs its rest and quiet to regenerate and nourish from the long days of shopping and cheer. Power naps, quiet reading time and of course a full 8 hours of sleep at night are some of the best ways to keep stress levels low during the bustle of the season.

So there you have it; My three simple tips for staying sane this Holiday Season. Oh, and as we enter the month of November, I want to thank you with a little gift for your support this year. For me, it has certainly been a crazy one filled with dramatic change for me and I know I couldn't have made it this far without you.

As always – Enjoy Your Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!
 

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program.