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Showing posts from 2014

The “No Pain, No Gain” Massage

Remember the ridiculous mantra of “No pain. No gain” from Schwarzenegger wanna-be, gym-rats in the 90’s? It was always funny to me but I’ sure that you would agree there’s sometimes a ‘feel good hurt’ that we can get when a massage therapist works on just the right spot.

My massage teacher would call it the point of “exquisite pain.” And what’s wrong with that? Considering the price of good body work these days, you should expect to feel results, right? Unfortunately many people misconstrue pain as evidence that they are getting a “good” (if not great) deep tissue massage. Well – I think the whole thing is hogwash, and let me tell you why…

It’s my contention that holding your breath and gritting your teeth under the pressure of a too-rigorous kneading simply defeats the purpose of massage. And asking your masseuse to “go deeper cause I’m tough [guy/girl] and can take the pain” only adds to your body’s tension levels, making those muscles that desperately need to soften do the exact o…

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hacks

It’s holiday fat gain season! After all, they don’t call it the “festive fifteen” for nothing! It’s a time when nearly everyone packs on a few pounds. But what if, instead of loosening your belt another notch this year, you use these 5 Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hacks to avoid putting on a single pound?

Believe it or not, these hacks just might result in a few pounds lost before New Year’s…

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #1: Eat a sensible meal before the party.
It goes without saying that you should never arrive at parties in a ravenous hunger. I realize that this goes against the popular trend of starving yourself before a party, but that’s exactly why most people gain weight.

With your hunger in check, you’ll have the clarity to pick and choose the treats that you really want, rather than stuffing yourself with everything in sight.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #2: Bring a healthy dish to share.
Even if the party that you’re going to isn’t a potluck—hostess gifts are thoughtful, and always a…

Massage: More Than Just a Back Rub

Before you have your first massage, you may have already had a much idealized picture of what your session will be like. However, a massage delivered by a licensed professional should certainly differ from the occasional back rub you might have received from a friend or a loved one.


What a massage therapist targets during treatment includes:

Releasing the tension in the musclesPromote the healing of soft tissueFacilitate the flow of bloodReducing emotional stressReducing pain and inflammation
Some studies also support the use of massage as a supplemental treatment for depression and anxiety, and has also shown promise in successfully alleviating symptoms associated with multi-dimensional illnesses such as fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

More than one way to exercise muscles
However, even without secondary health issues, a massage can affect muscles much more vigorously than most people realize. As a massage therapist, I work diligently on knotted areas of muscle that result f…

Do 10-min Workouts Work?

Have you heard? The latest trends in fitness are leaning toward the ‘shorter is better’ philosophy! It’s true, but what everyone really wants to know is this; do dramatically shortened workouts really get the job done???

No one can deny that modern life is beyond busy. We simply don’t have the time to spend hours running, biking or doing any number of other slow, cardio-based exercise sessions. Besides that; long drawn-out workout sessions just don’t give us the best return on our time investment.

But is there true science behind the claims that 10 minute workouts deliver results?

Well, the fact is new research supports the very true benefits of short, intense bursts of exercise.

This is great news for all of us with hectic schedules, especially during these crazy holiday months. Short, intense workouts are manageable and I find them to actually be enjoyable.

So here are my top 3 reasons that 10-minute workouts are worth your time…

#1. It Burns Fat
Do I have you attention now? We all w…

Your Holiday Survival Guide

It's here - whether you're ready or not. Just look at the seasonal shelves in your favorite store. Retailers like to call it ‘holiday season' but let's be more accurate – it’s “weight gain” season and it starts now and runs straight through New Year's Day...

These next six weeks will bring ample opportunity for all of us to expand our waistlines.

So why discuss it now just days away from Thanksgiving? Because now is the opportunity to plan for the weeks ahead. Once the craziness begins, you'll be too busy to put a plan into action.

So I want to help you take this moment of clarity, this calm before the storm, to outline a two-part plan that will save your waist from unwanted holiday inches.

Part One: Your Exercise Plan. 

Exercise always seems to be the very last thing people think of doing when they get overwhelmed, and the holiday season is notorious for empty gyms. This year do something different - MAKE yourself to exercise. Making a promise to “try” making …

Avoid These Pain Causing Exercises

Some of my best clients for massage are weekend warriors who give their all in the gym or on the playing field... Hey - no pain, no gain – right?

Well, in most cases, the saying is true. But that's not always the case with exercise. In fact, some exercise-induced pain simply can't be treated with massage, but CAN put you on the injured list for a very long time. So before you go to the gym all “Beast Mode” with a no-holds-bar attitude, remember which exercises to avoid. These are six common ones that can leave you hurting for an uncommonly long time.

#1: Behind-the-Head Military Press
It looks good when done properly, but rarely is. By doing this exercise with incorrect posture and technique, you run the risk of painful pinching and inflammation of the shoulder tendons. In rare cases, you may even suffer a tear in the rotator cuff. The same danger is present in other behind-the-head exercises, so be cautious any time you hold weights in a position that places them behind your …

Is your posture causing your pain?

Back pain, neck pain, and headaches are the most common complaints my clients have when they come to me. While some of their pain may result from a chronic underlying medical condition that requires a doctors care, other causes of aches and pain can be easily managed by making a few simple adjustments in your every day life.
For example, one of the most effective ways to lessen the amount of pain you experience daily would be to improve your posture. You see, the human body wasn't designed to be slumped over a computer, texting on the phone, or surfing the net on a tablet. Instead, it was designed to move - to be out in a field chasing after our meals (harvesting if you are a vegetarian) or running away from what was about to make us their main course.
However, seeing as it's the 21st century, I can't imagine that our dependence on technology or modern living is going away anytime soon especially when our livelihood depends on it. And although  we may not easily be able t…

Low Back Pain: What You Can Do

As an experienced massage therapist, personal trainer, and health coach, I always tell my clients, “Listen to your body.”

If a certain movement or exercise causes pain, by ALL means - stop and pay attention! It amazes me how few of us take the time to do this simple step.

Instead, we choose to suck it up and work through the pain. This is fine when the pain is mild and intermittent, but paying attention and listening to what your body is telling you can make the difference between something you can work through and something that becomes chronic, excruciating and debilitating.

Once that level is reached; it’s time to discuss your symptoms with your doctor or other health care professional.

Of course, the best treatment against lower back pain is always going to be proactive and preventative. Here are a few reminders about what you can do to protect your back:

Rest, but not too much. The temptation may be to stay in bed, but recent research suggests that excessive bed rest (more than …

The Big. The Little. The Balanced.

Our muscular system is a beautiful thing. Wouldn't you agree? It's what holds the body together and gives it a sexy shape.

The bones are just support structures, but muscles; well - they have to constantly adjust length and tension just to make you stand still. It's a muscular symphony to simply kick a ball while playing soccer. Amazing!

All the muscles do their part as the brain conducts: you run, you kick, and you jump - just like Cristiano Ronaldo, or that kid in your neighborhood. ;-)

But what if just one (or more) of the muscles supporting you are not fully neurologically activated? Well, that's when joint's get worn, nerves get compressed and ligaments & tendons get stretched in ways they shouldn't. In short: PAIN is what results.

Deactivated muscles don't hold up their end of the deal!

We need to resuscitate them in order to prevent re-injury. That's where massage can help. Although most massage therapists focus on treating tense, over-worke…

The Mighty Muscle Turn-Off

One of the most interesting things I've learned in my career as a massage therapist is the phenomenon of a muscle becoming hypo-tonic (turned off). It usually happens as a response to injury. Here the brain recognizes the strain, and dials down the nerves in that muscle in order to protect the body from further injury.

Unfortunately, when this occurs, the muscle does not participate in normal joint movement, and other muscles in the area compensate to take up the slack. This is never perfect because it's a short-term fix. Ideally, that injured muscle heals quickly and gets back into action. The brain restores nerve signals to the muscle and it is again able to support it's correlating joint(s) through full range of motion. In short - you feel better and get back to "roller-disco-dancing" without a hitch. ;-)

Sometimes, however, the body is never able to reactivate the hypo-tonic muscle.

Commonly, it's a case of nutritional shortage. Because the body apportio…

How to Prepare for Deep Tissue Massage

Since my previous post, I received a few questions from some clients who are new to “deep tissue” massage techniques. So, I thought perhaps writing a follow-up on how to prepare for, and what to expect from, your first deep tissue massage treatment.

First, it’s always a good thing to be well hydrated, and have eaten a small meal (just a little something), to arrive warm from a workout or from stretching. All this can help ensure you get the most out of your deep tissue treatment.

Always let your therapist know all the issues and symptoms you may be facing right up front and before you begin — after all, stiffness and chronic pain can sometimes result from other injuries, poor posture, etc. The more your massage therapist knows, the more he/she can assist you during the session.

Do your best to arrive a bit early for your first appointment. A good and professional therapist will have forms for you to fill out and questions to ask you before beginning your treatment.

The Experience

I us…

Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage

I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of Swedish Massage. I prefer a firmer, “heavy handed” touch. This is especially true whenever I am experiencing joint stiffness, muscle tension, or any time I find myself “knotted” up by stress.

It seems most of my clients feel the same way, too. Muscular overuse, trauma and repetitive stress can cause muscles to form a band of rigid inflexible tissues called adhesions (known colloquially as “knots”).

While most adhesions are seldom dangerous (they’re mostly painful annoyances), I know that extreme cases can sometimes hinder blood circulation, limit movement and flexibility, and be extremely painful. Often, the only way to address these adhesions is through deep tissue massage treatments.

Adhesions, tension and stiffness can be related to a range of chronic conditions, and I have found that using a combination of techniques with particular emphasis on the use of deep tissue massage to be particularly effective in easing client pain from:

Chronic muscle te…

Exercise for Pain Relief.

I hope you had a wonderfully relaxing (and pain free) Labor day Holiday.

I spent my weekend celebrating my birthday with my family and friends. I ate way too much food and WAY too much chocolate birthday cake. So I was glad to get back in the gym today for some much needed exercise.

Exercise is how I've managed to maintain relatively pain free movement despite having a couple of ruptured disks and some spinal arthritis.

I'll admit it, exercise is sort of a Catch-22: You're hurting, so you don't exercise; but let me say that without exercise, you may lose muscle tone, balance and strength, thereby making pain worse in the long run.

Fortunately, even mild exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals that lift mood and block pain. If you're interested in learning more about exercise for lower back pain, here's a link to a great post on the subject:

4 Lower Back Exercises To Help Relieve Back Pain

It's an old article written by a guest blogger, b…

Does That Hurt..? Your 5-Step Injury Prevention Plan

Doing what I do, massage specializing in pain relief, I mostly see clients "after" they have encountered some type of trauma that causes physical pain. Most of them are athletic, some are weekend warrior types, and some are desk jockeys. That said, the best pain management plan is the one that includes a "preventative" program, and that's what I will be giving you here.

Injuries don't have to slow you from meeting your fitness goals or keep you from enjoying your daily activities. The following 5 steps that I have outlined below will dramatically reduce your chance of experiencing a pain causing injury and if you do find yourself injured, but have been following these 5 steps, your recovery will be quick and efficient.

Step 1: Stretch
What is more boring than stretching? You have stuff to do; work to finish, meetings to attend, cooking, cleaning, exercise! The last thing you want to do is to sit around touching your toes -- right?

Well, even though it isn&#…

Reducing Stress and Boosting Well-Being with Massage

Few people know that therapeutic massage has been used for stress and pain relief around the world throughout the ages. As long ago as the 5th century Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote, "the physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly also in rubbing."

Bringing it into modern day, studies such as the one conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, have demonstrated that massage is extraordinary in its ability to reduce the effects of stress and promote well-being.

Therapeutic massage has become well known as one of the best ways to deal with the overload of stress so common in today's world. And because we live in a 24/7, go-go-go-world, we must face the facts - stress overload is inevitable.

Therapeutic massage can give you a break from the buildup of stress and trigger the "relaxation response," a natural function of the nervous system that reverses the effects of excess stress. It can …

Can Cherries Cure Pain?

As with most things in life, there is no single “magic bullet” supplement or medication that will provide you with perfect results. I personally believe the best defense against chronic pain and inflammation is to have an arsenal of tools and therapies at our disposal to protect yourself against the destructive repercussions chronic pain can bring.

With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, I think it's promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with many current pain and arthritis medications.

How Much?
Most of the studies I refer to specifically investigated the impact of Montmorency cherries on systemic inflammatory and oxidative stress. Rather than consume whole cherries (something I would prefer over juice), participants were given two daily doses (about 1 oz. each) of tart cherry juice concentrate. This amount was considered to significantly lower levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and high-sensitivity C-r…

Holy Jet-lag! I Hurt!

I guess you could say I'm kind of like the postman in that neither rain, nor Houston heat, nor gloom of airport customs agents, nor the winds of change, nor patience challenged, will stay me from my appointed rounds of cherished clients and friends. Ever.

That said, I'll have to admit - it was a tough and looong flight back! LOL! 

But - I'm here! Not without some injury, though... it's just a tight lower back. Nothing a little stretching and a decent massage couldn't fix.

Just know this; no matter how "comfortable" the airlines say you will be, unless you're in first class, don't believe'em.

The cramped and crowded confinement of flying coach is enough to make you ache both in body and mind. Good thing there is a technique I've been experimenting with: meditation.

Now, before you start thinking I'm going all zen, hippie, peyote, touchy-feely on you, let me clarify. You don't have to be a flower child, nun, priest or monk to practi…

Pain Relief through Diet Changes

Today I am in very good spirit. Why? Because today I'm on a river boat cruising the beautiful Rhine river.

Although I've been just a touch homesick, I've had a wonderful time wandering through Strasbourg, France and Heidelberg, Germany. Tomorrow I'll be in Cologne. Needless to say, but the scenery has been beautiful. The food & wine? Fantastic! (Don't worry. I haven't gained too much weight. I think... ;-)

There is one thing I've discovered, though; sweet wines (like German Riesling) almost instantaneously give me a headache. And before you start judging me: No, I haven't been drinking more than a glass of it. LOL!

However, since pain management is my business, I began to wonder: Could food be affecting your pain, too? It's possible.

People with migraines often find that specific foods -- like red wine and cheeses -- trigger attacks. There's even some studies that suggest consuming fatty meats or milk may worsen the pain of inflammatory art…

Why Exercise?

Just wanted to remind you that I will be out of town from today through August 3rd. I'll be doing a little work and a little play in Europe with another VIP client. And because you are a VIP to me too, I wanted to give you another tip for managing pain and stress while I'm gone.

That tip is: Exercise...

Yup! Stay active!

If you have had a knee injury, back, neck or shoulder strain, I know that you may feel just a bit reluctant to exercise; thinking that it could cause you more harm than good. But the opposite is true!

Strengthening the muscles that support these structures, and keeping them flexible, is the best way to prevent further injuries. Plus - exercise releases Endorphins that will help modify and reduce your pain.

Just don't be a hero, and don't overdo it when it comes to exercise. Start slowly. Do normal functional movements like walking, mild yoga, or exercise moderately with weights, and build your strength over time.

Remember: Muscle soreness after a work…

First Time Massage Tips

Sometimes I come across someone who doesn't quite know what it is that a massage therapist does exactly. If you are one of these folks, take a look at the following guidelines I’ve laid out to help you feel at ease and perhaps give you a better understanding of what to expect during your massage session.

Aside from the manipulation of muscle tissue, your massage experience should reach the senses of security, trust and relaxation. Actual massage technique (the touch, pressure and use of friction) are only a part of the session.

In other words, you deserve to be treated well. Your concerns should be listened to and respected.

No matter which massage therapist you see, you deserve that therapist to:


Provide a safe and secure environment and carry liability insurance for you protection as well as the therapists.The therapist should have competency in human anatomy & physiology.Maintain records including continuing education, certifications and session notes.Do his or her best to …

How Does Sports Massage Improve Your Performance?

It's common knowledge that regularly stretching the muscles helps prevent injuries, but sports massage takes it one step further. Sports massage supports your training and stretching program by building healthier tissues and preventing injuries.

Using this type of massage can help you prevent muscle strains and sprains, recover from events and strenuous workouts, and heal from injuries. Before athletic events and workouts, massage prepares you by stretching, loosening, and oxygenating muscles. Between workouts and events, massage can help increase flexibility with assisted stretching and the release of chronically contracted muscles.

Massage Increases Circulation
After a sports event, massage can hep soothe soft tissues of the body, aid in repairing micro-tears to the muscles, and further help enhance circulation. When tight, bunched muscles relax and lengthen, they aren't apt to press as much on surrounding structures. As a result, when circulation is restored the flow of nut…

Massage offers Headache Relief

Research published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, the American Journal of Public Health, and Journal of Child Neurology indicates that massage can reduce the occurrence and frequency of tension and migraine headaches. This supports the experience that many of my massage clients have had in which they tell me they have experienced a decrease in both headaches and neck and shoulder pain.

How does massage help?
Massage relaxes tense muscles and eases pressure on joints and nerves. When tension held in the muscles of the head, shoulders, and neck eases, there is less agitation to the nerves and blood vessels that supply them. Blood flow is improved and muscle spasms are often relieved.

Trigger points in the neck, head and shoulders can be another cause of pain which respond well to specific massage techniques.

These factors all add up to the relief of tension or migraine headaches.

Massage therapy often reduces the anxiety and worry that can accompany headaches, too. As ove…

Shin Splints: A Pain in The Leg!

After last night's soccer game, your daughter complained that her shins hurt, so you iced her legs before she went to bed. Her legs felt fine after a good night's sleep and you sent her off to school this morning with a kiss and soccer practice clothes in her backpack. Now she's calling and saying that her legs hurt again.

Could it be something more than simple pain?

Shin splints are a common injury among athletes - especially runners, sprinters, figure skaters, and gymnasts.

The term "shin splints" refers to pain felt in the shinbone or tibia (the large bone in the front of your lower leg) after an athlete has run or "pounded the ground" for a period of time. This force of impact can sometimes cause the muscles around the tibia to tighten, pull, or become inflamed, which leads to pain. Shin splints often respond well to home treatment, but if the pain continues, it's a good idea to have a medical professional check it out just to be sure it's n…

Massage Reduces Cortisol: The Stress Hormone

It's true. Massage can help reduce stress, and boosts well-being. Research demonstrates these benefits.

Therapeutic massage has been used for stress and pain relief around the world throughout the ages. As long ago as the 5th century Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote, "the physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly also in rubbing."

Modern research, such as studies by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, have demonstrated that massage is extraordinary in its ability to reduce the effects of stress and promote well-being.

Therapeutic massage has become well known as one of the best ways to deal with the overload of stress so common in today's world.

Although stress is inevitable and can be overwhelming at times, it can also inspire us to do our best, but when we experience an overload of stress for too long, our ability to respond with grace and balance may be challenged.

Therapeutic massage can give…

Massage Erases Pain

Your body aches and you can’t wait to get to your next massage appointment to help alleviate the pain. You absolutely know how much better you will feel after getting your massage. But, have you ever wondered how it works? Well, there’s much more to it, but I’ve managed to condense it into small easy to understand bullet points


Massage stimulates the release of natural pain-relievers such as endorphins. Massage stretches tight muscles and sends messages to the nervous system to relax. Massage not only increases circulation, but flushes irritating waste products and floods tight muscles with healing oxygen and nutrients. Combined with stress relief, improved circulation may be enough in itself to help you relax and allow the pain to recede as you let go.Massage releases trigger points. These are highly irritable spots that feel like lumps or knots, which send uncomfortable sensations to other parts of the body. Massage softens contracted muscles and their connective tissue coverings, c…

Recipe Rx: Cranberry Flax Muffins

Did you know that cranberries protect brain cells from free-radical damage that impairs cognitive and motor functions? Well, recent studies seem to support the notion that cranberry consumption can actually improve function in age-related declines in working memory, reference memory, balance and coordination.

In fact, when it comes to preserving brain function, cranberries are so powerful they can even reduce impairment following a stroke! In a 2003 study, researchers discovered that by exposing neurons to a concentration of cranberry extract, there was a 50 percent reduction in brain cell death.

So take the following recipe prescription to heart (and mind)! It makes a great breakfast or mid-day snack and is not only healthy for your brain, but it’s good for your heart and waistline, too!Ingredients
• 1 cup flaxseeds 250 mL
• 1 cup each all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour 250 mL
• 1 cup natural bran 250 mL
• 1 tbsp baking powder 15 mL
• 1 tsp each baking soda a…

Toxic Waist: How Toxins Make You Fat

Okay. Before we can talk about how toxins make us fat, I need to inform you of a little known area of medical science called genomic reprogramming. Researchers in genomic reprogramming believe that human DNA, the genes we are born with, can be manipulated in a way in which they do or do not express health or disease for you. It was previously believed that your genetic makeup sealed your fate - no exchanges; no returns - but that is no longer the case. There are actions that can be taken in order to excite or repress certain genetic traits.

That said, let's move on to discuss how toxins can manipulate your body's ability to gain and retain fat.

Although the body has an amazing ability to process an incredible amount of toxins, there is little doubt that it can be overwhelmed. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution our systems have been awash in stew of man-made toxins that have increased at an alarming rate and have compounded over time.

A toxin is basically anything tha…