Monday, December 22, 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 opposite.

Think about this: when has a muscle IN PAIN ever “relaxed?”

The answer is “never.”

Look at it this way; a masseuse aggressively digging into muscles is like performing one of those science experiments in elementary school where you combined cornstarch with water. Remember that weird concoction that was solid but not solid? The more you prodded the substance (or muscle), it hardened, yet when you stopped, it softened to a malleable goo.

This property is called thixotropy (talk about a tongue twister!).

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that too much force will make muscle fibers clench together and almost harden. When you apply a firm but methodical amount of pressure, the fibers easily thread apart, thereby allowing your muscles to relax, release, and rejuvenate.

That said, I’m no wimp when it comes to doling out the pressure! There are some times when some discomfort is necessary to the overall treatment. However, this type of aggressive approach isn’t meant to irritate sore muscles even further, and it’s never intended to beat your muscle fibers into submission.

Instead, the goal is to apply just the right amount of pressure and firmness to kick-start that relaxation response, loosen and lengthen muscles, add to muscular balance & tone. It’s to release tension rather than add to it…

Now, if you are now reminded of a dull ache or a painful kink you need to get worked - that’s just your body telling you it’s time to come see me for a little “S & M” session (stretching and massage, that is..)

;-)

Listen to your body.

Monday, December 15, 2014

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 appreciated. Plus, you’ll have brought a healthy option everyone can enjoy.

A roasted veggie salad, a hummus platter, or an arrangement of fresh fruit are all delicious, healthy dishes that are filled with fiber and would be a welcome addition to any holiday menu.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #3: Never drink calories.
This one’s tough this time of year, but do you realize how quickly calories add up when you’re slurping them out of a cup? Alcoholic beverages and sweet holiday drinks are simply packed with calories. These calories don’t take up much room in your stomach so you’re left wide open for even more calories.

Your best strategy is to avoid these beverages altogether, but if you can’t, temper their effects by drinking sparkling (or plain) water. Aim to drink 1 glass of water immediately after every cocktail you consume at the party.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #4: Fill your plate, but only once.
I’m certainly not going to tell you that you shouldn't eat anything at the party. By all means, It’s a party! By all means, go and fill up your plate - but only once.

That’s right, you heard me. No going back for seconds. Since you've already eaten a sensible meal before arriving, this rule is going to be easier to keep than you think.

Holiday-Proof Fat Loss Hack #5: Taste dessert, just a taste. 
The holidays are all about sweet treats, so go ahead and partake. But just a taste. Look at desserts as something to savor, not something to fill up on. And since you ate a sensible meal before you came, then you filled up your dinner plate once you’re probably going to be pretty full at this point anyway.

That’s it—all you need to know to not gain a single pound at holiday parties.

So… what about the rest of the year?

Wouldn't you love to make 2015 the year that you transform your body?

Wouldn't it feel great to throw out all of your fat clothes? To look forward to bathing suit season? To be given a clean bill of health from your doctor? And to be showered with compliments by family, friends and that special someone?

It’s all more possible than you think.

But you’ll need to take action now.

My Locomo-Programs are designed to quickly and efficiently get you into the best shape of your life.

Go on-line now to schedule your first body transforming “Let’s Talk Strategy” session before the New Year’s rush by clicking here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

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 muscles
  • Promote the healing of soft tissue
  • Facilitate the flow of blood
  • Reducing emotional stress
  • Reducing 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 from the everyday buildup of anxiety and stress and either my clients’ lack of physical exercise or a tendency to over train certain areas. The act of massaging these muscles and stretching them out will improve blood to the area and stimulates optimum healing over the long term. However, this can sometimes place added stress for the muscles which can sometimes result in soreness, particularly if massage sessions are too intensive, too closely scheduled or scheduled too far apart.

Is it Good?
You see, a ‘good’ massage is very much like workout. If the muscles aren't used to it, they often respond with some soreness. Granted, the soreness should only last for a day or of two. However, if the soreness lasts any longer, or is accompanied with bruising, then the massage was more than likely too intense.

Getting the intensity level just right requires that you let your therapist know when the treatment is getting painful or uncomfortable for you. This allows the massage therapist to adjust the intensity level either during the session and make note of it for the next session. As the body adjusts to the manipulation, the intensity can gradually be increased for greater results.

What Can Be Done?
The human body is one highly complex machine, and while we are just beginning to understand the interplay between body and mind, this connection could explain why soreness can sometimes be experienced shortly after a massage.

While there are many ways one can minimize the unwanted side effects of a good massage, I've listed a few suggestions to consider:

  • Understand the need to properly care for your physical and mental health through exercise, diet and recuperation.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Be sure to communicate honestly with your therapist, particularly about your general health and mental well-being
  • Experiment with different massage techniques till you find what works best for you
  • Experiment with the length or intensity of your massage sessions 

In most cases, experiencing some muscle soreness after a massage is completely normal. However, if this lasts more than a couple of days, or incapacitates you in any way, then it needs to be addressed.

As I've mentioned, there can be many simple explanations for this phenomenon. All of them are easily remedied, but they must begin with an open, honest conversation with yourself, what you want to accomplish through this mode of therapy, and conclude with discussing your concerns with a licensed massage therapist.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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 want to discover ways to burn more fat and now multiple studies have proven the fat melting effectiveness of both Tabata and HIIT (high intensity interval training) styled exercise programs. These techniques take short bursts of activity and create a heart-pounding workout in 10 minutes or less. The key to making these workouts as effective as possible is to crank up your intensity to the max.

#2. It Makes You Happy
I’ve said it before; exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins are those stress relieving hormones which makes us feel oh-so-good in the aftermath of a great workout. But don’t fret if you only have 10 minutes to exercise, studies have shown that an intense 10-minute burst of exercise is enough to get those feel-good juices flowing.

#3. It Protects Your Heart
According to researchers in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, people who get just 7 minutes of intense exercise each day are 45 percent less likely to die from heart disease. It’s also worth noting that people who maintained their exercise routine for six years or longer saw the greatest benefit.

So I hope that I’ve managed to shed a little truth on the value that an intense, 10-minute workout can have for you. In this busy holiday season it’s so crucial to our health and physiques that we make time to exercise – even if it’s just 10 minutes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

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 it to the gym more simply won't cut it, either. You need to go public. Get others involved to hold you accountable so that you won't drop the ball.

Sign up to work with a personal trainer or health coach - This is the perfect solution for consistent, challenging and effective workouts. You'll get the one-on-one attention and assistance needed to power you through the holidays in better shape than ever - talk about motivating!

Join a class – Many folks aren't be as effective exercising on their own during the busy holiday season, so joining a class for accountability is a perfect solution. Find something you will enjoy and gets your heart rate up.

Get a serious exercise buddy – I’m not talking giant, Conan the Barbarian type, but someone who is disciplined about their routine. Some friends can be an awesome help but if they lack the discipline they’ll end up pulling you down. So, if you've decided to find an exercise buddy, it’s important to answer the following questions:

  • Do they share your fitness goals?
  • Are they fairly encouraging?
  • Do they give up easily? 
  • Are they at your fitness level?

Part Two: Your Diet Plan.

It’s no secret, the holidays offer ample opportunities to indulge, so it is imperative that you hammer down some guidelines before hitting that buffet line. I'm not to go all Grinch and say you should go completely cold turkey from any seasonal treats, I do want you to use the ‘M’ word - moderation.

Don't use the holidays as an excuse to pork out – even Santa doesn’t want that bloated feeling!

As for the pot-luck get-together? Go small… Giant platters and deserts can make stunning presentations, but so can mini individualized foods. Plus, if you limit what you bring you’ll also be limiting (or preferably avoid) your take-home share of leftovers. Less leftovers means less weight stored on the belly. In fact, do everyone a favor this year by not gifting fattening treats.

When faced with a buffet line, I always recommend loading your plate first with greens, vegetables and lean meats before breads and heavier foods. Also keep alcoholic beverages to a 2-drink maximum.

Speaking of alcoholic beverages, beware of holiday drinks! Most of these festive concoctions are stuffed with extra calories. Yup, hot holiday drinks from coffee shops, cocktails at parties and creamy eggnog are all very enjoyable and all filled with empty calories – but, then again, you already knew that didn't cha? ;-)

Everywhere you go during the holiday season brings you face-to-face with a plates and trays of temptation, but you don't have to gain weight this holiday season. The key is your mindset.

If you approach the holidays with the mindset of, 'I deserve to indulge and I shouldn't have to exercise' then you'll enter 2015 a few pounds heavier, a little less healthy, and with lower energy than ever before.

I believe that you can do better. You deserve better! I believe that you can enter 2015 in better shape than you are today, healthier than you've been in a long time, and with more energy than you thought possible.

I'm here to help - If you would like to have more support I encourage you to schedule a complimentary "Let's Talk" Strategy consultation with me.

Starting out doesn't have to be intimidating. Achieving success begins with a thought out plan that's tailored to your individual needs - and that’s where I can help. Schedule yours now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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 head.

2: Deep Bend Leg Presses
If done properly, there is nothing wrong with leg presses. The problem comes when you over-zealously or ignorantly bend your legs too much. In order to get a good workout without causing damage to your back and knees, avoid bending your legs at the knee more than 90 degrees. If you have a hard time keeping your knees from slamming against your chest, reduce the weight you’re pushing until you have better control.

3: On Your Back
There are a number of exercises that require you to lie on your back with your feet in the air. Whether pretending to ride a bicycle in the air with your back on the ground, or some other inverted exercise, be cautious before getting started. These exercises cause unnecessary strain on the neck's nerves, ligaments and spine, and can result in long-term, irreversible damage.

4: Upright Rowing
Much like the behind-the-head military press, upright rowing (pulling weights up toward your chin) can cause shoulder impingement and other damage to nerves in the shoulder, too.

5: Sloppy Stair Steppers
After spending 30 minutes on the stair stepper or stationary bike, you may have the urge to lean on the machine's handles. Don't! Doing so may make you feel slightly relieved, but the benefits are only temporary. If you're not careful, you could hurt your elbows, shoulders, and even spine. On top of that, your lack of posture prevents your body from the workout it deserves.

6: Overkill on Anything
Want to get great abs? Do more push-ups. Want to sculpt your triceps? Do some squats. By putting all of your attention on a certain muscle, you run the risk of ignoring your other muscles and suffering future injury to them. There's nothing wrong with targeting a muscle or muscle group for improvement. Just remember the rest of your body needs the same attention, too.

Oh, and one more thing... What’s my take on using a Weight Belt?
There is something you should know about that weight belt: it may be keeping you from getting a full body workout. Yes, it keeps you from messing up your body, but if used in excess, it may also prevent your core muscles from having to work as hard as needed to keep them strong. You don't have to toss your treasured belt in the trash, though. Just don't use it unless you have a medical reason or you're doing some exceptionally heavy lifting.

Avoiding these exercises, using a common sense approach when your body experiences pain, and getting a great sports massage on a regular basis will not only minimize your risk for injury and pain, but will have you feeling great nd playing your "A" game, too!

Listen to your body,

John Aaron Villarreal

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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 to change our career paths, we can easily change the way we sit and move about in our workplaces.

If you are like the average desk jockey, your tend to work while slumped forward, diligently droning away at your desk. However, this position puts a lot of strain on the lumbar spine which can subsequently add to low back pain. The use of a computer mouse usually causes our dominant arm to rest in a forward position, and since we are carefully looking at our computer screens, we also tend to project our head forward as well. (see the above pic)

So how should we be sitting? Well, there really isn't a "perfect" way to do this, but what we can do is strive to maintain a "neutral spine" position as often as possible. Most importantly, you can set up your workstation to prep you for pain-reducing posture. Below are a few tips to help you do this:

  • Avoid working on a laptop whenever possible.

  • Set up your monitor so that you are not looking straight ahead at the screen, but just about 10° down from straight. Hint: you shouldn't be craning your neck forward or rounding your shoulders just to see the screen.

  • Add a foot rest beneath your desk. This realigns your entire lower body, putting more weight on to the hips and butt muscles, thereby placing less stress on your lower back.


Additionally, you should be limiting your time at the desk. Take frequent breaks to stand and stretch. What you should stretch includes your neck, chest, shoulders and back of your legs. Set the timer on your smart phone to remind you to take a few minutes every hour or so to do this. These short breaks will not only be better for your health and help minimize pain, but will also help you be more productive at your job.

Taking the time to manage your pain with these few preventative steps can add years of pain-free movement to your life. While taking these steps may not cure you of chronic pain, it is the combined efforts of these tips plus exercise, massage therapy, meditation, medication and medical care, that does the trick.

Listen to your body,

John Aaron Villarreal

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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 a day or two after an acute injury), could actually do more harm than good. If you stay in bed longer than a couple of days, your muscles start to lose strength and their ability to support your back. Stay as active as you can (while continuing to listen to your body).

Sit and stand safely. Whether you’re at work or home, take note of the positions you're in most of day! Are you doing everything you can to protect your low back with good posture? You've heard it before, but it bears repeating: Good posture is critical. Try to catch yourself when you're slouching.

When you’re in pain, here are a few other things to remember:

  • If your back pain is acute, sit and drive as little as possible and avoid sitting on soft, low couches.
  • Make sure your desk and access to work supplies are set at a comfortable height for you.
  • If you aren't lucky enough to have an office chair with good lumbar support, try using a pillow or rolled-up towel to support your lower back. Position your chair at the right height for your task, and rest your feet on a low stool.
  • When getting up from a sitting position, scoot to the edge of your seat, get your feet directly underneath you, and stand. Avoid bending at the waist.
  • When you DO drive, make sure you've got good lumbar support. Take your pillow or rolled up towel with you and be sure to position your seat so that you maintain a curve in your low back and that your hips are lower than your knees.
  • Getting out of a car can pose a real challenge. Whatever you do, do NOT twist your torso to get out. Instead, support your back and swing both legs out. And if you are on a long road trip, make sure you take regular breaks to walk around even if it’s only for a few minutes.


Lift and move safely.
Change positions often. If you have a desk job, for example, be sure to get up, move around, and stretch every hour. Gently arch your back. Need a reminder to move? Set an alarm on your phone or computer. When doing activities like cleaning, weeding, or vacuuming, remember to keep the curve in your lower back as much as you can.

Eight out of 10 Americans will experience debilitating back pain, according to Time.com, but a massage can help. According to a 2011 study, massage helped people in pain feel and function better compared to people who didn't receive any massage treatment.

It is believed that the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments such as; medications, acupuncture, exercise and yoga. Massage has also been linked to decreased stiffness and pain, as well as better range of motion in people with osteoarthritis.

So, don’t forget to include regular massage session in your personal tool chest for fighting lower back pain. You’ll be glad you did!

Listen to your body,

John Aaron Villarreal

Monday, September 29, 2014

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-worked (hyper-tonic) muscles, a really good one can also focus on reviving inhibited muscles, too.

A good massage therapist has an understanding of human anatomy and holds a set of time-tested techniques he then applies directly on isolated muscles, reconnecting them to the brain, and you end up with a nice, tight, straight-tracking joint - not to mention better posture, too!

So, if you've been "ignoring" an injury or a chronic ache, sit up and pay attention! It's your body's way of saying it needs some good ole TLC...


“Listen to your Body”

John Aaron Villarreal

Monday, September 22, 2014

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 apportions a majority of its nutrients to the immune system, the liver, and the brain, it can't spare all that is needed to heal the much less important singularly injured muscle, so it heals it "just enough" to get by and leaves it at that.

A small percentage of the time, the brain leaves the injured, hypo-tonic muscle turned off for reasons we do not understand. That's not often, but, with all the injuries you can accumulate in a lifetime, they can add up. Soon, your body's collection of non supportive, hypo-tonic muscles lead to skeletal misalignment, and your posture gets a little cranky and creaky. Then - more injuries followed by more pain ensue, and the cycle is repeated.

So, if you've been "ignoring" an injury or a chronic ache, sit up and pay attention. It's your body's way of saying it needs some good ole TLC...


“Listen to your Body”

John Aaron Villarreal

Monday, September 15, 2014

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 usually ask my clients to make themselves comfortable on my massage table and encourage them to breathe deeply, relax and prepare for the massage. My deep tissue treatments tend to consist of longer, deeper, and more intense strokes. Sometimes I may use my elbows, forearms, fingertips and specialized tools to access the deeper layers of muscle where the initial problem may reside.

Because I am massaging the innermost layers of my client’s connective tissues and muscles, there are times when my client may experience a slight increase in pain or discomfort. This is why it is imperative that you take an active role in the session by not dozing off and by continually offering feed-back regarding the levels of pain you may be experiencing. Just note that some level of discomfort is normal as the deeper knots, adhesions and injuries are being addressed.

Although my treatments generally last about 90-minutes for deep tissue therapy, if you massage frequently, the time required will usually shrink to about an hour. This is because the body gradually releases its knots and becomes more quickly receptive to my touch.

What About After a Deep Tissue Massage?

I always council my clients that after receiving a deep tissue massage, they may experience some muscular soreness or stiffness 24 to 48 hours after their session. Typically this doesn’t last more than a day.

Immediately following my client’s session, I offer bottled water and request that they drink plenty of water and to avoid strenuous exercise the day after our massage session in order to help the muscles heal.

If the session was particularly aggressive, or if the pain remains acute, I typically recommend the client ice the areas in question, or that they try a 20-minute, hot bath soak with Epsom salts — depending on the situation.

As for YOUR particular experience and depending on the severity of the issue you’re trying to address, you may find that you feel a whole lot better after just one visit.

Still, if you are attempting to resolve a chronic condition, injury, or a condition such as extreme muscular adhesions, you may have to have a few treatments in succession before you begin to feel well again. So at the end of your session, make sure you ask for your therapist’s recommendations on the need and frequency of any related follow-up visits.

I hope this helped! :-)

Listen to Your Body,

John Aaron Villarreal

Monday, September 8, 2014

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 tension, pain, spasm or stiffness
  • TMJ
  • Limited range of motion
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle, tendon and ligament injuries
  • High levels of stress

Each of these conditions is improved by releasing the corresponding “knots” (muscular adhesions and tension), thereby increasing blood flow, and promoting healthy movement in the area.

While deep tissue massage is helpful for a variety of conditions, and may seem like a cure-all for muscular pain, it should most definitely be avoided in cases where you have:

  • Inflamed skin or a rash
  • Bruising of any kind
  • Suffered a recent fracture or hernia

And although I probably don’t need to mention it, deep tissue massage is also off limits to those who may be pregnant...

Now while my personal preference leans toward deep tissue massage, the technique may not suit everyone. My advice: If you think deep tissue massage may be able to help you recuperate from pain or improve physical performance, make sure you check with your doctor first.

Oh, and don’t just think you can just get a “friend” to just press “really hard” on the affected area! Plenty can go wrong in this scenario that can exacerbate the problem (from creating bone fractures, to muscular tears and nerve damage).

So never —I repeat, NEVER— let anyone who is not qualified give you a deep tissue massage do so!
Oh, and when you DO find the licensed massage therapist that is right for you, don’t forget to examine his/her reviews and qualifications, too.

Listen to Your Body,

John Aaron Villarreal
massage therapist | heath coach

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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, but the information still holds true. If you are also seeing a doctor about your pain, you may consider asking him or her if aerobic, strengthening, or stretching exercises can give your body the boost -- and relief -- it needs.

Then, of course, I am always here when you need a good deep tissue massage and a firm stretch, too! ;-)

“Listen to your Body”

John Aaron
massage therapist | health coach

Monday, August 25, 2014

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't exciting, stretching is the best way to increase muscle elasticity and durability. Tight muscles are big contributors to strains -- remember? The older we get, the less flexible we become which leaves our muscles, tendons and ligaments wide open for injury and strain. Take the time to stretch every day at your desk, in the shower, and before/after your workout to stave off injury.

Step 2: Warm Up
If you are preparing to do any physical activity like working out, remember that your warm-up should not begin and end with putting on your gym clothes. Your muscles need to be coaxed into motion by way of a 10-15 minute warm up in order to prepare them for injury-free use. Cold muscles are less elastic and are therefore more prone to tears.

Step 3: Proper Gear
For most fitness enthusiasts proper gear has everything to do with their shoes. But don't be fooled -- not just any shoe will do. Find shoes that offer support and traction for your activity of choice, and make sure that they aren't too tight or too loose. If you are prone to ankle injuries then try a pair of high-tops for extra support.

Step 4: Lifestyle
Stop for a moment and think about your car -- if you don't maintain it with regular tune ups, oil changes and quality fuel then you can't expect it to perform well on the road. Treat your car poorly and sooner or later it will leave you high and dry at the most inconvenient time. The same applies to your body. Getting healthy amounts of sleep, eating well balanced meals, staying hydrated and getting regularly scheduled massage therapy will all contribute to your ability to live injury free. Simply put: The healthier your lifestyle is the less likely you are to suffer an injury.

Step 5: Condition
This may seem like the most obvious step to injury prevention, but unfortunately it is the most overlooked. Believe it or not; People who keep their bodies in top condition by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are the least likely to injure themselves. That's right. It's when people randomly exercise in an inconsistent manner. When exercise programs are started and stopped sporadically that your muscles are most likely to become injured.

Of course being conditioned also has another great benefit that everyone enjoys - you get to look and feel great! And who doesn't want that, right?

Monday, August 18, 2014

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 provide relief from chronic headaches, reduce anxiety, and promote more restful sleep, all conditions associated with an overload of stress.

Massage improves circulation, promotes healing
One of the key benefits of therapeutic massage is improved circulation. Good circulation is essential to bring oxygen and nutrients to healing tissues and remove irritating waste products. This, in turn, can help decrease inflammation and pain from injuries or overdoing it at work or play. Massage also increases circulation to the joints, improving their function and mobility.

Massage increases awareness of mind and body
Massage therapy can help increase awareness and sensitivity to the body's signals. As you get to know your body with massage you may be better able to listen to your need to take breaks at work or stretch after exercising. Increased awareness may even inspire you to spend more time doing the things you love, like painting, gardening or hiking.

Respond to stress with grace and balance; book your massage today.


Monday, August 11, 2014

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-reactive protein (hsCRP), (both associated with triggering the body’s inflammatory response) compared to those who received the placebo.

You can opt to eat the cherries instead of drinking the juice, but just so you know, it takes about 100 cherries to equal 1oz. of juice. However, the juice will be void of fiber (another beneficial component to anti inflammation).

Studies like this offer further support for the need to consume a wide and varied array of antioxidant rich foods, such as cherries, in order to potentially reduce inflammation and have the potential to lower our overall risk of disease.

Previous research on tart cherries and osteoarthritis conducted by researchers at Baylor Research Institute found that a daily dose of tart cherries (as cherry extract) helped reduce osteoarthritis pain by more than 20 percent for the majority of men and women. And the same compounds linked to cherries' arthritis benefits have now shown promise for athletes and sports recovery to help relieve muscle and joint soreness.

Click Here: For more information on the Montmorency Cherries Study.

In the meantime, I'm encouraged by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit – at levels comparable to some well-known pain medications, but with minimal to no side effects at all.

So my take away is “Go Red Instead” to manage chronic pain, and be sure to include a combination of therapies including exercise, flexibility and massage therapy. You’ll be glad you did.

Listen to your body,

John Aaron Villarreal



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

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 practice meditation. Meditation is nothing more than taking deliberate actions to calm the mind... That's it.

For example, I want you to take a moment right now to breathe deeply and slowly. Put your hand on your belly and feel it rise and fall. Focus on nothing but the rise and fall of your breathing. It's tough to ignore your surroundings; that's why this technique requires deliberate and consistent practice.  But I believe in you. You can do this.

If you've been experiencing physical pain or emotional stress, after a few minutes of deep breathing, you may feel some pain and tension just melt away. The more you practice, the more relief you will experience.

What's great about deep breathing as a stress and pain management technique is that you can do it anytime and anywhere -- when you're stuck in a Houston traffic jam, or at your desk, or even in the unbelievably "tiny" seat of a transatlantic flight... ;-)


“Listen to your Body”

John Aaron
massage therapist | health coach

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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 arthritis. It's something to seriously think about if you suffer from any type of chronic pain.

Pain is elusive -- it can mysteriously appear from one day to the next and you might never have thought it to be a result of something you consumed. Instead, you may have written it off to just getting older.

If you suspect your diet may be triggering your own flare ups of pain I suggest keeping a food diary for a few weeks to see whether any foods seem to increase your pain. If you think certain foods might be triggers, cut them out and see if your symptoms get better.

After a few weeks, you'll have a valuable record to share with your doctor, or with me at your next massage visit. Which, by the way, I'll start taking appointments on Monday, August 4th - and I look forward to seeing you again soon.


“Listen to your Body”

John Aaron
massage therapist | health coach

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why Exercise?

exercise to ease pain
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 workout is normal, but any kind of sharp, shooting, or sudden pain in the muscles or joints (especially during the act of exercise) may be a sign that something is wrong. If you experience this type of pain while exercising, I want you to stop right away and check with your doctor before resuming activity again.

“Listen to your Body”

John Aaron

Monday, July 14, 2014

First Time Massage Tips

john aaron massage for pain management
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:


  1. Provide a safe and secure environment and carry liability insurance for you protection as well as the therapists.
  2. The therapist should have competency in human anatomy & physiology.
  3. Maintain records including continuing education, certifications and session notes.
  4. Do his or her best to secure your comfort on the massage table.
  5. Should you be too warm or cold, a therapist should adjust room temperature and/or provide you with coverings.
  6. You should be regularly asked about the comfort of the pressure and technique she or he uses during your session.
  7. You should have privacy to dress and undress, and unless you both agree otherwise, the areas of your body that are not receiving massage should be covered.
  8. You are unique and deserve an individualized approach to your session. Not some stereotypical, cookie cutter “rub down.”

To get the most out of your massage experience, you DO need to take some responsibility, too. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs with your therapist. Speak up! Remember to:


  • Tell your therapist if the pressure is too light, deep, painful or otherwise uncomfortable.
  • Update your medical information frequently with your therapist.
  • Honor your therapists’ time and call 24 hours in advance if you need to cancel.
  • Definitely cancel if you are sick or contagious.
  • Don’t forget to let your physician know that you are receiving massage therapy.
  • If you are confused or need more information you should be able to freely share your concerns with your therapist as they arise.

Not only do I specialize in massage for pain management, but I am excellent at introducing the benefits of massage to first time clients, too. Feel free to call 713-562-2474 or book your session with me online HERE. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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 nutrients and natural pain-relievers to the stressed area increases. Improved circulation helps reduce fluid buildup in areas of swelling, too.

Injury Treatment Program
Sports massage focuses on using specific massage techniques to help heal recent injuries. Massage relaxes tension in areas surrounding an injury, reduces the painful buildup of fluids in swelling, and helps to improve the condition of the tissues so they can become stronger and more pliable.

Here's the caveat; massage treatment for sports injuries often works best when it is frequent and gentle, especially in the beginning. After a period of rest and a series of treatments the pain should ease, and you can resume your training program, stronger than ever.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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 overall stress eases and muscle tension that can trigger headaches lessens, headaches can be prevented as well as relieved.

Self-massage for stress and headache relief
Sometimes my schedule is completely booked. So if you can't get in to see me for a massage, try the following moves to help relieve stress and pain in the short term.


  1. Press the palms into the center of the forehead. Using a comfortable pressure, stroke across the forehead outward.
  2. Find the center line of your forehead with the first two fingers of each hand. Move the fingers about one inch horizontally to the sides of the center line. Press and release from the hairline downward.
  3. Move your fingers one inch more away from the center line, and repeat the press and release movements. Keep inching away from the center line and vary using the fingers to press into points with making small circles.
  4. Place your thumbs or index fingers at the center of your forehead, just above the eyebrows. "Draw" a line from the mid-line to the temples. Smooth the skin across the eyebrows, making small circles at temples.
  5. Trace with your fingers from the temples down to the jaw. Make small circles into the jaw.
  6. Move the fingers to the center of the forehead, and repeat the movements, again finishing at the jaw.
  7. Place the fingers near the hairline and repeat the sequence.

While this sequence might not be as ggod as having a trained professional do it for you, it does offer some relief until you can make your next massage appointment. If you'd like to know more, ask for help. I am happy to develop one or more techniques to help manage your "hot spots."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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 not a stress fracture in your shinbone or another serious condition.

Symptoms of Shin Splints

The most common symptoms of shin splints include:

  • Tenderness, soreness, or pain along the inner part of your leg
  • Mild swelling
  • Pain that worsens when you run or participate in other weight-bearing exercise
  • Discomfort in your lower leg that lingers even after you've stopped exercising

These symptoms are most likely to occur after you've been running downhill, on a slanted or tilted surface, or engaging in sports like basketball or tennis that require frequent starts and stops. You may also experience shin splints if you're running in worn out footwear, which offer less support for your feet.

Along with treating the pain of shin splints with ice, rest and elevation, you may consider the benefits of massage to improve healing times and reduce muscular adhesions that may lead to muscular imbalance.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Massage Reduces Cortisol: The Stress Hormone

massage reduces stress
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 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 provide relief from chronic headaches, reduce anxiety, and promote more restful sleep, all conditions associated with an overload of stress.

Improves circulation, promotes healing
One of the key benefits of therapeutic massage is improved circulation. Good circulation is essential to bring oxygen and nutrients to healing tissues and remove irritating waste products. This, in turn, can help decrease inflammation and pain from injuries or overdoing it at work or play. Massage also increases circulation to the joints, improving their function and mobility.

Increases awareness of mind and body
Massage therapy can help increase awareness and sensitivity to the body's signals. As you get to know your body with massage you may be better able to listen to your need to take breaks at work or stretch after exercising. Increased awareness may even inspire you to spend more time doing the things you love, like painting, gardening or hiking.

Respond to stress with grace and balance; book your massage today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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, called fascia. As a result, tension and spasms are often relieved. 
  • I tend to vary my application of massage to suit the needs of my client. Using certain massage techniques help heal recent injuries and minimize the discomforts of old, poorly-healed ones. Massage does this by: (1) relaxing tension in areas surrounding an injury, (2) reducing the painful buildup of fluids in swelling, and (3) helping to improve the condition of the tissues so that they are both stronger and more pliable.
  • Massage helps you regain energy and restore normal movement. Feeling good will make you want to exercise, regaining your most important means for maintaining good circulation. 
  • Massage can improve your sleep, helps your body heal and rejuvenates you for the next day's challenges. 
  • Massage helps you perceive and "listen" to your pain, which is, after all, a vital signal from our nervous system that we sit up and pay attention. 
  • Sometimes the perception of pain is changed when receiving the skilled and focused touch of massage. 

Without even trying, you may find you allow the new, pleasurable input of massage to take precedence over the painful sensations, at least temporarily.

Follow-up massage in times of stress can also help keep old pain from flaring up. So if you haven’t seen me in a while - Remember to schedule that next massage!

Friday, May 9, 2014

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 and cinnamon 5 mL
• 1/2 tsp salt 2 mL
• 2 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 375 mL
• 1 cup packed brown sugar 250 mL
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil 75 mL
• 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries 375 mL
Preparation
Set aside 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the flaxseeds. In food processor or clean coffee grinder, finely grind remaining flaxseeds; transfer to large bowl. Add all-purpose and whole wheat flours, natural bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; whisk to combine.

In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, sugar and oil; pour over dry ingredients. Sprinkle with cranberries; stir just until combined.

Spoon into 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups; sprinkle with reserved flaxseeds. Bake in center of 375°F (190°C) oven until tops are firm to the touch, 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes; transfer to rack and let cool completely.

Servings: Makes 12 muffins.

Nutritional Information per muffin:
calories 338, protein 8 g, total fat 12 g (Sat. fat 1 g), carbohydrates 54 g, fiber 7 g, cholesterol 32 mg, sodium 315 mg. % RDI: calcium 12%, iron 25%, vitamin A 2%, vitamin C 5%, folate 29%

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 or diet program.

Monday, March 24, 2014

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 that your body does not recognize as either food or a part of itself. Toxins destroy our hormonal balance and often act as endocrine disruptors - meaning they "disrupt" the way our hormones usually work. The hormones most often affected are estrogen, thyroid, testosterone, cortisol and insulin.

Endocrine disruption can occur when toxins "rewire" our hormone receptors and fool them into increasing, decreasing, or restricting the production of circulating hormones. Essentially, if a related hormone isn't performing as it should, then your metabolism isn't either.

To take this a step further, many toxins are lipophilic [lip-ə-ˈfil-ik] - meaning they are very receptive to fats. So when the amounts of toxins your body carries exceeds its ability to process them, your body seeks a way to efficiently neutralize their danger.

So it suspends these toxins in body fat. Over time and with repeated over exposure to toxins, your biochemistry begins to automatically streamline its ability to create more fat just for such purposes. And it begins to crave more calories, sugars, and salts than usual. These are the materials needed for the body to produce more fat and retain water as a protective defense against these noxious substances.

In a nutshell: the presence of toxins can reprogram your DNA to become a fat producing machine. On the flipside, the elimination of toxins can also influence DNA toward a metabolism of efficiency and hormonal balance.

So while it's true that we live in a toxic world, it's important to remember that you wield the power to enhance your body's natural ability to detoxify itself. Stay tuned for my next post where I will be discussing the processes in which the body detoxifies and what you can do to preserve and enhance these processes.

Be well, and Live Your WHOLE Life!

John Aaron Villarreal


Friday, March 21, 2014

Bust Stress by Getting More Physical


Children of the ‘80s have to thank Olivia Newton-John. She taught the whole world how to get physical and let her hear your body talk. Exercise in any form can be a great stress-buster. Exercise can help do wonders for the body. The World Health Organization says that lack of physical activity is the leading cause of chronic diseases. Now, we can also include stress, anxiety and potentially harmful mental conditions to the mix. Virtually all forms of exercise from simple walking, yoga to crossfit training have a value to relieve the body from stress. A little exercise can go a long way towards having a stress-free and happier life.

Why worry about stress?
Stress is a natural thing that happens in our body. It is beneficial until it becomes too much. Stress is in our DNA and we don’t have the ability to turn it off and on. It is the body’s natural reaction to a fight-or-flee response. Continued stress or presence of stress hormones in the body causes health problems. Some chronic diseases are caused by stress such as hypertension, diabetes and even problems with the immune system. Stress causes the body to be inflamed and thus create health problems. This is the reason why lack of exercise can impact the health. Exercise can help prevent stress and thus lower the risks of developing chronic health problems.

How important is exercise?
The benefits of exercise include the improvement of the physical and mental conditions of a person. Recent studies show that exercise can also improve mental condition as it can bust stress and anxiety. A sedentary lifestyle causes obesity, which recently was declared a full-fledged disease by the American Medical Association. Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver problems such as fatty liver disease, renal disease, atherosclerosis and strokes can be attributed to lack of exercise. In fact, the lack of exercise ranks second only to smoking if not tied as the leading source of preventable diseases. A report that was published in the Lancet showed a grim picture about 1.3 million people dying worldwide each year caused by the lack of exercise. The harrowing fact is that despite the health consequences of lack of exercise it is not getting much attention in health circles and is not getting enough funding from government.

How can exercise help the mind?
Exercise enhances mental cognition and even helps in preserving neurons as well as the effective flow of neurotransmitters in the nervous system. Exercise improves one’s focus and counters fatigue by improving alertness and stamina. This is very important since most of the time stress can severely deplete the energy thus lowering a person’s ability to maintain focus and concentration. Current health guidelines say that 150 minutes of moderate exercise is enough. That would roughly translate to half an hour of moderate exercise five times a week. When stress impacts the brain, the nerve connections affect the rest of the body. So, it will not only make the body feel better but it will also have positive effects on a person’s mood. Calmness sets in after a brief 20 minute walk based on brain scans.

Why exercise can do wonders?
A brief five-minute walk can do wonders to the body against stress. When a person does some exercise the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers that can help release other feel-good chemicals in the body like serotonin and dopamine. Feel-good chemicals help melt the stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine.

Why is exercise important to sleep?

Exercise promotes a general well-being as such can also improve sleep. Sleep is an essential factor in controlling anxiety. Anxious people can’t sleep. As such lack of sleep makes anxiety worse. Exercise can help by making the body feel calmer and relaxed. As a result it can induce sleep as well as improve the quality and duration.

There is no such thing as little exercise. Any kind of activity can do wonders for the body. Spending 20 minutes of your time per day will help you to become calmer and live longer. Exercise is the cheapest medicine around. Most of the health problems in the world are traced back to physical inactivity. And, you can’t blame a busy schedule since you can do pocket sessions of exercise that could add up to at least 30 minutes per day.



About the Author:

Ryan Rivera is a lover of healthy lifestyle choices.  He always shares his doable tips and tricks about healthy living to his readers with the hope of helping them live an anxiety-free life.  You can also visit Ryan Rivera’s Calm Clinic Facebook account for more interesting information about health.