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Motion Monday #3

Welcome to Motion Monday’s. A Monthly update – Motion Monday’s is a little list of a few things I’m digging right now that are keeping me growing and learning both as a human being and a therapist.

What I am reading at the moment: Move Your DNA, Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katy Bowman. A great view of human movement and how we actually don’t move enough. From our pillows to our underpants – Katy explains how simple restrictions can cause issues with our movement.

What I’m learning: controlling the pelvis during a back squat. I’ve been very slack in my control of anterior & posterior tilting of my pelvis. Controlling the pelvis pre-squats has really helped me maintain form for all reps.

Podcast listening: Tim Ferris episode #24 – Kevin Rose, Gut Bateria, Meditation, Startups, and More…creating behavioural change.

Movement rocking my body: 

Welcome to Motion Monday’s. Motion Monday’s is a little list of a few things I’m digging right now that are keeping me growing and learning both as a human being and a therapist.

What I am reading at the moment: Born to Walk – James Earls. The ability to walk upright is often something all of us take for granted. James explores the mystery of our evolution by describing in depth the mechanisms that allow us to be efficient in bipedal gait. I highly recommend this for therapists wanting to learn more about how people place themselves in this world.

What I’m learning: Anatomy Trains Structural Integration for Manual Therapists – focus on long term structural change.

Podcast listening: Tim Ferriss episode 24 Kevin Rose – Gut Bacteria, Meditation, Startups and More…putting a new spin on meditation and how to control certain behaviours for the better.

Movement rocking my body: progression to crow pose, balancing in this position can be a bit testing!

Who I’m following at the moment: Kaisa Keranen @kaisafit – shows you there is no excuse not to move, definitely check her out if you’re bored with the regular gym routine and you’re looking to move a little bit more!

Quote of the month: “Let the improvement of yourself keep you so busy that you have no time to criticise others”  Roy T Bennett!

Have a great week guys!

Mental Health & Massage

In 2007 a National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing showed 7.3 MILLION Australians (that’s 45%) aged 16-85 had mental health issues at some point in their life.

3.2 MILLION PEOPLE(1 in 5 or 20%) had a mental health issue lasting 12 months,

Studies show that massage can have a profound impact on mood with anxiety reduction being one of the most well-established effects. Massage can help with depression, trait anxiety, depression in cancer patients, menopause, occupational stress & anorexia & bulimia. Couple massage with anaerobic exercise, yoga or meditation and you can reduce the symptoms of anxiety & depression.

So, what exactly does massage do to help with these mental health conditions?

  1. Hormonal release & balance
    1. I have spoken before about the hormones released during massage, but the main three hormones to focus on here are OXYTOCIN, SEROTONIN & DOPAMINE. Depression often manifests after these hormones have been out of balance for many months or years. Massage can be extremely effective to change the ratio of these hormones and over time with regular massage can allow them all to level, stabilizing mood.
  2. Touch is a POWERFUL thing –
    1. Touch between two people is a magical thing. Once skin touches skin there is a chemical reaction that occurs that releases OXYTOCIN within the two people connecting. Touch can be both damaging and healing. Touched in a safe and trusted environment, the body can be assisted to heal.
  1. Improving SLEEP
    1. The relationship between sleep and depression can be complex as depression can cause sleep problems. According to the Sleep Foundation, people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well (Taylor et. Al 2005). The hormones mostly at play here at DOPAMINE & SEROTONIN – massage can help level out some of these hormones to improve sleep duration and quality.

If you or anyone around you may be suffering from signs or symptoms of depression make an appointment with your GP or contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Lower Back Pain

DO YOU SUFFER FROM CHRONIC LOWER BACK PAIN? I know the story, you go a few days or weeks without pain but it flares up again when you least expect. You feel like you’re doing all the right things, yet still, that niggling lower back pain reappears. Sound familiar?

Lower back pain is often the result of issues stemming from the feet and ankles. Mechanical issues from your feet and ankles can cause tension all the way up your body including knees, hips, shoulders and back. If you suffer from chronic lower back pain or unexplained pain and have never got to the root cause, have a look at your feet.

Are your toes pointed outwards? Can you feel most of the weight through the outside of your feet, or is it the inside? Your body is constantly adapting to where it spends most of its time – sitting at the desk, sitting in the car, sleeping in the foetal position! In most of these cases, your ankles and feet are in a restricted position. Once you attempt to go beyond that comfortable yet restrictive position your body has no other choice but to compensate somewhere in the body. In this case, lower back pain is often the area where your body can no longer give.

So, how do we manage this? Your feet and ankles need to be as adaptive as possible. Two things will help – MOVEMENT & TOUCH THERAPY (aka Massage). Start with MOVEMENT. Challenge your feet and ankles every day gently into positions that are new – it could be ankle rotations, pointing your toes, or even transferring the weight of your body gently left or right. Check out this video from @docjenfit about plantar fasciitis – these type of movements will help your ankle mobility and stability.

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✨PLANTAR FASCIITIS – strengthening✨ Last post!! Hammer in the first 3 and this should come last to help increase strength and stability of the plantar fascia 💪 To increase intensity, add a towel roll under the toes during heel raises. This will place the plantar fascia on increased stretch as the big toe extends at the top of the heel raise. CAUTION: Make sure you have mobilized the big toe to increase the extension mobility with the previous videos prior to adding this progression! (Found in Tuesday's video!) 🔶 HEEL RAISES 🔶 Be sure the maintain ankle alignment and big toe extension appropriately by maintaining the majority of the weight over the ball of the foot under the big toe. Also! When you maintain alignment, you properly fire the fibularis longus (aka – peroneus longus) along the outside of the lower leg. This muscle wraps from the outside of the leg (on the fibula) to the base of the 1st metatarsal (or the ball of the foot under the big toe). It also helps to support the arch, so it's important to focus on this ankle alignment when performing heel raises. Tag someone who wants some extra feet exercises 👣 #docjenfit #MyodetoxLA #move2improve #performixdriven Powered by @performixdriven

A post shared by Dr. Jen Esquer (@docjenfit) on

Next, we start with structural change with TOUCH. By allowing space through the ankles and the feet through touch and movement you can resolve pain in your lower back. See in the photo below how the feet here a much more grounded and relaxed. Create adaptive feet & ankles and the rest of your body will follow!

Remember, when dealing with chronic pain you need to keep in mind there is a long standing issue here. There also may be an emotional component to this chronic pain – ensure you seek the advice of a health care professional if chronic pain is affecting your day to day activity and your health. If you don’t seem to be getting anywhere when seeking advice perhaps TOUCH & MOVEMENT might just be for you!

Motion Monday #2

Welcome to Motion Monday’s. Motion Monday’s is a little list of a few things I’m digging right now that are keeping me growing and learning both as a human being and a therapist.

What I am reading at the moment: Head Strong – Dave Asprey. Dave discusses the difference between craving & hunger and how to shut it down. He also explains the keto diet and how it can help improve your mood, body and cognitive function.

What I’m learning: Anatomy Trains in Motion – how movement can heal the body and how to train the body to be both functional and efficient in its use of energy.

Podcast listening: ATP Science Podcast – Intermittent Fasting. How it can impact your health positively and allow you to perform better.

Movement rocking my body: 5 Minute Flow – Max Shank. Just search #5minuteflow, move all your joints. I do this every morning and it helps me prepare for the day.

Essential Oil I’m burning: Peppermint. Improves energy levels and mental clarity.

Who I’m following at the moment: Dr. Jen Esquer @docjenfit. Amazing moves and some helpful instructional videos!

Quote guiding me this week: “Let the improvement of yourself keep you so busy that you have no time to criticise others ”

Have a fantastic week!

Why massage? Top 5 Health Benefits

Massage has been around for a number of years, however, people are still unsure exactly what it’s good for other than relaxation. Remedial & sports massage can be effective not only for the psychological benefits but also a range of other health benefits.

Here are the top 5 Health Benefits of Remedial Massage:

  1. Increase Immune System Function – your body needs a certain level of lymphocytes to fight off infections – massage is effective in increasing the activity level of these natural white cells. Studies show that those who received a 45-minute massage increased their levels of lymphocytes.
  2. Pain relief – pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and reduce recovery time from injury or illness. Massage is extremely effective in relieving pain both physically & psychologically through its ability to produce hormones to assist the body in a natural healing process.
  3. Improving Physical Fitness – massage is effective in reducing pain and muscle tension thus it is also effective in preventing injury. The longer and more effectively you can train and exercise means you are more like to remain fit and active
  4. Lower Stress –  massage therapy has been proven to reduce stress levels particularly by reducing a hormone called cortisol. A 60-minute massage will bring your awareness back into your body and allow you to breathe deeply and let tensions go.
  5. Improve Sleep – massage allows your body to regulate cortisol & dopamine levels which, in turn, allows you to better regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Most of the time we are in a heightened state of stress, never really fully relaxing, even whilst sleeping – people often wake up feeling tired and lethargic. After a massage sleep quality is improved because there has been a hormonal change within the body, muscle tension is lessened and the body is able to relax more deeply.

So, make the investment in yourself – self-care is important not only for longevity by also the quality of your life. Regular massage can help you function better and get the most out of your life!

Alcohol & Massage

Thinking about planning your next relaxing massage on a Saturday morning? You might want to watch your Friday night alcohol intake!

Here’s why:

Massage stimulates the production of a number of hormones in the body (oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin to name a few). To produce these hormones the body requires an increase in fluid circulating the body. Relaxation and deep tissue massage moves fluids around the body and thus dehydrates you. This is why your massage therapist will always tell you to increase your fluid intake after your massage.

Now, a few Friday night drinks will cause you to become dehydrated and come Saturday morning when you’re a little hairy eyed, hungover, and very dehydrated your body is further dehydrated by the massage. With the left over booze still circulating your blood stream, muscle soreness is amplified and your body doesn’t get the best chance to heal.

The same thing applies to one innocent glass of wine or beer after your massage. Your body works as a whole and your liver, kidneys and lymphatic system are all stimulated by the massage. To add in alcohol on top of that, it’s just one extra thing your body has to process. A glass or two of alcohol can cause an increase in muscle soreness and this makes it difficult to tell if the massage was beneficial or not.

You’re paying good money for a massage and they can be incredibly effective for many reasons. Be mindful of your drinking before and after a massage so you can get the most out of your treatment!

Motion Monday #1

Welcome to Motion Monday’s. Motion Monday’s is a little list of a few things I’m digging right now that are keeping me growing and learning both as a human being and a therapist.

What I am reading at the moment: Born to Walk – James Earls. The ability to walk upright is often something all of us take for granted. James explores the mystery of our evolution by describing in depth the mechanisms that allow us to be efficient in bipedal gait. I highly recommend this for therapists wanting to learn more about how people place themselves in this world.

What I’m learning: Anatomy Trains Structural Integration for Manual Therapists – focus on long term structural change.

Podcast listening: Barbell Shrugged – Biohacking with Dave Asprey #272, if you have heard of bulletproof or want to learn about bulletproof lifestyle then this is the podcast for you. From keto to controlling your biology & environment.

Movement rocking my body: rocking push ups! Progressing from a ‘on all fours’ position to a push-up and back.

Essential Oil I’m burning: Geranium. Keeps me alert and cognitively sharp whilst smells great.

Who I’m following at the moment: Gary Lineham – Human Garage. Next level alignment of body, mind & soul. Highly recommend you check out Gary on The Bledsoe Show Podcast #26 to see what he’s all about.

Quote guiding me this week: “You only lose what you cling to” – Buddha

Essential Oils – natural healing

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants for healing. These essential oils are extracts from roots, leaves, seeds and blossoms of plants and can be used as a natural way to reduce stress, improve sleep and increase immunity. There are a few different classifications of aromatherapy including – cosmetic, massage, medical, olfactory and psycho-aromatherapy.

So, how does it work?

Your sense of smell is incredibly powerful and has a huge impact on your body. The “smell” receptors (or olfactory nerves) communicate with parts of your brain to stimulate a response. This response is usually the release of hormones which have a profound impact on your physical, emotional & mental health. Essential oils also have antibacterial & antifungal properties and are becoming more favourable for a more natural way of cleaning and reducing the impact of bacteria & fungus on the body. There are more studies being conducted about essential oils and their impact on the human body. Below is a list of some oils that may help you with any of the following:

  • STRESS/ANXIETY/AGITATION
    • Geranium – pelargonium graveolens
    • Sweet Marjoram – origanum majorana
    • Basil – ocimum basilicum
    • Sweet Orange – citrus sinensis
    • Lavender – eavandula angustifolia
    • Lemon-scented Ironbark – eucalyptus staigeriana
  • FEELINGS OF FATIGUE
    • Grapefruit – citrus paradisi (exhaustion fatigue)
    • Coriander – coriandrum sativum (mental fatigue)
    • Citronella – cymbopogon nardus
    • Geranium – pelargonium graveolens(nervous)
    • Rosemary – rosmarinus officinalis
    • Peppermint – M. piperita
  • IMPROVING SLEEP
    • Chamomile – Chamaemelum nobile
    • Lemon – C. limon
    • Juniper Berry – juniperus communis
    • Basil – Ocimum basilicum (nervous)
  • IMPROVING COGNITIVE FUNCTION & ENERGY
    • Peppermint – M. piperita
  • REDUCING PAIN
    • Lavender – lavandula angustifolia
    • Manuka – leptospermum scoparium
    • Rosemary – rosmarinus officinalis ct. camphor
  • ANTIBACTERIAL
    • Basil – well studied oil showed good antimicrobial potential against aeromonas, hydrophila & pseudomonas flurescens [1]
  • ANTIFUNGAL
    • Tea Tree – tea tree oil has been shown to have a wide range of fungicidal potential [2]

IMPORTANT: Essential oils can be extremely helpful with many different things but if not used correctly can cause harm including skin irritation & respiratory issues. Please use caution if you have not used essential oils before – read the instructions on the essential oil bottles. The following website is a great explanation for how to use essential oils safely – https://theherbalacademy.com/a-guide-to-essential-oil-safety/.

[1] – J. Wan, A. Wilcock, M.J. CoventryThe effect of essential oils of basil on the growth of Aeromonas hydrophila and Pseudomonas fluorescens J Appl Microbiol, 84 (1998), pp. 152-158

[2] K.A. Hammer, C.F. Carson, T.V. RileyAntifungal activity of the components of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil J Appl Microbiol, 95 (2003), pp. 853-860

Why MASSAGE sould be part of your RECOVERY!

Did you know that massage has the ability to alternate and enhance the cellular function in your soft tissue? This is what’s known as cellular stimulation. When delivered properly, massage therapy is a way to deliver mechanical stimuli to the soft tissue.

Massage has been proven to have a positive effect on collagen fibres in your body. COLLAGEN is the major repair material used to restore tissue after any trauma or inflammation. When you EXERCISE you are effectively breaking down and wearing/ tearing your muscles. Your body rebuilds the muscles you have used during the workout by forming new collagen fibres. Through many different massage techniques, your soft tissues within your muscles are able to heal more quickly by allowing these collagen fibres to regenerate. Not only does massage reduce your stress levels and feel great, but it also allows for quicker healing of your body so you can get on and enjoy your day pain-free!

RUN | JUMP | WALK | LIFT  +  MASSAGE = LESS pain, HEALTHIER muscle recovery!

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Before you get a massage…

Have you experienced a bad massage? Unfortunately, the reality is most of you reading this have probably experienced a fairly average massage in your lifetime. Some of you may have even experienced a massage that has caused more than before treatment. And if you’re anything like me you cringe at the idea of wasting $80-100 on a massage treatment that did not meet your expectations. There is an increase in expectation of massage therapists these days to provide quality service, and so they should. So, how do you get the most out of your massage and what do you need to ask yourself before booking in a massage?

  1. Ask Questions – before booking in for a massage, ask the therapist what they specialise in. Finding out more about the therapist will help you gain more of an understanding about them to see if it’s the right fit.
  2. Identify Goals – think about what you want most from the end of the session. Do you want to simply switch off and relax for an hour? Or do you want firm pressure to eliminate pain?
  3. Communicate – your massage therapist should be communicating with you on the table. Therapists are not ‘mind readers’, nor can they feel what you feel. Communication is key to ensure you get the most out of your massage. Are they being too soft? Are they being too firm? They are providing a service – give them feedback and allow them the chance to provide you with a quality massage. A good therapist will always check the pressure with you. Continue this communication through the entire relationship between you and your therapist, some days we need a little more or less pressure depending on our weekly or daily stressors.
  4. Be Realistic – identify how long you have had your pain for, or how long you have been carrying around a particular stress. Has it been weeks, months or years? Your massage therapist cannot resolve these issues within an hour – it can take a while for your body to get back into alignment.
  5. Make a Treatment Plan – a good therapist will be encouraging you to make a commitment depending on your presenting complaints. If you want to resolve or manage the pain you have been having for years, it may take ongoing sessions to get your body to a place of balance where the underlying issues can be identified.
  6. Pain is not “normal” – whilst massage can be therapeutic and alleviate pain for a short period, if you are presenting to your therapist for the same issues time and time again, give them that feedback. Your pain is not a result of “old age” and it is not “normal”. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to change something. Find a therapist who is willing to make referrals to relevant health professionals when massage is no longer able to serve you. There are some great therapists out there, they will use resources such as physiotherapists, psychologists or dietitians to help you get your body back to a place of peace.