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Ramona Reid, a friend and colleague as well as host of the show Holistic Revolution on 101.5 WXNA, interviewed me last week about a range of topics. Please visit her website through the link below to hear the broadcast! And check out WXNA for great community radio.

http://www.mynashvillecenter.com/holistic-revolution/2016/6/18/june-17-2016-bodywork-dis-ease-and-our-bodies-innate-intelligence-to-heal

http://wxna.org

As a healthcare practitioner, I am also by necessity a self care practitioner. The most powerful form of self care that I have experienced is meditation. Like most people, I struggle to maintain a daily meditation practice in the midst of a busy life. But the days that start with meditation (or contemplative prayer) always feel different.

When I have maintained a regular practice over time I have felt changed from within. As my practice lapses, I can feel those changes slowly ebb away. As a bodyworker, I see firsthand the effects of stress on the body: in the tension of the muscles, in the set of the muscles or the jaw, or in the struggle to relax on the table.

Meditation may seem unrelated to massage, but I think that meditation is in fact a form of massage. Our mental equilibrium directly effects our nervous system and the tone of our muscles. Regular meditation creates a new ecosystem that we live within and from. Harvard University just released the results of a study that examined the effects of meditation, and MRI scans revealed significant structural changes in the brain with just 27 minutes of meditation practice per day. As they state in the article, “people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

From the article (click to go to full article):

Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. In a study that will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Stretching is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves to maintain flexibility and address postural imbalances that arise from daily patterns. However, it is also possible to overstretch muscles that are not warmed up, or even to cause damage when stretching improperly.

In the article below, Dr. Ben Kim discusses a very common hamstring/lower back stretch that can stress the lumbar (lower back) vertebrae, and suggests an easy alternative. He also gives some good advice: don’t stretch first thing in the morning!

From Dr. Ben Kim at http://www.drbenkim.com:

Click quote for entire post

“I’ve long recommended avoiding vigorous stretching first thing in the morning; the risk of injury is significant, especially as we get older, as our muscles, tendons, and ligaments are not well perfused with blood when we first wake up. These tissues are best stretched after we have been out and about for an hour or two, and optimally, after enough of an aerobic workout where we are sweating – if we’ve worked hard enough to sweat, we can reasonably assume that our muscles and ligaments are flush with blood and ready to be safely and effectively lengthened through stretching.

One stretch in particular that I have found to be quite dangerous to lower back health is forward bending where your legs are pressed together on the ground in front of you, and you lower your chest to get as close as possible to your knees. Some people use this position to stretch their hamstrings, others to stretch their lower back. Regardless of which muscles you are targeting, you should know that this stretch puts significant pressure on the discs that act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae in your lower spine.”

It is not necessary to remove your clothing to experience the benefits of massage therapy. Clothing may be the safe boundary necessary to introduce the body to healthy touch. This article from massagetherapy.com explores a few of the most common modalities that do not require the removal of clothing.

Have you or someone you know been delaying getting a massage because you don’t feel like getting undressed? If so, delay no more. There are many types of bodywork you can receive while remaining fully clothed. Clothed bodywork modalities are a great introduction to the world of massage, letting you feel safe and secure while enjoying the benefits of healing touch. So, what are you waiting for? 

In the perfect world suggested by most massage marketing, the morning after a massage will always be a day of abundant sunshine, big smiles with outstretched arms, and a body free of all aches and pains. Ahhh, what a nice world….

I am not a believer in the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. Our bodies reflexively guard against pressure that is too deep, sudden, or intense. Communication during the session is essential for finding the therapeutic threshold in any session.

However, the days following treatment may (but do not always) include some residual muscle soreness as the session’s effects are received and processed by your body. Particularly in cases of deep tissue or myofascial release therapy, it is wise to wait 48 hours to assess the result of the session.

“Your body is one of the most complex machines in existence. There is an interplay between body and mind that is only really beginning to be understood. This connection could, however, explain the soreness experienced the morning after a massage. Neurological sensitivity, or “sensitization,” explores the “whole response of what’s going on in a person.” During a massage, the body’s experiences are processed through the central nervous system to be understood by your brain. At times of high stress, the nervous system and the brain may feel overwhelmed by this increase in information. The soreness and tiredness experienced the following day are then understood as side-effects of this information overload.”

Check this out! Click on the quote to read a quick but profound article from massagetherapy.com.

“The adult human lives inside an envelope of about 18 square feet of skin. Every square inch houses thousands of nerve endings and various kinds of sensory receptors, all working to tell the brain about its surroundings”.