Yahara Therapy

July 2012 Newsletter:

  1. Autumn sabbatical
  2. Stress
  3. Community wellness
  4. Visceral Manipulation: Part II
  5. Therapy highlight: Neck and upper shoulder stretch
  6. Therapy highlight: The core

1) Autumn sabbatical
It's no secret. I have designs for the future. When I originally chose the name "Yahara Therapy" for my practice, it was for several practical reasons. One was that my last name is fairly problematic to work into a business title. Another is that I wanted to ensure that I had room to grow as I began to incorporate more than just massage, and more than just me, into my practice. "Therapy" can be so many things.

This August I grow, again: I will finish my coursework in physical therapy at UW-Madison and begin the first of four clinical rotations. I am nervous and thrilled! Graduation is scheduled for May 2013.

These clinical internships will be in Detroit (Henry Ford Hospital-acute inpatient care), Madison (Dean Clinic-outpatient care), Dane County (home health care) and Fort Atkinson (Fort Healthcare-broad range outpatient care). Current plans: Gain experience as a physical therapist in the greater community and continue to grow Yahara Therapy.

My vision includes a world in which we all have the resources we need to get and stay healthy and strong, whatever that is to each of us. Professionally, that means I will continue to work with incredible people who are dedicated to prevention and ensuring we all have a chance at a healthy life.

Sure, it's an undefined plan. I think of it as "focused, but open-minded". I hope you continue to be part of it.

Thanks to those of you who have supported and encouraged me, and offered up your own bodies to let me bumble around and practice, measuring and assessing and wondering about I might do, should I actually become a massage-physical therapist.

My practice will be on hold from the end August through October, when I will resume a very part-time schedule. I plan to blog about my clinical experiences. If you are interested in following, please drop me a line.

I will continue to be available by email. If you need help connecting to resources or have questions, don't hesitate to send me a message. In that vein...

Finding a Bodyworker or Massage Therapist Who Is Right for You

Specific recommendations
http://www.yaharatherapy.com/recommendations.html http://www.yaharatherapy.com/resources.html

Complementary Services of the Integrative Medicine Center (UW Health)

2) Stress
Stress and emotions affect your physical health. How? Why?

Over the years, I’ve noticed that therapy helps you, but it is when fear, depression, anxiety, sense of chaos, etc. calm down or go away that you feel better in your body. A corner is turned: Therapy (and everything else) seems to be more effective.

  • Wounds heal better.
  • Pain is less.
  • Sleep is easier.
  • Symptoms are manageable, or go away all together.

Sometimes the way to jump-start feeling better...

  • ...is to do something physical.
  • ...is through your mind.
  • ...is with emotional or spiritual support.

Find the source of stress.
Reduce it or eliminate it, if you can. While you are working on that, support your help or find other ways in:

  • Exercise, Sports, Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Getting into “nature”
  • Talking with friends
  • Art or other creative activities
  • Massage

Here's a great article on the connection between breathing and "common upper body pain problems and injuries".
Read here.
from SaveYourself.ca

Find something that makes sense for you. You might not know what that is, yet. Your body, as well as your mind and heart, will benefit. There are many theories about why stress affects your physical health. If you'd like more information, drop me a line!

3) Community wellness
It's also no secret that one of the tenets of my health philosophy is helping you find the right tools to keep your own self well and healthy. Empowerment! Meeting and working with you face-to-face is my preference (that way, it's an exchange!); sharing highlights and helpful tips, links to information, and articles in these newsletters is another.

Occasionally, I also provide on-site and hands-on demonstrations and education. This spring, I led a self-massage workshop for the newly created Wellness Project of the Dane County TimeBank. This series of events (each focusing on health and wellness with a free community meal) is the first phase in an effort to bring more services to more people in our area, through the infrastructure of the TimeBank.

I also provided a self-massage workshop for the Madison Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) group at their monthly meeting in July.

These workshops include ways to use your own body or tools—repurposed (plungers, balls, rolling pins..!), made (tennis balls + sock), or purchased (e.g. Theracane ®)—to help provide pain and tension relief for yourself.

For me and my professional life, growth includes continuing to connect and network and give back in all of these ways, and more. If you would like to learn more about self-massage, how to join the TimeBank and its Wellness Project (we need you!), the SCI group, or have questions or ideas or people for me, follow the links above or please drop me a line!

Your mini-workshop of the day: Tennis Ball Exercises For Feet (Mar 28, 2011 | By Jeremy Hoefs, LiveStrong.com)

4) Visceral Manipulation: Part II
Everything is connected. Literally connected. Your muscles to your bones to your skin to your organs to your brains.

I have continued my studies in Visceral Manipulation (VM) with the Barral Institute, completing the second of four courses this past April. Through it, I have more ways to help address your body more fully. I continue to integrate this work into therapy sessions and have had some great responses! I have also presented two in-services about VM, including one with a panel of experts.

If you'd like to learn more about VM, how it might be used, and if it is something that might be helpful for you, please drop me a line.

5) Therapy highlight: Neck and upper shoulder stretch*
Tension? Give this a try! Stretch your upper trapezius (example below for RIGHT side).

  1. While comfortably upright:
    1. EXHALE
    2. Pull shoulders down (shoulder blades into back pockets – if you like, you can use your LEFT hand to tug the RIGHT downward – see graphic –or grasp bottom of chair with RIGHT to anchor)
    3. Try to actively hold shoulders there throughout session.
    4. INHALE
    5. Tip LEFT ear to LEFT shoulder
    6. Hold 2 seconds as you EXHALE
    7. Return (INHALE)
  2. REPEAT 8-15 times.
  3. Now the OTHER SIDE!
  4. VARIATIONS – see which work(s) best for you:
    1. As you tip, bend neck slightly forward (keep your back still)
    2. As you tip, bend neck slightly forward, and turn head to the opposite side. (are you breathing?)
    3. Do one stretch for 30-60 seconds instead of a set of little ones.

How does it feel?
You can do this stretch any time you have a few minutes to breathe.

6) Therapy highlight: The core*
You may have heard of it. You are always encouraged to work on it. What is the "core"?

What? The core refers to muscles deep in the middle of your body. When these little, unassuming, but important muscles are turned on, they protect and stabilize you, helping to prevent injury, anchoring a wobbly spine, and reducing painful signals your body may be giving you if it feels in danger of not being able to hold you up the right way.

When engaged and synchronized, they help keep you stable – like a harness on the inside—while you do other things. A dependable core is especially handy when you are trying to carry, lift, walk and move. (In other words…everything!)

Why are they turned off? Because of the way we use our bodies—too little or too much—they may not be working. Our brain-to-body connection may have been interrupted. So...

How do I turn them on? This doesn’t take brute strength—just a little concentration (the brain part)! It won’t feel like much.

Try these first simple steps. You can do them anywhere at any time. The goal is to keep them on at all times, whether sitting, standing, moving, working. (OK, you get a break when you are sleeping!)

Start with #1 or #2. Get the hang of doing one or both in many positions.

This is a challenge. It takes some people days, weeks or months to (re)learn this. I personally have to remind myself many times throughout the day to turn on my core, but I always feel stronger, and I trust my lower back much more when I need to use it.

First steps to engaging your core:

  1. Draw in your "belly belt" muscles (transversus abdominis [TrA]).
  2. Turn on your pelvic floor muscles (think “Kegels”).
  3. Engage your lowest back muscles to support your spine (erector spinae, multifidi).

Try this:

#1 – The Belly Belt (transversus abdominis)

  • Lie on a firm, padded surface (mat or carpet) on your back.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat.
  • Draw your belly-button toward your spine, like it has a string pulling it through from the back.
  • Just slightly move away from your waistband... a tiny movement is all! DON’T SUCK IT IN like the person at the beach trying to impress.
  • Hold this position while breathing fully—normal breathing. This can be difficult, and takes practice!
  • Now try it standing, sitting, walking around!

#2 - The Pelvic Floor (This is like doing Kegel exercises.)
This is the part of your body that contacts a chair if you straddle it. It keeps everything inside from falling out!

  • To turn these on, pull the floor of your pelvis up, raising it like an elevator. Pull it up (but don't clench your butt)! Imagine you are suddenly trying to stop your urine in mid-stream.
    • If it's hard to imagine, practice by actually doing that! Stop and start.
    • Keep breathing normally.
    • Once you have it, combine #1 and #2 together.
    • If you need more tips on engaging this area, I have many tricks. Let me know!

#3-The Low Back (multifidi, erector spinae)

  • Start in the original position on the floor. "Push" your lower back muscles toward the floor, like you are trying to fill in that space.
    • If you have trouble imagining it, place your hand under the small of your back and try to meet your hand with your back.
    • It's a small movement, almost imperceptible.
  • Practice activating these core positions while sitting, standing, and walking—in other words, all the time.

* STOP any activity if it makes your symptoms worse. Not every activity is for every problem. Ask your trusted health resource if you have questions.

Thank you for your continued partnership!