woman getting a massage

The Benefits of Massage for Chronic Inflammation

The feel of strong hands on your body, working out every muscle, kneading every knot, relieving every bit of tension until your body falls into a jelly-like-puddle of submission. There are few who would debate the sensual effects of a good massage, but what about its healing power?

While it’s clear going for a massage can provide temporary pain relief, can it actually offer a more permanent solution?

For those who suffer from chronic inflammation, pain is a fact of life. For many, massage provides a welcome escape, but can it actually reverse the effects of the condition itself? Read on to find out the impact of massage on chronic inflammation.

What is Chronic Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural series of bodily responses to injury or abnormal stimulation caused by a foreign agent. Inflammation is a normal and desirable defense mechanism, but it normally goes away when the cause does. However, in the case of chronic inflammation, this is not the case.


Chronic inflammation can last from a few days to a lifetime. It is thought to be the leading factor in all autoimmune diseases, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Causes of Inflammation
The causes of inflammation may include stress, dietary choices, artificial chemicals in food, water, aid and cosmetics and pathogens like bacteria and viruses. However, while science seems to acknowledge many of the causes of inflammation, it is less forthcoming about possible strategies for dealing with it. While the use of anti-inflammatory drugs has proven effective, long-term use can lead to dangerous side effects, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and hemorrhages.

Reversing Chronic Inflammation
Since the biological processes of inflammation are turned on by pain, then it is possible that the inflammation will decrease with the pain signal, giving the body more energy to heal itself. Massage is an effective way of doing just that. The key lies in applying the correct techniques and working with, rather than against the body.

Massage and Chronic Inflammation
A massage therapist needs to be aware of the variations in pain levels in the body’s client with chronic inflammation. Generally, full body massage can circulate white blood cells, boosting their efficient and worsening the client’s condition.

The following are a list of treatments designed to alleviate body systems with our significantly increasing full body circulation:

  • Abdominal massage can greatly improve organ efficient. Chi Nei Tsang is a form of abdominal massage present in Chinese medicine which can be beneficial in this respect.
  •  Stretching provides the client with myofascial benefits without greatly impacting circulation.
  • Myofascial release is a good way to free blockages in the body’s myofascial network. It is well tolerated by clients during flare ups.
  • Shaitsu and Thai massage combine stretching while focussing on musculotendon pathways and specific muscle regions. They can vary in intensity depending on the client’s level of tolerance on the given day.

Have you used massage to treat chronic inflammation? What do you think? A short term relief or a long term cure? Let us know!

Happy mother and daughter

Help The Girls In Your Life Glow With Confidence

You’ve had your highs and lows. Your walks of fame and your walks of shame. And if there’s one thing you’ve learned from your experiences, its that confidence is the key. There is no situation that cannot be handled by holding your head high and shaking what your mama gave you. And now, its time for you to pass the torch. You’ve got a niece or a daughter and, if you teach her anything in this life, you’re determined that it will be the power of confidence. But, how can you do it? How can you show this shy acne plagued girl that she has so much untapped power at her command? Here are a few ideas.

Manage Your Inner Critic
Your girl is probably pretty hard on herself. Teach her to take notice of her inner voice. Would her best friend talk to her like that? Teach her to work on changing negative thoughts into helpful feedback.

Focus On the Good Things
A lot of teens focus so much on their problems, that its hard for them to see all the things that are going well for them. Suggest that she write down three good things about herself everyday or three ways she’s able to bring about a positive change in her life daily.

Mother and daughter

Don’t Aim For Perfection
Teach her that any achievements are valid. Even if she doesn’t get a perfect mark on a test, it doesn’t mean that she didn’t do well. Encourage her to always put in her best effort.

Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities
Remind your teenager that if she can fix her mistakes, they are not mistakes at all, but victories. Don’t let her get down on herself for messing up and remind her to focus on what she can do better next time.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Teach your girl that her own accomplishments are the only ones that matter. Trying to get ahead of other people will only leave her further behind them.

Accept Compliments
She’s great and needs to get used to people telling her so. Advise her to give herself time to absorb a compliment and take it seriously, and pass it on! Complements should be given and received.

Happy teenage girl

Exercise
Staying physically active always helps to improve self-esteem. She’ll look better and feel less stressed while staying healthy.

Take Pride In Your Thoughts
If she’s a chip off the old block, your girl probably has a lot of good ideas to offer. Tell her to be bold about them. If someone disagrees, it just means that they see things differently than she does.

Accept What You Can’t Change
Sure, there are going to be things about herself that she’s not completely happy with. If its something she can change, like reaching a healthy weight, she should start today. If its something she can’t change, she probably notices it more than anyone else, and its probably not worth obsessing over.

Contribute
Nothing builds self esteem like helping to make a positive change. When she sees how much she can accomplish, her self esteem will sky rocket.

if you have a girl in you’re life that you want to see flourish, tell us about her. Let us know what she’s doing to build confidence and how you’re helping her do it. We want to hear all about it.

Mother and child doing yoga pose

Tips For Getting Your Girls Into Yoga

If you remember correctly, one of the easiest ways to ensure that you wouldn’t do something was having your parents tell you to do it. Even if you were going to study for that test, clean up your room, not go out with that boy, your parents’ advice was probably the best way to ensure that you would do the opposite.

Well, now the roles are reversed – you’re the mom. And you want your girl to get involved in yoga. You dream daily of the coming home to find your little one in a tree position chanting “asanas.” It would be a great way to lower her stress, raise her physical activity level, and improve her awful posture. But how can you get her to start?

How Children Benefit From Yoga
We usually don’t think of children as being highly pressured. They don’t have nine to five jobs and they certainly don’t raise themselves. But they do have difficult tests, acne, and bullies, and that can be enough to make anyone stressed out. Yoga can help with these pressures. It’s a physical activity which promotes compassion, self-esteem, and body awareness. Plus, unlike so many other things in your teen’s life, it’s not competitive.

The experience of yoga can introduce children to new concepts and ways of assessing what is important in life. For example, when children assume the lion pose (Simhasana) they harness the power of the lion. This makes them aware of their own sense of power, when to be aggressive, and when to maintain control. Children also receive an introduction to the values of yoga: expression, union, honor for oneself, and the role one plays in life.

Yoga pose

Teaching Yoga to Your Kids
If you’re going to teach yoga to your kids, it’s important to realize that one of the greatest challenges you will have to deal with is figuring out a way to hold their attention. When you think of the benefits of yoga: balance, stillness, focus, and grace, children don’t exactly pop into your mind.

The best way to teach children is by encouraging them to actively participate. Most children will love the idea of imitating dogs, flowers and trees. Get them to bark in the dog pose, or hiss when they are doing the cobra. Sound is great for children and adds an auditory element to the physical discipline of yoga.

Don’t Be Demanding
Children like to discover things on their own. They may not respond well to criticism. Aim for providing a creative environment for them to explore. Spur them on, encouraging them to really imagine themselves as a cat stretching its spine, or a tree growing roots. It will make the experience fun for them while making connections between themselves and the environment.

Yoga Poses For Kids
Here are some easy poses for getting your kids started:

  • Boat Pose: Have children balance on their buttocks with their legs up. Then have them rock like a boat.
  • Bow Pose: Have children lie on their tummies, bend their knees, lift their chests, reach their arms toward their toes, and hold onto their feet.
  • Bridge Pose: Have children lie on their backs with their knees bent and their feet flat on the ground. Have hem rest their arms along their bodies, tuck their chins into their chests and lift up their buttocks and back to make a bridge.
  • Cat Pose: Have children come up on all fours, round their backs and tuck their chins into their chests.
  • Chair Pose: Have children stand tall with their feet hip-width apart, bend their knees, and hop like a kangaroo.

Are you getting your children into yoga? Let us know how it’s going. We love to know!

Smiling woman standing on weighing scale

Unusual Things That May Help You Lose Weight

We’ve all seen the ads: “Lose Weight Without Dieting,” “Exercise-Free Ways to Melt the Fat,” etc. Most of us just file these away under the ‘too good to be true’ category, along with the “Make Money By Sealing Envelopes” ads. However, every once in a while, something comes along that defies expectations. Something that is too good and true, like coffee and dark chocolate being healthy for you.

Ready to add to the list? Here are a few things that you might want to include.

Hot Baths For Weight Loss

The Study
There’ve been some interesting things happening lately at Loughborough University. According to research done by Dr Steven Faulkner, hot baths can have health benefits similar to exercise and can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

In a study involving 14 people, Dr Faulkner and his team investigated the effects of “passive heating” on blood sugar levels and number of calories burned. Participants soaked in an hour-long 40-degree bath before heading out for an hour of cycling. Each of the two tests was designed to raise core body temperature by one degree so that they amount of calories burned during each session could be measured.

Woman in the bath

The Results
Although more calories were burned during the cycling, results showed that the hot bath consumed as many calories as would be consumed during a thirty-minute walk. “The overall blood sugar response to both conditions was similar, but peak blood sugar after eating was about 10% lower when participants took a hot bath compared with when they exercised, “said Faulkner.

The doctor also explained that exercise prevents inflammation which can boost the immune system and fight disease. “This suggests that repeated passive heating may contribute to reducing chronic inflammation, which is often present with long-term diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.”

Turn Down The Heat
Another one for the “too good to be true” file? How about turning down the heat to lose weight. According to a recent trial published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, when we’re exposed to cooler temperature, our white fat converts to a darker color and we begin to burn calories. A British study from 2012 suggests that lowering the temp as little as two to four degree may be enough to activate fat loss.

Woman

Acupuncture
Acupuncture may also be a way to losing weight without exercising. A study published in Acupuncture in Medicine suggests that by targeting five points on the ear linked to digestion and hunger, acupuncturists can help overweight people to begin losing weight. Licensed acupuncturist Daniel Hsu, suggests the stress reduction of acupuncture may be responsible for the reduction of stress-related eating.

What do you think? Still a sceptic? A willing volunteer? Let us know. And tell us some other things belong on the “Good and True” list.

Woman can't sleep

Don't Let Stress Disrupt Your Sleep

Sleep and stress, they may just cancel each other out. How can we expect our nervous systems to shut down when we’re a bundle of nerves? We need sleep. It keeps us healthy, it keeps us sane, it keeps us focused, it keeps our weight down. By that logic, lack of sleep is going to turn us into sick, obese, insane people with attention deficits. That certainly is not going to relax you. So what do you do to keep stress from disrupting your sleep? Read on for a few ideas.

Stress and Sleep
Not only does stress prevent sleep, it decreases its quality. In fact, according to a “Stress in America” survey, 42 % of adults report a low or fair quality sleep when affected by stress. To make matters worth, stress may not only deprive you of a good night’s sleep, it may have a more lasting effect. Recent research published in the SLEEP journal reveals that individuals who suffer from chronic stress are more susceptible to insomnia, with each stressor increasing the risk of insomnia by 19 percent.

Woman clutching head

Stress and Your Brain
Not only does stress interfere with the quality of sleep and increase the risk of insomnia, it also places the nervous system in a physical state inconsistent with sleep. When you sleep, your body switches from the active sympathetic nervous system to the more relaxed parasympathetic nervous system. When the body experiences high stress levels, the parasympathetic nervous system fails to kick in, keeping your brain in a state of hyperactivity, according to David Spiegel MD.

As if it isn’t enough that stress causes lack of sleep, it turns out lack of sleep can cause more stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly three quarters of adults credit sleep problems with a general increase of anxiety in their daily lives.

What Can You Do?
Wondering how you can prevent high stress from robbing you of precious sleep? Here are a few ideas:

Lavender
Studies show that lavender can be a very relaxing component of insomnia relief.

Woman doing yoga

Relaxation Techniques
There are a number of techniques that may be helpful in decreasing stress. Yoga poses, mediation, and progressive relaxation are all examples of methods of relaxation that may make sleep come more readily.

Stop Distracting Thoughts
Research shows that you can clear your mind of distressing thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper and literally throwing the paper away. Skeptical? Worth a try!

Deep Breaths
The rhythm of inhalation and exhalation activates the body’s natural parasympathetic system. Try taking a few deep breaths in and out before hitting the sack.

See A Specialist
If all else fails, consider seeing a professional. He or she may be able to provide insights or recommend techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to address sleeplessness.

How do you prevent stress from disrupting your nightly sleep? Let us know.

Trail mix in a bowl

Pump Up the Fiber In Your Diet

Fiber is necessary for a person’s well being. It increases the immune system in the gut, keeps the digestive lining healthy, supports the good probiotic bacteria, and absorbs excess cholesterol, fat, and toxins from our bodies. Here are some ways of increasing the fiber in your diet.

Cereal
Eating whole grain, unsweetened cereal with 4 grams of fiber is the ideal, but some studies show that just any old cereal might do the trick. According to research done by the University of California, cereal eaters eat less fat and more fiber than those who make other breakfast choices.

Two Apples A Day
Keep two doctors away? Apples are a source of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that digests slowly and helps to keep you full. One study showed that just 5 grams of the stuff left people feeling satisfied for four hours.

yogurt parfait

Yogurt Parfait
Here’s a great breakfast idea that’s packed with fiber. Mix one small container of yogurt with 1/3 cup all-bran cereal, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 5 diced strawberries. Not only will you get a delicious breakfast, you’ll also get 12.2 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily allowance.

Carrots and Broccoli in Low -Fat Ranch
Each cup of veggies will give you five grams of fiber. Snack on this three times a week.

Oatmeal
If a bowl of the stuff is not your style, you can use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs on your meatballs and meatloaf, sprinkle it on your ice cream, or bake it into cookies and muffins.

Trail mix
Mix raisins, peanuts, chocolate-covered soy nuts, and high fiber cereal for a great munchie mix. One handful makes for great high fiber between- meals snack.

whole grain crackers

Whole Grain Crackers
A little cracker can go a long way. One whole wheat cracker has 1/2 gram of fiber; do the math and that translates to 5 grams in ten crackers. Next time your looking for something to spread your peanut butter on, look for some whole grain crackers instead of bread.

Kidney Beans and Chickpeas
Lisa Andrews, RD, and nutritionist at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, says that you can get an additional 5 grams of fiber by adding a quarter cup of chickpeas and kidney beans to your next salad.

Switch From White to a Brown Foods
Rice is a great example. You can also switch regular pasta to whole wheat along with your corn burritos, white bread and cous cous. Working these into your diet gradually can increase your daily fiber intake by an easy ten grams without making a radical change to your diet.

What are you doing to pump up the fiber in your diet? Let us know!

Medical consultation

Prostate Cancer Does Not Discriminate

Getting screened for prostate cancer is not glamorous, it’s not enviable, and it’s certainly not something young men dream about. However, it is necessary to get one in order to prevent serious health risks. Here is some information on what you need to know about the PSA test.

What is the PSA Test?
PSA , or prostrate specific antigen, is a protein that is produced by the cells in the prostrate gland. The level of PSA in the blood is often elevated in men with prostrate cancer. Men who report prostate symptoms are subject to PSA testing to determine what is causing their problem. The test is done in combination with a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Who Should Get a PSA Test?
Traditionally, doctors have recommended yearly PSA screening beginning at the age of 50. Some recommended that men at a higher risk, including African American men and those with prostate cancer in their family history, begin the screening at 40 or 45. However, due to recent revelations about the potential benefits and harms associated with the screening, some organizations have begun to argue that a man who is considering testing should be informed in detail about the possible outcomes. The test is covered by Medicare and most private insurers.

What Are the Possible Harms or Limitations of a PSA Screening?
Early prostate cancer protection may not reduce the risk of dying from the disease. PSA screenings may detect small tumors that grow too slowly to become life threatening. Detecting these tumors is called an “over diagnosis” and treating them is called “over treatment.” Over treatment can expose meant to harmful side effects of the treatment, including urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and problems with bowel function.

Doctor and patient

Tests may give false positives or false negatives. A false positive test can occur if a man’s PSA level is high.but no cancer is present. This is the case with most men; only about 25% of men who have an elevated PSA level test positive for cancer.

What Should You Do If Your Screening test shows a high PSA level?
Usually doctors recommend that a man showing an elevated PSA level have another screening to confirm the results. If the level is still high, the doctor will probably suggest that the man continue with DREs and PSA tests at regular intervals.
If the levels continue to go up, or if a lump is detected, doctors will order additional tests. If cancer is suspected, a doctor will recommend that the patient have a prostate biopsy to determine the nature of the problem.

Research
The largest of research studies done on prostate and cancer screening was conducted by the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Unit. Evidence showed that most men who were treated for prostate cancer would not have been detected without the screening.

If you’ve had or are thinking of having a prostate exam done, let us know how you weigh in. And keep in mind, prostate cancer does not discriminate, even against international spies.

Young girl watching television

Too Much TV Can Increase Your Child's Risk Of Diabetes

Is your television the elephant in the room? That huge flatscreen that claims the attention of everyone in the room, sucking the attention away from books, exercise, and school work. Even turned off, it tempts us as the ideal solution to awkward silences, forced conversation, and strenuous activity. The kids want it, it’s easier than coming up with alternatives, and, let’s face it, you kind of want to see it yourself. So why not just give in and put it on? Because there is a laundry list of research proving that too much television is bad for your kids, and now there’s a new addition. Recent studies link television viewing with childhood diabetes.

The Facts
In a study done by British researchers, 4,500 children between the ages of nine and ten were asked about the amount of time they spent playing computer games and watching television. Of that number, 37% reported screen time of 60 minutes or less, while 18% claimed a daily habit of three or more hours.

An examination of the children to determine insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, amount of body fat and levels of physical activities followed. Results revealed that the children who admitted to three or more hours of screen time per day had a high level of insulin resistance, lower levels of the appetite controlling leptin, and a higher BMI, all of which are known risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Group of children watching TV

However, before you push the off button on the remote control, keep in mind there are qualifying factors. According to Claire Nightingale, PhD, “Screen time could be capturing something about your behaviors-how much sedentary time you have and how much you break those up, (or) what your dietary habits (are), potentially, In other words, the tv watching may not be the problem, but rather the symptom of a larger problem.

Healthy Media Use
While there are no strict guidelines on how much tv viewing is dangerous, there are a few ways of keeping your child’s screen time down:

  • Plan to have media free family time together, like family dinners.
  • Designate media free locations in the home.
  • Find out how much time your child is spending on media and place limits on hours and types of media.
  • Engage in family activities like reading, sports, and talking.
  • Model behavior by turning off tv and smartphone during media free time.
  • Share media rules with grandparents or caregivers to make sure the rules remain consistent.
  • Get together with other parents in your community to advocate for healthier habits.

What are you doing to make sure that your kids’ viewing times are down to a minimum? Let us know what steps you’re taking as a parent to keep your kids healthy.

Smiling woman working at desk

Tips For Staying Healthy When You Work At A Desk All Day

You’ve finally gotten the job of your dreams. The pay is great, your coworkers are lovely, you have your own office with a great view, upholstered chairs, and a mahogany desk with a table lamp. Your mother tells you to quit; she says the job is way too dangerous. “Dangerous?” you say,” How is it dangerous? All I have to do is sit at a desk all day!”

Although it hardly seems worthy of a daredevil, sitting for hours has proven to be harmful, and even deadly, over time. So your mother may be right, after all. Termed “the new smoking” (rather fatalistically), extended periods of time sitting still have been linked in studies to a greater risk of metabolic syndrome, and health problems known to cause heart disease, as well as diabetes. So, If quitting your job is not a realistic option, here are a number of suggestions to keep health risk or a minimum.

The Exercise Break
Even if you work out regularly, it may not be enough to prevent you from becoming a statistic. According to Katy Bowman, biomechanics expert, “If you’re sitting eight to 12 hours a day and you’re taking a one-hour yoga class, it’s not enough.” She recommends short breaks to move around at regular intervals as a better idea.

Another way of avoiding stress and strain? Stand up straight! Cr. Julie Cote, Ph.D. recommends exercise programs like pilates, which focus on posture and range of motion, but adds, “One seven-week program is not going to cure you forever.”

Bowman recommends on the job training. “Even if you cross your leg while you’re sitting on the chair and lean forward, that’s a hip opener… You can cross a leg, you can spinal twist, you can stretch your calf, you can stand up.”

Woman working

Workstation Adjustments
If your employer offers the option, in-house ergonomic programs are available. These programs will send a therapist to your location of employment to come to your desk and assess you. They will suggest personalized exercises, such as moving your head to avoid neck strain, or making adjustments such as tilting your computer monitor.

The therapist may also adjust your chair to offer better lumbar support. Sit stand stools which allow sitting and leaning are also a good option, as are balance balls. Keeping chair seats angled forward can hold the back in a healthier position.

Walkstation
If you’re willing to go high-tech, you can invest in a Walkstation, which is a low speed treadmill with a desk attached. If you’re more a DIY type, there are several online bloggers ready to offer advice on building your own.

Although this idea may seem appealing, Dr. Joseph Henry, senior director of health and well-being had this to say. “We thought it might send the message that you’re not to leave your desk, you’re chained to your desk. We’d rather they (the employees) actually got up from their desks and take a break from their work instead of being stuck at their desk all day.” Henry prefers encouraging employee health by allowing them to request an exercise ball to sit on and to use the companies 150 acre campus for walks and walking meetings.

Either way, it seems the message is clear, the body is made to move and it’s your job to move it.

How do you feel about movement in the office? What’s your take on the Walkstation? Is it the wave of the future or should we wave it good-bye?

Woman running outdoors

A Runner's Reference For Sun Protection

You’re serious about your running routine.You’re at it every day. And you want to see some serious results. You want to look in the mirror and see those biceps bulging. You want to see those glutes flexing and those quads defined. What don’t you want to see? Sun damage.

Running is a great way to stay in shape, but if the terrain is your domain, you have to deal with the elements, and the sun is a large element. All those miles in the sun increases the risk of malignant melanoma and associated abnormalities. If you’re skipping the sun screen, here are some things your dermatologist may want to tell you.

Don’t Skimp on Protection
According to Amy Mc Clung, MD, sweating in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. Even if you are starting in the dark hours of the morning or in cloudy weather, there is no reason to throw caution to the wind. The darkest days can always give way to sun, and you can also burn on an overcast day. McClung recommends a generous application of sunscreen, a hat, and a pair of sunglasses, regardless of how the weather looks when you set out.

Apply Sunscreen with a Heavy Hand
Before you start patting yourself on the back for applying the sunscreen, make sure you have plenty on. Brooke Jackson, MD, and once dermatologist for the Chicago Marathon, says that if you are using a cream or lotion formula, aim to apply enough of the stuff to fill a shot glass. That translates to about an ounce and a half, which means you should go through an eight ounce bottle in about two days.

Woman applying sunscreen

Don’t Get A Base Tan
If you’re thinking gradual exposure will protect you from sun burn or damage, Jackson would like you to think again. She warns that tans and burns are not buffers, but rather the body’s built in way of telling you you’ve had enough sun. “As a dermatologist,” she says, “when I see tanned skin, I see damaged skin. It doesn’t at all look healthy to me.”

Don’t Run Shirtless
Or in a very small top, sports bra, or similarly sized contraction. While it is tempting to disrobe in the heat, doing so will increase the surface area of skin exposed to the sun. Look for the “UPF” label on clothes, which indicates that the item has sun protection built in. Even if there is no label, Jackson says that even regular tanks and shorts can provide an SPF of about 8.

Don’t Omit Your Head and Lips
Scalps with thinning hair are very vulnerable to sun damage and are known to be the first area on which cancerous growths first appear. As Jackson points out, the spot can be particularly dangerous, because remaining hairs can conceal the appearance of cancers, making them easy to overlook.

Apply sunscreen to the top of your head, and, if you have a full head of hair, remember that your part is also a target for sun damage, and should be protected appropriately. A hat will provide even better protection than lotion, and can also help to shade your forehead and spare you from the possibility of getting irritating sunscreen in your eyes.

Don’t forget about your lips, which are also subject to burn. Give them a coating of sunscreen or use a lip balm with SPF and wear your shades to protect your eyes from cataracts and cancer.

So take special care if you are running and let us know what you do to keep your skin from burning. We wish you good luck and great skin.