Golden Milk for Gray Days

Happy Monday, friends!  

Quick post here, to talk about another little thing we can do to help improve our health; Golden Milk.  Read through for a FREE offer at the end!

 

Per usual, this post is inspired by what I’m observing in my massage therapy practice as well as in my own personal experience.  In the past few weeks it seems like everyone is presenting with general achiness and/or a re-appearance of old pain patterns that had more or less gone dormant over the summer.  I don’t have a medical explanation for this, but my personal theory is that the adjustment to cold and dark, and less outside/exercise time is a little stressful, and when we’re stressed, we become more inflamed.  Even if it’s not the mental stress that causes us to “freak out”, there’s a subtle adjustment that our bodies are making to restore equilibrium. And it doesn’t feel good.

 

For my part, although my diet has remained relatively consistent, the joint pain I sometimes experience (and can typically manage through diet and lifestyle) has flared.  In addition to feeling a little more tired and chilly, my body aches. This resurgence of symptoms had me reaching to the back of my fridge for the jar of turmeric paste I thought was there (it was not, but I found some yummy little pickles so, SCORE).  I went a whipped up a new batch and have been consuming Golden Milk daily, with positive results. BUT . . . I made way too much. . . hence the FREE offer (if you’re still reading this, you’re my favorite).

 

If you haven’t heard about Golden Milk yet, here’s the quick and dirty:  Golden Milk is an ancient Ayurvedic (that’s the thousands-year-old healing tradition of much of present-day India.) tonic meant to nourish the body and soothe the soul.  It’s made from turmeric paste and milk (please note, “milk” can be whatever kind works with your diet – doesn’t have to be dairy), served warm and consumed as one might a cup of decaf tea or hot cocoa.  The health benefits of Golden Milk are almost innumerable, and they are almost entirely due to the turmeric.

 

What’s the deal with Turmeric?

Turmeric has many positive benefits: it supports detoxification for the liver; promotes a healthy response to allergens and a healthy immune response; assists digestion; helps purify the blood; and promotes health of the lungs, circulation and nervous system. Turmeric contains curcumin, a flavonoid which supports a healthy inflammatory response, thereby promoting general well-being.  This anti-inflammatory business is what I think is most beneficial right now, but honestly, it’s warm and delicious, so what do we have to lose?!

 

So, about that “free” offer . . .

If you schedule a massage between now and January 31st, and bring a mug, I’m going to bring some nice, warm golden milk for you to try, for FREE.  Just use the code GOLDEN when you book, so I know you’re into it. Of course, you don’t have to try it if you hate being warm or feeling good (weirdo).  Because I don’t keep dairy on hand, I’ll be making your golden milk with organic coconut milk (which, unlike dairy, is also anti-inflammatory).

Click here to schedule.

In the meantime, just take good care of yourself.  We’re heading to the season of stress and excess, but try to maintain a little bit of self care, whatever that looks like for you.

 

Love,

A

 

P.S. Shameless self-promotion ahead: massage gift certificates and packages make lovely little gifts (more care is better than more stuff, in my humble opinion).  Head over here to check out your options! The packages can be split and shared, so if you buy one, I can make you separate certificates for each recipient!

Cold Weather >>> Shoulder & Neck Pain

Hey friends!  

Sooooo, it’s October 27th and there’s snow on my lawn, deck and pumpkins.  It’s been here for days. Uhhhh, not ok, Mother Nature! #toosoon

My poor, frozen jack-o-lanterns.

Let me tell you something about me; I can handle the winter with all the sub zero temps, short, dark days and spazzy weather patterns.  After all, I appreciate the quiet and the stillness that comes when the snow tucks us in. I intentionally cultivated an outdoor winter activity (alpine skiing)  with my kids so that we would have something to get us out into the fresh air. Most of all, I absolutely adore the feeling I get when it’s 40 and sunny in March and I know I made it; that soon April will unfold into May and everything will get greener, warmer and alive again.

 

But this fall business . . . it’s hard on a sun lover.  My system can’t seem to integrate the cold and lack of light.  I feel uncomfortably cold and I don’t easily warm up. I huddle near the woodstove, pile on layers, shiver and frankly, I whine.  Whether other people like this change in weather or not, I think lots of bodies are a little shocked lately . . . here’s why:

 

In the past week I have seen 16 clients, 12 of whom complained of shoulder and neck pain.  It goes something like this,

Me: How’s it going?  How is your body feeling these days?

Client:  Man, I don’t know if I slept weird, or I’ve been sitting at my computer too much or if it’s stress, but my shoulders and neck hurt right here (points to between the scapulae, to the upper traps and to the back of the neck).

 

With the first four of these clients I thought it was just a coincidence.  Then, as often is the case, I started to notice the same patterns in myself.  And I happen to know that I am not working at a computer more (if I touch a computer 5 times in a week that’s a lot), I’m not sleeping in weird positions (I’m strictly a back sleeper – maybe we’ll get into the posture stuff in another post) and I’m not more stressed than usual (can I get a “whoop whoop”!?!).  Meanwhile, more clients showed up with the same pain patterns. So, what do I have in common with my clients (aside from a strong appreciation for warm massage tables, scented oils and taking good care of myself)? I’m FREAKING cold, and so is everyone else, even the cold lovers.

 

Here’s what’s going on-

source: https://lumiere-a.akamaihd.net/v1/images/open-uri20150608-27674-1urgahh_eb98a547.jpeg?region=0%2C0%2C1920%2C1080

Just look at Luke’s posture on the ice planet Hoth; forward head position and shruggy shoulders. I bet there was a massage droid back in the med bay!

If we want to change our body temperature, one of the easiest ways to do this is by applying heat or cold to our neck. When the temperatures drop, without realising it, we often adjust our posture to try to protect our neck from the cold, which usually means lowering our head further forward and lifting up our shoulders, placing additional strain on our neck and shoulder muscles, which are already a little unhappy because of the way we work, train and sleep

Illustration of superficial back muscles courtesy of https://www.earthslab.com/anatomy/trapezius/.

 

Our trapezius and levator scapula muscles work extra hard to maintain this position, and end up sore, tired and hard while our rhomboids become stretched and weakend.  See illustration.

What do we do about this pattern?  

  1. Notice when you’re dipping your chin and pulling your shoulders up, take a deep breath and try to bring your posture back to whatever “normal” is for you.  We’re not going for perfect here, just less shruggy (yes, I just made up the word “shruggy”).
  2. Move.  Do some stretches, go to a yoga class (I have several to recommend.  If you want info, message me!), dance around your living room, hit the treadmill or head outside.  Movement helps improve circulation and brings blood to your cold places.
  3. Try a sauna.  I know several people around here who have their own backyard saunas and if you don’t have a friend with one, I strongly recommend making new friends.  If that’s too daunting, there’s great infrared sauna at Images Salon in Orford. I just tried it this week and it was heavenly. Super convenient and affordable, too!

 

AND . . . (shameless self promotion ahead)

One lucky client getting my elbow into a knot in their upper traps. Photo courtesy of Hunter Paye.

 

     4. Book a massage!  I can help release some of the sore tense muscles, talk to you about postural patterns and stretches you can do for them and the warm table and relaxation will do you some good.

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading my stuff!  It’s          a fun creative outlet for me.  As always, if you have              topics you would like me to cover, shoot me a                      message and I’ll dive in!  Until then, be well, drink              plenty of water, hug your people and go easy on                  yourself!

 

 

What I learned This Summer, Part 1; Rhomboids vs. Pectoralis Major

It’s back to school day here at my house, which went relatively smooth.  Not that I’m surprised. My kids seem to like school. You see, their primary caregivers all summer were their grandmas, a handful of camp counselors and yours truly (in between clients).  I make them do things like chores and outside play and reading, and they get very minimal screen time. So, school seems like a pretty fun change of pace; they get to see friends, there’s a predictable schedule of snacks and screens are incorporated in their learning time (don’t get me started).  So, it’s a win-win all around! Now that we have a routine again, I can extend my business hours to include more client sessions AND more admin time (yay, bookkeeping and blogging). But I don’t want to give the impression that learning wasn’t still happening during summer vacation because, I for one, learned a LOT.  

 

I’ve decided that my next few blog posts will be about things I learned over the summer.  They will be delivered in the order in which I remember them, not in which I learned them (sorry chronology nerds, my brain doesn’t work that way).  They will span the categories of massage techniques, business development, trivia, personal growth and of course, healthy lifestyle stuff, cause that’s kinda my jam.

 

What I learned this summer; The Dual – Rhomboids vs. Pecs

 

When the upper back hurts between the shoulder blades, I used to think the rhomboids (muscles that connect the shoulder blades to the spine- see illustration below) needed to be worked (kneaded, stripped, frictioned, whatever).  And indeed, doing this felt “good” to most of my clients who complained of upper back pain of this sort. However, no matter how often I saw them and did this work, they would always present with the same complaint when I saw them the following week/month.  So what the heck, right!?

Rhomboids in red – red cause they’re ANGRY!

 

Enter the concept of antagonist muscles.  Most (maybe just many, I don’t know, I’m not a physiologist) major movement muscles have an antagonist – a muscle that does the opposite movement.  The most familiar example of this is the quadriceps/hamstrings relationship. When you straighten your knee, your quadriceps engage (hammies relax), when you bend your knee, your hamstrings engage and your quads relax.  They can both engage at the same time (if you hang out like that you will look awkward, but I’m not judging) and they can both relax at the same time (which is how I prefer to spend my time at the lake). When it comes to rhomboids, their job is to retract (pull together) the scapulae (shoulder blades).  But I noticed on lots of my clients with upper back pain, their scapulae were spread pretty far apart while resting, in other words, stretched.  And you know what happens when you stretch a muscle for a long time?  

 

Back to the quads for a moment: Imagine pulling your heel up to your butt all day, every day . . . how would your quad feel?  It’d freaking BURN like a whole milk half caf latte with extra foam and a shot of CBD oil on a bumpy commute to work (shoutout to my barista friends and fam!).  So what the heck was pulling at all these rhomboids to the point that they were stretching and making my clients hate their backs? I needed to figure out what muscle pulls the shoulder blades apart . . . enter; Pectoralis Major.

 

Me: “Oh hey, pectoralis major, why you tuggin’ on the rhomboids?”

Pecs:  “Well, my people work at computers a lot, then they get on their phones and stoop over them with their shoulders rolled forward, then they get in their cars and drive forever with their seats away from the steering wheel, and sometimes they cut hair, or massage, or fix sutff, craft or tinker, and do a bunch of housework/cooking . . . they’re always using me to get their arms in front of them, and then I get short and instead of going back to neutral, I just kind of stay that way.”

Me:  “Yikes!  Well, here’s a bunch of massage techniques and stretching.  Go back how you’re supposed to because you’re a causin’ problems!” 

 

You see, when we allow our shoulders to roll forward (which we kinda have to in order to use our hands/arms out in front of us) we engage our pecs and stretch our rhomboids.  Our pecs get shorter, our rhomboids get longer. Over time this postural change makes a for noisey upper back.

She looks happy and she’s got pizza, but don’t be fooled. All that time at her computer and her shoulders have rolled forward. Bet her pecs are short too!

Luckily, by releasing the pec major through trigger point therapy, mayofascial techniques and gentle stretching, my clients and I have been able to greatly reduce, if not eliminate, upper back pain.  It doesn’t usually take many sessions to start feeling a lot of relief, and for my clients who do their at-home stretches, their rhomboids and pecs are getting along very nicely these days.

If you are modest about your chest and wondering how I work into the pecs while maintaining privacy, here’s a great video demonstrating some of the draping and massage techniques that I use.  Note: the video is not exclusively addressing the upper back pain that I have discussed here, but some of that is covered.  I absolutely LOVE Rebel Massage!

Want to learn more about this kind of stuff or book a session to address your upper back pain?  Maybe you want to see if I can figure out what’s going on with your noisy areas? Give me a call, shoot me an email, fill out the contact form, or heck, just book a session and treat yo’self because massage feels so.dang.good!

 

Also, if you have specific questions you would like me to look into or answer on my blog, please let me know!  I’m always eager for inspiration!  Also, please share my blog and my contact information so that I can keep building up this little dream of mine!

Can I Really Do This?

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Can I really do this?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Maybe you’ve trained for a marathon.  Maybe you’ve nursed a baby. Maybe you’ve taken on a huge project at work.  Maybe you’ve left a an unhealthy partnership or maybe you’ve stayed in one. Maybe you’ve cared for a dying loved one or maybe you lost them so abruptly you never got to.  Maybe you’ve tried to learn how to play an instrument. Maybe you’ve been broke. Maybe you’ve raised a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager. Maybe you’ve climbed out of the hole of mental illness.  Maybe you’ve started your own business.

In these situations, I’m sure at some point you asked yourself, “Can I really do this?,” the subtext to which is “How will I ever get through this?”  And if you’re reading this, chances are very good that a) you DID it (congratulations) or b) you decided that what you were trying to do wasn’t right for you at that time and you moved on (like a rolling stone).  Either way, you are still here, and that is wonderful.

I’m not going to play armchair therapist and analyze why we agonize so much over things.  I don’t have that kind of training, I don’t have that kind of time and frankly, I think it makes perfect sense to me when folks agonize over the hard stuff in life.  When you take on something big and challenging, it seems normal to have doubts.

Having the wisdom to know when to listen to those doubts and be judicious about your where you put your mental, physical and emotional energy is important, and as I’m learning, maybe that wisdom doesn’t come along until sometime after 35 years of age or approximately 1357 failures, whichever happens first.  

My current thing that’s causing me to ask this question (remember, the “can I do this?” question from the opening of this post?) is this wole massage business in general.  

  • Can I be self employed?  
  • Can I balance my work and my family life, without letting either suffer?
  • Can I work enough to offer a significant financial contribution to my family without sacrificing my health?  
  • Can I build a successful, service-based business without heavily relying on social media?
  • Can I roll out a “Free Massage Fridays” initiative and have it really serve the community the way I hope it will?
  • Can I maintain a blog that features so much personal vulnerability and still build a clientele and maintain readership?

When you really want something, but have never done it before, and don’t know of any models for doing it the way you want, how do you know if you can pull it off?  I’d like to think passion will drive the whole bus, but since I’m older than 35 and have failed at least 1358 times, I am beginning to suspect a few more components will need to be in place.   In addition to passion I’ll need:

  • Persistence
  • Courage
  • A sense of humor
  • Strong boundaries
  • An open mind
  • A big heart
  • Support

Reading back through that list, it occurs to me that it’s a decent recipe for doing just about anything that’s worth doing.  I like this list. Maybe I’ll write it out and put it on my refrigerator.

But since I’m here on this planet (most of the time) to learn and grow, maybe you’d be willing to share with me your thoughts on how to pull off something hard?  How you got through a challenging time, or accomplished a difficult feat.  What did you do to get it done?  Or how did you know when to throw in the towel?  Message me with your words of wisdom, ok? I like hearing from people!

Oh, and since I brought it up, if you or anyone you know would like to book one of the Free Massage Friday sessions, here’s that link!  Thank you for your support!  

 

Cheers,
Abby

My Very First Blog . . .

I guess I have a blog now.  

 

It’s not that I didn’t mean for this to happen.  In fact, I’ve been dreaming of a blog since I first knew they existed.  A platform for me to ramble and wax about all the things I think and care about, with a boundless audience via the world wide web?   Yes, please. But oh wait, I am a terrible editor and maybe they’ll see my typos. And I don’t really know a lot about anything, I just THINK a lot about everything.  And I have no interest in mastering SEO (search engine optimization) or cross-promoting or any of the other back-end tricks that bloggers use to gain visibility and ultimately get paid.  And oh dear GOD, the comments? How will I ever weather the comment poop-storm churned up by angry trolls or other folks who fire shots from behind blue screens in the dark of the night?

 

And yet, here I am.  

 

Why?  

 

Because I want to be able to share what I think or know when it might be able to help someone, namely my clients.  I want to be able to broadcast useful information or updates about my massage therapy practice (and hopefully, someday, other offerings).  If I learn about how to perform orthopedic assessments on neck and thorax injuries (I’m doing that this weekend!) I want to convey what I learn in a way that provides some hope for folks suffering from those issues.  If I have an encouraging word or uplifting story, I want to share that with someone who might need it. I want to harness the power of words and the internet to bring goodness to my actual community, and if it ends up being helpful to someone beyond, all the better.  

 

And I want to do these things . . .  wait for it. . . without social media.  (Insert appalled gasp or doubtful snicker here).  I’m not saying social media is inherently bad, but I’ve seen lot less good come out of it than I think the return should be after such a weighty investment we, as a society, have made in it (100% guilty, right here!)  I want to spend less time on social media, and for that matter, on a device of any kind, and more time connecting with people in real life.  I want to create a business that uses the internet (and maybe some limited social media) in a smart and judicious way, but can still function if I lose my password (I’m ALWAYS losing my passwords).  I want to succeed by doing good work, a great word-of-mouth network and impeccable ethics.

 

This won’t be a snazzy, blog.  It’s not going to be linked up with my Insta, or require you to sign up for a free download just to read it.  It’s going to be the kind of blog that will make professional bloggers roll their eyes. And I’m cool with that.  I’ll just post a thing now and then and invite you to read it. If you dig it, yay. If you don’t, for Pete’s sake, don’t comment some nasty BS.  

 

Thanks for stopping in!