I have a nice long list of things to do when you are suffering from pain. I'm as big a fan of an over-the-counter analgesic as the next person...when you need it. OTC drugs, or prescription pain meds, have their place in our world, that's for sure. But there is no doubt that they are (1.) overused, (2.) only masking symptoms and not actually getting at the cause of the problem, and (3.) full of unwanted side-effects that make them not a good long term solution.
So here's the first item on my list...I'll share more in coming weeks.
#1 Arnica Montana
When to Use it Arnica is great for any kind of trauma. Good to use before and after surgery, birthing, accidents, bumps, bruises, cuts, burns, etc. Arnica is an absolute essential to keep on hand with small children. Also, keep it handy for sporting events, practices, workouts, hikes, bike rides, or anywhere accidents are more likely. If there is any head trauma or possibility of concussion, use Arnica immediately! DO NOT LEAVE HOME without this one.
Why it works Arnica is a homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like,” the same idea that vaccines are based on. So the plant, arnica montana, is one that if ingested in large quantities would cause bruising, muscles soreness and trauma to the system. So this is a “hair of the dog that bit you” remedy. But in this case, the substance that is used to stimulate an immune response in the body has been hyper diluted. In fact, at the most common dosages, there is not an actual molecule of Arnica Montana left in the whole bottle. So it works on an energetic level. Before you scoff and toss this (my #1 favorite) suggestion out, check out my story below!
Links Susan Kramer at www.earthways.com is an amazing herbalist & homeopath. If you want to know more about Homeopathy, Arnica, and how to use it, she’s a great resource! (404) 248-1784
Boiron is a trusted brand for homeopathy http://www.arnicare.com/about/arnica-montana/
Good info on homeopathy in general as well as dosing recommendations. http://www.homeopathycenter.org/
Story I have a million stories about successful use of Arnica. There’s a reason it’s #1 on my list... From the time that I dropped a Big Ole TV on my big toe and took Arnica which prevented me from not only not losing my toenail, but also from bruising AT ALL....to the many times I know that this remedy prevented concussion in my small child after nasty blows to her head... to the time I used Arnica as my pain relief method after having all 4 wisdom teeth removed. I didn’t need the pain pills at all...
But I’ll focus on the one with my mom. My mom had brain surgery for an aneurysm many years ago. We filled her prescription pain pills of course, but we never used them! I gave her Arnica Montana 30C sublingual by mouth before and after her surgery. During her 2 week recovery period, she stayed with me at my house. Every time she said that she had a headache, a symptom indicating brain swelling from the trauma of the surgery, I gave her a dose of Arnica. Generally, she would then fall asleep and wake up from her nap pain free. This remedy is a Must Have for pain relief!
Stay tuned for more tips on how to get out of pain drug free in future blogs. Need pain relief now and tired of masking symptoms? Jump over to my Book Now button and make an appointment today!
This happened to me today… twice actually. Clients come in and say to me that the thing that had been hurting when they came in before is better…a lot better…but there’s this new thing that hurts now in a different way.
[Hint, they are not super excited about this]
Then I say, “Wonderful! That’s great.”
[And they give me the look that says, “That’s easy for you to say.”]
And they are right, it is easy for me to say because I know that this phenomenon is a signal that their body has been working hard at changing the pattern that was causing their pain.
Let me give you an example. Many years ago I first saw a client named Bill. Bill is a long distance runner who was experiencing low back pain. Nothing will get a runner’s attention quite like low back pain. I did my assessments, did some techniques and scheduled him to come back in 2 weeks.
Two weeks later Bill says to me, “My back is feeling so much better, but now my knee is hurting.” To which I responded, “Wonderful! That’s great. Have you ever had problems with that knee before?” Bill thought about it and then said that he had indeed suffered with knee pain on that knee several years before.
So what is happening here? It’s basic body physics. When Bill’s knee began to bother him, he did like many of us, he waited it out to see if it would get better. And it did get better. It gradually stopped hurting on its own and Bill kept training for and running marathons. His body figured out a way to take the pressure of his knee, and it probably accomplished that by shifting the balance in his hips. It took a while, but eventually that change in the hips became back pain that wouldn’t just go away.
So when I did my assessment and found Bill’s hips out of alignment and I mobilized those joints to get them in better balance, it worked great and his back felt better. [Yay!] But as a result, the compensating pattern that Bill’s body put in place to take the pressure off his knee was undone, leaving the knee vulnerable again to the pain from years ago.
Don’t worry; next step was to take care of Bill’s knee. But what I want to impress upon you is that I celebrate these changes because this is your body’s way of showing me what’s next. It’s proof positive that the Work is Working!
The point of all this is that when dealing with chronic pain, the road to recovery often winds through areas of old injury. We revisit those places in order to support the body in its journey back to balance. Connected Body Therapy takes clients through the process with gentleness, effective techniques, and supportive energy. It’s a process, so I try to celebrate each step of the way with my clients, even when those steps are sometimes painful.
Want to start your journey toward better today? Go check out my 15 Minute Pain Free session on the Book Now button. It's free and takes about half an hour of your time altogether. It might just change everything!
Are you in search of the perfect pillow?
You know the one I mean… the one that will support your neck at just the right angle and pressure so that your neck doesn’t hurt in the morning when you wake up. It’s gotta be the pillow, right? Well, don’t worry; I’m going to tell you the perfect pillow for you in just a moment, so Keep Reading.
But before we get to the best brand and style of pillow for you, let me just throw out some info on your neck and head to consider.
So we know that sleeping with a pillow that is too high or too low can stress out your neck. And we know that side sleepers have different pillow needs than back or stomach sleepers.
But you know what I’ve noticed? You can get a good night’s sleep one night and then not the next, even with the SAME pillow! I’ve also seen client’s who go through a lot of market research and trial and error with pillows, and yet their neck is still stiff.
Here’s what I’m getting at. It might be your pillow… we can talk about that if you want. I’ve got some ideas and suggestions for you…but my guess is … Shhhh…don’t tell anyone…
It’s probably not your pillow…
Sorry. I know I promised you the perfect pillow. But I fibbed.
I know it’s tempting to point fingers at the pillow (or your mattress or your desk chair or…) but there are so many other factors at play. For example:
Connected Body Therapy is all about assessing the body to pin-point the causes of our pain and/or dysfunction. Only the tissues of your own body know the “why” behind your pain, but honestly, I really don’t think it’s your pillow.
Doing bodywork for a client with a complex history can be like a very High Stakes game of Jenga ® . It is extremely important to pull out the right piece at the right time. Pull out the wrong block and we all know what happens next.
This is why I Listen. Listening is the assessment tool that I use to allow me to know where to work in the body. I use my hands to feel for a pull, or a line of tension, in the body that is showing me where the body is having the hardest time compensating at that moment.
The body would never show me the wrong piece to pull out. Your body is too smart for that. That’s why I love Listening. Listening allows me to treat with the full confidence that the Wisdom of the client’s body is leading the way. I will never make a mistake if I follow the body. As the founder of one of my favorite techniques says, “Only the tissues know.” [Jean-Pierre Barral, Visceral Manipulation]
Listening requires Patience and Trust. I must be willing to follow the pull of the tissues, remaining curious and interested as I put the pieces of the puzzle together. I must then TRUST that the Listening is leading me in the right direction.
I saw a client recently who was presenting with chronic pelvic floor pain. My listening led me to her Right Knee. Really???? Her knee?? But I have a commitment in my practice to Listen and Follow, so (among other things) I worked with the Right Knee.
By the third session with this client, Pelvic Pain has been reduced by 70-80%! And now my client, who is feeling so good that she has been increasing her exercising, is noticing that she has some muscle weakness in…are you there already?...her Right Leg.
There are many connections between the pelvic floor musculature and the legs/knees - nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue, as well as functional connections - but there are far too many variables in any person’s system for ANY therapist to “figure it all out.” That’s why Listening is so essential.
Do you have a complex case? Do you feel like a Jenga ® tower that is perilously close to coming down? Would you simply love to know what your body is trying to say? If so, Book Now at Connected Body Therapy!
Signs of Spring are making themselves known in my yard!
I love this stage of Nature's Cycle - after the long night and dormant period of winter - when new life emerges. I love the look of tiny buds on trees, bushes, and flowers -- the whole potential of the life to come all contained, tightly wrapped, waiting to burst forth. Infinite potential.
The fern is a perfect image of this energy to me. The tightly curled frond ready to unfurl is an ideal symbol of Life to me. The whole of life is this unfolding process. We don't create our own inner being, we simply reveal more and more of it, year after year. And like the image of the ferns above (and in my new logo for Connected Body Therapy) we do this amazing work in connection with others. This is what Love is. Unfolding together into our best self.
I love working together with clients to create their best life - able to feel good in their bodies and able to sustain the work they are here to do on the Earth. We cannot do that work alone. We need one another, we need to turn toward one another, with honesty and vulnerability and commit fully to our own unfurling.
This is Love. This Love is the Connection that sustains us all.
Thank you all for being on this journey with me.
Whenever anyone asks me how I got into doing Bodywork, I always say “I got a massage.” And truthfully, it really is that simple.
When I was 25 years old a girlfriend gave me a therapeutic massage as a birthday present. She was a therapist herself and the experience was amazing. She set up a massage table, made up with sheets and blanket, in my living room. There was soft music playing in the background and the phones were off the hook. She left the room while I got undressed and on the table covered by the sheets. I was nervous and excited. I had no idea what to expect.
What came next was a Revelation.
She was fully present with me, quiet and attentive. Her hands were warm and loving, her touch both intimate and completely professional. The long flowing strokes on my back felt amazing. The kneading of my muscles was delicious. The flow was gentle and thorough. Her ability to sense and find tender and painful places seemed magical. Each time she completed her techniques on one area of my body she covered me back up so I stayed cozy and warm. I always felt secure and safe.
I could feel my body relaxing, my breath deepening and my mind beginning to settle down -- which in those days was a very rare treat indeed. By the time I was to turn over to lie on my back, my brain was in that other place that massage takes you -- half way here, half way to the moon. Total Bliss.
Then came the head rub – my favorite still. And the work on the arms and hands as well as the feet. I could not believe how good it felt. I could not believe how much my body needed touch like that, and that I never knew it before I received it for the first time.
How could I not have known about this before???
I was hooked. Being a natural giver, I wanted to know how to do this for others. So I asked my friend so show me some things and I practiced on her. Being a Massage Therapist who also suffered from Sinus Headaches it is no surprise that the first techniques she taught me were for sinus pressure points and headache relief -- still a specialty of mine -- and techniques to sooth aching and tired arms, wrists, and hands.
So I went on to become that person. You know the one. The one who was giving head and neck rubs to my co-workers at the call center where I worked. I had one manager who would call me in to her office to work on her shoulders because she hurt so bad. But I was never sure if they liked it or not. Did they say they felt better because they really did, or did they just want me to stop and go away? I didn’t know…
One day, a co-worker was reaching into her drawer to pull out her bottle of Advil. I asked if she was okay. She shook a few capsules into her hand and said she had a headache. I asked if she would like me to try to do a few things. She said sure.
So I worked the sinus points I had learned and relaxed the tight muscles of her neck and shoulders. After about 5 minutes I saw her take the pills that she was holding and put them back in the bottle. No seriously, she put the pills back in the bottle! Her headache was gone and she felt great. And I felt like I was floating on air. I was so thrilled to have truly helped her.
In that moment I thought to myself, this is a gift that I have been given. I can really help people. Why am I not doing this for a living???
Like all lives, mine is a journey. This was the beginning of my bodywork journey, and there have been many stops along the way. My work has never been just like the massage I described above that so changed my life. But I believe that the work I do has many of the same elements.
I bring myself, fully present, to my clients.
I offer safe, intimate, and professional touch.
I sense where the areas of greatest need are, even when you don't know it yourself.
I help breath deepen, muscles relax and minds settle. I relieve pain.
I love helping my clients come out of pain. I love to help them remember what it feels like to feel good in their bodies. I love to remind them (or teach them if they don't know it yet) that pain is not a symptom of aging! If you are wanting to know more about my gift and how it might help you, call me and we can talk.
My work is all about Connection. I would love to Connect with you!
I've got Grudge Against Chronic Pain. It’s why I do what I do. I’ve seen the results of pain on human beings, and it ain’t pretty.
First, we hold our breath. Our diaphragm contracts. It’s like we want to say “no thanks” to the experience of that pain. We
want to NOT invite it in. And so we stop breathing, as if to reject the very moment of life that brings us that experience. This is understandable and we all do it unconsciously.
Second, other muscles in our body contact. Whether it’s the specific muscle in pain that suddenly goes into rapid or continuous contraction – a spasm – or some other muscles that tend to “hold stress” – like the jaw, the neck & shoulder, or the glute muscles – the result of pain is that these muscles tighten up.
Third – and this may sound a little dramatic, but it really isn’t – Chronic Pain is a soul destroyer. Truly. Chronic pain causes problems with sleep, decreases immune function, causes depression, and limits our ability to do the things with our bodies that we love.
Sounds pretty soul crushing to me. When it goes on long enough, it drains your energy and begins to mess with your ability to be hopeful about the future.
Here’s the good news! And here’s where I see so many people get stuck. You think that this pain you’re slowly “getting used to” is normal, natural, or an inevitable result of getting older.
* But it is not! Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Pain is not an inevitable result of aging. *
Your body is miraculous and able to repair itself of the majority of what’s wrong with it. Sometimes things get in the way of that self-repairing mechanism and that’s when you need some help.
* Go get bodywork!! *
Get a chiropractor that you like. I can recommend one. Schedule regular massages. Get Physical Therapy. Get acupuncture. Or any of the dozens of amazing therapies that are out there. One of them (or a combination) is just right for you.
But more important than seeing me is that you see SOMEONE. Living with Chronic Pain is a Deal Breaker if you want a happy and fulfilling life.
If you want more info about my work, or to get some recommendations on what might work best for you, give me a call at 404.222.0334.
Or email me at Susan@ConnectedBodyTherapy.com.
I am often asked "How often should I get a massage?" So here's a little guideline...hope it helps.
I always suggest that you check in with yourself about what your goals and needs from bodywork are and allow that answer to lead the way. Do you have chronic pain? An acute injury? Do you just want a treat? Or are you looking for something to support you in enhancing your athletic performance, to supplement your training for that marathon you've got planned, or to help you stave off that old plantar fasciitis that is threatening to flare up again? The more serious the condition, or the more problematic it is for your life, the more frequently you ought to consider treatment. Nothing is more valuable than getting full use of your body back again!
Once a Month is Not Enough
For chronic pain, just once a month will not cut it. I usually recommend 3-4 sessions in a short span of time to address the major components of the pain first, and then I recommend reassessing after that time. When we are trying to make progress, rather than just maintaining, I don't recommend going as long as 4 weeks. In that amount of time, things can tend to backslide and so we end up having to spend time trying to get you back to where you were, rather than what you and I would both prefer, which is moving you along to the next level. We want to build on what was done in the previous session, not have to re-do it.
Symptoms are Slippery Tricksters
Chronic pain is tricky. It can sometimes take 6 months of consistent work to see the effects you would like, though many of the benefits of bodywork will be available immediately. Your symptoms can be tricky and slippery. And sometimes, the whole body/mind/spirit will improve around a problem, even though a symptom will persist. And sometimes the initial symptom disappears right away never to return, while new and unusual ones take its place.
Things Should be Different
As a general rule though, I like to see symptoms changing, which is why I track my patients progress. Often a patient will come in several months into treatment and will be feeling discouraged. "My back still hurts" is the response to my inquiry. So we go back and look at the initial exam results. "When you first came in you were in daily pain that you described as a 7 on a 10 scale. Today, your level is a 4, with spikes up to 7 or 8. And you have some entirely pain free days." This kind of charting can really help you keep perspective which helps sustain you in your efforts. Is it enough? Are we satisfied with almost daily pain at a 4? Oh hell no! I want to help get you to 100%, but it certainly is progress, and progress is motivating.
Perspective Changes Everything
Another interesting phenomenon of this change of pain level from a daily 7 to an almost daily 5 is how quickly you get used to it. Your body knows what it should feel like. It wants, needs and deserves to be pain free. If you are living with chronic pain, you will be surprised just how fast you will get used to having less pain. Your body will not even notice how much better it feels after just a few weeks. And your tolerance for a bad pain day will go way, way down. So now, you've gotten used to a regular daily level of 4 and you have a bad day and the pain spikes up to 7 or 8 and it feels completely intolerable. You will come in saying "the pain is so bad, it's worse than ever." Imagine your surprise when I remind you that just 6 weeks ago you were living with that amount of pain every day! You can see how tremendous this change can be for a person.
The Boogeyman -- Stress!!!
Ok, so my goal for you, my dear patient, is that you be pain free and able to use your body in ways that bring you joy, whether that means 6 a.m. spin classes, running marathons, dancing with their partners, working in the garden, or just being able to get up and walk to the bathroom in the morning with ease. This goal requires different time for different folks. But once you hit your goals, many of you decide that you want to keep bodywork as a part of your self care routine. This is a great idea! Life is stressful. Hours sitting at a desk or staring at a mobile device put strain on our bodies. Exercise and recreation can take their toll. Those leaves are not going to rake themselves. And then there's the non-physical stuff - cranky bosses, children and spouses, and all other manner of pitfalls that life throws at you. As long as you are living, breathing, and contending with gravity, you've got stress. Bodywork can help mitigate the effects of this daily stress from life. Deep connection, sensitive and therapeutic touch, being heard at a deep level. What could be better? For average stress levels once or twice a month is a good rate for maintenance care.
The New Normal
So here's the upshot. The benefits of bodywork that have been researched and proven are cumulative. What this means is that it's not enough to get bodywork when everything is at its worst and you just can't stand it anymore. The evidence suggests that if you want the best results for increased circulation, increased levels of happiness and well-being, as well as pain and stress reduction, you've really got to make bodywork a part of your self care routine. You wouldn't wait until your teeth were rotting out of your head before you decided to get a cleaning. You wouldn't wait until your hair was a total mess before you scheduled a cut and color. And you should go ahead and schedule your next bodywork session before you leave your appointment. Commit to yourself and be amazed at the results! Added bonus benefits - new levels of self awareness and sensitivity to what is happening in your body and increased levels of self trust and intuition.
Sum It Up
So here's the short version:
Chronic pain: 3-4 session within a 6 week period. Then reassess.
Acute injury or flare up: Every 2-3 weeks for 3 months. Then reassess.
Maintenance care: Once or Twice a month as needed.
Living it up: Cycling between different kinds of bodywork - Swedish one month, Thai massage the next, Connected Body Therapy after that... Ahhhhh...life is good.
Seriously, I'd get one every day if I could.
Today is August 26. This is the birthday of my biggest fan, my mother. Now that I am a mother, I realize that the wrong person gets celebrated on birthdays...no, that's not it, of course we celebrate the life of the birthed. It's their day for goodness sake, but let us not forget the work and the sacrifice and the ultimate commitment required of the birther! Even if the babe didn't come from your own womb, a mother's job is a total and complete one - and that deserves some cake and candles...and flowers and bubble baths. So it's from this state of mind that when first thing this morning my partner said, "It's your mother's birthday," I sleepily replied, "Thank you LuLu." And my heart filled with gratitude not only for my own mother, who has given so much to me, but for her mother as well.
That's the thing about Gratitude...the more there is, the more there is. When I really sink into gratitude, the things for which I am thankful just seem to multiply!
For example, I have some clients. A few days ago one of those clients had a birthday. She and I have worked together for many many years. She's coming in for a session today and the Gratitude train has just rolled right on up to my office. I realize how amazing the work that I share with my clients is. I realize how amazing my clients are - so talented, so dedicated to their careers, their families, themselves. They are so courageous as they walk through their own lives and face their own fears and tragedies and joys. I've been so blessed that they come to me, month after month, year after year, to support them in their journey, to hold a space for their humanity, and to give some nurture to their bodies.
This is a big deal because my work is very process oriented. Ask anyone who has ever worked with me and they have probably heard me say, "It's a process." When one area of pain backs off only for another even weirder one to pop up in its place, I say "Well, that makes sense to me, because this is a process." And we set off to take the next step. I offer no quick fixes. I do offer support and hope that this process, while painful, messy, non-linear, and completely limit testing, is also the most valuable thing we can possibly do for ourselves. I gotta tell you that even as I write this I am feeling the nudge to express that I am Grateful for Process. Big Breath. Give me a minute here, I'm thinking about it..... Remembering so many painful aspects of the journey of my own life. So much wrestling with the confounded Process. So much time spent cursing it. Wishing it just to GO AWAY! So many times when I needed other people to support me on my way. To hold my hand. To hold me while I cried. To be there when I screamed. Ok, yep, right now, today, in this moment, I am Grateful for this Process. (Do NOT hold me to this...it will likely not last.) It is this process that has brought me to where I am today. I could not be the person I am right now without every one of those tears and screams. I could not be here making the choices that I am now making if I had not faced into all that I am. Because that's what this life really is prodding us to do. Look inside and decide to love it. To see the imperfections and love it anyway.
Not there yet? Don't worry, it's a process. Remembering of all those who have supported me over the years in large and small ways has me so grateful for my grandmother, my mother, and my clients who just keep showing up, even when spending time in conscious connection with their bodies is difficult and painful. Thank you for allowing me to connect with you on this journey. Your commitment to yourselves is a beacon of courage for me and inspires me to maintain my commitment to myself.
So, as you probably already know, Swine Flu, more correctly referred to as H1N1 flu, is not transmitted from pigs to people. Or from pork products to people -- though this picture may very well be showing us how the pig caught the flu.
Your best bet for staving off the flu this season is to maintain and improve your immunity.
8 Tips to Avoid Flu and Improve Your Immunity:
1. Get Good Sleep. The body requires rest in order to repair and rejuvenate. When fatigued from lack of sleep, every system in our bodies suffers, and the immune system is no exception.
2. Wash Hands Frequently. Viruses and bacteria love to hang out in public places, on counter tops, door handles, light switches, etc. -- anywhere lots of people put their hands. So when you come home from being out and about give yourself a good handwashing. It's a good habit to get into in general, and it's essential if your trying to keep cold's and flu's at bay. A good rule of thumb when handwashing is to sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Happy Birthday" in order to help you remember about how long you should spend to get a thorough cleaning.
3. Drink Plenty of Water. As with sleep, every system, every cell, of your body requires water to carry out its function properly. Nutritionists recommend that we drink half our our body weight in fluid ounces Every Day. So, a person weighing 120 lbs requires about 60 fluid oz. of water daily. It seems like a lot, and it is.
Try replacing one soda or caffeinated beverage a day with water. Keep water in your car for easy access, and keep a bottle at your desk and refill it every time you have to get up.
4. Pay Attention to Nutrition. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is a must! Not only do fresh fruits and vegetables taste wonderful -- especially this time of year -- they are chocked full of the nutrients that help your body fight disease. Vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are essential to immune function and the best sources for these critical nutrients are fresh whole foods. Try a local market this summer to find fresh, delicious, locally grown produce. Click here to find one near you!
5. Vitamin C. One of the most powerful antioxidants in your body, Vitamin C is powerfully effective in helping you fight disease. Taking a quality C supplement can boost your immunity as well as improve your connective tissue strength and speed wound healing. If you are under stress or feel like you're fighting something off, it's a great time for a little extra Vitamin C. Because it's water soluable, your body will absorb all it needs and eliminate the excess. Like all things, Vitamin C can be overdone, so pay attention to your body and do the research to find the amounts that are right for you. When I feel the need for a little vitamin boost, I love to add Emergen-C to a small glass of water. It's refreshing and full of C and other essential vitamins and minerals.
6. Excercise. Getting your body moving is the ONLY way to get your lymphatic system working properly! In order for your body to eliminate illness, it must be in motion. Getting 20 minutes of some kind of activity every day will boost your immunity by keeping the sewer system of your body clean and flowing, allowing the garbage of our system to be safely eliminated.
7. Reduce Stress. Stress is linked to EVERY age related disease that is know to doctors. Take time to breathe, meditate, do some yoga, take a bath, and of course get a massage! Massage brings your body into the alpha brain state that allows for maximum rest and renewal. It helps release toxins from your vital organ systems and balances your energies, leaving you feeling relaxed, alert, and ready to go! Massage also feels great!
So call or email today to schedule a massage to boost your vital immunity!