Spring in Toronto! Healthy and happy events happening in the community

It's finally Spring! Of course that means a lot of rain, especially this week, but the flowers are blooming, the trees are turning green, and it feels like the city is waking up from our hibernation. Did you see the cherry blossoms in High Park this year? 

Photo by Anders Jildén on  Unsplash

Photo by Anders Jildén on Unsplash

I found some great events happening this season in and around the community, and I thought I'd share them here for others to enjoy as well:

  • Evergreen Brickworks has a free scavenger hunt you can do next time you're there! "Kids and adults will enjoy doing this scavenger hunt together.... [there are] two different versions: one if you've got children aged 3-6 and the other for children aged 7-10." 
  • Did you know that Lululemon stores offer free yoga classes (I just discovered this!)? 
  • 50 things to do this spring in Toronto - there are so many great ideas here! It makes me feel excited for Spring and Summer in the City.
  • If you like photography, you really have to check out some of the amazing work showcased in the Scotiabank Contact Photo festival
  • Have you been to the Toronto Botanical Garden? It's such a beautiful space, and they always have events going on - I noticed they've started yoga in the garden on Wednesdays! 
  • I couldn't finish this post without mentioning Size Matters, an exhibition at the McMichael featuring Steve Driscoll's paintings and my talented husband's photography.

The power of pediatric massage

I recently had the pleasure of attending two pediatric massage therapy courses led by the amazing and inspiring Tina Allen. Tina has created the Liddle Kidz Foundation which essentially is "the gold standard for pediatric touch therapy education and hospital-based program development training and implementation across the globe." She is an intense and extraordinary educator and we covered the bases on working with kids aged 3 and up, how to work with kids who have special needs, kids that are hospitalized or have had a diagnosis of terminal illness in hospice care.

I came away from these courses very full. There are so many considerations when working with kids and their families. The biggest impression was how to respectfully approach each child, meet them at their level, which is no small feat when you're a little awkward with kids, even though I have one of my own. It’s a learned skill and unless you're a baby whisperer or work with kids all day long, there is a lot to learn. We talked about props, toys, stories and songs to introduce to the massage to make it all less clinical. The focus is on making each child feel safe and creating the feeling of being supported, respecting their personal space and understanding boundaries, safety, infection control, and privacy. 

It was a lot, so now as I review all this information and work toward completing the certification of pediatric massage therapy, I will be reaching out to some of you. I will need a few families to work with over the coming months who want to be part of my case study. Look out for more information in the coming weeks. 

Finally I wanted to share this lovely post by a client about getting a prenatal massage. Thanks for the shout-out Priscilla! 

What a Massage Can Help You With Right Now

We know massage will make us move better and feel happier, but not everyone can make time for regular appointments. Luckily massage is great preventive care and it can have some instantly-gratifying results. Check out these 3 things massage can help you with right now.

Headaches  

Tension headaches (often called stress headaches) are the most common type of headaches among adults.

Pain or pressure in your forehead or on the top or sides of your head? Could be a tension headache. It's especially likely if you've been hunching over a desk or some knitting, spent a ton of time in a car, or if you're still shivering and huddling to keep warm as spring slowly creeps in.

Massage can help get rid of that headache and regular massage may well keep it from coming back. (If you want to geek out about tension headaches and try a few self-massage techniques, check out this article.)

Low Back Pain

A major research study was published in 2011 showing that massage therapy was better than drugs and usual care for general lower back pain. Better than drugs. I just had to say that twice.

Just about everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their life. If it happens to you, don't suffer. Schedule a massage and get back into action.

Irritability

Have you ever been so cranky you got on your own nerves? Yeah, me, too. It isn’t fun. When you feel yourself biting everyone’s head off when they ask you a question, it might be time for some self-care.

Massage is great for stress relief. You get to shut off all the things that buzz and chime and aggravate you to the point of eye twitches. Music, silence, warmth, massage. All the cranky disappears.

This is dual purpose. You'll feel better and all the people around you will be happier that you're back to your sunny self.

Got a headache, low back pain, or a case of the grumpies? Get a massage scheduled by emailing me and we’ll handle that fast.

Four ways to keep stress at bay

As much as we enjoy the emerging flowers and warmer weather of April, there can be a bit of a dark cloud hanging in the spring sky. Often the first few weeks of the month are a rush of receipts and forms as the tax deadline looms, and a rush of new schedules as the kids’ sports seasons fire up. Maybe that’s why April is Stress Awareness Month; to remind us to take care of ourselves, and not let stress go unchecked.

Meditation

Meditation does not have to be about pretzeled legs, chanting, and reaching enlightenment. It can simply be about creating a moment of stillness in your mind as a way to become more relaxed. Just one minute, 60 seconds of meditation, can dramatically improve your mood, your productivity and the quality of your day.

Exercise

It can be tough to make time for exercise when the schedule gets tight and tensions get high. But that's when it becomes even more important. Exercise can relieve the physical symptoms of stress like fatigue, pain, and moodiness. If you can't make time for daily workout, try to fit a 5-10 minute walk outside into some part of your day. A little goes a long way when you need it.

Giggle and hum

Both laughter and music can lower the blood pressure. In fact, this study in 2011 showed that 3 months of laughter or music therapy resulted in the same drop in blood pressure that could be achieved with a low-salt diet, losing 10 pounds, or taking a blood-pressure-lowering medication. 
So cue up the "Who's on first?" or dance around with your kids while making dinner and work some giggling and humming into your day.

Massage

Regular massage can improve sleep, relieve headaches, reduce muscle pain, and improve moods. Plus, massage feels good. When you feel good, you play more, work more efficiently, and take better care of the people you love. Schedule a massage now to prepare for a busy (and fun) spring!

Commit to taking care of yourself this spring! You may be surprised with the results.

Random Acts of Kindness

Did you know that this week is International Random Acts of Kindness Week

I just found out about this and I love it! Their website is packed with great ideas on how to celebrate, and I especially love the approach of committing a random act of kindness for three different people:

  • Someone you don't know
  • Someone you know
  • Your self


Someone you don't know

This is pretty simple and can quickly become a habit. (That's a good thing!) Smile. When you're in a depressingly long line at the bank, watching a parent deal with their toddler's public meltdown, or sitting next to another car in traffic. A kind grin goes a long way when you're feeling a bit hopeless about the daily hassles in life.

Someone you know

Take a moment to think about who in your life may be a little touch-deficient. Maybe you know someone who is recently widowed, a single parent with older children, or a new empty-nester. Maybe even a young teenager in an especially introverted stage of awkwardness.

Make it a point to touch someone. It could be a warm hand shake, high-five, or great hug, whatever is appropriate for that person and situation. Touch is shown to make us happier and healthier, and it benefits both you and the receiver!

Yourself

People depend on you, so it's important to take care of yourself. If you've only got a few minutes, steal away and flip through a great magazine. If you can set aside some more time, get a massage, go for a walk by yourself to recharge, or window shop at your favorite mall.

Kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A little goes a long way!

What to expect at your massage therapy appointment

The first question I hear, often, is: "Ummm.. do I have to take all my clothes off?" The short answer is “No. Absolutely not.”

But the long answer is, well, much longer. This is one of the most frequently asked questions about massage and deserves some discussion.

First, no matter what, you’ll always be covered (draped) with a sheet and a blanket. You’ll never be left feeling exposed or chilly. When I work on an arm, I fold the sheet back and tuck it under your arm so it’s secure. (No drafts, my friends.) I follow the same protocol for the leg.

When I work on the full back, I fold the drape down at the hips. If you’re wearing underwear I’ll gently tuck the sheet around the waistband, to protect your clothes from massage oil. If you’re nursing and don't want to take off your bra, I’ll work around it. If you’re wearing a t-shirt or tank top or space suit, I’ll work through it. I know plenty of very effective massage techniques that can be administered over clothing. If I feel I can’t effectively treat your issue through the clothing you’ve chosen to wear, I’ll tell you, and we’ll figure out another approach.

Typically my clients wear underwear and nothing else. But, there is no right or wrong, this is your massage.

Now that we've got the clothing issue out of the way - the most important thing about the massage therapy appointment is to treat the issues or area that you want to focus on. So before we even get to the massage table, I'll have a brief discussion with you about how you're feeling and what you'd like to work on. I'm also happy to answer any questions you have, before or after the massage appointment.

Enjoy your next massage! Book online here: http://www.thrivehealth.ca/contactus


A few ideas to help you have a happier year

Many of us think of the New Year as a clean slate. We start a new calendar, make resolutions, pop champagne, and a few days later, jump into a January of slightly elongating days with a fresh hope that this year we can begin again, and do it all better. I really love thinking about and making new year's resolutions and how I want to focus my precious time and energy this year.

Here are some ideas, just a few little changes you can make to improve your health, life, and happiness over the next year.

Use your tools

You've probably got a computer and a smart phone. And I bet you spend plenty of time using them. But are you using them well?

A great grocery list app can reduce the number of trips you make to the store, and the amount of cash you spend on groceries. Mint is a fantastic money app to keep track of your cash, create (and stick to) a budget, and plan for the future. TripIt can keep your travel plans organized and makes it easy to share that info with the people who need to know. Doodle can help you easily schedule group meetings (or just dinner with friends). If you're balancing a family with multiple schedules, use Cozi to get everyone to the right place at the right time.

Taking full advantage of the technology at hand can actually simplify your life.

Say no

You've heard this before, no doubt. But this year actually do that. Your time and energy are valuable commodities, spend them carefully. If you have trouble saying no, practice it. Really. It helps to be prepared with a reply that is kind, but still conveys a firm, "No." You can find some ideas here. My personal favorite is, "Thank you so much for thinking of me, but this project sounds wonderful, and there is no way I could do it justice with my schedule right now."

Practice mindfulness

Whatever you're doing, just do that. I'm the worst when it comes to doing two or three things at once: I'm checking email while I eat breakfast and at the same time planning what I'll make my daughter for lunch. But I know that when I do just one thing and pay attention, my mind is calmer and I finish the task more quickly. It also allows me to enjoy things more fully, such as spending time with my daughter on our walks to and from school.

Schedule regular massage

Massage is known to reduce stress, alleviate pain, and enhance the quality of sleep. All good things. If you think you can't spare the time or funds for massage, consider this: what's it worth to give your family, friends, and coworkers a happier, more productive YOU? (A lot. It's worth a lot.) Regular can mean weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Whatever works for you is just fine, but stick to it.

Happy new year!

5 tips for a happier holiday season

Happy holidays! Happy 'getting stressed out, trying to do too many things and please everyone' season. Oh, wait, that's not what the holidays are about! I'm going to to take a step back and have a calm holiday this year.

Forget perfection

Sometimes gingerbread men will be missing a limb. The tree may have a bald spot. The kugel may not taste exactly like your grandma’s. Know what? None of it matters. Decide what's truly important to you over the holidays, and focus on that.

Enlist help

Once you drop the desire for Norman Rockwell levels of perfection, it gets much easier to ask for help and delegate tasks. Kids can sign the names and address holiday cards. Wrap gifts in plain brown paper and kids can stay occupied decorating with crayons and ribbon.

Stick to a budget

Much of the holiday stress people feel can be attributed to money woes. Make a list and check it twice, making sure the gifts you choose are within your budget’s reach. And when you're tempted to overspend, remember that things are rarely as meaningful as a kind thought or gesture.

Shop local

Shy away from the average stuff you get at chain stores and Amazon. Visit your local bookstore or bakery to get gifts and gift certificates that really mean something.

Look for a winter farmers’ market where you can buy jars of local honey or handmade ornaments. Keep a stash in your car with some gift bags for last-minute “I can’t believe I forgot to get a gift for my kid’s teacher” type situations.

Bonus: you’re supporting small business at the same time!
Get a massage

Taking care of yourself makes you better able to take care of all the people who depend on you! Here's to a wonderful holiday low on stress and filled with fun!

4 Ways to Celebrate Giving this Holiday Season

 

It's the time of year when everyone is in gift-giving mode. Giving is great, and can be celebrated without spending a lot of money. But giving doesn’t have to be a huge, elaborate and grand event. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest splash - here are some ideas.

1. Give something you already have

Rummage through your cabinets and donate dry goods to a food bank. Ditto for your bookcases. Find some books and share them with a shelter, a school in need, or even a friend collecting stuff for a fundraising yard sale. Box up some old coats, hats and gloves and bring them to a homeless shelter or a local school (sometimes the school has to find hats/gloves so kids without them can play outside with their peers). Bring old blankets to an animal rescue, or donate blood.

2. Make something

Bake some cookies and deliver to your neighbors or coworkers. If you have kids, work on a holiday craft with them to give to someone as a gift. Donate to a food bank or find a local charity looking for holiday volunteers.

3. Do something

Run an errand for someone. Smile at a stranger. Give a genuine compliment. Spread good news. Volunteer at a children’s hospital, nursing home, or anywhere you think another human being could use a smiling face. 

4. Write a letter/make a phone call

Leave a nice note on someone’s windshield. Even if you don’t know them. Call a friend or loved one you haven’t spoken to in a long time - especially if it’s someone you’re at odds with. Send an email to someone who has greatly impacted your life (and may not know it). 

Bonus: And if you have a little money to throw around

Give a generous tip, whether you’re at the coffee shop, out to eat, or your often-unseen postal worker. Bring some pet food or toys to a local animal shelter. Buy a gift certificate for massage for a person close to you and your family - I'm now offering massage gift certificates at Thrive Health

Welcome to November! ... and colder weather and flu season

November has arrived and so far it's amazing - mild temperatures and beautiful leaves make the best combination for getting out and being active, whether it's going for a run or playing in the park with your kids. 

Soon enough, we'll be bundled up and bracing against the cold. Already, many of us are dealing with that other seasonal change: colds and flu. Thankfully flu shots are at the pharmacies, walk-ins and GP offices once again, but what else can we do to try to ward off illness? We all know these things, but sometimes it's useful to remind ourselves (and tell our kids!) top tips, such as washing hands more often and eating lots of fruits and vegetables to get naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals. I'm thankful to work with a naturopath who gives me all kinds of recommendations for me and my family and I take daily and weekly doses of various homeopathics to prevent or lessen the severity of colds and flu. I'm really on it this year (ahem...AFTER already getting a nasty flu): Vitamin C, acidophilus, Oscillococcinum are a few I like. I'm a huge fan of Echinasera (kids) and Echinaseal (adults) at the first sign of cough/cold. What do you do?

Around this time of year I also get asked whether clients should cancel their massage appointments if they aren't feeling well. In reading up on this topic, I found this great article about it. Some of the best points the author makes are:

  • Massage is excellent for your immune system when you are healthy.
  • However, getting a massage when you're already sick is a bad idea. It can help the cold or flu spread through your body more efficiently, making you feel worse.
  • Another problem is that you may spread your cold or flu to the massage therapist. RMTs cannot work when they are ill for this same reason!
  • Cancel your appointment with as much notice as possible.
  • If you have had the symptoms for four or five days and are starting to feel better, a massage can accelerate your recovery. It is especially good if you have had deep muscle aches around your spine, ribs and neck and have been in bed for a few days coughing. In this case, you may feel very tired after your massage, so I recommend not planning too much after your visit. 
  • When you are healthy, it's great to visit your RMT for a massage in the winter months, to boost your immune system, keep your circulation flowing in the cold, and to make yourself feel better!

As always, I'm happy to discuss this with my clients, so please get in touch to talk about how we can use massage therapy to achieve your goals.

Taking a Thanksgiving break

How was your September? It was a busy one for me, and now with October here and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I'm looking forward to hitting the reset button and gearing up for fall/winter. 

For me that means rethinking my workouts to start heading indoors soon. What gear will I need? And when will I have to give up on outdoor runs - I'm praying for a mild winter! No matter how much we try to keep up with working out and keeping fit in this season, there's no doubt it is more difficult to get up and get going when it is dark and cold. I find myself revisiting my previous blog post about morning workouts to try to stay inspired. 

Hitting the reset button also means thinking about balance. How am I doing with balancing work, family, and fitness time? Notice I didn't even mention making time for friends in there...something to work on.

What are your fall workout tips? What are you working on now that summer is over and we're looking toward winter? It's a great time to reset our priorities and how we spend our time.

Getting up & out the door for a run on early summer mornings

I came across this article about getting yourself out for a morning run. My number 1 tip for this is to get a good running buddy. 

My friend and I have been meeting up regularly at 5:30am at a nearby park and going for a run together. It's so much easier for me to get up and out the door when I know she'll be there, too! (Plus I don't want to let her down by not showing up.) 

My schedule for getting out in the morning goes like this:

  • I get organized the night before: lay out the things I'll need like my outfit, running shoes, wallet and keys.
  • I try to make sure I'm in bed by 10. 
  • I set my alarm for 5:00.
  • I get up brush my teeth, apply sunscreen (although its not light anymore at 5:30..boo!) and get dressed. Turn the coffee machine on, get coffee and go. Drink water on the way to my run.
  • By 5:20 I'm on my way out the door.
  • At 5:30, my friend and I are in the park and getting ready to set off.
  • At 6:00, we roll out our mats and squeeze in a 20 min stretch, maybe some walking lunges, ab work and some shoulder exercises if we're really on it.
  • By 6:3 0, I'm back home, coffee in hand, ready to take a shower and start my day. Done!

Do you have a morning exercise routine? I'd love to hear it.

It's almost August! Ah...time flies when you're having fun!

With the long weekend around the corner, I'm already starting to think about crisp fall weather, beef stews and fresh apples. But I make myself stop and say...it's still summer!! We've got to enjoy it while we can, because soon it will be a distant memory.

It seems that for a few people I have talked to, taking holidays means having to deal with the backlog of work and projects when they come back. Yes it's worth it, but it can still be a deceptively busy time. As it happens, this is the time of year that I seem to get more last minute cancellations. I understand that things come up. Life happens. We all have things we have to do, so I'm starting to remind people of my, hopefully, fair and reasonable cancellation policy that I hope works for my clients and for me. Because the RMT / client relationship is an important one and it has to be a two-way street with open communication lines, just like any positive, working relationship should be. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Warm up before you garden

Finally! After the long winter, it is starting to feel like we skipped over spring and went straight for summer. The warm days and longer evenings mean more of us are getting out into our gardens to tidy up from the winter and start planting for the summer.

 

As with any activity that you restart after a period of rest, the risk of injuring yourself shouldn't be dismissed. Be mindful with your movements and, if possible, try an active warmup to start and finish your gardening.

Okay, so you're ready to get a few stretches in before hitting the weeds, but what should you do? There are a few good tips here from Canadian Gardening.

If I have more time, I might do that and a few sun salutations. Here is a recommended yoga series for gardeners.

It's also important to move around a bit while gardening so you don't over use one part of your back. Sit on your knees for awhile, and then move around and clean up the weeds you've just dug up, for example. Take regular breaks in planting by filling up the watering can. And, most of all, move with mindfulness. If you are paying attention to the way you are sitting, twisting, and getting up and down, you are much less likely to injure yourself.

Enjoy the gardening!

An infant massage how-to (and how-not-to)

I love giving my infant massage classes. It is so much fun to meet new mums & dads and their gorgeous little babes - and to teach the parents some simple ways to connect with their baby and potentially relieve some gas issues that are common in babies.

So, thought it would be a good idea to do a really short video to describe the techniques and post it here on my blog. That way I could refer the parents who attend my class to it as a reminder, and also get other new parents interested in attending the class.

My friend and I put a rough plan together: she would bring her two daughters over and the older one could play with my daughter, and we could demonstrate infant massage techniques on the younger one. In a relatively short time, we realized our grand plan was flawed. It was a hilarious morning in which everything that could go wrong (seemingly) did, and, I later realized, illustrative in what NOT to do when it's time to massage your baby.

Try to have:

  • Warm hands, or at least not too cold.
  • A comfortable, happy baby who is not hungry, or too full (i.e. just eaten), or tired or a dirty diaper. (I know, it seems like this will mean NEVER! But I've found a good time to be just after an evening bath, or in the morning after baby has had his/her milk and you are changing their diaper).
  • A quiet, comfortable, peaceful space - not with loud children screaming in the background ideally! 
  • A trusted caregiver to give the massage, usually mom or dad.

Also, we realized in hindsight - we don't need to make our own video! There are already some great ones out there. I like this one in particular, by Tina Allen. She's amazing at infant massage.


So, have you tried infant massage with your baby? How did it go? What did you wish you knew about massage? Write in any comments or questions below and I'll do my best to answer!

What's your motivation?

Getting up early in the morning to workout or meditate requires a lot of motivation. So does committing to a regular fitness routine, or to a healthy eating regimen. So many things that we know are good for us still require motivation - so where do you get yours?

I have been playing around with a few apps in the mornings - yoga apps, meditation apps, workout apps. I have found that if someone is speaking to me via the app, or if I'm watching a video of what I want to be doing, it's easier for me to stay motivated and do it. I'm much better with a guided meditation, for example, than with sitting in silence. 

During my commute or in between clients, I love listening to podcasts to keep me motivated. There are so many great podcasts out there today. One of my absolute favourites is Rich Roll. Have you heard of his podcast? He is a a 47-year old, accomplished vegan ultra-endurance athlete and former entertainment attorney turned full-time wellness & plant-based nutrition advocate, motivational speaker, husband, father of 4 and he's so wonderfully inspiring. I'm not vegan, but who cares...his guests are amazing. 

Marc Maron's podcast, WTF, has got me through the winter! Mark is a comedian and does his podcasts from his garage in LA where he interviews celebrities, comedians, producers and musicians. There's nothing like a good laugh in the morning when it's -27 outside. 

Here are some of my favorite apps to help keep me motivated. What are yours?

I'm a morning lark

Is there really such thing as a morning person? Yes, it turns out there is, and I'm one of them. If I have extra work to catch up on, or if I want to get a good workout in, I will always wake up a bit earlier rather than stay up late. It's partly because I've always found it easier to get up early instead of stay up late, but it's also because I love the quiet and peacefulness of the morning. It seems to set the tone for the whole day when I can have a few calm moments to myself before my family wakes up to meditate, go for a run, or just catch up on my emails.

Once article I read about meditation suggested that the very first things you should do when you wake up are: wash your face, wash your hands, and take a big drink of pure water from a clear glass. For some reason this has really stuck with me and when I do wake up early, I try to make this my routine. 

There are so many articles about this subject - within about a minute of googling I had three different versions of 'How to become a morning person': I really liked these two, one from Greatist and one from The New York Times. There are some good tips and interesting tidbits in these. What about you? Do you wish you could be a morning lark? Or are you a night owl and love the late night for the same reasons I love the early mornings?

What does wellness mean to you?

wellness-and-balance.jpg

I love the term wellness, because it conjures up a holistic approach to health. Wellness isn't just about being healthy, physically fit, mentally sound - it's all of those things. This is something I've always believed in and it's why I have trained in physical fitness/personal training, karate, and massage therapy. To be well, you can't focus only on exercise, for example, without also eating well and keeping your stress in check.

I started thinking about this after reading another great magazine article recently, this time in Real Simple. It was about wellness, and focused on what we mean when we use the term. The article quotes many different kinds of specialists, from nutritionists to neurologists, about what wellness means to them and the one thing they would recommend to someone looking to be well. These were my favourite tips for increasing your wellness:

  1. Drink a glass of water in the morning to replenish what's been used up overnight and start your day off right. (Sports performance coach)
  2. Get your blood tested for levels of vitamins D & B12, iron and folate - and if low, increase them through food or supplements. (Endocrinologist)
  3. Eating right - a diet high in good fats and low in processed foods supports the beneficial bacterial in our bodies (Microbial ecologist) and aiming for 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, which keep our immune system in check (Dietary fat scientist). Also if you want to change what you eat, set goals of what to eat more of and less of (Registered dietician).
  4. Exercise five days a week for 30 mins - being physically fit helps you recover better when you get sick. (Cardiologist)
  5. Breathe with your diaphragm - not just in yoga/mediation but whenever you think about it during the day. This maximises your oxygen intake so you can think, feel & sleep better. (Breathing coach) 

Taking care of you and your baby

Are you expecting a baby, or do you have an infant at home? I offer pre- and postnatal massage at Thrive to ease your aches and pains, as well as giving you tips and techniques for keeping those aches at bay. A mother myself, I knows it can be difficult to look after yourself when you are caring for a newborn (but also that it is SO important!), so bring baby with you. I will keep the hour available just for you and only charge you the time that is used for massage. (So, if you spend half of the hour nursing, you will only be charged for a 30-min massage.) 

I'm also offering infant massage classes at Thrive. These one-hour sessions teach you techniques for massaging your baby's whole body. Infant massage has many benefits such as reinforcing healthy bonding, boosting baby's immune system and relieving gas pain and constipation. You'll learn how to read your baby's body language and assess their willingness for massage as well as connecting with them in a different way. It's also a great opportunity to meet other moms.

The next infant massage course will be on Thursday, November 20 at 10 a.m. You can book online via Thrive's website.

Lower back pain - a client and a really great article appear at the same time

Don't you love it when a few different things in your life work together, or point in the same direction. I recently worked with someone with severe lower back pain. A herniated disc was ruled out by his doctor through tests and we talk about some of the changes he had made recently to help manage his intermittent but acute low back pain. He had just added yoga 2 times a week and stretching daily at home, which were positive changes and increases body awareness. I try to encourage clients to keep up with daily stretching and keep them a priority. 

A few days later, I stumbled across an article by Paulette Wendell in the Winter 2014 issue of Massage Therapy Today about the exact same thing. (The article is accessible by RMTAO members only.) It's a great article and I just wanted to share a few of the main points from the article that really struck me.

Did you know that in the USA, general low back pain (LBP) is the second most-cited reason for work absence among adults younger than 45 years (the common cold is at number one)? I was shocked by that figure, but at the same time, I can believe it. As the article points out, lower back pain can be caused by so many different things, from accidents to injuries to day-to-day life like taking care of young children. But, as Wendell also mentions "Staying appropriately active and receiving massage therapy on a regular basis are fundamental to easing LBP. Increasing body awareness, core strength and muscle flexibility can significantly help clients achieve their pain-management goals."

To clarify what 'core' or 'core strength' means, I like Wendell's definition. Core "refers to the muscles of the abdomen, pelvis, shoulders and back." 

Here are a few other points made by the article that I found interesting and/or helpful to remember:

  • While it is instinctual to protect a site of injury, clients must be made aware that the muscle-guarding instinct can evolve into an unhealthy pattern of immobilization, leading to atrophy (a decrease in muscle strength and size). 
  • Often there is no “smoking gun” with respect to pain, but a handful of seemingly innocent errors that lead to a significant pain event.
  • Performing as many daily activities as is comfortable and gentle stretching are among the ways to avoid further immobilization.
  • A 2011 study (that is described in the article in more detail) indicates that continued massage treatments may result in the long-term alleviation of LBP. 

So what does this mean for you? In short, if you are suffering from lower back pain, see an RMT (registered massage therapist) about it as soon as possible. Massage can decrease pain and improve mobility...I can also help you with a plan of stretching and exercises or refer you to other practitioners or back to your doctor, depending on what you need.