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Massage Therapy Research for the Pain of Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Research supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) showed that sixty minute sessions of massage once a week for those with osteoarthritis of the knee significantly reduced their pain. Each massage therapy session follow...ed a specific protocol, including the nature of massage strokes. This is the latest published research study indicating the benefits of massage therapy for those with osteoarthritis of the knee.
• The study involved a total group of 125 subjects, with 25 receiving the 60-minute massage over 8 weeks, while others received less massage or usual care without massage.
• Previous studies on massage for the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee showed similar results, but were on a more limited number of subjects.
Perlman AI, Ali A, Njike VY, et al. Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e30248
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Why Gardening Makes You Happy and Cures Depression

Now here's an interesting article I came across recently. More for my Gardening page than about Posture, but health-related nonetheless. Enjoy!

Why Gardening Makes You Happy and Cures Depression

Written by Robyn Francis   

While mental health experts warn about depression as a global epidemic, other researchers are discovering ways we trigger our natural production of happy chemicals that keep depression at bay, with surprising results. All you need to do is get your fingers dirty and harvest your own food.

In recent years I’ve come across two completely independent bits of research that identified key environmental triggers for two important chemicals that boost our immune system and keep us happy - serotonin and dopamine. What fascinated me as a permaculturist and gardener were that the environmental triggers happen in the garden when you handle the soil and harvest your crops.

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Biopsies prove Massage contributes to Muscular Healing
Massage actually changes the way our genes behave and contributes to muscular healing, new research has found. Scientists had 11 male volunteers ride stationary bikes until they were exhaused. then they massaged one thigh on each man for 10 minutes and took biopsies from both legs. In samples from massaged muscles they found that genes linked to inflammation and soreness wer 3 times less active than in the untreated leg. The massages also caused a 30% increase in a gene that helps muscle cells create mitochondria--cellular organs that produce energy-- potentially boosting muscle recovery. Wow!! Read the study:
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Building Better Posture Muscles
For improved posture and function, do at least 3 sets of PULLING exercises  (rows) for every 1-2 sets of pushing (bench presses, flyes) As a nation we seem to be more focused on the front when we should be strengthening the back. That's what keeps up upright through the course of the day and prevents us from slumping due to fatigue.
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Low Back Pain
On any given week new people will come to us seeking relief from low back pain.  And while the lower lumbar region is the area of their discomfort, it is typically a result of tight hamstrings, gluteals (buttocks), psoas and quads (hip flexors).  More and more people are spending more time at their computers and all this sitting keeps the low back under constant attack from tight hamstrings and shortened hip flexors.

Envision the Hamstrings as a continuation of the spinal muscles that run along each side of the spinal vertebrae. And the hip flexors a continuation of the spinal muscles that run deep in the front of the spine. As an individual sits for longer periods, these muscles remain shortened and cause corresponding lengthening of the spinal muscles in the back. The stiffness most folks experience upon standing is due to this situation where the length: tension ratio of these partner muscles is out of proportion, therefore not allowing the joints of the low back to properly move.

So to compensate for this temporary dysfunction, the body recruits other muscles to help pick up the pelvic girdle and allow the hip joint to properly function. This recruitment pattern in movement exposes the low back's vulnerability to strain. 

 Nashville Neuromuscular Center addresses this issue by balancing the tension of all of the skeletal structures so the proper neurological processes can and will take place. Our multidisciplinary approach addresses these imbalances by reinforcing proper movement patterns and strengthening the postural muscles to accommodate the proper tension necessary.
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Ny Times: Massage more effective for Low Back Pain

July 4, 2011, 5:00 pm

Stubborn Back Pain? Try Massage

Can massage help back pain?Can massage help back pain?

Massage is a common alternative treatment for chronic low back pain, but most recent studies have found little evidence that it works. A group of researchers designed a study to see if they could find a difference between back pain sufferers who got massage and those who did not.

The scientists recruited 401 members of a large group health plan who had moderately severe back pain unconnected with any disease and generally related to strains and sprains. Three quarters of the volunteers had had pain for more than a year.

The volunteers, average age 46, two-thirds of them women, were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Some got relaxation massage, a full-body technique intended to induce a generalized sense of relaxation to ease low back pain. Others got structural massage, which aims to identify specific musculoskeletal contributors to pain and to release restrictions on muscles causing the distress. The third group received no special care and served as controls.

The three groups were similar in the other kinds and frequency of treatments they used, including painkillers or sedatives, back exercises and bed rest.

Each of the massage groups received 10 weeks of treatment, and at the end of that period, all three groups had some improvement, as measured by their answers to 23 questions about performing routine activities without help — for example, climbing stairs without using a handrail or getting out of an easy chair by themselves. They were also asked to rate the degree of their back pain symptoms on a 10-point scale.

Those who received massage scored significantly better on both symptom and function tests, and they spent less time in bed, used less medicine and were more satisfied with their current level of back pain.

At 26 weeks after treatment, those in the usual care group continued to function less well than those who had gotten massage. But there were no significant differences in the pain scores in the three groups, either at 26 or at 52 weeks.

Daniel C. Cherkin, the lead author and an epidemiologist with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, mentioned some of the study’s considerable strengths. It had a randomized design, a high follow-up rate, good adherence to the treatment and a large sample size. Still, he said, the study was done on a mostly white, middle-class population in otherwise good health, which may limit its applicability to other groups. The study appeared online Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

It is unclear how massage eases back pain, but the researchers suggest it may stimulate tissue locally or cause a more generalized central nervous system response. It is also possible that just spending time in a relaxing environment or being touched and cared for by a sympathetic therapist could have led to improvement. Also, those in the control group knew that the other groups were getting massage, and the knowledge that others were getting the treatment while they got none may have led them to underestimate their own progress.

Still, the researchers conclude that massage has few adverse effects and is a reasonable treatment for low back pain. There is no evidence, though, that it lowers the cost of health services related to back pain.

“We tested this on people who had not been getting better from the usual medical approaches, Dr. Cherkin said. “If you’ve tried other things and you’re not getting adequate relief, then massage is a reasonable thing to try.”

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Shin Splints, Ankle Sprains & Plantar Fasciitis
I have just returned home from the International KinesioTaping Symposium. Let me assure you that this is good stuff! Exciting new techniques to relieve pain and tension, making it possible for you  to continue your sport or daily activity comfortably. Long term strategies to enhance  the effects of your Neuromuscular Massage and Clinical Bodywork  and help expedite your rehabilitation and  resolve the causes of that pain.  KinesioTape affects the tissues from bone to skin and all things in between. Thanks to Tom Myers for his most excellent Fascia presentation at the Symposium.

I have read that approximately 10-20% of all runners experience a bout of medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), or shin splints, at some point during their career. And a whopping 10% of the total  American population has compained of Plantar Fasciitis.
 For inflammatory conditions like shin splints or ankle sprains, ice, rest, and orthotic shoe inserts are typically  prescribed. However, this innovative KinesioTape technology offers additional options for pain modulation and return to proper  function. Unlike conventional sports taping, KinesioTape is the same weight, thickness, and elasticity as human skin, allowing it to work naturally with the body's own sensory system to reduce pain and provide natural stability.

In addition to shin splints, ankle sprains and Plantar Fasciitis, there are not many pain issues that the KinesioTape cannot address. Call Nashville Neuromuscular Center to learn more about KinesioTape
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Scientists are discovering that people who sit more have higher levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides and even bigger waist sizes. But breaking up a day of inactivity with movement, even if just for a few minutes, can make a difference.

RS: We are a nation of sitters.  Erik Dalton calls us Flexaholics since we spend so much time in this flexed position. Knowing the right movements to perform to counteract the strains long periods of sitting produce, is the key to maintaining Posture Fitness.
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Rebecca is one of only 15 therapists in the US selected as a candidate to train for teaching Tom Myers Anatomy Trains Movement and Manual disciplines. Very honored.
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Death by Monkey Grass

Death by Monkey Grass

I was visited by a client last week who had numbness in her arm and hand. On closer investigation, it turns out she has been manicuring her Liriope by hand. Repeated pulling and holding with the left hand, clipping with the right and then pitching the clippings in the basket behind her and to the left. ... for hours at a time.

The body position alone is enough to get you in trouble. On your knees and hunched over; the neck and head are forced forward. The arms are out in front of you with nothing to support their weight.

And then there's the repetitive motion. The trifecta of garden injuries. A perfect storm! At the very least you should choose an ergonomic hand clipper like Fiskars Swivel Soft Touch Grass Shear which has a soft handle and a cutting head that rotates 360º for easy trimming at any angle.

The surprising thing is that we know we shouldn't (couldn't) do continuous push ups for a couple of hours. What on earth makes us think the muscles in our hands/forearms can do such continuous work for hours on end??? Be smart Gardeners!

I know we want to get out there on the first beautiful day like today and get the entire south forty in tip top shape. But please work smarter. Take frequent breaks. Switch up your tasks. Yes this is counterintuitive in the organizational scheme of 'finish each task you begin before going on to the next'. But I'll invite you to form a new paradigm.

Instead of setting the goal to trim all the monkey grass along the walk, set your goal to trim x number of feet of it. Or do a few minutes of hand trimming, clean up the area and go do some mowing or raking or mulching and then come back to it (If you still have energy). Set your sites on a few feet of hand clipping at a setting.
Begin to think of your gardening tasks like you would your gym workout: do  1-3 sets of a  number of repetitions. Then go work another body part. Your hands, arms and shoulders will thank you!! 

For more gardening specific information be sure to visit Pain-Free-Gardening.blogspot.com and check the archives.
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A well-respected expert on physiology and bodywork, Deane Juhan describes the human body in his extraordinary book Job's Body by saying, " A human being is a container invented by water so that it can walk around." I love this quote and first mentioned it in the draft of my Gardener's Body Book. But it just might be true. Water is incredibly important to the human body and dictates much of how it functions. I could rattle on about this for days, but I'm veering off from my intention to share the benefits of Contrast HydroTherapy.

In the early 1970's on the advice of a osteopath, I began experimenting with Contrast HydroTherapy -- short sessions of hot and cold water immersions. At first I only did the feet, but quickly moved on to doing this as a whole body therapy in the shower. At the time I thought the benefits were simply an increase in energy.  Who wouldn't be stimulated and energized after the sudden blast of a cold shower!!

Over the years and as I became more involved with bodywork, I began to understand the principals and applications more thoroughly. We all know that heat tends to expand and cold tends to contract. When you place your body or a body part into hot water, the tissues quickly expand and  fill with blood trying to cool off the area and regain a normal body temperature.(vasodialation) When immersed in extreme cold, the reaction is one of vasoconstriction. Both will cause the heart to beat faster and both will inhibit neural transmission thus relaxing muscles. But if the length of time immersed in heat or cold is prolonged, the opposite actually begins to occur and instead of increasing circulation, the blood vessels will become so contracted that the circulation is actually decreased. So contrast hydro therapy should only be done for short periods of exposure to the different temperatures.

This alternating hot and cold for short periods of time sets up a strong vascular pumping which will increase oxygen to the tissues and encourage lymphatic drainage and decreased congestion. I use this treatment on my hands and arms whenever they are overworked. This treatment is also very effective on the feet/legs for plantar fasciitis.

Here's how to do it:

Get a couple of  5-gal buckets or wastebaskets that are large enough for your foot to fit in compfortably and tall enough to come up high on your lower leg. If you’re treating you hands/arms, then you can use a double kitchen sink as your containers.  Put in enough ice to fill one bucket or sink about 1/4 to 1/2
 and top it off with cold water.  Fill the other bucket with hot water, at a temperature which COULD NOT BURN your skin.Between 98 and 104 degrees F.  Test the hot temperature before you use the ice water.

Begin by
 Plunging the affected limb into the cold water.  It will be intense.  Do the best you can.  If you can only keep the limb in the ice water for 10 seconds, that’s OK.  It will get easier.  You are working towards being able to keep the limb in the ice water for 30 seconds.  NEVER LONGER THAN 30 SECONDS OR ONE-HALF MINUTE.  MORE IS NOT BETTER! 

Then remove the limb from the cold water and plunge into the hot water.  Stay there for 40-60 seconds, long enough to begin “a more normal feeling” to come back.  
Then plunge back into the cold water.  Work up to 30 seconds as able. 
Then plunge back into the hot water.
 You get the idea.
Going from cold to hot is considered a round.  Do 5 or 6 rounds each time, per limb. 
NOTE:  Rest the limb after therapy.  DO NOT do strenuous exercise, or perform activities that require fine motor coordination. 

Contrast Therapy is powerful and it will change the way the limb feels and works. You'll find that the muscles will be easier to stretch or massage after this treatment and pain will be reduced.
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Check out the new Gardener's Body Book Blog @ 
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Gifts of May

Hooray! Hooray! The first of MAY!! Hard to believe how quickly the year is moving. I was deliriously blissed to be working in the yard yesterday morning before the torrential rains came -- even the mowing was delightful. Spring is definitely my season. And I am reminded of a poem by Rob Brezney that I offer to you this month:

It's time for you
to claim the rewards
that were promised you
at the beginning of time:

Not just any old
and Justice,

But rather

wild beauty
that excites your curiosity;

Crazy wisdom
that makes you allergic to dogma;

Outrageous goodness
that drives you to perform
heroic acts of compassion;

Insurrectionary love
that endlessly transforms you;

Ingenious freedom
that is never permanent
but must be reinvented and reclaimed every day;

and a totally-serious-yet-always-laughing  justice
that schemes and dreams
about how to diminish the suffering
and increase the joy
of every sentient being.

Now go out and have a great month!!
and if you feel like it, share your favorite moments with us here.

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