written by: Cathy Mann, LMT
Did you know that you are perfectly made? Are you aware of how AWESOME your body truly is? No?? What, are you too old? Too broken? If you're reading this and are in any amount of pain, be it new or a persistent chronic ache, you are most likely laughing at me for telling you this. YOU ARE. You are fully capable of moving without pain...heck..even living WITHOUT pain. The answer is postural alignment therapy.
Posture Alignment Therapy is a holistic exercise technique that uses gravity and a person’s own body weight to improve alignment and balance, naturally eliminating the underlying causes of pain and physical limitations.
These joints function best when horizontally and vertically aligned as shown in the image below:
The human body was designed to stand on two feet and to be in motion constantly in order to survive. The combination of gravity and movement is not only necessary to maintain the body’s skeletal alignment, but also critical for survival. At least that was the case prior to modern conveniences and technology. Today, we no longer need to move in order to survive. In order to make a living, most of us click a mouse, stand stationary, or perform the same movement patterns over and over.
The problem is simple - we do not move nearly enough to remain pain free and functional. And that’s where Posture Alignment Therapy comes into play. The program involves a customized sequence of simple, low-demand daily stretches and exercises that are designed to restore function and balance. It is your daily “menu”, so to speak. The menu does not focus on the symptom or the site of pain.
Instead, Postural Alignment Therapy addresses the underlying alignment issues that are causing the problem. When trapped in chronic pain, it can seem like you’ll never feel better and be able to live the life you want—especially if you’ve tried other therapies and drug-based treatments that only worked temporarily or not at all. While most chronic pain treatment methods only address symptoms or try to deaden or mask pain, we work to correct the postural issues that are at the root of your ongoing alignment pain.
Catherine Mann, a massage therapist trained in the Egoscue Method of Postural Alignment Therapy, is available for consultation and creation of a plan designed to get you and keep you out of pain, perform your particular sport better, or just feel and move better in all your comings and goings. Work one on one with Cathy by scheduling an appointment and be sure to follow her at Painfree Posture & Wellness on Facebook to get regular tips and ideas to reduce your pain today!
The holidays are in full swing, hustle every where you go and lets face it burn out awaits. I love this time year, the fun, the gift giving and the baking but in addition to the day to day tasks we all have if we aren't careful it can really make your stress level go through the roof. I thought I'd share 5 of my favorite ways to get a handle on the stress this time of year.
I know many of these have been said before but they are all helpful and are worth repeating. I say these as much to all of you and to myself, stop and enjoy the season and the beauty of the friends and loved ones you get to share it with. Be sure to share your favorite ways to reduce stress with us!
Pain, it's such a life altering issue for so many folks. I see it day in and day out in my massage practice. Chronic pain totally alters the way people do life and can add to depression and other conditions. We have all worked out too hard, rolled an ankle, or slept funny and woke up with pain in our neck and it sucks but could you imagine that day in and day out?! Today I want to share with you a few ideas and tips to help with pain, reducing it, planning for it and how to get in front of it when you've done too much. If you don't have chronic pain keep reading you can use some of these tips just the same with occasional pain :)
When you have chronic pain getting up and moving can be a real challenge but you need to get moving. Moving and exercise help reduce those pain signals and release happy endorphins in our brains, we NEED to get moving. But "I hurt every time I exercise!" yes you likely do because when you do get moving you overdue it! Pacing yourself can help you find where is your limits and what exacerbates your pain and what is beneficial. How to do this? Keep a little journal or paper of activities, plan to get up for five or ten minutes each day and gently walk around, walk through your yard or garden, your neighborhood or even just through your house. Write down how long you did it for and how you felt later that day. If you hurt use some interventions to decrease your pain and do a shorter length of time next session. If you felt great maybe add a few minutes and see how this simple act can change your life. Find your activity sweet spot and enjoy how it makes you feel.
Interventions for Pain Flare Up
Use Ice for 5 - 10 minutes on the affected area. Ice works wonders for flare ups of chronic muscle issues or acute or recent injuries. Sprained ankle think ice, sore back that just came on think ice, slept funny on your neck throw some ice on it for a few minutes, it just might change your day! People tell me all the time but ice is so cold it feels awful but here's the deal injured muscles respond well to ice. Not sit on the couch and watch an hour show with ice on your back but a few minutes of ice can make a huge difference. In my opinion and experience clients that ice their injuries a few times a day for short periods of time do better than those that never ice of ice for extended periods of time. So Ice, short periods think 10 min or less at a time.
Heat, what about that glorious warm heat? Well heat is great, it brings blood and healing fluids into the tissues to help them heal but if that ankle or low back is already inflamed that heat is just flooding the tissue more so use some heat if you're a few days out from injury but alternate it with ice or at the least end your heat session with ice just for a few minutes to kind of "flush" the tissue.
Aromatherapy options for pain. There are so many oils that have pain relieving properties, I've written several blog posts about it and it still doesn't cover them all, but there are a few tried a true recipes I love for muscle pain and tightness, joint pain, and injuries like a sprained ankle.
4 drops Balsam Copaiba, 2 drops Peppermint, add to 15 ml Carrier oil and apply to area.
Muscle Spasm Buster
4 drops Cypress, 2 drops Basil, 2 drops Peppermint, add to 15 ml carrier oil or cream and apply to affected area. This dilution is great for short term acute type issues rather than long term. If you find that this blend is working well definitely use it and just add another 15 ml of carrier oil to dilute it to a more appropriate level for more consistent use.
Joint, Tendon, and Ligament Relief
3 drops German Chamomile, 2 drops Helichrysum, 2 drops Lavender, add to 15 ml carrier oil or cream and apply to area 3-5 times daily if pain or inflammation still present.
Magnesium is an amazing mineral that we need. Many of us don't get enough of it in our diets and it is beneficial to muscles, joints, tendons and boosts our moods as well. Like Vitamin D being a crucial component for our health Magnesium is pretty powerful little tool to get you feeling better. You can talk to you doctor or pharmacist about supplements that are available and especially if you take heart medications and such you would want to talk to them before adding a supplement.
You can also get Magnesium Bath Salts, such as Epsom Salt, Magnesium Chloride Flakes, Magnesium oil spray or Himalayan salt and apply it to your skin, this is called using it transdermally. You are then absorbing the magnesium through the skin. Getting a boost of magnesium through bath soaks or foots soaks has been around for years. This is my favorite way to boost my magnesium because what we apply to our skin gets absorbed so adding some favorite oils to your salts and soaking away can really help with pain and your mood. Try these recipes in your tub tonight!
2 drops Neroli, 2 drops Lavender oils added to 2 tsp jojoba or other carrier oil, then add oil mixture to 1/2 cup Epsom Salt or Himalayan Salt.
2 drops Black Spruce, 2 drops Frankincense (I use carterii but you can use serrata if you prefer) add essential oils to 2 tsp Jojoba or other carrier oil and then mix oil mixture into 1/2 cup of Epsom Salt or Himalayan Salt.
Give these tips a try and let me know how it goes. Do you have any favorite recipes, if so I'd love to hear about them so be sure to share them in the comments below.
Kombo Butter comes from the seeds of a tree called Pycnanthus angolensis in West Africa. It is a little known butter that has wonderful healing properties due to its high Myristoleic acid content and is used to treat pain in the muscles, joints, arthritis and gout.
I like to make a pain and inflammation butter with Kombo adding essential oils that would assist with joint and muscle pain. I apply this after a busy day in my massage office or after an injury, even a little ache and pain that comes up from what seems like nothing at all :) I recently made several batches of these up with some of our Muscle Blend oil combinations and have loved them.
Kombo butter is known to be:
I love the texture of Kombo butter as it is silky and absorbs easily into the skin. The texture isn’t hard and flaky like cocoa butter but rather wet and thick with the ability to be spooned into a container. Kombo Butter has a beautiful rich brown color that is grainy in texture until rubbed onto the skin. Adding this naturally pain reducing butter to our essential oils that help reduce pain and inflammation is creating a powerful butter to reduce our discomfort while nourishing and softening our skin.
Try this recipe to make your own Kombo Butter Muscle Blend:
Your essential oil choices could be any oil you love such as Lavender, Frankincense, Copaiba, Basil, Cypress, or Peppermint. Typically I use 30 drops per 2 ounce jar, if you want to make different versions in each jar add your essential oils to the jar you want and then pour in your butter mixture over the top and stir with your glass stir rod to mix them before capping. When you are done and they cool your butters will look similar to these warm cocoa like jars of butters.
Have you tried using Kombo Butter in your blends? I would love to hear your recipes and ideas too so be sure to share them with me!
Using essential oils during massage is pretty much mainstream these days. We've been doing that or have at least heard about that for decades. Essential oils can be the ultimate compliment to massage for many different conditions and situations. Using oils that are naturally relaxing and soothing can reduce the over stimulation of the mind and help calm those stress responses while using oils that reduce pain and inflammation might be perfect for someone with a chronic or recent injury. When was the last time you smelled an orange and it made you smile, or a certain smell that brought back a happy and heartfelt memory? Essential oils and the art of Aromatherapy have the power to bring you to total relaxation and ease your discomfort with even just a sniff.
We have been using essential oils in our practice for years and our line of oils was designed after years of that use because we have seen how powerful aromatherapy can be, how it can help you breathe deeper, support you during depression, grief and loss, or even just help your poor back spasm diminish or that rolled ankle become less painful. We offer classes monthly for various oil related topics, and always offer aromatherapy options during our massages so be sure to ask about adding them to your session next time you are in. If you love essential oils already and want tips and tricks be sure and follow us on social media, Facebook and Instagram.
Here is a few of our favorite blend recipes:
2 drops Cedarwood
2 drops Frankincense
1 drop Bergamot
add essential oils to 15 ml carrier oil in bottle and massage onto body to help relax and soothe before bed.
2 drops Frankincense
2 drops Eucalyptus globulus
add to diffuser or to 10ml roller bottle and fill with carrier oil. Apply to neck, temples as needed.
2 drops Sweet Orange
1 drop Frankincense
1 drop Peppermint
to 10 ml roller bottle, fill with carrier oil or add just essential oils to diffuser and enjoy
Be sure to check out our class list for upcoming events or ask us about using aromatherapy for your health goals next time you are in! What are your favorite essential oils to have used during your massage?
Hey I have to share this new blend I made. It has been a couple of weeks since I got to just play with my essential oils and create just for fun. I have been busy working a lot in my massage practice but also on the computer working on websites and such, you know how it goes and my body was starting to scream out. I was feeling stressed and my body was less than happy. It was time to try something and this blend came to me. I love the aroma and can't wait for you to try it!
I have been having some pain and inflammation in my hands and forearms and I wanted a nice blend to help that also smelled amazing. So I blended Helichrysum, Patchouli and Neroli in some Jojoba and it is fabulous! Not only does it smell like a beautiful perfume but it has helped tremendously with my hands and forearms as well as some wonderful hormone symptoms that are not so pleasant, ladies you know what I mean. I know, I know don't let me lose you at Patchouli. I absolutely loathed Patchouli until the last couple of years when I found if it was blended with the right things and not trying to cover up massive BO. Come on we have all been around someone who "bathed" in it.
So back to this blend, I chose Helichrysum italicum because it historically is great for pain and inflammation, helps heal tissue and it has an interesting aroma. It has also shown properties to help with allergy related things and since mine may have an allergy inflammation component I went for it. Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) is lovely, truly beautiful floral that is happy and uplifting great for stress and feeling blue. Neroli may also help with spasm and muscle tightness so it seemed to fit for those tight unhappy arms. The aroma added a beautiful note to the Helichrysum and Patchouli. As for the Patchouli (Pogostemom cablin), it has a unique aroma but it offers an emotional boost that is great for stress and is relaxing and could also possibly help with my inflammation. Here is the recipe let me know if you try it!
5 drops Helichrysum italicum
5 drops Neroli Citrus aurantium var.amara
5 drops Patchouli Pogostemom cablin
30 ml Jojoba or carrier oil of your choice
I applied a few drops to my wrists but you could apply where you like. I hope you love it as much as I have. If you try it come back and let me know how it goes!
I get asked often how much oil do I use, can I use it neat, what is a good carrier? These are all such good questions and a lot of times I am thinking about them too. How much essential oil depends on what you are using it for and what your health goals are. As a standard I like to use the dilution ratios here:
1 or 2 oz of carrier oil or lotion, cream, aloe gel to your number of drops of essential oil
1 oz (30 ml) — 5 to 6 drops
2 oz (60 ml) — 10 to 12 drops
1 oz (30 ml) — 10 to 12 drops
2 oz (60 ml) — 20 to 24 drops
1 oz (30 ml) — 15 to 18 drops
2 oz (60 ml) — 30 to 36 drops
and so on. Some times you will need a higher percentage for a short period of time and that is totally fine, these are guidelines. You want to use caution with those pregnant mamas, elderly and kiddos as they are much more sensitive.
Why dilute? I just want that oily goodness!
I totally get that but these oils are seriously powerful and we need to respect that. More is not always better. Some oils can be skin irritating and we do not want to create a situation where someone gets sensitive to an oil or even burning to a dermal layer. Because of their concentration we can usually get the desired effect from using a small amount so why use so much that it drives up your costs as well as product demand. I like to think of it this way if I can get what I am looking for from 5 drops why not. If I try a smaller amount of oil and it doesn't quite do it I can always add more and increase the dilution. Plus that leaves me a lot more drops to use later, it also helps with production of plant material on the environment.
Can I use it neat?
Yes and no. There are some oils it is totally not recommended to use neat but others like Lavender or Helichrysum might be extremely helpful to drop onto a bee sting or minor burn. Again you have to think can I get the desired effect with it diluted, can I dilute it right now, is this a skin safe oil or can it be irritating?
The possibilities are endless. You just want to use something with a fat content to disperse the essential oil. I love Jojoba it is nourishing to the skin, doesn't go rancid and just rocks in my opinion. You can use any oil, lotion, aloe vera gel, bath salts with whole milk or cream added or another oil, scrubs etc. What your preference is will determine what carrier you use. I do like to use carriers that do not have any synthetic ingredients because anything we put on our skin we are absorbing that is one reason essential oils work.
What are your favorite carriers and dilutions? We learn from each other let's hear ya :)
Essential Oils Can Provide Healing and Balance
Aromatic essential oils extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, wood and roots have long been a source of healing, aiding in relaxation, circulation and wound healing. However, the use of these medicinal oils declined as the modern pharmaceutical industry developed. In 1928, French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse revived the use of essential oils and developed the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from botanicals to balance and harmonize the health of body, mind, and spirit. Gattefosse coined the practice aromatherapy.
Because of aromatherapy's affect on emotional health, many practitioners incorporate this noninvasive treatment into their practices. Dispensers or diffusers filled with Essential Oils may be used to scent the room, and specific essential oils may be used on the client's skin during massage. Because each oil has unique characteristics and benefits, the choice of oil or oils can be customized to the client's needs and emotional state. Whether inhaled or applied topically, aromatherapy requires an understanding of how each essential oil interacts with the body, as well as the mind. Many pure essential oils need to be diluted, as they can cause irritation when applied directly to the skin, and training is necessary to guarantee safe and correct usage.
The emotions listed below can be gently eased by one or a combination of the following essential oils:
Anxiety: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Lavender,Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Sandalwood.
Fatigue/Burnout: Basil, Ginger, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sandalwood.
Stress: Bergamot, Frankincense, Geranium, Lavender, Mandarin, Neroli, Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang.
Anger: Jasmine, Neroli, Orange, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Roman chamomile, Rose, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang.
What are some of your favorite oils to use for emotional well being?
Frankincense is amazing, fabulous and wonderful, ok I may have an obsession! It is truly a multipurpose power house of oily goodness! Ok let's get to it, Frankincense essential oil comes from the resin, the resin comes to the surface when there has been a wound to the surface of the Boswellia tree, that tells me a lot about the nature of the oil right there. It has a resinous and rich aroma that grounds and calms the mind, supports the immune system and is also wonderful to add to skincare products for scarring, anti-aging, nourishing dry skin etc. I love to use it in my moisturizer and often just inhale it for the mood enhancement. Frankincense, Boswellia carterii, belongs to the Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes, Monoterpenols, Sesquiterpenols chemical families which is great because that covers such a wide range of therapeutic properties. It is steam distilled and as I mentioned previously great for use with skin, but also great for use in meditation, for mental focus, immune support, pain and inflammation, and it has also been used for generations in traditional medicine for its effects on mood.
Can you see why I just LOVE Frankincense!? Frankincense has had a great affect on things like headaches and I love adding it to an inhaler for use when a headache comes on. Frankincense blends well with coniferous and citrus oils, but also with other resins, such as Myrrh, spicy oils, especially Clove and Ginger, and intense florals such as Jasmine and Ylang Ylang.
Here is a great recipe for headache and neck tension using Frankincense:
Years ago we kicked to cleaning chemicals to the curb. I grew up in a house where clean meant BLEACH and when I moved into my own place years ago I just couldn't stand to use it. The smell, the drying of my skin it just wasn't for me. So I started using vinegar and let's face it vinegar works great but the smell not so much. My kids would come in and say "oh Mom you cleaned the bathroom and it smells so gross!" sigh so I started adding essential oils to my vinegar cleaning solution and I have found that you can make some pretty amazing cleaning blends quick and easy. I use this base recipe for most things, 14 or so ounces water to 2 ounces distilled white vinegar and then just add essential oils to it. I use a standard 16 oz spray bottle and sometimes I add more essential oils than what is listed above and some times less. Some ideas to try are of course Lemon, Orange, Siberian Fir, Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint and Clove. Lemon oil is also great for removing sticky stuff or labels from bottles and jars. What is your favorite cleaning blend or essential oils for cleaning?