This year the Northeastern swim and dive team train invited to me to help keep their athletes limber and injury free with massage therapy and bodywork.
Now that I'm back in Boston, I'm back into my Boston self-care routines. I expect a lot from my body and to support that do gyrotonics with Martha Mason at Upward Spiral. It's been almost a year and I've discovered that this gyrotonics and I believe its the most effective and efficient way to keep improve my posture and increase my range of motion, an hour a week goes a long way. Between family, work, and school, my time is tight these days and need my body to be strong and dynamic.
Did I mention that it's fun! Martha is a master teacher and passion for gyrotonics. The studio is beautiful and easy to get to in Central Square in Cambridge.
NANTUCKET ISLAND HAS A NEW ALLY IN THE BATTLE AGAINST CANCER- UGNE ALEKNAITE ACPCNP-BC! She joined Nantucket Cottage Hospital as their patient care coordinator. She now gives people therapy in this island community high quality care through chemotherapy and immunotherapy rather than massage. Her timing to join the Nantucket cottage hospital could not have been better as they prepare to open their expanded facility next year.
When she's not at the hospital she's working on her right hook in boxing classes at the Nantucket Hotel gym.
The number of older adults engaging in vigorous activity is on the rise and will likely continue as the baby boomer generation leads the trend. The is evident by the four-fold increase in participants at the National Senior Games Association since its founding in 1987. As I found in this inspiring article by Rebecca Clay in the most recent issue of Monitor on Psychology about Age-Defying Athletes.
A recent study published in the 2016 edition of Neurology looked at 900 diverse older adults over five year span. The research concluded that in the 10 percent of people engaged in moderate to vigorous activity showed slower declines in cognitive functioning than the 90 percent of participants who had reported only light activity—such as walking or yoga—or no physical activity at all. This a a new area of research that scientistsbelieve needs more research, yet the initial initial finding are very encouraging.
In addition to the healthy effect on our grey matter, being active also means that people are gaining all the social benefits of being active as well. This is yet another encouraging reminder that we are only as old as we feel.
Children are constantly amazing! Last summer Ugne and Vytas came to cheer as I participate in Nantucket's Swim Across America, a 1-mile open water swim to benefit cancer treatment at Nantucket Cottage Hospital. Vytas noticed other kids ready to swim as well and demanded to be signed up for the kids swim, only these kids seemed to be several years older than this eager 2 year old.
Regardless it seemed like less of a struggle to sign him up that resist his determination. He was determined even though he didn't have his life jacket he usually used for swimming. I was clueless about this would play out, then as we entered the water with about a 100 other kids he wrapped his arms roundly neck and shouted "start kicking Daddy!" His plan suddenly made sense with him on my chest and my feet fluttering out and around the course buoys to complete the 50 meter kids event. Post race he ate an entire breakfast sandwich after the event and proudly posed for photo ops that got him in the paper.
Since last summer we've been playing in the pool a couple times a week and about a month ago he dropped the life jacket. he started holding his breath under water and even swimming the short distance across the pool unassisted.
This summer he's officially signed up and raising money to support cancer treatment at Nantucket Cottage Hospital. Yes, he's raising money for the same department of the hospital where his mom, Ugne, now works as a Nurse Practitioner- it's beautiful, crazy, small world. GO MOM! GO VYTAS!
The Harvard Medical School narrowed this list down for us to the 5 best exercises. These exercises will help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, lower your risk for disease and even ward off memory loss.
Swimming. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. Research finds that swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood.
Tai Chi. Tai chi — a Chinese martial art that incorporates movement and relaxation — is good for both body and mind. In fact, it’s been called “meditation in motion.” Tai chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next.
Strength training. “If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time,” Dr. Lee says. Muscle also helps burn calories. “The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s easier to maintain your weight,” says Dr. Lee. Strength training might also help preserve your ability to remember. Before starting a weight training program, be sure to learn the proper form.
Walking. Walking is simple yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease for example). A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can improve memory and resist age-related memory loss.
Kegel exercises. These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence. While many women are familiar with Kegels, these exercises can benefit men too.
More than 30 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis (OA) and more often than not conventional treatments don’t completely alleviate the pain and discomfort. Massage therapy is one of the alternative treatments that can help with arthritis. A recent study issued by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that weekly, 60 minute massage sessions by a licensed massage therapist can ease the pain and stiffness that arthritis brings on.
While massage therapy has been proven to be a safe and effective alternative treatment for arthritis, there are a few things that you should avoid due to a lack of proven results. First, chiropractic manipulation, or realigning the spine, has shown no evidence of easing the pain of arthritis. Second, dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin have shown no more results on helping with arthritis pain than a placebo. However, there have been some recognizable results in rheumatoid arthritis pain when taking a high dose of fish oil, but the effectiveness on helping with osteoarthritis pain remains unclear. Homeopathic treatment options are also known as a possible source of pain relief for arthritis sufferers, but the effectiveness isn’t proven.
Generally speaking, weight loss and exercise are possible options to consider for arthritis relief. Excess weight puts added pressure on ankles, hips, and knees, which can increase arthritis severity and pain. If you don’t exercise daily you should consider incorporating activities that strengthen your muscles, improve your range of motion, and boost your cardiovascular activity. In addition to tai chi and yoga, consider a regular walking or swimming program.
Source: “Alternative Treatments for Arthritis: What to Try and What to Skip”, Consumer Reports, written by Catherine Roberts, January 3, 2017
We all have bad habits that we’d like to break and eliminate from our life, whether it be related to your nutrition, your training, or just your overall health. But do you know the fundamentals of creating new, positive habits so that you can replace your bad ones?
No matter what type of habit you are forming, it tends to follow a 3 step pattern - let’s think of this as the 3 R’s: Reminder, Routine, Reward. According to Margaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital "It is normal and natural for men to feel like relaxing and letting go of the self-monitoring discipline of healthy habits, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet. But feeling good and energetic requires a daily investment in self-improvement, which begins with letting go of unhealthy habits and engaging in healthy ones."
Moore also says that the importance of your new goal and the confidence you feel for achieving this goal will be critical to your success! Let’s face it - if you aren’t motivated then this new habit isn’t going to be a focus in your life. Here’s how the three R’s factor into you successfully creating a new, positive habit:
Reminder: Ask yourself, “What is the trigger that initiates the bad habit?”
Routine: Ask yourself, “What is the bad habit that I want to change?”
Reward: Ask yourself, “What is the benefit from the habit?”
Keep in mind, each of these R’s are linked to the other, which is what forms the vicious cycle of a bad habit. To begin to change or eliminate this bad habit, identify what triggers the habit. Is it stress? Is it location? Identifying the triggers will allow you to motivate yourself to form a more positive habit and make a plan of action! Don’t forget to reward yourself when you stick to your plan of action, either, that is definitely a key component of your success!
Source: “Trade Bad Habits for Good Ones”, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
The goal of static stretching is to regain or increase your flexibility. Remember, the key is to hold these stretches for 10-30 seconds and not bounce as you complete them.
Here are 6 static stretches you should consider including in your exercise and training routine:
Seated shoulder stretch
Primarily stretches the shoulder and should be repeated 2-4 times.
Start by sitting up straight on a chair, put your left hand on your right shoulder, and cup your left elbow with your right hand.
Then, roll your shoulders down and back and gently pull your left elbow across your chest as you extend your left arm. Hold. Return to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side. This is one rep.
Primarily stretches the back and should be repeated 2-4 times.
Start by sitting up straight on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, and your arms at your sides.
Then, slowly rotate your head and torso to the right side, placing your left hand on the outside of your right knee and your right hand next to your right hip. Hold. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat to the opposite side. This is one rep.
Standing hamstring stretch
Primarily stretches the back of the thigh and should be repeated 2-4 times.
Start by standing up straight with your arms at your sides.
Then, extend your right leg straight in front of you, with your heel grounded on the floor and toes pointing to the ceiling. Place your hands on your upper thighs for support and hinge forward from the hip, keeping your spine neutral. Hold. Return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
Floor hip flexor stretch
Primarily stretches the front of the hip and should be repeated 2-4 times.
Start by laying on your back with your legs extended on the floor.
Then, relax your shoulders against the floor. Bend your right knee. Rest your hands on the back of your thigh and pull your knee toward your chest. Flex your left foot and press the thigh and calf of that leg down toward the floor as you do so. Feel the stretch in the front of your left hip and top of your thigh. Hold. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. This is one rep.
Double-knee torso rotation
Primarily stretches the back, chest, hip, and outer thigh and should be repeated 2-4 times.
Start by laying on your back with your knees bent and feet together, flat on the floor. Your arms should be out comfortably to each side at shoulder level.
Then, tighten your abdominal muscles and lift both knees toward your chest, then lower them to the right side on the floor. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and pressed into the floor, look in the opposite direction. Feel the stretch across your chest and torso. Hold. Bring both knees back to center and return your left foot, then your right foot, to the floor. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Stretches the entire body and should be repeated 2-4 times.
Start by positioning yourself on all fours, hands shoulder-width apart, legs hip-width apart, and fingers extended.
Then, exhale as you lift your knees off the floor, straightening your legs without locking the knees until you are in an upside-down V. While maintaining a neutral neck and spine, align your ears with your biceps. Try to keep your weight evenly distributed between your hands and feet. Press your heels down toward the floor while keeping your shoulders down and rolled back. Hold. Return to the starting position.
Source: “Stretching: The New Mobility Protection”, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School
Flexibility is the secret sauce that enables us to move safely and easily, and the way to stay limber is to stretch. "People don't always realize how important stretching is to avoiding injury and disability," says Elissa Huber-Anderson, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
When you stretch a muscle, you extend the tissue to its full length. If you hold that tension long enough, the muscle will be longer once it relaxes again. The more often you stretch your muscles, the longer and more flexible they'll become. Here’s what you can expect as a result of regular stretching:
increased range of motion
reduced risk for muscle and joint injury
reduced joint and back pain
improved balance, thus reducing your risk of falling
Remember, it's crucial to warm up your muscles before you stretch them. That means getting blood and oxygen to the tissue to make it more pliable and amenable to change. If you don't warm up, a stretch can damage the muscle fibers.
One way to warm up is dynamic stretching. "This is when you move a joint through its available range of motion repeatedly, without holding a position," says Huber-Anderson. Types of dynamic stretching include rolling your shoulders, lifting your knees, and sweeping your arms out to the sides and up to the ceiling repeatedly. Two to five minutes of dynamic stretching is a good recommendation.
Do you still have questions about stretching and what would work best for you?
Source: “Stretching: The New Mobility Protection”, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical Schoo
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause pain and stiffness that makes moving the last thing you want to do. Staying active is essential, not only is it beneficial for your general health — it's also a way to strengthen your joints, improve your range of motion, and give you the opportunity to take part in the activities you enjoy.
Massage Therapy is a proven method for reducing the joint pain associated with RA
For people with RA, it's best to take a cautious and strategic approach when starting an exercise program. An individualized program — ideally developed with the help of a physical therapist — can help you protect vulnerable joints while strengthening surrounding muscles. A well-rounded exercise program should include each of these elements:
Aerobic conditioning: While you want something that will increase your heart rate and breathing rate, you should consider low-impact exercises such as swimming, bicycle riding, and walking.
Resistance training: Isometric exercises — exercises that involve muscle contractions with no movement, such as clasping your hands and pressing your arms together — can be a great way to start resistance training. When your pain is under control, feel free to include free weights or weight machines.
Stretching and flexibility exercises: Activities that lengthen and strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints, such as stretching exercises, tai chi, and yoga, especially important for people with RA.
Balance exercise: Because people with RA have more trouble with gait and balance a physical therapist can recommend individualized balance-training exercises. These may include practicing standing on one leg or exercises to strengthen core muscles.
Source: “Exercise can ease rheumatoid arthritis pain”, Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, December 201
According to the Harvard Health experts, the key to launching your workout is to get motivated and set goals.
Motivation takes many forms, find what works for you. Are you looking to try a new activity, train for a triathlon or tune your running stride? Maybe you are just looking to feel more fit and improve health. Whatever your motivation may be, decide your goals and set realistic steps to achieve that goal. Find some support along the way in the form of a coach, trainer or friends!
Setting these goals will turn your hopes into reality!
Each year I run a couple half marathons and olympic triathlons, my secret to staying injury free is getting Massage Therapy and Bodywork from experienced partitioners. As my own running techniques has improved over the years, my knee pain or ITBand pain disappears.
Much of the time one of the hamstrings is tighter than the other and the gait of the leg is causing excess strain on the knee joint or there is a pain referral pattern happening. In either case your Massage Therapist should be able to get you some improvement in one session to three sessions. If not then, then I'm happy to help.
I work in conjunction with running coaches to get people back to running as quickly as possible. My coach takes a simple video with his phone and points out the parts of my stride that clunky to encourages me to make them smooth and graceful.
Are stiff joints restricting your mobility to participate in the daily activities and sports that you most enjoy?
Regular Orthopedic Sports Massage offers the following benefits:
- Increased circulation
- Release of endorphins, the body's natural painkiller
- Improved range of motion
- Relaxation of injured and overused muscles
- Increased joint flexibility
Enhance Your Performance in Life, Work & Sports
Orthopedic sports massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach to wellness based on the body's natural ability to heal itself.
Looking to improve performance or gain mobility in sports and everyday activities?
Before and after an initial massage therapy session, our experienced staff performs a Functional Movement Screening (FMS), which provides accurate information to consistently offer a high level of care. As the owner of the movements, YOU can enjoy performing at a higher level in YOUR activity of choice.
What is the FMS?
The FMS is a powerful tool that identifies the weak link in a movement pattern.
This process allows our massage therapists to see symmetry and balance of movements as opposed to static postures or individual muscles. This process will give individuals or athletes greater movement efficiency, which leads to improved performance and decreased risk of injury.
How does it work?
The FMS takes about ten minutes to complete seven movements, three times each. These seven movements are scored from 0-3 based on symmetry, balance, and range of movement. Each movement demonstrates a specific joint's ability to maintain either stability or mobility. In some cases one hip will be asked to remain stable while the opposite hip flexes. A low score indicates a lack of symmetry and balance in movement and an increased risk of injury from general exercise. A higher score indicates healthy core strength and efficient muscle firing sequences in movement.
What are you waiting for?
Standard 60min Massage: Boston ($140.00):
Deluxe 90min Massage: Boston ($200.00):
Are you experiencing IT Band Pain? Looking for some relief so that you can get back to running?
IllioTibial Band Syndrome is caused by friction between the Iliotibial (IT) band and the knee bone. This tension results in pain around the knee cap and is usually the result of increasing the distance of the runs or poor running form.
Authentic Body Therapy offers customized treatment to effectively loosen the tension of the IT Band and allow the knee to move unimpeded.
At home, a foam roller can be an effective tool both before and after a run (remember to roll out the inner thigh too). On the road, make sure your feet are landing under your hips (not too wide).
If you find you are having knee pain set up an appointment earlier rather than later to avoid excess injury.
Standard 60min Massage: Boston ($140.00):
Deluxe 90min Massage: Boston ($200.00):
According to the Harvard Medical School, exercise:
- Preserves muscle strength
- Keeps your heart strong
- Helps you maintain a healthy body weight
- Staves off chronic diseases such as diabetes
- Boosts your thinking skills
“Exercise boosts your memory and thinking skills both directly and indirectly, acting directly on the body stimulating physiological changes such as reductions in insulin resistance and inflammation, along with encouraging production of growth factors — chemicals that affect the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance, survival, and overall health of new brain cells," says Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.
Studies suggest parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise. Exercise can also boost memory and thinking indirectly by improving mood and sleep, and by reducing stress and anxiety.
Establish exercise as a habit, and be patient to start reaping the benefits. Studies have shown that it takes about six months to notice the cognitive benefits of exercise.
Aim for a goal of exercising at a moderate intensity — such as brisk walking — for 150 minutes per week. Start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount by five or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal.
Posture can sometimes be the last thing on our mind as we go through our daily motions. Most of the time, upper or lower back pain develops during the course of day-to-day life. Repetitive activities at work or home, such as sitting at a computer or lifting and carrying, may produce tension and muscle tightness that result in a backache.
Orthopedic Sports massage is a great way to resolve neck and back pain, whether caused by posture, sport-relation injury or medical condition.
According to the Harvard Medical School, one simple strategy that goes a long way is paying attention to your posture.
What are the basics of posture?
Posture is the way you hold your body while standing, sitting, or performing tasks like lifting, bending, pulling, or reaching. If your posture is good, the bones of the spine — the vertebrae — are correctly aligned
4 steps toward good posture
You can improve your posture — and head off back pain — by practicing some imagery and a few easy exercises.
- Imagery. Think of a straight line passing through your body from ceiling to floor (your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be even and line up vertically). Now imagine that a strong cord attached to the top of your head is pulling you upward, making you taller. Try to hold your pelvis level — don't allow the lower back to sway — and resist the urge to stand on tiptoe. Instead, think of stretching your head toward the ceiling, increasing the space between your rib cage and pelvis. Picture yourself as a ballerina or ice skater rather than a soldier at attention.
- Shoulder blade squeeze. Sit up straight in a chair with your hands resting on your thighs. Keep your shoulders down and your chin level. Slowly draw your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for a count of five; relax. Repeat three or four times.
- Upper-body stretch. Stand facing a corner with your arms raised, hands flat against the walls, elbows at shoulder height. Place one foot ahead of the other. Bending your forward knee, exhale as you lean your body toward the corner. Keep your back straight and your chest and head up. You should feel a nice stretch across your chest. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Relax.
- Arm-across-chest stretch. Raise your right arm to shoulder level in front of you and bend the arm at the elbow, keeping the forearm parallel to the floor. Grasp the right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it across your chest so that you feel a stretch in the upper arm and shoulder on the right side. Hold for 20 seconds; relax both arms. Repeat to the other side. Repeat three times on each side.
Practice these imagery and posture exercises throughout the day. You might try to find a good trigger to help you remember, such as doing one or more of them when you get up from your desk, or right before scheduled breaks and lunch. Soon it will become a habit.
Your hands perform countless tasks every day — from pouring coffee, brushing teeth, and buttoning shirts to raking leaves or computer work.
There are many ways — including medications and surgery — to get hands back to work. One of the most important ways is through therapeutic exercises.
The following exercises help increase a joint's range of motion, while strengthening muscles around the joint. If you have a serious hand, wrist, or arm injury, consult your doctor before leaping into the routines below. All exercises should be done slowly and deliberately, to avoid pain and injury. If you feel numbness or pain during or after exercising, stop and consult a therapist.
Stretching helps lengthen muscles and tendons. Some repetitive tasks, such as typing on a computer or gripping gardening tools, can shorten muscles and leave them tight and painful. Do these stretches gently, until you feel the stretch, but without pain. Hold the positions for a count of 15 to 30 seconds to get the most benefit. These exercises are particularly helpful for tendinitis and tight forearm muscles, which are common in people who do a lot of computer work.
For each of these exercises, do a set of four repetitions, twice a day. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds between each repetition.
Wrist extensor stretches
- Hold one hand at chest level with the elbow bent.
- With the other hand, grasp the thumb side of the hand and bend your wrist downward.
- To increase the stretch, bend your wrist toward your little finger.
- Repeat the same exercise with a straight arm.
- Switch hands and repeat.
Wrist flexor stretches
- Hold one hand at chest level with the elbow bent.
- Grasp the fingers of that hand with the other.
- Pull the hand back gently.
- Repeat the same exercise with a straight arm.
- Switch hands and repeat.
These exercises work muscles against resistance. Hold each position for 10 seconds. Complete one set of 10 repetitions once or twice a day.
Isometric wrist extension
- Hold one hand palm down on a table or other surface. Put your other hand on top of it.
- Try to raise the lower hand, but don't allow it to move.
- Switch hands and repeat.
Isometric wrist flexion
Follow the same steps as above, but with your palm facing up.
Source: Harvard Medical School, http://www.health.harvard.edu.
Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits.
Men and women of all ages benefit from a moderate amount of daily physical activity. The same moderate amount of activity can be obtained in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as 30 minutes of brisk walking) as in shorter sessions of more strenuous activities (such as 15-20 minutes of jogging).
Additional health benefits can be gained through greater amounts of physical activity. Adults who maintain a regular routine of physical activity that is of longer duration or of greater intensity are likely to derive greater benefit. However, because risk of injury also increases with greater amounts of activity, care should be taken to avoid excessive amounts.
Previously sedentary people who begin physical activity programs should start with short sessions (5-10 minutes) of physical activity and gradually build up to the desired level of activity.
Adults with chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, or who are at high risk for these conditions should first consult a physician before beginning a new program of physical activity. Men over age 40 and women over age 50 who plan to begin a new program of vigorous activity should consult a physician to be sure they do not have heart disease or other health problems.