Thursday, July 9, 2015

6 Tips For A Better Massage Expereience

Receiving massage can be one of the most beneficial components of a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. As
a practicing therapist who has seen both seasoned recipients and newcomers to massage, there are
always simple things that can be done to make your appointment go by more smoothly and engage you
to receive the best massage possible. Here’s a list of the most common I come across with clients.

1) Please Be Punctual.  Our time spent with you is only minutes out of both our busy schedules,
compared to the rest of the week. As a profession that can sometimes run on a tight schedule,
clients who make the effort to be on time are always appreciated.  If for any reason you may be
running a few minutes behind, or want to make sure your therapist is running on time, a call
ahead only takes a couple minutes and can make the transition in and out of the appointment

2) Please Be Honest. Most massage therapist will have you fill out an intake form or some sort,
especially if it’s your appointment being treated by them. It is critical to be as honest as possible
when listing things such as recent surgeries, or any medications you are currently taking.  It
helps give us a better understanding or your overall health and leads us to give a better massage
more tailored to your specific needs.

3) Please Make Yourself Comfortable. At the beginning of every appointment the massage
therapist will leave you to disrobe and make yourself comfortable on the table. What you wear
during the appointment id based on YOUR COMFORT LEVEL. We are trained professionals and
work with the draping policy, i.e. the only part of your body that will be uncovered is that which
we are currently working on. While it is true that undressing completely allows us to drape you
more easier and allows more access to pressure points and skin, if you are not entirely
comfortable doing this, it is okay to say you are not comfortable doing so.

4) Please Speak Up.  I cannot stress this point enough. While we are trained to tune into your
needs during the massage and read body language, we are not mind readers. During an
appointment I will check in with my client more than once just to ensure we are both on the
same page with the pressure I am using and overall comfort level. If you start to feel that at the
pressure may be too much or want the pressure increased, please say so. We want to ensure
that you are comfortable with everything we are doing during your appointment.

5) Please Know Bodily Functions Happen. Things like passing gas or stomach growling are
common during a massage. In fact, these are signs to us that the effects of the massage are
taking place. It is nothing to be embarrassed about.

6) Please Know This Is Your Massage. I believe this to be the most important. This is your time that
you are taking for yourself. Whether it be to recover from an accident or sports injury or just to
find a peace of mind every few weeks awake from your hectic work schedule, this appointment
is for you. If at any point you have questions about what treatment we are using to address your
needs, or have any thoughts in regards to things you liked about the massage and would like
more of, please let us know.  We like knowing you have walked away satisfied with your time
spent with us.  Your appointment with me is about meeting your needs, and any feedback that
can be given is always appreciated. I always encourage clients to tell me if there is anything they
would like to change from either their previous session with me, or to tell me about any past
experiences that were not favorable. This is for our benefit as well as your own.

Written  by Caitlin Duval, LMT

Thursday, June 11, 2015

7 Tips On How To Fight Stress And Fatigue

In today's Information Age, people are living busier lives than ever, which is leading to more mental and physical stress.  All of our advances in technology should make life easier, but it seems to have the opposite effect.  We now have more distractions and demands on our time than ever before.  Millions of Americans suffer from chronic fatigue every year.  Chronic fatigue is a serious condition that can have devastating effects on the body if left untreated.  The good news is that there are simple steps that you can take to manage your stress and prevent chronic fatigue. 

What is stress?

Stress is neither good nor bad, but is an internal or external force on the body that results in a physiological response.  Stress can be mental, physical, or emotional.  Some examples are working too many hours, not enough rest, poor eating habits, relationship problems, or even trying to escape from a burning building.  The type of stress is not as important as how your body responds to stress and how you manage it.  

How Stress Effects the Body

The human body is amazing at adapting to stressful situations.  Our ability to make physiological changes to adapt to stress is what helps us survive life threatening situations.  You may be familiar with the term "fight or flight".  This is what happens when you are faced with a life or death situation.  Your body will make changes to either fight for your life, or to run as fast as you can. Your breathing increases to take in more oxygen.  The heart begins to beat faster, directing blood to the muscles.  Your senses are heightened.  All of these bodily functions are controlled by the adrenal glands that secrete over 50 different hormones to make the necessary changes for survival. The adrenal glands are small organs that sit on top of the kidneys.  Under short term situations the adrenal glands do a great job of managing the body's response to stress.  However, they do not fare so well at managing chronic stress.  Many people who suffer from chronic stress experience the effects of hormone imbalance caused by adrenal fatigue.

Signs of Adrenal Fatigue
  1. You feel tired for no reason.
  2. You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  3. Afternoon "crash". Require caffeinate drinks to wake up.
  4. You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.
  5. You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
  6. You have difficulty recovering from stress or illness.
  7. You crave salty and sweet snacks.
  8. Mild depression
  9. Muscular weakness
  10. Increased allergies
  11. Lightheadedness when standing up
  12. Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
  13. Decreased sex drive

Treating Adrenal Fatigue

If you are suffering from some or all of these symptoms, then you are not alone.  Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue.  The sad part is that most people think it is normal to always be tired.  It's not normal and there is something that you can do about it.

  1. Healthy diet
    • Nothing will put more stress on your body like a diet full of junk food.  Cut out the sugars and processed foods from your diet and not only will you lose weight, but you will start to have more energy.
  2. Supplements
    • Even if you have a healthy diet, you still may not be getting all of the nutrients that you need for a healthy adrenal gland. A good adrenal support supplement can help to promote a healthy adrenal gland and to eliminate the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. 
  3. Regular exercise
    • Although exercise is technically stress on the body, it is a good form of stress that can help your body erase negative stress.  Regular exercise has numerous positive side effects on your overall health and well-being.  
  4. Plenty of Sleep
    • Your body does most of its repairs and maintenance when you are in a deep sleep.  If you are feeling tired and run down all the time start practicing good sleep habits.  There are many experts out there that will tell you that you need anywhere from 6 to 10 hours of sleep per night.  The truth is that everyone's body is different.  Some people can function off of 6 hours of sleep, where as others may need 8 or 9.  You have to find what makes you feel the most rested.  
  5. Practice Deep Breathing 
    • Deep breathing and meditation have been proven to lower your blood pressure and improve mental clarity.  If you are feeling stressed out, take 5 minutes to close your eyes, take deep breaths, and focus on positive thoughts.  You will be amazed at the renewed energy that you feel afterwards.
  6. Express Your Feelings
    • The first step in managing stress is to be able to identify what is causing your stress.  Try writing in a journal to help you figure out certain times of day or events that induce stress.  Once you have done this, then you can start to prevent those events from happening.  If you're not one for writing, then try talking to someone that you trust.  The act of verbalizing your frustrations can be very stress relieving in itself. 
  7. Make Time for Yourself
    • A lot of stress can come from the daily demands and expectations placed on you by others.  You may feel like you have a million things to do for everyone else.  Start to carve out time in your daily schedule to do something that you enjoy and helps you to relax.  It can be exercise, a hobby, reading, or even getting a relaxing massage.  

Start by following these seven steps and you will be on your way to having more energy.  If you feel like your condition may be more serious, then you may want to consult a physician who understands and can identify adrenal fatigue.  Just know that there are resources out there to help you get your life back.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Oh My Aching Back: 5 Tips For Back Health

By Brian C. Burnett, D.C., M.S.

It's February 2015, and you're one month into your New Year's goal of loosing weight and getting in shape.  You're motivated, focused and nothing is going to stop you from loosing that weight this time, except that aching pain in your low back.  You've been doing so good with your workouts, but this pain in your back is potentially going to derail your fitness goals.  Don't worry, you're not alone and there is something that you can do.

Here are some statistics on low back pain.

  • 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time.1
  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.2
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.3
  • Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.4

What Causes Low Back Pain?

The lumbar spine is very complex with many possible pain causing structures.  If you are suffering from low back pain, it is important for you to be evaluated by a health care professional, like a chiropractor, to find out the true cause of your pain.  Here are a few of the reasons your low back may be hurting.

  1. Soft tissue sprains/strains: There are a lot of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold the lumbar spine in place.  If you are carrying some extra weight in your midsection and have just started a new exercise program, it is very easy to injure these soft tissue structures because they have not adapted to the new physical demands that have been placed on them.  
  2. Facet Syndrome:  The facet joints are where two vertebrates come together.  When injured, these joints can be a source of a lot of pain.  One cause of facet joint pain is from tight muscles caused by inactivity or a lot of sitting.  When you sit for long periods of time the psoas muscle becomes tight and shortened.  This can cause hyperlordosis of the lumbar spine, which can lead to injured facet joints.
  3. Herniated Disc:  A herniated disc can be one of the most painful of low back injuries.  It can occur from trauma to the lumbar spine, like a car accident, but is more likely to occur in middle aged adults from simple activities like bending over to tie your shoes.  Your core is designed to protect your low back.  As we get older and fail to keep up with an exercise program, the core gets weaker and cannot do its job of protecting the low back.  
5 Tips to Low Back Health

  1. Movement, The Medicine for Life
    • Inactivity is one the biggest culprits in many of our modern health ailments, including low back pain.  Modern technology has given us so many advances to save time and be more productive, but it has also increased our level of inactivity.  Our muscles and joints are made to move, and as the old saying goes, "if you don't use it, you loose it."  Your joints can actually begin to degenerate from inactivity.  This is why I encourage my patients to engineer movement into their daily lives.  Park at the far end of the parking lot when you get to work so you will walk more.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  At the top of every hour take a 2-3 minute break to get up, walk around and do some simple stretches and exercises that I will teach you.  
  2. Listen To Your Mother And Sit Up
    • The human body is made to function within a certain biomechanical range.  When you have poor posture, the body does not function properly and external stress is placed on muscles and joints.  At first you won't notice the stress because your body does an amazing job of adapting to stress.  However, over time the stress will find a weak point, like your low back, and injuries will occur.  Practice good posture to prevent low back injuries.  Walk tall with your head up and your shoulders back.  When you sit in a chair at work, make sure you have good lumbar support and you are not slouching into the chair.  
  3. Exercise
    • For good low back health, you want to focus on strengthening the "core".  Most people think the core is just the abs, but it is also composed of the diaphragm, the pelvic floor, and the posterior chain.  The core is your center of gravity which serves to stabilize and protect your low back and surrounding structures.  By strengthening your core you can prevent injuries and have a healthy back.  Here are some simple exercises that you can do at home or in the gym to get started.
      • Back extensions: Lay face down on a yoga mat.  Press up with your hands and lock your elbows while keeping your hips on the floor.  In yoga this is called, "the cobra pose".  You should feel a good stretch in your low back.  If you have pain, just press up to where you feel pain and stop.  Hold the position at the top for 5-10 seconds and then come back down.  Back extensions are a great exercise to get movement into the low back.
      • Planks: Get in a push-up position while resting your weight on your elbows.  Hold this position for 20-30 seconds. This will provide a great isometric contraction of the abdominal muscles and help to strengthen the core.
      • Glut Bridges: Lay on your back and bend your knees.  Engage your core by tightening your abs and pelvic floor.  Squeeze your buttocks and lift up off the ground.  If this is to easy for you, try lifting one leg off the ground or planting your feet on a Bosu Ball.  This exercise is a great way to strengthen your posterior chain and protect your low back
  4. Weight loss
    • Studies have shown that a small amount of weight loss, like 10-15 lbs, can have significant improvement on low back pain.  It's no surprise that when you are carrying around a few extra pounds that that will place undue stress on the joints in your low back.  If you haven't already, start incorporating a healthy meal plan into your daily routine and you will double your weight loss results while decreasing your low back pain.
  5. Chiropractic
    • Chiropractors are doctors who treat the whole body, but specialize in neuromusculoskeletal condition, like low back pain.  As I mentioned earlier there can be many causes of low back pain, so it is important to see a specialist, like a chiropractor, who is trained to identify the cause of low back pain.  Chiropractors use many different techniques and methods that are safe and noninvasive to treat low back pain.  


1. Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.

2. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.

3. This total represents only the more readily identifiable costs for medical care, workers compensation payments and time lost from work. It does not include costs associated with lost personal income due to acquired physical limitation resulting from a back problem and lost employer productivity due to employee medical absence. In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville,

4. In Vallfors B, previously cited.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

7 Tips To A New You In The New Year

It's that time of year again, the time of year when most people become reflective on what they have done in the past year and what they would like to accomplish in the next year.  Some people, like myself, like to set goals for what they want to achieve in the New Year.  If you're not one of those people, I would strongly encourage you to give it a try this year.  I'm not talking about a silly New Year's resolution, I'm talking about setting real goals for your life.  A resolution is something that you wish would happen in the New Year, but you never really get serious about it.  On the other hand, a goal should be achievable, measurable, have clear-cut action steps and a time-line to get done.  

  1. Dream BIG, or go home!
    • I'm a firm believer that we are only limited by our imaginations.  Many people fail to reach their goals, let alone set goals, because they can't imagine their lives being any different then they have always been.  An interesting phenomenon about the human experience is that we usually get what we focus our thoughts on.  Don't underestimate the power of visualizing what you want for your life.  Most great athletes spend time visualizing their performances before they ever take the field.  Let me encourage you to take 5-10 minutes each morning to visualize and dream about what you want out of that day, week, month, and year.  If you do this everyday for the next month I guarantee that you will begin to see positive changes in your life.  And remember, aim for the stars and if you land on the moon, you've still done alright. 
  2. Have written goals and someone to keep you accountable!
    • Statistics show that people who have written goals are more likely to achieve a higher level of success.  Take it one step further and have an accountability partner, and nothing can stop you from achieving your goals.  After you have visualized and dreamed about what you want in life, put pen to paper and write down your goals.  Your goals should be broken into life time goals, long term goals, (5-10 years), short-term goals, (months and yearly), and daily goals.  Every morning you should review your long-term goals and set daily goals that are going to help you reach those long-term goals. Review your goals once or twice a day to keep your eye on the prize.  Share your goals and dreams with your spouse or a close friend so that they can keep you accountable.  Periodically have them check you on your progress, this will drastically improve your chances for success.  
  3. Family First
    • A lot of times in life we find ourselves climbing the ladder, but is your ladder leaning against the right wall?  When you're setting your goals for the year, focus on whats most important in your life and that should be your family.  If this was your last year to live, how would you want to be remembered by the ones close to you?  Make sure your family is a priority.  Set goals that are going to strengthen your relationships with your spouse and your children.  Make time each day to talk to your family and really be in the moment when you're together.  
  4. Get Fit
    • It's that time of year again, the time where you ask yourself how you put on so much weight and vow to loose it all.  This is the year, the year you loose the weight and get back in shape, or is it?  Will you go strong for a few weeks and then start sneaking the cookies and cake?  Just a few bites won't hurt, besides, you've been hitting the gym, you deserve a treat.  The reason why so many people fail at their weight loss goals is because they try to go from couch potato to marathon runner in January.  If your activity level has been that of a sloth this past year, than you can't expect to go to the gym once or twice and loose all the weight.  The easiest way to establish a new habit is to make it so simple that you can't fail.  Start off with something easy, like a 15 minute walk around the block.  Once you have that down, step it up.  Just like with all of your other goals, set up a long term, short term, and daily fitness goals.  And just remember, a goal should have a time-line, be measurable, and accountability partners improve results.  There are a lot of great smart phone apps that will help you tract your fitness goals.  You can even share with your friends on social media to help keep you accountable.
  5. You are what you eat
    •  The old saying is true, we really are what we eat.  Our bodies are complex machines that need high octane fuel.  If you're feeding your body junk, than your not going to get the results that you want.  Fortunately, we live in a time when many people are becoming aware of the benefits from eating healthier.  You can see it in the way the entire fast food industry is changing by having healthier menu options.  The American public is demanding healthier food with better ingredients and the marketplace is answering with new and healthier alternatives to yesterdays fast food culture.    If you want to eat healthier and loose weight in the new year, than let me encourage you to change your mindset.  Don't think of food as the enemy to avoid, so you starve yourself.  Rather, think about how you can better feed yourself with healthier options.  When you think about it, we are either fueling our bodies or feeding disease.  
  6. Money
    • Money is just like time, if you don't manage it, it will manage you.  Many people go through life waiting for that big promotion, not realizing that they are in control of their own financial destiny.  Just like with diet, exercise, and anything else in life that you want to achieve, you have to set goals and plan how you want to get there.  Statistics show that individuals with written goals for retirement save more and are more likely to achieve their goals.  It doesn't matter if it's a new car, college, or retirement, figure out how much you're going to need and start making a road map to how you're going to get there.  
  7. Health is the greatest Wealth
    • Health truly is the greatest wealth.  It has been said that we spend our time and health to obtain wealth just to turn around and spend our wealth to buy back health, which rarely works.  The key to living a successful and fulfilling life is to find balance in all the areas of our life.  This year make your health a priority.  Schedule that annual physical with your primary doctor.  Start engineering movement and exercise into your daily life.  Make the changes in your diet that are going to fuel the machine and keep your energy levels high throughout the day.  Take care of your body.  Go see the chiropractor to have your spine and nervous system examined.  Get regular massages.  Incorporate activities, like yoga, Thia Chi, or meditation that are going to help you destress.  You only get one body, so take care of it.  You only have one life to live, so live to the fullest and have no regrets.