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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently I was looking for a new yoga class. I visited a local yoga place, hoping to get a gentle, basic hatha yoga class. The class was okay, but the teacher spent more time talking than she did having us relax and rest in the poses. Which was not actually relaxing.  So I went online and found a really great basic class on Amazon! After an hour going through the poses on a yoga mat in front of my very own television, I decided the video was worth sharing, for those of you that want to do yoga on your own in the comfort and warmth of your own home. many yoga classes are great in person, but I was happy to find this video for days that it is to cold to leave the house, or when you want a yoga class but your favorite teacher is not teaching that night!

 

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Yoga For Beginners: Poses for Strength, Flexibility and Relaxation is a basic yoga  class taught by Kanta Barrios, a Spanish yoga teacher. The class is taught by the ocean on a wooden pier. Barrios teaches in English, and when she has you hold each pose or she transitions between poses, the video shifts to pictures and sounds of ocean waves. Very relaxing and calming! One thing I like about this video is that she does not have you hold the poses for very long, so it is easier for those new to yoga to participate. Barrios only speaks about the poses and relaxation, she does not intersperse her class with ideas about her view of the world. It’s just pure yoga and it is very calming!

Barrios has other yoga videos on Amazon and once you master the first Beginning yoga class, you may want to check out her Yoga for Beginners: From Basics to Expansion class. Both classes are free with Amazon Prime, but are available on DVD from her website as well here.

Kanta Barrios, yoga teacher

Kanta Barrios, yoga teacher

More about Kanta Barrios from her website here. According to her website, she currently teaches at two studios in Dublin, Ireland. if that’s too far for you to trek to check her out, try her online or DVD classes!

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By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Chicago has had a very wet Spring, like much of the U.S. Hiking in boggy muddy land is not as easy as hiking on dry land. Sitting inside and waiting for Summer to arrive can be frustrating. While we are waiting for Summer to warm up, it is a good time to start planning some hikes and getting yourself ready for warmer weather. Or venture out and brave the elements now!

Waterfal Glen

Waterfall Glen

Backpacker magazine recently posted lists of great local hikes in major cities around the U.S. They have a few good suggestions for Chicagoans in an article entitled Chicago’s Best Local Hikes.

Keep in mind that some of the best trails in the Chicago area at and near Waterfall Glen are lined with limestone (gravel), not dirt. So although they may be wet, the trails there won’t be as muddy! The trails also make mountain biking a bit more adventurous (versus biking a paved trail like at Tinley Park.)

If you want to brave muddy trails between Spring showers, Outdorky has some great tips for hiking in mud here. And SunValleymag.com has some additional tips of Spring hikes in muddy terrain Sun Valley Mud hike tips.

What are your favorite trails to hike this Spring? Share your thoughts in our comments section

 

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By Susan Shekut, MA, Clinical Professional Psychology, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Corporate clients ask us how to help their employees incorporate more movement at work. It’s a tricky issue as most office work is done on a computer which requires the user to sit or stand in front of it for hours. Doing any repetitive movement for hours can lead to pain and muscle soreness. The key is to move frequently in different positions. Simply standing up periodically, stretching, going to the restroom or walking around the office lets your muscles take a break from the repetitive movements and stiffness of prolonged sitting.

Photo by Steelcase

Photo by Steelcase

Desks that allow employees to alternate between sitting and standing are helpful. Steelcase has a few options as well as many other vendors.

Here are some other tips on adding more movement into your work day.  Woman’s Health has this article, Easy Ways to Move More At Work.

For the science-minded, here is a promising pilot study from The Journal of Environmental and Public Health about helping employees remember to move more at work. A Pilot Study of Increasing Nonpurposeful Movement Breaks at Work as a Means of Reducing Prolonged Sitting. The study shows that passive prompts tend to be most encouraging to help people remember to move frequently throughout the day. The passive prompts were computer based  timed prompt that reminded staff s get up and perform some kind of “nonpurposeful movement.”  In the study, the software program used gave staff   a choice of 60 office-appropriate activities (i.e., walking, taking the stairs, and retrieving the photocopies). to complete. Employees were able to select the active, and choose the duration and intensity of each activity or nonpurposeful movement.    To read the full study, click here.

Even the government has gotten on the movement bandwagon and created a program to help federal employees move more at work. Click here for info about the Veteran’s Health Administrations Success With Increasing Movement at Work.

If all else falls, employers can provide push scooters for their staff. If the halls are long enough, people can push their way around the office! Roller skates and Roller blades in the office may be going too far though. Unless your office is the Fantasy Factory  at Dyrdek Enterprises.

 

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By Susan Shekut, MA, Clinical Professional Psychology, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Happy New Year to Working Well Resource readers!

New Year's Eve at Navy Pier Chicago. Photo from Time Out Chicago.

New Year’s Eve at Navy Pier Chicago. Photo from Time Out Chicago.

We hope you enjoyed our blog this past year and we look forward to sharing more with you in 2015. New Year’s Eve is a time many celebrate and yearn for fun and excitement. This December 31, 2014, fellow Chicagoans, please make sure you are warmly dressed, have safe ride home if you go out and enjoy yourself without over indulging. We want to hear more from you in 2015!

Check out these blog posts for the latest in wellness trends for 2015:

Top health industry issues of 2015 (Do it yourself health care, Privacy versus convenience, expanding scope of practice and more!)

6 Fitness Trends for 2015 That Have the Experts Buzzing (Wearable monitors, streaming workouts, trendmill classes the new Soulcycle? and more)

Wellness Travel Trends for 2015 (eco-conscious travel adventures, fitness tracking on vaca, actual gazing versus photo blazing, airports with indoor green space

15 Top Diet Trends for 2015  (sprinkle superfoods, less beef, more green tea, good fats, and less complacent consumers!)

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By Susan Shekut, MA, Clinical Professional Psychology, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Mercy Home Mentoring

Walking, dancing and playing all all great forms of exercise. Photo from Mercy Home Training.

In the article, “Exercise reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress,” we learn that Princeton researchers found that exercise “reorganized the brain” to make  anxiety less likely to interfere with normal brain activity and to reduce the stress response.  How did they find this out? They tested the effects of exercise and stress on mice. Mice who had regular exercise experienced less anxiety when exposed to stress (cold water) than mice who were sedentary.

What does this mean for us humans? First off, I know mice are not human, but they are mammals like us, and researchers often use mice to investigate potential impacts of  different experiences on humans. Secondly, anxiety is a huge problem in our modern world. If exercise can help us better handle stress (and, hint, hint, Winter has a lot of cold weather, which can add to our stress levels!) and help us be less anxious when exposed to stress, it is yet another reason to make regular exercise part of your daily life.

Keep in mind that exercise does not have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights for 3 hours. (Although that is fine too if that’s what floats your boat and you have time and energy to do so!) Expecting yourself to do more than you can do can create anxiety, so don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting yourself to become a gym rat to be healthy. Exercise can be going for a walk, doing yoga or lifting dumbbells in front of your television. The point is to sit less and move more to improve your ability to manage stress in your life!

Now, I’m going to get off my computer and get some exercise!

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By Susan Shekut, MA, Clinical Professional Psychology, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

For the record, sports massage should not be painful. Let me say it again. Sports massage should not be painful. Especially not excruciatingly so!

Sports Massage of lower legs muscles post race

Sports Massage of lower legs muscles post-race.

Journalists tend to write about massage as though it were an endurance sport, rather than a therapeutic tool. Which is unfortunate, because while articles like “The Sheer Hell of a Sports Massage,”   are humorous, they also provide a great deal of misinformation and may cause people to fear massage. The article author,  Andrew Griffiths, writes that he found sports massage to be a hellish pain to be endured. He also provides a fair amount of inaccurate information about sports massage removing “toxins,” and “realigning the muscle tissue and connective tissue  fibres” and describes being misdiagnosed (inaccurately, yet unknowingly) by his sports massage therapist as having plantar fascilitis.  Sadly, this author’s understanding of sports massage was not enhanced by his experience with Vaska, his “sports” massage therapist.

Hopefully, however, the author, Mr. Griffiths, and readers, will pay more attention to the comment on the article made by a fellow science-based massage therapist, Jason Erickson.

Mr Erickson, massage therapist, personal trainer, former competitive athlete, therapist educator, and sports therapist for elite athletes clearly, concisely refutes most of Mr. Griffith’s points and explains that sports massage should not be painful.

As Mr. Erickson’s comment is so articulately written, yet it is buried under ads and other links to articles on The Telegraph, I am reposting the main points of his comment with credits to Jason Erickson. In his comment, Mr Erickson notes:

When working with athletes (and those aspiring to become athletes), a competent sports therapist focuses on restoring/improving function as quickly as possible with minimal risk of causing tissue damage, nor of reinforcing neurological protective responses to innocuous sensory input. As a protective output of the brain in response to perceived threat, pain is something that competent sports therapists should seek to avoid triggering in their clients. There are many, many ways to achieve positive results without pain being a component of the treatment experience, and in my experience pain usually indicates that I need to adjust what I am doing to minimize/prevent it.

In this article, Mr. Griffiths also stated, “Sports massage works deep in the muscles, realigning the muscle fibres and connective tissue, and flushing away the toxins. Regular sessions will increase joint mobility and flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury during exercise.”

Not one part of this statement is correct. Thirty years ago, these are things that were believed, but science has advanced considerably since then. I don’t know where the author encountered these claims, but I question the veracity of his source(s).

It would have been more accurate to restate that paragraph thus: “Sports massage works with all of the body’s tissues, from superficial to deep, often via neurophysiological mechanisms. Functional changes in the recruitment of muscular, vascular, and other systems may accompany reduced pain and improved performance. The nature and timing of sports massage sessions may vary considerably depending on the athlete’s training/competition schedule, and a good sports massage therapist will be prepared to educate the athlete accordingly.”

If you take the time to read the initial article, hopefully for the laugh factor, it is worth your time to scroll down to Mr Erickson’s comment and read a more realistic, (albeit less humorous) explanation of sports massage. If you are an athlete, or have any muscle related pains, you will be glad you educated yourself about sports massage so that you can find a sports massage therapists like Jason Erickson, not like Vaska, to save you from painful, potentially damaging,  sports massage!

And how do you find a knowledgeable, science-based massage therapist like Jason Erickson, versus a novice with a poor understanding of human anatomy, massage therapy and the nervous system like Vaska?

First off, when you call a massage therapist to book an appointment, ask him or her questions about training, their experience with athletes and how they view pain in massage. If the massage therapist tells you something like, “no pain no gain,” hang up the phone (after saying goodbye politely) and call another massage therapist!

If the massage therapist tells you that he or she will work to help relax your nervous system while they work and aim to reduce your pain, not increase it, then you have a good chance of receiving an excellent sports massage!

Readers, what is your experience with sports massage?

 

Jason Erickson

Jason Erickson, NCTMB, CPT, CES, BBA, BA, AA

More About Jason Erickson

… from his company website, Keep in Touch Massage Eagan, MN
Jason Erickson, NCTMB, CPT, CES, BBA, BA, AA

Originally from Rochester, Jason studied Pre-Law, Marketing and Economics for his undergraduate degrees by day while practicing martial arts and vocal performance by night. He pursued a corporate career until he discovered the benefits of therapeutic massage and corrective exercise while rehabilitating from some injuries. Inspired, Jason became a certified personal trainer (CPT), then entered massage school and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern Health Sciences University.

Jason loves continuing education and may be found teaching classes when he isn’t attending one! He holds National Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB), certification in Bodywork for the Childbearing Years® (pregnancy massage), Myofascial/Fascial Release, American Council on Exercise Personal Training (ACE-CPT), and is a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He has also studied orthopedic massage, sports massage, positional release technique, dermoneuromodulation, structural integration, assessment and treatment of headaches and neck problems, foot/ankle/knee injuries, massage for cancer patients, etcetera. Jason is also an advanced practitioner of Active Isolated Stretching, a powerful method of increasing pain-free range-of-motion, strength, balance, and neuromuscular integration and function.

 

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By Susan Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Many years ago, I started practicing yoga. Back then, doing yoga at work was seen as “odd” or unusual. Now yoga is so mainstream that apparently working at Huffington Post allows young office workers to balance work and yoga by performing asanas at work. Click this link for a true yoga at work photo series entitled,  “These Photos Prove You Really Can Do Yoga Anywhere.” Check it out!

I am a big believer that seeing is more effective than telling when it comes to body movement. HuffPo, seems to agree. Watch the video, “5 Yoga Poses To Get You Through Your Midday Slump At Work,” to learn how to do some yoga poses at work. The HuffPo Desk Yogi demonstrates Seated Cat Cow, Seated Twist in your chair (Which requires no chair arms or this won’t go well), Mountain Pose (Side stretch), a forward bend with flat back at your desk (L pose), and a standing forward fold (Forward bend). Personally I could do with out the shots of the desk and twigs and flowers in this video, but it is  a quick look at easy poses most anyone can do to improve flexibility and release tension.

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