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

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to try stand up paddleboarding. It was great fun and a wonderful workout! At the same time, it was difficult to stand up on the board. I looked to You Tube for help on the best way to get up and stay up on the board. I found this great video on how to get started from Stand Up Paddle Board TV.

I made a lot of mistakes and was happy to see this video from BluePlanetSurf about Common Beginner mistakes. Balance is difficult at first and BluePlanet Surf had this video with tips on how to balance when standing on the board. Verena Mei had great tips on this video of how to fall in and get back on the board. Best tip is fall in the water which is soft versus on the board which can hurt you!!

Stand Up paddleboarding really works your core and back muscles, not just your arms. The Active Times has this article on Why Stand Up Paddle Boarding is A Killer Workout.   Health Fitness Revolution explains the Top 10 Health Benefits of Stand Up Paddleboarding.  Benefits include reducing stress, enjoying being in nature and of course, strengthen your muscles, getting a great overall workout and having fun!

Advanced skills combining Yoga AND paddleboarding! Image from https://www.reviewgigant.com/sup-board-kopen-gids/

In Chicago, there are a few places to learn how to stand up paddleboard. First there is Chicago SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) with info on lessons here. For $65 you can learn how to paddleboard in 30 minutes then practice for an hour afterward with Chicago SUP boards.

Chicago Paddle Company also provides lessons but for $45 per hour. Their 1-hour lessons include

    • YOLO Board, paddle & leash
    • P.F.D. (personal flotation device)
    • On land paddle and water safety instruction
    • On water paddle instruction with a SUP safety certified instructor

You can also rent paddleboards from Chicago Paddle Company  at Kathy Osterman ‘Hollywood’ Beach in Edgewater for  $30/hour.

Paddleboarding with your pet! An advanced skill. Image from https://www.reviewgigant.com/sup-board-kopen-gids

Stand up paddle boards can be expensive ($400 and up to $2500 at REI on sale until 9-4-17) , but if you shop around you can get some deals. Some people prefer the inflatable type of paddle board so it is easier to store and travel with your board. The cheapest one I found is for $259 (Reg $399 on sale as of 8-25-17) at Walmart here.

Bestway Inflatable Paddle Board from Walmart

 

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

On Saturday, August 19, 2017, I was honored to be part of the IlliniCare Health Fair at Compassion Baptist Church in the South Side of Chicago. Two of our Working Well Massage therapists, Nikki and Sara, joined me to provide relaxing chair massage to attendees of the event. Between the three of us, we massaged over 100 people on Saturday.

According to IlliniCare Health, 700 members of the surrounding community took part in the event.  IlliniCare Health’s goal in holding this event was to strengthen our community by improving health care access, increasing the awareness of pivotal resources, and championing the importance of education.  IlliniCare Health we believe treating people with kindness, respect, and dignity empowers healthy decisions and that healthier individuals create more vibrant families and communities. Working Well Massage shares these values as well and we thank IlliniCare Health for inviting us to work with them at this event!

We met Chicago Alderman Gregory Mitchell of the 7th Ward, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly at the 2nd annual Health Fair and Back-to-School Kickoff. gave children as young as 7-years-old and seniors as old as 91 relaxing massages! Illinois Eye Institute provided free vision check ups. Walgreens provided free flu shots and blood pressure checks.

Sara massages an attendee while other patiently wait for their massages. In the background, people line up for vision screening exams.

I was so proud of my team for helping everyone enjoy themselves. Along with WWM, there were health care providers offering free vision screening, dental care and  a host of other services. IlliniCare Health gave away free backpacks and wonderful nutritious lunches as well.

People of all ages patiently waiting for their massage as others browse free eyeglass selections

Bronzeville Children’s Museum “You Are What You Eat” exhibit also taught attendees about healthy eating and working out while having fun.

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

From the team at Working Well Massage to you, our readers and fans, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy Fourth of July holiday!

Working Well Massage is closed today so that our staff can enjoy the holiday. We will be open again in Lincoln Park a t our WWM chair massage station inside Whole Foods Market Lincoln Park starting at Noon tomorrow, July 5, 2017. Stop by and see us to relax after your July 4th festivities!

Read more about the history of July 4th here  at History.com.

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Stretching throughout the workday is essential for good health.

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ASCM Personal Trainer

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve been sitting at a computer for an extended period of time.  Did you know that sitting still for a long time can cause serious health damage? OSHA says that maintaining static postures, such as viewing the monitor, for a prolonged period of time without taking a break can fatigue the muscles of the neck and shoulder that support the head. Additionally, OSHA recommends that repetitive tasks or jobs that require long periods of static posture incorporate several, short rest breaks (micro breaks or rest pauses). During these breaks you should stand, stretch, and move around. This provides rest and allows the muscles enough time to recover. Read the excerpt from Susan Seliger”s article “Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips” at WebMD for a few of the stretches you can easily perform in your workplace to keep limber throughout the day.

Stretching Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk

  1. Just stand up and sit down — no hands
    • You might have gotten a gold star in preschool for sitting still, but it just goes to show you (best sellers notwithstanding) that not all of us learned everything we need to know in kindergarten. “If you stand up and sit down (over and over) — without using your hands — it can be a challenge,” says Smith. It’s like doing mini-squats!
  2. Substitute exercise for sitting — while you work
    • Get rid of your desk chair and substitute an exercise ball, suggests Smith. “I used it for a while when I was having low-back problems; it was great,” Smith says. “All day you are engaging all the muscles in the back, legs, butt, everything, to stay balanced.”
  3. Shrug your shoulders — to release the neck and shoulders
    • Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release and drop. Repeat three times.
    • Shake your head slowly, yes and no.
  4. Loosen the hands with air circles
    • Clench both fists, stretching both hands out in front of you.
    • Make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of ten.
    • Then reverse the circles.
    • Shake out the hands.
  5. Point your fingers — good for hands, wrist, and forearms
    • Stretch your left hand out in front of you, pointing fingers toward the floor. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pushing your fingers down and toward the body. Be gentle.
    • Do the same with the other hand.
    • Now stretch your left hand out straight in front, wrist bent, with fingers pointing skyward. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pulling the fingers back toward your body.
    • Do the same on the other side.
  6. Release the upper body with a torso twist
    • Inhale and as you exhale, turn to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm of the chair with your left.
    • With eyes level, use your grasp on the chair to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist and let your eyes continue the stretch — see how far around the room you can peer.
    • Slowly come back to facing forward.
    • Repeat on the other side.
  7. Do leg extensions — work the abs and legs
    • Grab the seat of your chair to brace yourself and extend your legs straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor.
    • Flex and point your toes five times. Release.
    • Repeat.
  8. Stretch your back with a “big hug”
    • Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder.
    • Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.
  9. Cross your arms — for the shoulders and upper back
    • Extend one arm out straight in front of you. With the other hand, grab the elbow of the outstretched arm and pull it across your chest, stretching your shoulder and upper back muscles.
    • Hold. Release.
    • Stretch out the other arm in front of you — repeat.
  10. Stretch your back and shoulders with a “leg hug”
    • Sit on the edge of your chair (if it has wheels, wedge the chair against the desk or wall to make sure it does not roll). Put your feet together, flat on the floor.
    • Lean over, chest to knees, letting your arms dangle loosely to the floor. Release your neck.
    • Now bring your hands behind your legs, right hand grasping left wrist, forearm (or elbow if you can reach that far), left hand grasping the right. Feel the stretch in your back, shoulders and neck. Hold.
    • Release your hands to the floor again.
    • Repeat three times or as often as it feels good.
  11. Look up to release upper body
    • Sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers.
    • Turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling, too.
    • Inhale, exhale, release.
  12. Substitute walks for email — and don’t eat at your desk
    • Instead of emailing a colleague “and copying 25 people who don’t want to be copied anyway,” Smith says, “walk over to the colleague you really want to talk to.”

    Read the rest of the article at WebMD.

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

Do you ever listen to music at work to help keep focus? Do you have a particular artist or genre that you listen to in different moods? Dr. Ellen Weber says that research suggests many peoples’ tendencies to turn on some tunes exist because the brain rewards that behavior. Listening to music shifts your brain waves that control how neurons communicate.

Interestingly enough, it looks like people tend to respond to certain genres in different ways as well. In his book The Mozart Effect, Don Campbell conducted interviews to see how people responded across genres. According to Campbell:

Gregorian chant creates quiet in our minds and can reduce stress.

Slower Baroque music, such as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi or Corelli, can create mentally stimulating environments for creativity and new innovations.

Classical music, such as Haydn and Mozart, often improves concentration and memory when played in the background.

Romantic music, such as Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky , Chopin and Liszt, enhances our senses and increases a sense of sympathy and love.

Impressionist music, such as Debussy, Faure and Ravel, can unlock dreamlike images that put us in touch with our unconscious thoughts and belief systems.

Jazz, blues, soul or calypso music can uplift and inspire us, releasing deep joy or even deep sadness, conveying wit and affirming our common humanity.

Salsa, rhumba, merengue and any form of South American music sets our hearts racing, gets us moving, both relaxing us and awakening us at the same time.

Big band, Top 40 and country music engage our emotions and comfort us.

Rock music, from Elvis Presley to the Rolling Stones, stirs passion and activity, and so can release daily tensions. Rock can also mask pain and cover up unpleasant noises. It also has the power to create dissonance, stress or physical pain if we are not in the mood for energizing.

Ambient or New Age music such as Stephen Halpern and Brian Eno has no dominant rhythm, so it elongates the sense of space and time, inducing a state of relaxed alertness.

Heavy metal and hip-hop music excites our nervous system, and sometimes leads us into acting out dynamic behavior and self-expression.

Religious and sacred music such as hymns and gospel moves us to feel grounded in the moment, and leads to deep peace and spiritual awareness. Sacred music often helps us to transcend pain.

So the next time you feel down at work, consider getting out your headphones and listening to music while you work. It might just make your day a little brighter (and more productive).

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

Yet another study now shows that massage improves productivity, reduces absenteeism and reduces doctors visits due to injury/illness! Read more from The Open Press:

(OPENPRESS) January 21, 2010 — The manufacturing marketing research division of TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) sponsored the national survey of more than one hundred U.S. manufacturers; all show that massage improved bottom line of employers. The study found that after twelve weeks, 269 employees who had once-weekly, 45-minute massages in the manufacturing workplace had dramatically better productivity, reduced absenteeism, included far fewer doctor visits, than a control group of 250 employees who did not receive the massage therapy. The massaged group experienced reduced stress and improved performance, while the control group did not.

Nearly three-fourths (74%) of manufacturing workers reported in a national survey that their job is very stressful. Stress is the leading cause of disability in the manufacturing workplace, costing employers billions of dollars a year in lost productivity and healthcare costs.

The results of regular massages at the workplace provides quantifiable and immediate results — the employees experience stress reduction and greater satisfaction with their jobs.

By triggering a stress free response there is an improvement in immune system function, which reduces absenteeism, one of the most measurable economic impacts on the manufacturing sector. In the national survey, absenteeism was reduced by more than 50% among those receiving weekly massages. The savings to the manufacturing organization was 1000% greater than the actual cost of the massages, which averaged less than $4000 per month.

Read the entire article at The Open Press here.

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MDMA for PTSD
Image by ddaa via Flickr

The holidays can be stressful for all of us. For some people, managing stress requires more than time management and breathing techniques. People that have been through trauma are often wired to overreact to stress. For those that have been through trauma events, war, violence, and similar events, everyday stress may be more than they can handle. But help for PTSD and other trauma related conditions is now much more available. According to John M Grohol PsyD in PyschCentral.com, EDMR therapy may work in only 5 sessions.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It’s a type of psychotherapy that, among other things, involves thinking about the traumatic event while attending to bodily reactions and moving your eyes left and right, usually following a light or the therapist’s finger. The  therapy focuses on ‘reprocessing’ the trauma memories – essentially remembering and ‘reliving’ them, which seems to play a major role in preventing the uncontrolled memories and flashbacks that are part of the disorder.

Read Dr. Grohol’s article below for more insight into how eye movements can help reprogram people with PTSD’s  nervous systems.

Does EMDR Work in Just 5 Sessions

By John M Grohol PsyD in PyschCentral.com

Can eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a psychotherapy technique, work to help people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in just 5 sessions? The short answer is, yes.

And what about its long-term effects of EMDR? Do the benefits continue even after treatment has ended? Yes again.

For the first answer, I turn to Swedish researchers who examined 24 subjects who had just five sessions of EMDR therapy for the treatment of PTSD. After the five-session treatment, 67% of the subjects no longer met criteria for PTSD (compared to 10% of the control group), and there were significant differences post-treatment between the groups in Global Assessment of Function (GAF) scores and Hamilton Depression (HAM-D) scores. These latter two measures helped to measure how the person actually felt (versus some objective, but clinical, third-party diagnostic criteria). That’s significant, because it means that not only did two-thirds of those who received the EMDR treatment not meet the criteria for PTSD any longer, they actually felt better too. Sometimes researchers forget to measure silly things like that.

How about the long-term benefits of EMDR? Do psychotherapy techniques like EMDR actually help people even after therapy has ended?

To answer this question, van der Kolk and associates earlier this year examined the efficacy of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), fluoxetine, with a psychotherapeutic treatment, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and pill placebo and measured maintenance of treatment gains at 6-month follow-up. They too relied on the clinical diagnostic criteria of PTSD as the primary outcome measure, but also used the Beck Depression Inventory II as a secondary measure (again, that pesky subjective measure needed to help determine whether any of this actually helps a person feel better!). Eighty-eight subjects were enrolled in the study, and the study again focused on brief treatment — this time, only eight sessions of EMDR were administered.

After the eight week treatment block, fluoextine and EMDR were equally effective,

However, six months later, 75% who had been traumatised in adulthood and were treated with EMDR reported having no symptoms. For people traumatised during childhood, a third treated by EMDR were symptom free at 6 months.

In contrast, none of the people in either group treated with fluoxetine managed to free themselves from symptoms.

As the researchers noted, brief EMDR treatment produces substantial and sustained reduction of PTSD and depression in most victims of adult-onset trauma.

So the next time you think psychotherapy has to take months or years to achieve its effects for the reduction in PTSD severity, point your therapist to this entry. Lasting effects can be had in just 5 to 8 weeks.

Read entire article by John M Grohol PsyDhere. Dr. John Grohol is the CEO and founder of Psych Central. He has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues, and the intersection of technology and psychology since 1992.

Link to abstract of clinical trial.

EMDR Practioners in Chicago

• Ann Foster L.C.P.C. at Millenium Counseling Center

• Jenny Scanlon L.C.P.C. at Millenium Counseling Center

• Nicole Wahlert L.C.P.C.at Millenium Counseling Center

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