Field trip! To The Walking Company

the backpack could just as easily be one of those gigantic purses that are fashionable these days

The Walking Company is one of my favorite places to buy shoes because the stores have great shoes and knowledgeable staff. I approached the manager with an idea I’d been mulling over for awhile. The Walking Company has this cool machine that shows the  distribution of weight on your feet in a digital image. I wanted to observe the difference between when I stood normally and when I stood with a heavy backpack on one shoulder. Check it out.

normal stance

In this first image you’ll see that the red shown in the balls of the feet appear more on the right. This is my normal stance. The red indicates the areas of greatest pressure while standing. Bill Vogt, the store manager, was cautious about letting me stand on the sensor pads with a heavy backpack on my shoulder because the machine is so sensitive it can crash and be out of commission for a couple of days (which can equal loss of sales for the store). So I had to use a fairly light backpack. What I expected to see was greater areas of red (pressure) on the side of the added weight. See what you notice in this second image.

With the backpack on Right shoulder

What we see instead is that the body shifted weight to the left to compensate for weight on the right. The body is amazing, organizing itself around the idea of balance and equilibrium.We all know we can not live life completely balanced at all times, but when we have choices to carry loads in a more balanced or less balanced manner, it’s always advisable to choose balance. One specific example comes to mind: carrying a child on the hip. Everyone always says be sure to alternate the side you carry your kid on, or to carry them in front packs, backpacks or slings. I say “yes, all of the above.” Just keep mixing it up or you’ll find imbalances both above and below (shoulders & neck to the north; low back, knees, feet to the south).

Thanks for coming along on my field trip! A big shout out to Bill Vogt and Niya Monrole at the Santa Anita Mall Walking Company store for helping me with this illustration and for some great new shoes.

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Warm up with Hot Stone Massage

Finally we see some cooler temperatures here in SoCal! If the rain and chill are getting to you, perhaps you’d enjoy Hot Stone Massage with my colleague Clare Greene. She is offering a special to our clients. Take it away, Clare:

A quiet and peaceful location, with a gentle waft of aromatherapy in the air, spa music in the background, I greet you as you walk in the door.

The temperature in the treatment room is soothing as I begin the session. The stones have been warmed in a specially-designed heater to a pleasing temperature. As your session begins, I strategically place the warm stones on your body and over the sheet or blanket, to insure safety and comfort.

As I begin the actual massage with warm aromatherapy lotion, you feel the sensation of smooth heated stones gliding over your body’s weary muscles.  The heat stored in the stones relaxes the tissues naturally, allowing me to work the muscles deeply.  The session lasts about 70 minutes. $95

Traditionally used by Egyptians and American Indians, stones have a long history of therapeutic healing.  Hot Stones are a form of thermal and magnetic therapy. Recently this technique has come full circle and I am proud to reintroduce its benefits to you now.

Most people find this service to be one of the most nurturing and profoundly relaxing treatments.  Call me directly to schedule your session 949-466-9748. You can learn more about me at my website.

Hot stone massage may not be for you if you are pregnant or have sunburn. If menopausal, hot stone massage could trigger a hot flash.  People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or are on medication that thins the blood should not have hot stone massage.

If you do not fall into one of these circumstances you might find this treatment the magic you are looking for this cold winter.

The Injury Process

That's my foot!

I had been intending to write about the injury process, NOT intending to GET  injured! On Friday I took my son for a hike. It was a gorgeous day and we returned to one of our favorite spots: Switzer Falls in the Angeles National Forest. About 30 feet into the hike I twisted my ankle jumping over some water. I couldn’t believe it. Fortunately it felt fine and we hiked around for about 3 hours. We had so much fun.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized my ankle was hurting. It hadn’t hurt or felt injured at all during the hike. I was quite surprised and immediately went into injury treatment mode. Obviously this wasn’t a major sprain, but taking the following steps was really important in helping to minimize the damage.

R stands for REST. When you have an injury you must stop using the injured body part. When it’s the ankle that means stop putting weight on it. This is probably the hardest part, unless it’s hurting really, really badly. Then it’s easy.

I stands for ICE. Get ice on the injured part as soon as possible. It could be an ice pack, bag of ice, pack of peas or a cold stream. A good rule of thumb for ice is to use it for about 10-15 minutes with 20 minutes in between. When using ice packs, do not put them directly on the skin and don’t leave them on too long. You can burn your skin.

C stands for COMPRESSION. The body is sending lots of extra helpers to the injured area: fibroblasts to weave a scar over the injured structure, white blood cells to fight infection, chemicals that help manage pain, etc. Compressing the area helps keep inflammation in check. Too much inflammation can cause secondary problems. You can compress the injured body part with a piece of clothing (sock, shoe, t-shirt), a strip of cloth, towel, or the fabulous invention: the ACE bandage.

E stands for ELEVATION. Elevating the body part also helps to manage the huge influx of helper agents that the body is sending to the injured area. It helps the lymphatic system of the body clear out molecular debris caused in the injury.

Another common treatment for injury is taking anti-inflammatory medication or applying an anti-inflammatory creme. Of course, you know your body best in terms of administering any medications, so use common sense and follow the directions on the package. It never hurts to go to the doctor or urgent care clinic if you are concerned about how badly you’ve injured yourself. A trained professional can assess the degree of injury and rule out any complicating factors. An acute sprain can mask symptoms indicating a more serious injury like a fracture.

Next step is SLEEP! I don’t mean go directly to sleep, but remember that our amazing human bodies are designed to heal and restore during a good night’s sleep. It’s even more important when you are recovering from an injury. Our bodies accomplish a lot of repair during our sleep.

MASSAGE? Yes! Massage can be part of your recovery as well, after the acute stage of injury (roughly the first 24-48 hours). Massage can “reduce adhesions and influence the direction of new collagen fibers in the healing process. It can address edema and toxic accumulations from secondary muscle spasm. Massage will also help with stiffness from the temporary loss of joint function.” A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology by Ruth Werner, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 1998 p. 89. I know I felt my leg muscles could benefit from massage after icing and elevating for a couple of days.

Throughout your injury try to gently move the injured part through its regular range of motion as soon as you can without further hurting it. This gentle stretching and use is better than total immobilization because it encourages the body’s natural scar tissue to align properly with the muscle, tendon or ligament fibers and creates a stronger “patch” in the injured area.

Now I hope that not all of the topics I plan to write about actually happen to me personally. That might curtail my choice of topics drastically. Let me know if you have any questions about the injury process. Oh, and remember to warm up those ligaments before your next hike – I know I will!

Luck! Get your hot, fresh luck!

I don’t necessarily believe in luck. I believe in being a blessing to those around you and being grateful, mindful, hopeful. But, I do like to eat black-eye peas or lentils on New Year’s, giving Luck a wink and a hug. Here’s this year’s recipe which was quite tasty. Enjoy with a rustic loaf of bread, perhaps some delicious wine or beer. May 2012 be full of blessings for you and your family.

Rice & Black-eye Pea Soup

9 oz dried black-eye peas (or substitute 1 14 oz can peas: see ** cooking note below to adjust)

1 T. butter or cooking oil

1/2 onion finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

3 oz. lean smoked ham, diced

1/8 t. dried thyme

1 bay leaf

5 c. vegetable or chicken broth

2 1/2 c. water

1/2 c. brown rice

fresh parsley or chives to garnish

1. Soak peas at least 6 hours. Drain and cover with enough cold water to 2 inches. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.

2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently until just softened. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and bell pepper. Stir well and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Add the drained beans, ham, thyme, bay leaf, stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally for 1 hour or until the beans are just tender.

4. Stir in the rice and season with salt if needed and pepper. Continue cooking for 30 minutes or until the rice and beans are tender.

Garnish and enjoy! Serves 4-6.

** If using canned beans,  add the rice at step 3 and cook until the rice is tender, possibly 30 minutes or less. **