Referrals for alternative health care providers

I’ve received different types of alternative health care, and I’d like to list some of my favorite practitioners here on my blog. I will update this list from time to time.

First of all, for do-it-yourself pain relief, relaxation, and massage, get yourself some arnica, some epsom salts, and a foam roller. I also recommend meditation. They cost little to nothing and make a difference.

If you’d like to have a floatation tank experience, try Zen Blend, in far south Austin. I’ve been three times now, and each time I’ve been more relaxed and present. The epsom salt in the water plus silence and darkness all contribute to the relaxing effect.

If you’d like to improve how your body moves, either for a sport or better workouts or the movements of everyday life, I recommend Matt Fuhrmann of Tao Health & Fitness (on Facebook) for functional movement screening and classes. It’s what Tim Ferriss (in The Four-Hour Body) calls “pre-hab”. In other words, injury prevention. Matt also offers classes for kids.

For biodynamic craniosacral work, I recommend Nina Davis. I also recommend David Harel, who specializes in TMJ disorder Gtreatments. In the DFW metroplex, see Ryan Hallford for treatment. He also teaches craniosacral work. (Note: I am studying craniosacral therapy from Ryan after receiving it from Nina and being mentored by David.)

For classical chiropractic, I recommend Active Life Chiropractic, which offers a wide range of services including Graston and “the activator”. I’ve seen both Dr. Cynthia Schade (the owner) and Dr. Cynthia Lara.

For upper cervical chiropractic (first cervical vertebrae and cranium), I recommend Back N Balance. If through head trauma or emotional stress your head is not sitting atop your spine in a balanced manner, check them out. It unwound my spine from scoliosis. I saw Dr. Shelley Lorenzen.

For applied kinesiology chiropractic, I recommend Austin Holistic Health. It’s another form of unwinding from dysfunctional neuromuscular patterns. I saw Dr. Chandler Collins.

For integrative healing, I recommend Fran Bell at Austin Holistic Health.

For acupuncture on a budget, I recommend South Austin Community Acupuncture (sliding scale) and the student clinic at AOMA ($35 per treatment, supervised by professors, in both north and south Austin).

I have personal experience with each of these practitioners and clinics, and I know how valuable good word-of-mouth can be. I hope this helps you find healing.

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Self-care for massage therapists, part 2 (what works for me)

In part 1, I listed various self-care methods that massage therapists use for their own aches and pains from giving massage. In part 2, I want to share what I’ve tried (so far) that works.

First, I want to say that my strength and endurance have increased with practice. I used to be in pain after giving 3 hour-long massages in a row several days in a row. Now I can do 4 hours 5 days a week with just a few twinges and aches afterwards. For several weeks, though, I was hurting and feeling some despair about having upended my life to get trained and start working in this new profession and the possibility of not being physically able to do it.

Key learnings from a newbie:

  • I no longer attempt deep tissue work, sticking to Swedish and reflexology. My Swedish massages are good and getting better. I incorporate some of David Lauterstein’s deep massage strokes into every Swedish massage, and I use pressure points, stretching, techniques from sports massage, body mobilization techniques, and reflexology, depending on the client’s issues and the amount of time I have. I cannot deliver the pressure that some clients (well-informed or not about what “deep tissue” means) seem to want. If I work within my limitations, it’s win-win for everyone.
  • I trained in Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy so that I can deliver deeper pressure using my feet and body weight, controlled by holding onto overhead bars. It’s so much easier on my body and a lot of fun, too.
  • I rock with my feet and leverage my body weight strategically as I deliver Swedish massage so my arms and shoulders do less work.
  • Hydrotherapy totally rocks after a long shift. I fill my double kitchen sinks with hot water (my water heater is set to 130 degrees F. for sanitizing laundry) and cold water that I dump a quart or two of ice into. I immerse my aching forearms and hands in the water, alternating cold-hot-cold-hot-cold, for one minute each. I can barely stand it, and yet it makes a huge difference in just 5 minutes. Seems to flush toxins and swelling and pain right out.
  • I stretch my fingers and wrists, holding each stretch for 15 seconds. Good to do when driving, at red lights.
  • I press into the trigger points for the elbow and wrist (see part 1 for links).
  • I apply magnesium gel with seaweed extract topically. According to Wikipedia, symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle cramps, weakness, and fatigue, and fifty-seven percent of the US population does not get enough magnesium from food.
  • I love epsom salts in a bath. (Guess what? They contain magnesium!) When I was feeling a lot of pain all over, I would dump a cup or two of epsom salts into a fairly hot bath and add a few drops of lavender oil, then soak for 15-20 minutes. I felt like a new woman when I came out! I learned this years ago from dancers.
  • I use Young Living’s OrthoEase oil on clients’ painful muscles, and I use it on mine as well. Contains wintergreen, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and more that are analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
  • I keep hydrated and have been avoiding nightshades lately. I’m already gluten-free and eat fairly healthily. I’m interested in following an anti-inflammatory diet but haven’t done the research yet.
  • I take at least a couple of days off per week, not always together, though. I’m still finding my ideal schedule.
  • I do 10-15 minutes of yoga every morning. Sun salutations stretch and strengthen my body. Plus, it’s a great check-in to do something that starts the same every day. I start slowly and really let my hamstrings lengthen in forward bend before I move on to the next pose. I add standing poses, balance poses, and pigeon as I feel the need and to keep it interesting.
  • I get at least a chair massage every week. I’m interested in setting up a weekly trade for a full-body massage with someone, too.
  • I use a foam roller on back when needed, and a tennis ball to my gluteus.
  • I have two tennis balls tied into a sock that I use when driving to massage my back. I’ve also learned to “pop” my own back while giving massage!

Here’s something that just doesn’t fit into any of the categories I’ve seen so far about self-care for MTs. It’s about how you use your attention. I’ve learned to keep some of my attention on my body most of the time.

When I focused exclusively on the client’s body, delivering what I thought they wanted, I hurt and fatigued myself. I listen more to my body now and check in verbally with the client if I am not noticing nonverbal feedback.

If I notice that I feel rigid anywhere in my body, I say to myself, “Soften,” and my body softens.

Sometimes I put my attention on the soles of my feet and their connection to the floor/earth (I massage with bare feet always for Ashiatsu and as much as possible for Swedish), making the movements of giving massage into a soft, fluid dance.

Sometimes I attend to my breath, letting it become easy and relaxing (and audible to the client, as a nonverbal suggestion that they relax too).

All of these techniques activate the inner body, subtle body, energy body, whatever you want to call it. It feels better to give massage with this “soft present alive expanded body” than not. There is definitely an aspect of being “in the flow” that seems somehow related to doing Reiki, but I don’t know how to put it into words (yet).

Another bonus: the sensations of pain and fatigue become distant as peace and love fill my awareness.

I don’t know if clients perceive the difference, but I don’t think it could hurt. I do it for me because I “in-joy” it!

It’s been four months since I got licensed and began working. I look forward to learning even more new things about self-care and sharing them here.