Calgarians are no strangers to winter but this polar vortex is testing us. It’s hard to believe the first day of spring is 35 days away—not that I’m counting...
It’s very easy during these cold winter days to fall off the self-care wagon. No one wants to go to the gym, let alone go outside for a run or a walk. Couple that with regular Netflix binges, and we get prone to our regular aches and pains, and for some that means fingers and toes that never warm up no matter how many socks you pile on.
But you don’t have to wait until you’re in pain to put your body back in balance.
Whether it’s osteopathy or massage, your bones, joints, and circulatory system welcome some extra TLC during these extreme bouts of cold weather. Why?
Because the manual techniques of osteopathy and massage release tension in the fascia, which allows blood to move through the tissue and flush out congested areas. Flushing the tissue also circulates lymphatic fluid which brings nutrients into our tissue and takes waste out.
Overall this has a very positive effect on the body; it lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, warms our extremities, and brings you that overall feeling of lightness and relief.
Every moment our bodies are in a constant battle trying to keep hundreds if not thousands of things in balance. Sometimes we need a little bit of extra help to achieve that balance.
Take a moment and check in with your body... do you have any nagging soreness? Are your extremities always cold even though you're wearing three layers? Catching these minor discomforts early makes all the difference.
If there’s anything I can help with, I’m a click or a phone call away. In the meantime, keep moving to help keep those hands and feet warm… and remember, 35 days!
Manual Osteopath, Registered Massage Therapist
In a nutshell, what is osteopathy?
To be very brief, osteopathy is a holistic form of healing which means an osteopath considers the WHOLE body when treating a client – this includes the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles, nerves and more. Hands on techniques are used to align the body’s tissue and bring it back to its natural state.
Why is osteopathy not very well known in Calgary?
Until fairly recently, Alberta hasn’t had any form of education specifically for manual osteopaths. If someone wanted to study osteopathy, they would have had to travel to Toronto or Vancouver. In 2013, the National Manual Osteopathic College opened its doors to serve as Alberta’s only school offering a certified curriculum where graduates are fully insured to practice manual osteopathy across Canada.
How is manual osteopathy different from other common medical services like massage, physio or chiro?
I’ll start with how it’s similar: all paramedical treatments aim to heal pain and disfunction in the body. Each modality has its specific focus and can be extremely effective in restoring the body’s function. Manual osteopathy, as I mentioned above, looks at the body as a whole unit. In this sense, that’s how it’s different. For example, one session may treat the bones, muscles, and nervous system, meaning no two treatments are the same. A manual osteopath takes the time to assess and figure out the cause of the dysfunction, whether it be a joint that’s out of place, soft tissue that needs release, even and organ that’s stuck or twisted.
What could I expect during a manual osteopathy treatment?
It starts with a conversation about your overall health and the specific issues you’re facing. Then I do the full body assessment, which varies depending on what the issues are. Then the treatment begins which is gentle and could mean you laying on your back, sitting upright, or standing, again depending on the issue. All of techniques are hands on which means I am gently shifting the client’s body, and the client is asked to turn or twist as necessary.
I've been getting a lot of questions about fascia lately, about what it is, and how treating it is different than getting a massage. So I'd like to shed some light on some of the newest discoveries about fascia—which I believe to be the body's most exciting tissue.
Fascia has been in our bodies for millions of years, but our understanding of it (and its importance) is very new and the body of research is growing as we speak…
Fascia is connective tissue that holds us together and keeps our form. It communicates throughout the body, helps vasculature and circulation, proprioception, and so much more. Fascia makes up a huge portion of our bodies: from the tissue holding our organs in place, to our very bones.
Until fairly recently, in the medical world fascia was considered just 'tape' that held us together and it was tossed away or disregarded in surgeries and dissections. It wasn't until recently that we discovered fascia has about 10 times the innervation as its surrounding tissue, like muscles.
This means fascia communicates throughout the body faster than nerve cells, as it relies on mechanical energy transfer, rather than a chemical reaction, to send and receive signals.
Your fascia can tell your brain what’s going on faster than your nerves can. That pretty fascianating! (I'm sorry, I had to).
Fascia also helps absorb and transfer the majority of force whenever we are doing work (something we believed our muscles did until recently).
What is interesting to a manual osteopath is that fascia plays a major role in so many chronic conditions that people suffer with daily.
From back pain, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, repetitive strain, postural pain, shin splints, the list goes on. So if you aren't treating the fascia, you aren't treating a major component of the problem.
Why not just go for a massage? Doesn't that treat the fascia?
Yes and no. A massage will treat a portion of the fascia, specifically the myofascia (the fascia surrounding muscles) but it won't treat the fascia as a whole. Think of the fascia in your body as a 3D web. When this web weakens in a certain area, the rest of the web has to compensate by changing your posture. A lot of pain people live with is due to these changes.
This is why when you go for a massage due to neck and shoulder pain (too much time in the office chair) it feels great, but after about a week, the pain is back. That is because the web as a whole was not treated, and the compensation that the web is doing hasn't been rectified. Your problem will come back, because only the symptom was treated.
Osteopathy and fascia
A complete fascial treatment addresses the problem, as well as the compensatory changes that your fascial system has made, in order to help fix the cause of the issue. Manual Osteopathy addresses the fascial system as a whole, from your bone and joint alignment, muscle adhesions, visceral (re: organs) adhesions and so on, to help re-balance the body as a unit, as one whole, rather than focusing on separate systems throughout the body.
If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you, simply drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Manual Osteopath, RMT
You may have heard about "cranio-sacral" or have even received a treatment in the past, but you may still be wondering what craniosacral is. I've heard many different opinions on it, from it being witchcraft and voodoo that cures all ailments, to "they did nothing at all, just held my head for an hour!" So what exactly is craniosacral?
Well, without getting too far into the esoteric claims that some craniosacral therapists swear by, I'm going to try and explain it all science-like.
Craniosacral deals with the cranium (your noggin), the sacrum (lowest flat part of your back) and the spinal column in between. Our brains our housed within a dural tube, witch encloses and protects our brain and spinal cord, which stretches from our head down to just above our tailbone. Like all tissue in the body, it is designed to move, and like all tissues in the body, it is subject to stresses and tension which inhibit said movement. The basics of craniosacral therapy is to free up anything that is restricting the dural tube, our brains and our spinal cord, as well as the nerves (which exit the spine).
Restrictions can happen anywhere throughout the spine, sacrum, neck, and even your cranial bones. An osteopath or a cransiosacral therapist can very gently mobilize your cranial bones, sacrum, and spinal column, to ease off any restrictions, and allow proper movement to recur.
The techniques an osteopath uses are very gentle because the body is extremely good at protecting itself from outside forces. As you may guess, the body is extra protective of its own brain and spinal cord, so any outside force is automatically resisted. That's why we use such a gentle touch in order to manipulate the cranial bones and dural tube, as anything more intense will be resisted by the body. So the osteopath must first listen to the body's natural movement (feeling the rhythm with their hands), and then gently guide the spinal cord back to it's center, so it may be balanced.
Why should you care if your craniosacral rhythm is out of balance?
I'm glad you asked! Your brain and spinal cord control every process of our bodies, so any imbalance, even a very minor one, can lead to all sorts of problems. From insomnia, headaches, digestive issues, nausea and dizziness, back pain, the list goes on. So as manual osteopathic therapists, we aim to restore balance in the body, so that it may right/heal itself!
Many clients report a sense of lightness and ease after a craniosacral treatment.
I hope this has shed some light on what craniosacral is and what it does, but if you have more questions I would love to hear from you. Just drop a line to email@example.com.
Yours & Health and Wellness,
Manual Osteopath, RMT
What is visceral?
A visceral manual osteopathic treatment focuses on all your organs, from the liver and stomach, to the intestines and bladder. Our bodies endure constant stresses throughout the day which can have an adverse effect on our organs, leading to indigestion, cramping, incontinence, fertility issues, and all sorts of other problems and discomforts.
What to expect
With the use of very gentle hands-on techniques, I help mobilize the organs and any soft tissue that may be restricting them, allowing the organ to function properly and with greater ease. Not only can this help with any abdominal pains and discomforts, but also low back pain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, anger, insomnia, and many other symptoms.
Visceral treatments—and all other manual osteopathic treatments—are free until August 1, 2018. I offer two options for free manual osteopathy:
Both types of appointments can booked on Jane App. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions—we would love to hear from you!
It’s that time of year again, and unless you’re going south for the next six months, you’ll likely be shoveling a lot of snow. I can’t clear the snow for you, however I can give you a few simple exercises that will help make sure you don’t end up with a nasty back injury after shoveling snow.
Lower back injuries are extremely common with snow removal for a number of reasons, but it is avoidable if you prepare yourself beforehand. Trying to lift a shovel full of heavy, wet snow is no easy task, let alone on a slippery surface. Trying to do so without warming up is a recipe for injury.
Here are a couple of stretches we recommend doing before you head out. As with any stretch or exercise, if you are experiencing any pain or severe discomfort, stop and ease out.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Start by stepping one foot in front of the other, getting into a runners lunge. Tuck your pelvis in, making sure you’re not sticking your butt out. Slowly lower your pelvis down, making sure your front knee doesn’t travel past your foot. You should feel a good stretch on the back leg, at the front-side of your hip. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
If you’re having trouble balancing, widen your stance or rest the back knee on the ground (use something soft under the knee if there is any pain).
Twists are a nice way to open the back, and you can easily add this into your lunge by turning away from your back leg.
You can make this one a little easier by laying down on your back with your arms in a T-shape, and then bringing your knees up and across the body.
The simplest glute stretch is called “Figure 4” because you make a 4-like shape with your legs.
You can do this pose standing, seated, or laying on your back. Hold for at least 30-45 seconds on each side. Try leaning forward a little bit to deepen the stretch.
By stretching the glutes and hip flexors, we take a lot of stress and tension out of the lower back, allowing the hips to move freely, letting us use our legs properly and waking up our core muscles to support our back when shoveling. It only takes a few minutes and it can save your back from a lengthy and painful recovery.
If you’re having any trouble with these stretches, or if you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to assist.
In Canada, osteopathy isn't as well known as massage therapy or acupuncture. I use a gentle and effective method of unlocking tissue. It's similar to physio therapy where the treatment is done in looser/sport clothing. You can expect:
A treatment usually involves active movement from the client, with gentle stretching and positioning from the therapist. Treatments are pain free and never jarring.
Throughout the treatment, I will constantly assess and then reassess to ensure the treatment is effective because the goal is to provide clinical and long-lasting results.
What separates a Manual Osteopath from similar professions is that we look at the body as a whole unit, a complete structure, rather than isolating the problem to one joint or muscle.
I am excited to offer free 15-minute Manual Osteopathy treatments to my massage clients—you can book on our booking website.
I am studying with the National Manual Osteopathic College and I require clinical hours to complete the program, so this practical experience is a huge benefit to me and I’m hoping it will be of benefit to you as well!
To learn more about Osteopathy, the short video below does a great job of explaining it:
The Brain. It’s our most important and yet least understood organ. We rely on it every day. Not just for keeping us alive, but for simple tasks like making us coffee, dressing ourselves, and driving to work.
In fact, there are very few actions one can take that do not involve the brain in some vital role. Now I know what you’re thinking, “isn’t any organ vital? What about the heart?” The answer is yes—but the brain is unique in a special way. It’s the only organ that we decide how and when we use it. It is the only organ that we have control over. You don’t tell your heart when to beat, or how hard. You don’t ask your liver to speed things up, so you can have that extra glass of wine. So, with the brain being the only organ that we consciously use, that is why brain health is so important.
Here are four ways to nurture your noggin:
These simple but imperative methods will help keep your brain working smoothly. I recommend focusing on one or two of these methods to start. Even a little effort can go a long way to helping us have more than just a hat rack sitting on our shoulders.