Monday, October 29, 2007

Alive! Expo

Where do you get reliable health information? My husband injured himself in a home improvement accident and went straight to WebMD ( to find out if an emergency room visit (and all its associated costs) was necessary when you drill through your hand. He followed the instructions. Since the wound was clean and not in his foot, he bandaged it and now, the next day, it’s healing nicely.

To have the best health possible, you need to be proactive in seeking health information. What food will provide optimum nutrition? Do you need to take supplements? Will certain therapies be beneficial to you?

If you’re in Seattle, you have a wonderful opportunity to learn about natural health at the Alive! Expo ( at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall on Saturday, November 3rd and Sunday, November 4th. Hundreds of natural health companies will be represented including Aubrey Organics, North American Herb and Spice, and Super Supplements.

In addition, there will be cooking demonstrations and samples of everything from smoothies to natural health care products. And, both days will include speakers on topics from Detoxing your Home to What Sugar Cravings Mean. I’ll be speaking on the Main Stage on Sunday the 4th from 5:00 to 6:00 pm about a natural treatment for back pain and arthritis—Undulation.

I have about a dozen free tickets to this event, and you don’t have to come to hear me speak to use one. After all, I bet you know a lot about undulation already. Let me know right away if you’d like a free ticket and I’ll arrange to get it to you.

Your underlying health determines how well you can heal from a wild, flying drill—or whatever other unexpected injury or illness comes your way. Take some time to prepare yourself with good information.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nightmare at Beaver Lake

I frequently extol the virtues of adding variety to movements. It keeps the body fresh. Halloween gives us an excellent opportunity to try something different. When playing a new role, even if just for a few hours, we change our mannerisms, tone of voice, and subtle movement patterns.

Believe it or not, screaming has advantages for your neck and jaw muscles. So while you’re thinking of how to experience Halloween this year, consider going to a haunted house. I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Sammamish ( and this is the fourth year we’ve presented the Nightmare at Beaver Lake (, which opens tomorrow, October 25.

I’ll be acting at this event, which will give me plenty of exercise in new and unusual patterns. Perhaps I can make you scream—or run—giving you the chance to move in different ways. (See if you can recognize me in the 2006 Nightmare photos,

Whether you like to scare or be scared, I encourage you to have fun this Halloween. Fun is certainly a component in creating vitality in your body.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Repetitive Strain Injuries

I remember the first time I heard about repetitive strain injuries. I was 10 years old and the local grocery store had just installed new, exciting laser scanners. Grocery sales went through the roof as we all went to the store to marvel at technology! Soon thereafter, the checkers were complaining of arm and hand pain. A couple weeks later, they wore braces on their wrists and grimaces on their faces. What happened?

A new combination of muscles was suddenly overloaded. The checkers had developed the strength for holding an item with the left hand and punching numbers into a machine with the right. Then, without gradual introduction, they were required to use a different movement—8 hours a day—of rotating the right forearm and using a different angle of movement in the torsos. The tendons that connect the forearm to the hand swelled in the wrist creating what is now a commonly known condition, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

As our work has become more specialized, it’s also lost the variety that better supported well-rounded strength and flexibility. Of course, certain occupations have inherent challenges. As a bodyworker, I spend hours a day with my arms in front of my body, making me susceptible to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), a condition that cuts off the blood and nerve supply to the arms.

The increased use of computers—and video games—increases the incidence of many types of repetitive strain injuries. This is more a matter of compromising the body over time. This article from WebMD gives excellent insight:

I counteract this tendency with strengthening and stretching programs that are designed to restore balance, not just to my arms and shoulders, but to the entire posture that contributes to the shortening in front. I use small weights for my rotator cuff, yoga postures, and a specialized stretching program developed by Sharon Butler: I do these stretches every morning.

Sharon has created dozens of customized programs, for different injuries like CTS, TOS, golfer’s and tennis elbow, and also by occupation, such as dental hygienists, chemists, accountants, even pastry chefs!

They are so effective, because they restore the tissues gradually over a 6 week period, with stretches that progress as the muscles are able to accommodate increased range. That’s vitally important with injuries, because other ways of working often create more damage. The programs also give invaluable information on how to stretch in general and how to care for your connective tissue.

Fortunately, we have many resources for repetitive strain, including programs you can load on the computer to remind you to stretch, like, and knowledgeable physical therapists. We’re now used to the scanners at the grocery store—and many other types of technology—and are learning how to cope with our specialized world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Publishing Update

Can I have a drum roll, please? I’m pleased to report that my book, Relieve Stiffness and Feel Young Again with Undulation, ISBN 978-0-9796179-0-4, is now available—hot off the press! This book teaches a fun and easy exercise that builds balanced strength and flexibility around the spine and improves the health of cartilage, discs, and connective tissue.

Here’s how you can get a copy:
1) Amazon has the lowest price, just $16.47 plus tax and shipping.

2) Barnes & Noble web carries it, too.

Barnes and Noble stores will carry it soon. You can go into a B&N store and order, but they may ask you to pay up front.

3) Independent bookstores can order it, too. As a matter of fact many of them have already. Relieve Stiffness is carried by all of the major book wholesalers, so it’s easy for bookstores to order.

4) Or you could get it from my distributor, at full price, $24.95 plus tax and shipping.

In any event, I hope you enjoy the book:
learn something new about your body and how to stay healthy and supple,
find a new favorite exercise to start the day (mine is waking spider),
remember to have fun.

I’m happy to sign your book. My first official book signing will be held on Monday, November 12th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Vino Bella (, 99 Front St. N., Issaquah.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Breath Basket

In my August 24 post, I praised Mary Bond’s book, The New Rules of Posture ( I had the pleasure of taking Mary’s workshop at the Symposium in Boston where she clarified the role of the body’s diaphragms and gave me new insights into a fundamental process for life: breath. I’d like to share two of these insights with you, an analogy and a caution.

The rib cage can be a fluid, flexible support for the lungs and heart. Unfortunately, most bodies personify its function of protection with a rigid, unmoving structure. That restricts breath capacity, which limits a person’s ability to function fully. I teach my clients to let each rib move independently, like piano keys playing the scales, during each inhale and exhale. I also teach people to direct their breath to specific places in the ribs, for example in the armpits, under the collar bones, and in the back, to open any blockages. Your breath is a massage from the inside—the most effective bodywork.

Mary’s analogy of a breath basket, instead of a rib cage, is a tangible image for freeing the chest and still allowing for the role of protection. Let go of the idea of a cage and replace it with a basket.

Secondly, Mary surmised that we hold our breath in an effort to make time stand still. This concept struck me as a truth. It seems that everyone has so much to do! Wouldn’t it help to have a little extra time? The problem is that restricting breath only creates an illusion of extra time, when in fact lack of oxygen reduces every function: physical, mental, and energetic.

Next time you find yourself in a hurry, take a deep breath in your flexible rib basket and notice how this rejuvenates your system and outlook.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Symposium Update

I’ve been out of town for a week, attending two professional conferences in Boston. First, the Fascia Research Congress held at the Harvard Medical School Conference Center included researchers from around the world who shared their findings about the body’s connective tissue. Next was the International Association of Structural Integrators Symposium where leading structural integrators ( taught their specialties and latest discoveries.

Needless to say, my head is swimming with many ideas, and I’ve been inspired for the possibilities of manipulating connective tissue to improve the body’s function and health. I also have a multitude of topics for future blog articles, so stay tuned.

For today, I’ll leave you with a big picture idea. Mechanical stresses on the body affect the function of cells, individually and collectively. Cells are built to stick to each other—in places, temporarily—to be most effective. Movement facilitates the interchange of chemicals and information.

But too much movement can create injury. (I have much to tell you about ligaments in a later article.) So the best approach is to move frequently, but not too much—in terms of load bearing, repetitive motion, or speed—at any one time. This is what I call “Goldilocks movement,” not too much and not too little.

Give yourself a plan for staying active. Every day. Every hour.

Give yourself permission to stop when it’s too much. Every minute.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Cambridge Naturals

Being a health professional has many advantages. One is that you get to know so many delightful people! Helping clients on their healing path is rewarding. I also get to meet colleagues who are committed to helping others live lives of well-being and wholeness.

This Wednesday, I’ll be giving an undulation workshop at Cambridge Naturals. The owners, Elizabeth and Michael Stagl, are very friendly, health-oriented, and take on the formidable task of running a community-oriented small business. Check out their website at

This website is an example of dedication to health. It has an impressive reference library, which includes a list of herbs and their uses, supplements, and even healthy conditions by signs and symptoms, and also conditions by related organs and body systems. If you want to investigate natural treatments, this is a good source.

You can even access health calculators from their site to check out body mass index, target heart rate, and nutritional needs. In addition, you can even take a general health assessment. All this is a wealth of free, beneficial information. But my favorite part of the website is the tab for healthy recipes.

Even if you don’t live in Massachusetts, you can add to your knowledge about health by taking advantage of the information provided by Cambridge Naturals. I can’t wait to see the store and meet Elizabeth and Michael in person. After that, I’m going to the Fascia Research Congress (at Harvard, no less) and then the International Association of Structural Integrators Symposium. I’ll give you an update when I return next week.