Friday, May 27, 2011

The Permanent Pain Cure: Book Review

With so many books on the market that promise to relieve pain, it's easy to dismiss them as providing more hype than answers. As the author of one of these books, I know that each one offers advice that works for some people. The Permanent Pain Cure by Ming Chew, PT makes a big claim, but his approach is more comprehensive than most and is worth a try.

The first thing I like about this book is that it focuses on fascia, which plays a large role in most muscle and joint pain. The Ming Method is unique in how it addresses fascia health through a 3 step process. As Chew states:

"The bottom line is you're as young as your fascia. Or to put it another way, the quality of your fascia determines the age of your body . . . fascial hygiene is just as important as dental hygiene."

Amen! He has my full attention with wisdom like that and I'm impressed with the program he outlines. Here is a summary of The Ming Method.

1) Before adding exercises or stretches, it's important for your fascia to be as healthy as possible to avoid injury. Chew recommends 2 1/2 quarts of water a day plus some supplements that he's found to be beneficial for fascia. Many of his patients achieve a reduction in pain with this first step plus the added benefit of younger looking skin.

2) There are two types of stretches included in the book: spinal stretches that decompress the spine and fascial stretches. I found the spinal stretches to be quite unique. They work down the spine from neck to tail. Although difficult at first, I can really tell a difference from them. The fascia stretches are more familiar to me, but I like Chew's instructions for whole body involvement to tether the entire fascial chain.

3) The strength section is the least unique in the book, but I would trust Chew's exercises (he's a former bodybuilder and martial artists) as the right complement to his exceptional program.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are You Hydrated?

Water is essential for healthy living. Every cell and organ in the body needs water, so it’s important to have enough especially if you feel stiff and tight in your muscles. Despite the controversy about how much liquid is enough to stay hydrated, there is an easy way to tell if you need to drink more water. Simply use the “snap test” on your hand to see how fast your skin returns to its normal shape. If it takes longer than a second then fill your water glass and start drinking. I can use this test throughout the day to gauge my H2O intake.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fresh Food for a Healthy You

This blog usually focuses on how movement (or lack of it) affects your life, but today I am verging from my usual refrain of “You are what you DO” to the more familiar phrase, “You are what you eat.” Muscle action, connective tissue health, metabolism and feelings of well-being all depend on a complex series of chemical reactions. The chemicals the body gets to work with – good or bad – all come from our food so what you eat affects how well you move as well as how good you look.

My opinion is that food grown from healthy soil and eaten when fresh has the best composition of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and other ingredients we don’t understand yet which are needed for a healthy body and mind. Food grown with chemical fertilizers or pest control has less nutritional value. New research is proving this is true. To assure my supply of fresh, nutritious vegetables I join a CSA each year.

CSA stands for community supported agriculture and it is a way for people to purchase direct from farmers each week through the growing season. I support the Sol to Seed Farm in Carnation. In return I receive a box of vegetables from June through October that I know are grown sustainably and are good for me. I’ve learned to like new vegetables. Sol to Seed’s arugula is absolutely fantastic and they introduced me to kohlrabi, now one of my favorites. Even the familiar lettuce and kale and beans and potatoes are welcome, not to mention the joy of fresh tomatoes in August and always a pumpkin in October. When I pick up my box each Wednesday, I have a week’s supply of good food and usually a couple of recipes to help me figure out what to do with all of it.

Over a dozen farms offer a CSA in King County. Puget Sound Fresh provides a directory of farms throughout the region. Small farms and large farms are included, many offer programs year round. If you’re not in the Seattle area, just do a search for community supported agriculture and you’ll find a rich resource of cost-effective nutrition near you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Exercise of the Month: Jaw Massage

It would be nice if we could build self-care like a massage or fascial into our lives on a weekly basis. Most of us don’t have the time or money to go for a spa treatment every seven days even though everyone could use the relaxation. This month’s exercise is adapted from Align for Life written by Dan Bienenfeld, which includes many exercises that complement a structural integration series, but they are also great for everyone. Try this to relax your face especially if you’ve been working at the computer for a while.

Jaw Massage
1. Put your hands on the sides of your face with your fingers just below your cheek bones. Firmly press in, then up and to the sides to draw your mouth into a big smile. Release and let your face relax.

2. Hold your chin with your fingers above the jaw bone and thumbs below. Press firmly and slowly, tracing the jaw bone all the way to your ears.

3. Find the space between the top of your jaw bone and below your cheek bones with your finger tips. Massage in circles as you slowly let your jaw drop.