How Does The Time Change Effect Your Body Clock?

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, research has shown that massage therapy can help improve mood, alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression, and reset circadian rhythms. The result? Improved sleep and more energy.

Back relaxing massage

Improved Mood

The Research: A randomized study of 34 women with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer examined how massage therapy impacted depression and anxiety levels. The massage therapy group received a 30-minute massage three times per week for five weeks, which consisted of stroking, squeezing and stretching techniques to the head, arms, legs, feet and back. The control group received no intervention. Study participants were assessed on the first and last day of the study, and assessment included both immediate effects measures of anxiety, depressed mood and vigor, as well as longer term effects on depression, anxiety and hostility, functioning, body image and coping styles. A subset of 27 women also had blood draw to assay immune measures.

 The Results. The immediate massage therapy effects included reduced anxiety, depressed mood and anger. Longer term effects included reduced depression and hostility, as well as increased serotonin values, NK cell number and lymphocytes.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter with functions in various parts of the body, works to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning.

 Better Sleep

In another study examining the effect of massage therapy on the adjustment of circadian rhythms in full-term infants, researchers measured the rest-activity cycles of infants before and after 14 days of massage therapy, starting at 10 days old and again at six and eight weeks of age.

Rest-activity cycles were measured by actigraphy, and 6-sulphatoxymelatonin excretion was assessed in urine samples at six and eight weeks of age. The concentration of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin in urine correlates well with the level of melatonin in the blood, and melatonin is what helps control sleep and wake cycles.

At 12 weeks, nocturnal 6-sulphatoxymelatonin excretions were significantly higher in the infants receiving massage therapy than those in the control group, suggesting that massage therapy can enhance coordination of the developing circadian system with environmental cues.

Do You Feel Tired All the Time?

Do you regularly experience one or more of the following symptoms?

  • Constant tiredness?
  • Poor concentration?
  • Night sweats?
  • Weight gain?
  • Lack of energy?
  • Forgetfulness?
  • Sexual dysfunction?
  • Frequent urination at night?

Sound like you? If so, there may be an underlying cause that could have a dramatic impact on your health.  Women often suffer from other symptoms of this disorder.


According to ResMed and Mayo Clinic, Sleep Apnea could be one of the reasons you have some or all of these symptoms. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes your body to stop breathing while you sleep. It’s a potentially fatal condition, with harmful short- and long-term complications, affecting more than 1 in 3 men and 1 in 6 women.1

While snoring is still the strongest predictor of sleep apnea in men and women,6 not everyone who snores has it. And even more importantly, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores.

In addition, women often show subtler, atypical symptoms such as insomnia, morning headaches, depression and anxiety.7 These symptoms often lead to misdiagnoses, such as depression, insomnia, or menopausal side effects.8

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which more than 80% of sleep apnea patients have, occurs when enlarged and/or relaxed throat muscles obstruct your upper airway, blocking air from entering and leaving your lungs.

When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. You can’t get enough air, which can lower the oxygen level in your blood. Your brain senses your inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.

You might snort, choke, or gasp. This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night, impairing your ability to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep.

Long term effect of sleep apnea can be daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack or strokes, risk of developing diabetes, liver problems, depression and memory loss. Lack of sleep can have a dramatic effect on your pain levers too.

If you have these symptoms, be sure to ask your doctor about whether you might have sleep apnea. There are simple tests to determine if you have sleep apnea. And treatment can be easy.



Does Your Shoulder Hurt? Here’s Why

Happy New Year! I hope your new year is off to a great start.

Do you know that more than 4.5 million Americans visit their doctors every year complaining of shoulder pain? Are you one of them?

The 2 most common injuries contributing to shoulder pain complaints tend to be rotator cuff tears and impingement syndrome.  Even though back and neck pain are the most common pain complaints we see in my office, shoulder pain ranks third.  There can be several reasons for shoulder pain, so it is important to find a healthcare practitioner who can evaluate your condition and treat it properly.  Read the rest of my blog if you want to learn more about preventing shoulder injuries.

The shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in your body.  But because of its mobility we lose stability.  A knee joint flexes and extends in one plane. Your shoulder joint flexes, extends, abducts, adduces, internally rotates, externally rotates and many combinations of these movements in many plans of motion. Anatomically, the only place the shoulder bones attach to the trunk of your body is at the sternum and clavicle or collar bone to breast bone. So it is more susceptible to injury because of its instability.

shoulder joint

Your shoulder bones are held to your body by only one small joint. The rest of the shoulder complex is held to your body by muscles, tendons and ligaments. So repetitive stress and strains can easily injure your shoulder.

One of the most common shoulder injuries is a tear to the rotator cuff muscles. There are 4 muscles that make up the rotator cuff complex. If those muscles are weak or tight they can be injured more easily. The pain from a rotator cuff tear unusually shows up on the side of your upper arm.

The other common injury for shoulders is call an impingement.  This is when the muscles of the anterior shoulder are too tight and pull the arm forward. This over stretches the tendons and muscles of the shoulder.  The pain from this injury usually shows up in the front of your upper arm.

This simple shoulder stretch can help keep your muscles relaxed and prevent injuries.

Click Here To Watch Video

shoulder ex

The other changes you need to make to prevent shoulder injuries is to not do excessive overhead arm movements  or any repetitive arm movements can cause repetitive stress and strain to the shoulder joint.  So be careful if your use your arm repetitively for anything from using a mouse on the computer to painting your walls in your house.  It’s always better to prevent an injury than it is to treat it after it is broken.

Why Do I Have All These New Pains?

This time of year, it is very common for strange and unknown pains to start showing up. Are you one of the thousands of people who suffer from unexplained aches and pains this time of year? I see a common pattern this time of year in my clinic. Patients are complaining about old pains showing up again or new pains appearing from seemingly nowhere. And most people don’t know why. If you want to know “the why” read on.

My practice is focused on treating pain and dysfunction. So it is normal for patients to call for an appointment because something hurts. But this time of year more patients are calling for an appointment because all these new and unexplained pains are showing up for them. They have new neck pain, shoulder pain, low back pain or even cramping and pain in their calves. I always ask, “What started the pain?” For most patients they can’t think of a trauma or injury that could have led to their complaint.

But after asking lots of questions and doing a thorough evaluation and treatment I usually can pinpoint the cause of these new complaints. I call it “Holiday Stress and Strain Syndrome”. This is the time of year when people are putting up Christmas decorations and preparing for the Holidays. They put up lights on the house or decorate the tree. So they are up and down ladders and reaching above their heads to hang lights or put up decorations. Sometimes it’s just many hours in the kitchen preparing the Holiday meals.

XMas lights

Anytime you are doing something new or different with your body it can put a strain or stress on it. So it is not a major trauma that causes your pain, but lots of little stresses and strains that become cumulative that start new pains or lead to old ones returning. Up and down ladders can lead to calf pain and leg cramps at night. Click here for a good stretch for your calf muscles.  Reaching over your head to hang lights can stain your shoulders. And looking up to decorate the house or tree can strain your neck. Even standing in the kitchen for longer than you normally do can lead to low back pain from having a weak core.
These are just a few of the complaints I hear this time of year. But remember mental and emotional stress can also lead to physical pain too. The mental stress of the Holidays can lead to headaches or low back pain, to name a few. Our mental state of mind has a physical effect on our body.

So you don’t have to have a big trauma or injury to start the aches and pains to show up this time of year. It can be due to the mental or repetitive stresses and strains that can cause pain to ruin your Holiday plans.

Are You Experiencing Swelling in Your Legs ?

If you have swelling in your legs, feet, arms or hands, you may have a problem with your Lymphatic System. What is your Lymphatic System, you ask? The Lymphatic System is called the “second circulatory system of the body.” Your heart, arteries, veins and capillaries make up your primary circulator system. This is the system that circulates your blood throughout your body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to every tissue, organ, and cell of your body.

Your Lymphatic System is called your secondary circulatory system because it picks up the waste materials and fluids of the body that can’t be sent back to the heart by your veins. This fluid needs to cleaned and purified before it goes back into general circulation. Your Lymphatic System conducts this purification, provides for the transportation of proteins throughout the body, and is the first line of defense against invading bacteria, viruses and toxins.

So why does this system have problems that can cause the fluids to backup and swell your extremities? There can be several reasons, and some include problems with your heart or kidneys. But I want to discuss the mechanical reasons you can have problems with your Lymphatic System, which are unrelated to heart or kidney disease.

Body Cavities

All your vital structures, arteries, veins, lymph vessels and nerve bundles run vertically in your body. You also have 4 horizontal diaphragms that divide the major cavities in your body. The 3 major cavities are your Cranial, Thoracic and Abdominal cavities. If any of these horizontal diaphragms are restricted they will prevent the normal flow of blood and lymph between these cavities. This can lead to swelling in your extremities.

A good manual therapist can evaluate your diaphragms and release any restrictions that may be contributing to the swelling in your legs or arms. You will also need to take corrective action to prevent the diaphragms from tightening back up after treatment. This usually includes corrective stretching and postural changes.

Brain Endurance and the Desire to Exercise

Endurance training causes new mitochondria — the “power plants” that use oxygen and glucose to produce ATP — to grow in your muscles.


This, in a nutshell, is why your endurance improves, because you’re able to keep your muscles aerobically fueled for longer. These adaptations take place mainly in the muscles you use during training: legs for runners, arms and legs for swimmers, and so on.


But the muscles aren’t the only place where oxygen and glucose are needed: at rest, your brain sucks up 20 percent of your body’s oxygen supply and 25 percent of its glucose. A neat new study in the American Journal of Physiology suggests that aerobic exercise causes new mitochondria to grow in your brain as well as your muscles, which has a couple of interesting implications. The study was done in mice: an eight-week treadmill running program produced the usual changes (increased time to exhaustion, higher mitochondria in muscles), but also produced a series of changes suggesting that new mitochondria had grown in the brain.


One reason this is significant is that figuring out how to boost mitochondria in the brain would be helpful for “various central nervous system diseases and age-related dementia that are often characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction.” That includes, for example, Alzheimer’s disease.


The other is the possible role of brain mitochondria in “central fatigue,” which the researchers define as “the progressive reduction in voluntary drive to motor neurons during exercise.”


The idea is that your body’s absolute top priority is making sure that your brain ALWAYS has enough energy. During intense exercise, your muscles are using oxygen and energy so rapidly that your brain’s oxygen levels start to drop. To prevent disaster, your brain automatically starts to recruit fewer muscle fibers for a given level of effort, so that more resources can be diverted to the brain. You experience this as fatigue: you’re pushing just as hard as before, but you’re getting slower/weaker. But if you have more mitochondria in your brain, you can make use of available energy more efficiently so you won’t have to shut down your muscles quite as soon.


Another interesting wrinkle in the discussion:

What they mean by “voluntary activity” is how much mice, when left to their own devices, decide to run on a wheel in their cage. Researchers have found that the “impulse to exercise” tends to decline with age — so before your body starts to fail, your brain just isn’t as enthusiastic about doing lots of exercise as it used to be. There are some possible hints here that this phenomenon could be linked to declining levels of brain mitochondria. In other words, regular exercise doesn’t just preserve your ability to exercise — it also preserves your desire.

  Alex Hutchinson

This is One Exercise Everyone Should Do!

What do you think of when I say exercise?  Most people think of going to the gym and lifting weights on a machine or with dumbbells.  Yes, strength training is one form of exercise.  But when you look at keeping your body healthy you need to do 3 types of exercise.  This first one is probably the most important when it comes to keeping us mobile and pain free.

Senior couple workout in rehabilitation center. Personal trainer helps elderly couple to do stretching on the floor. Focus on man.

So what are the 3 forms of exercise?

  1. Stretching
  2. Cardiovascular
  3. Strength Training


Number one, stretching, is probably the most important exercise when it comes to maintaining our mobility and preventing pain as we age.  If we maintain our flexibility, our body can do a better job of getting us out of bed in the morning or getting in and out of our car without pain.


Our body needs to maintain a certain percentage of our normal range of motion as we age.  This allows us to keep moving in our later years.  Our flexibility may not be what it was when we were in our 20’s, but if we don’t work to maintain a normal range of motion our health starts to suffer.  And yes we can regain flexibility as we age.  We just need to use the right techniques to stretch safely. Watch this video on how to stretch safely using a foam roller.


You can use static or active stretching techniques.  Static stretching is when you hold a stretch for longer than 10 seconds.  Active stretching is when you use multiple repetitions to stretch but only holding each stretch for 3-5 seconds.  The key with either technique is not to stretch so hard and fast that you engage your stretch reflex.  Your stretch reflex is a protective mechanism in the muscle that prevents you from injuring the muscle when stretching.


Both stretching techniques can be effective if you know when and how to use them.  So always talk to a professional that can help you decide what is best for your body.

3 Tips for Feeding Your Brain

The brain is an incredible organ.  Did you know that almost 60% of your brain is made of fat? I guess when we were kids and called each other “Fatheads” we were anatomically correct!brain-

The brain serves several functions including motor control, sensory, regulation and cognition.  It is connected to the spinal cord and then to the peripheral nerves to generate movement and receive sensations from the sensory nerves.  Cognitive function in the brain mainly occurs in the prefrontal cortex.

As we age our brain changes just like the rest of our body.  But there are things we can do to slow the degenerative changes we all face. One of the easiest things we can do is eat right for our brains.  Your brain needs vital nutrients, vitamins and fats to have proper and optimal function.

Watch this video to learn why “Your brain needs Omega-3 fatty acids to function properly”.

  1. You can start with adding more green leafy vegetables to your diet. This will help your brain and your heart.


  1. The food that gets the most coverage in the media these days are the good fats. They include Omega-3, DHA and EPA. Low levels of DHE have been linked to increased risk of dementia. So salmon and nuts should be a part of your weekly diet.


  1. Olive oil is another source of good fats. Try adding a good cold pressed virgin oil to your cooking or use it in salad dressings. Finally blueberries and red wine are also good brain food. You can add fresh or frozen blueberries to your morning cereal. I like the fact that red wine is good for the brain. Ok, in moderation, like most things. I also don’t suggest putting the wine on your cereal for breakfast either.

Does Your Body Feel Like a Beat Up Hockey Player’s?


Do you feel like a beat up hockey player in the mornings when you get out of bed?  The hockey playoffs are in full swing.  The final round of the playoffs is on.  Next stop?  The Stanley Cup Championship.  If you watch the hockey playoffs you know how hard the players check each other, fall on the ice, and sprint up and down the ice for 60 minutes.  This would make anyone’s body hurt after a long season.  But the playoffs are now achieving a different, higher level of intensity.

All this intense physical activity can take a toll on a person’s body.  Yes, most of these players are young and healthy.  But I have treated several retired professional hockey players in my practice.  I am currently treating a 65 year old retired, 5 time Stanley Cup championship player.  He played 13 years in the NHL. And boy does his body show it!  When he first can to me for treatment he was as tight as a piece of concreate with steel reinforcements. He had pain from head to toe and his body was abused and beaten up.

But I’m happy to say, with good manual therapy, he is out of pain, back on the golf course and much more flexible.  One of the biggest things that has helped Steve are the stretches that I have taught him, that he executes religiously.

So if you are stiff and sore getting out of bed every morning, know there is hope. With good manual therapy and a willingness to do “Your Homework” you can get your life back.  I call it “homework” for 2 reasons.

  1. Some people think the word “exercise” is a dirty word!
  2. The work you do when you leave my clinic is what make the difference in how fast your body recovers.

We have intelligent bodies that know how to heal themselves. My job as a manual therapist is to remove the barriers that are preventing your body from doing what it is designed to do…heal.   The home work and life style changes you make also contribute to your overall healing process.  So if a retired professional hockey player can get better, know you can too!

Starting a New Exercise Routine? Start Slow, Progress Gradually

What is the biggest mistake I see with patients starting a new exercise routine? They start too fast and too aggressively. When starting anything new- an exercise program, big project around the house or any life change – start slowly.


From a physiology stand point, your body needs time to adapt to anything new. So start slowly. Let your body adjust to the changes that you are making. As we age our bodies adapt less quickly.  If you challenge your body slowly it will accept those changes gradually. But if you start too aggressively your body will resist the change and not respond as favorably.   If you start too quickly with a new exercise program, your body will rebel by getting very sore and not letting you get out of bed the next morning!


For example, if you are starting a new walking program, start slowly. If walking is not part of your routine, start by walking 5 to 10 minutes.  If you are a little sore the next day that is good. This means you’re using your muscles in a new way. Do the 5-10 minute walk every other day until your muscles are no longer sore. Depending on your age and fitness level that may take 1 to 3 weeks.  By starting this new routine slowly you are giving your body a chance to adapt to the changes you are making. After a few weeks of being consistent with your new routine, your muscles will adapt and not be sore.  Then you can progress…gradually.


So, if you started a new walking routine for 10 minutes every other day, progress to 15 minutes. Walk 15 minutes every other day for a few weeks, until your muscles are no longer sore at this level of walking. Then progress to 20 minutes of walking, gradually increasing until you hit your goal of 40 to 60 minutes of walking 5-7 days a week.


Your body needs time to adapt and change. So give it time and be consistent.  You will get a better outcome and achieve your goals more consistently when you work with your physiology.