Rigo’s Remedy for taming tension in your upper back

Hi, everyone. My name's Rigo. I am a certified massage therapist and I am happy to be a new addition to ParkView’s healthcare team. I've been here for just three months now and in this time, I've become aware of certain things about the patients who come here and who I’ve had the privilige of working on. One of these, is that they seem to have a deeper understanding than most of how important it is to manage their health with self care and more "natural" methodologies. And they love it, of course, when their bodies function well and feel great as a result. And, as a professional, I'm glad to be here for them and to help assess and take care of their physical issues as they arise. There are always times, however, when you're at home or away, and in need of a little 'self-applied' therapy for something that you might "tweak" or an ache. So, I’d like to offer some simple but effective “tricks of the trade" to help relieve stress, stiffness and pain at home. Firstly, I recommend that you use the following:

  1. A space on the floor to lie down on, using maybe a yoga mat if you have one, or a blanket.
  2. A ball (or two) such as a tennis ball, rolling ball, hand ball, racquet ball, etc (not too soft).
  3. A yoga block or something similar in size such as a large book or two, pan, or box.
  4. Maybe some nice music in the background for relaxation.
  5. Dimmed lighting or closed curtains for relaxation as well.
  6. And be sure to not be hungry or full, just somewhere in between.

Now, just FYI, your upper back has major muscles on either side like the letter “T.” The vertical line represents your spine, going up and down and the horizontal line represents your shoulders, right and left.  Except for the bony center of the spine and the bony parts of the shoulders and shoulder blades, it's largely muscle, and it's muscle that frequently gathers tension due, simply, to the physical motions required by living in a "muscle-body" (not to mention, stress) The upper back is also affected by both arm and neck movements as well. So, I'd like to share with you a technique I'ved learned that focusses on this area to help alleviate this tension whenever you might experience it;

The idea, generally, is to use body-weight pressure on a certain point on the body (and, in this case using a ball or two) by doing the following;

  1. Lie down flat on your back on the floor (and mat), keeping your knees bent (to support your lower back) with feet flat on the floor .
  2. While on your back, gently place the balls under your back between your spine and shoulder blades. Adjust them until they 'feel' just right. 
  3. Then just lie there on the balls for about two minutes while slowly taking nice and long, but gentle, deep breaths.
  4. Following that, and when you feel ready, with both hands clasped together behind your head, gently lift your head up, bringing your chin to your chest.
  5. Still breathing gently and slowly, what this does is create a deep "pin and stretch" effect, allowing for a deeper tension release.
  6. As shown in the diagram below, this technique can be performed on three different parts of the upper back.
  7. Repeat on each point up to three times.  Happy Healing, and Happy Holidays too!  RIGO

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BUTTER PALEO CAKE By Bill

BILL'S BUTTER CAKE 

Hi everyone. 

Happy December. Boy, this one came fast, but don’t they always? :) 

So, as this is the season for ‘sweet’ treats, I thought I would “go with the flow” and offer you something sweet, (but not too sweet), and relatively healthful to try out. And btw, while there is a good amount of butter in this recipe, unless you eat the whole cake yourself, there's really not too much. And besides, like a lot of things, butter's really not the "bad guy" it's been made out to be over the years (by lobbyists and advertisers). Like with most things though, "all things in moderation." There's no wheat flour too, so it's a lot better for you, even if you're not gluten-sensitive. And btw, you could eat the whole cake yourself, if you wanted to. I would just suggest you do it over the space of a few days :) (Store in an airtight container or covered, in the fridge and just reheat when you're ready for a piece).

So, essentially, it is a cake, with a fairly basic cake batter which, by itself, will make a tasty "pound cake"-type cake, (although, way more moist), however, you can also ‘customize’ it by adding one or more optional ingredients, according to your personal tastes and preferences. So, the basic cake batter is as follows; 

In a large mixing bowl, place; 1 cup of Almond flour, 1 cup of Coconut flour, 2 tsps of baking powder and an 1/8th of a tsp of salt and mix together.  

In a smaller bowl, add 4 eggs, ½ a cup of milk, 1 tsp Vanilla essence (2 for more of a Vanilla flavor), and mix until blended. 

In a small pot, place ½ a cup of sugar (preferably raw) and 12 tbls of butter (3/4 cup) and heat on low heat until completely melted. Stir to blend then add it to the mix of eggs and milk and slowly whisk or beat until blended. Now add this mix to the larger bowl of dry ingredients and further mix it all together to create the cake batter.  

Pour the batter into a greased 9”X 13” (or similar size) cake tin or Pyrex dish and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes . . . . . . OR, you could add and mix in one or more of the following ingredients to the batter before baking it, depending on your personal preference; 

½ cup of chopped walnuts 

½ cup of chocolate chips 

½ cup of raisins 

(or whatever else you think you might like to add. Personally, I like a version with all three additives but also one with just raisins). “Variety is the spice of life.” 

Serving suggestion; slice up and serve warm with a dollop (or two) of freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

By the way; 

"Bob’s Red Mill Brand" has both Almond and Coconut Flour (Whole Foods, Lazy Acres, and even some Ralph’s). 

Also, I do prefer raw sugar as opposed to white and refined, largely because the white has all the “goodness” extracted from it, otherwise, white sugar works fine.  For that extra level of seasonal "naughtyness," and "eye-appeal" as well, add a light powdering of powered sugar over it once it's cooked (place about a 1/4 cup in a fine strainer and 'tap' it evenly all over the cake when cooled).

And finally, enjoy!!, HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY SEASON too!!, and ‘see’ you next year.   BILL ;) 

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Illness Helps by Dr. Allen Arnette

As we all know, the holiday season brings us great joy, excitement and celebration with our families and friends.  It also can bring about great changes to our overall health and well-being.  There are our increased social commitments, weather changes, and for most of us, changes in both the way we eat and what we eat.  All of these components influence and challenge our health and sense of well-being.  It is no wonder we leave the holiday season feeling tired and unbalanced, with many of us feeling physically unwell. 

Most of us can see the signs ranging from simple sniffles and sneezes, fevers and coughs, to more severe infections and illnesses.  While no one likes these “normal” experiences, they're actually a natural and necessary part of maintaining our health and well-being. This may sound new or even odd to some, to refer to an “illness” as necessary, but ancient medicinal practices remind us that what we, in the modern world, refer to as a “cold” is nature’s way of cleaning us out from within. To simply stop these biological processes just because they're inconvenient or uncomfortable is unwise and even detrimental to our health. In Chinese medicine (Taoist medicine), working on or taking care of our internal health is the most important step we can take in order to give our best potential to ourselves, our families, work and society in general.  

Biologically, we as living organisms all have debris at the cellular level consisting of slow functioning and decaying cells.  Normally, our immune cells (macrophages) “eat up” this debris so that we remain clean and function at our best.  Yet, much of the time, our bodies are tired, busy and not functioning at their best. This is often due to society's message that, “You should keep working at all costs!” (even your health), implying that tending to yourself is weak, inferior or lazy.    

Yet, what does it mean to take care of our symptoms?  Isn’t taking a sip of "NyQuil" good for a cold or flu, "Mucinex" for all forms of phlegm, "Allegra" for our histamine reactions, or cortisone for our inflammations?  These over-the-counter medications all (potentially) change how we are feeling at the moment, but are these approaches really a solution to help us to heal and be the best we can be?  

We have been led to believe and conditioned to assume that we are better off by quickly reducing our symptoms for better health.  This is part of the reason for the ineffectiveness of modern healthcare.  There is no “magic pill”.  Every symptom is there for a reason.  Not one symptom is miscellaneous!  To keep it simple, our body needs illness to clean, repair and replenish.  A week in bed under the covers is good for the mind, body and a balanced chemistry. Therefore, supporting our chemistry is best when we 'embrace' our illnesses.  

Soups, waters, healing and medicinal herbs, appropriate supplements, energetic balancing, and others techniques all support the body’s natural way of healing and repairing. I consistently see more and more patients who “get” this increasingly popular world view and not only recover well and fully, but have less and less illness over their life-times.    

When “gunk” stays in the system, and is pushed down by suppressive drugs and over-the-counter remedies, the body will prepare for submission by getting sicker and weaker.  This is particularly true for the elderly with weakened immune systems.  

Remember that health is what happens when we’re not actively being “appropriate!”  Health is the natural response to whatever imbalances occur in the body, it just may not be convenient or comfortable.  Allowing yourself and your body to heal is life's best antibiotic. Your grandmother's advice was right!  Stay warm, get some rest, and a little bit of her chicken soup was, and still is the best medicine. 

- Dr. Allen Arnette

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