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Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
December, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 12
What About My Brain?
Staying Mentally Fit
By Sharon Puszko, PhD, LMT
Being a massage therapist, I am aware of how my body sometimes feels, in terms of muscle soreness, fatigue, illness or general aches and pains, since all of these symptoms can affect my ability to work.Recently, after an extended period of traveling in which I became quite sleep deprived, I began to focus on the other aspects of our health: the mental component of it. After all, without our brain functioning properly, none of our muscles would function properly, either. Information on keeping our brain healthy has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, as advances in medical equipment have helped scientists learn more about how this mysterious organ works. Recent research has demonstrated that one's exercise, diet, sleep, and career can impact the health of one's brain. There is also growing consensus in the medical community that certain choices about exercise and diet can impact the likelihood of being challenged with memory problems and Alzheimer's disease.
Sleep On It
A study headed up by Matthew Walker, PhD, director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, examined how sleep, specifically, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, impacts our ability to read emotions in other people's faces. In the study, recently reported in Time magazine, 36 adult volunteers were asked to interpret the facial expressions of people in photographs, following either a 60-minute nap, 90-minute nap or no nap at all. Participants who had reached REM sleep (when vivid dreaming mostly occur) during their nap were better able to identify expressions of positive emotions like happiness in other people than participants who did not achieve REM sleep or did not nap at all. In fact, those volunteers who did not experience REM sleep, were more sensitive to negative expressions such as anger and fear.
According to Walker, dreaming (REM sleep) allows the brain to sift through that day's events, process any negative emotion attached to them, then strip it away from the memories: "(REM sleep) tries to ameliorate the sharp emotional chips and dents that life gives you along the way." Walker continues, "Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap."1
So, what does all this mean to you? Our success as massage therapists largely depends on our ability to perceive and connect with our client's emotional state during a massage. If a client does not feel a "connection" with his therapist, he is less likely to benefit from the massage, and less likely to return to that therapist. Likewise, the more connection a client feels with his therapist, the more likely he is to become a repeat client, and the more likely he is to recommend massage to someone else. Therefore, going to bed one hour earlier, or taking a quick nap during the day really can have an impact on the success of your business.
We all know the importance of exercise for maintaining a healthy weight and healthy heart, increasing the longevity of life and improving the quality of sleep. It now appears that exercise also effects the brain, in particular the regions that relate to Alzheimer's. In August 2010, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign published findings from research led by Dr. Art Kramer at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. The research team was interested in examining the effect of exercise on neural connectivity between regions of the brain that function together in a kind of "network". For example, the default mode network (DMN) is responsible for people passively engaging with their environment, such as day-dreaming. The DMN and other similar networks seem to lose activity with age, and Kramer's research has shown that the brains of people with Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and older adults struggle to control the DMN. This study demonstrated that just moderate exercise (40 minutes a day, three times per week), can increase connectivity in the DMN, which aids with planning, strategizing and multitasking.2
It is beginning to seem like the benefits of exercise are endless! While some are vigilant about exercising regularly, others are easily bored by it. For those of you who aren't fans of working out in the traditional manner, there are plenty alternative activities that will not only exercise your body, but ALSO your brain! The following are some great activities (found in a recent article "Everyday Ways to Stay Sharp"):
To Read or Not to Read?
That is the question. There seems to be good reason our educators thrust British Literature upon us in high school. We have known for a long time that reading keeps the brain active and encourages good writing skills. However, we now know that reading Shakespeare has a particular effect on the brain that goes beyond the normal benefits. New studies link Shakespeare's linguistic technique known as "functional shift" (e.g. using a noun to serve as a verb) with positive brain stimulation. This process causes a sudden peak in brain activity and forces the brain to work differently in order to fully understand what Shakespeare is trying to say.
According to Philip Davis, an English professor at the University of Liverpool, "The brain reacts to reading a phrase such as 'he godded me' from the tragedy of Coriolanus, in a similar way to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. If it is easy to see which pieces slot together you become bored of the game, but if the pieces don't appear to fit, when we know they should, the brain becomes excited."4
With that information in mind, I would recommend inquiring at your public library about any Shakespeare book clubs. If you have the financial means, and a community college nearby, you could consider taking a literature class on Shakespeare. OMG, there is so much I can do to work on my brain! There are many more things one can do to keep the brain healthy and active: switch hands when writing or play sports, do crossword puzzles, eat well, journal, and just play.
We have just recently begun to understand the relationship between our external environment and its effect on the brain. It is an exciting area of study, especially when thinking about the connection between wellness and brain function. I look forward to learning more about the link between massage and brain function, and the possibilities it will lead to in our profession.
Sharon Puszko is the owner/director/educator for Day-Break Geriatric Massage Institute. She may be contacted at
or through her Web site: www.daybreak-massage.com.
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