Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fire and Ice...and Wood and Metal and Earth...

So I had a great conversation with my wife Keisha last night in regards to what we, in the bodywork business, refer to as Energy Work. For those of you who think you don't know what that is, it just so happens that you do! Ever hear of Acupuncture? Shiatsu? No? Not so much? Not even a little?

The beauty of Energy Work is that it takes a lot less muscle/coordination/moving than your average cookie-cutter massage. Unfortunately, it takes a whole lot MORE focus on the therapist's part. It is a lot harder than you think (at least for me it was) to make certain that you are completely focused on the energy you are creating.

Energy Work gets a bad rap around the medical community. People don't believe that energy, referred to as "Chi" is real. They don't believe that simply holding points, putting pins in these same points, or softly manipulating the bones of the skull with about as much pressure as the weight of a coin in your hand can really rid someone of chronic migraines, get rid of pain, and even release pent-up emotions. Some people do believe in it, but not nearly as many that should.

So now you might ask "But Steve! What kind of things are considered Energy Work? Do you know any of them?" I would smile and nod, saying "Yes. As a matter of fact I do." Unfortunately I'm not near as good at them as I am Injury, Trigger Point, or Structural Integration. Now then, in answer to the first question, I have created a list...It won't have all the types for sure, because I only know a few. But there is a world of energy out there...

Acupuncture- Acupuncture is the method of hooking small needles through the top layer of skin above specific points called "Acupoints." You can actually break it down even more into smaller classes of points like "Tsu Points" or "Bo points." This is a modality that is incredibly old, starting very early on in ancient oriental history. They used it to heal and also relax...and they CONTINUE TO USE IT TODAY! Sometimes people even light the little needles on fire! Pretty cool stuff. That's as much as I know on that subject.

Acupressure- Acupressure is a bit different than Acupuncture. Acupressure does not use the little needle gizmos; it gains its energy from the therapist themselves. The therapist supplies the energy by focusing their Chi, which in and of itself is not easy. They then use a light touch on the same "Acupoints" and simply hold them for a while. It is from the same background as Acupuncture, and it is amazing. I love to receive it. Anyway, it is used to help people relax, get rid of pain, even help in the delivery of a baby!

Note: Different problems correspond to different areas to work, which lie in the midst of what we call Meridians. The Meridians are named after the elements; Fire, Water, Wood, Metal, and Earth. There is also personality traits that correspond to those same five. I can put up a test sometime if you want to see what you are...

Shiatsu- Shiatsu is Japanese for "finger pressure." It also works with the Meridians, but it's not really similar other than that. You do this work on the floor, adding stretches and compressions to different areas. It's used to increase mobility and flexibility through your entire body. It is pretty freakin' sweet! I happen to rock the world at Shiatsu. I even own a nice Shiatsu mat to use!

Cranio-Sacral Therapy- This is used to manipulate the bones of your skull through doing simple lifting and compressing of certain areas on the head. This one is actually used by chiropractors (sometimes) and massage therapists alike. It can do some amazing things. It is used a lot for headaches, which is why it is so valuable for MT's like myself. We see A LOT of people with headaches. It is also very relaxing, and has been known to put people to sleep. Being an insomniac, I can reassure you that it works!

Now, after all of that background, I can fill you in on my talk with my Beloved. She tends to excell in this area of massage; I don't. I can do it, but I just don't have the connection to the energy like she does. We got talking, and would like to start implementing it into our practice. If you are interested in trying any of these out, we'd be happy to oblige...provided you are not currently a student at UCMT, either of us can work on you. If you are a student, then Keish still could, but I signed a non-fraternization clause that would conflict with my working on you.

Do yourself a favor. Take me up on this. I'll make it worth your while. For every client that you refer to us that repeats (returns at least once) , I will give you a free 30 minute massage. Not bad yeah? We also offer Hot Stone massage as well as Structural Integration, Trigger Point, Deep Tissue, Reflexology, and Sports massage. You scratch my back, and I'll make yours feel amazing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Exorcism of Your Body's Demons

So it recently occured to me just how cool bodywork/massage therapy really is. I mean, I already knew, but I received a few reminders in the last month or two that really reiterated the point. I thought I would talk about them a bit.

About a month ago, I worked on someone we'll call Wendy for privacy's sake. Wendy had been having some back problems, mostly due to a fused vertebra in her lower back and sitting at a desk all day long. I gave her the quick interrogation I always do, trying to isolate the root of the problem and bring any chronic holding patterns to light. For those of you who don't know what a chronic holding pattern is, I will enlighten you. A CHP is an unconcious shortening of tissue due to repetition of an action. For example, you could be elevating a shoulder to hold your phone to your ear or holding a child on the same hip.

Anyway, Wendy was in some severe pain and had very little range of motion in her entire back. I decided I would use some Injury techniques mixed with my specialty, Trigger Point. Trigger Point is focused on eliminating the 'knots' everyone has. (It's starting to seem like I need to post a glossary of terms...maybe I'll work on that later). I began my work in her upper neck and shoulders, trying to determine if the trigger points up north could be cranking on the southern regions of the torso. I found several good ones, some that even get my favorite nickname for a trigger point, 'demons.'

And then Wendy said it...She looked up as we finished on a particularly nasty one, and said "OH! You're like an exorcist!" I found it very difficult to stop laughing! She giggled and confessed she had just watched "The Exorcist" recently, so it had just been on the surface of her mind. We had a good laugh, joking that I should put my new title on my business cards. We finished up, and lo and behold, Wendy was standing up straight! The trigger points had definitely been detrimental to her already injured back. She thanked me, left me a $10 tip, and went on to get her adjustment from one of the chiropractors I work for.

I haven't seen Wendy since, but for us bodyworkers, sometimes that's a good sign. She hasn't been in the office to see one of the doctors either, so I suppose that's positive.

I also had an interesting experience working on my sister the other night. She had been suffering from severe neck pain, radiating all the way into her shoulders and back. I was in Mesquite with my wife Keisha when it first set in, so my poor sis had to wait for my return earlier this week for any help in getting relief, aside from the magic pill Percoset(?). I called her when I heard and determined that it was probably a nerve trapped in between muscles. In football, they call what she had a "stinger."

I began working on her, which, for the record, was intense. I basically had to chisel granite off the top of her shoulders to get down to the likely culprits of her pain. It was tough going at first; it took about 1/2 an hour to see much in the way of progress. I pulled out my Structural tools (strokes) and, with renewed determination, started being a bit more agressive. We focused all over the shoulder girdle, into the pecs, up the neck, and down the arms. We even busted out some old school Mineral Ice (it's like Icy Hot I think) to try and soothe her pissed off muscles. Finally, I remembered something from one of my first classes in school; vibration has sedative properties. I asked my mom if she had a vibrating massager, and she found one for me to use.

This, my friends, is where it gets cool! I placed it on the top of her shoulder, right above the AC joint. All of a sudden, her arm started twitching and flipping around of its own accord! I have never seen a limb jump like that! I moved the massager, and it stopped. I put it back, and someone call Dancing With the Stars! The vibration softened the tissue, and I was finally able to work the trigger points and muscles causing the majority of the problems. She felt better when she left, and I hope to hear she's on the mend.

I really love what I do. I have never had a job that instilled this much passion in me. I hope to the heavens I am able to do this for a long time. There's a lot of bodies in the world that need exorcising, and The Exorcist is on the hunt!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Idol vs. American Idiocy

Only once a year (for a number of weeks) do we get to see the phenomenon known as American Idol...which is both regrettable yet at the same time a bit fortunate. I find myself drawn to it, both as a fan of music, and as a fan of trainwrecks (musically of course). It is indeed an oddity in my personality; I'm not often conflicted on things. But this is different...I guess...

First of all, one must divulge the x-factor of American Idol...the raw musical talent buried deep in the small towns and large cities of this great nation. Originally, I despised the show. Then, I watched the season finale' won by Carrie Underwood. To be completely honest, I kept watching because she is not...well, ugly...Anyway, I had an interest in the show from then on.

The next season started, sluggish at first, but the momentum started building when I heard a few great auditions. Then it came to the stage; and I was bored out of my mind. However, a soft-spoken Southerner came on and sang "Hemorrhage" by Fuel. I have, to this day, never heard it sung better. I have never jumped up and down on a couch from a performance before or since, and I had to bow down to Chris Daughtry.

The season progressed, and Mr. Daughtry was robbed! A few short months after the Grey-Haired, Dancing Nobody won, Daughtry's album came out and exploded off the shelves. I was one of the people who purchased it the day it came out. Unfortunately, everyone hates those songs now because of the radio overplaying them. But no one can deny the raw talent that man has.

Well, needless to say I've been disappointed by the Idols since (less so with David Cook but a little) Chris Daughtry, and so far the auditions offer nothing but the same. I don't think I've ever heard so many people slaughter Bon Jovi in the span of 10 minutes! I know I don't have the best voice in the world, but man, these people are just bad! It's hard to tell if they are just good ol' fashioned American Dreamers, or if they are just American Idiots.

Some people just need to accept that they aren't meant to be rock stars. But this sparks the question in my head and in my heart: Am I a dreamer? or am I just another American Idiot trying to prove myself with the brand of my guitar and not the brand of my voice?

*Thanks to the great Green Day album for the term "American Idiot."

Friday, January 9, 2009

I suck a little bit

I was the one who really did the Best/Worst...I hadn't figured out the whole profile thingy. Matt is a stud for helping. Peace.

Best and Worst of 2008

Well kids, I'm new at this blogging thing. This is the maiden voyage post, so I hope you enjoy it. These are the Best and Worst Albums and Movies of the Year Awards (the Steves).

Best Albums

1. Trapt: Only Through the Pain...
This was definitely the most surprisingly good album I purchased this year. I've been a fan of Trapt for a very long time, but I haven't expected much since their 2005 release "Someone in Control." Needless to say I was disappointed with that one...Anywho OTTP is their top-tier release of their 3. The songs I found the most enjoyable are "Who's Going Home With You Tonight?", with it's catchy rockin' chorus, and "Only One in Color" filling in as the lovey ballad thing. Honorable mention goes to "Ready When You Are", just because I've been there.

2. Hinder: Take It to the Limit
I know, I know...Hinder is one of the most overplayed, and up until now, overrated bands on the planet. This album took a different turn than their first album, "Extreme Behavior." They gave up trying to be 'hard rock' and embraced their southern roots to fall in to the 'dirty rock' category. The guitar work is excellent, and every track has something to offer. Not to mention the fact that it can get your adrenaline pumping. This is an excellent work-out soundtrack. Check out "Take It to the Limit", "Heaven Sent", and their single "Use Me".

3. Allred: The Sound
For years now I've been boosting local artist John Allred to anyone with ears. I've enjoyed every album the man has put out, but this one is different. I pretty much want to get down on my knees and perform the "We're not worthy!" thingy from Wayne's World. I adore this album! The heartfelt lyrics blended with John's soulful voice tie you up by the heartstrings as you listen to message-packed record. My favs are "Luna", "This Last Line", and "Stay".

4. Nickleback: Dark Horse
Now I know not everyone digs the Canadians that sound like southern rock. I happen to be a huge fan. Love them or hate them, you cannot deny the success these guys have had since their American debut in the early 2000's. If you are a fan, check out "Gotta Be Somebody", "Never Gonna Be Alone", and "Shaking Hands".

Honorable Mentions: Rev Theory: "Light it Up", Red: "End of Silence", Metallica: "Death Magnetic", and The Offspring: "Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace".

My Disappointments

1. David Cook: Self-Titled
I can't say too much to rag this album. Let's just say that after hearing Chris Daughtry's first album, then comparing it to this, Daughtry gets the Idol Rocker title a little longer. But make sure to check out "Permanent", "Life on the Moon", and "Declaration".

2. Fall Out Boy: Folie' a Deux
I was very VERY let down by this one. The lead-off single "I Don't Care" is pretty much the only song that didn't make me cry a little inside due to sub-par writing. It's basically a bunch of songs not good enough for their previous albums "Infinity on High", and "From Under the Cork Tree".

3. Buckcherry: Black Butterfly
2006 album "Fifteen" pretty much rearranged my favorite bands with Buckcherry soaring to the northern end. "Black Butterfly" was iffy for me. Worth purchasing? Yes. Just by "Fifteen" first.

P.S.- I got really sick of that "All Summer Long" song by Kid Rock.

Best Movies of the Year

1. The Dark Knight- Hands down my favorite movie. R.I.P. Heath Ledger. No one can replace The Joker.

2. Wanted- Amazing movie. Angelina Jolie is absolutely smokin' in this movie. Not all that unusual, but this one has a killer story too.

3. Death Race- Very cool movie. Jason Statham kicks some serious butt...not too much story in his way either, but it's like a Twisted Metal movie! (TM is a Playstation game series where cars with weapons blow each other up).

4. Iron Man- Not as good as the Dark Knight, but still a very solid superhero movie. Robert Downey Jr. is Keisha's new crush...

Let Downs

1. The Ruins- Looked like a really awesome scary movie, raw and primal. But plants really aren't that scary.

2. Tropic Thunder- Keish loved it. I didn't much care for it. I laughed a bit yes, but it kind of gave away the funniest parts in the previews.

3. Prom Night- I can't say I loved it. I can't say I hated it. Unfortunately all I can say is "eh."