Teens and young adults are under more stress now than young people of earlier generations. Counseling can help build resilience and healthy ways to cope, supporting young people as they discover who they are and how they can do well in the world.
Mind Body Therapy is a therapeutic somatic or yoga practice, specifically designed to address your personal health goals. It can be compared to a cross between physical therapy, yoga, and meditation.
Low back pain treatments work with soft tissues and the nervous system to correct imbalances and address dysfunction. Bodywork, acupuncture, counseling, and somatics are all effective, and can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan to address the specific causes of your low back pain.
Restorative practice is a proven way to offer the body and mind opportunities for deep rest. This rest then turns the complex systems of the body away from stress, creating space for deep healing and rebalancing.
Restorative practices balance the effects of stress on the body. Stress serves an important role in keeping us alive through threatening circumstances, but it is also a complex biological response that is designed to be temporary and flushed out of the system when the threat has passed. Restorative practices are able to help with that after-stress reset.
Restorative practices use techniques that create space for deep rest in the body and mind. Often, the goal is to create conditions where tension can be released in layers, allowing the body to be held by gravity instead of internal force.
As physical tension releases, the heart rate begins to slow and the breath deepens. The nervous system begins to change modes away from stress and adrenaline responses. Digestion improves and the body sends more nourishment to tissues so that they can repair and heal. The more muscular tension releases, the more blood and oxygen is able to flow through the body.
Restorative practice also nourishes the mind. Deep rest resets the nervous system, which helps calm anxiety. Shifting the nervous system away from stress mode also decreases pain levels, as the nervous system is able to turn the volume down on the pain signals themselves.
Releasing stress and restoring the body and mind to a calm, nourishing state is a key to maintaining and creating health. Restorative practice can take many forms, including classes, bodywork, mindfulness, or other therapies. With enough restoration, we are able to prevent becoming locked into chronic stress patterns and the dysfunction they cause.
Fascia is connective tissue. It connects every part of the body with every other part, wrapping around muscles and holding organs in place. Addressing issues in the fascia can reduce pain, increase range of motion, and help nourish muscles and nerves.
Fascia does not stretch. It is made mostly of collagen fibers, and it responds to how we regularly use our bodies. When we do one thing most of the time, like sit at a desk, the fascia will respond by growing in ways that hold that shape. When we then stand or run or stretch, the adjusted shape of the fascia can make that difficult or painful.
We can change the shape of our fascia by lengthening it. Moving our bodies regularly, especially using our full range of motion, helps the fascia grow in ways that facilitate that movement. Bodywork is also very effective for lengthening fascia. Bodyworkers are able to address shortened tissues and thickened fascia, and ashiatsu (foot pressure) techniques are especially effective for lengthening.
Structural Integration is a form of bodywork that is specifically focused on working with fascia. It works to reorganize the connective tissues of the body. This helps restore range of motion, reduces chronic muscle tension, and can often resolve long standing pain issues.
Fascia can also be changed through hydration. The collagen fibers of fascia are bathed in fluid, mostly lymph. Therapy balls and foam rollers are able to move fluid through the fascia directly. Bodywork also moves it. Applying pressure to the skin pushes fluid through the fascia. This redistributes nutrients and helps hydrate the tissues. In this case, hydration is not about how much water you drink, but about how well that fluid is distributed in the body.
Fascia is a part of the body that literally connects us to ourselves. When it is too tight, too loose, or too thick, it can contribute to a lot of pain and dysfunction. There are proven integrative care techniques to treat fascia, helping to address issues and create health.
Therapy balls address and support the body, helping to reduce pain, release tension, nourish tissues, and address structural issues. They are helpful for regular self-care practice, to address chronic tension areas, and as a supplement to other integrative care.
A therapy ball can be rolled along a tight muscle or pressed into a trigger point, addressing the tissue in a way that is similar to bodywork. Because of its shape, the ball is able to stretch the muscle fibers in all three directions, working efficiently to release tension. With the right positioning, you can control how deep you are working with the ball in order to find what works best for you.
Therapy balls can also be used to support the release of deep tension in the structure of the body. When partially deflated, they are able to provide a unique support to complex structures, like the sacrum or diaphragm. This kind of supportive stimulation allows stabilizers to release and engage in new ways, and can help connective tissue adjust in order to create space and improve range of motion.
Balls are also able to stimulate blood, lymph, and nutrient flow in order to nourish tissues. A lot of muscle and nerve pain is related to restricted blood flow, usually because muscle tension is blocking circulation to those tissues. The pressure of a therapy ball squeezes older fluids out of the tissue so that a fresh supply of blood, oxygen, and other nutrients can flow back in.
Therapy balls are an effective component of integrative care. They are easy to use at home to address tension, muscle pain, and achy joints. Balls are also effective for prolonging and supporting the benefits of bodywork sessions, and are often incorporated in more complex ways into somatics classes.
Mindful rest and conscious relaxation creates a cascade of health benefits in the body. This is because our bodies and minds function best when they have a chance to reset themselves. Crucial processes for maintaining health engage best when we allow our bodies and minds to come into deep rest.
From a stress perspective, our biology is designed to experience stress as a response to an immediate threat. When that immediate threat passes, our stress response ramps back down and the body returns to a calmer, more relaxed state. However, modern stress involves few immediate threats and a lot of ongoing, low-level threats, which means that we don’t usually complete the stress cycle and return to the relaxed state.
This is why mindful rest is such a powerful practice. Our mind is one of our main means of assessing threats, and we can redirect that mental energy toward rest instead. Not only does it help turn off a driver of escalating stress responses, but helps to actively counter those responses with feelings of rest, relaxation, and safety.
When we consciously turn our attention to resting and releasing tension from the mind and body, it helps reset the nervous system. The heart rate slows, breath deepens, and blood pressure lowers. Tension begins to drain out of the diaphragm, the pelvis, and the neck and shoulders. As muscles relax, nutrients, oxygen, and blood are able to circulate more freely to nourish and repair tissue. When tension releases along the spine, vertebra are able to make subtle adjustments toward alignment. The nervous system is also able to turn down the volume on pain signals to the brain and improve regulation of body systems like digestion, circulation, and sleep.
The more we practice mindfully resting, the better we are able to teach ourselves how to relax. We are using neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to learn and change, in order to cultivate stronger paths to relaxation in the nervous system. Over time, this changes our habits and patterns of stress and tension, allowing us to return to a restful state more easily.
Mindful rest and conscious relaxation is a practice, which means that it is most effective when done regularly and on purpose. By peeling away layers of stress and unwinding tension, we are able to support the natural biological processes that support and create health.
Sciatica is pain from the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lumbar spine, through the hip, and down the leg to the foot. The pain can be felt anywhere along the path of the nerve, and can range from minor to severe.
Treatment for sciatica involves working with the structures of the back and hip that may be impinging on the nerve. The piriformis muscle of the hip is the most famous cause of sciatic pain, but it is not the only cause. Our posture, the way we walk, how we sit, and other habitual body habits change how our muscles work together over time, and when those systems become imbalanced, the ways they compensate often cause pain.
Sciatica treatment focuses on releasing tension, freeing adhered tissue, and addressing the structure and range of motion around the sciatic nerve, as well as other related issues that are causing imbalance and stress in the body. Often, a combination of bodywork, acupuncture, and somatic movement can help reduce and often resolve sciatica.
Bodywork works with the tissues directly to free adhesions, restore range of motion, and reduce muscular tension that may be impinging on the nerve. It also increases blood and nutrient flow to the nerve, which helps reduce pain signaling. Bodywork is also able to address complex causes of sciatica, like neck or shoulder tension, that in turn is affecting the hips and low back and so contributing to the pain.
Acupuncture is proven to be effective for pain treatment, including sciatica. It helps tone the nervous system, turning down the volume on pain signals from the nerve to the brain. When the body has been in pain for a while, or the issue has become chronic, the pain signals can get caught in a feedback loop that gets worse over time. Acupuncture is able to safely reset this process, which helps the restore nervous system health.
Somatic movement, like yoga or feldenkrais, brings awareness to where and how the body moves in space. It helps reconnect the brain to movement patterns in the body, and to rejuvenate tissues through movement, stretching, and using a larger range of motion. This in turn reduces tension in the body and helps address dysfunctional movement patterns.
Sciatica can be persistent, painful, and frustrating. Effective treatment understands that it is the result of dysfunction in complex structures of the body and works to release tension, restore function, and rebalance the nervous system in order to manage the pain and create health.
Low back pain is a very common health issue, and it tends to be something that people deal with for long stretches of time, sometimes for years or even decades. The conversation around low back pain often sounds mechanical, as if certain body parts are malfunctioning. However, the low back is part of a system of movement, and walking correctly can help correct dysfunction and reduce pain.
In order to treat low back pain, the hips need to rotate when we walk. To do this, make sure your feet and knees are pointing straight ahead, and your legs are swinging straight with each step, not out to the side. A way to practice is to walk on a flat curb, or with your feet on either side of a line painted on the road. Rotating the hips engages the muscles of the low back with each step, and allows the muscles of the hip to release periodically instead of always staying tight. This improves the body mechanics of our entire spine and back, our pelvis, and our core musculature.
When the low back is engaged while walking, it does two things. First, it builds strength and stability in the soft tissue, which then supports and stabilizes the spine. A more supported lumbar spine is less likely to become compressed, pinch nerves, or go out of alignment. Low back engagement while walking also helps to release tension in those muscles. It brings in blood flow and oxygen, stretching and moving the muscle fibers so that they are less likely to grow rigid or go into spasm.
Part of being able to walk correctly requires building body awareness, which is a skill that many people have not been taught how to have. Bodywork and Somatics classes both help the brain learn how to better sense where the body is in space and how it is moving. Once we can sense that, we can begin to adjust our movement patterns in order to better support our health.
Learning to walk correctly can effectively treat back pain because our bodies are made to move. When we move with correct alignment and muscle engagement, we free up our natural ability to function and heal. This in turn reduces pain and works to create health.