The Healing Power of Water

You’ve probably been told to drink water after a massage to “flush away the toxins.”  As I mentioned in my recent blog post about massage myths, a massage does not increase or release toxins in your system.

However, there are many great reasons to drink water, and water rich beverages.   A recent Consumer Reports article urging us to move away from sugary drinks lists EIGHT different benefits to your body.

Do you know what percentage of our body is composed of water?

a)30%     b) 45%       c) 60%    Read on to find out!


Here’s how much to consume per day, and eight for-real benefits.  From all sources including your food, try to get 11 – 16 cups per day. So if you are eating lots of fruits and veggies, those count quite a bit towards your total. Also factor in your size, the weather, and your activity level to see if you need to increase your intake.

Staying well hydrated helps you to:

1) Prevent or relieve a headache.

2) Fight a fever.

3) Improve your digestion.

4) Moderate your appetite.

5) Make your heart’s job easier.

6) Improve athletic performance.

7) Boost your cooling under hot conditions.

8) Improve your mood.

Yes, it’s true – our bodies are 60% water, so drink up!

Source: Catherine Roberts in Consumer Reports, October 2017

The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy: What Research Confirms

During my massage training, and over the years that I have practiced massage, I have heard many times through classes and articles that there are many health benefits and specific effects of massage therapy. In a valuable new e-book by oncology massage expert Tracy Walton, we can discover which of these claims is backed up by a solid collection of studies, and which are vague and unsubstantiated.

Among those claims that should be dropped are many that have been repeated so often that we all assume that they are true. But we certainly know the danger in accepting statements without checking the references.

If you would like to read the whole book, it is laid out in a easy to read e-book with many pictures and diagrams at the Massage Therapy Foundation Website: Five Myths and Truths about Massage Therapy

In the book Walton carefully distinguishes between clinical outcomes and mechanistic outcomes. We have tended to makes mechanistic claims such as that massage elevates endorphins, lowers cortisol, increases circulation, or “detoxifies”.  Mostly these are not supported by research.  The good news is that important clinical outcomes ARE supported, such as lowering pain and reducing anxiety.

Back Pain and Depression – the Chicken and the Egg

From Consumer Reports, June 2017:  Pain may stem from a physical cause, “But it’s perceived in the brain,” says Robert Kerns, Ph.D., a professor at Yale University. …  “That means that pain can amplify-or even cause- depression and anxiety, and vice versa.“

Clients often ask me to tell them how serious is their muscle dysfunction or tension.  I say that what you feel is more important than what I feel.  To understand your pain and/or anxiety and depression, it helps to look at your whole experience.

We tend to look first for a accident or activity that may have caused pain.  But there are many other questions to ask:  How is your sleep? Your diet?  What kind of stresses are you under?  How are you taking care of yourself? All of these factors affect how painful you experience your muscle tension. Serious, even disabling pain may have a primary cause that is not physical.

Massage therapy can help whether the anxiety and stress caused the pain, or the pain caused the anxiety.

For the complete article, see

Consumer Reports

Causes and Prevention of Back Pain

The June 2017 issue of Consumer Reports featured a comprehensive  look at the causes and treatments of back pain.

The 5 most common causes:

1)  Muscle Injuries:    cause one third of all back pain

2)  Degenerative Disc changes.  This is a normal part of aging, but often does NOT cause pain

3)  Bulging or slipped discs. May cause sciatica.

4)  Spinal Stenosis.  Thickening of bones or ligaments can irritate nerves

5)  Spinal Instability

Strong and healthy core muscles play a big part in preventing and recovering from back pain.  Almost everyone tweaks, sprains, or injures their back at some point in their life.  Stay ahead of the game by getting regular massage and doing core strengthening exercises.

If you do have sudden severe low back pain, it is often a strain of the Quadratus Lumborum muscle. Massage and patience are two keys to surviving the acute stage of this injury.

Options for core strengthening include yoga, physical therapy, swimming, and strength training.  In general, avoid the circuit weight machines because they support your core. You miss the opportunity to balance your whole body.  In worst cases they can lead to exaggerated muscle imbalances.

One of my favorite sources for excellent whole body workouts including beginner and advanced difficulty is Jessica Smith TV.  She has many free videos on YouTube, as well as programs to purchase.