Massage for Special Needs: Communication Is Key

By Katie Meyer, LMT, CFT, Sans Souci Massage

Techniques the massage therapist might use with neurological impairments, geriatric and palliative care, and oncology massage include the following:

► Manual lymph drainage (MLD) indirectly stimulates circulation in the body, stimulates immune system, and stimulates parasympathetic system (relaxation, reducing pain, and muscles spasms). The lymphatic system basically acts as a waste drainage system with nodes that are filters for the body. The lymphatic system is not self-propelled; it relies on muscular contraction in order to keep it flowing.When muscles are inactive, this creates stagnation and therefore weakens the immune system. When the lymphatic system is not working correctly edema (swelling) can occur.

► Non-circulatory massage is to provide a massage that does not promote circulation of blood or lymph flow. This will be the choice if the individual is on strong medications (chemotherapy, cancer treatments, steroids), if there is a disruption in their fluid balance due to medication, or when an organ such as the spleen, liver, kidney, or heart are compromised. This can be a full-body massage with holding, light pressure massage (slight movement of the skin and superficial adipose tissue), limited compressions, passive movement of joints may be done gently, and hand/foot massage.

► Low-impact massage is usually a shorter session (thirty minutes maximum) with the client in a side-lying and/or supine (face up) position. Use bolsters helps make the client comfortable.  Light to gentle pressure is used for the strokes. Full hand contact is maintained with slow even rhythms.

► Oncology massage is safe if performed by a skilled therapist. Benefits include: decreased anxiety before surgery or chemotherapy treatment, and help with relaxation, which in turn promotes better sleep, decrease in pain, etc. Your therapist will develop a care plan that is designed specifically for you after learning what type of cancer you have or have had, the treatment you have received, and the state of health you are in that day. Things the therapist will take into consideration are: the tumor site, bone metastasis, risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), risk of lymphedema, if vital organs are involved, if the individual has any restrictions on activity, and how the individual feels typically and on the day of the session. Therapists trained in oncology massage will use precautions so they do no harm.  I recently attended a thirty-two-hour continuing education course on oncology massage. I was so surprised how therapeutic this massage was. I typically like deep tissue massage, and I was astonished at my enjoyment and the deep connection that was made between therapist and client during this training. I am grateful for learning these new techniques and look forward to helping special needs clients soon.

► Neurological Impairments such as spinal cord injuries require the client to communicate to the therapist about their impairment and if they have any complications due to the paralysis. Clients who are bedridden or wheelchair bound can still benefit from massage. Because of the loss of sensation, a therapist has to be very careful about using the right techniques with these individuals.

► Cerebral palsy (CP) describes an injury to the brain that occurred prenatally or in early infancy. Individuals with CP benefit most from indirectly affecting the muscle through low-impact massage, non-circulatory massage, gentle rocking, or energy or craniosacral work.  Massage will help this individual with better sleep, unbinding of postural distortions, ease with breathing, and increase of relaxation. Communication is key in finding the correct technique that will work with each case.  It is good to talk with the caregiver and the individual client to find out what the client is specifically looking for.

► Geriatric and palliative care clients might have different medical devices that the therapist must work around (feeding tubes, ventilators, tracheostomies, catheter bags, colostomy bags, etc.) Benefits include: increased circulation,stimulation of their parasympathetic system (rest and digest), decreased joint stiffness, decreased pain, decreased anxiety and depression, and more restful sleep. The techniques used can be performed in the side-lying or in the supine position to make it easier for them. The massage can be provided on a massage table or hospital bed, or they can sit in a recliner and still enjoy a full massage without the stress of trying to get on and off the table. I have worked on clients in homes, assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, and hospitals.

There are many reasons a therapist must change the normal massage routine for individuals. Everyone has special circumstances that require adjustments; so open communication between the client and the therapist is a must. However, each individual is different, and the stage of the condition they are in will dramatically change the care they receive at that particular time.

Katie is a co-owner of Sans Souci Massage. Visit Sans Souci Massage to set up an appointment. If you are interested in an out-call, then you will need to call 715-830-9890 to discuss this with Katie or email the details of the appointment you are searching for.

The Scoop On Poop

By Emily Smith, DC, DICCP, Chiropractic Pediatric Specialist

Even though poop is something we are all intimately familiar with, the topic is often avoided in conversation…unless you work with kids!

Truly, having regular bowel movements is not only natural, but necessary for our health. Do you know anyone who has or currently does struggle with constipation? Did you know that 2 to 3 bowel movements a day is considered IDEAL?  Now, do you know someone who is constipated?

Actually, constipation, in definition refers more to the compactness of the stools and effort needed to expel it, rather than the frequency. In order to have well formed and easy to pass poop, you need to have fiber (aka fruits and vegetables) and liquid (aka water).

Digestion begins within the mouth with adequate chewing, which breaks down the food into small particles prior to it entering the stomach. Once broken down further by stomach acid, it moves into the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed by the body before passing on to the large intestine (colon). The colon is where water is absorbed by the body and/or fiber bulk of the stools prior to it leaving the body. If there is not enough water available, due to inadequate intake of fluids the stools may sit for longer than needed, creating hard and difficulty to pass stools.

The muscle contraction of the intestines is also necessary in order for the waste material to be moved through the digestive tract. This is where chiropractic can be helpful! Chiropractic adjustments address the interference that occurs between the nerve and every cell, tissue, organ, and system of the body.  If for instance a trauma, toxin, or stress has “muddled” the message from the brain to the digestive tract, it will not function properly, causing digestive disturbances. Symptoms may be infrequent or even too frequent bowel movements, altered consistency, altered color, or difficult with passing.

These are just some of the many reasons babies/toddlers/children/adults seek chiropractic care. Often the upper neck, lower back and/or pelvis may reveal areas of spinal misalignment.  Correction of this misalignment, through gentle chiropractic adjustments, will allow the body to function optimally. If you can eliminate any interference with the nervous system, you can avoid the interference with elimination. For those of any age who have lived a lifetime with infrequent/too frequent bowel movements, this is a pleasant change!

So what’s normal for newborns/infants/children? As newborns, diapers are filled frequently with a seedy type of mustard yellow poop, typically along with each feeding, especially when breastfed.  With careful observation, the diet of the mother can be modified to help eliminate any of the digestively offensive foods for the newborn or infant. The diapers of a formula-fed baby may be filled less often and of a firmed consistency, possibly due to the higher level of iron that formula contains. Modification can be made, through trial and error, to fin the formula that fit your baby and their digestive pattern best.

The frequency of infants’ bowel movements may slow as they mature and start taking in solids. This transition should be delayed until your baby is showing signs of interest and ability to take in solids, usually between 4 to 7 months of age. (Introducing solids before a baby is ready will NOT help them sleep better and may increase the risk of developing food allergies and can lead to digestive disturbances). Some signs that your baby is ready include the ability to sit up well on his/her own, showing interest in food that others are eating, increased hunger, and the ability to move the tongue back and forth, rather than just up and down in a sucking motion.

When introducing foods, there is no need to rush. Introducing new foods one week at a time gives the digestive system time to assimilate and lessens the risk of allergy or digestive disturbance. For some, the addition of solids can start a cycle of constipation and/or diarrhea that has never before occurred. Ruling out any allergies or sensitivities is an important step so that the offensive food can be avoided. Dairy is particularly difficulty for an immature digestive system to break down and if symptoms are noted, it is best to avoid it.

High fiber foods can be helpful to provide the bulk needed to move waste material through the digestive tract. However, as stated above, without adequate water intake, fiber will cause the stools to be harder, rather than softer, and more difficulty to pass. If your baby or child is experiencing constipation, despite eating high fiber foods, your best bet is to add more water to their diet.

For children, bowel movements should occur each day and possibly even multiple times a day.  Our fast-paced lifestyle of activities and ever-present technology can interfere with kids’ ability to literally “unplug.” Our mind and body need to relax in order to “hear” the messages that our bowels are communicating.  Making it a point to have quiet time each day will help with this process. Alternatively, exercise can also help, so move your body to help move your bowels!

Past/current intake of medications, especially antibiotics, can interfere with proper bowel function by eliminating the good bacteria from the gut and creating imbalance between the good, the bad, and the ugly (aka yeast). Taking probiotics can help to reintroduce the good bacteria and keep the bad and ugly in check.

If you are looking for foods to help keep things moving through the gut, focus on apricots, pears, plums, peaches, and prunes. If things are moving faster than you’d like (aka diarrhea), avoid dehydration by adding in more fluid (coconut water is a great option) and consider adding cinnamon to applesauce for a natural and delicious remedy.

Though her specialty is in chiropractic care  at Smith & Prissel for children and pregnant women, Dr. Emily Smith enjoys caring for patients of all ages.  Call 832-2223 or 495-4494 (cell).

Exhausted? Eat These

Don’t accept fatigue as the price of a full life, says Holly Phillips, medical contributor to CBS News and author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough (Rodale, 2015). Her solution: Aim to eat two of these edible energizers daily.

► Oats (1 cup cooked): High in fiber and protein, oats eaten for breakfast help stabilize blood sugar all day.

► Salmon (3 oz.): This fish’s hefty dose of protein speeds metabolism, which increases energy.

► Almonds (1/3 cup): They’re packed with magnesium, which helps convert sugar into energy. Protein and fiber provide sustained energy without a crash.

► Quinoa (1/2 cup cooked): Protein and amino acids in this gluten-free grain aid in muscle repair and post-workout recovery.

► Avocado (1/2 avocado): The fatty acids lower inflammation linked to fatigue-causing conditions.

► Lentils (1/2 cup cooked): High in fibe, lentils help regulate blood sugar levels, while their selenium enhances mood.

► Turkey (3 oz.): B vitamins help metabolize food into energy, while the amino acid tyrosine can keep you more alert.

► Blueberries (1/2 cup): Potent antioxidants combat free radicals that can injure cells and lead to fatigue. Healthy carbs rev energy without adding too much sugar.

► Goji Berries (1/4 cup): They may help improve blood flow and alertness

► Kale (1 cup): Yep, its superfood status extends to energy. Credit protein, fiber, and crazy levels of antioxidants.

Beyond Kegels: Five Tips for Pelvic Floor Health

By Chris Hayden, CR, Lic. ABT

The pelvic floor is vital for childbirth and in daily life. Having muscles and connective tissue that are resilient and responsive is so useful for getting proper support and mobility throughout the body. But this means muscles that can both contract and relax according to need. Here are some ways to develop your versatility

1) Sit on your sit bones. Also known as your ischial tuberosities, they provide a stable, less tense version of sitting than crunching on your tailbone. You can fin tutorials online, and in-person instruction can teach additional stability.

2) Get into a flat-footed squat (or closer to it). This one can take some time and coaching, but the ability to do a full squat means a pelvic floor that can open as needed. Careful, this one can be dangerous if done improperly or too quickly. I spend lots of time on coaching my tai chi students on it.

3) Don’t hold back. Use the bathroom in a timely manner to decrease chronic pelvic tension.

4) Breath into it. During inhalation, pelvic floor muscles should let out a little and then contract slightly during exhalation. This allows for a more relaxed breath, and a 24-hour exercise program for your floor Most people hold tight here when breathing, so see if you can gently breathe into your abdomen and into the floor, like a ball expanding, as an awareness exercise to get things moving.

5) Walk naturally. If your pelvic bones and sacrum are fairly mobile, every step you take will keep your pelvic floor muscles mobile and active. It can be very hard to become aware of tension patterns in this area, but landing hard on your heels or moving shoulders side to side are two of the signs of strong tension. Movement education or soft tissue and joint mobilization in your legs, pelvis, and back can be very useful.

Boost Your Metabolism

Without Intervals

Never in the mood to do what works best—sprints? Try these still-effective calorie igniters. Add Weight: Whether it’s holding light dumbbells while doing jumping jacks or wearing a weighted vest while walking on the treadmill, the combo will quickly crank up calorie burn. Up Your Incline: Take your walk to a hill and you could torch as many calories as if you were running on a flat surface. ( tighter butt is a bonus.) Cut Out Rests: A superset—two resistance exercises performed back-to-back to create one set—burns roughly 8 to 10 calories per minute, nearly twice the calorie burn of a standard training.

Green Tea

Researchers for years have been linking green tea, and even white tea, to health perks. If you’re drinking tea, choose the type you enjoy the most. Be sure to not overload your tea with sugar or artificial sweeteners or you could be voiding out,or diminishing, the tea’s healthful effects. Instead, sweeten with a tad of local raw honey for an extra antioxidant punch. If you prefer milk in your tea, go for it. Researchers found the flavonoids remain bioavailable with or without milk.

Quark (kwark)

This rising-star fresh cheese from central Europe is similar to Greek yogurt in texture but is milder and less tangy. Like yogurt, quark is packed with good-for-you probiotics and protein, with 17g or more in one 6-ounce cup.  Eat plain, top with fruit, or combine with garlic, herbs, and sea salt for a savory dip.