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Tapestry Life Resources & Body Balance II NewsletterResources for Body,
Mind, Heart & Spirit
July 2012

All articles written by Suzanne H. Eller unless otherwise indicated.                                                            Suzanne H. Eller, 2012

in this issue
:: Massage and Mental Health
:: Fun Facts about Independence Day
:: Tennis Ball Techniques...Self-Care for Tight Muscles
:: Cucumber Health Benefits
woman a beach with American flag Greetings!

We want to wish you a happy Independence Day. The first week in July is a time for celebration. Many have time off work, others plan vacations or go on day-trips, and still others spend time with family and friends at cook-outs or parties. Whatever you do over the Fourth, we wish you blue skies and good relationships as we celebrate the birth of our nation. For all its problems, most of us still feel it is the best country in the world.
 
This month's main article is about the mental health benefits of massage. There is also a section on Independence Day trivia and one on self-care using a tennis ball. The diet and nutrition column this month focuses on cucumbers.

The NC Attorney General's Office recently sent an alert about social networks and vacations. It bears repeating here. Remember not to post your vacation plans on your wall or tweet your location if you are away. The same holds true for posting pictures or status updates of the trip. It is an invitation to criminals to break into your home. If there are people with whom you want to share details of your vacation, do so in a private message or, better yet, wait until you get home. For more information or to sign up to receive updates yourself, go to the NC Department of Justice website.
 
Please have a healthy and safe Fourth of July. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. (One half your body weight in ounces is recommended. That means if you weigh 100 lbs, you should drink 50 ounces of water. Tea, soda, and beer don't count.) Remember the sunscreen.
 
We are working at least part of the week, so call if you need an appointment.
 
Massage and Mental Health
Regular Massage Can Improve Your Outlook on Life

woman getting massageIt is sometimes easy to emphasize the physical benefits of massage and forget the mental health benefits of regular bodywork. The physical benefits are more immediately recognizable, but the mental benefits can be more lasting.
 
Numerous clinical trials have evaluated the effects of massage on mental and emotional health, and the results are impressive. For example, studies indicate that massage and psychotherapy given to women suffering from postpartum depression had significantly greater improvement in both depression and anxiety than did groups who received only psychotherapy.
 
Similar results were found for individuals other than new mothers suffering from depression and anxiety. Other studies indicate that massage may help people who suffer from ADHD, Alzheimer's disease, and bipolar disorder, to name a few.
 
Jacqueline Young, author of Complementary Medicine For Dummies, (London: Wiley Publishing, 2007) gives evidence for the efficacy of massage in treating those with eating disorders. She says more and more clinics treating anorexia and bulimia are finding that massage helps clients reduce anxiety about their appearance and improve their body image. Read more at Suite 101. 

Massage reduces levels of stress hormones, especially cortisol (which, by the way, can make you fat!) It increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system ("rest and digest") and decreases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system ("fight or flight"). Improved parasympathetic response means greater availability of brain chemicals like serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins (natural painkillers).
 
Another benefit of massage is to meet our need for safe, human touch. Human beings can literally die without human touch, and studies have shown the devastating lack of emotional development in babies who are not adequately held and cuddled. Still, we live in a world where those who touch inappropriately have caused all of us to be a little suspect of too much touching. According the the Lance Armstrong Foundation, "Massage can fill the void of a nurturing touch. This, too, can help a person's peace of mind and, therefore, their overall well being."
 
Massage provides the following mental health benefits:
  • Increases mental alertness and improves concentration and memory.
  • Reduces anxiety and increases sense of overall well-being and self-confidence.
  • Reduces stress hormone levels and increases production of mood-enhancing brain chemicals.
  • Provides an overall calming effect and lowers irritability.
  • Lowers brain wave activity to the alpha state, which provides a feeling of relaxation and increases creativity and organizational ability.
  • Calms the nervous system and improves synaptic response.
  • Relieves fatigue and renews energy levels.
 
There is also a relationship between mental health and physical ailments. Many of us carry stress in our bodies. Idioms like "he's a pain in my neck" and "my job's a headache" reflect physical responses to stress-causing people and situations. Massage can help relieve the stress before it manifests as a physical symptom.
 

Fun Facts about Independence Day
Thanks to Purple Trail and the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog

 

fourth of july graphic
Image by Nuttkit at FreeDigitalPhotos

Here are some fun facts and history about the Fourth of July holiday. This first section of trivia is from Purple Trails

 

  • "On July the 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. Thereafter, the 13 colonies embarked on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. This most American of holidays is traditionally celebrated with parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country."
  • "The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804."
  • "The first Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi occurred at Independence Creek and was celebrated by Lewis and Clark in 1805."
  • "Before cars ruled the roadway, the Fourth of July was traditionally the most miserable day of the year for horses, tormented by all the noise and by the boys and girls who threw firecrackers at them."
  • "June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress, looking to promote national pride and unity, adopted the national flag. 'Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.' "
  • "The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did not sign at the same time, nor did they sign on July 4, 1776. The official event occurred on August 2, 1776, when 50 men signed it."
  • "Thirty places nationwide with "liberty" in their name. Liberty, Missouri (26,232) boasts the highest population of the 30 at 26,232. Iowa has more of these places than any other state at four: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty."
  • "Eleven places have "independence" in their name. The most populous of these is Independence, Missouri, with 113,288 residents."
  • "The names of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were withheld from the public for more than six months to protect the signers. If independence had not been achieved, the treasonable act of the signers would have, by law, resulted in their deaths."
  • signing of declaration of independance
    Public Domain Postcard of Signing of Declaration of Independence
More trivia from the Encyclopedia Britannica Blog:
  • "Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826-the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The fifth U.S. president, James Monroe, also died on July 4, but in 1831. Yes, that makes three of our 39 presidents who are deceased who died on the country's Independence Day. What are the odds of that?"
  • "All it's cracked up to be: The Liberty Bell was rung not on July 4, 1776, but on July 8, 1776, to celebrate the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. When it was rung in honor of George Washington's birthday in 1846, it cracked irreparably. Did you know that when British forces entered Philadelphia in 1777, the Liberty Bell was hidden in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, church for safe keeping."
  • "During Paul Revere's famous ride on April 18, 1775, warning of the forthcoming British soldiers, he was especially looking for just two people-John Hancock and Samuel Adams, since it was thought that the British would be coming to arrest them (Hancock was president of the Massachusetts legislature and Adams a leading revolutionary)."
  • "Fireworks are believed to have developed out of military rockets. In the European Middle Ages, the military pressed fireworks experts into service to conduct celebrations of victory and peace."
  • "Upon her husband's death in 1776, Betsy Ross took over the family upholstering business. It was there, according to legend, George Washington asked Ross to design and make a flag for the new nation. Speaking of flags, the first unofficial flag of the United States was hoisted at Prospect Hill in Charlestown in Massachusetts on January 1, 1776, and was called the Continental Colours (or, incorrectly, as the Grand Union Flag)."
  • "The tablet held by in the Statue of Liberty's left hand bears the date July 4, 1776, but the statue itself was presented to the U.S. by France on July 4, 1884. It was dedicated two years later, on October 28, 1886, by President Grover Cleveland."
For more fun facts, click the links above or go the the US Census Bureau.
Tennis Ball Techniques
Self-Care for Tight Muscles
 
If you have visited me and complained of a stiff neck, sciatic pain, or low back pain, chances are I told you to use tennis balls to work on the area when you got home from the massage. Tennis balls are my favorite self-care massage tool.
 
You don't need expensive tennis balls like you use on the court. You can buy three for a dollar in the pet section of most discount stores like Dollar General or Dollar Tree. If you put a couple in a sock or the leg of an old pantyhose, you can create a second tool that allows you to get to many hard-to-reach places as well.
 
If you add some stretches to your self-care treatment, you can often relieve pain between massage visits. Indeed, it sometimes seems that a massage wakes up latent trigger points. While the therapist hopes she has released all your knots, sometimes an area hurts worse after the massage. A tennis ball on the area can finish releasing the knot that just doesn't want to go away.
  
Just like the pressure applied in a neuromuscular therapy session, the tennis ball forces blood, lymph and toxins out of the muscle tissue. When the ball is removed and the blood rushes back, the tissue is flooded with oxygen and nutrients, and the tone of the muscle is reset. If you follow the trigger point treatment with stretching, you can often induce the muscle to keep its tone permanently.
 
Piriformis Release
 
tennis ball on piriformis
 
The piriformis attaches on one end to the sacrum and on the other to the head of the leg bone at the hip socket. When it gets tight, it can cause back pain, hip pain, or leg pain. Leg pain is especially likely if the tight muscle entraps the sciatic nerve.
 
Place the tennis ball in the center of the fleshy part of your gluteals. Roll it around until you find the sore area, and place the ball there. Relax into the ball allowing gravity to assist you in the release. Breath deeply until you can no longer feel the soreness. Move to a new sore spot an repeat until the muscle is relaxed, then repeat on the other side. Afterwards while still lying on your back, stretch the muscles by placing the ankle of one leg just above the knee of the other (like you are crossing your leg) and pulling the lower knee toward your chest. Repeat on the other side.
 
I also do a variation of this by lying on my side with my lower leg straight and my top leg bent and crossed over the lower leg so that my upper buttocks are rotated forward. Then I can easily reach the piriformis with my hand holding the ball. I can press and roll the ball until the trigger points are released. I do this in bed rather than on the floor.
 
Occiput Release 
 
tennis ball on piriformisOne of the most common complaints is stiff neck or headache pain. The occiput release allows the skull to release any jamming from the spine. The release can cause deep relaxation and improved movement.
Massage therapists usually use their fingers to create the release, but tennis balls are a great way to get a similar result at home. Putting two in a sock and then lying on them is the best way. Be sure they are positioned at the bottom of the protrusions at the back of the skull on both right and left. Relax into the release for up to five minutes. Follow up with neck stretches. (See our article from the Oct. 2009 issue of Warp & Weft for examples.
 
Adductor Release
 
adductor release with tennis ballThe inside of the thigh from pubic bone to various intervals along the femur is the site of the adductors. The job of the adductors is to stabilize the hip joint and move the leg toward the midline of the body. When these muscles have trigger points, pain can be felt along the top of the thigh and down the inside of the leg to just above the ankle. They may be the culprits in medial knee pain.
 
To release the adductors, drape a folded blanket or towel along the front edges of a straight-backed chair with a hard seat to act as a cushion. Sit forward on the chair, and spread your legs. To release the right adductors, hold the tennis ball in the left hand and place the back of the left hand on the right side edge of the chair. Lean your body to the left and place your right thigh over the tennis ball. Begin at the groin and work your way down the inner leg, holding the points that are painful until you feel the release. Stop just above the knee. Repeat on the other side if necessary. Do lunges to further stretch the released adductors.
 
Tennis balls have long been used by dancers and athletes for self-care. Yoga instructors frequently suggest them to help their students care for injuries and achieve deeper poses. make them part of your self-care practice.
 

Cool as a Cucumber

Health benefits of this summertime favorite

  

fourth of july graphic
Public domain photo
I recently visited downtown Hickory's Farmer's Market. Although I made several purchases, I went to the market specifically for local tomatoes and cucumbers. It seems like I wait all year for these two locally-grown favorites. They just taste better than the trucked-in varieties.

Cucumbers are the fourth most widely cultivated vegetable in the world, following tomatoes, cabbage and onions. Markets classify them into slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. I like the homegrown pickling varieties in salads, too, so that's what I look for when buying locally. They are usually smaller than slicing cucumbers, and if they get too large, they become pithy.

Cucumbers come from the same botanical family as melons and squash. Their health benefits come from plant chemicals called lignans, which are a major group of phytoestrogens and also act as antioxidants. Lignans are associated with reduced risk of breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancers and with improved cardiovascular health. Cucumbers have anti-inflammatory properties as well and are high in vitamin K.

Below are some of my favorite recipes with cukes. Adjust the number of cucumbers according to the type you are using. A large pickling cuke is smaller than a large slicing cuke.

Easy Refrigerator Pickles
  • 12 large cucumbers, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced thin
  • 4 C. apple cider vinegar
  • 4 C. sugar
  • C. plain salt, not iodized
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed

Alternate cucumbers and onions in layers in a gallon jar. Combine other ingredients and pour into jar. Refrigerate at least one day before serving. Keeps indefinitely.


Cold Cucumber Soup

  • 3-6 large cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 C. non-fat yogurt
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • C. fresh dill

Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped tomato or avocado if desired.

 

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad

 

  • 2 C. peeled, sliced and cubed cucumber
  • 2 C. cubed honeydew
  • 2 tbs. finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Toss ingredients and chill up to four hours before serving.

 

Cukes in Cream Salad

 

  • 2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • C.low-fat sour cream
  • C. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dill weed
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • Black pepper to taste

Layer onion on top of cucumbers in medium bowl. Mxi other ingredients and pour over vegetables. Chill 2 hours. Mix carefully before serving.

Mother Earth Neckoolers Back in Stock

 

girl wearing Mother Earth Pillows neck cooler
Neckoolers make great gifts and help you beat the heat!
Has this sudden heat wave got you down? Are you working or playing outside this summer? Do you have kids in sports or going to camp? Do you work in a poorly air-conditioned space or work-out in a hot gym during the week? Is you dog suffering when he is outside?

A neckooler may be the answer!

Using this well-made, long-lasting gel neck tubing crafted by Mother Earth Pillows may help you cool down. Try our Neckooler by soaking it for 5 minutes in tap water. The gel pellets inside will swell to hold the water and feel cooler than your body temp. When you tie the Neckooler around your neck, you'll find it keeps you cooler while you are outdoors or in a hot environment. Wear as needed ... the pellets will remain effective for several days. The Neckooler is reusable; if you allow the neck tie to dry out, just dip it in water again to reactivate the gel pellets.
 
The Neckooler makes a great gift for anyone who is outdoors or prone to overheating, including animals. Try one today!  

 

Our Price: $8.00

 

We hope you've enjoyed this issue of Warp & Weft. Have a great summer, and a great Fourth of July. We will be off on the Fourth, and all of us are working modified summer schedules. Please call us to check for appointment availability. We look forward to scheduling you for an appointment soon.
  
fireworks
Image by Jon Sullivan, Public Domain at PDPhoto
Sincerely,

 

Suzanne Eller, LMBT #7619

828-315-9900

DBA Tapestry Life Resources

 

Susan Smith, LMBT #6579
828-320-6933
DBA Massage by Susan
  
Laura Queen, LMBT #3224
828-638-3426
DBA Queen Company

 



Body Balance II

318 2nd Ave. NW

Hickory, NC 28601


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