Category Archives: Human

The Benefits of Massage

Massages feels amazing, especially after a grueling workout—and their benefits aren’t just skin deep. Soft tissue massage is exceptionally good for bone-weary athletes and people with inflammation-related chronic conditions like arthritis and muscular dystrophy, according to research from McMaster University. Vigorous exercise causes small tears in your muscle fibers, and your body’s natural repair process naturally leads to inflammation and soreness.

To see if massage truly aids recovery, the researchers biopsied volunteers’ legs over the course of three sessions—once while at rest, a second time after they’d vigorously exercised on a stationary bike and received a 10-minute massage on one thigh, and a third biopsy two and a half hours after the second to track the repair processes between the massaged and un-massaged legs.

Unsurprisingly, massage reduced the production of cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation, and stimulated mitochondria—the tiny powerhouses inside your cells that convert glucose into energy for cell function and repair. So make sure to schedule regular massages; your muscles will adapt better to the demands of increased exercise.

Why Ice and Anti-inflammatory Medication is NOT the Answer

This is a reprint from Stone Athletic Medicine:


In July I posted a blog discussing The Overuse of Cryotherapy. The controversy surrounding the topic made it one of the most popular blogs I’ve written. What is surprising to me is that a controversy exists at all. Why, where, and when did this notion of anti-inflammation start? Ice, compression, elevation and NSAIDs are so commonplace that suggesting otherwise is laughable to most. Enter an Athletic Training Room or Physical Therapy Clinic nearly all clients are receiving some type of anti-inflammatory treatment (ice, compression, massage, NSAIDs, biophysical modalities, etc). I evaluated a client the other day and asked what are you doing currently – “Well, I am taking anti-inflammatories and icing.” Why do you want to get rid of inflammation and swelling? I ask this question for both chronic and acute injury!

The Stigma of Inflammation:

Editor in Chief of The Physician and Sports Medicine Journal (Dr. Nick DiNubile) once posed this question: “Seriously, do you honestly believe that your body’s natural inflammatory response is a mistake?” Much like a fever increases body temperature to kill off foreign invaders; inflammation is the first physiological process to the repair and remodeling of tissue. Inflammation, repair, and remodel. You cannot have tissue repair or remodeling without inflammation.  In a healthy healing process, a proliferative phase consisting of a mixture of inflammatory cells and fibroblasts naturally follows the inflammatory phase (1). Researchers headed by Lan Zhou, MD, PhD, at the Cleveland Clinic, found that in response to acute muscle injury, inflammatory cells within the damaged muscle conduct phagocytosis, contribute to accumulation of intramuscular macrophages, and produce a high-level of Insulin-like growth factor 1, (IGF-1) which is required for muscle regeneration (3). IGF-1 is a primary mediator of the effects of growth hormone and a stimulator of cell growth and proliferation, and a potent inhibitor of programmed cell death. Similarly, in 2010, Cottrell and O’Conner stated “overwhelmingly, NSAIDs inhibit or delay fracture healing” (2). And you want to stop this critical process of healing by applying ice, because inflammation is “bad”?

The Anecdotal Rationale for Ice:

Somewhere along the line the concept that ice facilitates healing became conventional wisdom. Sorry, that wisdom is wrong. I had someone tell me the other day, “We need to ice, because we need to get the swelling out.” Really? Does ice facilitate movement of fluid out of the injured area? No, it does not. The lymphatic system removes swelling. The Textbook of Medical Physiology says it best: “The lymphatic system is a ‘scavenger’ system that removes excess fluid, protein molecules, debris, and other matter from the tissue spaces. When fluid enters the terminal lymphatic capillaries, any motion in the tissues that intermittently compresses the lymphatic capillaries propels the lymph forward through the lymphatic system, eventually emptying the lymph back into the circulation.”  Lymphatic drainage is facilitated by contraction of surrounding muscle and changes in compressive forces that push the fluid back to the cardiovascular system. This is why ankle pumps work so well at removing swelling.

Inflammation is a necessary component in the first phase of phase of the healing process. Swelling is controlled by the body’s internal systems to attain homeostasis. If swelling is accumulated it is not because there is excessive swelling, rather it is because lymphatic drainage is slowed. The thought that ice application increases lymphatic flow to remove debris makes no sense. Gary Reinl, author of “Iced! The Illusionary Treatment option gave me a good analogy. Take two tubes of toothpaste, one is under ice for 20 minutes, the other is warmed to 99 degrees. In which tube will the toothpaste flow fastest?  It does not take an advanced physics degree to know that answer.

What might surprise you is that ice actually reverses lymphatic drainage and pushes fluid back to interstitial space. A study published in 1986 (yes, 1986, is old, but this is a foundational study) found when ice is applied to a body part for a prolonged period of time; lymphatic vessels begin to dramatically increase permeability. As lymphatic permeability increases fluid will pour from the lymphatics into the injured area, increasing the amount of local swelling (5). Ice can increase swelling and retard debris removal!

The Acronym RICE is Bogus:

The acronym RICE is bogus in my opinion. First, Rest is not the answer. Rest does not stimulate tissue repair. In fact rest causes tissue to waste and can cause abnormal gene transcription of collagen tissue. Evidence has shown that tissue loading through exercise or other mechanical means stimulates gene transcription, proteogenesis, and formation of type I collagen fibers (See studies by Karim Khan, Durieux, Mick Joseph, and Craig Denegar). Our body has all types of cells. When a cell is born it has no clue what type of cell it will eventually become. This infancy cell – for lack of a better term – is called a progenitor cell. Progenitor cells can be changed to a specific cell type. Load in tendon tells our body to turn a progenitor cell in to a tenocyte. Load in bone tells a progenitor cell to become an osteocyte. Ever wonder why myositis ossificans (calcification or bone growth in muscle) develops? The direct, repeated trauma turns progenitor cell currently living within muscle to an osteocyte. Subsequently, we develop bone growth within muscle.

The other reason RICE is bogus is obvious; Ice. Ice does nothing to facilitate collagen formation. Ice will not influence progenitor cell development. Ice does not regenerate tissue. Ice does not facilitate healing – it inhibits natural healing process from occurring. Ice does not remove swelling; it increases swelling and lymphatic backflow.

Closing thoughts:

Bottom line, ice and NSAIDs are over utilized. I am not saying never, but I am saying ice is not a magical cure all that fixes everything and is required for healing. It is not the gold standard that it has come to be. My goal with this blog is to get individuals to stop and think before immediately turning to ice and NSAIDs. Is it really the best option? Is it necessary for this injury at this stage? I understand it is not the only form of treatment clinicians use, but ice certainly is the most heavily used. Go ahead, I will wait while you look at your treatment logs.

My goal is to get this trend reversed one clinician and one patient at a time. Have you seen the video discussion between Kelly Starrett, DPT and Gary Reinl? If not I recommend you watch it. It’s fascinating. I am glad to have expert minds like Kelly and Gary in this fight with me.

I ask health care professionals to do one thing, just try it. Pick one client with chronic musculoskeletal pain, skip the ice, skip the NSAIDs and try to use light exercise as a repair stimulus. Then, try skipping the ice on a client with an acute mild injury. The outcomes might surprise you.


Cold Laser for All Animals and People

Cold laser therapy offers a wide range of options for tissue therapy, wound healing, pain management, and improved circulation. Cold laser therapy is a game changer for many pets suffering from painful injuries. This technology allows us to successfully treat many injuries including tissue damage, inflammation, wounds, and even scars with minimal invasion.

The technology has been used in Europe since 1970 to promote healing, but has only been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. since 2002. It is only recently, though, that U.S. veterinarians have begun using it to treat many different conditions that affect pets today, such as fractures, ligament and tendon injuries, post-surgical incisions, arthritis, nerve injuries, sprains, muscle strains, abrasions, lesions, and more.

Cold laser therapy is non-invasive and makes use of light in order to stimulate activity or regeneration in cells in addition to increasing blood circulation. Unlike hot laser treatments that target tissue deep beneath the skin’s surface, cold laser therapy treats injuries or damage on or near the surface – without the risk of cutting or burning from the lasers. Most conditions require between three and eight treatments, though I have seen great improvement after the first laser session. Most animals enjoy their seession: many fall asleep or thoroughly relax. th


Could Your Horse Do Better at Shows?

If your horse has squeaky clean X-rays and MRI’s, does that mean the horse is pain free? You can ask the same question about your own body. The answer is, of course, no. If you play tennis or ski or ride or dance or even garden, you know you can hurt without being injured. The same goes for your horse.  What surrounds the skeleton is of more importance than the skeleton itself. Until fairly recently, the fascia has been largely ignored by most health care professionals, and cannot be seen in standard tests such as X-rays and MRIs.

The body work that I do on horses is meant to alleviate the pain and stress of horse sport. If the body is balanced and symmetrical, then the body can move gracefully, without distortion.  This restoration of the body can be done gently and thoroughly with a combination of myofascial release, stress point, and trigger point therapy,

Strains, due to injuries and accidents, get lodged in the body when a horse compensates movement during the healing process. Unless these compensations are fully released and realigned,  they eventually become chronic strains that limit coordinated movement and cause pain. Horses need massage just as much, if not more, than any human athlete, since they have to carry someone on their back! The benefits of massage are the same for horse or human, with increased suppleness, better range of motion, and quicker recovery from injury.  This therapy is so much more than a relaxation massage. It improves performance and longevity in whatever sport or casual use they are involved in.

My biggest thrill is to help an animal become pain free. They behave and perform differently. Their whole personality and energy can change. And the results of the massage can be long lasting.


Become Involved in Your Own Health Care!

Pain is the primary reason people seek medical treatment in the United States. The majority of this pain occurs in the musculoskeletal system. It would seem essential that medical professionals have in depth knowledge of this subject.  If not, your doctor might fall back on old standards of care for chronic muscle and joint pain, such as anti inflammatory meds, possible antidepressants, and sleep medications. None of those “cures” get to the underlying cause of pain, and all have toxic side effects. Did you know that anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit the healing and tissue regeneration process? Nonsteroidal ani-inflammatory drugs, the number one prescribed drug for chronic pain, can cause tremendous damage to tissues. Why not try myofascial release, or trigger point therapy?

In 1998, a study was completed to assess the competency of recent medical school graduates in musculoskeletal medicine. 82% of the recent graduates failed the exam. The study went on to report that the average time spent in medical education in orthopedics was 2 weeks. One third of all medical school graduates had no orthopedic education. Because the results of the study were so shocking, it was repeated in 2002. A passing score was set at 70%. 78% of recent medical graduates failed to demonstrate basic competency in musculoskeletal medicine.

Needless to say, it may be very difficult to find help for your lower back pain, muscle pain, or joint pain. I am not a doctor, but I have found many ways in my studies and experiments (on myself, friends, and animals) to relieve pain using nutrition, supplements, low level laser therapy, myofascial release,  and sports massage. Not only can pain be eliminated, but wellness and disease prevention can all be achieved with safe lifestyle changes.



Restoring Normal Function with LLLT

Reduce inflammation. Decrease pain. Heal wounds. Improve movement. Low Level Laser Therapy does all these things and more. The light energy (called photons) from the laser penetrates about an inch under the skin into cells and stimulates cellular activity. This extra activity helps the cells to repair themselves. 

I recently worked on a beautiful show horse that suffers from painful windpuffs. When I used the cold laser on the swollen areas he did some unusual twitching in his body, so I knew something was going on! The next morning, the swelling and pain were gone and he was being ridden through some intricate movements beautifully.

Excellent results from the cold laser are the norm with arthritis. Wound healing is much faster with a few treatments. I have been treating myself for a torn tendon (I jumped out of the way of a mare that had been frightened by a dog ). I was in quite a lot of pain and thought it might take months to heal. After five days of using the laser for 30 minutes I am now walking quite comfortably (I’m still avoiding hills) and it looks like this will be a fairly quick recovery. 



Help Your Pets Without Drugs

 Low Level Laser Therapy causes tissues to heal faster – muscle, skin and nerve – 66 percent faster, according to an FDA study. The study took 100 patients complaining of neck and shoulder pain. Half were treated with a useless red light (placebo group) similar to that on a computer mouse or grocery check-out, and the other half received LLLT. The treatment group beat the placebo group by 66 percent! That’s 66 percent faster and more complete relief – a remarkable margin. Similar studies have been passed by the FDA for carpal tunnel, wounds, and scar tissue.

Laser therapy is a non-toxic alternative to drugs. Animals with arthritis, skin conditions, injuries, and post surgical wounds can be safely treated with the cold laser. By avoiding over-use of medications, animals (and humans) will have more energy as they heal.  There are no risks to this treatment, which is why I use it so much with my clients.


Myofascial Release and Breast Health

The following is excerpted from an article by Dr. Carol Davis:

New information reported by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, (Ann.Rev.Cell Biol. 2006,22:287-309) University of California, San Francisco,(J.Cell Physiol 227, 1553-1560) and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, (J.Bio.Chem 288(18)2013: 12722-12732;May 2013) among other prestigious universities, sheds important information on what happens when normal breast tissue becomes a cancer tumor. This new information, coupled with an understanding of how we can positively change breast tissue with our hands, directs us to an improved practice of self breast examination.

Research findings presented in December, 2012, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology in San Francisco, reported that, for the first time, science has shown how “mechanical forces alone can revert and stop the out-of-control growth of cancer cells…even though the genetic mutations responsible for the malignancy remain.” (Science Daily, 17 December, 2012)

Breast cancer researcher and Distinguished Scientist, Mina Bissell, showed from her studies at Berkeley that mammary tumor cells, when placed within normal growth medium, will continue to grow into a larger tumor. However, when she and her team manipulated the surrounding environment of the tumor cells in the petri dish by growing the tumor cells in a “gelatin –like substance that had been injected into flexible silicone chambers,” the compressed tumor cells reverted back to normal. This petri dish growth medium mimicked the extracelluar matrix of healthy, mobile breast fascia which surrounds every breast cell. It turns out that the malignant cells had not “forgotten how to be healthy; they just needed the right cues (from the environment) to guide them back into a healthy growth pattern.” In sum, a breast cancer tumor is not “doomed to become a malignant tumor, but its fate is dependent on its surrounding environment,” or the fascia. The fascia has to be mobile and flexible (like silicon) and allow space enough for the cells to organize themselves in relation to one another, and to bio-chemically communicate with each other.

What is fascia? Another name for “connective tissue,” fascia is a living spider web-like tissue that is the environment of every one of our 50-75 trillion cells. Not only does it surround and separate cells, organs and our muscles from each other, all our cells are embedded within this tissue – our brains, our muscles, our hearts and stomachs, and, yes, our breasts.

And this fascia tissue goes from the top of our heads to the bottom of our feet in one continuous web that helps hold us all together structurally. Over time, the Jello-like ground substance dehydrates and becomes stiffer, less web-like and more “pancake” like, or even rope-like, sticking together to form rigid fascial restrictions. These fascial restrictions interfere with cells being able to communicate with one another and organize themselves into a normal pattern. Fascial restrictions can also congeal around fluid and form cysts and fibroid type tumors that press on pain sensitive structures and cause symptoms throughout the body. Many women feel these fibroid cysts every month when they do their self beast examination, and have been told that fibrous breasts are more likely to show tumor growth than non – fibrous breasts.

With this new information, we now can glimpse how we might contribute to the health of our breasts, and hopefully reduce the likelihood that normal breast cells will transform into tumor cells. 

Videos to show you how to protect your breasts with myofascial release:


Benefits of Low Level Laser Therapy

Clinical and experimental studies have provided evidence that lasers can increase nerve function, reduce the formation of wounds, increase the metabolic activity of neurons, and enhance myelin production (Bagis et al., 2002). The non-invasive nature of laser photo therapy enables treatment without surgical intervention. Low level laser therapy began to be used in the regeneration and functional recuperation process of peripheral nerves in the 1970s. 

Many doctors dismiss cold laser therapy as quackery, which is one of the reasons I have used it so much on myself, family, and friends before I used it on animals that can’t give me verbal feedback. One friend said it did little for her carpal tunnel pain, and went ahead and had surgery. Everyone else reported moderate to complete relief.  On myself, it sometimes takes 7-10 sessions for pain to be gone from an injury that has caused chronic pain.

Low Level laser therapy has been used for at least 30 years for pain reduction and tissue repair. There is strong evidence it works and new research is constantly being conducted to refine it. 

It works by blocking pain fibers and slowing the transmission of pain messages. This pain blockade allows for a reduction in inflammation and for tissue regeneration. 

In one way, LLLT acts like a local anesthetic and reduces pain signals going to the brain. After several treatments the nerves in the affected area become less irritable and pain lessens, allowing muscles to relax and healing to take place.

While some conditions are curable, some need ongoing maintenance and people need to return for a treatment every three months. While not everyone responds to the cold laser,  it is used to treat a variety of conditions including neck and back pain, acute and chronic pain, migraine, wounds, arthritic pain, fibromyalgia and lymphedema.



Benefits of Myofascial Manipulation

Fascia is still a medical mystery. In October, 2007, more than 100 scientists from around the world convened in Boston, Massachusetts to discuss the latest research on fascia: an enigmatic, gauze-like matrix of connective tissue that envelopes the muscles, surrounds the nerves and swathes the organs in a body-wide-web of fibrous collagen. But the researchers had some unlikely company. Also in attendance, and outnumbering researchers 5:1, was a group of alternative-medicine practitioners with a mutual interest in fascia. United by their fascination with this medically neglected tissue, the two camps comprised the attendees of the first-ever International Fascia Research Congress.

Ida Rolf , the founder of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, described her work on organizing the body as this:  Rolfing works on the web-like network of connective tissues, called fascia, to release, realign, and balance the whole body, potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain.”

For decades, anatomical dissections and representations have presented the body as stripped of its fascial tissues, and the majority of physiology textbooks make little mention of it. “Most scientists,” says Wallace Sampson, alternative medicine skeptic and professor emeritus at Stanford University, “even those wary of alternative therapies, admit that the field of fascia research is a field of neglect, and remains sorely under-investigated.”

The basic concepts of myofascial release are these:

1. The body functions as a total biologic unit

2. The body possesses self-healing and self-regulatory mechanisms

3. Structure and function are interrelated, and

4. Abnormal pressure in one part of the body produces abnormal pressures and strains upon other parts of the body.


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