March 29, 2009

Advanced Myofascial Techniques Workshops

On April 25th and 26th, Til Luchau and Larry Koliha, instructors at the Rolfing Institute, will be teaching Advanced Myofascial Techniques (Neck, Jaw and Head) in Portland. You have four days left (until April 2nd) to get the early-bird discount of $295 (normally $315). You can get even more of a discount if you sign up for the entire 5-course series of weekend workshops, which leads to a certification in Advanced Myofascial Techniques.

And they'll be in Seattle for Spine, Ribs and Low Back on May 2nd and 3rd. They're coming back to both Seattle and Portland in July and September. The early-bird registration discount is good until April 9th.

I took two of their workshops a couple of years ago. One of my concerns, having experienced Rolfing back in the 1970's, was that the work would be extremely deep and invasive, to the point of pain. I had a lot to learn. As Til and Larry told me, Rolfing has evolved, and if done properly, should not be painful. What I was exposed to were very slow, very specific, very delicious techniques that can integrate well into almost any type of massage.

Indirect myofascial release, Charlotte Stuart ...

Rather than going into a long description, check out these Advanced Myofascial Techniques YouTube videos and see for yourself what this work involves. Note: The image on the right is by Wonderlane via Flickr.

Anterior Neck/Shoulder Differentiation

Interosseus Membrane

Posterior Cervical Wedge Technique

You can also attend a free 90-minute slide show and course introduction. If you're interested, email to get more info.

To register for the workshops or get more info, go to

I highly recommend this workshop series. If you take it, please comment on your experience!

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March 23, 2009

Have You Tried Jojoba Oil?

Close-up of male jojoba flowers.

Over the years I've used various massage oils, creams and lotions. Everyone seems to have his or her favorite, and it's rarely possible to convince a "lotion person" to switch to oil or vice versa. That's cool. Different strokes and all that (pun intended). But for me, I never seemed to be able to find just the right combination. Oils gave me a good glide (although not always enough grip), but they're messy and sticky. I hated the way my oil bottles ended up with a sticky film that was almost impossible to get rid of. And it can be difficult to deal with oil-stained sheets and the resulting rancid odors. Lotions tend to absorb too quickly. I found one cream that had a great glide, but it contained ingredients that made it less than pure. So what to do?

About five years ago, I discovered jojoba oil, and I'll never use anything else. It has fantastic glide and grip, better than any other lubricant I've used. It works especially well for deep tissue and myofascial release—you just have to use a little and it provides great control. It doesn't go rancid, it doesn't stain the sheets, no more sticky residue on my bottles!.

What is Jojoba Oil?
Did you know that jojoba oil isn't really an oil? It's actually a wax that becomes liquid at room temperature. Trivia time: Jojoba was given its botanical name, Simmondsia chinensis, by H. F. Link, who "discovered" the jojoba plant (a small desert shrub) near Baja California in 1822. Link named the plant after a fellow botanist, T.W. Simmonds. As with the "discovery" of America, although Link might have been the first westerner to find jojoba, Native Americans and Mexicans had been using it for hundreds of years. Father Junipero Serra, who founded 21 missions in California in the 18th century, documented jojoba's use as a skin and hair conditioner, for healing bruises and burns, as a treatment for sunburn, and even as an appetite suppressant.

Okay. History lesson over. If you're into these kinds of details though, you might have fun doing a little research on your own. It's pretty cool to see how jojoba began to be used in cosmetics and skin care products. Hint: it happened when sperm whales were declared an endangered species in the early 1970's. Jojoba oil's chemical properties are almost identical to sperm whale oil, which, interestingly, is also a liquid wax.

Jojoba: The Swiss Army Knife of Oils
Jojoba is truly amazing stuff. If I hadn't read the studies and experienced the benefits of jojoba on my clients and myself, I'd think it sounded too good to be true.
  • In dermatological tests, it was proven that Jojoba oil increases the skin's suppleness by 45%, and the effect lasted for more than eight hours.
  • Studies at Michigan University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Port Elizabeth supported the conclusion that five of the most common bacteria, including staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosus, as well as the fungus candida albicans, were not capable of growing in jojoba oil and that jojoba oil destroys staphylococcus and pseudomonas within 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Jojoba has anti-inflammatory properties due to its myristic acid content.
  • Jojoba's chemical similarity to sebum, our natural skin oil, means it's easily absorbed and rarely causes allergic reactions. If you have clients who are allergic or sensitive to other oils or lubricants, you will probably find that they won't have any problem with jojoba.
  • It's rich in Vitamin E, a natural preservative, giving it a super-long shelf life. I've had my current gallon jug for close to a year, and it's not showing any signs of rancidity.
  • Jojoba dissolves sebum, making it an excellent hair conditioner and scalp treatment for both dry and oily hair. It's proven to be an excellent treatment for dandruff, and has potential for preventing hair loss. It can also be used as a facial cleanser.
  • Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and acne have been helped with jojoba. Again, because its composition is so similar to sebum, it works for either dry or oily skin.
  • You can use jojoba oil instead of shaving cream and soften your skin while you shave.
  • Get rid of all those fancy wrinkle creams and use jojoba oil instead.
It's a Great Massage Oil!
Jojoba isn't just great for all skin types; it also feels great. It never leaves a greasy, oily feel, even if you use a little bit too much. So your clients will leave feeling silky smooth and fresh. And if you're tired of oil-stained sheets, jojoba will make you really happy. I found this comment on a bodywork forum: "I'm so confident about the washability that I sometimes wear a nice linen dress to work because it's comfy, and it always comes clean." That's a pretty strong endorsement!

Jojoba is also one of the best carrier oils for aromatherapy.

It's Cheaper Than You Might Think
A lot of people think jojoba's expensive. But when you look at the fact that you'll use just a fraction of the amount you use with other oils and it doesn't go rancid, it becomes very affordable. A gallon of jojoba oil from The Jojoba Company (formerly Boston Jojoba Company) costs $55 and will last a lot longer than other oils, lotions or creams. You can get organic jojoba oil from The Jojoba Company for $69 a gallon, but even their regular jojoba oil is pesticide-free.

If you try jojoba, let me know what you think. And if you're already a jojoba fan or have discovered some new uses for it, I'd love to hear about that too!

March 18, 2009

Recent Improvements Based on Feedback from Therapists

Greetings, fellow Massage Therapists! On March 15th we updated the Find Touch website with some changes you need to be aware of.

Jobs Digest now only goes out when there are new opportunities

You spoke and we listened. Many of you mentioned that you would prefer not to receive repeat emails from us when there is no new information. So we have changed the timing of when we send out Jobs Digest emails. In the past, the Digest was sent out daily; now you will receive it only when there are new jobs matching your preferences, posted within the last 48 hours. This change was made directly based on your feedback to further improve your experience using the Find Touch service. Please keep the feedback coming, we value your suggestions highly.

Availability Settings now part of your Profile

Previously, your Availability settings were managed through a separate My Availability page in your Find Touch account. These settings allow you to keep your profile Active (included in our searchable database) or Unavailable (not shown to Employers using the searchable database). You can still Manage your Availability as previously but the settings are now included on the My Profile page in the Job Preferences section. This change was made to make it easier for you to manage all your Job related preferences in one place.

Thank you for making Find Touch a great success and keep spreading the word!

Enhancements for Employers Add Power and Convenience

On March 15th, we made some key updates to the Find Touch website that massage therapy employers need to be aware of.

Access to the Find Touch searchable database

You told us that the ability to search for therapists was one of the key features of Find Touch that all employers should have access to. Therefore, as of March 15, whether you have a subscription or not, you can use the searchable database to invite therapists to your opportunity.

If you have not been able to Search and view therapists profiles in the past, you will now find this capability has been enabled when you log in to your account.

Making it easier to sign up for service

Find Touch now allows you to sign up as a paying account directly through our website. Find Touch offers two simple and convenient options for Massage Employers - the first plan is to pay as needed, only when you are posting a new opportunity; the second is a subscription plan with a small monthly fee and a discounted price for job postings. You can select your preferred plan by going to the My Account page once you are logged in to your Find Touch Account. You are also prompted to select a payment plan if you are trying to post a new job after your trial period has expired.

Thank you for being part of the Find Touch community. If you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch with us at or call us at (206) 419-9889.

March 15, 2009

Ergonomic Gardening

A poster with twelve flowers of different fami...

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Anonymous

Spring has sprung—well, sort of—well, at least we had a couple of sunny days last week—um, until it snowed on Sunday... Anyway, the hint of warmer weather means hands are itching to start digging in the dirt. My stepmother was a landscape designer so, despite my total lack of a green thumb, I have had close encounters with the obsessive nature of gardening aficionados.

Nothing will stop the true gardener. But some of your clients might find that pain keeps them from enjoying this pastime to the fullest. Weeding, hoeing, raking, digging, and seeding all involve repetitive motions and put strain on various muscles and joints,

Warm Up, Stay Loose, and Enjoy the Dirt
Here are a few tips for pain-free gardening that you can pass along to your clients:
  1. Before you hit the dirt, warm up. Gardening is exercise. You'd warm up your muscles before you do cardio work at the gym—same goes for gardening. It doesn't have to be much—walking around the block a couple of times will get your blood moving and your muscles ready for work.
  2. When you're shoveling or digging, keep the shovel and your load close to your body, just like you would (should) when you're lifting a heavy box.
  3. Keep your wrists in a neutral position (not overly extended or flexed for long periods) and as relaxed as possible. Tools like the ones at the right will help keep your wrists in the proper alignment.
  4. Instead of bending over at the waist, squat or kneel if you have good knees. If your knees aren't so great, use a gardening bench or stool. And if your knees are in good shape, keep them that way by using a kneeling pad.
  5. When you're watering, carry smaller loads and hold them close to your body, with a bent elbow.
  6. Try tools with extended handles to minimize bending and kneeling.
  7. Pause frequently for mini-stretch breaks.
Selecting Ergonomic Tools
Ergonomics is the science of designing tools and environments to fit the body, rather than the other way around. In the past several years, "ergonomic" has become a buzzword, and companies often label items with the term for marketing purposes. Before you spend a bunch of money on ergonomic tools, use the KISS (that's Keep It Simple, uh, Sweetie) principle:
  • If it doesn't feel right, it's not right for you. That's kind of a big "duh," but it's easy to be misled by ergonomic claims, flowery descriptions, and even "impartial" reviews.
  • If it feels heavy when you try it out, it'll get heavier with repetitive use.
  • A lot of so-called ergonomic stuff pretends to be ergonomic by just slapping on a larger, supposedly one-size-fits-all grip. Hands come in different sizes; so should ergonomic tools. If the grip feels in any way uncomfortable at first, it'll just get more uncomfortable with use.
I wish you years of blissful and pain-free gardening!

Earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

March 8, 2009

The FAQs on CEUs

Well, it's time to renew my massage license again, and I figured it was a good time to review the CEU requirements. I know I can get some CEU's from watching videos, but I couldn't remember the rules for doing that (as it turns out, you can only use videos/dvds for four hours of credit). So, realizing that I'm probably not the only LMP in Washington State who doesn't have all of this committed to memory, here's a refresher on what you need.

Don't Be Late!
I was shocked when I got my renewal notice this year. Last year I think I paid $30. This year it's $90!! Major bummer. And because the renewal rate has gone up so much, the penalty for renewing late also takes more of a bite. If you're even one day late, you'll pay an additional $40, for a total of $140. I don't know about you, but $90 is more than I want to pay as it is—make sure the Dept. of Health gets your renewal by your birthday so you don't get soaked by the penalty.

How Many CEU's Do You Need?
From the Washington State Department of Health: To renew a massage license, you must have sixteen hours of continuing education every two years. The continuing education hours must have been obtained during the preceding two years, from birth date to birth date. If you are reporting this year any CE that was obtained before your birth date two years ago or after your current birth date, it cannot be used to satisfy the continuing education requirement.

What Qualifies for CEU Credits?
Again, straight from the horse's mouth so there's no confusion:

WAC 246-830-475
Qualification of program for continuing education credit. Completion of a formal program of learning which serves to enhance the professional knowledge and development of the licensee shall qualify as continuing education credit. For the purposes of this chapter, a formal program of learning shall be defined as any of the following:

(1) Attendance at a local, state, national or international continuing education program having a featured speaker;

(2) First aid, CPR or emergency related classes;

(3) Viewing of educational video tapes not to exceed four credits;

(4) Teaching a seminar for the first time, not to exceed eight hours;

(5) Business and management courses not to exceed six hours;

(6) Specialized training in an aspect of massage therapy provided by an individual who has expertise in that area, has been licensed in this state for no less than three years, and who charges a fee;

(7) Courses from a state, county, or city school or program or approved massage school, program, or apprenticeship trainer in massage therapy or related topics; or

(8) Training provided by a health care professional certified or licensed in their area of expertise.

You Might Need More CEUs
If you're nationally certified or an AMTA member, you have to deal with additional requirements. NCBTMB and AMTA both require 48 hours of continuing education every four years, and 6 of those hours must be taken in ethics. But the AMTA does accept proof of your NCBTMB or NCCAOM-ABT certification expiration date for renewal as a Professional Active member of AMTA.

March 1, 2009

An Elegy to Almonds

Unripe almond on tree

Oh almonds, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

As a massage therapist, I often need to find something quick and easy to munch on between clients. Sometimes there's no time to heat up soup, or even fix a quick sandwich. Instead of grabbing some chips, or even a "healthy" nutrition bar, I try to have some raw almonds on hand (preferably organic).

I always knew almonds were good guys, but I'd forgotten some of the benefits until recently. Several studies have shown that almonds have the potential to:

  • Reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease
  • Help with age-related short-term memory
  • Lower "bad" cholesterol and raise "good" cholesterol
  • Protect against Type 2 diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and sudden heart attacks
  • Reduce the glycemic index of meals
Almond Mini-FAQ
  • Almond flour's gluten-free and can be used in place of wheat flour in a lot of recipes (you can't use it for regular breads because it can't be kneaded, but it's fantastic for quick breads and muffins). Great for low-carbers and those with wheat sensitivities. Tip: When you use almonds for baking, add some extra eggs to make everything stick together.
  • In a controlled study, 73 grams (just 2.5 ounces) of almonds daily reduced LDL cholesterol (that's the bad kind) by up to 9.4%. It also increased HDLs (the good kind of cholesterol) by 4.6% and reduced the LDL:HDL ratio by 12%. The LDL:HDL ratio is considered more important than the total cholesterol count.
  • An ounce of almonds contains 6 grams of protein, 210 milligrams of potassium, and 3 grams of fiber. They're also high in manganese, magnesium, riboflavin and vitamin E, B2, and copper. At less than 170 calories an ounce, almonds are one of the most nutritionally-dense foods.
  • In Ayurveda, almonds are thought to benefit the brain and nervous system.
  • Do you stay away from almonds because of the fat content? Well, 90% of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Monounsaturated fat is the same good stuff that's in olive oil.
  • Get it out of your head that nuts will make you gain weight! A Spanish study followed 8,865 adults over 28 months. Those who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31% less likely to gain weight than those who never or almost never ate nuts.
  • Are you doing the low carb thing? An ounce of almonds contains 2.3 grams of net carbs (that's what you get after subtracting the fiber grams from the total carb count), and they're considered a healthy low carb snack.
  • Oh, and almonds aren't actually nuts - they're drupes. Nope, I'd never heard of drupes either. From Wikipedia: They're fruits "in which an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounds a shell (the pit or stone) of hardened endocarp with a seed inside." Some other drupes are coffee beans, mangos, pistachios, apricots, nectarines, peaches, cherries and plums. Aren't you glad you know that?
Don't Forget the Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are good too. Yum! But expensive, so they're a rare treat. I've always considered pine nuts kind of a guilty pleasure, and I was surprised to find that they're almost in the same class as almonds when it comes to packing a nutritional punch.

So skip the chips and go nuts!