Got Health?


365138027_origWe all have health of one kind or other.



Some bad, some good, some indifferent. That condition changes daily, or even hourly.



What many of us don’t have is health insurance. I’m not sure what health insurance looks like, exactly, except where it pertains to me. It’s fairly dear, health insurance, though not necessarily in dollar terms.



I’m not talking about insurance for paying medical bills. I don’t have any of that, although I am off the hook as far as the tax penalty for not having federally mandated coverage is concerned.



The VA saw to that, and thank them very much.



You wouldn’t have thought just five years of my life all those decades ago would pay so many dividends, but it did.



But having somewhere to go when (and if) I get sick or hurt, or even having someone to help me pay for treatment if that happens, which is the purpose of medical insurance, is not HEALTH insurance.



I haven’t been to a doctor, apart from the dentist, in over five years. That isn’t me  just above, by the way, nor am I the guy in the first photo, though I’m working on it. I’m somewhere in between, but one thing that keeps me healthy is working out regularly.



Here you go – this is my health insurance, and like I said, it’s not cheap. Yeah, I do cook it, but from fresh, as much as possible. And as little starch as possible.



Although I don’t deprive myself of the finer incarnations of wheat and barley entirely.



Then, along with a bit of massage for yours truly once in a while …



Some sunshine on the beach …



A few concerned friends who made sure I didn’t miss out on the VA medical help …




And a little bit of luck …




I might just make it long enough to add my own tuppence and then some to the craft of massage and body work. Let’s hope so, right?

That is all.

Mark out.









Yard Work Blues

Spring is early this year. Well, in fact there has not been much of a winter in North America, especially around here. Even in Kansas the lilacs bloomed a month early, so I am told, and last week the temperature in Flint, Michigan was warmer than Pensacola.

Which means that my clients have been extra industrious not only with spring cleaning, but with yard work, and I lost count of the strained low backs, sore shoulders, achy thighs, and stiff necks I have dealt with over the past couple of weeks as folks get back into the swing of caring for lawns and gardens.

I used to do that ages ago, care for a lawn, in southern California, and I did use different muscles to do that, or at least used muscles in different ways, than for anything else I ever did. So I can empathize with hedge-clipper wrist syndrome, and weed-pulling crouch thigh complaint, and reaching too high to saw down that tree limb hyperextension of the shoulder ouchiness.

Only now I know what to do about these issues in my clients because they resemble so many other muscular situations I treat routinely, and I saw a multitude of them over the past couple of weeks.

Of course Epsom salts baths and massage therapy work wonders on underused muscles that suddenly become overused muscles, but another great thing for those yard work aches and pains is to treat your gardening chores as a workout, which is really what they amount to.

Stretch before AND after you weed, and seed, and mow, and mulch, and schlep around that 15-pound edge trimmer, the leaf blower, and the electric hedge clippers that you haven’t picked up since last September.

Stretching will help move the lactic acid out of overworked muscles. That’s the stuff that builds up in the muscle tissue and causes the delayed aches and even cramps that often don’t manifest until the next day. Frequent rest breaks, and of course constant rehydration will help as well – get a big water bottle and keep drinking from it. Don’t wait until you get thirsty to drink, because by then you are already dehydrated.

And one last thing, all you weekend garden warriors – cover up! If it’s too hot for long trousers and long sleeves, at least use a good sunblock, SPF30 or better, everywhere your skin is exposed. And wear a hat, one that shades your neck. If you don’t have one, get one.

What you never want to do is come see me with sunburnt skin where I need to work on you, because I won’t do it.

But do come see me when you can, and I will sort out your muscle issues, and get you ready to go do it again next weekend.

That is all.

Mark out. 

salt baths, self massage, all that stuff

Epsom Salt Sermon

Jessica Alba with her supply of Epsom salt. No, really.

Here is the speech about Epsom salt that I preach to most of my clients at one time or another. This usually is prompted by my discovery of just how hypertonic (clenched) and ischemic (congested with old blood that can’t circulate out) and generally jacked up the client’s muscles are.

It goes something like this, with more or less full orchestration and four-part harmony depending on my energy level and the client’s condition.

Epsom salt is not salt, it’s magnesium sulphate. (Most clients don’t know this and perk right up at the three-dollar words.)

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer. When you soak in a concentrated solution of the stuff, it gets into your body through your pores, straight into the tissues, the muscle fibers, and makes them relax.

It also helps the muscles flush out waste products and toxins, which is why you should soak a sprain, strain, insect bite, or bruise with Epsom salts. There’s a really good article on the subject here –  Planet Green – which is well worth the read.

But as far as simply relaxing jacked up muscles, which I have all the time because of my job, I recommend a couple of measuring cups full of salt in a warm bath. The temperature of the water isn’t as important as whether it’s comfortable for you, because you need to be able to relax and stay there for at least half an hour.

Epsom salt is cheap, less than a dollar a pound most places, and you can get it at any drugstore and most grocery stores. Look in the aisle with the first aid stuff, Ace bandages and so forth. For just a bit more money, you can get it scented with lavender or rosemary and mint.

In the photo above, Jessica just bought her four pound bag of the plain store brand at the Rite-Aid in Beverly Hills. I imagine world famous singers get jacked up muscles just like the rest of us.

I take three or four salt baths a week. You might not need that many, or have a schedule that allows such, but do make some time for yourself once in a while.

You’ll be glad you did.

That is all.

Mark out.

If It Feels Good …

I spent all day Saturday giving half-hour massages at a clinic on Nine Mile Road. It was a great experience, despite the two no shows.

And I can’t really imagine that – not showing up for a massage. Sure, miss your procto exam, totally space that two-hour root canal thing, forget you agreed to meet your life insurance agent for coffee, but not show up for a massage?

You get a massage because it feels good! Doesn’t it?

I’ve never had one that didn’t. Even amateur massage feels good; even when Sean used me for a test dummy for Sports Massage class and twisted me up like a pretzel and did something called the Peanut Grinder on me, even THAT felt good once I decided he really didn’t intend to leave me permanently with my left foot behind my right ear.

Intentional, therapeutic, goal-oriented touch feels good, and it’s good for you.

But unfortunately there’s a pseudo philosophy or quasi-ethos whose main principle is that what feels good probably isn’t good for you, and conversely that in order to feel good one has to first feel bad. Sometimes the espousers of this philosophy are correct, though not always.

Alcohol and recreational drugs, and even prescription drugs, make you feel good but they really aren’t good for you. Junk food makes you feel good for a bit, but definitely isn’t good for you. (I do draw the line at Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, which, if taken in moderate doses, will in fact make one immortal.)

Then of course I could talk about sex, or TV, or films, or trashy novels, or the internet, all of which have abuse potential, along with the potential to make us feel good, if only temporarily.

And then there is medicine, and the practice thereof. Its entire reason for being is to make us feel good, or to get us back up to functional normal. But a lot of the stuff medical doctors, chiropractors, psychiatrists, acupuncturists, dentists and so on do to us in the course of treatment doesn’t feel good at ALL.

They tell us it’s just a pinch; there may be a bit of nausea/swelling/discomfort; when I shoot this in you may experience something similar to burning napalm in your rectum; this may taste exactly like toxic factory waste, but it’s for your own good!

It’s as if the more horrific the treatment, the surer the cure, and I just don’t buy that.

Sure I get down deep in clogged up, jacked up muscles, and sort them out. Every therapist I know does. You should hear Ted’s clients yelling some mornings. But they love him and they come back week after week, and frankly I think the yelling is just to reassure Ted that the client appreciates what he’s doing, and that he’s on target.

But feeling better can feel good right from the start, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You don’t have to suffer, or feel bad in order to feel better. The protagonist’s descent into hell and subsequent renewal is great as metaphor and as story device, and some really good authors have used it.

Only you don’t have to. Go find a massage therapist and tell him or her, or me for that matter, that you want to feel better NOW.

Chances are he or she or I will sort you out straight away, and send you off a bit drained but all smiles.

That is all.

Mark out.

Controlling The Muscles

Today I worked on another therapist. She had been working three months without getting a massage and was really feeling it. I could feel it too, in her back and shoulders and arms, and she seemed a lot better when I got done.

But I was SO pleased because just before she got off the table she said, “I really like the way you take control of the muscles.”

I think that’s the nicest compliment I ever got about my work, from other than my girlfriend, and it made me feel really good.

Hope everyone’s having a great weekend!

That is all.

Mark out.

Clinical Massage

All the massage I do is more or less clinical, as opposed to spa massage. I work at Emerald Coast Massage Specialists which isn’t a spa although it has somewhat of a spa atmosphere – quiet, nice pictures on the walls, low lighting and good music.

But even when a client asks for relaxation massage I always find out, or simply find, that there is something that needs therapy, some muscle not acting right, some painful area, some reason to do more than fluff and buff.

And then this past Saturday I worked in an actual clinic. I was supposed to simply shadow Sean, watch what he did with clients referred by their physicians, but I wound up doing 5 half-hour sessions.

Obviously these folks have clinical problems, and their doctors prescribed massage therapy to treat whatever is going on. Some are car crash victims, and some just folks who have ongoing muscle issues of one kind or other.

But regardless what the client is there for, it’s my job to make him or her feel better, even if I have to make him or her feel worse for a few minutes. Very often treating muscles that hurt requires hurting them in a good way, a retraining and restructuring way, to help them respond and rejuvenate.

And honestly, if done right, it really does feel better when it quits hurting.

Then there are times when no matter how deep I dig into someone’s muscles, the client responds with, “Yeah, that’s good,” or something similar. These usually are people who are in pain all the time, and even just a different sort of pain for a while seems a relief.

Anyway, my point is that doing what I do makes people feel good, or at least better, and that makes me feel better.

That is all.

Mark out.

Happy Fourth of July, Everyone!

Somewhere among the hamburgers and the corn on the cob and the cold beer and the fireworks at the fairgrounds grandstand, take a minute or two and remember what and who this is all about.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Don’t disappoint your founding fathers, much less the guys in the video up there. Heroes every one, they are doing their best to make sure you have Liberty. You’ve got Life or I would be very surprised to find you reading this. So go get some Happiness.

Call your massage therapist first thing tomorrow and book an appointment. And do it proudly, whether you’re an American or not.

Americans love to share – happiness, C-rations, relaxed muscles, whatever we’ve got.

That is all.

Mark out.