Managing Knee Pain Due to Arthritis

You may have heard a recent story on NPR about the uncertainty of the efficacy of glucosamine and chrondoitin for helping knee joint pain due to osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is also known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, damage to the cartilage causing inflammation, reduced range of motion, crunchiness, and pain.  It can happen as part of the aging process or from repetitive overuse due to work or athletics.

The good news is that the study found that 66% of participants who took the glucosamine and chondroitin supplements reported a pain reduction of around 20%.  The bad news is that 60% of participants taking the sugar pill placebo reported the same reduction in pain.  In other words, a lot of people felt a bit better but it probably wasn’t because of the supplement.  Other participants with more severe knee pain got better results 79% on the glucosamine/chondroitin vs. 54% taking the placebo.

Is spending money on these supplements worth it for most osteoarthritis sufferers?  A larger study is being done but this one certainly raises a lot of questions about how well the supplement that many are spending a lot of money on really works.  With 60% of participants taking the sugar pill getting relief it also sheds light, as many studies do, on how effective your belief that something will work affects the outcome.

What is certain to reduce knee pain for most is to exercise and lose weight.  The article says that losing only 5 pounds reduces pressures on the knee joints by 20 pounds and all types of exercise seem to reduce pain and increase flexibility.

I’m in Skirt! magazine this month!

If you aren’t familiar, Skirt! is a free monthly magazine that profiles local business people, artists, musicians, and other interesting people and businesses who contribute to the community.  I’m thrilled to be in this month’s issue!  Pick one up and show me off to your friends.

A Not So Gentle Reminder

Many massage therapy students are drawn to the field because they had, at one time, experienced pain.  That pain eventually led to their finding bodywork as a way to resolve it or at the very least manage it so they could lead a more pain-free life.

I was not one of those.  I am so very fortunate in my life to have experienced very little real physical pain.  I use these moments when it is present as teaching moments.  A bad decision while white water kayaking this past weekend has given me one such teachable moment.  For the last three days my neck has been in intense pain.  Pain that won’t allow it to be touched or move in all the directions I need it to go, pain that kept me up most of last night and has prevented me from doing some of my work for the last couple of days.

This pain reminds me how personal it is, how much it affects your life, your sleep, your ability to do your job or have fun, how frustrating it is to have limitations.  A client’s pain is not just a knot to be dealt with, a problem to be solved, a series of trigger points to be chased and resolved, it is the restoration of your ability to enjoy life.  I use my pain to remind me that each time someone comes to me for help I must treat the person and not just the problem.

How To Be Magnificent

Each time a class graduates from Lexington Healing Arts Academy they get to choose one of their teachers to speak at their ceremony.  I was honored to be chosen by the January Night Class of 2012, they truly were an exceptional group of people and I’m certain each of them will go on to be very talented therapists.

Here is the speech I gave this year.  Everyone enjoyed it and I hope you find it inspiring:

I want to share something that I found on the internet recently that had a profound effect on me.  It was a simple black and white line drawing of a little dog sitting in her little dog bed, clearly just awakened.  She has a thought bubble above her that says “Today I’m going to be magnificent”.    The little dog wasn’t boasting but setting an intention.  Not in the ‘it would be great if I did this at some point in the future’ way, but in the ‘this is my goal for today, I will be magnificent’.  The cartoon inspired me to give it a try, so, silly as it was I’d have a Stuart Smalley moment in the morning where I’d tell myself and the world “Today I’m going to be magnificent!”

I had to figure out what it was that was so transforming about that word “magnificent”.  I played around with it in my head and briefly came up with an image of me frolicking about in a flowing gold lame outfit tossing glitter into the air then realized I was confusing ‘magnificent’ with ‘fabulous’!  So I looked it up.  ‘Magnificent’ is defined as ‘glorious, wonderful, attended by brilliance or grandeur’.  Its synonyms include awesome, outstanding, superlative, brilliant, and my personal favorite, smashing.

I started saying my new mantra whenever I started to lose focus at work, when I got frustrated with something I was attempting to do, or when I would start getting down on myself for whatever reason.

I realized that setting the intention to be awesome, outstanding, superlative, and smashing made me hold myself to a higher standard.  At the very minimum I had to be the best I could be that day.  I thought of a time I came into work having an excruciatingly bad day and told my friend/boss ‘I don’t know if I can do this today’.  She told me that even if I only have 40% of myself to give that day, to give all of it.  That’s what being magnificent is.

If, at the least, being magnificent means being your best, at the most it means becoming an even better person.  It inspires me to find something new every day that I can add or take away from my life to make me a better person.  I might educate myself on something I’ve been curious about, spend a few more minutes at the gym, start a project, finish a project, ditch a bad habit, hone a new massage technique, or just smile a little more and be gentler towards myself and other people.

Each of you has been an outstanding student, you always gave your best and often went above and beyond what was expected.  Own it, carry that brilliance into your life and work.  Set your intentions, make them real.  When you wake in the morning or whenever you need a boost tell yourself “I am going to be magnificent” or whatever inspires you to be your best and better just for that day.  Rinse and repeat.  Every day is a crapshoot it might be fantastic or it might be awful but if you’re aiming for magnificence at least it will be as smashing as it can be.  

You Don’t Have to Hurt! Take Control of Your Pain

At least once a week I hear things like “I hurt because I’m old”, “I hurt because of my physical job”, “I hurt because I play (insert sport here)”, “I hurt because I sit at a desk or drive a car all day”.   Does this sound like you or someone you know?

Most everyone suffers minor and sometimes major aches and pains from work, play, and life in general.  Overuse and small injuries from playing your favorite sports can cause painful trigger points, sitting all day at work often leads to neck, back, arm, and hand pain and tension headaches, as we age the years of overuse and postural problems can pile up causing pain and stiffness, and old injuries can come back to haunt us.

The real problem is that we accept pain as a trade-off for living, a punishment we must inevitably accept and maybe even wear as a badge of honor (we all know that person!).  It doesn’t have to be this way!   A likely culprit of your discomfort is tension in your muscles and connective tissues.   It doesn’t sound very menacing but plain old muscle tension can cause moderate to severe muscle and joint pain, sleeping problems, headaches, fatigue, and grumpiness.

The good news is that there are simple, non-pharmaceutical, and even pleasurable solutions!  Regular therapeutic massage, a bit of exercise, stretching, and some ergonomic tweaking can quickly get muscle tension and its symptoms under control.

The consequences for not taking control of your pain can be increased chance of injury, and more pain, sleeplessness, and grouchiness.  That’s no good for your or anyone around you.  You don’t have to live with the pain!  Take control and have a better life.

If you have questions about whether massage is right for you please feel free to contact me at 859-576-9409 or ablair@aliblairmassagetherapy.com.

Celebrating One Year in Business!

With eleven years of massage under my belt and exactly zero experience with running a business, networking, or advertising, on March 14th of last year I saw my first client at Ali Blair Massage Therapy.  Fortunately I didn’t have to go it alone, a lot of kind, patient people stepped up to support my new venture and my budding entrepreneurship and I am eternally grateful for their help and advice.

The true hearts of my business are my clients, without them there is no practice.  I am extraordinarily grateful for their trust in my abilities, the honest feedback that lets me know when I need to learn something new, and for help in growing my business by spreading the word to friends and family.

My first year has been more successful than I could have imagined.  I still have a lot of room to grow and can’t wait to see where I’ll be on my second anniversary!

Oh, and if you’d like to help me celebrate come in for a massage!  I still have some openings this birthday month.  Or if you’d like to get me something special you can write a nice review on Yelp, Google Business, or recommend me on Facebook.

Preventing Sports and Exercise Injuries

Confession time:  I am a weekend warrior.  The last time I was in a gym Harry Potter’s voice hadn’t changed, when I am inspired to work out I’ll go for a week then quit for ten, and I run only when chased.  Still, I will go for a brisk bike ride for an hour in single digit weather, have a full weekend of boundary-pushing white water kayaking, and hike a trail that includes an 800-step staircase (down and back up).  All awesome feats for me but then I spend the next week with an achy low back, neck or both, crippling shin splints, or the inability to climb the measly three steps into my own house.  While I’m confessing:  I also sprained a hip while bowling.  My body has, without warning, decided it is no longer putting up with my crap and is refusing to bounce back to normal in a day or two like it used to.

Sound familiar?  If it doesn’t yet, give it a few years.  It’s January and many of us are in the throes of our New Year’s resolutions to work out more, play more, and be healthier all in the name of having fun, looking sexy in a bathing suit and aging gracefully.  However, if you get injured or are frequently in pain as a result of your new found resolve you’re unlikely to stick to your plan.

Whether you’ve been exercising or participating in a sport for years or are a newbie just getting started there are some basic things you can do before, during, and after activity to reduce your chances of getting injured or having pain that may keep you from your goals.

Gift Certificates and Packages for the Holidays!

NEW!  Buy gift certificates online!  

Click the link at the top of the page.

 

Two new ways to save!

  • Give pain relief and relaxation for the Holidays:  

     Buy two Gift Certificates and get a third for half price!*


  • Don’t forget to treat yourself as well with my new massage package: 

     Buy four massages and get one free!  Save %20!

    *Must be of equal or lesser value.

Paddling Pain and Injury Survey

I’ve been asked to do a presentation on self-care and prevention for white water paddling related pain and injuries.  I found there were a lot of varying complaints so I decided to create a survey to better understand the nature and kinds of problems encountered by paddlers.

If you’re a white water enthusiast please take a few minutes to fill out this survey or if you know someone who is please pass it on to them.  I will post the results of my survey in a couple of months.  My presentation will be at the Bluegrass Wildwater Association meeting on December 11.

Paddling Pain and Injuries Survey

Massage Becoming More Common in Hospitals

Research is showing the usefulness of massage to help with a variety of illnesses, injuries, and  conditions, as well as pre and post operation pain and stress.  This article in Massage Today highlights some of the ways therapeutic massage is being utilized and integrated into hospitals.  If you’re curious if massage might be appropriate for you or a loved one or how you can talk to your doctor about massage please feel free to contact me.