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Give yourself something to look forward to

It was a hectic nine days.

On April 23, I attended a concert at Carnegie Hall in which a friend sang with a choral group behind the New York Pops Orchestra. April 24 brought a second consecutive late night, my 30th high school reunion. Five hours of standing and talking with former classmates — what a blast. April 25 was a day of recuperation with one massage at night.

April 26 began a typically busy day at my daytime job. April 27 began the onslaught — two massages that night, two massages the night of April 28, two the night of April 29, one the night of April 30, four the day of May 1.

But May 2, ah, May 2. Three weeks earlier I had scheduled a bodywork session for May 2. Boy, did I need it, and boy, did I enjoy it. Two hours of ministering to sore feet and legs while I blissed out on the table. What anticipation; what relief; what foresight.

I invite you to do as I did: schedule a massage ahead of time. It can be a day, a week, a month ahead. Insert the appointment into your busy professional and personal life, and make sure you take that break when it arrives. Give yourself something to look forward to, then savor each and every minute of that massage.

I was glad I did. You will be, too.

The Buttocks

You sit on them. You use them to walk. You make them the butt, pun intended, of jokes, either about others or on yourself. Yet, you might not think they need to be massaged.

Think again.

Housing gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, the piriformis and other deep rotator muscles, these fleshy orbs in the back midsection of your body play a major role in movement, and thus in holding stress. In addition, the sciatic nerve goes around or even through the piriformis, and when that muscle tightens, it can lead to the pain down the leg known as sciatica.

During a massage session, I spend a respectful amount of time on the glutes. First I knead the flesh as I would bread dough. Then I apply deeper pressure; the visual is a wagon wheel, with the greater trochanter (the large knobby bone connecting femur and pelvis) being the center and the frictioning done on the spokes on the glutes and the other muscles all around the greater trochanter.

I do all the spokes in the circle at least once if not twice, then I conclude with more kneading and light fisting percussion on the flesh before smoothing out the entire leg, buttocks included, with some finishing gliding strokes.

Tension released, buttocks ready for looser ambulation once more.

CranioSacral Clientele

Last week, I welcomed a new client who had some “back issues.” He had been receiving some shiatsu treatments, but the shiatsu practitioner was away, and his wife, upon the shiatsu practitioner’s advice, checked out www.upledger.com, and called me before her husband also called and set up an appointment.

I massaged his back for a half-hour before doing a half-hour of CranioSacral Therapy. At the end of the session, he said that he had relaxed but that the work was subtle — perhaps subtler than he had expected.

Yes, CranioSacral Therapy is subtle. It’s not the strong, even painful gratification that some might experience and expect from deep-tissue work. It’s not the soothing glide of some Swedish massage sessions.

It’s deceptively, profoundly relaxing — sometimes immediately so, as when clients fall asleep on my table. Sometimes it’s delayed, as when a client reports a good night sleep later on the same day or night. And sometimes it even leaves a person feeling worse, as old stored toxins are released and make their way out of the body.

It has been my experience that people need to want it and seek it out on their own. These are the most receptive clients for CranioSacral Therapy. I don’t take it personally if a client finds that CST is not for him or her. I let the therapy do its work however long it takes.

If and when a client returns for a second session, I take satisfaction in knowing that the work has helped make them receptive for more. I love the work and love to talk it up and share it with the world.

Ask me about CranioSacral Therapy, and get $10 off on whatever session you’re getting for that appointment.

Stretches of the Month

Radial/ulnar pronation and Radial-ulnar supination

Both involve the arm, hand and wrist and help alleviate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Both are found in “Active Isolated Stretching” by Aaron Mattes (www.stretchingusa.com). When you go into the stretch, breathe out and count “One one thousand, two one thousand.” Breathe in and release stretch. Breathe out and repeat two-second stretch for 6-8 repetitions for each of the two stretches.

Radial-ulnar pronation

Muscles stretched: Supinator and biceps brachii.

Muscles contracted: Pronator quadratus and pronator teres.

Method: Flex elbow, and keep elbow against side of trunk at hip throughout movement. With thumb outward, rotate forearm inward to palm downward position. With free hand, clasp just below wrist for slight assisting stretch.

Radial-ulnar supination

Muscles stretched: Pronator quadratus and pronator teres.

Muscles contracted: Supinator, biceps brachii and brachioradialis.

Method: Flex elbow 90 degrees and maintain elbow against side of trunk at hip throughout movement. With thumb upward, rotate forearm outward moving palm upward and pointing thumb downward while contracting the supinator, biceps brachii and bradioradialis muscles. Using free hand, clasp just below wrist and use free hand for slight assisting stretch.

For more information, or to order “Active Isolated Stretching,” log onto www.stretchingusa.com.

Recipe of the month: Carrot (or sweet potato) cake

1 cup organic raisins
1 cup warm water
2 cups shredded organic carrots (2 large carrots) (or 1 medium organic sweet potato)
4 ripe organic bananas
2 cups Arrowhead Mills wheat- and gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup organic virgin olive oil
1 cup water, and more to moisten if necessary

Place raisins in a small bowl and pour warm water over them. Let them soak for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray square cake pan with Pam.

Scrub carrots or sweet potato and put them in a blender and shred them. Put them in a bowl and put them aside.

Place raisins and liquid and peeled bananas in a blender and puree them.

In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, arrowroot powder and baking soda together. Pour grated carrots or sweet potato into the mix. Pour pureed bananas and raisins into the mix.

Add olive oil and water and mix it all together, adding more water if necessary for a moist (though not runny) batter. Pour into the cake pan.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool. If you want, ice it with organic raw almond butter. Yum!

Until next time, be well.

Dennis Sprick
The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy