Tag Archives: back pain


Celebrating Spring with Zen Healing Center!

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Perfecting Your Posture at Work: Spinal Hygiene

 Proper Lifting Techniques:

  1. Stand perpendicular to the object.
  2. Start by bending your knees.
  3. Put your arm under the object such as a box.
  4. Lift with your legs first.
  5. Slide the object up to your pelvis.
  6. Than lift with your arms.
  7. No turning, no bending all the way with your back, and do not try to carry weight that you cannot lift.lifting posture2

Proper Lifting: Bad and Good Examples

lifting posture

Ergonomically Correct Posture:

With long hours spent at your desk, it can be difficult to keep good posture. To prevent your spine from taking on a “C” form, it is important to take steps to reduce your spinal pressure by sitting correctly so that your spine falls into its natural “S” position. Good posture can substantially improve the way your back and neck feel at the end of your workday Here are a few suggestions from The Back Store and Spine-health.com to help you improve your posture at work:


posture 3

  • Use a footrest: Purchase a footrest or use old phone books that are approximately four inches high. This will raise the height of your knees and effectively changes your center of gravity backwards, helping you to improve your posture.
  • Sit close to your desk: Be as close to the edge as possible. It will prevent you from bending forward over the desk.
  • Keep your back supported when sitting: When you will be sitting for long periods, you should make sure your back is supported from the lumbar region (lower back) to at least the shoulder blades. The chair you sit in should support the whole spine, right up to the neck. To avoid bending your neck to look down, try placing a small lectern on the desk or tabletop.
  • Take stretch breaks: If you are sitting for a long period of time, get up and stretch for a few seconds at least once every hour.


posture 2

  • Tilt your pelvis slightly forward (towards your rib cage): Tighten your abdominals and keep your head directly over your shoulders and pelvis. Try not to pull your shoulders back, as this may actually worsen y our posture. If it is hard for you to hold this position, try placing your feet slightly apart with one foot in front of the other and bend your knees a little.
  • Use a railing or box to prop one foot up: This will take some of the pressure off your back. You can also place a rubber mat on top of a concrete floor to help ease pressure.
  • Change your feet and positions at least every 20 minutes: This will keep your back from getting “stuck” in the same position.
  • Slightly bend at the knees: This is keep pressure off the knee joint, hips, ankles, and lower back. This will also help with circulation and a good work out for the legs.

Your Workstation


For optimum comfort, you should assess your workstation and make changes based on the types of tasks you do on a daily basis, and the amount of time spent sitting or standing. Spine-health.com offers these tips for creating a more comfortable work environment:

  • Take your task in consideration when choosing a surface height for your desk: For example, an architect will need a higher surface for drawing, but a person who works on a computer all day will more than likely want a desk surface where they can sit or stand, depending on the need to use other tools or references.
  • Adjust the seat of the office chair:
    • Your work surface should be elbow-high.
    • Your fist should be able to pass easily behind your calf and in front of the edge of the seat to keep your legs from being pressed too hard and your feet from swelling.
    • Two fingers should slip easily under your thigh. If not, place a footrest under your feet to raise your knees to the same level as your hips.
    • The backrest of your chair should push your lower back forward slightly.
  • Fix the height of your computer screen: Sit comfortably at your desk and close your eyes. Slowly reopen them. Where you first gaze is the place to put the center of your screen. You can easily raise you screen with books or a stand if need be.

Protect Your Eyes From Computer Eye Strain

Computer Desk Eye Bloodshot

Computer Desk Eye Bloodshot

Nearly 75 million Americans spend many hours a day working in front of a computer.  Over 50 percent report some form of eye strain, including eye fatigue, dry eyes, burning eyes, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and headaches as well as pain in the shoulder, neck or back.

If you are one of those suffering from computer eyestrain, here are some steps to take to protect your eyes and reduce eyestrain:

  • Have your eyes examined annually by an eye doctor.  If you wear glasses, consider a pair of glasses specifically designed for computer use. Also, consider glare coating on your lenses.
  • Select a computer monitor with a larger and flat screen.
  • Place your screen 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes and the top of the screen at or a little below eye level.  The monitor distance should allow you to read the screen without leaning your head, neck, or trunk forward or backward.  Adjust text size as needed for ease in reading.
  • To reduce glare, place your monitor perpendicular to a window, adjust or add window blinds, and reduce interior lighting to lower glare and reflections.  Use a task light that shines only on your paper.
  • Use an antiglare screen on your computer.
  • Take a vision break every 20 minutes or so and look, at an object 20 feet or more away to relax your eye muscles.
  • Blink your eyes regularly and more often to rewet your eyes and avoid dryness and irritation.  Use artificial tears if needed to lubricate your eyes.
  • Use a document holder placed next to your computer screen so you do not have to turn your head back and forth or constantly refocus your eyes.
  • Alternate your computer work with non-computer tasks to give your eyes a rest.

Chasing Pain or Finding the Cause of Pain

When was the last time you had a headache? What did you do about it? Did you just think it would go away? Maybe you just thought it would get better and go away if you waited long enough. Pain is real, and it does exist. There are lots of people who will tell you about their pain, even, when you didn’t want to know.

For as long as people have pain site 2been around, there have been people helping other people chase pain away. Centuries ago, pain-chasers were called things like, medicine man, holy man, shaman, or healer. Within the last 50 years we have begun to have new names for these people. Now we call them, doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist. Now, there are so many different names for pain chasers, and they all have their own “technique(s)”, for chasing your pain away.

The sun and moon chase each other day after day. This is a cycle that will continue for an eternity, and that’s ok. Actively chasing pain has become a normal part of some people’s lives. Pain itself, is a normal thing to have, because it is our alert system that tells us internally that a problem is happening. Problems happen when people are not able to chase their own pain away. Let’s get back to headaches. When you figured out you had one, what did you do? Lots of people take pills from the local pharmacy, others don’t. So does that mean headaches are a deficiency in pain medication?

With a variety of pain-chasers to choose from, how do you pick one? I would not suggest seeing a general practice physician if you had heart problems – you would see a cardiologist. One general issue people regularly face is the active advice/ prescription. Are they giving you good or bad advice? Many people follow the advice because the other person is supposed to know more. They are supposed to have the answer you are looking for. Why would these people want to give bad advice? If they know more than you do, isn’t that a good enough reason to listen and do what they say?


There may come a point when you will follow their advice not knowing if it truly is the best advice you can take, because it is their job to know. This advice may only be the best they can offer, based on their training and experience. When you decide not to follow their advice, the circumstance is still the same. Are they offering you advice because they do not see any other way to help you, or will they only help you if you follow their advice?

I used to chase people’s pain without the concrete knowledge that I might actually catch it. Not every technique will work for every single person. I am still in the process of learning new and more advanced techniques. The reason why all techniques do not work will every single person, is simple: everyone is different. I choose to treat people with a variety of techniques. No one has the same time table for healing. Some people have structural imbalances that require me to think differently. I treat people with autoimmune issues different from people who have tired hands from yard work.

Years ago, when I primarily treated muscle pain with trigger point therapy, I found myself being limited by people tolerance to pressure. People always came back with the same issues. I eventually figured out that I was not doing enough to help them. So I started learning different techniques because what I was using was not getting the results I thought my clients deserved. I was chasing the sun and moon.


Is your practitioner simply chasing pain, or are they actively trying to eliminate the source of that pain? The variety of techniques I use now all have their uses. It is my job to figure out when to intentionally utilize each one for maximum effectiveness. A pain-chaser will never fully understand why you have the pain, and they are not willing to do what is necessary to help. Pain-chasers do not get to the source of your pain, help you to understand it, or help you to resolve it. I chased pain for the better part of a decade. Worst of all, I didn’t even know it.

Matt Williamson, ART Certified CMT

Frequently Asked Questions for Massages

Massage FAQs

7 Questions to ask yourself before getting a massage:

  1. Have you ever had any massage?
  2. How long was the longest massage you have had?
  3. Do you know what kind of massage(s) you have had?
  4. How long has it been since your last massage?
  5. Do you know what kind of techniques the practitioner used?
  6. What kind of pressure do you like? If you are unsure that’s ok too.
  7. Are you currently in pain?

*People who generally do not pay attention to how they feel are far more likely to wait too long to seek treatment of any kind.

Is there more than 1 kind of massage?

  • Massage is like food. You will feel different depending on the type of massage an pressure being applied.

What happens before a massage?


  • First timers please be 10-15 minutes early. You will have to fill out an intake form before the massage begins. This is similar to a doctor’s visit. Pertinent medical information needs to be written down so the therapist can make sure to NOT hurt you. Some medications and medical conditions are direction contraindications for massage.
  • If you have been doing yard work and your body hurts everywhere, this is the time to speak up. Remember most people cannot read your mind, so asking questions and giving information is the best way to ensure you get the most out of your massage.

What happens when the massage is over?

  • Your therapist will leave the room and you may now get up and put your clothes back on.
  • IMPORTANT: do not get up quickly. While laying down your body has adapted to this position. Before moving, take a few breaths, role to your side and slowly sit at the side of the table and take a few more breaths.

What now?

  • The therapist may give you stretches to try or inform you of nutritional concepts or any number of things.stretch_02a
  • Your therapist will meet you in the hallway or outside the room. Usually you will be given water.
  • It is really important that you drink water for the rest of the day/night to flush out the toxins that have been removed from your muscles. Even very relaxing massages can have a great effect on how much toxin release there may be. The type of massage sometimes is not important because everyone detoxifies differently.
  • Some therapists have the ability to do a massage with the intention of your body recovering in a very specific way (i.e. you will continue to feel looser over the next few days, etc). It is important to listen to your therapist for their professional opinions about your body care and massage, because in many cases (not all), they will have a better understanding of how you should feel or what will keep you pain free. But good advice falls on deaf ears a lot.

How often should a person get massage?

  • The actual frequency of sessions should diminish over time. This means your body is feeling better for longer. “Maintenance” massage is a tricky term. Does maintenance mean every week for the rest of your life? Therapist who do not possess the ability to reduce session frequency either do not have the ability to do so (for a variety of reasons), or do not have the desire to do so.


  • A relaxing massage doesn’t always mean pain free. Many people really enjoy knowing they will be receiving deeper pressure while others do not. The therapist should be communicating throughout the massage to make sure you are ok with the pressure that is being applied.
  • For a first time massage (if its only Swedish technique), think of a 1-10 scale *10 being unbearable pain). Do not go over 5-6. IF you are feeling a 7-8, say out loud “that’s too much pressure”, or “that’s too hard”. Remember mind readers are few and far between in this profession.
  • If a 7-8 feels good then it can be ok to receive, but if you do not know how your body recovers from massage, then its best for the first time to just relax or receive less pressure.
  • For deeper massages, a 7-8 is the target pressure you should be feeling. Endorphins (Enkephalin’s) are released in the body. Endorphins are the bodies natural pain killers.

**You have the power to end any massage if you feel the therapist isn’t listening,  or taking your needs into account, or being unprofessional.

**Therapist are trained to immediately end a massage if the client is inappropriate in any way.The truth: clients are thought of like meat or shapes. Our basic job is to tenderize you. To always keep things professional. A therapist will look at the body also in sections. Each shape and section of the body needs to function correctly so that other parts do not have to compensate for the lack of mobility in any particular area.


I approach people with information I believe will be pertinent to you at any given time.