Your Aches are a Smoke Signal

Your Aches are a Smoke Signal

How to get to some real solutions to eliminate tightness and discomfort versus chasing the pain with no long-lasting, permanent results. Yep, there is a better way.


It’s incredibly common to schedule yourself a massage when you are feeling sore, tired, and cranky.

Photo: micagoto

That familiar burn behind your shoulder blades after a long day at the office. A crabby neck from falling asleep on the couch during the nightly Netflix numb-out. Maybe your knees and low back are shot after your lunchtime run.

If you have any experience receiving massage therapy, how often does the LMT zero in on your painful spot you point to, grounding, pounding, and chiseling away to only have the exact painful spot return?

If you’re lucky you get a small handful of relief for a few days. More often than not you only experience a few hours respite from the nagging discomfort you walked in with.


What gives?

Are we doomed to wasting precious time and money on a therapy that, at best, is temporary, or at worst, does diddly-squat for those issues you feel in your tissues?


Here’s the Insider, Expert Level, Scoop:

Where you think it is…it ain’t

(Thanks, Ida Rolf, for the sound bite)


That sore/crabby/cranky/pissy/tight/pinchy thing you feel going on is merely a smoke signal; it’s informing you something is going on, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what it is.


Like a smoke signal, you need to be curious about it before it gives up the details.

From a manual therapy perspective, soft-tissues are often neurologically overworking or neurologically underperforming.

Ideally everything would be working effortlessly and seamlessly in concert together.

When you’re hurting, they likely aren’t.

Both the overwork/underperform states can leave you feeling sore, tight, and likely with some level of discomfort in various movements or activities that call on those muscle groups.


To simplify and restate:

  • An overworking muscle can feel tight and painful.
  • An underworking muscle can feel tight and painful.


Greeeeat! So which is it?

Million dollar question right here and one that will determine your success at feeling and moving better without a hitch in your giddyup.

In my massage therapy practice, I use an evaluation and muscle testing process that provides us with the information we need to determine what’s what.

If we find a muscle is neurologically amped up, then heck yeah (!), let’s release it. I will gladly press on it for you.

However, if a muscle isn’t properly utilized by your brain in a particular movement pattern, let’s call it “weak” for generalized simplicity’s sake, and not performing at it’s potential, all the deep tissue massage, stretching, cracking, and foam rolling isn’t going to do jack toward helping you recover and restore your ability to dynamically move without pain.


The process is quite simple:

  1. Figure out what’s doing too much and too little (Buzzword: Compensation Pattern)
  2. Turn down the volume on the overachiever
  3. Get the slacker back in the game


What you experience is better, smoother, effortless movement with a happy and welcomed side effect of a less sore/crabby/cranky/pissy/tight/pinchy body.

Bonus side effect: you cut down on the potential for injury and tissue damage, as well as prevent possible wear and tear on the “hardware” of your body, ‘cause nobody got time for that.

Bonus bonus side effect: you have the ability and energy to show up in deeper, more profound, and effective ways for the people you love and the communities you serve.





Don’t Get Stuck In A Box.

Don’t Get Stuck In A Box.

My least favorite place to be is “in a box”.

Life feels like the movie Groundhog Day; every minute of everyday is the same old thing.

The Daily Grind (not the coffee type) has me feeling unmotivated, uninspired, unsuccessful, and ultimately unhappy.

Coffee can’t fix the lackluster energy, though I’ve tried.

When I sometimes spend more time working than I do at home, to be unsatisfied and unhappy with said work, to not feel ignited and inspired by it, it creates an almost crippling amount of intellectual stress for me.

Box are good for cats, not for me. Photo credit: Greg Willis

When a client proclaimed, “This isn’t spa music” regarding the Pandora station I had playing as background noise, I died a bit inside.

“!” I screamed in my head.


I don’t work in a spa.

(though there is nothing inherently wrong with spas, I just wouldn’t go to one for my creaky joints and aches and pains.)

I don’t do poorly executed deep tissue work.

(don’t get me started on deep tissue work! So much education needs to be done with this one…ok, maybe DO get me started on deep tissue work.)

I admit humility is something I struggle with, however, my ego is just big enough to not believe untruths about myself and my methodology, so I’m ok calling myself and other people out on it. Lovingly, of course.

To not embrace my personal preferences in regards to life, which work is a big part of, and downplaying and underutilizing my strengths and skills,  also a form or arrogance, is to spit in the face of the God-given perspectives and skills I have been gifted with.


Wait. What am I supposed to do?

Oh man; not only has everyone else’s preconceived notions about manual therapy put me in a box, but I was feeling so uninspired and unmotivated enough, I managed to put myself in one too.

I didn’t realize I got comfortable being uncomfortable and wasn’t doing that-thing-I-do anymore.

I was completely not honoring my passions, preferences, and perspectives, and as such, I suffered at work spiritually and intellectually.

This, of course, leads to lackluster professional performance.


What I do is highly effective rehabilitation work.

Whenever I discover myself boxed in, I immediately flex my guns and get to work.

Let’s be real, I crack open the books and get to work.

There is some flexing going on, but it’s pretty nerdy, and there are no guns involved.

I prefer my longbow. Anywho…


I devote tremendous amounts of time to learning new skills and fine-tuning my assessment and evaluation tools.

It’s part of my never-ending quest for knowledge, efficiency, and effectiveness.

When I saw a Level 1 class for NeuroKinetic Therapy was being offered this fall, I grabbed the Discover card and registered post haste.

NKT is a body of work that I have been stalking for quite some time and many of my mentors practice it. They talk about it all of the time, and I just had to know more about it.

I was incredibly excited to learn something new. To challenge myself and gain deeper knowledge and understanding of the human body and it’s amazing potential.


Good thing too!

NKT is like nothing I’ve ever studied before. I’m challenged. I’m lit up like a candle. I’m feeling more motivated than I have in longer than I can remember, and the RESULTS!?


I am blown away by the results I have seen in the short time since I sat in on the class.

Even with my Newbie, 20-Minute Understanding of this material, I feel like I found a Golden Ticket to something really special.

This Golden Ticket is also the missing piece of the puzzle to a lot of junk stories I hear from clients and the general public at large.

Things about getting older, orthotics, not being able to “hold” their adjustments, and trying every therapy under the sun and not experiencing any long term results.

I hear a lot of, “you’re my only hope!” Naturally, Princess Leia is saying it.

Because she gets the job done, with a little help from friends. Photo credit: Jose M. Izquierdo Galiot
Because she gets the job done, with a little help from friends. Photo credit: Jose M. Izquierdo Galiot


People feel like they are out of options.

They think they’ve tried everything.

Pretty sure you haven’t tried everything.

We sure can talk ourselves in an out of anything. We can easily become complacent and accept the discomfort as “normal”. It’s not.

I challenge you to not hold onto your preconceived notions too tightly. Doing so can be very demotivating. Trust me, I know.


Moving Forward. Not staying stuck.

It’s been about 5 weeks since I went to the Level 1 workshop, and the neat results I’m seeing truly blow me away.

I love how the more I learn, the more I realize I have yet to learn!


Learning the NKT material has breathed new life into my manual therapy practice and I am so eager to learn more and see it breathe new life into the lives of the people I am privileged to work with.

Mixing it in with my already established body of work and techniques I have at my disposal are bringing great outcomes to the people on my table, as well as making work fun again.


I’m out of the box.

I’m challenging the status quo.

I’m not settling for how things are and I take responsibility for the stresses I experience as part of my personal narrative.

That’s exactly the place I want to be.


If you’re up for the challenge, come on over and join me.

Let’s all bust out of our confining boxes and shatter the stories we tell ourselves.

Maybe there is a better way.

I trusted there was and I found one as it related to the discomfort I was feeling.

Maybe your discomfort isn’t spiritual or intellectual as mine has been; maybe it’s physical and social.  There are many avenues stress and discomfort show up in a person’s life.

How about you? Where are you feeling the discomfort?


Don’t Let Your Life Stop You From Living

Feeling pain, being hurt, or having an injury is a drag. Pain zaps your energy and steals you away from the more enjoyable parts of your life. Instead of participating in sports, fitness, leisure, or social activities, you make apologies about how you just can’t join in right now.

24 hours after ACL and meniscus reconstruction/repair in 2004. A skiing accident gone bad due to weaknesses, hypermobility, and imbalances.

You can’t walk because you sprained your ankle. You can’t lift your kids or grandkids up because your back hurts. You have to stay home instead of going out for martinis with your girlfriends because you have a serious headache. The only thing for you to do is to sit on the couch or go to bed early.

If you ask me, that’s no life at all! We are gloriously made to move and to feel incredible enjoyment from the extremely wide variety of movement that is available to us. Moving shouldn’t be a cumbersome and difficult chore. If it is, we need to improve ourselves so movement is effortless and enjoyable.


The Bad News

Left unchecked, your pain or discomfort can evolve from a simple strain pattern into a massive issue.


Often times a simple remedy could be applied to a minor ache, resolving the issue easily and quickly.

Much of the time these minor aches are left to their own devices longer than necessary and quickly turn into compensation patterns. Fast forward, this turns into decompensated movements that can further erode your anatomical hardware. In short, what was a small, easily remedied ache can morph into something un-fixable by non-invasive means.


The Good News

Together, we can restore you back to your former glory and get you back into action. Here’s the plan:


Step 1: Properly identify your areas of weakness, imbalance, and dysfunction

Strain patterns are predictable to well-trained eyes. An imbalanced body doesn’t function properly. You will lift objects incorrectly and walk weirdly; anything to avoid pain and still get the job done. The body is resilient in this capacity, but when the brain recruits other parts to pick up the slack for an injured area more injury is possible.

Step 2: Restore balance and function

   Utilizing manual therapy and correctives can greatly enhance the natural healing process. Properly applied bodywork can help restore range of motion, muscle tone, and movement patterning. The goal is to create space, comfort and ease while your body rights itself.

Step 3: Retrain dysfunctional movement patterns and restore strength

   The work isn’t finished at the end of the bodywork session. The final component is to look at the behavior and movement patterns which led to your aches and pains. Using proper stretching, strengthening, and lifestyle approaches can significantly improve you ability to move and function.


You don’t need to suffer when your body isn’t working or feeling well. Making the choice to work with a well trained manual therapists and movement specialist can be enjoyable and effective. You may even feel stronger, more graceful, and better at life than before you were injured. Don’t quit your life because of your aches and pains. Take action today and begin the process to identify and correct your imbalances. Turn your weaknesses into strengths and enjoy the enjoyable parts of your life.


If you “deal with” aches and pains, or have said, “getting older sucks”, than you may benefit from a postural and movement evaluation.   Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have, or to schedule an evaluation to see how your aches are related to your daily patterns and habits.

Don’t sit on the sidelines of your life. Take action! Schedule your eval today.


**originally published in The YOU Journal. January 2016**

The Secret to Positive Changes that Stick

It’s the New Year and everywhere you look, Facebook, TV commercials, the cover of Cosmo, you can’t escape the numerous “New Year, New You” messages.

It’s as if your “Old You” is lacking in pretty much every life goal and personality department imaginable.

Nutritional “cleansing” programs are beginning, weight loss challenges are ramping up, and gyms see an all time high in attendance. For at least the first 2 weeks of the year.

The top Resolutions typically deal with what you put in your body (eat less sugar; quit drinking; eat healthier; quit smoking), your bodily output (workout…hard), and something or other to do with your money (spend less, save more).

All good things, to be sure! Who doesn’t want to look good, feel good, and then have the cash to strut the bikini body around a pool at some lush Cancun resort? I know I’d be pretty down with that!

There’s a very real struggle where changes and new rhythms are concerned. The plate is full, the clock is ticking, and goals need to be checked off.

You start the year off with some lofty goals and grand intentions but then lose momentum and fall into old patterns.

It can be a devil of a time trying to break out of those old rhythms.

Despite your best intentions, why is it so tough to make changes with real sticking power?



The problem isn’t with a lack of intentions or planning. At the gooey center of it all, deep down in the middle of all of us is the question, “Am I worth it?”

The problem is two-fold: 1) it’s far easier to view ourselves in a negative light versus a positive one, and 2) we heavily count on external criteria to dictate our worth rather than allowing our internal reliance to guide our decisions.


 Focusing On Weaknesses Over Strengths

 A healthy, positive self-esteem seems hard to come by these days. Do you fear being confident will read to those around you as arrogance, or do you just not know what you’re good at anymore?

Test it out. Grab a piece of paper and fold it in half; on one half list your strengths, the other your weaknesses. Which side fills up faster?

Our society is acutely focused on reminding us of what is wrong with us as individuals. We often experience this in our family of origin, throughout academia and workplace culture, followed by continued validation from social media and media outlets of all kinds. Magazine covers tell us we don’t have the right body. Work reminds us what we do wrong and rarely focuses on what we do right. Teachers and parents are more likely to focus on weak grades, and how we can improve them, rather than celebrating and encouraging strengths, skills, and areas of potential greatness. Not everyone is wired for a keen eye of mathematical detail, nor is everyone meant to be artists, teachers, or compassionate caregivers.

In the highly illuminating book, StrengthFinder2.0, by Tom Rath, based on over 50 years of research by Donald Clifton, Ph.D, the Father of Strength-Based Psychology, it’s a recognized phenomenon that people gain more growth potential when they invest in the development of their strengths rather than fixing their weaknesses. Strength over deficiency wins the day.

You need to start working with what’s right with yourself. Like Rath states in StrengthFinder, “from the cradle to the cubicle to the casket, we devote more time to our shortcomings that to our strengths”.

How can you leverage the positive parts of yourself when it comes to making sustainable changes in your life, as well as remind and encourage yourself that, yes indeed, you are worth it?

It’s simple actually. Using the opportunity to develop your strengths is more important to success than any external criteria you can hold your success up to. Your strengths trump your title, your salary, your role, or your pant size. Focusing on what is positive and good about you leads to more confidence, direction, hope, kindness and compassion toward others. In essence, focusing on your positives is the life’s blood of healthy, positive self-esteem.

Don’t dwell on what is broken. Acknowledge your weaknesses and use your strengths to creatively grow and contribute to the world. You are definitely worth it to be more of you!


Relying on External Validation Over Internal Reliance

We live in a culture heavily reliant on Social Media. Seems society plays a major role when it comes to how we feel about ourselves. Do we fall into a category that the prevailing culture deems worthy? It’s easy to fall into the trap of editing your life into a highlight reel to fit into the tidy constructs your social circles dictate. Don’t rock the boat! Don’t break out, and wait for the validation of a job well done from likes, comments, and followers. I personally have felt anxiety when a post “underperformed” and I didn’t receive the external validation I subconsciously was looking for.

A study conducted by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that when Facebook interaction increased, self-esteem decreased, and women who used Facebook where less satisfied, happy and content with their lives.

Comparison is a bitch.

A sign of a positive, healthy sense of self-worth is when you are able to look inside, see how you live your life and make decisions, and feel contentment because you live according to your personal beliefs and values. You walk your talk because you operate from a place of honoring what matters most to you.

A negative sense of self-worth is usually predicated by a strong need for validation from outside sources. You need the world to tell you you are doing a good job and have a great life. Might be true, but the validation isn’t an inside job.

Society is bombarded by messages of not being “good enough”: not thin enough; fit enough; not successful enough. You have the wrong house; the wrong relationship; your kids are all sorts of wrong and you suck at being a parent.

These messages are great for advertising and swaying you to buy something, but does zero for your sense of self-esteem because you always feel less than. You simply don’t measure up. These often times unrealistic expectations also fuel a sense of status quo in social groups; If you go with the flow nobody else has to question their own choices. It’s a vicious cycle. These messages, often internalized on a subconscious level, can really make you feel like a loser who isn’t worth it.

The need for external validation over internal reliance is a sure-fire way to chip away a person’s sense of self-worth.

Don’t get me wrong I understand the need for validation from time to time; one of my primary Love Languages is Words of Affirmation. Sometimes I doubt myself and having trusted, good-willed friends or family members remind me of my strengths and successes can help pull me out of a funk. However, if I don’t operate from the place inside where I truly believe in my strengths and abilities, those warm, fuzzy validations are fleeting.

Key points: 1) trust in self 2) only rely on trusted, good-willed souls. Not random people. Remember: Social Media “friends” are rarely more than old acquaintances. 3) operate from a place where you honor and protect the things that are most important to you. You may cause other people discomfort. It’s okay. Really. You are worth it.


You are Worth It. Rinse. Repeat as Needed

I can’t say it enough; you are worth it; your strengths, your weaknesses, your successes and your broken places!

I trust you are a good-willed individual and I believe you deserve the desires of your heart, whatever they may be.

As we embark on the next year please remember that your worth is more than what someone else says or how they treat you. You are more than a message on a magazine cover. You are not a statistic. Move from the place in your heart that honors and protects what you hold most dear and important. Everything else can fall away.

Begin with the first step toward your dream today. Cherish it. You are worth it. You owe it to yourself to believe it, and the rest of us are really looking forward to meeting you, helping you, and walking with you. The world needs more people who believe in the power, the goodness, the strength, and the worthiness of everyone around us.

It’s an inside job, and it begins with you.


Your Pain Isn’t a Mystery

Being in pain is a drag.

Nothing wears you out like an ache that won’t go away. Pain really cramps your style and ability to be excellent. It stops you from doing things you love to do. It keeps you at home, isolated and alone, watching Netflix instead of doing amazing things.

Pain & Injury











You’d do whatever you could to escape a nagging pain.

As an Orthopedic Massage Therapist, I see lots of people that aren’t feeling their best. They are uncomfortable. Crabby. Scared. Fed up!

Maybe you’ve tried numerous traditional medical approaches to feel better. Pain meds and muscle relaxers are common. Perhaps you’ve done a round of physical therapy. Your chiropractor is on speed dial. No one dare utter the S-word-that-shall-not-be-named (Surgery), and massage therapy is usually the last ditch effort.


One question I get every time I start working with a new client:

Why do I hurt so freaking much?! 

The majority of your issues didn’t happen overnight or in a dramatic accident. The majority of the pain and discomfort I work with builds slowly over time. It’s like shaking a soda bottle; a little shake makes very few bubbles. Keep on shaking it and be prepared to clean the soda off the ceiling. That’s what’s going on in your body too. The pressure builds until you feel the Big Ouch.


There are four basic players when it comes to the aches and pains you feel. Every injury can be traced back to Misuse, Disuse, Overuse, and good old Abuse.

Misuse: Incorrectly moving your body, which places stress on soft tissue (muscle, joint, ligament, tendon, connective tissue, discs, etc.)

Disuse: Not moving enough, which weakens soft tissue and causes balance and control problems.

Overuse: Moving too much, which causes fatigue by not allowing the body the time it needs to recover. Overuse also includes performing activities that require greater strength and endurance than you possess.

Abuse: Your soft tissues take a beating when excessive forces are placed on otherwise normal, healthy tissue.


My case files are filled with examples of the 4-‘uses.

  • The computer whiz with a rotator cuff injury in the right arm and tingling in the hand from using the mouse all day (Misuse).
  • The Lady with Fibromyalgia who doesn’t have the energy to exercise and aches terribly and has balance issues (Disuse).
  • The Marathoner who hurt his hip and knee and can’t keep up with his mileage because of the pain, but won’t take a break to heal the injury (Overuse).
  • The new Crossfitter jumping into a WOD for the first time after years as a couch potato and trying to keep up with the people who’ve been at it for ages (Abuse).


Good News: The 4-‘uses can be fixed.

Once you start using your body better, injuries heal, movement feels good, and you are back to your life stronger than ever. No pain. Just awesomeness.

Do you experience aches and pains that won’t go away? If you haven’t had your movements evaluated thoroughly and would like to explore how Misuse, Disuse, Overuse, and Abuse are affecting you, please consider doing so and getting back to your regularly scheduled activities.

Give me a call. I’d be glad to help you out.




Get Relief Everyday Without Paying for a Massage Everyday

I’m always looking for new ways to help people feel better in their bodies.

I’m also terribly skeptical. Not that that is a bad thing…I think it’s good; necessary when it comes to making decisions concerning our health.


I paid good money to take a class I thought was going to be a sham. A quackery. 

For years I have seen athletes all over the media wearing brightly colored tape on their bodies.  You couldn’t watch any of the  2008 Summer Olympics without seeing it. Crossfitters swear by this stuff.  What was this about? I had read articles about kinesiology taping in trade magazines. I’d seen some research articles and like all good peer-reviewed studies, one study extolls the virtues, another debunks.  I knew k-taping is pretty common in Physical Therapy, so I asked a PT I commonly refer to (his response: he didn’t see much benefit), and an orthopedic surgeon I sometimes refer to doesn’t seem to care for it either.


Why was I taking this class again?           

Because I’m curious.  I also figure, if it’s good enough for elite level athletes, it’s worth a little curious inquiry.

The first 30 minutes of the Rocktape Kinesiology Taping workshop sold me.  The reason:  my back was killing me.  Therapist heal Thyself.  We jumped right in and slapped some bright orange tape on each other to get the hang of how  to work with the stuff before we moved on to theory and practical application techniques.

I had my low back taped and within 10 minutes the ache was gone. Seriously. Not even kidding.


The Rocktape experience exceeded my wildest expectations.

On Day 2 my shoulder was shot. I admit I was a hot mess that weekend. I was overworked and fatigued, and was about 3 weeks from vacation that was probably 3 weeks late. Day 2 was more of a movement assessments day, and I couldn’t push myself up from the ground without my shoulder feeling like it was about to rip apart.

I tried to do a modified push-up against the wall instead. Nope, still hurt.  My partner taped my shoulder, and in 30 seconds I could do a regular push-up from the floor. I didn’t even need to put my knees on the floor to help me up.  Zero pain. Not even kidding.


My clients are amazed and delighted with their Rocktape Results.

Needless to say, Rocktape kinesiology taping is now a part of the Advanced Massage experience in the Gurnee office.

My massage therapy clients are loving the benefits! I have heard reports of improved mobility, improved posture, significant decreases in pain, and I’ve even seen a case of marked decreases in swelling and bruising after a serious ankle sprain.  Come on over to Facebook to see some before and after photos.

It works so well I’ve had a few people ask me what the active ingredient is in the tape.  It’s just tape. There’s no pain relieving medicine in the adhesive. It works because your brain and your body are talking to, and working with, each other again. It’s not about medicine, it’s about communication.


Rocktape is like taking me with you wherever you go.

Rocktape k-taping really extends the benefits you receive in your massage therapy sessions with me. It lasts 3-5 days. It even stays on after it gets wet, so no worries about exercising, sweating, or showering.

But don’t take my word for it!  C’mon in and try it out.

We can do a stand alone Rocktape application session if you don’t have the time or opportunity to come in for some orthopedic massage work, or we can add some Rocktape to your already scheduled session to extend the relief and results you enjoy with the therapeutic work we’ve been working on.


Have you been Rocktape’d before? What was your experience?

If you’d like to try it out, Go here to schedule a session for yourself!

Know anyone who has aches and pains? Tired of hearing them talk about it? Make sure to share this with them so they can do something about it.

Don’t forget to come Follow Me on Facebook for some before and after photos, more insights, and some whimsy.  See you there!