Friday, March 01, 2013

Fort Collins Newest "Spas"

Who would have known, Asian Massage Parlors are popping up all over the Front Range.  Take a look at North China Massage on the corner of Drake and Shields, or FCT Massage Therapy on the corner of Prospect and College.  These "spas" look like legit massage businesses, but what goes on behind the closed doors is something completely different.  While you are at it, take a chance to notice the majority of their clientele are all male.  If you do not believe me, feel free to go into one of these fine establishments and ask for the "sowet special."  I am sure you will walk away with a smile on your face.

Here is what you really need to know.....Quite aside from giving legitimate therapeutic massage a bad name, the chances are that the now ubiquitous strip-mall Asian Massage Parlor, or so-called AMP, is involved in what amounts to slave labor.  For more information on what really goes in in these places, take a look at this site, sponsored by the Polaris Project, a leading organization dealing with the issue of AMPs and the sex-trafficking trade:

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A NEW Combination - Integrated Massage (IM)

A unique blend of Pilates and Therapeutic Massage.  IM technique optimizes both the use and exposure of the core and small muscles, along with hard-to reach tissues and ligaments. A combination of manual manipulation and self-generated movement, improving range of motion, strength, and flexibility. Not only is this approach more fulfilling than traditional massage therapies, it is more long-lasting. IM is the ultimate combined exercise and massage experience, and once tried, clients will accept no substitute. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Giving Back!

Since 2003, I have worked very hard to make my business of helping others with their physical fitness, personal appearance, and pain-relief therapy, a success.  But I also recognize that I have benefited from a combination of good fortune and the support of my community.  Consequently, I want to give something back.  Therefore, each month I will donate 100% of net proceeds of MacNaturals, to a worthwhile non-profit, community organization in Fort Collins.  Each is selected on the basis of the organization's commendable goals and activities.   This is not to say you cannot make an extra donation as 100% of that will go straight to that month's non-profit organization.   I hope my clients will enjoy and benefit from using my products, but they can also derive the satisfaction of knowing that they are also contributing to worthwhile causes, too!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Injury Recovery

Whether recovering from an acute injury, surgery or emotional traumas therapeutic massage can aide in the recovery process. Massage supports soft tissue healing by facilitating blood flow to the injured area, decreasing the armoring of surrounding muscles, mobilizing scar tissue that forms over the injured area, breaking up fascial adhesions that develop and decreasing associated pain. Massage techniques help normalize the connective tissue thus increasing range of motion and pain free movement. Following emotional trauma Therapeutic Massage can provide needed stress relief and a way to reconnect with oneself in a non-threatening, supportive environment. Massage Therapists can work closely with a client and other counseling services to assure the best recovery possible.

Therapeutic massage is very helpful for injury recovery from repetitive strains. These injuries are generally caused from overuse of certain muscle groups because the individual does the same movement over and over (repetitive movement). If these injuries are left untreated they can lead to increased pain, loss of function of the affected area and decreased ability to perform daily tasks. They can lead to loss of work along with costly workman’s compensation claims. Therapeutic massage is very helpful with injury recovery of such repetitive strain problems as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) is a is a painful musculoskeletal condition, a common cause of musculoskeletal pain. MPS is characterized by the development of Myofascial trigger points (TrPs) that are locally tender when active, and refer pain through specific patterns to other areas of the body.

A trigger point or sensitive, painful area in the muscle or the junction of the muscle and fascia (hence, myofascial pain) develops due to any number of causes. Trigger points are usually associated with a taut band, a ropey thickening of the muscle tissue. Typically a trigger point, when pressed upon, will cause the pain to be felt elsewhere. This is what is considered "referred pain".

These factors can cause trigger points:
•Sudden trauma to musculoskeletal tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons, bursae)
•Injury to intervertebral discs
•Generalize fatigue (fibromyalgia is a perpetuating factor of MPS, perhaps chronic fatigue syndrome may produce trigger points as well)
•Repetative motions; Excessive exercise; Muscle strain due to over activity
•Systemic conditions (eg, gall bladder inflammation, heart attack, appendicitis, stomach irritation)
•Lack of activity (eg, a broken arm in a sling)
•Nutritional deficiencies
•Hormonal changes (eg, trigger point development during PMS or menopause)
•Nervous tension or stress
•Chilling of areas of the body (eg, sitting under an air conditioning duct; sleeping in front of an air conditioner)

The fascia is a tough connective tissue which spreads throughout the body in a three dimensional web from head to foot without interruption. The fascia surrounds every muscle, bone, nerve, blood vessel and organ of the body, all the way down to the cellular level. Therefore, malfunction of the fascial system due to trauma, posture, or inflammation can create a binding down of the fascia, resulting in abnormal pressure on nerves, muscles, bones or organs.

This can create pain or malfunction throughout the body, sometimes with bizarre side effects and seemingly unrelated symptoms. It is thought that an extremely high percentage of people suffering with pain and/or lack of motion may be having myofascial problems; but most go undiagnosed, as the importance of fascia is just now being recognized.

Many of the standard tests, such as x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, eletromyography, etc., do not show the fascia. Occassionally, trigger points produce autonomic nervous system changes such as flushing of the skin, hypersensitivity of areas of the skin, sweating in areas, or even "goose bumps." The trigger points cause localized pain, although TrPs can involve the whole body.

Like fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain syndrome is an often misunderstood condition. Even today, some doctors either don't believe that MPS exists or they don't understand its symptoms and treatment.

Treatment of MPS can only begin after an accurate diagnosis is accomplished. Methods for managing this painful condition:
• Trigger Point Therapy {Myofascial release therapy, myotherapy, massotherapy (medical massage therapy)}
• Spray and Stretch technique (stretching of the muscles involved with a vapocoolant spray - a coolant is sprayed on the trigger point to lessen the pain and then the muscle is stretched. this is often done by a physical therapist.)
• Trigger Point Injections (local anesthetic,such as lidocaine, injected directly into the trigger points)
• Dry Needling (the use of a needle without injecting anything) [TrP injections and dry needling mechanically disrupt the tirgger point. The use of lidocaine is no more effective, but it reduces the soreness afer injection. For MPS there is no role for injected steroids]
• Chiropractic or Osteopathic manipulation treatment
• Craniosacral Therapy
• Physical Therapy (hands-on)
• Exercise
• Improvement of nutrition
• Changing sleeping habits
• Elimination of stress; Biofeedback; Counseling for depression that may result from this painful condition

An active trigger point when treated well or with rest will become latent (quiet, or not causing active symptoms). It can often resurface after trauma after acute overload or fatigue, or even sudden exposure to cold. Conversely, new trigger points may arise elsewhere, or at least become more sinificant as others become latent.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Sports Massage

Therapeutic sports massage focuses on aiding the athlete in maintaining optimal health and wellness. Individualized sessions focus on the primary muscle groups that the professional, amateur and weekend athlete stress during competition and training. Maintenance sports massage facilitates increased range of motion, flexibility and ability for enhanced muscle strengthening and assists in preventing injuries. Remedial and rehabilitative sports massage addresses the healing of soft tissue in the event of minor and major injuries. I am available to provide short, concise warm up or cool down event sports massage sessions at the sport venue and to work with athletic teams on a regular basis.

A specialty of mine is functional assessment in conjunction with the sports massage program. Athletes are continually pushing the envelope of performance leading to various strains, sprains and other injuries. I provide orthopedic assessment in order to provide the appropriate techniques for the condition present. Deep tissue work along with myofascial release is often most effective in working with common soft tissue issues that the athlete faces.

A critical component of any training regimen is prevention of injuries. Working closely with a licensed massage therapist all athletes can add another line of defense against injury. Getting to know an athlete is the massage therapists strength. Being able to monitor muscles and tissue through regular palpation will allow the therapist to locate potential problem areas before they become significant. Dealing with a tight hamstring or low back prior to it becoming strained during activity will keep the athlete in the game and not on the bench.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Pain Management

Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition affecting every aspect of ones life. Some ways that the body adapts to chronic pain is by increasing muscle tension, developing adhesions, altering breathing and sleep patterns. Muscle spasms lead to postural patterns that serve to reinforce the chronic pain and limit one’s ability to do even simple tasks.

Chronic pain often has a soft tissue connection involving muscles, fascia, tendon, ligaments and/or nerves. Therapeutic massage aides in reducing pain by increasing circulation, relaxing tight muscles, breaking the pain - spasm - pain cycle, mobilizing scar tissue, and releasing adhesions. Calming the nervous system, and in some cases reducing compression on nerves significantly reduces chronic pain. As the effects of chronic pain are reduced breathing and sleep patterns return to a more normal level allowing the body to rest and recover and function more efficiently.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Stress Reduction / Relaxation

Therapeutic massage facilitates the relaxation response in the body. Utilizing long flowing massage strokes, heat and energy work massage can decrease blood pressure, increase circulation to tight overused muscles, lower stress hormone levels and produce an overall feeling of relaxation and wellness. Recent studies show that just a one hour Swedish massage significantly reduces the levels of Cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a primary hormone associated with long term stress. The lowering of this hormone aides in promoting stress reduction and relaxation.

Effects of massage are cumulative. Incorporating massage regularly into your busy lifestyle will have a positive long-term effect in combating the negative effects of prolonged stress. Just as the body learns to be tense and tight it can re-learn to be more relaxed. Regularly scheduled therapeutic massage sessions combined with a program of self care will keep you functioning at your optimal level. Efficiency at work or home improves significantly the more relaxed you are both physically and mentally.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Chair Massage

Therapeutic chair massage is generally performed at a work site or special event. The client is seated in a massage chair fully clothed and receives a 5 to 15 minute massage to the back, neck, shoulders and arms. It is tremendously relaxing yet energizing. Research has shown that massage at the work site leads to increased productivity, job accuracy and employee contentment. Chair massage can be done as a fundraiser and at parties and social gatherings. It is great way to make events like golf tournaments unique.

There are numerous ways that employers can incorporate chair massage into the work environment. Month sessions with a therapist providing massage at the work site is by far the most popular. Gift certificates to get ½ hour or 1 hour sessions at our office are used to recognize employees of the month or to provide special recognition of jobs well done. I am able to tailor a program to meet the unique needs of your business.

In these challenging times the work place is often hit hard regarding stress levels of employees. Bringing a massage therapist into the work site is one way to help relieve the effects of stress on the employee. Reduced stress hormone production, relaxing upper body tension and promoting a caring environment will lead to more productive and content employees.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Fire Cupping

Cupping: An Introduction

Cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine. The earliest recorded use of cupping dates to the early fourth century, when the noted herbalist Ge Hong wrote about a form of cupping in A Handbook of Prescriptions. Later books written during the Tang and Qing dynasties described cupping in great detail; one textbook included an entire chapter on “fire jar qi,” a type of cupping that could alleviate headaches, dizziness and abdominal pain.

Originally, practitioners would use hollowed-out animal horns for cups, and place them over particular points or meridians. Today, most acupuncturists use cups made of thick glass or plastic, although bamboo, iron and pottery cups are still used in other countries. Glass cups are the preferred method of delivery, because they do not break as easily as pottery or deteriorate like bamboo, and they allow the acupuncturist to see the skin and evaluate the effects of treatment.

How does cupping work? What does it treat?

In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, let, then placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum.

As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside-down so that the practitioner can place the cup over a specific area. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of qi, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of medicated oils or herbal oils to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which lets them move the cups up and down particular acupoints or meridians after they have been applied.

How many types of cupping are there?

In addition to the traditional form of cupping described above, which is known as “dry” cupping, some practitioners also use what is called “wet” or “air” cupping.

In “air” cupping, instead of using a flame to heat the cup, the cup is applied to the skin, and a suction pump is attached to the rounded end of the jar. The pump is then used to create the vacuum. In “wet” cupping, the skin is punctured before treatment. When the cup is applied and the skin is drawn up, a small amount of blood may flow from the puncture site, which are believed to help remove harmful substances and toxins from the body.

Is cupping safe? Does it hurt?

While cupping is considered relatively safe (especially air cupping, which does not include the risk of fire and heat), it can cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless, however, and disappear within a few days of treatment.

In addition, there are several instances where cupping should not be performed. Patients with inflamed skin; cases of high fever or convulsions; and patients who bleed easily, are not suitable candidates for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back. If the cups are being moved, they should not cross bony areas, such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


An injury is defined as either acute, subacute or chronic, depending on the stage of healing and the symptoms.

However, it's more accurate to define the stage of healing by the symptoms you see and feel, rather than a textbook definition of when a specific stage begins and ends.

For example, an acute injury is defined as the first 72 hours after an injury. But if you sprain your ankle and continue to kick a soccer ball around, your acute stage could last longer because you're irritating the tissue and prolonging the inflammation and other symptoms.

Also note that if you have an old (chronic) injury and it flares up, it is considered acute again.

The acute phase of an injury is usualy defined as the first 72 hours after an injury. An acute injury may include some or all of the following:
- Most significantly: INFLAMMATION = Redness and swelling(However - note that with injury an to very deep or poorly vascularized areas swelling and may not be noticeable.)
- Sudden, severe pain
- The inability to bear weight (for example: not being able to step on your foot without pain.)
- Decreased mobility (for example: you suddenly can't lift your arm up as far as you used to.)
- Muscle spasm
- Extreme weakness
- Visible dislocation or break of a bone
- Red, black, blue bruising



Usually defined as 3 days to three weeks after an injury.

May include some of all of the following:
- Fragile scar tissue forming (Your body is regenerating and developing new tissue)
- Yellow, green and brown bruising
- Range of motion increases
- Inflammation decreases


Usually defined as any time after three weeks.

May include some or all of the following:
- Pain with movement is dull or achy, not sharp.
- Pain at the very end of a range of movement.
- Dull ache at rest
- Bruising is gone
- Signs of inflammation are gone
- Scar tissue is maturing


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Heat Or Cold For My Injury?

Traditionally, "hydrotherapy" means the use of various forms of water for therapeutic effect. This includes ice, heat packs and contrast towels. More recently, "hyrdotherapy" has come to include thermal applications that are not water, like wax baths, freezable gel packs, thermaphores (moist electric heating pads), hyrdocollators (gel filled heat packs).

It's important to know when to use either heat or cold for an injury.

Too often when someone has back pain, they will automatically apply a heat pack to the area, only to find themselves hours later in a great deal more pain. Do NOT put a heat pack on an acute injury (See "Acute / Subacute / Chronic" for a definition of "acute".)

It bears repeating that an "acute" injury includes pain and immobility due to sudden movement. For example: you are raking leaves and you turn suddenly and now you can't straighten up all the way and you feel pain in your back. This is an ACUTE injury and you should apply a COLD hydrotherapy.

Also note that you can have an 'acute flare up' of a chronic injury. For example: You had a car accident five years ago and had whiplash and pain down the left side of your neck. Five years later it doesn't cause pain, but yesterday you turned quickly to back your car up and now you have that familiar pain in the left side of your neck. This is an 'ACUTE flare up' of an old injury and you should apply COLD.
Here is the basic outline of what type of hydrotherapy you should use during each stage of healing for an injury:




Examples of Hydrotherapy Modalities:
COLD = a cold gel pack, cold compress (wrap each of these in a cold, wet towel - do NOT apply directly on the skin.) or a cold towel compress (towel or cloth soaked in cold water, wrung out and applied, covered with an insulating towel.) Apply any of these modalities for 25-30 minutes.

CONTRAST = Alternating heat and cold hydrotherapy. The ratio used is 3:1 ( 3 minutes of heat : 1 minute of cold (or 30 seconds, depending on your tolerance level.)). Always end with the cold application.

HEAT = thermaphore (moist electric heating pad), hyrdocollator (gel filled heat pack), hot water bottle (wrap in a towel), hot compress (towel or cloth soaked in hot water, wrung out and applied. Cover with an insulating towel.) Apply any one of these modalities for up to 10 minutes. NOTE: Never lie on top of any of these heat sources.
Do NOT use heat if you have an infection - do not place it directly on an acute injury or muscle spasm - but also do not use it if you have a systemic infection - for example; sinus, ear, or lung infections.


People who have sensory changes, poor circulation or any sort or cardiovascular (heart or blood circulation) condition should check with their doctor before using any of the above treatments.

If you have any questions regarding the above information, feel free to email me, or consult with your physician or other health care provider.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Epsom Salt Bath

One of the best ways to treat sore muscles either after exercise or a deep tissue massage is to take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt is sold at most drug stores for three or four dollars. The instructions are simple:

Add 2 cups of epsom salt to a hot (but comfortable) bath. Soak for at least 20 minutes. Rinse


A note of caution: If you have high blood pressure or a heart or kidney condition, you should not take an epsom salt bath without consulting your physician. If you have an acute injury, you should not take an Epsom salt bath at all.

Another note: this information is for general reference purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician before starting any new treatment.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Cancer Support

Therapeutic massage can provide needed support throughout the stages of cancer recovery. Massage prior to surgery focuses on preparing the tissue for the trauma of surgery. Post surgery, gentle soft tissue and energy work will aide in the mobilization of the tissue and stimulate the healing of the area. Eventual work to mobilize forming scar tissue ensures normal range of motion and healthy movement. Massage support during radiation and chemotherapy focuses on overall mind and body relaxation, stress and anxiety reduction and energy stimulation.

I work with all cancer patients but have special expertise working with individuals combating breast cancer. Focusing on a number of different areas. The first is therapeutic massage prior to surgery in an effort to prepare the tissue around the chest and arm for the trauma of surgery itself. I have found that this work facilitates better recovery of movement following surgery. Another stage of cancer support with massage involves working with the client as they receive chemotherapy and/or radiation. Therapeutic massage helps to lessen some of the negative side effects of these treatments. Therapeutic massage is used to support the cancer patient as they prepare for reconstructive surgery, again helping to prepare the tissue for this surgery. Finally massage following any of the cancer surgeries aids in improving mobility, decreasing scar tissue and pain.