Tag Archives: health

Yup, we are talking about… Breast Massage!

Boob’s, Ta-Ta’s, The Girls, Jugs, (one I just learned) B1 and B2! Whatever you call them, if you are a woman; they are your life long companions and can be a source of great joy…and pain.

With this in mind, I want to mention two words that you don’t always hear together in a sentence, Breast and Massage. Yup, we are talking about… Breast Massage!

MassageOur breasts are constantly changing throughout our lifetime in size, shape, and function. If you’ve ever worn a bra, have a desk job, or been in a car accident…had any chest or breast surgeries including implants, reductions, mastectomy, cyst removals or biopsies…if you’re pregnant or breast feeding, even if you are bottle feeding and holding an infant in your arms for long periods of time…then you can benefit from Breast or Pectoral Massage!

A breast is primarily composed of adipose tissue (fatty tissue) and glandular tissue (assists in lactation.) There is an important network of lymph glands surrounding your breast that acts as a natural drainage system and aids in waste removal. The breast overlies many major muscles of the chest wall (covering 50% of the pectoral muscle) which play important roles in posture, arm movement and breathing.

For healthy, happy breasts we need good circulation of blood and lymph to remove toxins that accumulate within the tissue of the breast. These “Toxins” can be waste from the constantly changing cells within the breast due to hormonal surges each month or from environmental toxins which, unfortunately for us, end up being very compatible with fatty tissue (aka breast tissue). Congestion within the breast adds to this build up of toxins. Wearing under-wire or push up bras can be a contributing factor to breast congestion as can scar tissue, poor posture, large breasts or fibrocystic breasts.

Breast Massage increases circulation of blood and lymph through the tissues, aiding in reducing swelling from surgeries, increasing pliability of scar tissue, decreasing soreness due to hormonal fluctuations as well as promoting better posture and range of motion in the upper body. Not only are we increasing the circulation of the breast tissue we are also affecting the important muscles of the chest as well!

Most clients complain of upper back and neck pain, so their massage therapist will usually concentrate on those areas. However, I think it is easy to forget about how much the pectoral muscles come into play with this type of pain. Some therapists, along with their clients, don’t have enough experience with this type of treatment so can feel uncomfortable treating the area. Although breast tissue is touched during the massage, most of the work is to the side and edges of the breast as that is where the lymph nodes are located. The nipple or nipple area is never massaged. Breast massage can be done with both breasts covered by the sheet, partial coverage or with one undraped and the other covered. It’s all about what the client and therapist are comfortable with.Breast Feed

Breast massage can be an emotional experience for some clients. In my practice, I’ve discovered that many people hold emotions in the chest and abdominal areas. Events and memories you didn’t realize were upsetting you can come up during a breast massage. Not just the obvious but any emotional trauma, health scares or missing loved ones. With this in mind, please be sure to find a therapist you feel safe and comfortable with.

Many women are surprised to find that a Breast Massage can be as comfortable and relaxing as a back massage, making you feeling happier and healthier than before you walked into the clinic and can leave you with the knowledge you’re doing something positive for your body.

Massage, it’s as important as going to the dentist but much more relaxing!

Size Matters…Backpacks and your kids


Summer has come and gone and it’s September again. Time for back to school and back to school shopping. Number one on our shopping list this year is backpacks. The array of styles and sizes is staggering, not to mention prices. My boys are going into grade 2 and grade 3 and although they get a ride to school every day, I pick them up either on my bike or we take public transit. This means they will have their backpacks on their backs for a considerable amount of time. 

As a mom I am concerned about just how heavy their packs are, but as a physio, I am concerned about potential, long term damage to their spines. One study (http://newsroom.ucr.edu/868) reported that 64% of students in grade 7-8 had pain, 41% of them when they carried their backpack and 21% had pain more than 6 months. The researchers found reports of increased pain as the weight of backpacks increased in comparison to the weight of the child. Other research shows that adults with severe back problems often had pain as kids.

Here are my tips on how to choose a backpack for your child whether he is going to preschool or she is off to University.

1. The backpack should be the right size for them.
a. The bottom of the pack should be higher than their bum, landing just above the curve in their low back
b. The straps should be wide and padded and worn on both shouldersImage

2. Choose a well constructed lightweight backpack
a. We looked at an ObusFormR backpack that weighed a ton when it was empty! Obviously we didn’t buy that one.
b. Side pockets can help to distribute the weight more evenly

3. Fill the backpack with the heaviest items closest to your child’s back
a. This helps to keep the heavy items closer to their centre of mass

4. The backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the body weight of a child under 10, and no more than 20% for your teens. (this is my rule, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that children carry no more than 15 percent to 20 percent)
a. Say your 4 year old starting in JK is 40lbs that means her backpack should not exceed 4lbs. 
b. If your 17 year old is 100lbs, then his back pack can be up to 20lbs

5. Weigh the backpack
a. Throw the pack on a scale and see just how much it weighs
b. My boys have a tendency to collect rocks. This can make for a very heavy pack. We also empty the pack every night so things (aka rocks) don’t accumulate, needlessly adding weight

6. Don’t worry about what they have to bring home. Size matters.
a. At our school the kids get a plastic envelop, called “the mailman” to carry information back and forth from school, i.e. notes from the teacher to me, or notes from me to the teacher. It measures 10×16”. If I get a backpack to fit “the mailman”, my children will need a backpack that is adult size. Instead, we fold the envelop and the papers get crinkled. Oh well. Better to have crinkled notes than a crooked spine

7. Remind older kids to leave heavy items in their locker until they need them
a. In a pinch they could carry some items in their arms to offset the weight in the pack

Image8. The backpack should be easy to get on and off. If not it could be too heavy
a. Be sure they wear both straps on their shoulders
b. When worn incorrectly injuries to the spine can occur and last into adulthood

Size Matters! Getting the right size of back pack for your child is essential to prevent injuries. It is much harder to overload a smaller bag. But even if you do everything right, your child may still complain of a sore neck and/or back. Your pediatrician or a pediatric physiotherapist can assess for minor problems that are treatable and often curable. If there is numbness or tingling in their arms or legs, the pain is severe or is not relieved by adjusting the backpack seek medical attention right away. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 40% of the 24,000 people treated in the USA for backpack-related injuries in 2012 were kids aged 5-18!

Does your child complain of neck or back pain?

The Shoe is Still on the Other Foot

Well dear friends here is the update. I saw my new dentist. She is a gentle soul with a compassionate heart. She was horrified by my journey and was very reassuring that she is sending me to the best periodontist she knows. He is in fact quite lovely. My first visit with him highlighted my two choices: bridge or implant. After a consultation and recommendation, I did some research (asked a couple of friends who work in dental practices) and opted for the implant. The process is long and grueling, oh and not covered by insurance, but it appears to be the better one for me.

Fast forward a month and I have undergone the first major appointment, where he removes the tooth and adds bone simulator to create a hospitable environment for the implant. I will spare you the gory details. What I found most interesting was the recommendations and my reaction towards them. I was advised not to exercise and go on a soft food diet for the week following my surgery. Here’s how that conversation went:

Dental Assistant: “It’s important that you not exercise for the week to allow for optimal healing”.
Me-Inside voice: “What? No bike? No workout, but, but…”
Me-Outside voice: “Does that include biking to work”.
Dental Assistant: “Yes and all other forms of activity: lifting, laundry, gardening”.
Me-Inside voice: “Do you know what I do for a living? “
Me-Outside voice: “My work is rather physical, how much activity are we talking?”
Dental Assitant: “Rest on the weekend and take it easy during work. It’s really important that the graft has time to heal”.
Me-Inside voice: “Ya,ya,ya I know, this woman is crazy.”
Me-Outside voice: “Ok.”
Dental Assistant: “You’ll also need to be on a soft diet for the next week. No hard crunchy foods, no chewy foods”.
Me-Inside voice: “But that’s what I eat, nuts and seeds, raw veggies, all day long”.
Me-Outside voice: “So much for my squirrel diet.”
Dental Assistant: “The squirrel is going into hibernation: ice cream, yogurt, soft foods.”
Me-Inside voice: “I’m lactose intolerant!”
Me-Outside voice: “I get the picture.”
Dental Assistant: “And no alcohol.”
Me-Inside voice: “Ok, kill me now.”
Me-Outside voice: “Ok.”

The interesting thing was my reluctance to follow these simple, short term changes. They’re not hard, and it’s not even for that long! In fact I am more restrictive with my patients who have a disc bulge or pelvic organ prolapse. The one good thing coming out of this is the reminder of what it’s like to be the patient. How simple changes can be really difficult for some patients to accept. It feels like one more affront to an already fragile state of mind. Therapists, remember this when you give your list of do’s and don’ts. What may be easy for you to give up may pose a difficult challenge for your patient. Understanding the reason behind the recommendations will go a long way in ensuring compliance. Having alternatives or giving examples is also helpful, just make sure the alternatives will work for your patient (ice cream and yogurt for lactose intolerance anyone?). Making changes to our routines is extremely hard. It means making new brain patterns but with a little support and encouragement, we can do it. Even me!

What’s the hardest thing you have been asked to give up?

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot…

Those of you that see me in real life are fully aware of my dental woes. It’s a humbling experience to be in such a vulnerable situation. I have had a myriad of MSK issues; fracture, sprains, strains, disc bulges, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence and even a diastasis. When these arise, it’s upsetting or just plain maddening, that I can’t play or run for a few weeks, but it’s not the same feeling when you’re out of your comfort zone.

The thought of having a root canal done was upsetting enough. I was angry, feeling like my dentist had failed me, after all I had been complaining about this tooth for 3 years (yes years). She would reassure me, do some desensitizing and send me on my way. Nothing beyond conservative treatment was considered until I went in with real pain. I couldn’t chew on that side, so out came the filling and the revelation that there was indeed something worse. So begrudgingly off I went to the endodontist for a root canal. Nervous, but relieved that finally this tooth would be dealt with and I could move on. After all it’s not life threatening, it’s just a root canal. So after about an hour of drilling, he gives me the bad news: he can’t save the tooth. It’s too far gone. Cue the waterworks. I can’t describe the emotions I went through, from disbelief and denial to anger and resentment. Not toward him, he is great and I highly recommend him, but toward my dentist of 5 years. I am angry that she didn’t listen to me and that she brushed it aside. Could this have been prevented? Maybe. But maybe is good enough for me. I am typically pro-active. As a physio I know how much easier it is to resolve something in the acute or early stages and the importance of early intervention. The good news is that this will make me more aware of how my patients feel when I give them the news of their diagnosis. I am also feeling very vulnerable. I didn’t study teeth. I don’t treat teeth. I treat TMJ, but that’s a joint like any other, it just happens to be in the mouth. Dr. Moncarz was very sympathetic to my tears. He reassured me, same as I do to my patients when I tell them they have a disc bulge or pelvic organ prolapse. I felt better, after all it’s not life threatening, and in fact, a disc bulge is probably worse. I guess at the end of the day, what we don’t know, or don’t understand is scary. Whether or not it should be. As far as my anger, it will subside. I don’t think I can trust my former dentist again. My endodontist has referred me to a new dentist. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Bottom line: Physios, please remember the emotional impact that your diagnosis can have on your patient. Patients, ask your therapist, dentist, doctor questions, we are here to guide you through. We’ve seen it a million times. It’s not scary to us.