Let Us Help You with Repetitive Stress

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Do any of you remember the Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times? It’s the story of a factory worker who is forced to test a new piece of equipment (essentially the conveyor belt,) and since he spends all his time doing the same thing over and over and over again, he slowly has a nervous breakdown and gets sent to the insane asylum.

That was actually a real problem back in the days where we used to make things here. Labor Unions actually helped to provide factory workers with decent salaries, and that helped alleviate things somewhat, but the fact remained that people spent hours essentially doing the same thing over and over and over again.

Almost every blue collar town had an enormous amount of guys with bad backs and trick knees. If you lived in a town with a lot of assembly line work, there were more men of working age who were limping than weren’t. And aside from the physical problems, repetitive physical labor also had a tendency to aggravate the psyche of workers (as illustrated by Mr. Chaplin.)

These twinges and aches and pains are called “repetitive stress injuries.” These are different than an injury that happens all at once. These are aches and pains and strains that build up over time, often by using one particular part of your body to do the same thing over and over again. Sometimes people with repetitive stress injuries sort of become used to them, and don’t even view them as something that needs to be treated, and that’s when they lead to even more severe injuries and conditions.

There might not be a lot of manufacturing jobs left in the United States, particularly in the DC area. But there are still a lot of repetitive stress injuries cropping up. The repetitive stress injuries we see these days have a tendency to be micro rather than macro. For instance, a conveyor belt worker at a Chrysler plant in 1979 would have repetitive stress injuries in his knees, wrists, and back. Nowadays, we see repetitive stress injuries that reflect the work that people are doing now. Graphic designers get wrist and finger strains from operating a mouse 8 to 10 hours a day. Everyone gets sore thumbs from sending a million texts and posting 100 tweets every day. People get severe headaches from staring at screens all day, or their necks and backs are sore from hunching over their PC’s at work.

You might be thinking that this sort of thing is no big deal, and you would be wrong. In the first place, any strain or injury should be treated. Also, not treating a strain or injury will not only make the injury worse, but will probably lead to other injuries. If my wrist starts to constantly hurt due to working my mouse, I will start to favor that wrist, and perhaps start using the muscles in my forearm to work the mouse instead. My forearm is now being used over and over again in ways that it isn’t used to, so now it’s starting to hurt as well. So in not treating the initial problem, I’ve given myself two problem areas for the price of one.

So what to do regarding those aches and pains in your fingers and wrists that seem unavoidable if you want to make a living? Do you just “muscle through it,” in the hopes that it will magically get better on its own?

Of course not.

Massage and acupuncture are two great ways to help treat your repetitive stress injuries. Both are effective at relieving pain from using the same muscle group in the same constricted and limited ways over and over again, and both are effective at relaxing those muscle groups so they are under less stress and strain. So in terms of helping with repetitive stress injuries, acupuncture and massage can both prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Here’s our recommendation: First, if you are coming in here on a regular basis for massage or acupuncture, and your job involves repetitive motion, let your practitioner know. Tell them specifically what you do, and more importantly, tell them how you do it. They can not only treat those muscle groups, but can also give you some ideas as to how to conserve those muscle groups while you work. It’s preventive maintenance at its finest.

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Your way of earning a living doesn’t have to wreck your health and comfort. Come see us as soon as you can, tell us about your work, and let us set a course of treatment for you.

WINTER REMEDIES

The weather turns, the winds pick up, and someone close to you sneezes. An ominous shudder comes over you: Is this the cold that will do you in this fall?This page will cover some resources to help you keep on top of how to stay ahead of the ick or shorten the duration of a current bug. Fall and winter don’t have to be horrible… don’t let yourself get run down, and if you do, you can turn it around! Keep up with your regular acupuncture treatments, and help yourself to some home care.

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Yes, We Do Fire Cupping!

Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston were all bruised up on the red carpet? Then the winter Olympics 2010 in China, when the Chinese divers’ backs were covered in hickey marks? Just recently we saw Michael Phelps and other American swimmers in the Summer Olympics with dark bruise-like marks on their backs and shoulders. The media explodes, again, with “What is this strange phenomenon?”

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Ayurvedic Secrets for the Autumn Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) affects many of us and causes us to dread the onset of autumn and winter. S.A.D. is believed to be caused by changes in light, more specifically a lack of light. But to really solve the puzzle of how to not dread the change of season, we must first recognize it’s not just about the dark! Ayurveda points to many other factors that are in play this time of year that affect mood and by understanding and addressing them we can make friends with this season.

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Graffiti - Some Basics

In anticipation of this year’s Art All Night event, and our own live graffiti piece, we thought a short tutorial might be in order. Learn a little history about graffiti, our artists’ story, and come check it out for yourself on Saturday, September 23rd!

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 who doesn't want extra mumbo sauce?

who doesn't want extra mumbo sauce?

by Robert Ciprian, D.C.

Graffiti is the writing on any surface that is available and has been around since ancient times. It has been a way for people to express themselves artistically, politically, and spiritually. Graffiti is usually the writing of words, a name, or a symbol so it is different from “street art” which are works of art, not necessarily a word or name, that are done on walls or other surfaces.

Around the early 1970s graffiti showed up on New York City subway trains with spray paint and ink. This became a cultural phenomenon in NYC and spread quickly. The letters and structure became more intricate as the artists used more creativity to make their names stand out.

Two types of graffiti emerged, “tagging and bombing” which is seen as more of a vandalism and graffiti art that is known as “piecing”.

In the 1980s books about NYC graffiti emerged as did a documentary called “Style Wars”. This propelled graffiti art and vandalism to a world wide epidemic. In my opinion no other art form has spread so fast around the world as graffiti.

As a child growing up in Queens, NY, I regularly saw graffiti on the streets and trains. I was in awe of the large colored trains that would go by. They were larger than life, big, fast, and eye catching. As an elementary student, I was inspired by my visual soundings. I began to draw my name on my notebooks with different styles and techniques that I picked up. Other kids in the class would do the same thing and it became competitive to see who can do a better job. When I was about thirteen years old I started writing my name on the streets of NYC and soon did my first graffiti art “piece” on a maintenance building in a park. I was hooked and I kept it up for years.

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Q&A with LEAH BARR, CAS

Leah is a graduate of the California College of Ayurveda. She lives in Washington, DC where she is a mother of two and a yoga teacher.  She did her undergraduate work at Kenyon College in Ohio and directed and taught a K-3 art program in DC after graduation and before having children.  She has been studying yoga since 1992 and has been lucky enough to study extensively with many preeminent yoga scholars and teachers...

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THE BODY TYPE SPECTRUM & WHY IT MATTERS

Remember that 5 minute middle school science lesson— the one where you learned about the three body types: Ectomorph (the slight frame), mesomorph (the moderate frame), and endomorph (the larger, stockier frame)?  While we may be taught a vague notion of different body types in grade school, we are generally not taught about how important this knowledge is for our health.  Instead, we are conditioned to aspire to be somewhere on the ectomorph to mesomorph spectrum regardless of our natural type.

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Seasonal Shifts and Waters of the Body

by Leah Barr, Clinical Ayurvedic Practitioner

Autumn:  Time to Check in

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Minding the transition of Summer into Fall is one of the lesser known, but very important things we can do to lay the foundation for our overall health and happiness throughput the year.  The Ayurvedic premise– that our bodies are strongly affected by the environment— stems from the obvious but sometimes overlooked wisdom that the body and its processes are by definition an extension of nature.  This means that when we observe overt or subtle environmental change we can assume those changes are affecting the internal workings of the body.  As we observe the most marked aspect of autumn, the drying up and falling away of almost all surrounding summer greenery, we can know with total certainty that these same drying forces are at work in the body.

According to Ayurveda (regarding this particular summer to fall transition), any dryness we may have accumulated from the summer heat is exacerbated by the drying winds of autumn. An accumulation or excess of dryness can show up in various systems of the body like skin, the digestive system, the mind. Dry skin, digestive issues, constipation, anxiety, or a feeling of being scattered are some symptoms commonly associated with this time of year. Since we are not culturally oriented to associate symptoms with the weather it can be hard for us to connect the dots between symptoms and seasonal change, but from an Ayurvedic point of view they are deeply related.

While it is normal and expected to experience seasonal bodily changes, the tools of Ayurveda are there to keep us from going out of balance— helpful (and preventative) to those who feel mildly affected, invaluable to those who feel strongly affected.

The Antidote to Autumn Dryness is the Water Element   

In Ayurveda the dryness and windiness of the autumn are considered to be aspects of the air element. The antidote to excessive air element is water element: Mid-August and through September, October, and November is therefore a great time to cultivate the water element and tend to deep hydration and lubrication of the tissues of the body through diet, herbs, and even lifestyle practices.

It is an important time to build what’s called in Ayurveda the rasa dhatu. Rasa connotes the proverbial sap or juiciness in the body and essentially refers to the waters of the body in the form of lymph, plasma, and interstitial fluid. When the rasa dhatu is healthy and well-tended a person feels content, satiated, and fluid in their body and mind, and a healthy rasa dhatu ensures a smoother transition across the threshold from summer to fall and onward.

Tending the Waters of the Body and Internal Plumbing

Aside from staying hydrated, water element comes in the form of some of the heavier foods like nuts, high quality fats and oils, dairy, dates, avocados, high quality grains, and even small amounts of meat for non-vegetarians. A healthy rasa dhatu is not simply about consuming these foods but is very much about how we are digesting them. This is where the internal plumbing comes in– To what degree is our system able to transform water element into healthy rasa? To what degree is our system able to circulate water element throughout the body and carry it to the deeper tissues?

Internal plumbing has to do with the quality of our digestion as it is influenced by any number of factors– the food we eat, how we use spices, our stress levels, the way we exercise, our unique constitutional tendencies, and more… Many of us need a little help in this department to ensure that water element is being circulated and absorbed.

Autumn is a great time to make the inquiry into how the waters of your body are flowing!

Leah Barr offers in-depth consultations for Ayurvedic work as well as guided cleanses.