Q&A with ASHLEY GREENFIELD, LMT

What inspired you to become a massage therapist?

I started with energy work, Reiki, in Quantico.  I met a lot of military families and discovered touch is a key component to healing.  Especially the women who were staying at home taking care of their families needed a hug or touch to know that someone was there.  With Reiki there is little to no touch and I wanted to be able to touch.  I completed a massage training which created balance in my life and taught me healing on physical and spiritual levels.

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SLEEP COMPOSITIONS

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The famous composer Max Richter has written and recorded a lovely composition for sleeping, napping, and listening to on your own music device during your Pekoe treatments.

The work is called Sleep and is 8 hours long, and there is a 1 hour version (From Sleep) of select tracks available as well. When you purchase the 1 hour disc from Amazon you get a download, plus the high quality of the disc will sound spectacular on your home stereo.

NOT recommended for driving… : )

Need more help with SLEEP? Attend one of our monthly Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra workshops with Christine! We like to call it supervised nap time, but she will also give you some excellent tools for creating your own healthy sleep-mind habits.

 

Let Off Some STEAM!

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Now is time to get excited. Holy moly, Pekoe has a STEAM SHOWER!!

I had been interested in building a sauna or steam room since we moved to Shaw. We had this really shoddy bathroom downstairs where the vanity wasn’t even attached to the wall, the toilet rocked on top of a large bead of beeswax, and we definitely had enough space to install a shower. We found these magical Biomats that everyone has been talking about, so we didn’t need a sauna any more, and my gym membership at VIDA cinched the decision that I wanted a steam shower. (I build my schedule some days when I work out around using that gosh darned steam room!)

Our lower level bathroom was a large, vastly wasted use of space that Rob Anderson took on from start to glorious finish. We are so pleased with the new addition, and can’t wait to see how it makes your fall and winter cozier.

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Working on Season Affective Disorder Starts Now

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Yes, it’s summer. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, the sun doesn’t go down until 8:00 PM. Yes, the birds are singing and the mosquitos are buzzing and the Nationals are playing and it’s as humid as all get out. So why would you start worrying about the winter right now?

To be sure, there are some things that can be left for later. You don’t have to go to Home Depot and buy ten pounds of driveway salt (although it’s significantly cheaper now.) You don’t have to put up that weatherproofing on your windows (although it would probably help keep the air-conditioning in and save you money on your cooling bills.) You don’t have to have your winter coats cleaned now (although it would probably save you a lot of time, and you wouldn’t have to go through a few days of freezing while you are waiting for it to come back from the cleaners.)

Actually, you know what? You should do all of those things now. It will save you time and money and make your life easier in the long run. And here’s what else you should do: If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, start your treatment now.

If you have SAD, we don’t have to explain to you what it is. If you don’t have it, you might recognize it in your friends, family, or loved ones. It’s been called “Winter Blues” and “Winter Depression” for decades, and it’s actually listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So yes, it’s a real thing.

Shortly after Daylight Savings Time ends, and it starts to get dark around 5 pm, and the only time you really see much of what sun there is in the sky is during your commute to work, and when the sun is actually out it’s hazy and gray, sufferers of SAD start to go through real and significant bouts of depression, with everything terrible that depression brings with it; withdrawal from family and friends, loss of appetite (or sometimes bouts of serious overeating,) loss of sex drive, apathy or feelings of hopelessness, and all the other symptoms that make winter much worse than it has to be.

As many of you who struggle with depression already know, it isn’t something that can be treated overnight. And a problem with treating SAD is that by the time the treatment starts resulting in benefits for the patient, winter is practically over. Patient A comes in to see us in mid-January while in the throes of SAD depression. We start with acupuncture, massage, or Chinese herbs, and by the time Patient A starts to feel like himself again, it’s getting on towards April. We’re certainly glad that we could help, but wouldn’t it have been better to have helped Patient A bypass that bout with SAD in the first place?

If you are a DC resident who routinely suffers from SAD, we highly recommend that you get in to see us now, when it’s still warm outside. We can do a full lab analysis, prepare a diet plan for you, get you started on Chinese herbs and supplements, start acupuncture treatments, and do everything we can to help you either drastically lessen your SAD or even help you avoid it entirely.

Think of it as the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant did the work early and made it through the winter. The grasshopper didn’t. Come see us, ok?

Postnatal Services at Pekoe

August 18, 2015 at 10:43 pm / by admin

Here’s what we know about childbirth: It hurts.

We can say that with some certainty, as many of your practitioners here at Pekoe have given birth. Some of us have done so on more than one occasion.

Yes, it’s amazing. Yes, you are loaded with hormones that initially distract you from the pain, and many of you might have even had an epidural, which made the experience a lot less painful than it might have been, but at the end of the day, you just brought a living being out of your body and into the world, and that is not something that happens without a twinge here or there.

It hurts to sit, particularly if you had an episiotomy. It hurts to walk. And if you have quite wisely decided to breast feed your baby, that hurts as well. Your legs probably hurt. Your lower back hurts. Your nipples and breasts hurt. Plus you probably aren’t sleeping much, what with your baby needing to be fed every two hours.

This is simultaneously the greatest and most physically painful event that has ever happened to you. So aside from chugging Advil and lying around on your back, is there anything that you can do to speed up the healing process?

Yes, there absolutely is.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs will help. So will massage. You can choose one or the other or all of them together, and this will help you recover faster and just plain feel better.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

When a woman gives birth, she uses an incredible amount of energy. So much so that the average recovery period is around 6 weeks. It might be longer if she went into the pregnancy deficient, or had a great deal of morning sickness. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help get your natural healing energy back into gear. They can help with aches, realigning the digestive system, ease that sense of heaviness in your hands and feet, that overall sense of fatigue, increase blood flow to help reduce swelling and heal injury, and they can help with speeding up and stabilizing your lactation process. Oh, and you get to be alone and rest in blissful quiet.

Massage

Aside from the obvious and immediate benefit of massage (it feels amazing,) postpartum massage will relax your muscles, alleviate your stress levels, increase and improve your blood circulation, and increase prolactin and oxytocin levels, which also helps stimulate and improve breastfeeding. We also highly recommend baby massage (coming soon to Pekoe!) to help fussy babies, sleep, colic symptoms, bonding, and general well-being. Manisha Tare at Falling Leaf Wellness does a great job of teaching parents how to do baby massage and also offers Mommy and Me yoga classes!

We want you to be at your best when you are caring for your new arrival, and that means we want you to help your body recover from the enormous physical expenditure that is giving birth. Come see us as soon as you can. You’ll feel the difference immediately.

Rethinking RICE: A Better Way to Treat Injuries

July 16, 2015 at 5:43 pm / by admin

Have you ever a big old nasty sprained ankle? Have you ever limped into the doctor’s office for treatment? Have you ever heard the acronym RICE? We are willing to bet that you have.

RICE is considered the go-to treatment for sprained ankles and various other body parts. Here’s what it means:

Rest: Rest the sprain by keeping off of it. Don’t put weight on it. Lay around on the couch if you can.

Ice: Ice it down to keep the swelling down. Keep the ice directly off the skin, though, and only do it for about 20 minutes at a time, because you might get frostbite.

Compression: Wrap it up! Get a pressure bandage on it!

Elevation: Prop your foot above the waist if you are sitting, or above the head if you are lying down. This slows the blood flow to the affected area.

Get it? Lie down! Wrap it up! Dump ice on it! Stick your leg in the air! And wait! And maybe the doctor will give you some anti-inflammatory medicine if you’re lucky. So the end result of all this is that it’s supposed to cause the swelling and inflammation in your ankle to go away quicker, and if that happens, that means that your ankle will have totally healed, because the swelling is the key sign that your ankle is sprained, right?

Actually, no. We are not big fans of the RICE method of sprain healing, (or treating any other form of injury) and if you’ll bear with us, we will be glad to tell you why.

Inflammation and Swelling Serve a Purpose

When you sprain your ankle, that swelling that occurs is not merely decorative in nature. It’s actually serving a pretty important function. Swelling is increased blood flow to an injured area, it also causes a sort of barrier to keep stuff around the affected area, like a dam. Blood has this wonderful tendency to go and congregate where it is most needed. And it is definitely needed in an injury. So why on earth would you want the swelling to go down when it’s needed to help heal?

And why would you want anti-inflammatory drugs when inflammation helps the healing process work quicker? See this article on NSAIDS.

Ice, compression, and elevation all slow down the blood flow to a sprained ankle. And while you might be thinking that rest is the one thing here that works, but that isn’t effective either. Resting does nothing to help you rehabilitate your injury or get its strength back.

In other words, RICE actually gets in the way of allowing the body to heal sprains.

By the way, we aren’t just pulling this out of thin air. There has been quite a bit of dispute in medical rehabilitation circles recently about whether RICE is effective, or whether it’s the exact opposite of effective. And interestingly enough, one person doing a lot of the disputing is the guy who actually came up with the RICE acronym back in 1978. Dr. Gabe Mirkin wrote a book called Sports Medicine Book that’s still in use today, and at the time, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation seemed to be the obvious way of doing things.

But thinking can change in medicine, and so can evidence. Dr. Mirkin is now of the opinion that isn’t the way to go about it. In an article on his website, Dr. Mirkin cites several studies that contradict his earlier recommendations, including the following:

  • “The National Athletics Trainers Association found that ice was an over-simplified method and NOT effective at speeding up the healing process for a sprained ankle…It also recommends that you skip compression, which had no real impact on recovery….the study found that exercise helped to maintain blood flow and flexibility to the injured ankle, both of which are proven to speed up recovery.”
  • The Journal of Athletic Training published a study that found “when muscle tissues cool from icing the skin, blood vessels constrict and shut off the blood flow that brings in healing cells…After the ice is removed, the blood may then return, but the blood vessels may not open for many hours after the ice application…this research team found that this can cause the tissue to die due to lack of blood flow. It can also lead to temporary or permanent nerve damage and disability in the individual or athlete.
  • The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that “tissue that is damaged through trauma or vigorous exercise requires inflammation…When muscles and other tissues are damaged, your body sends inflammatory cells to the damaged tissue to promote healing.”

The point of all this is that conventional wisdom no longer seems so conventional. So what do you do for a sprained ankle, and how can Pekoe help you with this?

The first step is to let the swelling and inflammation happen. Yes, it’s painful, and yes it looks ugly, but this is part of the healing process. Its okay to use ice shortly after the injury, as ice can help numb pain, but only use it for a short period of time (no more than twenty minutes.) Do not sit around with a bag of ice on your ankle all day. That won’t do you any good, and could actually hurt you. Your doctor will probably recommend you do some light movement to help with strength and rehabilitation, and you should definitely do what he says.

Second, come see us. We can use acupuncture treatment to increase blood flow and help with inflammation (which is actually good for you and promotes healing.) We can also help move the process along with Chinese herbs and massage treatments.

We really hope that you don’t sprain your ankle. It hurts and it’s inconvenient. But we want you to heal as quickly as possible, and it looks like RICE isn’t the way to go about it.

Take the Pekoe Water Challenge!

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Hot out there, huh? We’re willing to bet a few of you forgot what DC summers were like during the winter. Heat, yes, but also that glorious, prototype East Coast humidity. You can see the haze hanging over the Potomac, and you can feel the sweat pool in the small of your back, and you think to yourself “Man, these August days are really something!” Then you remember that it’s only June, and you burst into tears.

Don’t worry. It does get better, and it normally doesn’t stay this way for all of June. Believe it or not, summer weather has a bit of tendency to fluctuate. It’s just that when we get one of those five or ten day stretches of heat, the humidity makes it seem intolerable.

So, listen. It’s pretty easy to forget to handle a pretty crucial part of taking care of yourself when you are distracted from the heat and humidity, but please remember to stay hydrated. “Well, that’s ridiculous,” you are probably thinking. “I’m covered in sweat and really thirsty. Of course I’m going to stay hydrated.” But see, since you are covered in sweat and really thirsty, you are already dehydrated, and probably have been for a while.

A common misconception is that being dry-mouthed is the starting point of dehydration. It isn’t. It’s the sadly belated point where your body lets you know that you need some water. And you might not realize this, but your body needs quite a lot of it.

How much exactly? The commonly accepted amount is 64 ounces per day for a body to run efficiently, and if you remember your multiplication tables, means that you should drink 8 8 ounce classes per day. Now, nobody is expecting you to drink that all at once. We would recommend carrying one of those fancy, new-fangled water bottles, sipping periodically, and refilling it when needed.

So why should you do that? Why carry around a bucket of water? What happens if you don’t? Lots of bad stuff.

Lack of Energy: Tired all the time despite sleeping 8 hours or more a night? It might have something to do with your body having to expend more energy for basic tasks because it doesn’t have the materials that it needs. Like water.

Dry Skin: Hey, Flakey McAshington, has it occurred to you that you might not have to spend that much money on lotion every week? Seriously. If you drink enough water you’ll find that your skin will rebound a lot faster than it used to.

Headaches: There are lots of different causes of headaches. But they happen a lot easier if your body is dehydrated.

Constipation: We’ll avoid a pithy remark here. Just drink water, ok?

Do your friends at Pekoe a favor: For one week, try actually drinking 8 glasses of water every day. And we mean WATER, not sports drinks, or Red Bull, or juice. We mean just plain water. Just try it. See what happens. We guarantee you that your skin will look better, you will have more energy, and you will be able to concentrate better at work or school. It works! It really does! And with summer here your body needs it more than ever. Here’s some tips to make water interesting and delicious!!

Hydration pro tip #1: Drink room temperature or warm drinks instead of ice cold. You shouldn’t be using a lot of ice in your beverages anyway, your body takes a lot of energy to warm it up before digestion, which increases your body temp! If you’re ingesting warmer drinks, your body can easily acclimate to the heat.

Hey - We Know a Little About the Vagus Nerve Too!

June 16, 2015 at 10:34 pm / by admin

Do you know what the Vagus nerve is? Probably not, and that’s ok.

It’s the longest cranial nerve in the body, traveling down from the brain stem into the abdomen. It handles a ton of those involuntary functions that your body needs to do without thinking about. (Breathing, your heart beating, digesting food, etc.) It’s incredibly important, and touches pretty much every major system in your body.

So of course modern medicine is doing its best to monkey around with it.

There was an article in Wired recently that detailed (in a pretty jabbering nerdy manner) all of the plans that are being put in place and on their way to being approved by the FDA, including:

  • Various Implants that trigger electrical signals to the Vagus nerve, which in one case might help with epilepsy, and in another might help with…um…depression. I mean, we know it isn’t actually shock treatment, but are they or are they not zapping people with electricity to help with perceived mental illness?
  • More implants that apparently block the impulse to eat, which could help people suffering from obesity! Diet and exercise are so stone aged!
  • Treating headaches, not with implants but with electrical stimulation of the Vagus nerve! Again with the electricity!

Look, far be it from us to stand in the way of modern medicine. We’re big fans. But we know what the Vagus nerve is too. It’s actually a big part of how we treat our clients. We can treat depression and headaches, and we can do it without using surgical implants or electric shocks. We can help with obesity, too.

We would urge you to consider coming to us if you are having problems that you can’t get sorted. Give our acupuncture treatment a try, or come talk to our functional medicine specialists. You’d be amazed at what can be handled without the use of devices or invasive surgeries.

We Support the Pride Parade - You Should Too.

June 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm / by admin

This month marks the Pride Parade in DC and a lot of other cities, both major and minor, and we here at Pekoe happen to be big fans of both the parade and the sentiment.

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The Pride Parade happens in June for a very good reason. Back in June of 1969, a bar called the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan was raided by the police. It was raided for three reasons. First, it didn’t have a liquor license. Second, it was a bar frequented by gay men for the purpose of dancing. And third, the guy who was managing the place was behind in the bribes that he was paying to the police so the police wouldn’t raid the place for being both an unlicensed liquor establishment and a gay bar, both of which were illegal at the time.

It’s easy to forget that homosexuality used to be illegal. It’s also easy to forget that in a lot of states people would be arrested and carry criminal records for the rest of their lives if they were caught engaging in homosexual acts. And we mean criminal. It was a felony in a lot of states. And a lot of states were actually devoting time and resources to try to catch homosexuals “in the act,” which says less about gay people and more about where we were as a country.

People would lose their jobs if they were found out to be gay. The government wouldn’t hire gay people for fear of blackmail, which was pretty rich considering that the police department in New York was blackmailing tons of gay bars. People had to live lives that were disguised and guarded, despite being consenting adults who were not hurting anybody.

The standard operating procedure when the police raided a gay bar was for everyone to meekly wander outside and get into the back of the police truck, then taken to the police station, then booked, and then to have their lives ruined. All for gathering with other consenting, like-minded people and having a few drinks.

But this time, the patrons involved did not go meekly. Some of them didn’t go at all. Some of them in fact rioted.

We aren’t big fans of rioting. There are a million different ways to get your point across without throwing trash cans and breaking windows. But in this case we’d like to think that we would have been right there with them.

Shortly after the riot, gay people began to organize and march. Part of it was to make a political point, and part of it was to show people that gays and lesbians were not freaks. They weren’t creepy lizard people looking to convert the innocent. They were, and still are, perfectly normal human beings who occupy positions in every strata of society. They are your friends, neighbors, and relatives.

It’s easy to become complacent considering the speed with which gay marriage has become the law of the land in so many states, and considering how in many places, open homophobia is met with scorn and embarrassment. But you have to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that beating up gay people was considered a sport in some circles. And there are also lots of places where discrimination against gays is considered “religious liberty.” Pride marches are not just a matter of ensuring that gays and lesbians have equal rights. It’s also a matter of making sure that they keep them. So if there’s a pride march in your city, support it, ok? Ok.