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Dr. John MacIntosh, ND, RMT
Naturopathic Doctor, Registered Massage & Suikodo™ Therapist

Dr John MacIntosh NDMy late teacher, the Japanese Shiatsu Master, Mitsuki Kikkawa, C.S.T., R.M.T., used to torture us repeatedly with brain puzzles like that. Master Kikkawa was a Zen Buddhist and, in keeping with his tradition, he used these seemingly nonsensical or paradoxical statements (called “koans”) as a teaching device to trigger a sudden realization in his students. Zen prizes direct experience over the imperfections of mere words, a strategy that carries a distinct advantage: if the student can be brought to the point where they suddenly comprehend something on their own, nothing more needs to be said. When it works, it’s a very efficient method for learning. But for Western students, who are used to being taught in terms of protocols, procedures and step-by-step instructions, it can be a very frustrating experience!

Master Kikkawa would often begin a class by uttering such statements and then just stand there, smiling, refusing to say another word until someone had correctly answered the riddle. The point was he wanted us to think for ourselves and come to our own understanding, not simply parrot back what we’d been told.

On the surface, the question, “Where is your pain?” seems quite innocent. If I have back pain, then the pain is in my back (obviously!). Where else would it be? When we hurt our knee, we instinctively rub our knee, not our elbow … so what’s the puzzle here?

Consider another well-known example: phantom-limb pain, the kind of pain experienced by better than 90% of amputees. That is pain in the part they no longer have. What should we tell them? That their foot pain resides in their non-existent foot or that they’re just imagining/faking the pain? If you said such a thing, they might slap you and rightfully so. Their pain is real, they’d forcefully assert, and they need some help with it. So the question is not as simple as it first appears.

Indeed, where is your pain? Let me hint at the answer by asking another question: What part of your body controls the tone of all your muscles, the position and orientation of your bones and joints and the function of all your organs? Hint: it’s the same part that registers and controls all of your other sensations, including pain.

The answer, of course, is your brain. Am I saying that pain is all in your head? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that pain is an entirely subjective, psychological phenomenon and no, in that it is certainly not imaginary. As Master Kikkawa used to say, “No brain, no pain.” However, since pain is entirely mental, this partly explains why so many people in pain can have X-rays, etc., taken and yet have nothing show up. That doesn’t mean they’re not in pain – after all, there is no scan for pain – we just assume we will always find a direct, physical correlate to explain it. If we can’t find one, we often tell people there’s nothing wrong with them or that they’re just under stress. Then we might prescribe them antidepressants or even accuse them of looking for drugs. Try telling that to an amputee suffering phantom-limb pain (then I’d suggest you duck).

kicking painKnowing this, you’d think that everyone in physical medicine would take steps to “treat your brain” as well as your knee, back, etc. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. When you come in with knee pain, we mainly treat your knee. If we’re “integrative”, we might also treat your hip and ankle and maybe your lower back to help your knee. But your brain? Sorry, no.

Addressing the brain and central nervous system – “the master controller”, in my late teacher’s words – is the missing link in physical medicine. “Missing” in the sense that no one seems to do anything about it. And yet, in the words of Dr. Hance Clarke, Director of the Pain Research Unit at Toronto General Hospital, who I heard interviewed on CBC Radio earlier this year, the best treatments for pain that they’ve found at TGH are “the ones that, first, calm the nervous system”.

If this seems like news, don’t feel bad. Taking the central role of the brain in pain management seriously is rare but it now appears to be the cutting edge of pain therapy. The words Dr. Clarke uttered were truly revolutionary. However, we now know that inducing relaxation is the prerequisite to causing neuroplastic change in the brain and nervous system (Dr. Norman Doidge’s books are highly readable primers in these concepts). When the brain changes, the body changes too.

The type of work I do primarily addresses the brain and central nervous system. My teacher named the technique he developed, “Suikodo”, pronounced ‘Swee-KOH-doh’. The point is to relax your brain first. Relaxation of the body is a secondary effect, but patients notice it the most. Master Kikkawa was prompted to develop an alternative to the typically painful Shiatsu (deep pressure) treatments when some of his patients, particularly the most sensitive, weakened or debilitated ones, failed to improve or even got worse. He did something very unusual then: he went back to the proverbial drawing board. He found that the more gently he worked, the more easily patients could relax. Then, profound physical changes would often ensue, far beyond what he could accomplish using painful deep pressure techniques. This was a huge departure for my teacher, the person who the inventor of Shiatsu (Master Tokojiru Namikoshi) had declared the most talented instructor in the history of the Tokyo Shiatsu Institute and whom he had sent to “bring Shiatsu to the West” in 1972.

I was prompted to write this article by an encounter I had recently while up North visiting a friend. We went to his parents’ house for dinner and his sister and brother-in-law were there. His brother-in-law is a paramedic who had sustained a significant lower back injury many years ago, on which I’d worked at the time. As another paramedic once told me, “No one ever seems to collapse in a convenient position”. First responders often destroy themselves trying to save us.

He’d had 8 nerve blocks and two epidurals just in this year alone to try and quell his pain, sadly unsuccessfully. Then he asked me, “So when are you opening your own clinic again? You’re the only one who ever made a difference in my pain.” Though I was a bit surprised, after 21 years of treating with Suikodo, I needn’t have been. I’ve heard similar statements countless times.

What he was saying was that this treatment, designed to relax the brain and nervous system – and thereby all the physical parts they control, including those governing pain perception – was more effective overall than nerve blocks intended to merely numb the pain. That’s a rather striking statement especially coming from a medically trained professional.

What is needed then, I feel, in physical medicine today is a paradigm shift: to move beyond merely hammering away at people’s bodies with increasing amounts of force or by numbing them. Instead, we need to move toward changing their bodies and their pain, as both Dr. Clarke and my late teacher have said, by first relaxing their brains.

Treatment involves a thorough assessment and diagnosis, then the use of gentle, relaxing motions of the muscles, joints and points on the skin (nerve-rich areas) to trigger relaxation. First in the brain and central nervous system and then in the body.

One of the virtues of this approach is that, since your brain controls your body, results can often be seen very rapidly. We almost always see changes in the first visit, so it doesn’t take much time to know if Suikodo can help you or not.

It works well on its own or in conjunction with other traditional therapies, e.g., massage, chiropractic, etc. If you’re in chronic pain or have some kind of physical dysfunction, particularly the kind that seems resistant to treatment, like back or neck problems, headaches or sciatica, I encourage you to give Suikodo at Wellness for the Body a try. You have nothing to lose but your pain.

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Aundrea Da Rocha, RMT
Registered Massage Therapist & Certified Foot Reflexologist

Aundrea Da Rocha RMTHot stone massage not only feels good while providing the benefit of stress relief and relaxation, it also has therapeutic effects. It can help decrease muscle pain, joint related pain, menstrual pain and/or tension build up. Heat from the stones can also decrease chronic pain without the need for invasive deep tissue techniques, all while increasing blood flow and lymphatic circulation.

The patient has a choice of light relaxation techniques or deeper tissue which includes going over high tension areas and trigger points with the hot stone. During treatment, the hot stone will be held in the therapist’s hand and will be gliding over a muscle or area of high tension with the use of oil. This will help to decrease the tension and/or the trigger point area. In the case of a relaxation massage, light Swedish massage techniques will be used.

hot stone massageThere are some things to consider when getting a hot stone treatment such as pregnancy, medications, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and/or kidney and heart issues. These health conditions require reduced time and temperature so you must let the therapist know of any conditions before getting on the table and starting treatment to ensure safety.

Now that the cold winter months are approaching, why not try a hot stone massage?! At Wellness for the Body we offer one hour or ninety minute sessions. One hour sessions involve one body area such as back, neck and shoulders. Ninety minute sessions include a full body treatment such as back, neck, shoulders, arms and legs.

Amanda McNair
Certified Life & Wellness Coach

Amanda McNair‘Tis the season… for holiday stress! With all the hustle and bustle of getting your home ready for guests, entertaining family, preparing a huge festive feast, running to the mall for any last-minute gifts, finding the time to wrap everything, working during the week, taking care of your kids, cleaning up after your pets as they track mud through your house – sound familiar?

But, if you stop to think about it, all that stress is proof of many positive things in your life: you have a roof over your head, you have friends and family to entertain, you have access to food, you have a job that allows you to put gifts under the tree for your family, you have wonderful pets that greet you at the door (mud and all) – you have all these amazing things in life. Sometimes, we just need to slow down to appreciate them rather than getting caught up in the stress and frustrations that arise throughout the course of the day.

One of the best ways to slow life down for a few moments is to treat yourself. Throughout the holidays we’re always thinking of gift-giving for others but we often forget to add ourselves to the list. Taking some time for yourself to recharge and relax is extremely important.If you’re constantly on the go, your body gets overwhelmed and that’s when you’re much more likely to make unhealthy choices for yourself. Not eating nutritiously, not getting the proper sleep your body needs to function well and lashing out and being grumpy – just like Scrooge!

juggling too muchGive yourself a gift this holiday season – the gift of wellness! Mentally, physically and spiritually. Give yourself permission to treat yourself in a healthy way that nourishes your body. You’ll be amazed how slowing down and taking time for yourself can help improve all areas of your life because you’ll be happier, healthier and ready for whatever comes your way!

And since we’ve been talking about gift-giving, I have a gift for you: a complimentary 30-minute Discovery Session to explore your goals, your challenges and how working with a Life & Wellness Coach can help you get from where you are now to where you want to be in life. Call Wellness for the Body today at 905.465.4595 to schedule your free coaching session.

Dr. Caren Fortin, BHK, DC
Doctor of Chiropractic

Dr Caren Fortin DCCanadian chiropractors are encouraging you to “Take 3 at 3”. A simple three minute break towards the end of the workday at 3:00 p.m. to perform a few stretches and exercises can help improve your posture and avoid low back pain. By downloading the free Straighten Up Canada app, taking a break becomes easy!

Did you know sitting puts 30 percent more stress on your back than standing or walking? So taking an afternoon break from your desk can make a dramatic difference to your posture and help improve your overall health.

Here are five reasons why posture is so important:

  • straighten up canadaReduces wear and tear: Having a balanced spine decreases the amount of stress and pressure on your joints, reducing the risk of wear and tear that can result in a limited range of motion or arthritis.
  • Breathe Easy: By avoiding slouching and sitting up straight you are helping to open your airways and increase oxygen flow throughout your body.
  • Decreases Stress: Since stress causes your muscles to contract and become tense, stretching those muscles reverses the tension and the related stress.
  • Increases Energy: Slouching puts many of your muscles into overdrive as they work to hold you up, wearing your body out. Proper posture enables the body’s most efficient position, saving energy.
  • Be Better: Standing up straight with your shoulders back gives you the appearance of being taller and slimmer, making you feel more confident.

So, I encourage you to download and use the Straighten Up app! Of course, when you find yourself in need of a chiropractor, we’ll be here for you. We offer evening and weekend appointments, so give Wellness for the Body a call anytime at 905.465.4595.

If you need more information on the Straighten Up app, please feel free to contact them at: oca@chiropractic.on.ca

Andrea Nederveen, RMT
Registered Massage Therapist

Andrea Nederveen RMTAt Wellness for the Body we take your pain seriously. As massage therapists, we can give you relief and assist you in your road to recovery. Each person feels pain differently. Not one person can feel or understand your personal pain but we are here to listen and assist you however we can.

Pain has many levels and it can be much more than physical. “Pain is a personal, subjective and emotional experience.” “There is no direct relationship between physical pathology and the intensity of pain.”

Pain is only felt when the message reaches the brain. “The connection of the spinal cord with the thalamus and the cerebral cortex is vital for pain perception. It is also at this level that our thoughts and attitudes influence the degree of pain we are sensing and we learn to avoid future encounters with harmful stimuli.”

It is easy for us to understand acute pain. For example, when you burn your hand and feel the pain, then you pull it away. But when pain is chronic, you cannot always pinpoint where the pain is coming from or how it started. This makes it extremely difficult to treat. This does not however, mean that your pain is imagined.

People with chronic pain often have much more going on than the initial pain. “Chronic pain is similar to a perpetual stressed state of being.” Physiologically, this increases heart rate, breath rate and blood pressure as well as redirecting blood flow to muscles causing exhaustion. Other symptoms that may occur are fatigue, poor concentration, headaches, tight muscles, anxiety and depression.

The good news is, there are several ways to alleviate symptoms of your pain through relaxation, nutrition, massage and other hands-on therapies. Put your trust in the therapists at Wellness for the Body, tell us eactly how you are feeling. We believe the pain you are experiencing is real and we would love to be a part of your healing process.

Amanda McNair
Certified Life & Wellness Coach

Amanda McNairSo, what is this coaching thing you’re being offered, and what exactly does it mean for you? Great question!

As a Life & Wellness Coach, I help people shift their mindset and habits to experience positive, lasting life changes.

In other words, I give you a safe place to express your thoughts, your frustrations, and your successes, and I help you figure out what your goals are for your future. I ask you simple questions to help uncover what you truly want in life, and what challenges may be getting in the way, so you know what to do next to move forward. I provide insight into your behaviours, so you can become aware of how the decisions you make on a daily basis can put you on course for achieving your goals.

You will learn how to shift your mindset and habits to be more aligned with who you want to be – creating a more meaningful life, so you can be happier, healthier and live as your true self. You’ll recognize why you do the things you do, learn how to consciously manage your thoughts, and understand how you can take control of your choices – to make positive changes towards the life you’re dreaming of.

GETTING HONEST

life and wellness coachLet’s get honest with each other for a moment; often, we think about changes we want to make, but we just aren’t really sure how to start making them happen. And other times, we actually do know how to make the change, but for some reason we keep making excuses to not follow through. It feels easier to just keep doing what we’re doing because it’s within our comfort zone. We tell ourselves that making a change will be too hard, or too much responsibility to maintain that change – and because it’s not familiar to us, it just feels too hard and overwhelming, so we don’t even start making any changes at all.

But change can be a beautiful thing, if you let it. And I have a secret; yes, change can be difficult… but only until it’s not. Because eventually, those changes become your new daily habits – and there you are, living your new life, and loving it, before you even know it!

Okay, so you’re probably asking yourself, “but how long will it take before the change isn’t hard anymore?” – another great question!

To be honest with you, it all depends on the person. It’s determined by how badly you want your desired outcome that the change will bring you, and if you’re ready to get honest with yourself. You will get out what you put in, so be open and willing to work for your transformation – but don’t worry, I’ll be here to support you along the way!

IT’S NOT ABOUT STRICT DIETS OR CRAZY EXERCISE

Technically, the definition of wellness is “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal”. But what people seem to forget is that wellness goes beyond just focusing on your physical health – that’s part of it, but you also need to tap into your mental and emotional health as well, to actually make changes. Wellness definitely isn’t about magical quick-fix pills that promise to solve everything overnight, it’s not about strict and depriving diets that only make your cravings worse, or crazy exercise programs that have you in the gym for hours – because none of those things actually work in real life for the long-term. In fact, it’s quite the opposite of all those things – great news for you, right?!

Essentially, it all comes down to your mindset – your way of thinking – and that’s where coaching comes in.
Just like a sports team needs a coach, and an orchestra needs a conductor, it certainly helps to have someone provide you with a little guidance. Your life is no different; with the help of a coach asking you the right questions and providing greater insight, you can become more self-aware, confident and happy – working towards your ideal life!

THREE IMPORTANT THINGS

The first step in taking action to live a more meaningful, fulfilled life is finding someone who can provide you with three important things:

  1. The Right System – an effective program for you to follow
  2. The Right Support – someone to encourage you when you’re feeling stuck
  3. The Right Accountability – a tough-love kick in the butt when you’re falling off track

These are significant to your success, and are benefits of having me as your coach. I’m excited to be able to provide you with the system, support and accountability you need – so all you have to do is embrace those tools and start building that life that once felt impossible.

Just image a life where you spend more time doing the things that are most important to you!

FOUR MAIN AREAS OF YOUR LIFE

Understanding your values and beliefs around the four main areas of your life allows you to gain better clarity of how to feel more fulfilled. Those four areas are:

  1. Health – mental, emotional and physical
  2. Love and relationships – with yourself and others
  3. Purpose and your impact on the world – your connection to something greater
  4. Career and finances – getting paid for your passion

Throughout your coaching adventure, you’ll have times when you want to give up and don’t want to put in the work – and that’s perfectly normal because it’s something new, and as humans, we have the predisposition to resist change – but that’s why I’m your secret weapon; I’ll help keep you accountable, and hold your vision for you in those four main areas of your life.

MY GIFT TO YOU

If you’re reading this article thinking, “this coaching thing is exactly what I need right now”, then it’s time to show up for yourself like you never have before. It’s time to live true and be you – authentically living the life you want!

You stumbling upon this article is not an accident. When we put a thought or question out into the Universe, we’re provided with an answer. And this is your answer. This is the answer you’ve been asking for. So take this opportunity to change your life – as big or as small of a change as you’re ready for.

To help you take the first step, I invite you to accept a free one-on-one Discovery Session to see what this coaching thing is all about. Simply call the office today to schedule your complimentary 30-minute session, as my gift to you! If you choose to move forward with regular 45-minute sessions after that, they may even be covered under your extended health benefits – so awesome for you! Otherwise, I promise it will still be worth the investment in yourself.

You deserve this.

dr tara brownDr. Tara Brown, (Hon) BA Kin, DC, ART®, D.Ac
Doctor of Chiropractic

Now that school is well underway, I thought it would be best to go over some tips to ensure that your child is wearing and using their backpack correctly. It is important to make sure that backpacks fit properly from an early age.

Here are 9 steps given by the Canadian Chiropractic Association to make sure your children are wearing their backpack right:

  1. Encourage light packing: Only pack what you need. Laying out items before placing in the backpack can be helpful in deciding what is essential and what can be eliminated.
  2. Load it evenly: Ensure heavier items are located closer to the center of the back. This stabilizes their center of gravity and helps to prevent slouching, leaning to one side or falling over.
  3. Ideal weight: A backpack should be no more than 10-15% of a person’s body weight.
  4. Lift with your legs: One way to do this is to teach your child to place their backpack on the ground behind them. They then bend at the knees, put their arms through the straps with their hands holding on, and stand up with the backpack lifting with their legs.
  5. correct backpack useTightened straps: The backpack should fit securely on both shoulders, resting on the contour of the back. It is too low if it is hanging over their buttocks.
  6. Ask if they’re experiencing pain while wearing it: Although the bag may look right on your child, it is still important to ask your child if the bag is causing them any discomfort.
  7. Monitor their comfort: Ask periodically to make sure the bag is still fitting right. Parents can’t assume that just because the bag fit right at the start of the school year, that it still feels right a few months down the road.
  8. Wear both arm straps: This is ideal for proper posture. Wearing one strap over the shoulder promotes uneven posture and may create problems over time.
  9. Reduce backpack wearing time: Children should be encouraged to store their bag in a cubbie or locker to ensure that they don’t have to be wearing their bag more than necessary

If you would like to know more about selecting and fitting the right backpack for your child, book an appointment with one of our Chiropractors today. We’re here to help!