Holistic Body Archives

June 14, 2006

Mental Chaos and Healing

A charming gentleman came into my practice the other day. Charming, but frustrated with his healing process and rather disconnected from what was going on in his body.

I could understand his frustration. He'd been injured two years ago and was still dealing with more pain than he wanted, despite having tried a number of different therapies that he'd hoped would help. If I'd been in that situation, I would have been frustrated, too.

Continue reading "Mental Chaos and Healing" »

June 15, 2006

Can you give me some exercises to strengthen my back?

She came in this morning, back sore. In a way it was good news. She's been feeling so much better lately that she decided to go out and work in the garden, and ended up overextending herself. Who among us hasn't been there?

Before we really even got started, though, she hit me with the big question. "Can you give me some exercises to strengthen my back?"

"Hoo-boy," I thought. "Now here's a good question!"

Continue reading "Can you give me some exercises to strengthen my back?" »

June 16, 2006

I Feel Relaxed Enough - When Are My Muscles Going to Catch Up?

In yesterday's post, we discussed why tight muscles, muscles that can't relax, feel sore. Today's mission is to distinguish between YOU being relaxed and the condition of your muscles.

Basically it's apples and oranges. While it's true that your personal state of being influences your general muscle tone, it doesn't carry over inch by inch across the body. Here's why.

When you say, "I'm relaxed," you're discussing your state of being. What you mean is, "I am in a state of relaxation." [Learn more about states on the WordCures site.] It is true that your state of being affects your muscles in some very obvious ways.

Continue reading "I Feel Relaxed Enough - When Are My Muscles Going to Catch Up?" »

June 20, 2006

There's probably a reason your back hurts

Twice in one day this week I entered the same conversation. Was it deja-vu? No. But it was a clue - about an experience that more than those two people might find helpful to explore.

In both cases, the conversation went something like this. "Blah, blah, blah, back hurts. It just went out for no reason..."

Let's temporarily ignore the obvious question of where your back goes when it goes "out" and press on to the real issue. Which is ...

The idea that your back (or any other body part) would fail for "no reason."

Continue reading "There's probably a reason your back hurts" »

July 27, 2006

Tight, Taut, or Toned - The Scoop on Muscles

"We are to exercise to tighten and tone our muscles, but tightened muscles are our enemy - how can we have both?"

Read that again. Isn't it a great question? I think so.

I'd have to agree, it can get confusing. Yet there is a subtle difference between muscles that are tight, taut, or toned. Read on...

Continue reading "Tight, Taut, or Toned - The Scoop on Muscles" »

September 7, 2006

Cause Behind the Cause

Earlier today, one of my bodywork clients arrived a little early for his appointment. As he waited, he amused himself by browsing through a book from my shelf. An acupuncture textbook. During his session, an interesting discussion ensued.

The gentleman is my client because he'd like to resolve some back pain. [A fairly common problem.]

We discussed his body structure, which is improving. He's also noticed some improvement in his symptoms.

"But how did I get like this?" he asked. "Have I always been this way?"

Continue reading "Cause Behind the Cause" »

September 8, 2006

Learned or Inherited? Which is Better?

"I inherited this back pain from my mother."

Remember the gentleman we spoke about in yesterday's article? The insightful bodywork client who thought to inquire about why his body had come to have the particular postural pattern it had?

Well, there's more. We spoke about learned and inherited traits. You can see how it came about. He was curious about the role heredity plays in body structure. Like I said, he was quite insightful.

Anyway, it was not he who blamed his back pain on his mother, but a young woman. Interesting idea, though. Think about it. Is it reasonable to conclude that you inherited pain from anyone?

Continue reading "Learned or Inherited? Which is Better?" »

September 21, 2006

Observe your actions

Something really interesting happens when I start talking body structure with a pain patient. Well, several things actually.

  1. Sometimes they jump into denial. We covered that yesterday. "I don't think my shoulders are tilted at all. I just can't see it."
  2. Sometimes they conclude that since they've "always" been like this, it must be fine. We covered that the day before.
  3. But the next thing is what I'd like to cover today. They look at the mirror and say, "Wow. Now that you point it out, I can see it is off. How come I never noticed that?"

Continue reading "Observe your actions" »

September 22, 2006

Awareness Practice & Body Journey

Over the course of this week, if you've been following along, we've laid out the basics of a health-promoting awareness practice. If you're ready to take your health to the next level, you might want to consider creating a space for an awareness practice in your regular schedule.

One of the simplest things you can do is take a body journey. Fasten your seatbelt and let's go!

Continue reading "Awareness Practice & Body Journey" »

November 15, 2006

Expectation: When it's a Great Friend

Several years ago I was a therapist participant in a research study exploring the effectiveness of neuromuscular therapy on chronic severe headaches. One of our participants was a young woman of 23 who'd had unrelenting head pain since she'd hit her head falling out of a wagon at age 5.

Her first session with me produced what was arguably one of the worst therapeutic outcomes I've ever generated in a single therapy session. Yet the new strategy we used during her second session reduced her head pain, by her description, about 50%. It was the first positive change she had seen in 18 years. (During the course of the study, she improved even more.)

What inspired her to come back for that second session? Not just to be physically present, but to arrive relaxed and receptive enough that we were able to turn the tides and produce a positive outcome?

Continue reading "Expectation: When it's a Great Friend" »

January 23, 2007

Stress, Headaches, and Upset Tummies

Headaches and Upset Tummies. What might they have in common? Well, for one thing, stress. Just lately I've received reader questions on both these topics. And as luck would have it, I thought of a relevant case history that ties them both together.

Stress. Society uses the word as a catch-all these days. And so, I acknowledge, do I. How you handle stress is all tied up in energy -- and that energy creates your state of health.

My hope is that today's case history will help some of you consider avenues for exploring your own health questions that you may not have considered before.

Continue reading "Stress, Headaches, and Upset Tummies" »

January 24, 2007

Commitment and Clara's Breakthrough

Remember Clara? We spoke about her yesterday.

  • About how she'd had chronic tension-type headaches for years and years.
  • About how we'd (the therapy team) done all the usual things to change her posture.
  • About how none of those things had gotten the results we wanted.
  • And about how she ultimately enjoyed a huge improvement in her condition.

What set her up for a breakthrough? And how can you bring that same kind of breakthrough into your next healthy living project?

Continue reading "Commitment and Clara's Breakthrough" »

February 3, 2007

Healing States: Engagement

"You tell me, you're the psychic."

I listened as Caroline Myss told of the comment that inspired her to take her career as a medical intuitive in a different direction. I'll share the story with you in just a moment. But I'll tell you right now that there was more behind Caroline's response to that comment than taking offense at a participant's careless quip.

The comment spoke volumes about the participant's frame of reference toward her own health and healing process. Simply, she was not engaged.

As a practitioner in a health care field myself, a state of engagement is easy to recognize. A person comes in with a particular goal in mind. As we pursue that goal, the engaged person offers feedback, asks questions, and shares relevant bits of their life story. The disengaged person -- figuratively and sometimes even literally -- settles in for a nap.

A short while ago, we explored the healing state of commitment. Today, we'll begin our look at engagement.

Continue reading "Healing States: Engagement" »

October 23, 2007

You Hurt. Pain.

You Hurt. Second in our series of 7 clues that everyday life may be undermining your health is this common problem. Something hurts.

We may be talking about physical pain. We may be talking about emotional pain. Or perhaps you experience both.

Pain is an obvious signal that something is wrong. It can be tricky, though. Pain is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. "Pain the symptom" can be distant from its cause.

And there is the complication! The root cause of a pain problem can be extremely tricky to identify.

Continue reading "You Hurt. Pain." »

January 24, 2008

The Psoas Muscle

The psoas muscle.

  • If you've ever had back pain,
  • if (as a therapist) you've ever treated anyone with back pain,
  • if you've ever had that little "ooh, maybe I've been sitting too long" thought as you attempted to raise up from a seated position,
  • if you've ever been in the marching band or used a stair-climber at the gym...
... then you already have an intimate relationship with the psoas muscle.

Well, the other day I happened to run across the most complete set of information on the psoas muscle I've ever found in one single place! Information, pictures, videos, the whole enchilada. It was so cool I thought I'd tell you about it. Check it out here:

By the way, the reason I ran across this gem of a page is I've posted a few things on the same website. If you happen to be interested in ...

  • The underlying "cause" behind your favorite symptom ... then check out the Intuitive Brainstorming page.
  • How to get extra value out of your next "break" from work (complete with tips to help sell your boss on your great vacation plans) ... then check out the Travel Insights page.
  • How to look at stress as a source of personal empowerment instead of endlessly "managing" it ... then check out the Resolve Stress page.

New to Squidoo? It's cool to participate when you get there! Vote in a poll, leave a comment, or give a "lens" you really like some of those very pretty stars.

March 13, 2008

Headaches and Posture Case History

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking with a small group of massage therapy students about one of my favorite topics -- how day-to-day "vibes" can manifest in the body as a health challenge. We spend a lot of time here talking about how to manage those "vibes," but I thought you might enjoy eavesdropping on one of the clearest cases I've ever run into that illustrates how they can make their way into the body and cause seemingly far-reaching symptoms.

Before we begin, a word about compensation. Your body is very smart. When it is served up a little insult (which happens a lot), it figures, "no big deal - I can handle this." And it sets up a compensation system. The compensation often turns into a chain of little bitty changes that your body figures it can deal with pretty easily. However eventually, if the insult goes on long enough without getting resolved, a weak link in the compensation chain sometimes shows up. Something that, despite its best efforts, your body actually can't deal with well.

We call that something a symptom.

"Karen's" symptom was chronic headaches. At age 50 (more or less), she'd been dealing with them for a good 30 years.

Continue reading "Headaches and Posture Case History" »

April 1, 2008

Chain Reactions and Your Body

Sometimes we all get a bit confused about the difference between where a symptom shows up and what caused it. I know I do myself. So in explaining this difference to a bodywork client the other day, I came up with a little story, which I'll title "Cat and Catastrophe."

Cat and Catastrophe

Imagine you're driving down the main street of your town. Unexpectedly, a cat runs out in front of your car. You, being an alert driver and also a cat-lover, react quickly to avoid catastrophe. You stop on a dime. Fluffy goes on to see another day and stake a claim on her remaining 8 lives.


Somewhere behind you, you hear a loud "thwak."

You stopped quickly and Fluffy was spared. Yet someone behind you wasn't able to react as efficiently. Somewhere down the chain, there was a failure to compensate. Catastrophe occurred! Just not at the site of the initial problem.

Continue reading "Chain Reactions and Your Body" »

May 28, 2008

Proactive Posture and Your Energy

Proactive posture. Healthy aging. Gravity. You. How does it all fit together?

Well, let's see. Several of my clients have "problem necks." And just the other day, I was having a conversation with one of them. Fortunately, her "problem neck" seems to be getting a better. But she and I both know that she's going to want to keep tabs on it over the next few years. So we were devising a little strategy.

One thing we both agreed on. It'll help her neck if she can keep tabs on her energy level.

How's that?

Let me explain.

Continue reading "Proactive Posture and Your Energy" »

March 8, 2009

Stretching is Just Too Much Work and Takes Too Much Time!

By Kathryn Merrow, The Pain Relief Coach

Oh, it just seems like so much work to stretch, doesn’t it? Trying to fit one more thing into your already too-busy day? What a hassle. Who needs it?

Well, it’s just my opinion, but I would say…YOU!

YOU are the one who needs to stretch. You, and me, and everyone—we all need to stretch.

Have you ever watched a dog or cat waking up? What is the very first thing that animal does, just as soon as it wakes up? Every animal, every time…stretches. Dogs and cats need to stretch and do it automatically.

And babies? What is the very first thing they do as soon as they wake up? And, multiple times throughout the day? Of course! They stretch. Babies need to stretch and they do it without even thinking about it.

And, you? If I was a betting woman, I’d be betting that as soon as you wake up, or pretty quickly, you hop out of bed and get going. What do you do before you fall asleep? Who’s got TIME to stretch, says you. Who NEEDS to stretch, says me.

Continue reading "Stretching is Just Too Much Work and Takes Too Much Time!" »

March 15, 2009

Using Massage for Stress Relief

by Kathryn Merrow, the Pain Relief Coach

Ever lose yourself in a good book? You can also lose yourself in a good massage. There are all types of massages, from very subtle, light touch to very, deep corrective touch. A good massage is soothing, relaxing and a great stress reliever. There is nothing else like it.

Continue reading "Using Massage for Stress Relief" »

April 17, 2009

Carpal Tunnel and Posture

Hand & wrist pain -- carpal tunnel syndrome. Maybe you've experienced some of these troubling symptoms yourself. They're more common than you might think, especially for people who type a lot, do other repetitive activities with their hands and arms, or have injured their necks. Sometimes the cause is simply "life."

If you're looking for information about how to help yourself with carpal tunnel syndrome or hand & wrist pain, check out "The Pain Relief Coach," Kathryn Merrow. Earlier this month, she interviewed me on her radio show. What fun!

You can listen here:

June 18, 2009

Breath and Your Posture

Posture. In the best of all possible worlds, the little nudge you just received will serve as a gentle reminder to raise yourself up to your full height, wiggle your shoulders, roll your neck, and take a full, deep breath.

Posture is a subtle yet visible outside indicator of a person's internal energy and vitality. Next time you visit a public place (airport, shopping mall, beach, the county fair), look around. Notice the people who seem to express the most natural vitality. Then consider how you reached that conclusion. Chances are, they will be sporting some clues: erect posture, a peaceful facial expression or smile, and a little sparkle in their eye.

In my daily life, I consider myself privileged to assist people in attaining and maintaining a balanced, healthy posture. We work mostly with the muscles. There's another important factor, though. A person's gotta breathe!

Breath directly supports your posture in at least three ways. Let's explore the connection.

Continue reading "Breath and Your Posture" »

July 28, 2009

Perpetuating Factors that Affect Your Health

In their landmark reference book on Trigger Points, Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons devote an entire chapter to perpetuating factors. (Volume one, chapter four). Why?

Easy. Because without addressing the factors that perpetuate a health condition, the condition is sure to persist. They are really important!

People sometimes are disappointed to hear this. "Poor nutrition didn't cause my neck pain," they'll say. "So what does it matter how I eat now? I just want to get rid of the pain. I'm just not ready for an entire healthy lifestyle makeover."


Continue reading "Perpetuating Factors that Affect Your Health" »

July 29, 2009

Healing Intent and Commitment

Commitment to healing (or its lack) is a perpetuating factor that sometimes trips people up. When I say "sometimes," what I really mean is that it's one of the most frequent conflicts I observe in people from day to day.

Of course that does not mean that people don't want to be healthy. Most people do! What it means is that there's something else that they also want, the two desires conflict, and the health-building process effectively "stalls in the water."

Before we get into that list of possible conflicting desires (it's coming), let's look at this a little differently. What would it look like if someone with very few conflicting desires were to step through the door? How would the engagement go? What would be the results?

I had the pleasure of meeting such a person about two weeks ago. He phoned on a Monday morning to inquire about an appointment. When I asked about his availability, he responded "I'm really tired of this pain." Already, I suspected that things were going to go well. He was focused and flexible!

Continue reading "Healing Intent and Commitment" »

September 15, 2009

Limiting Beliefs of the most Insidious Kind (The ones you don't know about.)

"Why even offer Wellness Coaching? After all, isn't it less challenging work to simply treat people's symptoms?" Seriously, this is a question people ask.

The answer is "yes." It's actually much less challenging work for me to simply treat a symptom and send the person home.

Yet treating and retreating symptoms that have the possibility of being resolved presents its own challenge -- to my value system. That is why, a number of years ago, I shifted gears in my personal study to gain a better understanding of how and why unconscious limiting beliefs affect body structure (and a whole lot of other health-related symptoms).

Here is the story:

Continue reading "Limiting Beliefs of the most Insidious Kind (The ones you don't know about.)" »

Elizabeth Eckert, Healthy Living & Wellness Coach

Elizabeth Eckert, PhD

I enjoy observing human nature and helping people get healthier. I'm the author of Word Cures, webmaster of the healthy living website, and an organic vegetable gardener. I hang out in spacious North Dakota with Max, my precocious pup. (more)

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Healthy Living DIY in the Holistic Body category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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Note: The information and ideas offered here are personal opinions of a general nature. No opinion posted here constitutes medical advice, either general or personal. If you have a health concern, please consult with your medical doctor and follow his or her advice. The author disclaims responsibility for any misuse or misinterpretation of any opinion posted here.

(c) 2006-09 Elizabeth Eckert

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