Motion is Lotion (a follow up to "every now and then I fall apart")

I was amazed at the response I got to my last blog post. It seems like back pain stories are like belly buttons; everybody has one. Over the past week I've had private messages on Facebook, comments and conversations with people about the post "Every now and then I fall apart" and how it resonated with them. 

Usually the first question they ask is "So, how's your back doing?"

It's coming along well, thanks for asking!

So how did I get from having to sleep on the floor and having to pump myself up to put on my socks in the morning to reintroducing running and light weights in only a few days? 

The answer is both simple, and complicated. 

First, the simple answer. I refused to shut down and stop moving. I continued to do what movement was available IN AN INTELLIGENT WAY. And that's where things get a bit complicated. Because where is the line between rehabilitation movement and blindly trying to push through pain with the potential for longterm issues? I'm glad you asked...

First, the suggestions here apply to most back pain, but not all. If you suspect that you've injured an IVD (intervertebral disc) then you're best off to get assessed by a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist or reputable Osteopath first. You'll notice I didn't say Massage Therapist. That's because the variation in knowledge between Massage Therapists in unregulated provinces (like Alberta) can be...well...frightening, and I'd rather you get healthy than pump the tires of my profession.

If you have numbness or tingling through your buttocks, perineum and inner thigh, as though you were numb where a saddle would be (google "saddle parethesia") then go to an emergency room. 

Otherwise, let's talk about reintroducing movement after a back "tweak". It's important to understand that synovial joints like the facet joints between our vertebrae or the sacroiliac joints between our sacrum and pelvis move on three planes; forward and backward (think bowing), side to side (think side bending) and rotational (think twisting). This is where somebody will say "well, technically joint A moves in a sagittal plane and joint B moves in a frontal plane blah blah blah...". That's not what I'm after in this post. Bear with me and see if this makes sense. 

Most injuries in the back, especially in the low back happen when at least two of those three planes of movement are initiated at the same time. Think of the number of Canadians every year who hurt their back shovelling snow. They are flexing forward, slightly side bending, and twisting all at the same time. 

It's important to understand that the facet joints in the low back DO NOT do all three types of movement equally well! They are good at flexion/extension, but they struggle with twisting; that movement SHOULD come from the ribs, hips and ankle/foot complex. Between those areas we have the low back and the knee! Wanna guess how many people complain of knee or low back pain? And of those people, care to guess how many have ankle, hip or rib cage limitations that they weren't aware of? 

So if all this is true, how do we start to reintroduce movement? Here's a six pointers;

1. Expect to be scared. It can be frightening trying to move safely after a back injury. Every step you take, every move you make you seem to be watching it, wondering if this will be the movement that brings pain with it. Accept it, and treat it with respect, not fear. 

2. Go slowOne does not simply rush into back movements, or back into movements as it is. Give yourself plenty of time to move, roll, maybe even swear. 

3. Move away from pain. Usually when you hurt your back there are a few movements that really bring it on more than others, such as extension with left rotation. So avoid that movement. Start off first with what your body can do.

4. Single Plane movements. Start with movements in one direction at a time. Think cat/cow from yoga; it's a basic flexion/extension exercise. Or straight side bending as another. Introduce movement one direction at a time. Don't swing for the fences with a backhanding twist the first day.   

5. Periperhal-Central-Peripheral. If your low back is where the pain is, let's call that the epicentre of the injury (although we all know know it might be more of the victim than the actual cause), start with joints further away. Stretch the feet, calves, neck and shoulders. All of these areas have an effect on the movement of the low back so you are still working towards a goal. Then move towards your quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors, abductors (upper leg), lats and rib cage (intercostals and erector spinae). Finally move into the muscles of your low back.

6. Get Help. Follow up with a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor or massage therapist for treatment, but more importantly, for homecare recommendations. The biggest changes I see in my clients is if they take the stretches and exercises given at the end of a treatment seriously and apply them in their everyday life. 

Finally, give it time. Don't think to yourself "I did a whole 30 minutes of rolling, why isn't it better?". It might take ten thirty minute sessions to slowly reintroduce the movement you're looking for into your back. Do this slowly, gradually, because more isn't always better. Less isn't always better. A Lagom is just right (a lagom is a Swedish word that translates to "just the right amount. Freakin' brilliant). 

Treat the injury with the respect it deserves, but without the fear that any and all movement will be detrimental to recovery. 

 

Every Now and Then I Fall Apart

I hurt my back yesterday.

For anyone who knows me this should come as no surprise. It happens. Less now than it used to, but every few years...BLAM!

I found myself gasping for breath this morning, desperately holding onto the side of the bed while I tried to get pants on through the pain. It hurt to bend over. It hurt to lift a leg. It hurt twice as much to bend over AND lift a leg. I started my day wondering how I'm ever going to get through the next 24 hours of driving, treatments and (worst of all) loading luggage into the team van. I was so frustrated and scared I wanted to cry. 

When this used to happen more often, I could only explain back pain to my wife like this; it's as though only 50% of me gets to be present in life. The other half of me is constantly monitoring how my back is feeling; afraid that my next move will set off more pain. If my back is hurting then I'm focusing on it. If my back isn't hurting then I'm worrying about what movement will set it off next. In short, I am only able to be minimally involved in the conversations and events around me, because half of my focus is on my back.  

But I'm trying my best not be mad. I'm trying to focus on the lesson to be learnt in the injury.

Because it's there.

As much as I hate to admit it, I've been burning the candle at both ends. I've been working a training camp with Speed Skate Canada for the past two weeks, which means lots of time treating others, lots of time driving, and lots of time working out while the athletes are training on ice. 

If you notice, I didn't really say "lots of time recovering"...and that's on me. It's my decision whether I choose to stay home and stretch instead of doing a 25km trail run at altitude, but I'll be honest, I love running more.  It's my decision whether I roll out for an hour when the athletes are doing their jump program (think of this as 2hrs of leg exercises that crush you and you're not far off), but I'd rather be in there with them, because who else gets to train alongside Olympic medallists and world record holders as a perk of their job? And I could take extra time to do a yoga session every now and then, but...you know...what's on Netflix?

In short, this injury is a call to action for me. Or to be more precise, a call to inaction. To slow down, and take care of my body. To deal with the increasing demands that I'm placing on it. I just spent 2 1/2 hours rolling and stretching and low and behold, my back feels better (my left hip to be more precise...). Funny how that works, isn't it? 

If you're reading this and you've been putting off the stretches you KNOW you probably should be doing, or the yoga class you think you should probably go to, go do them now. Don't wait for pain to show up to spur you into action. Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment.

Trust me on this. 

My New Years Resolutions

Now that the Christmas season has passed and we're all settling into the -20 degree weather, it seems like a fitting time to figure out what my New Years resolutions will be for 2017. There's a part of me that doesn't want to post them on the internet; after all, if you read them then you can hold me accountable to them! But that's precisely why I need to tell you my goals. Because if you know what I'm working towards, then you can help keep me motivated and honest. 

Last year I set a goal to run home from work and to write a book. I accomplished one of my goals, and I failed in spectacular form on the other. I tried running home from the University of Calgary to my house in Black Diamond, and after 45km I had to call a friend to pick me up from the side of the road after my foot completely exploded (ummm...I'm not sure if that's the medical term for it. But that's how it felt). 

So, one of my goals remains the same: I want to run home from the University one day this year. I used to run to and from work everyday. Granted, that was when I lived 4kms away from work, instead of 65km. But the principle is still the same. One foot in front of the other. Just more times, right? 

My second goal is to only read books from inside my house this year. 

I love books. I love reading books, but I've come to realize that I love having books even more than I love reading them. Over the years I've collected so many books that I have the best of intentions of reading, but I never get to them. Because I buy another new book or have one gifted to me by friends. 

Therefore, I will try my best to only read what I already have, or at least I will start them. If they turn out to be bad books I'm not going to struggle through them. Life's too short to read bad books. If by some incredible miracle I make it through all the books in my house that I am curious about (keep in mind my wife has a collection I can break into as well), then I'll open up the challenge to any books on my property, since we have a little lending library in the front yard. But I seriously doubt it will get to that!

What are your goals for the year? Feel free to write them in the comments, or tell them to someone in your life who will help keep you accountable. Try to make sure they're S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon (you can't really force a goal...), Realistic and Time oriented. Best of luck on the upcoming year and all you set out to accomplish!

I'm Too Heavy...

I'm obsessed with weight. When I close my eyes I can feel the excess pulling me down, as though gravity works differently on me. When I compare myself to others, even good friends who I love and adore I come up lacking. I find myself jealous, coveting their ability to shape, mold and sculpt into perfection, while I'm left with what seems like some half-finished vessel that may technically work but doesn't seem to bring me as much joy on a day-to-day basis. 

Some friends tell me to go to the internet or Instagram for inspiration. But nobody shows their failed attempts. What I see feels unattainable, and in this day and age I question whether or not what I'm seeing is even real or if the images have been touched up, filtered and photoshopped. I spend countless hours in the basement working on my form, while my wife sits upstairs, occasionally coming down to ask me when we're going to spend time together. How can I tell her it's an obsession not of my making? That there's a part of me that wishes I was content so that I could go back upstairs and just relax complacently on the couch?

This time of the year is difficult for me. I spend more time at potlucks, craft fairs and friends houses than any other time of the year. Often I find myself holding a mug of egg nog thinking "Damn, this mug is so light! How did they do that?"

Wait...What did you think I was talking about?

Yes, I'll admit it. I'm obsessed with the weight of my ceramic mugs. It's amazing how the right weight in a mug can make all the difference between my new favourite and yet another ceramic creation destined for the garden. 

But isn't it amazing how pottery mimics life? The judgement, the comparison to others, the coveting, and the belief that somehow others have it "all together"? When I walk through the art gallery near my house I see mugs, bowls and teapots beautifully shaped without a single ounce of excess clay. I marvel at how nice each piece is and I'm always tempted to think to myself "I could never make something that nice". You've probably thought the same thing when you're flipping through fitness magazines.

What I'm now trying to see in the art gallery and the instagram posts are the failed attempts behind the success. The kiln loads of pottery that was fired too hot or too cold, the glaze that didn't work as expected, the new clay body that didn't behave as it should. The hours spent at the pottery wheel or in the gym that goes unnoticed and ignored that are necessary to create the perfect mug. Because let's face it, most of our bodies are basically one big coffee mug!

 

 

A Terrifying Victory

I'm so excited to be writing this post; but I'm also terrified. I finally finished my book! Today, the first copy of "The 5 Forms of Stress Recovery" arrived at my house. It was a wonderful feeling to see it in the flesh, to hold in my hands the idea that has been rolling around in my brain for over a year. 

But it was also terrifying. 

Now that it's here, it's real. Once it's in the world, there's no taking it back; no way to ask for a mulligan or claim I never really finished it. This scares me. I'm putting something out into the world that I've worked hard on for the last year; that I've spent my time and my money on. What if nobody likes it? Was it worth it?

I believe so. 

I pushed myself to write this book for two reasons. 

First, I believed that I needed to challenge myself to grow. To push beyond what I was comfortable with in order to create growth in my life. We get so complacent in our lives as we age; unless we challenge ourselves to continue to develop we often fall short of our true potential. 

Secondly, I believe this book will help other people. It might only help one other person, but if it does then I believe I have an obligation to get that information to them. The belief that this approach to stress recovery instead of management could help people got me through a lot of the difficult times on this project. The times when I just wanted to toss everything out the window and play playstation. The points in developing a book that are so boring to me (like applying for ISBN numbers) that I'd rather be outside then stuck on the computer working. I pictured one person finding support in my words, and that got me through it. 

So, it's out there. There's no turning back. If you'd like a copy I will have copies the first week of June, but you can also order them here and soon on amazon.ca

Now go out there and take care of yourself.

We're all in the Drivers Seat Sometimes

*This blog was written a few weeks ago and I never got around to finishing it until today; so imagine it was three weeks ago when there had been no rain!

As the weather has been improving and life is returning to the foothills I've been out on some longer runs. I love running in the country; it gives me the time and space to myself to process thoughts or listen to inspirational podcasts for hours on end.

Last week I found myself on the shoulder of a gravel road I'd never been on before, grinding my way up a hill and struggling with that all too familiar desire to walk. To make matters worse, it hadn't rained recently and I could see a Semi truck coming over the top of the hill towards me. I knew I was going to get covered in the dust from the truck when it passed me, so I pulled my shirt over my mouth and nose and continued on. 

As I drew closer, I was surprised to find that there was little to no dust coming off the back of the truck. More surprising still was that the closer I got the smaller the dust trail became behind the truck, until we finally met, then passed each other; me heading up the hill, and the truck still heading down. 

The truck had slowed down so much that there was barely any dust kicked up. I think we probably passed each other going about the same speed. I gave a grateful wave as I jogged by, and the driver gave a kind wave back. 

This seems pretty mundane at first, but I was so incredibly grateful for the compassion that driver showed me. He could have easily blown by me like every other car on the road but instead chose to slow down, to meet me at my speed, and was aware of how his actions were affecting me on the side of the road. It probably only added thirty seconds to his day to slow down. 

We all have moments where we are that driver. Those times when our actions are able to impact strangers around us in profound and positive ways. So often we think that these have to be big groundbreaking moments, but there are so many opportunities on a daily basis to impact other people positively. Because although it only took that driver thirty seconds to do something nice for me, here I am three weeks later still talking about it and feeling grateful.   

ALMOST THERE...

    I’ve always been more excited about starting projects then finishing them. If you come to my house chances are you’ll see various projects on the go; a ukulele sitting out, a number of books I’m halfway through reading, and probably pottery that’s in one stage or another of completion. 

 

    But not many completed projects. 

 

    This year, I’ve been working on finishing a project from start to finish. To many people this is no big deal, but for me to get past the idea stage was a victory. For me to take my idea and work with it from inception to completion took a lot of time, effort and support from those around me. 

 

    I wrote a book. 

 

    Truth be told, it’s not actually printed yet. I’m waiting on the ISBN number, the CIP number, and some formatting to finish up so that I can self print, and this is usually where my attention would wander off to some other project and this one would fall by the wayside. 

 

    But not today.

 

    Today I’m telling you about my book because I thrive on external accountability. If I knew there was a test on Friday, I’d study. If I had a weigh in for wrestling I’d make whatever weight necessary to compete. In short, if people are expecting me to be somewhere or accomplish something I’ll do everything I can to achieve that expectation. 

 

    But as I get older, I seem to have less accountability. Yes, I’m accountable to the bank to pay my mortgage, and to my job to show up on time, but nobody keeps me accountable when it comes to my personal goals. Nobody keeps me accountable to growing into the person I want to be. 

 

    So today I create that accountability myself. My book, titled “The Five Divisions of Stress Recovery” will be printed by my birthday, May 22, 2016. I hope that on my birthday I receive the usual Facebookbirthday wishes, but more importantly I hope some of them ask me if I achieved this goal. Because knowing people out there are wondering will keep me coming back to the computer to edit, format, and do all the steps necessary to complete the book that I normally would find excuses not to do!

Learn From Your Elders

I went to a funeral yesterday for a man who I didn't know extremely well, but I wished that I had. He had been working as a Shaman outside of Calgary for over twenty years, and Heather (my wife) and I met and spent time with him over the past year. Each time we would go for sessions with him we left wishing that the time hadn't ended, and that we could have more time to pick his brain and learn from him. We attended a weekend workshop with him as well, and Heather even travelled up to the Yukon to attend a course that he was teaching with a colleague (which he wasn't able to attend due to health problems). 

The funeral was one of the nicest ceremonies that I've ever attended, but what struck me most was the huge volume of knowledge that was lost when he passed. I think it's important to find a positive amongst the grief, and what I realized was this; there are people like him in every aspect of life waiting to help pass on their knowledge and passion. Their passion might be for accounting, pottery, woodworking or hiking, but in every community there are people that we pass every day who have an incredible amount of knowledge; probably in subjects that you're interested in but are too scared to ask people about. 

My point is this; if you don't tell others what you are passionate about, you will never find these people in your community. But if you make a small leap of faith and put yourself out there you'd be amazed at the different opportunities that present themselves to learn from masters instead of youtube! Go out in your community and start talking to people; ask them what they love doing and tell them what you love; you just might find someone who can teach you something or you might get the opportunity to pass along knowledge that you have too!

We create the communities we live in. Go out and make yours better today :) 

Life is All About the Little Choices

I’m on the road for work right now; which means I often feel like I’m in less control of what I eat than if I’m home with the convenience of a full kitchen and a sous chef known as my wife (love you!). The hotel I’m at has a free continental breakfast, so I went there the first morning to see what a free breakfast entails. In short, there was nothing there that I thought was edible. 

    Sure, there was the cheesy eggs (powdered eggs) with hot dog slices that looked appealing, and the prepackaged muffins that somehow never seem to spoil no matter how long they’ve been left out, but if the buffet was a book it would have been called “50  Shades of Beige”. Everything there at first glance appeared to be food, however I think it would be better to call the options “food-like”. 

    As I sat there, contemplating whether I wanted a beige waffle with syrup, or a beige piece of toast with peanut butter, I realized that I wanted none of it. Instead, I craved colour in my meals, and food with ingredients I could pronounce. Luckily, there was a health food store nearby that had palatable food and in all honesty, I was able to get a great breakfast there for about $5. 

    I’m not going to lie it took me a while to get over the mental block I had with sacrificing the free breakfast; but would it have actually been free? I would have paid for it further in the day with my energy levels, mood and digestion! I also realized that as I left the store with my breakfast of hard boiled free range eggs, steamed veggies and some sweet potato cubes left me feeling physically satisfied and emotionally proud. We all experience food guilt to one degree or another with the dietary choices we make, and this one small decision to go out of my way to eat healthy had left me feeling as though I had really listened to what my body needed to start the day off right. We often exaggerate how difficult it is to eat healthy; we look at the issue in a “rest of my life” timeline and it seems so daunting. But really it’s a matter of trying to make a positive choice for ONE MEAL. Because that’s all that we are ever eating at any time; one meal. Choose to make a good decision for your next meal; don’t worry about thoughts like “will I have to eat this way the rest of my life?” or “If I don’t have dessert tonight does that mean I never get them again?”, because it doesn’t mean that. Our lives are made up of small decisions in the moment that add up in the long run. Make a positive small decision today, and see if you don’t gain some satisfaction from these small victories like I did!

Until next time,

Joe

How are your Adrenals doing?

Big things have been changing over here at Bentley Massage and Wellness! Since my last post, I've gotten married, started another season working with the Canadian Long Track Speed Skating team and traveled around the world on a 27 day work trip. In short, my body has been running nonstop!

I've also started a new course called Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN) to learn how to better identify and treat our bodies' INTERNAL STRESSORS. I'm so excited to incorporate this side of health and wellness into my practice, because people often tell me many of their subclinical symptoms while they are getting treated. 

What are subclinical symptoms you ask? These are symptoms that we tend to live with and complain about, but we don't really get relief from. They include bloating, headaches, low energy, mental fog, constipation, diarrhea, low libido, inability to handle stress that we used to handle. The list goes on and on...

What FDN does is allow the client and the practitioner to look at the bodies internal environment and identify healing opportunities for the internal stressors that can cause these kinds of symptoms. Think about it this way; we all know our job or commute (or anything else in our external environment) stresses us, but how many of us know that our cortisol level is crashing at 2pm causing fatigue, or our insomnia is potentially being caused by issues in digestion? So often we get focused on the external stressors; this allows you to look at your internal stressors through salivary, urine and blood testing depending on the complaints. 

I will post more information as the course progresses, but if you've been dealing with issues that just don't seem to go away or if your stress levels seem less manageable than ever before FDN may be able to give you a valuable glimpse into your internal environment and how you can strengthen it! I look forward to discussing this more with you if you have questions, and to start implementing this into my practice to help you with your healthcare goals!

The Victim Screams

Pain relief is one of the most common reasons people come through my door. From head to toe, or rather from headaches to plantar fasciitis people are very adept at telling me where it hurts and why they think it hurts. But where it hurts is often a result of lack of mobility or issues in another part of the body. For example, people arrive complaining of pain in between their shoulders, which slowly increases through the day as they work at the computer (sound familiar?). As a therapist, it’s always important to take this subjective information into account and to delve a little bit deeper; is the pain on one side more than the other? Does it go up into the neck or down into the low back? What are the characteristics of the pain? The answers to questions such as these begin to paint a full picture of how the client is experiencing their pain.

    But it’s just as important to look at the objective information by using assessment tests. These tests help to identify what may actually be occurring in the area in a more unbiased way. To return to our example above, a quick look at Pectoralis Major and Minor muscle lengths may begin to show that the front of the chest is tight, which is causing the muscles between the shoulder blades to fatigue and send pain signals as they lose a tug-of-war with the front of the chest for where the shoulder blade is sits on the back. If this is true, then that client can get their upper back worked on again and again (the area of pain), but the root cause of the pain (the front of the chest) will continue to pull and recreate that pain. Much of the work is then done on the front of the chest, not only during the treatment, but with home care exercises which help give the client tools that they can use to promote their own health. As the title suggests, we have a tendency to view the area of pain as the place that needs the majority of the treatment time spent on it. However the body is beautifully intricate and interconnected, meaning that if you are looking for long term relief from pain, it may be time to ask yourself “What is making this painful area a victim?”. By identifying the muscular imbalances and irritations in your body and working with a therapist, you can look for long-lasting results with a combination of treatments and home care. 

Building a Communi-Tea

One of the things that I love the most about living in Black Diamond is the sense of community. This town is like a tidal pool; if you glance at it, it may appear as though not much is going on. However the longer you look the more you begin to notice. There are hiking groups, knitting circles, gardeners, potters, and more live music than you can shake a stick at! There are an amazing number of micro communities here, and so many people to connect with. 

 

But community is not developed passively. It takes time, energy and passion to create the networks necessary for community to thrive. And like the old song on Sesame Street said "Cooperation...makes it happen...cooperation, working together!". 

 

With that in mind, Bentley Massage and Heather Orton Wholistics are now working with The Tea Shoppe Cafe in Black Diamond to offer free tea to clients who come in for treatments. Black Diamond is a great place to come for a treatment, but why rush home? Get a (free) tea and take a walk through the boutiques, galleries and shops of the town and you just might find out how much more is going on that you'd be interested in!

Learning How to Recover

REDEFINING YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO STRESS

 

    In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with, and complaining about stress. But is our current stress level really the problem? Sure, it would be nice to quit our jobs, never deal with traffic, and have time for every activity our heart desires, but that is not the reality that we live in. Therefore, instead of attempting to always decrease stress, maybe we should be shifting our focus to how we recover between the stresses. As you read this, jot down a quick list of things you think you do to recover from stress in one, five, fifteen and thirty minutes, and be as creative as possible. Then examine your answers as they relate to the criteria listed below. 

 

THE THREE BODIES

    When looking at recovery methods and their effects, try to categorize them into their effect on each of the three bodies; the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual. Don’t be afraid of the word spiritual; this only applies to our sense of connection to others and our environment (for example going for coffee with a friend or going for a walk in nature can be a form of spiritual recovery). We often have a predisposition to favor recovery in one of these three areas, however this can cause problems in the long term. You may also notice that some activities have a positive effect on one body, and a negative effect on others.

 

RECOVERY METHODS ARE NOT EQUAL

    Understand this; sitting down and watching a movie is less recovery than lying down and watching the same movie. Which is less recovery than sitting down and listening to music. Which is less recovery than lying down and listening to music...etc. The wide variety of recovery methods that we have available to us can be categorized not only in relation to the three bodies, but on a spectrum of how strenuous it is for us to do. Don’t be fooled by seated activities such as video games; they can be as stressful for our nervous systems as many physical or emotionally taxing activities, so although we think we are recovering by watching a Rambo marathon we may be missing some of the potential benefits of our day of rest. 

 

DECIDING WHICH RECOVERY METHOD IS RIGHT    

    This is the most personal aspect of recovery, because different people will respond differently to each method they try. Don’t be afraid to experiment; does a run outside make you feel different from a run on a treadmill? Do you feel different after a yin/recovery yoga class than a power yoga class? Begin to keep a recovery method notebook, and jot down people, places and activities that help you recover. Over time you’ll create a comprehensive list of things you can do to recover, whether you have ten seconds or a ten day vacation, allowing you to better handle the natural stressors in your life. 

 

Finding The Right Therapist

In this day and age, there are thousands of therapists in hundreds of different modalities all claiming they can help you. It can become so overwhelming trying to figure out who is right for each issue that clients often comment they take years off of getting treatment because they don't even know where to start! Below are some points to think of when selecting what therapist you are going to see.

  1. Credentials: It's easy to fall into the trap of seeing lots of abbreviations behind somebody's name and thinking that it must all mean something. Be curiously skeptical; if you are unsure of what they stand for ask the therapist for further clarification, or how long each program was. Some credentials take years to achieve while others take weekends!
  2. Goals: Setting goals for your treatment sessions helps increase efficiency by streamlining your treatment focus. Be realistic but set tangible goals; if you've had a chronic issue for a decade chances are it won't get sorted out in one hour. However if you are working properly with your therapist you should see improvements within the first few sessions which will show you whether it's the right modality or therapist for you.
  3. Modalities: Who you see is important, but what they do is just as important. Think of each therapy modality as a stressor on the body; some may be more invasive for you body than others and require more homecare or recovery time allotted after the treatment. Think about what area you think is in need; if it's physical start with a physical treatment, if it's emotional look for a treatment modality that may compliment it better such as Reiki or Yoga nidra.
  4. Personality: Your confidence and comfort with your therapist are critical to the efficiency of the treatment. If you are nervous about being in a room with somebody it's going to be hard to relax the areas being worked on! Think about what traits you would like to find in a therapist so you can identify whether you may be the right client/therapist pair.

By thinking about a few of these topics before you book an appointment, it can help streamline and improve your treatment goals. Never be afraid to ask questions of your therapist; the more you work together the greater the results!