Here are some products I frequently recommend to those who come to me for massage and bodywork. They can help with pain, posture, feeling better, and self-care. I have used every one of these items myself and love them. Feel better now! Also, books to inform and inspire!
Adissage Athletic Sandal. $17-30 depending on color and size. These sandals are the bomb for getting a foot massage with each step. Tiny nubs do the job, providing you with easy-on, easy-off treats for the feet. Whole sizes only, and sizing may run large (if you wear 7.5, order 7). Wear them around the house, when running errands, after a workout, after being on your feet all day — or make them your everyday shoe if lifestyle permits. Some reviewers say they relieved their foot pain and plantar fasciitis.
CranioCradle. $42. Place it under your head, neck, shoulders, back, or sacrum, or use two of them at once under head and sacrum — position to induce relaxation and provide profound renewal for body and spirit. Takes only 2-5 minutes a day to relieve your neck, back, hip, or leg pain. Here’s a video showing ways you can use it. Try one on your next visit to my office.
Epsom salt. $13-56 for 5 to 40 lbs. I recommend adding it to your bath for muscle soreness and for stress. Put two cups into a tub of hot water and soak for 12-20 minutes. Add your favorite essential oils if you like — try lavender, rose, citrus, eucalyptus, peppermint. Or add 1 cup epsom salt to a gallon of water to soak sore, tired feet. Makes water feel silky and softens skin. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is a mineral that an estimated 80% of people are deficient in, and it calms the nervous system and helps you sleep better. It is easily absorbed through the skin without giving you diarrhea, which can happen when you take too much orally. You can water your plants with the bath water! Also makes a great gift if you add a bit of essential oil and package it prettily.
The Gaiam Pressure Point Roller Massage Stick. $14. If your upper traps get tight, this is magical. You sit on a chair and get someone to roll this across the top of your shoulders. Experiment to find the right pressure (use over clothing for best results). Those little spikes do something the best massage therapist in the world cannot do with their hands. (I think it works on muscle, nerves, lymph, fascia.) Some people feel a tingle all the way down their legs! Ask for a demo next time you come in for a session. Although someone else needs to roll your shoulders, arms, and back, you can use it by yourself on your legs. It makes a great hit at the office as well as at home.
SacroWedgy. $54. For people with low back and/or hip pain, pelvic girdle tension, or pain or numbness radiating down the legs, the SacroWedgy can help. Place it under your sacrum while lying on your back and rest for up to 20 minutes. You’ll feel relief from tension you didn’t even know you had. The pink version is wider and shorter for typical female pelvises, and the blue version is narrower and longer for typical male pelvises.
Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow. $81 and up, depending on size (comes in 5 sizes based on shoulder width). Designed by a chiropractor and an ergonomic designer, this pillow will serve you well if you sleep on your side or back, keeping your neck vertebrae properly aligned and relieving pressure on the jaw. Since you spend a third of your life sleeping, this is an investment in your immediate and long-term well-being. Measure your shoulder width before ordering. Comes with a 5-year warranty — works out to $15-25 per year to relieve your neck, TMJ, and sleep issues.
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendenceby Michael Pollan, 2018, $16.99 (hardcover). This is my favorite wellness book of 2018. It turns out that the strict prohibition of psychedelics that occurred in the 1970s may have been throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Science writer Michael Pollan investigates a new revolution — more grounded and responsible than the one in the 1960s — and finds that psychedelics have a place for enhancing wellness — for instance, dying people may find peace, acceptance, and transcendence. The book tells the history of psychedelics, identifies the key players, includes new research results — and Pollan tries three different psychedelics himself (he’s a very “Eagle Scout” type person, so that’s fun) and relates his experiences, including his exploration of what a “spiritual experience” consists of to someone who’s an atheist.
Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body by Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson, 2017, $15 (hardcover). Goleman and Davidson are old friends who went to graduate school at Harvard together, traveled in India in the 1970s meeting teachers and going on meditation retreats, and have collaborated through the years as well as worked separately. Goleman is the author of the groundbreaking best-selling book Emotional Intelligenceand has written for the New York Times. Davidson runs the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, investigating the brains of Tibetan monks (at the request of the Dalai Lama) as well as ordinary meditators. They followed their intuition that meditation was transformative in the days when psychology was focused on behavior, and they contributed to and elevated the science of studying the effects of meditation. They posit here that even a little meditation results in positive changes, and that long-term meditation turns those altered states into altered traits such as having more equanimity and compassion and being able to be more present. I found this book inspiring to increase my practice hours.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Traumaby Bessel van der Kolk, MD, 2015, $14. Dr. van der Kolk is a professor of psychiatry, founder and medical director of a trauma clinic, and director of a trauma treatment network. Arguing that trauma is an urgent public health issue, he draws on stories from his 30 years of experience working with people who have been traumatized, learning how trauma affects us, and finding what is most helpful. (By the way, he learned a lot from bodyworkers. Also, yoga is good.) This isn’t a dry, technical psychology book. As one Amazon reviewer wrote, this book has become a bible for anyone affected by trauma or who works in the field. If you’re not sure you want to buy it yet, Dr. van der Kolk has done some podcasts and videos that can help you get acquainted with his ideas.
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