Post-vax changes at work

I’m now fully vaccinated plus the two weeks of building antibodies to COVID!

This is changing how I work in several ways:

I’m adding another day per week in the office. Now available Tuesdays AND Wednesdays.

I’m resuming working in open mouths, which means people who come in for TMJ Relief sessions can get a more effective treatment.

With people who have also been vaccinated and waited the two weeks, we can take off our masks in my office.

Masks are still required in the common areas of the suite.

I will still be running my air purifier the entire time I’m at work. I’m still asking clients to text me from their car so I can ask about COVID exposure and symptoms.

If you’d like to schedule online, click this link.

How are you doing, my friends?

How are you doing at this point in the pandemic/recession? I’m enjoying more downtime. Planted a garden, making nourishing soups for cold days, connecting with a few friends, dancing on Zoom, doing the MELT Method to help my body recover from a low-back injury in October.

I have a hunch that a few people are thriving, most people are muddling through the “new normal” that may never really feel normal, and quite a few have been hit hard with losses of loved ones, jobs, homes, security. Bless.

Where are you?

I’m so grateful that during this pandemic, taking good precautions, I am able to work in my office one day a week (Tuesdays), offering private sessions.

I didn’t work for six months except for some long distance healing sessions and consultations over the phone or Zoom. I’ve been working now since mid-September, so nearly 5 months.

I work one day a week to minimize spreading COVID. I figure that if a client or I comes down with it, we’ll know within a week, and I at least won’t have exposed other clients before I figure that out.

It’s not perfect but it (and pre-screening, masks, my face shield, and air purifier) make it safer.

I taught a Self-Help for Jaw Pain course over Zoom last fall that I spent a lot of time developing, and I may offer it again when demand is sufficient. I had developed a busy clientele for TMJ Relief sessions, but COVID has made it unsafe to work in people’s mouths.

I’m considering offering private TMJ Relief sessions over Zoom, teaching people to do their own intra-oral work. It’s not hard. You just have to know where to touch. I’m not sure what the demand is for that, however.

The subtleties of doing craniosacral therapy require practice. The ability to sense subtle motions and patterns in a receiver’s body is developed through training and maintained and augmented through practice.

It took a few weeks to get my palpation skills back to my previous level. I appreciate everyone who has come in over the past few months for allowing me to deepen my abilities.

The swirly state when your body actively heals itself.

Since I’ve been working on my essay exam for getting certified by the Upledger Institute in craniosacral therapy techniques, I’ve developed more sensitivity and awareness of energetic and physiological processes.

I’ve come to appreciate even more the biodynamic branch of craniosacral therapy and sometimes integrate it into sessions, especially for repeat clients. I seem to be one of those people who learns how to “go by the book” and then experiments with integrating whatever is in my toolbox that my intuition tells me will help a receiver release something that no longer serves.

I’ve been receiving biodynamic sessions regularly from my officemate Christian Current. It’s whetting my desire for more training in the biodynamics field. I also had a great Upledger-style session from ou officemate Liz Baker that helped me release some dural tube restrictions after I injured my low back in October.

I recommend that people new to cranial work receive 3 sessions, because with bodywork this subtle, your innate healing processes strengthen with familiarity with the work and with me as a practitioner.

I offer a package of 3 sessions for $250 and a package of 6 for $500. This works out to $83.33 each. A single craniosacral session is $100, so you still save $20 from my regular session price.

If you’re feeling stale or stressed, craniosacral therapy can help restore your resilience. I’m interested in working with people who have had COVID and are suffering aftereffects.

Anyway, this is a little note to you to share what’s up with my practice and stay in touch. I’m available on Tuesdays. I have openings at noon, 1:30, 3, 4:30, and 6 pm. You can check my online scheduling page for availability. I would love to see you. I would love to hear from you.

Discount on craniosacral therapy sessions and packages

I’ve dropped my price for 75-minute craniosacral therapy sessions, from $120 to $100.

I’m also offering two packages: three CST sessions for $250, or six for $500.

I’m doing this to make it more affordable. Because I love practicing this modality so much, I decided to work toward getting certified, and giving more sessions are in order.

craniosacral therapy

Why three sessions?

I recommend getting three sessions for people who are trying craniosacral therapy for the first time. It’s very different from other methods of bodywork in several ways.

Craniosacral therapy is subtle. The touch is gentle. I’m connecting with the craniosacral rhythm produced by the pulsing of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord — yet palpable all over the body, with training.

Qualities of this rhythm indicate areas of restriction in tissues, fluids, energy flow. The restriction comes from old injuries, strains, accidents, habits, traumas. We all have restrictions, from birth or even earlier.

Each restriction once served a positive purpose, to contain an injured or dysfunctional area to keep it from spreading and disrupting your health even more.

The restriction may be nearly imperceptible because you’ve become used to it.

CST helps your system relax enough to release these restrictions and find a more natural flow, integrating the previously-restricted area back into the larger body-mind system.

In a way, you become more yourself — a healthier, more integrated, functional self.

Most people can feel at least some of these releases, as if something is dissolving or unwinding.

Yes, dramatic things can happen in a CST session, but mostly the changes are fairly subtle.

The work is also incremental. As your body gains more experience releasing restrictions, it gets better at it.

With repeat sessions, you can relax and release more deeply.

Why six sessions?

Long-term recipients (I’m one) can attest that CST works incrementally to shift your body-mind system toward a deeper experience of wellness. Three years of monthly sessions helped me get calmer, more centered, and have more clarity about living my life.

I still get regular sessions.

To really get the most out of craniosacral therapy for your money and your health, I recommend starting with a six-session package. Come in weekly for four weeks, and then twice the following month to jump-start the relax-and-release process.

Then, if you like what craniosacral therapy does for you, get another six-session package and come in monthly for six months (or as needed).

You can keep coming regularly as long as you’re benefitting to take advantage of this low package rate.

If this appeals to you, you can book online here. I would love to see you in my office.

Treating TMJ issues: asymmetries in the rest of the body

Jaw pain is rarely entirely in the jaw!

If you were building a tower, and one of the floors wasn’t level, it would affect the floors above it — unless you somehow compensated.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is kind of like that, only it’s because it settled unevenly on the ground beneath it. As they built it over the years, it would sink, stabilize, sink more…

The structure of the body is like that too — even when standing on level solid ground.

Because the jaw is near the top of the skeleton, imbalances below can affect the alignment and functionality of the temporomandibular joints (TMJs).

The primary cause of most jaw pain is asymmetrical hypertonicity. Thanks, TMJ Mastery teacher John Corry! That means that some of the muscles that affect the jaw are tighter than others.

I include a basic structural evaluation in my free TMJ consultations. It’s pretty cursory. I’m just looking for asymmetries. Here’s how I do it.

The patient stands with their shoes off.

I feel the space under theIr arches and check whether their feet (or one foot) are pronating or supinating.

Checking the points on the tops of the hips to see if they’re level comes next.

I ask about scoliosis if it’s not already apparent. Same with pelvic floor issues.

Then I check their shoulders to see if they’re level.

I look at the patient from each side to see if they have a pelvic tilt toward the front or the back and view their spinal curves.

When they are lying on my massage table, I can check for a leg length discrepancy with their legs flat, and then with feet flat/knees bent. I can also see whether their feet point up symmetrically.

I place the pads of my fingers over their TMJs right in front of their ears and ask them to open and close repeatedly.

Usually one side moves first.

Often one side feels closer to the ear than the other.

Sometimes one side sticks out more than the other.

Try it yourself. What do you notice?

None of this is super precise. I’m just getting a basic read on asymmetries in the structure of the patient that may affect the jaw.

Have you noticed that you have a dominant side? A side that feels stronger than the other?

Have you ever had a foot, ankle, leg, or hip injury? Can you still tell the difference between the injured side and the uninjured one?

Does your physical activity work your body evenly, left and right sides, front and back, upper, lower?

Do you have a full range of movement in your joints?

How’s your posture?

How about your sleep posture?

It’s not my main business to start correcting these asymmetries (except in the upper body/jaw when I can). Becoming more symmetrical can take a while, years in some cases, so I consider it a long-term project for people with jaw pain to find relief, as well as more ease and functionality in their bodies.

Symmetry is also an ideal, like perfection. Most of us are doing the best we can. There’s probably always going to be some asymmetry in the body, but we can definitely address the most dysfunctional areas.

The functional movement screen is a set of 7 movements you do with a trainer, who scores you and can prescribe workouts that strengthen your weaknesses. FMS was developed to identify athletes who were prone to injury before they got injured. It can work for ordinary people too.

Here’s a link to view the screening movements. Find a trainer on your own.

Practices of non-linear movement can help if done regularly over a long period. These movements work both sides of the body. They increase flexibility and balance and fluidity. And they are fun! Examples:

  • yoga, especially if it’s alignment-oriented like Iyengar and Anusara
  • qi gong
  • tai chi
  • Gyrokinesis
  • martial arts
  • dance, especially free-form dancing like ecstatic dance

The type of bodywork that addresses asymmetries is called structural bodywork. There are two main schools of training: Rolfing Structural Integration and Anatomy Trains Structural Integration. Neuromuscular therapy also assesses posture and gait pattern and can address imbalances.

There are a lot of tools that you can use on yourself to improve posture and sleep posture, release muscle tension, help remove strain from the neck and the sacrum. Some of them are included in this post on self-care tools.

Treating TMJ issues: restless legs and sleep bruxism

A new clue about bruxism.

A neurology practice noted that of its patients who had restless legs syndrome (RLS), 60% also had bruxism (grinding teeth during sleep). They found that 52% had RLS, bruxism, and migraines.

Do you relate?

The lead neurologist for this study speculated there is a gene that links these conditions.

It gets more interesting. Both restless legs syndrome and bruxism are involuntary movements occurring during sleep. Is bruxism “restless jaw syndrome?”

I’m always happy to see more research about TMJ-related issues, especially because there are so many factors that play a role in jaw dysfunction and pain.

More about bruxism.

Bruxism includes clenching and grinding the teeth. Some distinguish these as “waking bruxism” and “sleep bruxism”.

They may have different causes, in my opinion.

Sleep bruxism, in contrast to daytime clenching, is hard to treat because it occurs when unaware of your behavior and unable to change it.

Waking bruxism is a habit that can change with awareness and practice. I’ve helped many clenchers learn how to relax their mouth position.

Some things I’ve noted about bruxism in my manual therapy practice:

  • Many people don’t know they grind during sleep until a dentist tells them they have damaged teeth.
  • Bruxism often requires expensive dental work: mouthguards or splints to prevent further damage, and crowns to fortify cracked or broken teeth.
  • Sometimes the noise of grinding during sleep is loud enough to wake up family members, and that’s how people learn they have sleep bruxism.
  • People who grind at night often wake up with jaw, face, or neck pain, earaches, and/or headaches.
  • Over time, bruxism can damage the temporomandibular joints, possibly requiring surgery.

Dentists and jaw issues.

Many people expect dentists to be experts on jaw issues, yet their domain is treating the teeth and gums.

Learning about TMJ disorders is not required in dental school.

General practice dentists can prevent further tooth damage with appliances like mouthguards and splints. They can repair existing tooth damage.

Some dentists may try to adjust the positioning of the TMJs, and a few dentists also address airway issues (like sleep apnea, which also may accompany sleep bruxism) in their work.

Dentists do not address stress or tension in the jaw muscles, which contribute so much to jaw pain.

Some dentists and hygienists in the Austin area refer people with jaw pain or issues opening wide to me for TMJ relief bodywork, including intraoral work when COVID isn’t an issue.

Solutions to try.

If you grind your teeth during sleep, it is possible to stop by using hypnotherapy and EFT.

I often recommend a recorded hypnotherapy session for bruxism that’s available on YouTube to listen to before sleep.

I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it’s soothing — I always fall asleep before it ends. Less stress is always desirable.

As mentioned above, dopamine agonists are prescribed for low dopamine levels.

Dopamine is released when your brain is expecting a reward — when you anticipate a pleasurable activity such as eating a delicious meal, spending time with someone you love, or receiving a big check.

It’s sometimes called “the happy hormone” because it affects your enthusiasm, motivation, and focus.

If you suffer from bruxism, before going the pharmaceutical route with dopamine agonist drugs, you may want to consider nutrition — consuming foods or taking supplements that raise your dopamine levels.

In particular the amino acid tyrosine increases dopamine.

I found a few links that may be helpful: