The Benefits of Going Barefoot

How long has it been since you've kicked off your shoes and spent time walking barefoot upon the ground? Industrialized regions around the world often host more acres of paved roads an concrete parking lots than acres of green grass or wooded forests and have at least one footwear store at every shopping center within walking distance. Surprisingly, the majority of the Earth's population today continue to live their lives without anything protecting their feet.

When looking back, it is assumed that indigenous peoples, who walked barefoot upon the Earth, had every incentive to find new ways to protect their feet from unknown dangers lingering throughout each unexplored area. Who would have thought that our basic human instinct to protect our feet would lead to the creation of a multi-trillion-dollar market revolving 'sole-ly' around shoes (1)?

A new group of scientists have recently started looking into the health benefits of direct contact with the earth—things like walking barefoot on the grass, sitting against a tree and lying on a warm, sandy beach. This practice of direct contact has been termed “earthing,” and a number of health and wellness gurus are beginning to advocate for it. Several research studies have revealed that direct contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding orearthing) produces positive effects on physiology and health. "Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (2)."Furthermore, "grounding appears to improve sleep, normalize the day–night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation, increase heart rate variability, speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity (2)." It seems we've been neglecting our roots and have forgotten the many health benefits associated with going barefoot and taking time to connect with the negative ionic energy of the Earth. Fortunately, there are a variety of green-spaces located within the Pittsburgh area where residents can enjoy taking a much needed barefoot break (3). So, instead of browsing the interwebs for that new pair of sandals to match your favorite Summer outfit, try taking some time to rejuvenate your soul by connecting the soles of your feet directly to the Earth.

1.) http://www.statisticbrain.com/footwear-industry-statistics/

2.)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/

3.) https://www.pittsburghparks.org/

4.) https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/28433

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3 Ways to Create the Perfect Winter Vibe for Your Favorite Space

Salt Lamps

Whether you purchase a salt lamp for is decadent glowing ambiance or to help give your desired space a new sort of Feng Shui face-lift, these beautiful pieces of art are a wonderful addition to any room where you enjoy spending quality time. Salt is a miraculous substance for various reasons and many have claimed there to be powerful health benefits when using salt lamps. Some argue that when heat is emitted through the salt crystal via the light bulb, the photoelectric effect creates a release of negative ions into the atmosphere, which helps to neutralize the harmful effects of the static haze of most of our electro-magnified, forever morphing and moving environments.

Health benefits aside, when it comes to buying your very own salt lamp, there are many shapes, sizes and colors to choose from. Himalayan salt rock is naturally occurring and can have a myriad of white, yellow, orange or deep pinkish shades of coloration. In its natural state an unpolished salt rock will likely have various textures and grooves giving it great character as a hand crafted work of art by mother nature herself. You can also find polished salt lamps in almost every shape  imaginable, including the pinecone shaped one pictured above.

Shopping online is always easy but consider going to your local gems and minerals store to purchase your one-of-a-kind salt lamp so this way you can take time to analyze every detail and coloration before you decide on one - or one for every room in the house! Either way, adding a salt lamp to your home or work space is guaranteed to bring a warm glow that will brighten your spirit and soften the mood. Below are a few links that may provide you with useful information and advice on where to find your perfect salt lamp.

http://negativeionizers.net/himalayan-salt-lamp-benefits-do-salt-lamps-really-work/

http://www.negativeionsinformation.org/saltcrystallamps.html

http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/balanced-living/healthy-home/are-himalayan-salt-lamps-worthwhile/

 

Selenite Lamps 

Selenite is a form of gypsum crystal that has a naturally opaque or clear coloration, allowing light to pass through easily. Renowned for its healing effects, Selenite is known to help aid in the release of negative energy.  It is said to help cleanse and restore all other gemstones and crystals within close vicinity and can be used to help bring a greater sense of self appreciation and awareness, among many other things.

Selenite Lamps are similar to salt lamps in that they are illuminated by a small light bulb which in turn emits a photoelectric current.  The naturally clear coloration of the Selenite provides the perfect vessel to experiment with color therapy.  The lamp pictured above has a kryptonite-esque vibe about it and the green bulb is very easy on the eyes, allowing for the lamp to serve as a great night light as well. Green is also the color associated with the heart Chakra and corresponds with the vibrational frequency of self love and love for others, as well as empathetic openness. Buying a set of multi colored light bulbs can set the mood for any sacred space and provide great relief after a long day or during times of need. Let yourself be found as you glisten in the glow of your new selenite lamp.

http://www.mylighttherapy.com/color-therapy.html

http://in5d.com/the-amazing-properties-of-selenite/

 

SpaRoom AromaHarmony Diffuser

The previous two lamps have their own unique properties and surely help to create a relaxing and uplifting vibe. This SpaRoom diffuser, however, is on another level of mood- setting greatness. It not only provides color therapy using its multi colored LED light system with a setting for a continuously changing flow of colors or a solid color setting, it also acts as a diffuser.  Simply add cold water and a few drops of your favorite essential oils to fill your space with aromatic scents as you enjoy the colorful lights.

During the winter months you can infuse the air with eucalyptus or sage essential oils to help cleanse and sanitize the air, or citrus aromas to help neutralize stuffy odors and induce an uplifting vibe. Warming smells like frankincense, clove, ginger, and cinnamon can be a great accompaniment to any holiday festivity or cozy night in your favorite hangout. To top it off, this little piece of magic also has a built in Bluetooth speaker so you listen to your favorite music or meditation as you bask in the luminous glow of the LED color of your choosing as you breathe in the delicious aromas.

You can find this one in our online store or here in the center! http://www.secure-booker.com/pittsburghcenter/ShopOnline/Product/5735209/Aroma-Harmony

 

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Natural Bug Spray

Ouch! Yep, it’s that time of the year again--bug season. Whether it’s trying to avoid getting bit by those nasty little buggars, or attempting to keep your garden healthy and disease free, the challenge isn’t an easy one. Many traditional over the counter bug repellents have harsh chemical compositions.  However, there are several natural essential oil and other plant remedies that can be used to create your own safe, natural repellents at home. In order to ensure safe usage, it is important to look up the specific properties of each essential oil before use. Pregnant or nursing women, or those with chronic medical conditions, should consult a health care provider before experimenting with any essential oil.

Here is a list of some common essential oils are known to combat biting insects such at mosquitos, fleas and ticks:  cinnamon, lemon eucalyptus or traditioanl eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, castor oil, orange oil, and rose germanium oil, just to name a few. These oils can be used individually or combined together in various ways to make topical sprays or balms/oils, used in a vaporizer, Other options would be to use an aromatherapys mister, or add a few drops to a cotton ball and keep with you or a dew drops to sleeping bag, just be cautious that some oils may stain when directly applied to clothing, and should not be applied directly to skin without a carrier oil. Carrier oils include but are not limited to olive oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, witch hazel, high grain wood alcohol, or aloe vera gel (2).  The following are three recipe examples that can be used to make our own essential oil insect repellents.

Essential Oil Big Spray:

  • 2 oz. Witch Hazel
  • 2 oz. Aloe Vera Gel
  • 20-40 drops of essential oil(s) - start with less and gradually add more if desired
    • Combine witch hazel and aloe vera gel
    • Add mix to 4 oz. spray bottle
    • Add 20-40 drops of essential oil per 4 oz. bottle
    • Use:  apply to the skin, avoid the eyes
    • Store in a dark bottle, away from heat and sunlight             (4)

Bug Off Skin Oil:

  • 2 TSP carrier oil
  • 5 drops Cedarwood essential oil
  • 4 drops Lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops Geranium essential oil
  • 1 drop Citronella essential oil     
    • Use:  apply to the skin, avoid the eyes
    • Store in a dark bottle, away from heat and sunlight             (1)

 

Essential Oil Insect Repellent Beeswax Candle Recipe:

  • Beeswax (one brick)
  • 2 TSP carrier oil
  • Candle wick
  • 7- 10 drops (total alone or combined) essential oil (see list above)
    • Place the wick in your desired mould. Over low heat, melt your beeswax in a double boiler. Add your desired essential oil(s). Pour beeswax mixture into mold with wick, making sure the wick stays centered when pouring. Let stand until wax is firm.                     (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tracy's Homemade Ginger Brew

During the cold winter months, many of us struggle to stay healthy. Germs are flourishing and the chilly temperatures can weaken even the strongest immune system. But, don’t fret! Whether you’re already feeling “under the weather,” or simply want to be proactive in maintaining a healthy mind and body, here is an easy-to-follow drink recipe to help you feel better and stay well!

Tracy’s Ginger Brew Recipe:

What you will need:

Access to a stovetop for boiling water
Large pot to mix all ingredients
Electric powered or hand-held juicer for fresh squeezed juicy goodness
Bowl or container for temporary storage of juice
Ladle for mixing and transporting finished brew into glass containers
Mason jar(s) or other air tight glass container(s) for storage


Ingredients:

Fresh ginger root
Fresh turmeric root
Cinnamon sticks
Cayenne pepper
Ground ginger
Ground turmeric
Ground cinnamon
Lemons
Oranges
Locally sourced honey

Optional Ingredients:

Apples, Grapes, Limes
Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)

Directions:

Bring desired amount of fresh water to a boil in large pot.
Add cinnamon sticks, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, ground turmeric and ground cinnamon to the pot.
While water is coming to a boil, peel and dice fresh ginger and turmeric root into bite sized pieces.
Allow ingredients in pot to boil rapidly for roughly 20-30 minutes.
Use juicer to freshly squeeze lemons, oranges and any other tasty fruit(s) of your choice.
Remove pot from heat.
Add fresh squeezed fruit juices and desired amount of honey to pot.
Stir well and cover pot with lid.
Let brew cool down to room temperature before storing.
Store brew in the refrigerator in air tight glass containers.

Notes:
It is not necessary to measure the ingredients in this recipe. All batches will vary in taste and the directions above can be modified depending on individual preference. For a sweeter brew, add more honey or fruit. For a spicier brew, add more cayenne pepper. For a more pungent brew, add more ginger root. For a less potent brew, dilute with more fresh water. Etc.

The fresher the ingredients, the more effective the brew will be. However, if juicing the fresh fruit is not an option, you can opt for store bought organic, no-sugar-added, not from concentrate juices. If you are not familiar with ground herbs and spices, search for some extra info online for more information about their health benefits and anti-inflammatory powers! It is important to note that a little bit goes a long way, but in this case, feel free to put in a little extra for added potency and flavor!

Sip brew cold or warm. Take a shot in the morning to jump start your metabolism! After a long day, relax with a good book and a warm cup of brew to help release tension and calm the belly. No matter how you enjoy your brew, know that the brew loves you, too! It loves you so much that it will stay fresh for up to 2 months if properly stored in air tight glass containers in the refrigerator. Mmm Mmm Mmm!

Making it is only half the fun…enjoying every rejuvenating, replenishing and delectable sip is the ultimate pleasure! Please share this sweet and spicy goodness with your loved ones and friends and may you always BE WELL!

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An Introduction to Movement and Functions of Skeletal Muscle:



Knowledge of the muscular system is essential to massage
therapists because skeletal muscles and their related fascia
are a primary focus in the application of effective massage
therapy treatments. The thought of being alive brings to the
forefront the idea of movement-- the heartbeat, fascial
expressions, and the rise and fall of the chest with each breath. 
These visible signs of life are all created by muscle
contractions.

Muscle cells are referred to as muscle fibers. Each fiber is
surrounded and protected by fibrous bands of connective tissue
which is known as fascia. Superficial fascia is immediately deep to
the skin, and deep fascia surrounds the muscles, holding them
together, yet also separating them into functioning groups.
The term myofascial refers to the skeletal muscles and related fascia
in the muscular system. It is important to understand that all fascial
structures are continuous with one another; that is their fibers
blend together, hence the saying "everything is connected".

Shortening or lengthening of any particular muscle is the result of
change in the relative positions of one muscle fiber to another.
Generally speaking most skeletal muscles are attached to bones by
tendons (another type of connective tissue) that can span joints.
The attachment of a muscle to the bone that moves when the muscle
contracts is referred to as the insertion, whereas the end of a muscle that
is attached to the bone that does not move during contraction is called the .
origin. When the muscle contracts, one bone (the insertion) moves relative to
the other bone (the origin). The insertion end of a muscle always moves towards
the origin.Sometimes muscles work in groups to perform a particular movement.
When a muscle has a primary role in providing a movement, it is called the agonist.
Syngerist muscles work with, or assist, the agonist to cause a movement. Often
muscles span more than one joint, and a synergist will stabilize one joint while
the agonist acts to create movement on the other joint. For example, the fingers
can be flexed to make a fist without bending the wrist because certain muscles fix
the wrist in a stabilized position.

Antagonists are the muscles that oppose, or reverse, a particular movement. For
example, when you bend or flex your elbow, your biceps brachii muscle acts as
the chief agonist and your triceps brachii muscle relaxes. When straightening the elbow
, the biceps brachii muscle relaxes and the triceps brachii muscle on the opposite
side contracts. The two muscles are on opposite sides of the humerus bone and have
contrasting functions in terms of movement.

Every muscle in the body requires and relies on its counterpart. Agonistic muscles
can only exist if the antagonistic muscles are there to oppose and the synergists
are there to support. Overuse and repetitive stress injuries from poor postural habits
can force muscles and intertwining fascial connections into imbalance, therefore
causing discomfort and or dis-ease--to each individual body unique in its own way.
Through becoming more aware of the dynamics associated with the intricate ways our
skeletal muscle moves our bodies, we can become more in-tune with ourselves as a whole,
further facilitating structural healing and balance.  Come visit any one of the wonderful
therapists at the Pittsburgh Center for Complimentary Health and Healing for a truly
customized therapeutic massage session and experience how various modalities of
bodywork can help relax, realign and rejuvenate those overworked muscles.

References:

“Applied Kinesiology: A Training Manual and Reference Book of Basic Principles and Practices” by Robert

Frost

“The Anatomy and Physiology Learning System” by Edith Applegate, MS.

“Massage Therapy Principles and Practices” by Susan G. Salvo

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