Acupuncture & Natural Allergy Relief- Self Help Tips

field of flowers


The most common symptoms of allergies are the runny nose (rhinitis), sneezing and itching eyes. These symptoms may be seasonal when certain grasses, flowers, trees or molds shed pollen or spores (Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis or SAR). Some individuals are plagued with these symptoms nearly continuously regardless of the season. These people may be sensitive to dust, animal dander or other common materials.

How it Works!
The twelve regular and eight extra meridians help to maintain a balance of Yin (substances which nourish the body such as blood and body fluid) and Yang (related to activity and function) within the body. However, if a particular energy pathway is obstructed, its corresponding organ’s function will also be affected and the body’s yin and yang will become unbalanced. This imbalance will ultimately affect the functioning of the body as a whole. Acupuncture works by removing energy blockages in the meridians and regulating the overall flow of energy so that the body can return to a state of balance and health.

We recommend two to three sessions but you will the benefits right away, Acupuncture coupled with acupressure points, facial cupping for sinus drainage you will be breathing easier and be able to limit antihistamines etc.

Make Change Today – Book Acupuncture Now

Self help tips for allergies

Avoid cold food and beverages like iced water, cold beer, pop & ice cream. 
Avoid heavy oily foods, spicy and deep-fried foods these are hard to digest and tax your digestive system.
-Keep your body warm avoiding cool breezes by wearing a scarf and socks well into spring.
-Exercise, yoga, swimming are beneficial for self care and deep breathing.

It is a good idea if you are experiencing congestion to avoid increasing the problem by limiting dairy and wheat as they are mucous forming.

Avoid any allergens you know you may have

Use herbal formulas that contain Thyme and Fenugreek to clear out mucous.

Do everything you can to improve your digestion.  Taking enzymes is one example. Avoid over eating and putting excess strain on your digestive system.

Eating and drinking warm food and beverages.  Bone broth or other liquid soups are a great option.

Relief of nasal congestion and itching… try the following techniques on these common acupoints 

massage for a few minutes several times a day with the fingertips:

Yintang (located right between the eyebrows), Yinxiang or LI 20 (located on the nasolabial groove adjacent to the nostrils)

Hegu or LI4, (located on the back of the hand between the thumb and index finger).

You can also use pressure on these magical points  shown below that correspond to organs that govern the Chinese meridians often implicated with the symptoms of seasonal allergies.  The Letters and Numbers if you are not familiar with Chinese Medicine correspond to an organ and the location on that organs meridian: 

For example LI20 stands for Large Intestine 20. BL2 Bladder 2, GB20 Gall Bladder 20, LU9 Lung 9, SI16, Small Intestines’ 18, LIV3 Liver 3 and so on.  If the acupuncturist feels the symptoms come from one or more meridian imbalances in the body then they will stimulate those points with acupuncture. 

You just add moderate pressure to these points.  Test them out and sense the difference they can make. Hold each point for at least 20 seconds or massage with fingertips  in a circular fashion. Take a deep breath in thru your nose after each point. by trying them all you can begin to discover which ones give you the most relief.

sinus pressure points

acupressure points

Why Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture can help to increase circulation and regulate the immunological function of the human body, These can have a positive, therapeutic effect for allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. Acupuncture involves the use of hair-fine needles to stimulate specific points on the body along the meridians. Acupuncture works by removing energy blockages in the meridians and regulating the overall flow of energy so that the body can return to a state of balance and health.- In the case of allergic rhinitis, the blockage of energy is situated in the lung meridian, for which the nose is considered an extension. Under normal conditions, the lungs can control respiration and ensure that one breathes freely through the nose and with an acute sense of smell. In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are also responsible for dispersing energy throughout the body and for preventing pathogens from invading the body. The ideal time to treat seasonal allergy symptoms using acupuncture is early spring.  Seasonal Symptoms need 3 treatments, once a week, 3 weeks in total.

Sinus Self Help
Spring Flowers

Flowers everywhere in Spring

More Self Help:

For Acute Symptoms:
Use herbal or natural antibiotics in a spray form after steaming the nasal passages in a hot shower or over a pot of hot essential oil infused  steam.  Common antiviral and antibiotic essential oils to use in the steam are eucalyptus, menthol, lavender, wintergreen and cloves.  Put 2-3 drops in a pot of hot water and lean over it while covering your head with a towel.  Steam for up to 20 minutes to loosen mucous material and clear the nasal passages.  Once passages are clear spray your herbal antibiotic into nose to work further into the sinus cavities. Ayurvedic healing practices uses an application of Ghee (clarified butter) into the nasal passage to combat infection and inflammation.

Relief of Chronic Symptoms:
For long term sinus infections using a nasal wash a few times a day over a prolonged period of time will eliminate built up mucous and sinus blockages.  Continuing to do this for a week or two after your breathing is clear will help to avoid recurrence.

Use a drug store bulb syringe to flush the nasal passages with a solution of 1 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp. salt and pinch of baking soda.  Hold one nostril closed while squeezing the solution up the other nostril.  The flush will come out of the mouth.  You can also purchase a kit called Neil Med from the drug store which has the container and cleansing mix in sachets.  Either way this nasal wash is based on the same principles as the Ayurvediic Netie Pot but possibly more user friendly.



Why Does My Knee Hurt?

Assessment of Knee

Why does your knee hurt?

The knee is one of the most heavily used and stressed joints in the body. Whenever we stand, walk, squat, jump, run, sit, or stand up we are utilizing the knee joint, the ligaments and the surrounding muscles. The stress placed on the knees when we are walking is roughly 1 and half times our body weight, and that stress increases to 4 or 5 times our body weight when we bend down to pick something up off the floor. A healthy knee is designed to withstand this pressure, however if we tweak it, load it improperly, or it is just not as strong as it once was, we often end up with knee pain due to the continued stress we place on it. 

What is Involved with Knee Pain?

 The knee is also one of the most complex joints in the body. It encompasses 4 bones, the patella (kneecap), femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), and fibula (smaller bone that runs parallel with the tibia), as well as 6 major ligaments. Because the knee is so complex, if one aspect of the knee is not functioning optimally it can lead to feelings of weakness and/or pain. 

What can you do about knee pain.

 There are many effective exercises, stretches, and treatments that can be used to maintain, or improve your knee health. The knee joint relies on more than 10 different muscles to help support and maintain good knee function. By targeting these muscles above and below the knee with specific strengthening exercises and treatments, your knee joint can feel more stable. When the surrounding supporting muscles are strong, there is less pressure on the knee, allowing it to move better and experience less pain. With stronger supporting muscles and more confidence in your knee you can continue or return to activities that include walking, running, sitting, standing, jumping or squatting with more confidence and less pain. 

Get a Full assessment of your Knee by a Professional

A Certified Athletic Therapist can not only assess your knee pain they can also stretch and mobilize your affected joints. They will give you a progression of exercises that will benefit the condition your knee is and not exacerbate (make it worse) the problem. Book in with Samantha VanGiesen Certified Athletic Therapist and competitive athlete that understands knee pain.

By Samantha VanGiesen, Certified Athletic Therapist & Kinesiologist at Vivi Therapy.


Acupuncture for Seasonal Allergy Symptoms-Natural Remedies

before and after acupuncture picture of woman with allergies

Acupuncture a safe and effective alternative for allergy symptoms:


Spring is here but along with the beautiful blossoms, flowers and their pollen come the not so great allergies! Congestion, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.  If you have gone through it, then you know that it is really unpleasant.

You could reach for the typical over the counter allergy relief products. Or if you would rather avoid antihistamines & corticosteroids then the more natural approach might appeal to your style of health care and prevention.
Do you want to reduce your dependence on medication? Be symptom free in Spring and Summer? In early spring take two to three sessions of Acupuncture.

Acupuncture treatments focus on alleviating the symptoms you are experiencing and in most cases yield a very quick response.

Patients will notice a decrease in their nose stuffiness, sneezes, and itching episodes around the eyes, as well as an increase in overall energy levels. Book an appointment with our Acupuncturist now and get some relief.

Natural Remedies for Allergy symptoms in the meantime:

Drink plenty of water– When you are well hydrated the mucous membranes of your nose remain moist to expel allergens more easily.

yellow blossoms

spring flowers

Eat local raw honey – Eating a couple of tablespoons of local raw honey every day (which contains traces of pollen) desensitizes the body to local pollen, so that the pollen floating about in the air does not trigger allergic reactions in the body.

Eat pineapple – fresh pineapple is definitely one of the foods that will help with allergies. It is full of vitamin C.  The fruit’s true allergy powerhouse is an enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme fights inflammation to help reduce the swelling and irritation brought on by pollen and other seasonal allergens. You can purchase fresh pineapple already peeled and cored, making it a convenient and healthy snack option.

pineapple pic with label

Add turmeric to rice dishes, curries, soups (check out our bone broth recipe blog)

Turmeric contains curcumin, a phytochemical with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that are comparable to steroidal and nonsteroidal drugs

Essential oils with Therapeutic benefit for Allergies

Peppermint – Dilute with a carrier oil and rub one drop onto your temples, forehead or over the sinuses. You can also try a drop on the tip of your tongue, closing your mouth and then breathing it in to effectively open up the sinus cavity.

Lavender – Acts as an adaptogen and can assist the body when adapting to stress or imbalances. It can also help if you have difficulty sleeping due to congestion. Add a few drops to distilled water in a spray bottle and spritz your pillow to help you drift off to sleep more easily.

Eucalyptus – Can open the respiratory system, reduce inflammation and allow better breathing.

Rosemary – Has a similar effect to Eucalyptus but is slightly milder so better for use by children.

Lemon– Improves immunity, relieves respiratory issues, is antibacterial and relieves respiratory inflammation.

Shop now for all the essential oils listed above (and more!) available from the ViVi Therapy Massage Supply Store at 1976 Oak Bay Ave.



The Best Chair for Sitting Better

Image of two Ariel QOR 360 Chairs

The Best Chair for Sitting Better Now Available

The greatest feature of this chair is that it allows your muscles to be active.  “Ergonomic” chairs on the market provide every support imaginable which ultimately have a negative gain after hours of sitting

link to the QOR360 now and order one today


Image of two Ariel QOR 360 Chairs

The Ariel by QOR360

Gold Standard in Chairs

The best chair available on the market today is gold standard in active seating. With QOR360’s patented rocking mechanism and a softer, more comfortable seat designed for all day sitting, the Ariel makes sitting healthy while looking damn good doing it. The award-winning Ariel is rapidly becoming a global best-seller, for good reason.  Click the link above and find out all about it.  You can even download a free book by the inventor Dr Turner Osler.

Designer Dr Turner Osler

Discover more about how a dynamic and responsive and ultimately less supportive chair enhances your full body motion. This chair was developed by Dr. Turner Osler a Trauma Surgeon turned researcher. He designed the patented sitting device that he claims will actually increase your metabolism while sitting!  Follow the link above and get his free download “Sit Better” Book.


Dr. Turner Osler Explains the reality of ergonomic chairs as we currently know it.

Sit better cover of e book

Dr Turner Olser explains how Ergonomic Chairs Undermine Posture and Health!

How It Works

A recent study[i] found that sitting on a dynamic (tippy) surface resulted in the spine assuming a conformation much closer to that of natural standing as opposed to sitting on a solid surface; as a result, the active chair allowed the spine to express its natural lumbar lordosis. [i]

This chair is designed to connect your head forward posture to your pelvic and leg motion even responding to subtle reaching motion you do all day at your desk or work station.

Avoiding Long Term Effects of Sitting

The case of passive sitting is actually similar to that of smoking: in the 1950’s most people smoked, and it seemed inconceivable that smoking caused lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease and generalized vascular disease. It took decades to persuade people to abandon their addiction to smoking. It’s likely that getting folks to abandon their infatuation with passive sitting require a similarly prolonged effort.

Research has linked carpel tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, back pain, neck pain, back and neck tension, headaches, nerve compression and disc degeneration to long periods of static posture at a desk or repetitive seated tasks.

Take a positive step to moving more while sitting purchase the Ariel Now

Is your work out one sided?

skeleton and gym

Every week I see clients with one sided, tension related problems.  Sore right shoulders leading to sore right necks and poor range of motion.  Pain in the right sacroiliac joint, lumbar spine region leading to favoring movement to avoid discomfort, and sciatic nerve symptoms of pain down the leg or diffuse hip and buttock region pain.  These people are fit and active, some runners, cyclists, yoga aficionados.

I took an advanced training Feldenkrais workshop in Montreal a while back with my mentor and friend Feldenkrais trainer Yvan Joly.  We were studying the 4 pillars of laterality.  Hmmm that doesn’t even come up as a word…laterality what does it mean?

The term laterality refers to the preference most humans show for one side of their body over the other. Well, we all know about right handedness or left handedness and how our speech is a function of the left side of the brain if we are right handed and if we are a true lefty it is located in the right hemisphere of the brain.  But what about how we see (our visual field), how our head motion is influenced by our vision and  how we organize our pelvis on the right or left?  What can we do differently when our therapist says you are oriented more to one side than the other?  How can we reduce the effort we put on one side of the body and distribute that effort more evenly among all parts of the body?  That is truly where the Feldenkrais Method comes in.  Join me for my next workshop focusing on asymmetries and areas of lost or dysfunctional movement patterns in a part of the body that is often neglected in the big picture of aiding both the sacroiliac joints and the shoulders and neck.  Be the first to know when classes start up in the fall by emailing or give us a call on 250 886 2090

In the mean time while you are doing your regular exercise routines here are some words of wisdom written for Experience Life online magazine by Nicole Radiszewski called Taking Sides: The ONE SIDED STRENGTH WORKOUT  

Roxanne Derkson is a Registered Massage Therapist and a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner.  You can book with her online for private Feldenkrais sessions. Book in with Richard Cross Registered Kinesiologist and experience his functional assessment and guidance to a more strong and symmetrical body.




shoulder work

pain relief for shoulder

Shoulder pain and posture are related almost always. One of the most common upper body musculoskeletal complaints we see in our health clinic is hands down: ​one sided shoulder problems. 

Clients with shoulder and neck tension are very common at ViVi Therapy. People regularly seek massage therapy and acupuncture, kinesiology education for one sided shoulder dysfunction.  This post will highlight some detail and solutions to help you understand and learn more about your shoulder and what you can do to make some significant changes right from home.

Let’s get started. But before we dive in I want to thank Marissa Hoen a Kineseology student at University of Victoria and Movement aficionado for her amazing pics and illustrations below.

As well I direct you to our ViVi Therapy Integrated Health Facebook page to view  strengthening tutorial from Harland Derkson RMT described below.  He can be booked online and I thank him for creating these educational videos that are easy to follow and invaluable for your progress.

An excellent collaboration brought to you by members of our ViVi Team.


The common problem of shoulder dysfunction often relates to how we use our shoulders every day. YOUR SHOULDER GIRDLE is attached to the trunk of your body at one single joint, the sternoclavicular joint.

This joint is located where the collar bone (clavicle) meets the breast bone (sternum) on either side (right and left).  The shoulder girdle and its relationship to your rib cage is a feat of engineering specifically for optimal movement of your arms, hands and head.

The upper body is designed for freedom of movement to facilitate dexterity, agility and fine motor coordination, think calligraphy to golf and tennis, all require eye hand coordination and your mental attention.

Unlike the pelvic girdle (lower body) with its large and powerful musculature supported by the dense pelvic bone structure the shoulder girdle relies more heavily on good posture and balanced muscle action to stay functional and pain free.

We  find the dilemma of shoulder related problems appearing more than ever because our culture has become reliant on seated or upper body focused work and activities for hours at a time.

Let’s consider your shoulder issue. Do you ever wonder if your shoulder problem led to other issues on the same side of your body? For example neck tension or even arm, elbow and hand aches and pains.

Did the shoulder problem start but never fully resolve and now there are other issues?  Do you have postural challenges at work from too many hours in front of a computer or screen?  Do you really know how to get to a good posture that doesn’t require a special “ergonomic set up”.

Maybe your problem was a slow adaptation to poor functional movements from being overly stressed or  tense, leaning to one side while standing or sitting and habitually elevating your shoulder for no reason at all?

Maybe you were injured at home or at work?  Do you do a lot of lifting, pulling or pushing in a hurry? Trying to maintain productivity, but moving too fast to be able to think about how you are using your body.  If you pull, push or repetitively work with your hands and arms, there is no question that you need optimal shoulder blade (scapulae) and shoulder girdle mechanics.

I have observed that almost every assessment I have done relating to the shoulder have a common theme. Upper body issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, rotator cuff issues, frozen shoulder, tendinitis of the elbow (golfer/tennis)and pain or numbness from nerve compression all share this theme.

The shoulder in question I find consistently has lost some natural movement usually in the downward direction and has a tendency to over elevate. When this happens some muscles are habitually contracted all the time and others are left with very little use creating what is called a muscular imbalance.  Fixing the issue however, is not just about getting a massage or acupuncture or strengthening the weaker less utilized muscles.

So what is UP with this shoulder?” I find anatomy and movement habits reveal a lot when we look at healing outcomes for individuals with shoulder pain.


Your shoulder blade is the flat bone positioned at the back of your shoulder.  It floats on your rib cage gliding up, down, toward and away from your spine according to how your nervous system dictates and which muscles are recruited for action or stability.  When you lose shoulder blade depression it means this bone no longer optimally moves downward when your arm is lifted for action (think of a lever and fulcrum) with or without a weight in your hand. You then lose skeletal power for lifting your arms up and over head. Plus poor posture is inevitable because the muscles that depress your shoulder blade are key to good posture and feeling upright.

Instead of the natural mechanism of the shoulder blade gliding toward your pelvis or downward while lifting your arm it actually does the opposite.  As you lift your arm the shoulder blade elevates to avoid discomfort or just habitually from chronically engaged postural muscles. The muscles that are tight and over contract dragging your shoulder upward are: UPPER TRAPEZIUS and LEVATOR SCAPULAE.  If this happens long enough these muscles become rock hard, hurt, nagging you affecting your sleep, productivity and focus.

The upper end of the levator scapulae inserts in the bones of your neck, if tight can make you feel like your neck is strained and being pulled to the side. Think holding an old fashioned phone between your ear and your shoulder only permanent!  Is that you? Look in the mirror…I often ask my clients to check their photos/selfies. Your internal image of yourself may not match what you see?

Combined with other neck and shoulder muscles this over elevation can contribute to compression of the nerves that innervate your arm and hands.  That is why you may experience numbness and tingling usually below your elbow or hand.



  • Gain some awareness about how you move your shoulders. You can do this easily by scanning your body for specific motion and resting states of shoulder girdle.
  • Learn to pay attention to your shoulders and how they relate to other parts of your body when you are working or exercising.
  • Become curious about your movement. To know how you are doing something while you are doing it is mindfulness. This level of body intelligence will carry you through life stronger and more efficiently no matter your age or ability, improvement is possible.
  • I like to call this awareness to regain your movement “re braining” your movement.  Neuroplasticity or neuro movement is a combination of using your brain to feel and sense yourself while you are moving in order to compare, adapt and improve movement.


You also want to improve the muscular imbalance between the overused and over contracted muscles and the under active ones. Improving the balance between the muscles that lift the shoulder and the muscles that lower the shoulder will give you an incredible feeling of power and posture.

Understand that an over contracted muscle does not mean strong.  When the muscle is chronically shortened it too is weak.  Weak muscles can be muscles that do not engage regularly in action and muscles that are shortened and therefore do not have a full excursion of motion from length at full rest to full contraction.

We have a specific exercise to help balance the action of your painful shoulder. To improve scapular depression you will need to focus on the LOWER AND MIDDLE FIBERS OF THE TRAPEIUS MUSCLE.

HARLAND DERKSON RMT at ViVi Therapy has made three short videos to support you in your efforts to obtain better posture and skeletal power.  The shoulder depressors need attention there is no question.  Follow the specific instructions on these videos and their progressions and you will be feeling and looking better in no time.


Shoulder Girdle Biomechanics

Moshe Feldenkrais coined many inspirational sayings over his years as a teacher and developer of his method. One I especially love goes something like this “we are not after flexible bodies as much as flexible minds.”

Call or email to let us know if you would like to be the first one to hear about our fall classes on zoom and in person to address issues like your shoulder pain.  250 298 4484

What to Expect During Your First Massage

There are a lot of new clients, young and old, getting their first massage treatments here at ViVi Therapy. Some people new to massage can feel really uncomfortable with the thought of a stranger touching them—and that is totally understandable! For any of you who are slightly nervous about your first treatment, or just want to know what to expect, I’ll give you a brief run down of what a typical treatment with a Registered Massage Therapist looks like.


Before you go into the treatment room, you will be asked to fill out a medical history form. This informs your therapist about what you and your body have gone through in the past, and what you are currently going through, so that they can provide a massage that is safe and tailored to your needs.

Many therapists will sit down with you before beginning your massage to talk about any health concerns, why you are coming in that day, and ask questions about your life and daily activities that may contribute to any of your aches and pains. If you are experiencing pain or lack of mobility, the massage therapist may guide you through a few assessments such as range of motion, gait (walking) assessment, or orthopedic physical tests, to help find the different contributors to your discomfort.

After explaining a plan for the treatment, your therapist lets you know what position to take on the massage table and steps out of the room so that you can undress to your comfort level and get under the sheets*.

During Treatment:

Each massage therapist has their own way of treating with a multitude of different techniques. My treatments, for example, can include general Swedish techniques, passive range of motion, stretching, trigger points and Myofascial work. Some therapists ask that you keep clothes on during the treatment if their treatment includes more active components, while others use oils or lotions with essential oils. Each method of massage has it’s benefits, so try them all and see what works best for you!

Post Treatment:

If you came in with pain or restricted range of motion, your therapist may want to reassess your movement or tissue quality to see if any changes occurred during treatment. They may also provide home-care exercises, self-care techniques, or changes to your daily activities to help you improve your mobility and decrease pain.

*It is important for every client to know that a trained Registered Massage Therapist in B.C. asks for consent before touching any body part. If you are uncomfortable with any part of your body being massaged let your therapist know. Its ok to do so and they welcome it.  Your comfort is the priority.


Book Your Massage Today

Winter Colds, The Blues? Acupuncture can Help!

A Registered Acupuncturist insight into how colds and flu season can be rescued by skillful Acupuncture treatments, common sense and good advice. 


Are you currently suffering from a cold or the winter blues?

The human body changes just as the seasons change but if your immune system is compromised or you are under unusual amounts of stress the transition can be less than smooth. Meaning we need to to be prepared with more than just our mitts, hats, scarves and woollies!

Traditional Chinese Medicine is was based on observing the natural earthly elements and how human life responds to the seasons. It is believed that all beings as with plants grow in the Spring, thrive in the Summer, harvest in the Fall and gather in the Winter. From the health perspective, the harvest and collection in Fall and Winter is an important concept for your internal Yang Qi. The lack of Yang Qi on your body surface renders you defenseless from the cold and humidity, resulting in frequent bouts of cold and flu. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture help increase your Wei Qi and Yang Qi for cold prevention. If you have already contracted a cold this season or anticipate one or more, Acupuncture can help boost your immune system function and hasten your recovery. The human body’s constitution tends to lean towards the colder spectrum in our modern society, attracting cold and resulting in energy flow blockages in the body. This may lead to muscle soreness, joint pain, frequent bouts of cold, painful menstruation, diarrhea, malaise, depression and anxiety. Traditional Chinese Medicine helps to alter your body constitution, boost your immune system function, improving your nervous system and endocrine system function. – J. Hsu

Your Registered Acupuncturist can also recommend foods and daily habits that will help you combat the symptoms that come on during this season.  Winter weather is challenging enough so get the help now so you can enjoy this season as much as the rest!

Book a session now.

Can Massage Help My Mother with Alzheimer’s


Recently a potential client of ViVi Therapy requested via email if her mother would benefit from massage therapy.  Here is how I answered:

Alzheimer’s is a neurological condition that would need exploring with each individual as to how they would respond to massage therapy.

There is no question that Massage Therapy and Acupuncture would have a positive effect on neurological receptors in both the central and autonomic  nervous system leading to  relaxation, reduction in anxious behavior and myofascial release.  The improvement of areas of  poor circulation can also be of benefit for a multitude of auxiliary conditions of aged care.  Craniosacral Therapy offered by our in house Physiotherapist would also be highly recommended for neurological calming and to encourage the bodies own innate harmonizing ability. The effect on the autonomic nervous system alone would enhance her well being and curtail the onset of anxiety that is often experienced with the confusion of memory loss.


The issue lies in how your mother would accept someone touching and handling her.  I would be curious about her own past experiences with both bodywork and touch of any kind and whether she has had a positive response to touch in general over her life time.  Past traumas can factor in to the overall response someone has to particular styles of touch.  A skilled practitioner would know how to safely interact with your mother.

We often experience family members desperate to help their aging parents in any possible way and frustrated with lack of resources seeking massage therapy and other natural modalities we offer. She would be helped by regular massage and or acupuncture for maintenance of circulation to the brain in your case and other muscular skeletal conditions.  In theory this is a great idea.

In my professional opinion as a long standing Registered Massage Therapist I feel it really depends on if during her lifetime she has cultivated a knowledge of the benefits of massage and some level of muscle memory that was pleasant while having massage or comforting touch in the past.  It boils down to her having had a positive therapeutic experience from human contact that you could remind them of.  Another factor is the environment and timing of the therapy being the least disruptive to their daily routine as possible.

I sincerely hope you find my answer helpful.  I know we can provide a great service and have no doubt of its overall efficacy. It is really just how it is received and being able to facilitate visits on a regular basis.

Again in my professional opinion a course of a 3 or 4 weekly visits would be in order to give it a chance to observe results based on the other factors mentioned above.

Understanding Your Shoulder & Neck Pain

Four Muscles You Should Be Stretching To Avoid Neck Pain

The most common area that I treat has to be the neck. Why does this happen so often? I believe that there are several reasons as to why, including poor posture, bad bio-mechanics and inactivity.

Many of us now work in offices with nine-to-five jobs. A lot of these offices have people working at desks, with their computers in front of them, with improperly placed screens, keyboards, mice, and chairs that are not suited for the task of sitting all day long, do not give proper support or are improperly adjusted. The head falls forward quite often due to the fact that the centre of gravity for the head and neck is just above the ear, and very slightly towards the face. Many people also sit with a rounded-over shoulders posture due to fatigue and their own postural ignorance.


neck pain








One of the things that I most often prescribe for homecare is a series of self stretches to the sternocleideomastoid (SCM), to the scalenes, to the levator scapulae, and to the upper trapezius.

neck pain

1.I’d like to first talk about the SCM. The SCM starts from just in below your ear, off your jaw line, and reaches down to both your clavicle or collarbone, and your sternum or your breastbone. You can feel this muscle if you put your hand on the side of your neck, and look over your opposite shoulder. You can stretch this muscle from a seated position by tilting your head back gently, and reaching over with your opposite hand and putting it on top of your head. Gently pull your head and hold it for about 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch from your ear down into just above your chest. Make sure to stretch both sides, and that there is no bounce. If there is pain or discomfort, back off. If you wanted to increase the stretch, try sitting on your hand.

Another thing that you can do to help yourself with this muscle is to self massage it. Make sure that you have your head turned to the same side to slacken off the tissue. Take your thumb and first two fingers, and start massaging the muscle up by the ear. Use a little bit of pressure, but not too much. Make sure it’s tolerable. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but this is normal. If you feel like you’re starting to get a headache from any sort of massage to this area, this is normal as well, especially if you feel any sort of patterns like this:

neck pain

The X’s on the diagrams represent common areas of where the muscle may be feeling tight or sore. The red areas show where you may or may not have pain referring. It may not even be the part of the pattern shown here, but this is where the average person may or may not be feeling any sort of sensation or referral.

2. Next are the scalenes. They come off all but the first cervical vertebrae and either attach into the clavicle or into the first rib. They can cause a number of problems when they’re overused or over-tight, including impinging upon the brachial plexus. This means that if people could potentially have numbness, tingling, or achy feelings going all the way down the arm and into the hand, with nothing actually wrong with the hand or arm itself. Of course, because nothing is ever simple, you can have anatomic variations from person to person, as seen in the picture immediately below. This means one person can have a nerve impinged upon, but have slightly different patterns of numbness or tingling down the arm than another.

neck pain

neck pain

You can find the three major scalene muscles and the smaller scalenus minimus just to the outside of the SCM. Please, go easy in this area as it’s right below the carotid artery, and has the brachial plexus running right through the middle of the muscle belly. To find these muscles turn your head to the opposite side to get the SCM out of the way. Put your fingers just above your clavicle, and just outside of the SCM (the side closest to your shoulder). Breathe in. You’re now on anterior scalene. If you wanted to find the middle scalene, it’s just a bit further out towards the shoulder (laterally).

To find the posterior scalene, you have to find middle scalene and the levator scapulae (which I will describe shortly). Gently put your finger pads in between these two muscles. Take a deep breath to further expose the muscle belly. You can tell the difference between the levator scapulae and the posterior scalene by doing tiny little up-and-down shoulder shrugs. The one that doesn’t move around is the posterior scalene.

neck pain

I wouldn’t recommend doing any sort of self massage to the scalene group because they are so close to the brachial plexus; it could make your problem a lot worse.   Self-stretching is an excellent idea instead because your fingers are not poking anything that could cause any problems. As with SCM stretching, stay seated. You can bring your neck away from the side you’re trying to stretch, but just keep your head and neck moving in such a way that you’re trying to bring your ear into the top of your shoulder. No rotation is needed. You can bring your hand across your head as a way to increase your stretch.

3.I’d now like to talk about the levator scapulae. It comes off the outside, or lateral parts of the first four cervical vertebrae, and down to the inside, or medial corner of the shoulder blade, or scapula. The muscle is used to elevate the shoulder, especially if reaching overhead or if you are shrugging your shoulders.

neck pain

When people assume the typical working position at a desk, their shoulders are hunched and rounded over. What this does is shorten up the muscle, making it tight, and causing tension and pain.   Self stretching can help this by lengthening the muscle back out. While neck painyou’re seated, try bringing your chin to your chest, and then by bringing your ear into your shoulder, then looking down at your armpit. You should look like you’re trying to smell your armpit. You can use your arm to pull your head across if you like, and if you want to stretch further, you can bring your arm up almost like you’re stretching your triceps, but I prefer to just sit on my hand. It makes it easier to remember. I’m going to recommend that you not massage the levator scapulae because of the fact that it is so close to the brachial plexus and because there are so many vulnerable structures in your neck.

  1. Now we need to talk about the upper trapezius. It comes off right from the base of the skull, off of the inion, and the nuchal line. We can feel these as the rather large bump at the back of the skull, and the ridge just below that respectively. The muscle then comes down and out across the shoulder to the lateral third of the clavicle, to the top of the shoulder to just before it meets the humerus, and into the ridge that you can feel on your shoulder blade, called the scapular spine. This is the primary muscle that gets cranky when dealing with the rounded over shoulders posture that was discussed earlier. You can stretch this out by tilting your head forward gently, then by tilting your head to the side. It’s almost as if you’re trying to touch your ear to the front of your shoulder. You can increase the stretch by putting your hand on your head again, and gently pulling.

neck painYou can use something like a TheraCane (which, we coincidentally have in store!) or two tennis balls stuffed in a sock to do some self massage on the upper trapezius if you like.

neck pain

neck painneck pain








As we can see from the black, red, and white picture above, if pressure is put on the approximate area of the X, you may get referral patterns in a sort of question mark pattern, with the terminus around the outside corner of the eye. Referral can also be felt at the angle of the jaw.

I myself love using deep moist heat on these muscles because it helps improve blood flow, which improves tissue extensibility as well as bringing nutrients to the area. It doesn’t feel too bad either!

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’d love to hear feedback on what you think about these, or if you have any ideas for future topics!

I can be reached at 250-298-4484, or at I’m currently available for clients on Saturdays from 9:30 to 6, or for later appointments upon request. Roxanne is also available for appointments throughout the week. Appointments can be booked easily and conveniently online here.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Until Next Time,


DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional advice or therapy. Please check with your physician or health care provider before trying this out to confirm it is appropriate for your condition. Always stay within your comfort zone and if something does not feel right, refrain from doing the activity.