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Vital Times Newsletter

Autumn 2018

In this issue:

Team Updates

Stephanie Dempsey

New Modality & Practitioner:
Stephanie Dempsey

Certified Athletic Therapist and Manual Osteopathy Student

Stephanie is the newest addition to our team. Her designation is as a Certified Athletic Therapist, but for eleven years she has been practicing according to the methodology taught at the Canadian School of Osteopathy, Manual Practice, in Vancouver. She has completed the curriculum there in full and is currently working on the research and thesis requirements to earn her international designation as a Manual Osteopath. She's currently referred to as an Interim Practitioner of Manual Osteopathy.
Read Stephanie's full bio »

NOTE: Stephanie also works Saturdays. Phone now to book an appointment – she still has some availability! 250.370.1020

About Manual Osteopathy

Some of the most unique aspects of Manual Osteopathy are that the individual is assessed from head-to-toe. This includes assessment of the skeleton, including the limbs; the position of the internal organs, which may have shifted due to physical trauma such as a fall or car accident; and cranially, which can be influenced by the birthing process, or concussions, and/or resulting from falls or accidents. The practitioner not only assesses for the presence of these changes, but also the severity of these states. The treatment approach is then prioritized and specialized to address the most severe findings first, according to the hierarchy of needs, and thereby relieving symptoms that the client/patient reports.

As for the appropriate age at which a person should pursue manual (i.e. hands-on) therapy of this nature, the answers are two-fold: "It's never too late" and "the sooner the better." Babies often benefit from this form of manual therapy as numerous parts of the embryological and fetal periods can influence the individual once they emerge from the womb. And then we all know about the big bumps and learning curves that occur as the infant and child develop into upright beings. With respect to the "especially wise" of our society who have withstood decades of repeated posture and movement patterns, so many worthwhile, gentle changes can be made to improve quality of life. It's really astounding. 

Stephanie is very passionate about her work and is keen to use her skill set. She is really looking forward to working with you. Should you have any questions about her practice or approach, please email us.


How to Combat Stress in a Stressful World
by Sarah Dogherty, RMT

When our bodies sense a threat, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear, called "fight or flight" mode.

Whether the threat is emotional, psychological or physical, our response is the same: increased blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels. Circulation is routed away from our digestive system to our big muscles. The body prepares itself to deal with the challenge it is facing in the moment. In the short term this natural stress response can be very beneficial; however, if continuing for an extended period of time, this can wreak havoc on our mental and physical health. Following are three ways to combat stress and help you engage the parasympathetic nervous system otherwise known as the “rest and digest” mode.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

When stressed, we tend to revert to apical breathing – with our shoulders hunched forward, using our neck muscles to pull in short, shallow breaths – which doesn’t allow our bodies or brains enough oxygen to think clearly and function at full capacity. It causes muscle pain and keeps us in fight or flight mode.

The simplest way to help reduce stress is to learn how to do diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing as its sometimes called. Your diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that sits right below your lungs under your rib cage, used specifically for breathing. With inhale it contracts and flattens and with exhale it relaxes and expels air from our lungs. When you use your diaphragm to breathe, you are exerting less effort and pulling in deeper, fuller breaths. The sheer action of focusing on breath can help reduce stress.

There is an added bonus: the vagus nerve has a strong connection with the diaphragm. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that is connected to the heart, lungs, digestive system and other internal organs. It is responsible for regulating the parasympathetic nervous system – the rest and digest mode. Diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, creating positive vagal tone and helping put the body into a more relaxed state.

Whole Nutrition

When dealing with a lot of stress in our lives, we tend to put nutrition on the back burner. We sometimes reach for food that is fast to prepare and easy to eat on the run and things that are "comfort" foods – that is if we remember to eat at all. These foods are usually high in fat, sugar or both and often make us feel worse. However, it’s during these times of intense pressure that we most need the right balance of vitamins and minerals, carbs, fatty acids, proteins and sugars to use as internal building blocks to perform our daily tasks.

Complex carbohydrates help increase levels of serotonin – a chemical in the body that can boost mood and reduce stress, helping to improve cognitive function. Calcium is not only important for bone health, but also helps muscles relax and stabilizes mood. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in salmon, are essential for brain function and can reduce stress and anxiety.

Eating well in preparation for a stressful situation is giving yourself an advantage – you will sleep better, your brain will function clearer and you will generally feel more equipped to take on a challenging situation.

Positive Touch

Last but not least, touch can be a huge stress reliever. When we are feeling overwhelmed, often our first instinct is to retreat from others. We deprive ourselves of social interaction because we feel we don’t have the time or energy or we aren’t in the mood to be around people. However, social contact – and especially touch – can be a huge factor in stress reduction.

Positive touch triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that can be linked to trust, bonding, empathy and generosity – all things that can help you feel more connected to your loved ones and lift your mood in a challenging time. Touch has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate and cortisol levels, and stimulate the hippocampus the area of the brain associated with memory formation.

Even small forms of touch can be powerful. If you can’t allocate time for a massage, remember even a hug from a friend or loved one will help. Cuddles with your cat or dog or even self-massage can also provide you some of the benefits of touch.

Extended Medical Benefits

Another Reminder to Use Those Extended Medical Benefits

If you meant to use your benefits, but time just slipped away from you, may we suggest some strategies to take full advantage:

Assess your yearly routine. Are you prone to stress or injury around tax time, gardening season, ski season, family visits, or when the days are short and gloomy?

Book yourself one or two treatments at the beginning of your season. Like an athlete in training, keep yourself in peak performance during your roughest time. Book another treatment at the end of your season.

Maybe you don't have an off-season. Consider saving enough benefits to cover a couple of emergency treatments and then book regular appointments the rest of the year. Chances are you'll have something to work on when the date comes – and if you don't, you can always cancel or postpone. (Remember we require a minimum of 24 hours cancellation notice.)

Or set a reminder in your calendar once a month to check in with yourself, see how you are feeling, and schedule self care appointments as needed.

And remember, some of us offer direct billing to extended health plans. Ask individual practitioners for details about direct billing to Pacific Blue Cross, Green Shield Canada, and Great West Life.

What about those without health benefits?

Not everyone has benefits through work, post-secondary school, or other associations (e.g. Chamber of Commerce). If you are already seeing more than just one type of practitioner, the math may just work in your favour. Pacific Blue Cross, Green Shield Canada and other insurers offer private plans.

Wishing you a healthy and happy autumn season.

Vitality Treatment Centre

302-1842 Oak Bay Ave Victoria, BC V8R 1C2
Open 7 days/week – see our website for hours

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