Up with hope, down with dope

Is alternative medicine the better alternative?

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

There I was sitting at the traffic light at 19th and Yale. I was so ready to get home. All I could think about was a glass of wine and Black Mirror on Netflix when….I hear a loud screech. I turn my head to the left just in time to see an old Mercedes strike the driver's side grill of my car. I was hit.

The next morning, I could barely walk to the bathroom. My hips, lower back, neck, and shoulder were in pain. Later that day, I went to the doctor to get my diagnosis. After some very expensive tests and scans, (thank god insurance was paying for it) I was diagnosed with whiplash and muscle strains. What do you think happened next? If you guessed the doctor wrote me a prescription for pain pills, you are right.

Don't get me wrong. I partied like it was 1999 in 1999 and I'm no prude, but I'm getting tired of having to pop a pill when maybe there is a better alternative out there. And since I'm not footing the bill, I decided to try something new. I took to the internet. After some research, I decided that cryotherapy, sports massage, and acupuncture looked interesting. Over the last few weeks, I received all three treatments. This is how it went:

Myofascial Release


Rene treats his patients with tender hands.


Because of running, I have had many sports massages. It was my first go-to, however, I needed to find a new masseur. I remembered that I recently met a massage therapist at a networking event. His name was Rene and he owned Massage Innovations. So, I gave him a shot.

The first thing Rene did was check my posture. He was looking for the alignment of my body at my shoulders, hips, and feet. This gives him a visual of what might be wrong. After, the assessment, Rene decides that the best treatment for me was not a sports massage, but a Myofascial Release.

"I'm beginning to hear a lot about fascia," I say "exactly what is it?" He goes on to educate me.

Fascia is the weblike organ that holds your other organs, muscles, and tendons in place. Years ago, when dissecting cadavers, med students were told to move it aside. Now, we know, it is really important to our health and fitness. In fact, if we experience physical trauma (like a wreck), are dehydrated, have a bad diet, or you have a lot of wear and tear on your muscles due to training, your fascia gets sticky or torn. This causes pain. Myofascial release is also great for people with cancer because it relieves pain without being to harsh on the patient.

So how does he do it? After putting me in position, starting from my head and working his way down, he gently applies pressure while making swooping motions on my skin. I can literally feel the pressure manipulate the fascia just beneath my skin. I was definitely impressed. I knew that I would have to come back for more visits, but on to the next method.

Cryotherapy



This method is all the rage nowadays. Cryotherapy spas are opening all over Houston. What is cryotherapy?

Cold therapy has been used in the medical and sports industry for years. When you see NFL athletes soaking in a bathtub full of ice water or when a doctor sprays his patient with localized nitrogen gas before surgery, that’s cold therapy. If you aren't an NFL player or having surgery, how does this help you?

To experience cryotherapy and get the answers to these questions, I chose Defy Cryotherapy Studio. Wait, I have to give props to Aubrey. I called the day before and grilled him with about 25 questions. He patiently answered all of them and I could see the smile on his face through the phone.

Aubrey explained that Cryotherapy is a breathable air system where instead of sitting in an ice bath for extended period of time, you are exposed to cold, dry air for a short period of time. Cryotherapy is great for injuries, pain relief, weight loss, and better sleep. When the body undergoes extremely cold temperatures for short periods of time, it has to recover quickly. Cryotherapy acts like a switch that accelerates blood circulation and metabolism. Over time, it benefits our overall wellness.

So when I arrived, I was given a full tour of the spa. We entered the Cryo Room. There stood a tall white chamber tall enough for you to stand in. The chamber uses liquid nitrogen to create the purely cold, breathable air. This is why Defy is different. They are equipped with second generation chambers which allows you to include your entire body including your head in the procedure.

"What am I supposed to do while I'm in here?" It was suggested that I count aloud and do shadow boxing. It was quite an experience. I was in the chamber for two minutes with knee high socks, gloves, a face mask, and slippers. As told, I made sure to breathe through my nose to get the full benefit. When my time was up, I got out and felt so energetic. My skin felt almost effervescent. I'm definitely going back for more and the float room. But, Ihad two more experiments to try.

Chiropractor

The last chiropractor I went to flipped me over and spanked me. I have yet to return.

Acupuncture


A steady hand is needed to administer acupuncture.


I'll have to be honest. I have already received acupuncture treatments a few years ago for another matter. I have never used it to relieve muscle pain, so I had to try it. I went back to my prior Acupuncturist named Danny Ting. He is the owner of Ting Acupuncture. Most of us have heard or seen pictures of those little needles penetrating skin, but how does it work?

It it really cool. Danny assesses the problem based on what your diagnosis is. He lays you on a massage table and tells you to get comfortable. After he exposes the area that needs treatment, he slips hairlike needles into the trigger points of the injured area.

Next question: Does it hurt?

Not usually. You may experience discomfort due to inflammation, scar tissue, and being tense. He turns out the lights, tells you to take a nap, and leaves the room. You get to jam out to the soft melody of the Asian harp.The needles are left in for 30 minutes. Sometimes, for more intense treatment, he attaches wires to some of the needles, shines a hot lamp over the area, and sends electric pulses through the needles to your muscles. I'm not going to lie, It is really intense. Your muscle feels like its jumping up and down. But, it works.

Next question: What else is acupuncture good for?

Acupuncture is used to treat anything and everything from menopause symptoms, heart disease, depression, weight loss, and alcohol and drug addiction

Last question: Which is the best?

Take your pick. I was impressed with all three methods. Honestly, I'm really curious about the weight loss promises. I'm going back to all three.

To learn more about these methods, visit MassageInnovation.com, defy-studio.com, and omdclinic.com

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and blogger. Check out her new blog, HTown Run Tourist. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @HTownRunTourist. Facebook @jovanabernathy. Join her facebook group: H-Town Run Tourist

Six years ago, I got this great idea to become a tourist of Houston on foot. I had no idea what I was doing or where it was going. All I knew was to put on my running shoes, walk out the door, and just go. Go learn, go talk, go ask without judgements. What I found is that Houston was full of diversity. We all knew that. However, let yourself be immersed in it. Look and listen to the sounds of different languages being spoken around you. Smell the scents of the different cuisines. You would think you were in a foreign country. This made me more curious.

As I explored the emotion of curiosity, it led me to change my behavior. Where I might have rushed to this place and to the next, I took it slower. Where, usually, I would have just assumed that I already knew, I found myself asking more questions. When I asked more questions, I had to acknowledge that I did not already know, so I practiced listening. As I listened more, I felt compelled to show more appreciation to the person who interrupted their busy day to educate me. This made me feel grateful.

I took that gratitude and wanted to share with others. It blew my mind when people would say that they hated Houston. It was boring. The people are mean and it was ugly. And even more shocking was Houston is not walkable. Instead of getting offended, I decided to do my part in brightening up the day of the Houstonians who were stuck in a rut. Who saw and did the same things day after day. I didn't judge because I knew they could get out of that rut by simply deciding that today they do something different. I braced myself for rejection, but put myself out there to share the wonderful things that I had learned about Houston. Given the chance, the vast majority, was ready to learn a different way. This made me proud.

It is true that 2020 has been full of disasters. These are opportunities if we choose to see them that way. If anything that COVID-19 taught me the answer was not MORE, but it is LESS. We have the tendency to take on too much, we had the unique opportunity to take on less. Thus, instead of going to exhaustion, we had the opportunity to rest.

Then, the tragedy of the death of Houston's own George Floyd happened. It could not have happened at a worse time. My heart goes out to his family. Some might use it as an opportunity to work out their own frustrations by causing more problems with violence and looting. My hope is that whatever happens will be an expression of appropriate sadness, but with Houston's best attributes; curiosity, gratitude, and pride. Instead of LESS it is time for MORE. MORE curiosity. To see if Houston's law enforcement cares about the well-being of Houston's black community and make changes in protocols. MORE gratitude. For the opportunity to express the frustration in a peaceful way. MORE pride. To not destroy this city and give it over to violence possibly doing more damage to the economics of business owners. We can see this as the opportunity to take time to heal.

Houston has changed. As I restart my exploration, I'm not looking for LESS. I'm looking for MORE this time. I'm looking with MORE curiosity. Because I know that we have even MORE to show each other. I'm looking with MORE gratitude because we have endured so much already and there are better times ahead. And, I'm looking with MORE pride because just as we did it before, we still have it in us to do it again. I have one request: if you see me in the streets, promise me that you will say hello.

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