Up with hope, down with dope

Is alternative medicine the better alternative?

Courtesy photo

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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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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