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

Learning the basics

Stretching and prep for newbie boxers

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

So, I've been going to my boxing classes for about a month now. The challenge is amazing, but I feel like if I actually knew what I was doing, my workout would be that much better. After class, I see the owner, Elm, and decide to ask his opinion.

"You know what you need is some sessions with a personal trainer. I'll set you up with one of best trainers. Can you come in on Tuesday at 2 p.m.?"

"I'll be there with bells on!" On Tuesday, I showed up ready to go. My new trainer comes through the door. He introduces himself as D'Marcus. He is a lean, but very muscular young man.

"So, you want to learn how to box? The first thing I'm going to teach you is how to breathe and how to stretch." D'Marcus demonstrates how to breathe.

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How to Breathe

No matter if you are lifting weights, running, or boxing, breathing is most important to not only have a great workout, but to get the results that you want. Breathing should be done to keep your head in the game.

D'Marcus instructs me on the proper way to breathe. Puff out your chest like a peacock. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. This should be a slow, deep, and from the diaphragm. Do 10 breaths.


Spinal Rolls youtu.be

Spinal Rolls

The first stretch is spinal rolls. He is really speaking my language. Spinal Rolls ease the tension in your lower back. Lift and raise the chest. Lean slightly back while tucking the chest in. Roll your arms and squeeze your abs while creating a circular motion. These are great for people who sit in their car for a long commute or at a desk. Of course, remember to breathe from your diaphragm. Repeat for 10.


Torso Rolls youtu.be

Torso Rolls

Next are torso Rolls. Torso Rolls open up your chest so that you get more oxygen. These are also great to relieve stress in the upper and lower back muscles. To do these, lean back and roll to the right side. When you ge to the front of the body, tuck your chest in as you complete the roll. Remember to breathe and repeat for 10. Do rolls for the left and right side.

Leg Rolls youtu.be

Leg Rolls

I'm sure you have experienced a heaviness in you legs. Leg rolls are great to alleviate this heaviness as it helps loosen up the hips. Start with breathing from your diaphragm. Raise the chest. As you tuck your chest in and sit back on your hips. As you sit back on your hips, bend your knees. As you straighten your legs, push your hips forward. Repeat for 10 sets.

These stretches are not only good to do before a workout, but when you get up, and whenever you feel tight. I'll let you in on a secret. When I was done with my lesson, I literally felt high as a kite. It's nice to know, I can get high at anytime during the day. Just joking.

If you are interested in taking a class or personal training with D'Marcus at Title Boxing Club contact Jovan at info@tourismgymhtx.com

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