Synergy Massage News

Synergy Strengthen: Plank Pose or Yoga Push-up

Category Newsletter, Strengthen, Stretches.

The plank pose is a powerful core strengthener that you can do anywhere. The core muscles include the abdominals, the back, and pelvic muscles.

Synergy Strengthen - Yoga Plank

You can get into this pose either from a downward dog or from lying face down on your belly and pushing yourself up. The body should be in one line from the top of your head to your heels. Your shoulders should be at a 90 degree angle with your arms straight (but not hyper-extended) and your wrists directly under your shoulders. Make sure that your hands are flat and totally engaged with the floor and your fingers spread. Press your outer arms inward while firmly placing the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Contract your shoulder blades against your back and then spread them away from your spine. Spread your collarbones away from your sternum at the same time.

Push back through your heels and forward through a neutral neck out through the top of the head. Your head should be a natural extension of the spine. Do not dip or raise your hips. Legs should be strong, straight and engaged. Press the front of your thighs up towards the ceiling, but resist your tailbone to the floor as you lengthen it. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor. Your heels should point straight up to the sky, and your feet should be square.

Breathe. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Cold Weather Kale Salad

Category Recipes.


Photo Courtesy Flickr user rubyfenn

This tasty salad has a whole massaged in. It softens the leaves and creates a deliciously creamy texture.

  • one bunch kale chopped, with the stems removed.
  • one ripe avocado
  • one apple – grated
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds ( pumpkin seeds and cashews are good too)
  • a handful of chopped dates or apricots


  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon

Massage the avocado into the leaves. Add the grated apple and onion. Mix throughout. Add the seeds, dried fruit and dressing. Toss and serve.

Massage Therapy and Temporo-mandibular Joint (TMJ) pain or dysfunction

Category Newsletter, Resources.

jaw musclesOur jaws. We use them to eat with. We use them when we talk and to move our faces for expression. We often clench them when we’re stressed, or working hard, or often without even knowing it. Many of us even clench them in our sleep.

The TMJ connects the mandible to the temporal bones of the skull and is a common place to hold tension. TMJ pain can often result from injury due to whiplash. It may arise after dental work or oral surgery. It can also occur from poor posture, especially a head forward type posture.

When left untreated this tension can cause some of the following problems:

  • Headaches
  • A bite that feels uncomfortable or “off”
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • Tinnitus or ear pain
  • Dizziness
  • Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint
  • Inability to open or close the mouth comfortably

What can you do?

  • Maintain good posture while working at a computer, watching TV and reading. Pause frequently to change position, rest hands and arms, and relieve stressed muscles.
  • Make a habit of relaxing the facial and jaw muscles throughout the day.
  • Avoid chewing gum and eating hard foods.
  • Apply moist heat to increase the circulation around tense jaw muscles.
  • Use relaxation techniques to reduce overall stress and muscle tension in the entire body.

How can we help?

Massage therapy can be very helpful in relieving TMJ pain and or dysfunction. Your RMT will assess your overall posture and neck and jaw mobility. They will release any muscles causing imbalances to allow your neck and head to rest more comfortably on your spine. This will likely include work on the neck, head, and face musculature, as well as the cervical joints. Intra-oral work may be used. This requires the therapist to wear gloves and work inside the mouth to release affected muscles. Cranio-sacral work may also be used to mobilize the bones of the skull.

Exercises to Loosen up the Jaw

Category Newsletter, Stretches.

  1. Jaw StretchPress your fist softly against one side of the jaw, between the TMJ and the chin. Push slowly toward opposite side, taking up all of the slack. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on other side.
  2. Mouth the letters A, E, I, O, U as wide as you can, using the full range of motion in the jaw. Repeat 15 times.
  3. Relaxing the lips, blow air through them, making a sound like a motor boat. The vibrations will help relax the Masseter muscle, the main muscle responsible for chewing.
  4. Place the tip of your tongue near the roof of your mouth behind the front teeth in a relaxed manner. Ideally this is where the tongue will go when you make a “la” sound. Imagine the base of your skull (the occiput) lifting ever so slightly to relieve pressure from the suboccipital muscles. Take 5 deep breaths through your nose with your lips gently closed. This is where the tongue should rest at all times.

* Remember that although small, the muscles surrounding the jaw are made up of the same dense fibers as all other muscles. Kneading, or gently stripping them from the top of the joint down into the belly of the cheek will relax them, and help encourage painless range of motion.

Synergy Reads: Eating Animals

Category Books, Newsletter.

Eating Animals

by Jonathan Safran Foer

eating animals

What does healthy eating mean to you?

To me it means eating a predominantly plant based diet of whole foods. It also means eating foods that are organic, local, and in season whenever possible. It means taking time to prepare and enjoy my food. And when I do choose to eat any animal products, I make certain they come from sustainable farmers who raise and kill their animals using only the most humane methods possible. I feel that the animals should be raised on diets of the foods they are meant to eat and shouldn’t have to be given hormones or antibiotics.

If the latest E. coli outbreak and massive beef recall isn’t enough to make you question the mass production of factory farmed animals then I highly recommend reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals.

Foer gives an excellent account of the way most of the meat (and eggs and dairy) we eat is produced- the factory farm. He outlines the ethical, environmental, and overall health impacts on the animals and ultimately the people who consume them. While the subject matter is certainly grim, Foer manages to deliver his research with a self-deprecating humour that makes for an easy read.

Mad Cow

The good news is that there seems to be a movement for many local farmers to raise their animals with better conditions and more humane practices. If you do eat animal products, I encourage you to shop from your local farmer’s market or organic grocery stores. Talk to your local butchers about where they source their products from and encourage your favourite restaurants to source better quality products. By making careful choices in what we eat, we ultimately choose how it is produced.

The SPCA gives a list of farms that they certify on their website:

by Allison Petroff