Ouch My Neck! Why it Hurts & What You Can Do About It.

The Neck. Neck pain is one of the most common Massage Therapy complaints that clients come in to see me for. It’s such an amazing, flexible part of the body but when it hurts…OUCH!

Massage Therapy for the Neck at Teresa Graham RMT in Calgary ABFree movement of the neck when muscles are loose

Tight neck muscles can lead to pain, tension, headaches, jaw pain, pain in the shoulders, upper back and even the upper chest. There are 26 muscles in the neck that help to stabilize the upper body, allow us to look up and down and from side to side, let us bend our ear towards our shoulder, allow us to swallow and talk, and help to elevate our rib cage when we breathe.

It’s important to keep these muscles flexible so you can enjoy their full function and mobility!

Technology and Neck Pain

Massage for tight neck muscles at Teresa Graham, RMT CalgaryTaking a break from devices can help to rest your neck muscles

While the technology we have is amazing, it is probably the worst culprit and what brings Massage Therapy clients in to see me the most.

​Straining or holding our neck muscles as we look at computer screens for work throughout the day, or tilting the head down to look at phones and other devices, puts undue stress on our neck muscles unless we take time to care for them. If you’re regularly taking breaks from computer screens and your devices throughout your day as well as taking time to counter stretch the neck muscles, you may not be having issues. Unfortunately we can get drawn into the job or the conversation and forget to take those breaks.

This Neck Pain, I Just Woke Up With It

Massage Therapy for painful muscle spasms in Calgary NW with Teresa Graham, RMTPainful Muscle Spasm in the morning can be helped

No reason that you can think of as a cause, but when you woke up this morning you experienced severe neck pain. It hurts to move it, it hurts to not move it, your head feels too heavy to hold up… Has this happened to you?

Another reason I see clients for a Neck Massage is because of Torticollis (or Wry Neck), a spasm in the neck muscle. It’s likely that your neck has been tense and strained for some time but you may not have been paying attention. While you were sleeping you unknowingly moved into a position where the strain became an intense muscle spasm and because the muscle was already strained and fatigued, it’s now yelling at you. Torticollis can be very painful.

How Can I Help Your Neck Pain?

Massage Therapy in Calgary NW with Teresa Graham, RMTMassage helps to release tight neck muscles

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy can help to loosen all of the muscles of the neck, shoulders, upper back and upper chest. Clients often feel some immediate pain relief and notice increased flexibility and mobility.

Myofascial Release

A form of Massage Therapy, Myofascial Release focuses on encouraging the fascia around the muscles to loosen and release. Through rolling the muscles with the fingers, and gradually massaging in more deeply. The tightness begins to let go. Not usually recommended when the muscle spasm is acute, as it often feels too aggressive and painful.

Craniosacral Therapy

Gentler than Massage, Craniosacral Therapy will encourage the fascia that surrounds the muscles, ligaments and joints to gradually begin unwinding. As the fascia loosens the muscles have more room to move.

Spinal Touch

Through specific techniques Spinal Touch encourages good posture throughout the entire body to promote good spinal alignment. (read more about Spinal Touch here)

Hot Moist Heat

Muscles just love hot moist heat. It brings circulation to the area and can often encourage the muscles to relax. Getting into a hot bath to soak your neck and back muscles is the best way to apply this form of therapy. You can also place a damp hand towel in the microwave to heat up and place on the affected areas.


It’s important to remember that your neck muscles have probably been under strain for a period of time and they are unlikely to completely loosen with just one treatment.

Let’s work together to get them loose through regular therapy, some home self-care and stretches. 
Once loose we can create a plan to keep them that way!

Healing Anxiety Holistically (Part 3) -The Therapies

In the third and final segment of Healing Anxiety Holistically I will share information about the Holistic Therapies I offer and how they specifically help clients to ease anxiety.

My main focus in offering holistic therapies is to not only address body, mind and spirit (the whole person), but to also encourage the body to kick in with its own natural and innate healing abilities. When feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed that task can seem insurmountable.Teresa Graham, Holistic Health Practitioner

However with a focus on bringing body and mind to a relaxed state, holistic therapies encourage the body to shift into its optimal healing state. When we breath deeply, we heal. When we relax, we heal. When we take steps to stop the mind chatter and focus turns to our body, we heal.

Sessions I offer and how they address the symptoms of Anxiety.

Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerSPINAL TOUCH encourages the body to relax into its correct posture. When properly aligned (like our cars wheel alignment) the spine and body are able to better cope  with the day to day stresses placed upon them. We move more freely and without pain, our digestion improves, pressure is taken off of our lungs and respiration moves oxygen through our body with renewed vigour.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerWith REIKI clients will often feel such a deep sense of peace that they fall asleep or slip into a deep meditative state. In that perfectly relaxed state the body and mind can easily draw energy into those areas where it is most needed. As within, so without … drawing upon the healing energy around us (that which makes the plants grow) helps to bring balance within. This balance of energy results in a sense of harmony in our daily actions. Stress and tension move aside to be replaced with a deep sense of peace.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerTo begin your REFLEXOLOGY session you sit in a reclined and comfortable position. The brain recognizes the signs of relaxation and begins to encourage the body to wind down. As nerve endings are stimulated in feet and/or hands it triggers the release of tension throughout all parts, glands and organs of the body. Respiration and circulation throughout the body improves.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health Practitioner

CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY is another deeply relaxing holistic practise. Unwinding the Fascia (a thin sheath of fibrous tissue that wraps around and encloses a muscle, organ, joint and the entire body) that wraps us up tighter than it should be, often occurring when we’re anxious, stressed or injured. Craniosacral also encourages the unimpeded flow of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (colourless liquid that bathes the brain and spinal cord). As the CSF flows it nourishes the brain and the nerves,  impacting the entire body.


Teresa Graham, Holistic Health PractitionerMASSAGE loosens tight restrictions in muscles and ligaments while helping to ease the pain caused. Often there is an area of the body that we hold our stress and tension; the neck and shoulders tighten, the jaw clenches, the legs are restless… Knots, kinks and spasms are eased with massage and the body begins to feel stretched, longer and very much more relaxed. As muscles open up and release tension there is often an equal release of emotional stress that has been trapped in the tightness.


Abbotsford Belly DanceDANCE is a total “in the body” experience. During classes I encourage students to breath deeply and dance their body. I’ll share some moves, but you’ll experience them as only your body can. Your age, fitness level or ability to dance don’t matter at all. What you’ll find is your mind becomes so focused on what your body is doing, that anxiety and upsetting thoughts drift away (even if just for a short time). At the same time the physical activity is encouraging your body to release the “feel good” chemicals and endorphins into the bloodstream.


In its relaxed state the body turns the tables on anxiety. A different group of chemicals and hormones are released … the ones that make us feel good. In that state both mind and body are empowered. The more often we can reach this state the more we begin to see long term benefits. Anxiety may still be present, but it is often to a lesser degree. and we are able to reclaim a calmer state with a little more ease.

Related Articles
Healing Anxiety Holistically (part one)
Healing Anxiety Holistically (part two) Anxiety and taking care of you in the moment.

What is Spinal Touch?

What is Reiki?

What is Massage?

What is Reflexology?

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

About Belly Dance



2 September Specials for a Healthier YOU!





Is your Spine in alignment? Shoulders, hips and ears level? Ankle, Knee, Hip, Shoulder and Ear all in line?
If not you are probably experiencing pain and imbalance due to muscular distortion.  Spinal Touch can help with that! Muscular distortion pulls on the joints, over stretches tendons and puts pressure on your organs.
Click here for more information about Spinal Touch

September Threesome Special
Click here for information about sessions and why the Threesome Treatment is the best way to get the most from Spinal Touch
**Reg. $135 Sept. Special $110 (plus gst). To receive the September special price your sessions must be booked on days that optimize results…please ask.
**Touch-up special for those who have already had their initial 3…. $37 (plus gst)


September’s Back to School Special for all the Students of “Life”

Massaging the IT Band to reduce muscular tension on both the hip and knee joints

Stretch & Massage Back to school, work, raking leaves, texting, typing, canning…just may mean that you are going to be using your muscles in a new and different way and there is a special for that!
Enjoy a Relaxation Massage with Muscle Stretching to back, neck, shoulders, arms and hands PLUS Indian Head Massage (no oil) for that hard working mind.
An hour plus a quarter of bliss for only $75.00 (plus gst) (Add oil to champissage for an additional $7)


** Please Note: September Specials must be booked & received between Sept. 1 & 30, 2013. Gift Certificates may not be used towards or purchased for monthly health session specials.


Be sure to visit my updated website with new workshops and special new events for Autumn 2013 at www.handtohealth.com !

Looking for dance info? It’s moved and you’ll find it at www.abbotsfordbellydance.com

Mini Sessions at the Langley Natural Health Fair

YES….it’s happening this Saturday!


A lot of “good for you” information packed into one place! I will be there with my colleague Tammy Nielsen as we launch further into Trauma Transformation ~ Naturally! Both Tammy and I will be offering mini-sessions so this will be the perfect opportunity for YOU to experience a sampling of BodyTalk, Reflexology, Reiki or Massage, plus chat with us about your natural health & well-ness plans for the rest of 2013!

English: lemon balm officalis saint andrews se...

The two of us also spent a day putting together some samplers of aromatherapy treats that complement our work with clienLavendar flowerts suffering the symptoms of PTSD and accumulated stress…come and find out how Lemon Balm and Quartz or Lavender and Candlelight can assist in calming or stimulating your senses.

In it’s second year the Langley Natural Health Fair offers the unique opportunity to learn more about Natural Health modalities, products and books, through information booths, on site practitioners and speakers. I am honoured and excited to have this opportunity to share my passion for natural healthcare with those that attend!

PLUS along with my Raks Almeh troupe sister and my students who are a part of Troupe Majdoob, there will be the opportunity to enjoy an entertaining half hour of Holistically healthy Tribal Fusion Belly Dance! (watch out…there’s an audience participation dance as well… Your opportunity to shake and shimmy!)


 I am really looking forward to seeing you there!

Trauma Transformation ~ Naturally: www.traumaresolutionnaturally.wordpress.com
Langley Natural Health Fair: www.langleynaturalhealthfair.com
Raks Almeh Dance Troupe: www.raksalmeh.com
Troupe Majdoob and Abbotsford Classes: www.abbotsfordbellydance.com

Lie back and say ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

Taking the time to take care of YOU is the most important thing you can do….every single day!

For many, summer seems a busier time than most, but self-care is still just as important.  I encourage you to stop for a minute and think about the last time you allowed yourself to indulge in a Massage, some Reflexology, a Reiki session… why has it been so long? Is it really an “indulgence”?

One of the keys to retaining our natural state of well-being is maintenance. Whether it means drinking enough water everyday, stretching out our muscles, finding ways to calm our mind or even just breathing deeply. When  you maintain your body, mind and spirit they run like the engine of a well tuned car and you will find that any stresses you meet up with, whether physical or emotional, are easier to handle.

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A partner in your natural health care, contact me to co-create a self-care plan that optimizes your natural state of well-being!

YOU will love the results!

The Energetic Spine

The past posts have been pretty technical and physically based…there is another, just as important aspect to the health of your spine

The practice of holistic/wholistic/natural health includes all aspects of the self…mind, body and spirit. When the 3 are in alignment (what we strive for in holistic health practices) one feels “whole” in their being.

The spine not only supports us physically, but energetically as well…equally important.

From the base of our feet, supported by our legs and suspended from the hips attached to the sacrum or bottom of the spine…we can connect with the nurturing, grounding energies of the earth upon which we live and walk upon. The earth has a rhythm and a pulse all its own and in paying attention to that we can connect our body’s rhythm to it.

From the other end of the spine…right at the top…is our head and when we focus on connecting to the energies above us…those of the heavens and the cosmos we create a stronger connection to our intuition. Drawing that energy in, to flow through our spine and connect with that of the earth’s energy brings us to a space of centredness.Illustration of the main 7 Chakras, as taught ...

Which parts of your spine are aware and connected to the energies around you?

Here is something to try ….

Put on some music that has a drum beat only or where the drum is the featured instrument, starting with something slow and steady .

Feel the weight of your body in all parts of your feet.

Move yourself into a good posture (knees slightly bent, low ab tucked, shoulders down from the ears, head floating, facial muscles relaxed, chest lifted out of the waist) and be sure that your body weight is centred and that you can feel the weight of your body in all parts of your feet…take a few slow deep breaths. See, if through your feet, you can connect to the pulse of the earth….just breathe and feel…if that doesn’t work then just try to connect with the rhythm of the drum beat.


Close your eyes and, without moving, just “feel” where in your body you notice the drumbeat in the music first. Just notice and breathe…where are you feeling it? Does the music begin to change the rhythm of your breath? Take some time with this, staying centred and still…just notice how and where you feel it.

Staying centred and while keeping the upper body still, allow the drumbeat to dictate the movements of your lower body…it doesn’t matter how it looks, just how it feels. Be sure you’re keeping a good posture, keeping your body weight centred, close your eyes and disengage the thinking….just engage the feeling. Only move the lower body…how does it feel? Is the drumbeat leading the way? Are your moves earthy, grounded, full, rounded, sharp…? Keep breathing and allowing the energy of the drum beat or the earth to flow through your feet, up your legs and into the spine. How far up the spine can your draw this earthy energy? How does it feel in the organs, muscles and body parts attached to your lower spine? Do any emotions come up?

When working with the breath awareness and the spine people notice different sensations…some warm, some cold, some tingly, some heavy…all of them are the right and correct sensations for you.

Return to the beginning…stop moving, just feeling the drumbeat and breath. Staying centred and in a good posture now let the upper body only begin to move to the beat try to keep your feet and hips still. Again disengage the thinking, close your eyes, and notice how it feels. Are your arms, head and ribcage all involved or just the arms? Are your moves airy, full, rounded, precise? As you breathe try to focus on the space just above your head and breathe in the energy from there and let it travel down your spine. How far down does it go? What directions are you able to move your upper spine in? How do the organs and muscles around your upper spine feel? Does the feeling of the drumbeat change when you move it through your upper body?


It’s inspiring to experiment with the flow of energy not only through your spine but through different parts of your body. Working with isolating just your hands, legs, feet, arms, neck and head, etc. can offer up different sensations. Different music evokes different moods and moves, music that grounds, music that picks you up, music that slows you down or makes your heart beat faster. You can also turn the music off, stand quietly and feel the natural rhythms that you already have within you…how do they move you?

Are there any spaces in your spine where they are stuck?

Can you breath and release that “stuckness”?

The Body Beautiful…Aware and Care

                      BODY AWARENESS

Our Body is talking to us ALL the time, it’s our lifelong best friend.

The body constantly sends us messages about how it’s feeling and, through listening to and feeling what it’s telling us, we can make adjustments in what we’re doing to keep it “happy”. Increasing our awareness of our body and how its moving keeps us in touch with what needs adjusting. Everything works together…our nerves detect information about the space around us through touch, the nerves in our joints detect the positioning of body parts and those in the muscle fibres sense our movements.

With the intention of living a long and happy life with little or no pain and continuing to do all of those things we love to do it’s worthwhile to take the time to listen to what our body is saying and to fine-tune the movements we’re making .


Our Spine is one of the key structures in our body, without it we’d be like mushy beanbags on the floor, unable to stand erect and unable to move. This amazing part of us gives us protection, support and a base for our muscles and ligaments to attach to so that we have mobility.  Honouring the spine’s natural curvatures and giving it the space it needs to move is essential.



It’s important to remember that the spine is just a bony structure, that muscles move bones (not the other way around) and so keeping our spine healthy means keeping our muscles strong, stretched and flexible.




The lumbar region (lower back) bears most of the upper body’s weight and balances it on the sacrum The sacrum is attached to our hips through muscles and ligaments, which also keep our legs attached to our hips. This is why attention to the sacrum is so important.


Yoga, stretching & strengthening exercises give our muscles the support they need for us to move freely with flexibility and without pain. Besides good nutrition muscles need oxygen (yes we need to breathe…deeply) and water (the Brain is 90% water, Muscles are 75%, Bones are 22% and water protects and moisturizes our joints….it’s a key ingredient to keeping us moving!)

Maintaining good body mechanics requires keen body awareness of our posture, whether we are standing still, walking, bending, running, dancing, etc., we get the most from our body when we stay in tune with how it’s feeling.

Lower Body – standing with your feet hip distant apart, knees slightly bent, pelvis tucked gently through contracting the lower ab and making the low back long as though it’s reaching into the floor while at the same time feeling the weight of your body in all parts of your feet.
Upper Body – lifting your upper body up and out of the waist, keeping the shoulders down, the neck relaxed and gently supporting your head, which is erect and balancing an imaginary tray on top

Take a moment to breath, find this upper and lower body posture. Finding your centre from your sacrum and closing your eyes to feel this posture in your body, keeping it centred as you breath and maintaining that awareness as you move.

Taking a few minutes throughout your day, during your normal activities, to check in with your posture and how your body is feeling, will go a long way to make this a natural automatic response and keep you active for many years to come!

Therapies that create a better awareness of how your spine is doing physically include:
Spinal Touch, Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, Chiropractic sessions, etc.


Meditation, Yoga, Stretching are all ways to tune in with yourself and how your spine feels, it’s flexibility and restrictions

A Workshop this Summer – Body Awareness & Mechanics Series

I created this workshop because of questions I was receiving from dance students. They understood the mechanics of a dance step or movement but were unable to feel it in their bodies and wanted to change that.

The questions allowed me to draw my passions together as a natural health practitioner who emphasizes the importance of connecting mind, body and spirit in wellness, and as a dance teacher who shares the technique while encouraging “feeling” the dance.

The workshop focuses on increasing awareness of all the parts of your body when stationary and when in motion. It includes body awareness techniques, visualizations, movements to stretch and strengthen awareness of the body and improve how your body moves (its mechanics) as well as yoga.  Previous participants in the workshop have left with a new understanding and amazement at just how incredible the precious gift of their body is, a better awareness of their posture and ways to “get more” from their muscles.

Watch upcoming posts for this summers workshop dates!

 What do you do to keep an awareness of your body and how it’s moving? Do you listen?

If yes, what changes do you make?

If no, why not?