Enlighten Engage Empower

The following is an article I wrote for the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Northern Alberta latest Newsletter in its entirety and unedited.

I hope you have all had an amazing summer, for this newsletter as promised in the previous newsletter I will be providing information about acupuncture and massage therapy, I will also toss in some good news about yoga.

For this topic I have enlisted the help of Dr.  David Yawrenko, Founder of New life Clinic and Shirley Sweetnam, Registered Massage Therapist, Back In Line Chiropractic.  I have asked both Shirley and David questions pertaining to styles, benefits, side effects of both acupuncture and massage therapy and finally, who should or shouldn’t get massage therapy or acupuncture.

I have been getting acupuncture treatments and massage therapy for several years and I find that they are effective in reducing pain and I find are a better alternatives to pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs.  In approximately 1992 I first went to see Dr. Yawrenko because I had liquid buildup in my right knee. Within 3 treatments the liquid had disappeared. Personally I prefer Acupuncture without needles-Electronic Stimulation Acupuncture or Electronic Acupuncture (Figure 3).  Although I am supportive of acupuncture and massage therapy, if you go to see someone and they tell you they can cure your disability please don’t go back you will be wasting your money.

Any age can receive massage therapy but under age clients need to have parental consent.  There are many styles of massage they may include but are not limited to Sweedish (long, flowing strokes to massage), Relaxation (uses smooth, gliding strokes), Deep Tissue (designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue). and Sports (kneading and manipulation of muscles).   The Benefits of manipulation of muscles).   The Benefits of Massage are relieves headaches by decreasing the frequency and severity of tension headaches, soothes anxiety and depression, improves sleep by promoting relaxation, boosts immunity by increasing white blood count.

While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia (musculoskeletal pain) , headaches, Insomnia related to stress, Myofascial pain syndrome (chronic pain disorder), nerve pain (chronic Pain), Soft tissue strains or injuries (injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments), Sports injuries (Sprains and strains, Knee injuries, Swollen muscles, Achilles tendon injuries , Pain along the shin bone, Fractures, Dislocations) and  joint pain  .  Most people can benefit from massage.  However, massage may not be appropriate if you have bleeding disorders, burns, open or healing wounds, deep vein thrombosis (Blood clot in the leg), Fractures, Severe osteoporosis, Severe thrombocytopenia (decrease of platelets in blood), Fever.

Some forms of massage can leave you feeling a bit sore the next day. But massage shouldn’t ordinarily be painful or uncomfortable. If any part of your massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, speak up right away. Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage. In rare circumstances, massage can cause Internal bleeding, Nerve damage, Temporary paralysis, Allergic reactions to  massage oils or lotions
There are tremendous benefits to be achieved through regular massage therapy treatments from a Registered Massage Therapist.  Whether your need is to have a moment of relaxation, reduce muscle tension or attain relief from chronic pain, a therapeutic massage can enhance your overall sense of emotional and physical well-being as well as your quality of life. Despite its benefits, massage isn’t meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you’re trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.

To see if a massage therapist is registered in Alberta contact:

Massage Therapist Association of Alberta

#201, 4929 – 50 St
Red Deer, AB
T4N 1X9


Telephone: (403) 340-1913

If you suffer from headaches you may also want to consider getting a scalp treatment when you get your hair done.  I find it help to relieve tension therefore reducing the occurrence of headaches.  The students at Marvel College do a great job, you can get a scalp massage for $10 at Marvel College. They use a conditioner on your scalp and massage it into the scalp the treatment can last anywhere from 5-15 minutes.

Marvel College Edmonton Location (Wheelchair Accessible)

10018 – 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 1G1

T: (780) 429-4407

There are two types of Acupuncture, Electronic and Needle Acupuncture.  Acupuncture is based on chi (Energy), which is an energy force that runs through the body via meridians (connecting pathways).  Stimulation of acupuncture points by Electronic or Needle Acupuncture create a balancing effect upon the body, to promote healing and well-being.

Acupuncture can help with headaches, migraines, arthritis, asthma, spinal problems, bronchitis, cramps, colitis, constipation, coughs, whiplash, ankle sprains/strains, fatigue, edema, peptic ulcers and much more!

Minimal side effects are associated with Acupuncture such as tenderness or on very rare occasions bruising.  In most cases, Acupuncture leaves a patient feeling better overall. Most people qualify for Acupuncture except it is not recommended for pregnant women and children.

Traditional Acupuncture Needles-Acupuncture (Figure 1) Involves insertion of needles of the skin in order to stimulate certain points on the body.

Figure 1

(Figure 1)

Electroacupuncture (Figure 2) With electro-acupuncture small currents of electric power are sent to the acu-points via the acupuncture needles. Different types of current (biphasic, monophasic, Rectangular, slow, alternate- or direct current) are available. The needles placed in the acu-points are connected via small wires to a stimulation device where the currents will then augment the stimulation of the needles.

figure 2

(Figure 2)

 Acupuncture without needles-Electronic stimulation Acupuncture or Electronic Acupuncture. (Figure 3) Another type of Electronic Acupuncture minus the needles.  Acupuncture points are stimulated by using this device.

figure 3 

(Figure 3)

If you want to inquire if an acupuncturist is a member of the professional association contact:

College and Association of Acupunctists of Alberta

Phone: 780-466-7787

Fax: 780-466-7251


5213 – 87 Street
Edmonton, AB T6E 5L5

Light Yoga:  Commonwealth Recreation Centre has a light yoga class every Monday and Friday.  I have attended both days and they are both amazing classes, the instructors name is Alison*, she is very attentive. I have noticed that she will offer to help you if you are having difficulty getting into a particular pose or she will suggest another pose if you have difficulty with one that she is suggesting for the rest of the class. If you require help with transferring in and out of a wheelchair please bring an aid with you.

Gentle Yoga**


Commonwealth Community Rec Centre

11000 Stadium Road

1:15-2:15 pm, Studio 2 on Level 4

Gentle/Yin Yoga***


Commonwealth Community Rec Centre

11000 Stadium Road

1:15-2:15 pm, Studio 2 on Level 4

*Alison Irwin is a Yoga Association of Alberta Certified Senior Yoga Instructor.  She has been teaching yoga to all levels and ages for over 20 years.  Alison trained in India, Thailand, the US and Canada.

**Gentle yoga, because of its innate gentle nature, is perfect for those who cannot meet the demands of physically straining exercises.  A typical gentle yoga session consists of slight modifications of the standard poses of hatha yoga. In a lot of poses, the only modification made is that the practitioner is not forced to go as deeply into the pose as required by the standard yoga session. The ultimate aim of this kind of practice is to make sure that the practitioner does not experience any discomfort while performing the pose.

*** Gentle/Yin Yoga- is a slow-paced style of yoga with poses that can be held comparatively long periods of time, mostly sitting or lying poses.  Yin Yoga poses apply moderate pressure to the connective tissues, the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility.

If you want to inquire if a yoga instructor is a member of the professional association contact:

 The Yoga Association of Alberta

Percy Page Centre, 11759 Groat Road
Edmonton, AB T5M 3K6
Tel: (780) 427-8776
Fax: (780) 427-0524


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