How to Prevent Neck Pain While Sleeping

For a lot of people, myself included, once you age out of your twenties, sleep injuries are FOR REAL! Waking up with excruciating neck pain that ruins your day is no fun at all, and luckily there are some concrete steps that you can take in order to prevent the chance of that happening. In this video, I’m going to show you the two safest sleeping positions, including tips and tricks for making them the most comfortable in terms of preventing achy hips, shoulders, and necks. And then I show you a GOLDEN TIP for what to do with your head and neck ANYTIME YOU SWITCH SLEEPING POSITIONS so that you won’t wake up with that terrible neck pain anymore! Click on the image to watch the video.

Safe Twisting For Your Back

Is twisting good for your back? Does it miraculously detox your internal organs as some yoga teachers claim? Or is twisting terrible for your spine as some physicians assert? Well, truthfully, the answer lies somewhere in between. Spinal rotation is one of the primary movements that the lumbar spine (low back) should be able to move through. You should also be able to bend forward (flexion), extend your spine backward (extension), and laterally bend your spine (leaning to the side) which is actually a specific type of rotation. But this video zooms in on rotation (twisting). I show you how to safely twist into a forward twist, and how to safely twist backward. I also explain why twisting while leaning forward gets such a bad rap, and what you can do to minimize your injury risk. See the full transcript below for “Safe Twisting For Your Back”.

“Hello I’m Dr. Sandy Baird from Riverstone Chiropractic here in Oakland California and today I’m going to show you how to safely twist. Now we’re gonna be twisting to the back and twisting to the front and there’s different spinal biomechanics that are involved with each one so I’m gonna break it down and show you how to do that. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about twisting your back… some people would say it’s the worst thing you can ever do for your spine, other people would say that it “detoxes” your internal organs, so I think the answer is somewhere in between those two extremes. Spinal twisting or rotation is one of the main movements that your spine needs to be able to do to promote healthy biomechanics to properly lubricate the joints and to safely move you around. So there’s flexion, which is rounding forward, there’s extension, which is arching back, there’s rotation to either side, and there’s lateral bending which is kind of a variation on rotation butI’m going to show you how to safely twist your spine when you’re going in to an extension based twist and how to safely twist your spine when you’re going into a flexion or forward based twist so stay tuned for that.To do a safe twist in a forward facing or flexion direction, what you’re gonna want to do is flex forward first and then rotate so I’m going to show you what happens if you were to rotate first and then flex… so I’m just gonna hold on here just so you can kind of see degrees of rotation… so if you were to rotate first this is about as far as I can rotate and then if I want to flex forward I get to right about there before I feel some binding and pinching through my right-sided low back. Now if I come back to this position and I flex forward first and then I take my rotation I can go a little bit further and it feels much smoother, I don’t feel any catching or binding in my back so it’s different for going into extension and I’m going to show you that next. If you want to do a twist into extension meaning your low back is going to arch back in this direction, as you twist you want to think about doing your twist first and and then adding your extension, so if I’m going to the other side we’re twisting and then extending and this is actually like a nice mobility exercise you just kind of get into the flow of twist extend come back through center, twist extend and come back to your center. If we were to do the opposite if we were to go into extension and then try to twist it doesn’t feel that great and you can actually see like I’m trying to twist as far as I can and you know I can probably like move my shoulders to get a bit more twist but my torso is not able to twist more because I’ve already maxed out the extension of my spine, so for extension rotate extend and back to center, so that’s how you safely do a twist into extension. I think a lot of the bad press about rotation and flexion meaning coming to this position and then you know you’re you’re putting your kid in your car seat and then they wiggle or kick and you fight that and oh my gosh all of a sudden your back is killing youI think that that is what gives us the bad rap like we don’t want to be holding load and then going into this position that does create a lot of pressure on the intervertebral discs in the low back, but unless you have certain very rare spinal conditions there’s nothing wrong with a bodyweight twist where you’re flexing and coming to one side it’s one of the motions your spine is designed todo and in my opinion if you don’t use your motion you lose it.”

Neck, Back, Chest, and Shoulder Pain from Chest Binding

I’m excited to announce a FREE RESOURCE for our community that I’ve been working on for the past few months. Released today! This is a picture and video-rich guide to the stretches, strengthening exercises, and mobility techniques that you can do at home to reduce the neck, shoulder, chest, and back tightness and pain that stems from wearing a binder. Take a look below and download it for free for yourself or for a friend!

Nutrition Timing and Anxiety

For about two months as I was training for the trans bodybuilding competition, I tracked my macros very accurately, very consistently. In most cases I would plan them out so that I wouldn’t have any big surprises at the end of the day. I would input my big meals first. I’d already prepped my meals so I knew what was coming. I would put a protein shake in there, make sure my breakfast was logged accurately. And whatever else was left in there, then id do a quick scan of what I might want to eat. Maybe there’s a treat that I could fit into my macros, maybe I’m craving peanut butter, maybe I haven’t eaten fruit in awhile and our fig tree is producing, maybe we’d just bought something interesting at the grocery store.  Whatever that was, I would fit that in. And then I knew that I would end up with a certain amount of calories at the end of the day. And I couldn’t get to any point at the end of the day where I wanted to eat something but realized it wouldn’t fit into my plan. 

Now if you want to know the science behind nutrition timing, I would suggest you check out Jeff Nipard’s youtube channel, specifically the video he did on the post-workout anabolic window myth. This article is going to be more focused on the intuitive nature of meal timing, or listening to your body in terms of what it needs based on the activities you are asking it to perform.

So my “always plan-ahead” method was great and it worked really well. I met my goal of preparing for the bodybuilding show. But I did have a lot of anxiety or fear around the possibility of being hungry. I feel like I had to intake so many carbs and so many electrolytes (which usually have sugars built-in) to get through my intense workouts, and then I’ve got to eat enough protein right after workouts to recover properly. And I was constantly thinking “Oh my gosh, I’m just not going to have enough calories left by the end of the day”” Or “Oh no, I’m going to be hungry in between my last two meals of the day!”  And for that period of time it really was an anxiety-ridden thing, but I just went with it and stuck to the plan and told myself “its going to be what its going to be” because these are the calories that are on my plan that are going to get me towards my goals. 

Then during my trip to Atlanta for my bodybuilding show, I ate according to more-or-less the same rubric, but I didn’t track my macros very closely, actually I didn’t track them at all for four days. And then when I came back to town, I didn’t track but only held a loose idea of my macros in my mind. But I didn’t track. And I actually found that I wasn’t very hungry after 3 or 4pm. After I’d eaten my first and second of my three daily prepared meals (not including breakfast), I was pretty content for the rest of the afternoon. I didn’t need a lot of snacking. Sometime it would even be to the point that come 7pm, when it’s time for that last meal, I was a bit ambivalent about eating it. I mean, I did eat it, because it was in the plan! But I wasn’t that hungry at 7pm. If I had to skip a meal, I would feel fine skipping that one. 

It didn’t dawn on me until after the competition, when a lot of the stress was off, I didn’t feel the need to track everything so carefully, it really did dawn on me that I wasn’t using my body physically so much in the later parts of the day. I would burn some energy treating patients, sure, my job is moderately physical, but compared to my morning workouts, I wasn’t burning nearly as much energy, and I realized that maybe it’s ok that I front load my day with my proteins and my carbs and my calories. I mean, if that’s what I need to get through my workouts and to recover from them, then why the heck not?!

So what I’m trying this month is I’m still going to plan my day out so that I meet my required calories, I’m still trying to eat at a slight deficit to get leaner, but I’m not going to worry about whether Ive eaten 70% of my calories before 2pm or not, because it probably doesn’t matter in the long run. As I understand Nippard’s summary of the post-workout anabolic window nutrition timing, the research shows that there is some benefit in intaking protein within a thirty (or so) minute window, but not a huge benefit. And he stated that carb intake during that window was irrelevant to muscle building assuming a person had an adequate overall protein intake. Specifically, the anabolic window doesn’t open/shut as fast as a light switch flicking on/off, but there there is some benefit to intaking protein sooner rather than later. He didn’t list exact percentages of performance or recovery benefit associated with intaking protein ASAP versus a few hours later. But I honestly think I would get a 10% improvement if I could just shake the stress and the anxiety that comes with worrying about whether I had eaten a certain amount of calories by a certain hour.  To feel good, to feel relaxed, to feel energized, and well fed, well fueled, well nourished. Thats where its at for me right now!

If you are looking for help setting up your own nutrition plan, please feel free to contact me. I offer customized nutrition planning to help you eat towards your goals!

Why the 80/20 Rule Doesn’t Work for Nutrition

A common approach to eating is to eat 80% “clean” food and 20% treats/sweets/not-so-healthy foods. It makes sense initially that this would be a less strict way of eating that could increase your long-term compliance to your diet. But upon further exploration, it turns out that it might not be the best fit for you. Let me explain.

To quantify in calories (kcal) what 80% and 20% of your daily calorie intake might look like, let’s assume that you were eating 2000kcal/day. This is a reasonable estimate for someone who is around 150-175 lbs, who exercises moderately 3-5 times a week, and who is trying to eat at a maintenance level (neither lose nor gain weight). Using this nice round number as an assumption also makes the math really easy. If you want to calculate your personal energy requirements, this “How To Calculate Your Macros” video will show you how.

Setting aside any judgement of what defines a food as “dirty” or “junky” or “clean”, I am choosing to use the words “clean” and “junk food” solely for ease-of-reading. So if you were going to eat 80% clean foods, you would be eating 1600 kcal of clean food. And since 20% of 2000 is 400, so you would be eating 400 kcal or junk food on a 2000 calorie diet. Further, we can assume that the 400 kcal is most likely going to be coming from carbohydrates (carbs) (and perhaps partially from fats) since no one is going to choose boiled chicken breast as their junk food. Since there are 4kcal/g for carbohydrates, choosing junk food such as chips, cookies, cupcakes, and sugary crackers translates to about 100g carbohydrates. (The calculation is slightly different if you were to choose ice cream or fried-foods that were more fat-laden than carb-laden.)

Now for a lot of people, 100g carbs is likely more-than-half of their daily carb totals! You can watch the above linked video that explains how to calculate your daily nutrition needs in terms of quantities of proteins, carbs, and fats if you want a refresher. So if you are trying to eat towards your goals, and you eat half of your carbs in one sitting on a big junk food snack, you are going to be left with the unfortunate struggle of trying to pack in a lot of protein into your day with very little carbs to go with it.

On top of that, for many people, eating 100g carbs at once feels pretty terrible! Your blood sugar spikes up, your body signals insulin to rush in to mitigate that sugar rush, and then since such a big dose of insulin was rushed in, you end up with low blood sugar, which can cause headaches, dizziness, wooziness, and other uncomfortable sensations.

I think a better approach is to shoot for about 10% of your daily calories coming from junk food. 10% of 2000 kcal/day is 200 kcal, and that is plenty to fit in a small cupcake, muffin, cookie, sweetened yogurt, or a small serving of ice cream. If you know that you can fit one thing like this into your diet everyday, you are less likely to binge eat everything in sight when the stress of attempting perfection for too long backfires. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Trans Bodybuilding Competition: My Experience as a Non-Binary Competitor

Front double-biceps pose 10/6/18 Trans Bodybuilding Competition in Atlanta.

Bodybuilding. Sounds interesting. Building one’s body. Training hard in the gym and eating right. Seeing some results. Work a bit harder. Consider competing. Realize one’s options as a non-binary person are 1) Compete in stilettos and a glittery bikini or 2) Sign up for a mens competition. Neither option feels like a good fit. Get discouraged. Lose focus on weightlifting and nutrition. Feel yucky in own body. Start going to gym again and eating right. See some results. Consider competing. You can see how this becomes a frustrating and not-very-gender-affirming-cycle.

trans bodybuilding competition flyer

Enter Trangender (trans) bodybuilding competitions. When I saw the trailer for the film “Manmade” that was screening at this years Frameline Film Festival in the Bay Area, I was shocked! I had no idea that this type of space had opened up in the bodybuilding arena. But it was really just a passing thought in my mind that I would ever be a part of of something like that. I’d never felt like I was lean enough to be a “real” bodybuilder. But then months later, I saw a facebook post for the International Association of Trans Bodybuilders event that was coming up in Atlanta in October. I thought “yeah, maybe if I lived in Georgia I would go try that, but that would be crazy to fly in from the Oakland Bay Area just to go flex my muscles on a stage! But I couldn’t shake the idea from my mind over the next few days. I peeked into my calendar just to check whether I was free that weekend. I texted my mom to see if she happened to be available to watch our kids for a long weekend. I told her it wasn’t for certain, just considering making a trip to Georgia for what I thought at the time was a self-indulgent and frivolous reason. And sure enough my calendar was blank and my mom was free. I asked my spouse what they were doing that weekend. Hmm, they were free as well. And my brother and his family had just moved to Georgia a few months prior so I would have a place to stay and could also spend some quality time with them if I made the trip.

The cards seemed to be lining up. But I had one HUGE lingering doubt. And that is, “Would I be lean enough?” By the time I saw the event posted, I would have exactly eight weeks to prepare to step onstage. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by showing up too fluffy. I’d been making some great progress with my workouts and had been consistent with tracking my nutrition since I started working with a new personal trainer (Emmet Logan of YesBodies, they/them pronouns) in February of this year. I was generally feeling pretty great in my body, but I wanted to get leaner and continue to appear more masculine. I ran the idea by my personal trainer. A long rambling stream of words tumbled out of my mouth….”So there’s a trans powerlifting and bodybuilding competition coming up in eight weeks and I’m thinking of doing one or the other or maybe both and I know I’m not super-lean but I’m getting there and what do you think? Is it crazy or is there a chance I could be ready in time?”

My trainer gave some very thoughtful answers to my question and helped me clarify my goals in terms of focusing on the bodybuilding competition over the powerlifting competition. The main thing that I took away from our conversation was that I might as well try my best and go for it, and even if I didn’t meet all my aesthetic goals, that I would still come out of the competition knowing if it’s something I’d want to pursue further or just something that was fun and interesting for a one-time experience,

So Emmet designed an 8-week strength-training routine for me with the goals of putting on as much muscle as possible in as little time as possible and torching off as much body fat as possible while keeping me healthy and strong. It included some new (to me) tortuous techniques such as German Volume Training (10 sets of 10 reps of compound exercises at 70% of your max with only one-minute rest periods) and Muscle Flushing (Multiple drop sets that run so much blood through a muscle that you think you’re going to puke with the aim of pumping up the muscle with nutrients and stimulating growth). And then I think there was a variation of the German Volume Training thrown in there for one of the four-week cycles of muscle building. But my trainer is smart and sneaky so they didn’t call it that by name. They just wrote down the reps and sets of the exercises I needed to complete and I methodically worked through four intense weight-room workouts on my own each week and then Emmet pushed me on Fridays when I trained with them.

I experience a variety of emotions throughout this training cycle. Strong bursts of rage, anxiety, sadness, and excitement punctuated longer periods of focus and empowerment and fatigue. The first time we did German Volume Training, my quads were in shock from doing so much volume (total of all sets x reps) of front squats. They were twitching and fiery and, despite doing variations of back squats and front squats for years, I finally felt them working and growing. I swear I watched them grow a whole inch in circumference as I was driving home from the workout. But around my sixth set I’d really settled into my front squat form in a really comfortable way. I’d struggled with that particular lift before and just the repetition of having to pick the bar right back up every minute felt really amazing to lock in that form. And it was also really hard. And Emmet said something like “get into position, elbows up, and let’s go…picture yourself walking onstage!” And at that moment I just felt so much anger. I wanted to stop and rest and all the anxiety I had about whether I’d be “ready” for the competition had already melted away under the weight of the barbell and I don’t even know where the anger came from or where it was directed but I experienced anger in my quad muscles, anger in my back, anger in my blood. And I got through the set, and the emotion passed as soon as my quads were no longer under mechanical tension. I was exhausted after that workout of deadlifts and squats, but was surprised by what happened next.

Two days later, I was foam-rolling my quad muscles to try to release some of the tension and soreness that had built-up from the squats. It was painful. Really painful. Painful, but necessary. It’s the kind of pain I could push-through while keeping my leg muscles mostly relaxed and not having to hold my breath. I guess birthing a baby prepares you well for foam-rolling! So I was mentally prepared to get through this necessary evil, so that the post-workout soreness wouldn’t last more days than necessary. But just moments into rolling out my right quad, I felt that quick fiery flash of anger jabbing into my brain and electrifying my whole body. And as soon as I recognized that emotion as anger, it crashed into sadness. Waves of sorrow and sadness flooded my body with every breath. If I’d stopped foam-rolling and distracted myself by scrolling through Facebook on my phone, I think it would have rolled to a stop. But I kept going and kept breathing and kept feeling whatever this was that was coursing through me. And crying uncontrollably face down on a mat at the gym. As a healthcare provider who releases built-up tensions in people’s bodies all day long, I recognized this as trauma leaving the body. All the what-ifs and am-I-good-enoughs and do-I-look-a-certain ways that had entered my quads during the vigorous muscle building were now being processed and healed and remodeled and repaired through this self-muscle work. I tell my clients all the time that foam-rolling is good for their muscles, but I’ve never told anyone (yet) that it can be a spiritual experience if you keep breathing and lean into the discomfort.

oakland trans fitness foam rolling quads

I didn’t tell many people that I was preparing for a bodybuilding competition. I guess I was afraid that if people responded with a surprised “I didn’t know you were into that?!” then I would take that as “Wow, you don’t look like a bodybuilder” or “You don’t look very lean”. I knew I looked strong. But not necessarily lean. That was my insecurity. I wasn’t afraid of being in the spotlight on stage and forgetting my poses. I wasn’t stressed-out about wearing a sports-bra on my chest when everyone else would be bare-chested. (The sports-bra selection process was mentally-consuming because I wanted to get it perfect. Minimalist in the back to show my back muscles but not feminine or strappy, etc.) But really, my whole eight-week preparation was plagued by the worry that I wouldn’t get lean enough. I was professional-archery-competitor-accurate about weighing and measuring all my meals. I didn’t eat at a restaurant for eight weeks. I prepared an egg-white scramble with spinach every morning to eat with my gluten-free toast. In total, I shook-up sixty protein shakes in my blender bottle, one each morning to have it prepared for the day. I prepared 180 boring but not unpalatable protein-rich healthy meals in portable containers so I could eat my other meals spaced out at approximately 11am, 3pm, and then 7pm. I took my own food to a wedding. I took my own food on a camping trip. I mixed up electrolyte powders, creatine powders, BCAA concoctions stirred into pre-workout drinks, and post-workout and evening recovery supplements. Everything was very organized and dialed in. And it took a lot of my mental energy to track my macros (food intake) and check off all the boxes.

trans bodybuilding meals

I applied a self-tanner. Oh yes, that was a whole experience just by itself. It required five coats and lots of stained towels and sheets and several patient helping hands. I am naturally a very pale person and it was shocking to see the difference a tanner made in seeing my muscle definition. I realized that I was closer to my leanness goals then I had realized. And it made me mad to realize that probably every fitness model who has every been on the front cover of a magazine had great lighting and a tan and that they don’t naturally look like they do in those pictures if you were to see them in the offseason. And so much crap is marketed towards us with the messaging that you aren’t good enough.

sandy baird biceps pose trans fitness

So I arrived to the Seven Stages Theater on a warm afternoon in Georgia. I was thankful that we didn’t have to stand around outside for too long because the sun was hot and my tanner was temporary (the top-coat layers tend to drip off when you sweat). Six of us contestants gathered and shook hands and started talking about where we were from and how we heard about the competition. I instantly felt at home with these guys. We all have many similarities in our life-stories even though we are at different points in our transitions or in our fitness journeys. I met two people at this event who had lost over 100 pounds. Two other people had competed as women (butches) earlier in their bodybuilding careers and were now reuniting to compete as men in this trans bodybuilding event. It was a friendly competition. I got some tips on how to pump-up before the show. Other guys were sharing tips on when to carb-up and how to pose.


We had a lot of waiting around time while they set-up the weigh-in area. It felt like catching up with old friends even though I’d never met these fellows before. We all had a good bonding moment when Wes (the overall winner of the competition) walked in. He strutted in wearing a bright red stringer-style tank top. His traps and lats were popping out all over the place and he looked amazing and it was so clear that none of us stood a change against him! Someone joked about trying to run off a pound to get into a lower weight class so they wouldn’t have to compete against him. Another wondered what could they quickly eat before the weigh-in so that they could move up to heavy-weight class to avoid competing against him. We greeted him not with, “Hi man, how are you?” but “How much do you weigh?” It was all in good fun and I felt very supported by this community as I dealt with the nerves of getting out there to do my posing routine.

Behind the scenes view of side triceps pose. AP photo on Ottawa Citizen webpage

The organizer and the stage/theater-manager were both very conscientious with checking in about the use of pronouns. I was also offered a choice to go onstage with the other trans-men or have my own category (non-binary gender). I opted to go onstage with the other guys because I was too nervous to go up there all by myself. No one made any comments about what I was wearing. There was a lot of general banter about top-surgeries and transition-related topics. When the time came, we were all called up onto stage by the order of our numbers (there were a total of eight contestants). The judges called for some quarter turns, which from what I can tell are called relaxed poses but you don’t look or feel very relaxed in them because you are semi-flexing and trying to remember to smile). And then they introduced each of us and had us do our favorite pose. The crowd was super-supportive and high-energy and it felt very empowering and celebratory as we went through our poses. Then we walked off stage and then came back separated by weigh-class.

sandy baird trans bodybuilding relaxed pose

Side “relaxed” pose

I had spent a lot of time debating whether I was going to try to make the lightweight class. I was really close to the cutoff of 145 pounds. After weighing over 205 at the end of my pregnancy, and then 185 after delivery, I’d gotten down to 175 by February. Between February and July I’d come down to 155 or 160. And I knew that it would be tight having only eight weeks to get to 145, so I set it as my goal and decided to see how close I was a week out from the competition before deciding if I wanted to do all the water loading and cutting and carb manipulation and sweating and spitting that can be common in weight-class competitions.

Trans bodybuilding competition weights

Most recent few years of my fitness journey include weighing 185 top left, 160 on the foam roller, and 147 competition day.

I was weighing in at 148 or 149 the day before I hopped on the airplane to Atlanta, so I decided that I would probably be holding water from traveling anyway and I decided not to do all that stuff and just get out there and look the best that I can and show off my hard work and not worry about weight classes. Even though moving down into the lightweight division would have meant getting a third-place trophy, I think I made the right decision to not add that extra layer of stress to my experience. I ate a bunch of jelly beans the night before as I alternated between coats of tanner and practicing my poses (which is actually more work than you might think it is to hold all those muscle contractions). I didn’t weigh or measure my meals that weekend and only loosely followed the rubric of what my meal plan had looked like the months prior.

And I felt fantastic. I felt energized. I felt masculine. I felt powerful and strong. And I had a lot of fun. Everyone’s first question to me now is “would I do this again?” And it’s a really hard question to answer. Yes I definitely would do a trans bodybuilding competition again. I felt like there was such a nice mix of body types and body fat levels and throughout this whole prep I’ve focused in on the fact that this is allowing me to redefine what bodybuilding means to me. It doesn’t have to mean sparkly swimsuits and booty poses and high heels. And it doesn’t have to mean starvation diets and extreme dehydration techniques. In every way I have been celebrating this body that I have built and it was an amazing experience to participate with a group of athletes who are also redefining and rebuilding their own bodies.

sandy baird back pose trans fitness

But traveling to Atlanta isn’t something that I can likely do every year. It wasn’t cheap and it took a long time to get there. On the other hand, to my knowledge, there are currently not other opportunities to compete as a non-binary person. I can still do my thing in the gym and stay on top of my nutrition, but in terms of a community event, I really hope that the IATB can grow and expand their vision and bring trans bodybuilding to the Oakland and SF Bay Area! We have a growing community of LGBT focused gyms and trainers and I would think a trans bodybuilding community would be a natural extension of that. Maybe by 2020?

AP Photo/David Goldman


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Acupuncture and Post-Surgical Care

Acupuncture and Post-Surgical Care

A Guest Post by Katrina Hanson LAc, owner of Prism Integrative Acupuncture in Oakland

oakland acupuncture practitioner Katrina Hanson


What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

TCM is an ancient healing system involving acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion (moxa) warming therapy, cupping massage, nutrition, lifestyle, and other healing modalities. Together, they bring patients back into balance by addressing the root of a problem rather than just the symptoms. Some acupuncture points trigger a release of calming hormones, some rewrite pain pathways, some awaken the immune system, have anti-inflammatory effects, or increase circulation. Many pharmaceuticals are derived from medicinal herbs; herbs in their natural form are generally a milder form of related pharmaceutical medicines. Moxa helps warm and promote circulation, cupping releases muscle tension, nutrition and lifestyle changes help prevent symptoms from recurring. Acupuncture and TCM work in a series of treatments, generally starting with 1-2 treatments per week and spreading out to monthly treatments as your symptoms improve. Just like you have to take your medications every day for them to work, you have to get acupuncture regularly to see results.


Surgery in TCM

In Chinese medicine, surgery is considered to block the flow of the meridians (similar to nerve and blood vessel damage in Western medicine). Improperly healed scars and old scar tissue can have the same effect, potentially causing pain, sensation loss, decreased circulation, and even impaired internal organ function depending on the depth of the scar tissue. Acupuncture as soon as possible after surgery helps to promote healing, reduce pain, swelling, and bruising, and prevent scar tissue from forming. Once the bandages are removed, scars can be worked on directly to prevent adhesions and reduce the appearance of scars. Cupping massage is also used to treat surgical scarring and adhesions to underlying tissues, and moxa can be used for post-surgical pain as well as reducing scars.


Post-Surgical Constipation

Acupuncture is extremely useful for alleviating postoperative constipation. Studies have shown that patients receiving regular acupuncture post-surgery actually perform better (have more frequent, easier, less painful, and more complete bowel movements) than those taking laxatives or stool softeners alone. Acupuncture points on your arms, legs, and abdomen are most frequently chosen for this purpose, especially two points on either side of your navel. Acupuncture is also helpful for boosting your energy post-surgery, which is generally the most long-lasting surgical side effect.


Swelling, Pain, and Bruising

Acupuncture and moxa (herbal warming therapy) help reduce swelling and pain post-surgery. They can even be used around bandages during those initial weeks when swelling and pain are more prominent. Acupuncture is done very superficially over areas of swelling or around bandages and moxa is done either over swelling or on distal points (on your arms and legs) to promote circulation and lymph drainage. Acupuncture house calls are a great way to recover more quickly from surgery; an acupuncturist can come to your home the day after surgery and all you have to do is take a recovery nap!


Scars, Neuropathy, and Scar Tissue

Surgical scars that are at least two weeks old can be worked on with acupuncture. Such treatments not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to less noticeable scars and a reduction in keloiding. Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on health. This is especially true for very large scars; scars with abnormal coloration, lumpiness, numbness, tingling, itchiness, heat or cold sensations, achiness or pain, tenderness to touch, and muscle restriction. Such scars and associated adhesions can indicate or lead to nerve and blood vessel damage, decreased range of motion and muscle strength, increased likelihood of future injury, or chronic pain (especially pins and needles, tingling, and burning pain). Scars are especially important to work on if they’re on the torso, where underlying adhesions can impair bowel function, chronic pelvic pain or infertility, depending on the site of the scar. TCM considers any visible scar a potential issue and we work on all of them with either acupuncture, moxa, cupping, topical serums, or a combination of these.

Katrina Hanson LAc

I am a California licensed and nationally certified acupuncturist. I received my training through the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College (AIMC)’s rigorous four-year Master of Science program, and interned at UCSF Benioff’s Mission Bay Children’s Hospital and the San Francisco Homeless Prenatal Program, as well as at AIMC’s teaching clinic.

I went into the program with the intention of focusing in LGBTQ medicine, and this continues to be a driving focus of my practice. I specialize in transgender medicine, hormone regulation for every body, pre-post-surgical care, scars, neuropathy, and hair loss. I love guiding patients through times of hormonal upheaval, allowing them to stay grounded despite the emotional turmoil that often accompanies times of illness. My favorite part of my job is watching people regain ownership of their healing process, reconnect with their bodies, and make positive changes in their lives.

In addition to maintaining a private practice, I teach at Bay Area acupuncture schools–instructing students on gender vocabulary and pronouns, western and eastern transgender medicine, and approaches for creating an LGBTQI-inclusive practice. In my spare time, you can find me hiking or camping with my partner and our dogs

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.

How to Calculate Your Macros

In this video, I talk about why you’d want to calculate and track your macros, and then I show you step by step how to calculate your macros. Once you get your macros set, you will want to test them out for 4-6 weeks before making any adjustments, since everybody reacts differently to certain percentages of proteins, fats, and carbs.








You can zoom into the picture above to take a closer look, but everything is explained in details in this video:

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Should I Ice or Heat My Injury?

Full transcript:

What’s up Youtube, Dr. Sandy Baird here from Riverstone Chiropractic.
Today we’re going to look at one of the most frequently asked questions that I get from
my patients.
And that is…should I ice my injury or should I heat my injury?
Stay tuned to find out more!
So when it comes to ice, we need to look at two different things…we need to look at
pain management, and we need to look at inflammation management.
Now a review of the literature will show that there is not actually one shred of evidence
for inflammation management for ice.
So it’s not going to help us there.
Where it does help us is for the pain management.
So we learned in physiotherapy class that there’s the stages of ice: I’m going to put
them up here so you can see them on the screen too, it goes through coldness, and then burning,
and then achiness, and then intense pain, and then you hit the numbness.
So if you’re just icing for a couple of minutes and you’re not actually feeling the numbness,
you’re not going to do any good for pain relief, but if you can get to those stages, that’s
going to give you the best pain relief.
So what is the best way to ice an injury?
You may have seen that you have a lot of choices.
There’s the commercial ice packs, there’s dunking your hand or your ankle into a bucket
of ice water, there’s some other choices, but my favorite actually involves using of
these…a dixie cup.
These ones have penguins on them, cute, AWWW, but what you do is fill it up with water,
you put it in the freezer, if you know that you have an injury that you’re going to want
to be icing multiple times a day, just do six of them at a time, put them in the freezer.
When you’re ready to ice, just pull one out, and you just tear off the top rim here, so
that the surface of the ice is showing.
And then you…let’s say I’m going to apply ice to a forearm injury, I would start it
here (it can be nice to have a towel handy for drips, if you’re in a bathtub it doesn’t
matter or over a sink it doesn’t matter, but if you’re sitting in a chair, grab a towel)
and then you start to move the ice.
You don’t want to keep it in one place, there’s the possibility that you may damage the tissue.
You’ll want to move it around for one to three minutes, and you’ll notice pretty quickly
that the whole area will get pretty burn-y, pretty achy, and then it will start to be
At that point you’re done with the ice.
If you still have some left, you can put it back in the freezer.
Otherwise just compost or recycle the cup.
Now what about heat?
Well, there are a lot of cultures and a lot of traditions in Ayurvedic medicine and in
Eastern medicine that would actually point you towards heating up an injury.
A lot of the same cultures and traditions have things like warmed foods, drinking warm
liquids, keeping the body covered to maintain temperature.
These are all really important things and they tie into if you have an injury, maybe
not a forearm injury, but let’s say a back injury, neck, shoulders, a lot of cultures
would put heat traditionally on the injury.
And I think that may actually be a good idea, you have to look at common sense…if something
feels good, it probably is good!
I mean, you could take this to the extremes, like if you eat a whole cake all at once that
might feel good but it’s not good, you know what I mean?
But if we’re just looking at Occam’s Razor, the simplest principle, if it feels good to
heat an injury, it’s probably good for you.
And the research does not support ice for inflammation management, so why the heck not?
Heating an injury can give you some relief because it causes the muscles to relax, and
in my opinion, you don’t actually want to fight off too much inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, and you want those cells to rush
in and clean up the damage, you want that stuff there!
You don’t want to try to “ice that away!”
So let’s keep some of that inflammation.
Just a tip with icing, in terms of how often you can do it… if you’re using an ice pack,
using something to cool the deeper layers of muscle and fascia, then it’s recommended
that you use the ice for about twenty minutes, and then rest for an hour.
And then you can come back to it and do it for another twenty minutes.
If you’re using something like the ice cup, it’s one to three minutes treatment, and then
take it off until you feel the numbness and the coldness has gone away, once you feel
that the tissue has returned to it’s normal blood flow, then you’re able to ice again.
And that usually takes between thirty minutes and an hour, so it’s not like you’re going
to be getting in there every five minutes, give it a little bit of a break and let your
body natural heal things.
And we should probably talk about when not to heat an injury…there’s some things that
you would not want to heat, and these are active injuries.
So if you’ve just fallen, you’ve fallen yesterday and things are really still inflamed, anything
that’s an open cut or an open wound…NO HEAT!
I hope that gave you a little bit of insight as to whether you should heat an injury or
cool off an injury, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below, and
if you want more content go ahead and subscribe to my channel below, there’s a button, there’s
a notification bell, and like the video, and that would really help me out and it will
help you out because it lets me know what kind of content is helpful to you.
Thanks and see you on the next video.

Foam Rolling for Runners: Lower Body Eight Minute Sequence


This is a lower body sequence that should only take you about eight minutes to perform. You can watch the video, or follow the “Foam rolling for runners: lower body sequence” picture tutorial below.

foam rolling for runners glutesSit on your foam roller. Cross your left ankle up and over your right knee. If you lack the flexibility to get into this position, just let your left leg extend slightly out in front of you. Lean onto your left hand, and lean your body slightly to the left. Start to make small rolls back and forth until you find a tight spot. Roll that tight spot for about 30 seconds. Find the next spot by leaning slightly more to the left. You can lean your bodyweight far forward to get pressure onto the lower part of the glutes, and lean far back to get to the top portion. If your wrists hurt in this position, you can make a fist with your hand instead. Alternatively, you can prop your hand up onto a yoga block. Spend 1-2 minutes on this side, and then switch to the other side.


foam rolling for runners hamstring
Scoot just behind your foam roller and position yourself so the backs of your legs (hamstrings) are on top of the foam roller. Post up onto your hands, and roll either both legs at once or one leg at a time. You can get more pressure focusing on one leg at a time. You have inner and outer hamstrings, so if you feel tighter in your inner hamstrings, spin your entire leg inward. And vice versa.




foam rolling for runners alternate position for handsMove the roller slightly down towards your feet so it is under your calves. Press your hands into the floor in order to lift your hips up. This gives you the opportunity to create more pressure going into your calves. If you feel like you don’t need more pressure, or your wrists hurt in this position, then simply lower your butt to the ground and press your lower leg into the roller. It works better to do one leg at a time, and you can press your opposite leg down onto your shin using it like a sandbag to smoosh your calf into the roller. As with the hamstrings, you can twist your straight leg inward and outward to target the inner and outer portions of the calf muscles respectively.


foam rolling for runners lower body calvesThis is the alternate position, wherein you keep your butt on the ground to take pressure off your wrists.






foam rolling for runners lower body hipFor your hips, lie on the roller as shown. Working one section at a time, make slow rolls back and forth along the side of the hip and down the outer seam of your pants. This targets the ITB (Iliotibial band), a tricky band of connective tissue that often tightens up in runners. Your top leg crosses over and acts as a kickstand to modulate pressure. The stronger you press your foot into the floor, the less pressure you feel on the ITB. The third photo shows an alternate position if this first suggestion bothers your shoulder or wrist.



foam rolling for runners hip 2
foam rolling for runners lower body alternate position

foam rolling for runners quads
To roll your quads, place the roller underneath you, and then make sure your core is braced so your lower back doesn’t sag down. Use your forearms to drive the motion to create a rolling pattern up and down your quads. If you need more pressure, scoot one knee out to the side and roll out one quadricep at a time.


Riverstone Chiropractic is conveniently located on Grand Avenue in Oakland CA. We serve patients from Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, Walnut Creek, El Cerrito, Emeryville, San Leandro, Alameda, and surrounding cities in the bay area. Riverstone sports chiropractor Dr. Sandy Baird uses their background in athletics and massage therapy to provide their patients with effective and personalized sports medicine treatments, which include Active Release Techniques, chiropractic treatment, deep tissue massage, and rehabilitation exercises. Riverstone Chiropractic - 3409 Grand Ave #5 Oakland California 94610 - (510) 465-2342