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The Skin Issue

Whether it’s because we’re showing more of it, making a more conscious effort to protect it, or remedying the aftermath of a day by the pool, there’s just something about summer that gets us more in touch with skin, which is why we can’t let the season slip away without talking skin health.

The skin is a fascinating organ. In fact, it’s the human body’s largest organ, accounting for about 15% of our bodyweight! It’s constantly evolving too, shedding over 30,000 dead cells each and every minute. And although its aesthetic appearance may sometimes be our motivation for maintaining it, skin health is truly about so much more. Aside from its functions as a sensory and barrier organ, transmitting contact with the outside world and protecting us from our external environments, the skin plays an integral role in virtually every one of our body’s complex processes.

To truly nourish the skin, then, we must consciously evaluate all aspects of lifestyle, from the foods we eat and personal care products we consume, to the stressors we encounter and daily practices we engage in. The goal of this month’s newsletter is to inspire you to do just that!

In great health,

University of Arizona Integrative Health Center

What's new at the clinic?

Angella Hamilton is now teaching our Tai Chi class on Thursday evenings (5:30-6:30 pm). Angella is the creator of Zen Method Contemporary Tai Chi. Since 2005, her experience as a Personal Trainer and Pilates Instructor has helped Teens, Professional Athletes, Seniors and Stay at Home Moms change the way they move through life. Angella also hold certifications in Cancer Rehabilitation and Osteoporosis. Zen Method Tai Chi has been shared with National Cancer Conferences, World Class Resorts, Spas and Fitness Studios across the country. She is also one of the very first Instructors to be certified by Master Teacher and Instructor, David Dorian Ross under his Tai Chi Fit Program. If you're interested in attending this class, please register by calling 602-470-5577. 

This month, we also welcome a new member to our team, Helen Mccann, MA

Suffering from allergies? Starting this summer, we are offering sublingual immunotherapy through AllerVision. As a more convenient and equally effective alternative to allergy shots, this allergy treatment option involves placing a few drops of serum on your tongue every day from home with refills and follow-up visits every 12 weeks. Most patients feel noticeable relief within just two months of starting treatment and many improve in as little as a few weeks. Contact the clinic for more information!

NEW CLASSES: Seasonal Foods is a hands-on, experiential class centered around preparing meals using seasonal, fresh local foods. In this year long, 4 class series you will have an opportunity to roll up your sleeves, don your apron, and get some ideas for incorporating seasonally-based foods into your meals. Recipes and tastings are included. 

The first (of four) Seasonal Foods workshops, Summer Foods will be held on Thursday, August 22nd from 10:00-11:00 am and 5:30-6:30 pm. Please register by calling 602-470-5577.

Coming this September...

Optimizing Weight and Lifestyle 12-Month Program

  • Do you struggle with sustaining a healthy body weight?
  • Are you motivated to lower your risk factors for chronic disease or lessen the impact of your existing conditions?
  • Do you recognize the value of exercise but are unsure of how to implement it in a safe and effective way?
  • Are you looking to cultivate a healthier relationship with food?
  • Are you wondering why your daily habits don’t always align with your wellness goals?

This September, UA Integrative Health Center is offering a 12-month lifestyle transformation course designed to ignite your path to lifelong wellbeing by empowering you with integrative knowledge, tools, and support. Inclusion criteria for participation include: 

  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Overweight with at least one weight-related medical condition like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugars.  

Please talk to your PCP or contact Tracey Emmons, RN at 602-470-5577 to see if you are eligible to enroll.

July Class Schedule

  • HeartMath is a 3 week series and runs 7/16-7/30. 
  • Nutrition 101 is a 6 week series and runs 7/16-8/20 and 7/17-8/22.
  • Stress Management 101 is a 5 week series and runs 7/15-8/12.
  • Meditation is a 4 week series and runs 7/12-8/2. 
  • Healthy Body Composition is a 6 week series and runs 7/17-8/22.
  • Chair Yoga, Mat Yoga, and Tai Chi meet in Suite 126 at 3003 N. Central Ave (tower across the courtyard). These 3 courses are ongoing and meet every week, all year.
  • All other classes are held inside the clinic.
  • Current members, please register at the front desk or call 602-470-5577.
  • See Class Descriptions below to learn more.
  • Access our group class schedule via our Google calendar.
  • Check out our Facebook page for daily integrative health tips, articles, and insights! www.facebook.com/UAIntegrativeHeathCenter

Environmental Health: Dirty Dozen of Personal Care Products

By Katie Dalton, BS, A.C.E.

Before you continue reading, pause for a moment and recall today or yesterday’s morning routine. From your shower…to the bathroom cabinet…and perhaps through your cosmetics bag. How many different products did you use? If you can envision the product labels of each, what would you estimate the total number of ingredients to be?

According to research by the Environmental Working Group, the average woman uses 12 products per day containing 180 chemical ingredients. The average man uses six products each day containing 85 chemicals.

Do you know which of those chemicals are safe? Did you know that some of those chemicals have been linked to cancer, asthma, birth defects, early puberty, learning disabilities, nervous system disorders and infertility?

Here are a few thoughts that may be crossing your mind right now:

“Surely a product wouldn’t be on the market unless it had been tested for human safety, right?"

  • Cosmetics (which include all men’s, women’s and children’s personal care products) are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market.
  • Currently, the regulation of cosmetics is governed by the Safe Cosmetics Act of 1938. This 2.5 page long, 70 + year old piece of legislation does not require cosmetics companies to conduct pre-market safety assessment, which means that virtually any chemical, even if it has been shown to be carcinogenic or linked to any other adverse health effect, can end up your lotion, shampoo, or aftershave.
  • There is an industry-funded, self-policing body, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Panel, whose job is to evaluate ingredients. In the 35 years since it was founded, less than 20 percent of ingredients used have been assessed.
  • When different chemicals combine, toxicity can be enhanced. The CIR does not assess the long-term health impact of cumulative exposure to low doses, the “cocktail effect” of combined chemicals, interactions between genes and chemicals, or timing of exposure (which is especially relevant for infants, developing children, and pregnant women).
  • When certain chemicals react, contaminants or byproducts are released. These byproducts, like formaldehyde in baby shampoo, for example, aren’t required to be labeled.

“But it’s not like I’m ingesting my cosmetics”

  • Your skin is permeable organ, so it does absorb what goes on it, even if in amounts so minute that they’re considered biologically insignificant. The danger comes from the cumulative effect – years of regular (often, daily) exposure.
  • Through a process called biomonitering, scientists are able to measure exposures to a wide array of substances through examination of human tissues and fluids, including blood, urine, breast milk and expelled air. 
  • For example, a study by the EWG measured the umbilical cord blood of newborns born in US hospitals in 2004 and found a total of 287 chemicals in their cord blood. Of those chemicals, 180 have been considered carcinogenic in either animals or humans, 217 have demonstrated neurotoxic properties, and 208 have been linked to birth defects or abnormal development in animal studies.

"So… what am I supposed to do now?"

The Dirty Dozen of Cosmetics

1. BHA and BHT

  • Synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives
  • Found in lipsticks, moisturizers, other cosmetics
  • Risks: skin allergies (1); possible human carcinogen (2) and hormone disrupter (3)

2. Coal tar dyes

  • P-phenylenediamine and colors (ex: “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “ Blue 1”)
  • Found in cosmetics with added color, hair dyes
  • Risks: known human carcinogen (10); possibly contaminated with heavy metals linked to neurotoxicity (11)

3. DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA

  • Ingredients used to create creamy or sudsy effect or balance pH
  • Found in: soaps, cleansers, shampoos
  • Risks: can cause serious damage to health from prolonged exposure (20); can react with nitrates to form nitrosamines, a known human carcinogen (21); linked to liver cancers and precancerous changes in skin and thyroid (23); can cause skin and eye irritation (24)

4. Dibutyl phthalate

  • Used as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer
  • Found in nail products
  • Risks: can enhance other chemicals ability to cause gene mutations (29); linked to developmental defects, reduced sperm count, changes in testes and prostate (30); suspected endocrine disruptor (31); toxic to reproductive system and may impair fertility

5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

  • DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Found in various cosmetic products
  • Risks: considered a known human carcinogen (40); can irritant eyes and skin and trigger allergies (42)

6. Parabens

  • Most widely used preservative in cosmetics; easily penetrate the skin
  • Found in: an estimated 75-90% of conventional cosmetics
  • Risks: mimic estrogen (48); detected in human breast cancer tissue (49); interfere with male reproductive functions (50); linked to increased aging of skin and DNA damage (51)

7. Parfum (fragrance)

  • A term used to reference some 3,000 chemicals used as fragrances or as agents that enhance the performance of other fragrance chemicals
  • Found in perfume, cologne, any scented (or even “unscented”) personal care product
  • Risks: can trigger allergies (57), migraines (58), and asthma (59), some linked to cancer (64) and neurotoxicity (65), diethyl phthalate (DEP), used to help scents linger, is associated with reduced sperm count, reproductive defects, obesity, and insulin resistance (69, 70)

8. PEGs

  • Petroleum-based compounds used as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers
  • Found in: personal care products with cream bases
  • Risks: commonly contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen (76), show evidence of genotoxicity (80)

9. Petrolatum

  • Used to provide softness, smoothness, and moisture
  • Found in: hair products, deodorants, moisturizers, facial treatments 
  • Risks: classified as a carcinogen by the European Union due to potential contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (85); also linked to skin irritation and allergies (87)

10. Siloxanes

  • Cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane and cyclomethicon; also known as “D4” and “D4”l;  used to make products dry faster and slide on my easily
  • Found in: hair products, deodorants                                                      
  • Risks: D4 is considered an endocrine disruptor (91) and can impair fertility (92); D5 linked to uterine tumors, and harmful to the reproductive, immune, and nervous systems (93) 

11. Sodium laureth sulfate (A.K.A. “SLES”)

  • Used as a cleansing agent and to help products bubble and foam
  • Found in: Shampoos, shower gels, facial cleaners  
  • Risks: Potential contamination with carcinogenic 1,4-dixane (96), potential skin and eye irritant (101)

12. Triclosan

  • Used as a preservative and anti-bacterial agent
  • Sources: antiperspirants, cleansers, hand sanitizers (+ many household cleaning products)
  • Risks: Permeable to skin (104); suspected hormone disruptor (105); skin and eye irritant (107); may contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria (110)


Ask the PA: Skin Cancer Early Detection

By Kathy Engles, PA-C

Question: When it comes to skin cancer, which early detection strategies should I be aware of?

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends monthly self-examinations to alert you of any changes in your skin as well as annual exams by a healthcare provider to aid in early detection and treatment of skin conditions, the most concerning of which is skin cancer.

To conduct a self-exam, follow these steps: 

  1. Examine your face, especially your nose, lips mouth and ears-front and back.
  2. Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.
  3. Check your hands carefully: palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both front and back of your forearms.
  4. Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don't forget the underarms
  5. Next, focus on the neck, chest, and torso. Women should lift breasts to view the underside.
  6. With your back to the full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back, and any part of the back of your upper arms you could not view in step 4
  7. Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks, and backs of both legs.
  8. Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin, ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Examine soles of feet and heels.

What to look for:

  • A skin growth that has increased in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored.
  • A beauty mark, birthmark  mole or any brown spot that changes in color, increases in size, changes in texture, is irregular in outline, is larger than the size of a pencil eraser or appears in adulthood.
  • A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode or bleed.
  • An open sore that does not heal in 3 weeks.
  • If you see anything suspicious, see a healthcare provider.

Recommendations for healthy sun exposure:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Avoid burning.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad brimmed hat and UV- blocking sunglasses.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 TBS) of sunscreen to your body 30 minutes prior to going outside. Reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or heavy perspiring.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun.

From our March 2013 issue, Tips for choosing a safe sunscreen: 

  • Avoid products with oxybenzone (an endocrine disruptor) and vitamin A (or retinyl palmitate), which has been associated with an increased risk of skin cancer.
  • Look for products without added fragrances. Synthetic chemical fragrances act as hormone disruptors.
  • Choose sunscreens with SPF 30.
  • Find mineral-based products containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or 3 percent avobenzone. Ideally, look for products that contain these ingredients in their standard form instead of as nanoparticles, which are more susceptible to skin penetration.
  • Check other personal care products (especially cosmetics) that may contain sunscreen.
  • Click here for a complete list of sunscreen products recommended by the Environmental Working Group.

In the News: Lead in Lipstick

By Katie Dalton, BS, A.C.E.

The topic of chemicals in cosmetics has gained some recent public attention after researchers from University of California-Berkeley's School of Public Health found potentially toxic levels of synthetic chemicals in commercial lipsticks.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education Research Center and published in the May 2013 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, measured levels of lead, cadmuim, chromium, aluminum, and five other metals in 32 lip products and aimed to assess potential health risks of their intake.

What did they find? Manganese, titanium, and aluminum were detected in all examined products, with titanium and aluminum present in the highest concentrations. Lead was also detected in 75% of products. While some of these compounds have known carcinogenic properties, it should be noted that toxicity depends on exposure. According to the researchers, average user applies lipstick 2.3 times per day. For this very reason, the European Union considers cadmium, chromium and lead as unacceptable ingredients. They do not allow them in their cosmetic products in any amount.

According to S. Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health and co-author of the study, some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that warrant particular concern for long-term health. She states, "Just finding these metals isn't the issue. It's the levels that matter...this study is saying, 'FDA, wake up and pay attention". 


Concentrations and Potential Health Risks of Metals in Lip Products 

Lipstick study opens up concerns about carcinogen

D.I.Y. "Skin Food"

By Katie Dalton, BS, A.C.E.

Now that we know the systemic impact of the commercial products we lather on our bodies, it makes sense to look for the most pure ingredients to nourish our weathered skin. Although there are some wonderful natural products on the market, your kitchen also has a lot to offer. Follow the steps below to create your own D.I.Y. "skin food". 

Step 1: Choose a healthy oil

Even though it may seem counterintuitive to put oil on your skin, there's good reason for it. As you age, the integrity of your skin's cell membranes, which are composed of lipids, declines. Healthy cell membranes are what allow the cells to stay plump, full of water and nutrients. By applying essential fatty acids onto the body, you're literally feeding your skin! For all ingredients, choose organic whenever possible.

  • Virgin coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Argan oil 
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Jojoba oil 
  • Sweet almond oil 
  • Grapeseed oil 
  • Avocado oil 
  • Hemp seed oil

Step 2: For a more desirable scent, add a few drops of an essential oil. Try adding 4-7 drops per ounce of oil. 

  • Geranium 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Peppermint 
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Chamomile
  • Palmarosa 
  • Lemongrass 


  • To prevent any unexpected allergic reactions, perform a skin patch test before applying to the rest of your body. 
  • Store in a reusable glass jar or container.
  • These make wonderful gifts!

Hungry for more homemade body care recipes? Check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic's DIY Recipes page.

Food for Thought: Sensational Skin

By Tracy Baginski, BS, CCN

Skin. It is estimated that there is about 17 to 20 square feet of it covering the average human body.  If the vast array of skin care products and surgical procedures are any indication, we are obsessed with it!  Who doesn’t want a clear complexion that reflects a healthy, youthful glow? There are a plethora of products that moisturize, abrade, peel and otherwise promise to improve the overall appearance of skin using external measures. Listed below are suggestions on how to optimize skin health from the inside out.

Nutrition Influences on Skin Health:
It should come as no surprise that changes in nutrition status not only alter skin structure and function, but also effect appearance as well.  Deficiencies in key nutrients, exposure to ultraviolet radiation and chemical irritants all affect the health and appearance of your skin.

Healthy Fats and Oils:  Fats are a key component of the epidermal barrier. The essential fatty acids-omega 6 and omega 3-effect both the function and appearance of skin. Higher intakes of essential fatty acids are associated with a youthful skin appearance and photoprotection (Purba et al). Their role here is in acting as part of the barrier protection by preventing loss of fluid and providing structural integrity. The long chain, omega 3 fish oils (EPA/DHA) are also well researched in their role as mediators of inflammation with regards to many skins conditions.
Blood Sugar/Glucose: Glucose fuels many cells throughout the body, and skin cells are no exception.  Imbalances in blood sugar regulation drastically affect skin structure and appearance. Following a low glycemic, Mediterranean style program not only provides nutrients to nourish the skin, it also ensures that the subsequent rise in blood sugar is more measured. Dramatic increases in blood sugar are associated with increased and excessive inflammation, which is damaging to the skin.  

Additionally, several studies have shown that a higher intake of vegetables, legumes, olive oil and monounsaturated fats (from olives, avocados), all key components of a Mediterranean diet, is associated with less skin wrinkling in sun exposed skin. A 2007 study by Cosgrove et al published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that a higher intake of vitamin C and the omega 6 fatty acid linoleic acid is associated with improved appearance of skin, including lower likelihood of wrinkling and dryness. 

It is important to note that the effect of UV radiation from the sun cannot be overstated. Exposure to UV light depletes both vitamin C and vitamin E and generates destructive molecules called free radicals that enhance the aging process. Outside of eating healthfully, the two most important measures you can take to enhance the health and appearance of your skin are to minimize your time in the sun and refrain from smoking. 

Protein: The basic building blocks of protein are amino acids. These building blocks provide support for both the dermis and epidermis, and play a key role in barrier function. Eating quality protein, either from animal or plant based sources, will give your skin the tools to create a healthy and strong supportive framework.

Plants/Phytonutrients: There is increasing evidence that eating a high plant-based, phytonutrient-rich diet confers protection from UV rays, helps modulate inflammation and influences defense mechanisms in the skin. The benefits also include improved wound healing and blood vessel health. Fill half your plate at both lunch and dinner with colorful, fresh plant based foods.

Sources: Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health

Beyond Wrinkles: the role of stress

By Kathy Engles, PA-C

The effects of stress can negatively impact our health, which includes taking a toll on our skin. It can manifest in a variety of ways but generally makes the skin more sensitive and reactive. This can make conditions such as eczema, rosacea or psoriasis worse. Acne outbreaks may become more frequent and persistent. The increased secretion of cortisol triggered by chronic stress diminishes your skin’s ability to hold moisture and can damage the protein fibers that keep the skin smooth. Beyond the direct physiologic effects, being under stress can interfere with our ability and motivation to adhere to healthy skin care regimens, consume nutritious foods, hydrate adequately and practice stress reducing techniques.

Maintaining happy, healthy skin gives us another reason to try to manage the daily stressors that are present in our lives. The foundation of any integrative stress management program would be to aspire to eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet and drink adequate amounts of water to keep skin hydrated. Regular physical activity decreases stress and can improve your mood. Sleeping 7-8 hours nightly is also an important component that provides an opportunity for the body to rest and restore.

Recipe: Julie Morris’s Raw Mint Chip Superfood Green Smoothie

As you may have already known, we love smoothies! By blending anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies with healthy fats and quality proteins, you can create an infinite number of nutrient-packed, refreshing combinations that support skin health. One of the great things about smoothies is that the taste of greens can actually be masked by sweeter flavors and adding "extras" like cacao (unprocessed chocolate) or pure vanilla can even transform a fruit and veggie blend into a decadent summer treat. If you're a fan of mint chip ice cream, you'll want to give this smoothie a try!


  • 2 cups frozen spinach
  • 2 cups frozen bananas
  • 1⁄4 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 3 Tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 Tbsp (packed) fresh mint leaves, minced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rice milk (original variety)
  • 1⁄2 cup coconut water
  • sweetener, to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp chlorella (optional for a superfood boost)

​*Note that cashews will provide some protein, but you can also add a scoop of quality plant-based protein powder. We recommend doing this if your smoothie is serving as its own meal. You can also sub the rice milk for any milk alternative. 

Blend all the ingredients together (I use a Vitamix) until smooth.Taste, and sweeten as desired. Makes two 18-ounce servings.

Source: Healthy Blender Recipes

Move: Barefoot shoes - hype or science?

By Katie Dalton, BS, A.C.E.

Just as skin provides a barrier to the outside world, our feet serve an equally important role. Connecting and balancing us as we move through each day, our feet are the roots that ground us to the earth. There seems to be a lot of hype these days around “barefoot shoes”. Is it marketing hype or is there truth to the science?

Long ago, in a time before Nikes, Dr. Scholl's®, and stilettos, humans were barefoot. In fact, they functioned sans shoes for millions of years, before eventually adopting sandals, slippers, and moccasins that offered minimal protection from the elements, relative to the ergonomic cushioning and support of modern-day footwear.

Even beyond their primary protective function, though, the innovation of shoes has proven to be an incredible advancement for humans. You can drive to your local mall right now and find hiking boots with sound arch support, running sneakers that prevent pronation, and yes, you may even find a pair of kicks that claim to “tone your legs” while you walk. We’ve done a lot to shoes. The question is: what have they done to us?

To answer that, take a look at the photo pictured above. This photo is from a 1905 study, published in the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, which compared the feet of native populations in the Philippines and Central Africa who had never worn shoes (pictured on top) to Europeans who had (pictured on the bottom). The comparison is fascinating. Just for fun, slip off your own shoes right now and examine your feet. Do your toes splay apart, almost like the fingers of your hand, or do they rest with little place between them, conforming to the shape of your modern-day shoe? Most importantly, does this even matter?

Given that your foot and ankle house 26 bones (one-quarter of all the bones in your body), 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, along with an entire network of blood vessels, nerves, skin, and soft tissue, yes – it absolutely does matter. First of all, when the feet aren’t able to detect the surface below them, they’re not able to send signals to the central nervous system that in turn prompt changes in muscles controlling the feet, ankles, knees, hips, back and torso. In other words, our sensory feedback is reduced, impacting our mechanics and causing compensatory movement patterns up the body’s entire chain.

Another consequence of altering foot-ground contact is the body’s tendency to actually pound the ground harder in an attempt to “feel” it. It’s been estimated that you hit the ground up to three times harder in a supportive shoe than barefoot, which places excessive torque on the hips and knees.

Lastly, our footwear can even change our natural gait and stride to be more of a “heel strike”. Ideally, we want to be landing on the ball of the foot and then the heel, as the Achilles tendon, plantar fascia, and supporting ligaments and muscles function as a powerful spring. Conventional running sneakers, though, which have a thick cushion under the heel, actually tend to promote the heel-strike.

So yes, the minimalist or “five-finger” footwear you’ve seen people wearing does serve a science-driven purpose: to decrease risk of overuse injury and improve performance by promoting more natural human movement through improved tactile responsiveness, increased intrinsic muscle strength, and corrected biomechanical dysfunction.

With that said, there is no perfect recipe for ideal human movement and what works well for one person, isn’t the solution for the next. If you are considering adopting a minimalist approach to footwear, please don’t start by throwing your orthotics in the trash. Start by simply reengaging your feet. In fact, this is something that everyone can benefit from!

Follow the tips below to learn how:

Strategies for everyone -

  • Start your morning with 30 seconds of Arch Rolls, using a tennis, golf, or lacrosse ball. This will help to release tension in the fascia that covers your entire body and will activate those tiny, intrinsic muscles in your feet. Arch rolls can even be done from under your desk at work!
  • Try wearing toe socks or Yoga Toes® around the house, which help to spread and stretch your toes in an effort to realign your foot structure.
  • Three times per week, for 5-10 minutes, practice foot strengthening with marbles.
  • Practice engaging the underworked muscles in your feet with Intrinsic Towel Crunches.
  • Do yoga! Yoga is the perfect opportunity to safely practice barefoot balance, strength, and flexibility.
  • Skip the high heels (yes, even if they look good). More on this topic in a future issue! 

Strategies for runners - 

  • Embrace progression. If you purchase a minimalist or barefoot shoe, introduce activity gradually. Start by wearing them around the house, walking, and trying shorter running intervals before you log any serious miles.
  • Choose the right surface. Start with (and you may even want to stick with) surfaces that absorb shock better than concrete, like soft grass or a cushioned track.
  • Tune in to your stride. Minimalist footwear aims to discourage a heel strike, but perfecting your form is a process. Try this Acceleration Wall Drill to practice better running mechanics


Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners

How to Become a Barefoot Athlete

Barefoot running: biomechanics and implications for running injuries

Class Descriptions

Chair Yoga
This unique class is designed for seniors or for those who have physical limitations or difficulties exercising. Students are led through a series of yoga postures while seated in a chair or using a chair for support, providing options and modifications for everybody. Appropriate for beginners. Taught by Dawn Rutledge

Mat Yoga (Level 1)
This is a basic, self-paced class emphasizing the fundamental poses of yoga to reinforce foundation and focus. Appropriate for all levels of student. Taught by Dawn Rutledge

Tai Chi
Tai Chi and Qigong are a gentle series of circular and stretching movements that help relieve stress while increasing one’s natural energy. Benefits of a regular practice include improved blood pressure, circulation, muscle and joint flexibility, balance, mental clarity, and peace of mind. This class is appropriate for all levels and experience, including seniors and those with physical challenges. Taught by Angella Hamilton

Nutrition 101
Our Nutrition 101 class provides a 6 week tour of our foundational program:  The Mediterranean Plate.  This class is designed for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the role that foods play in inflammation, healthy aging, and overall health.  We will review the practical, hands-on aspect of gradually transitioning your kitchen (meals and food choices included) into a healthy and delicious food pharmacy.  Taught by Tracy Baginski, BS, CCN

Healthy Body Composition 
Changing habits take time, information, patience, and guidance.  In this comprehensive 6 week program you will learn how to create a lifestyle that supports a healthy, fat-burning metabolism.   Topics covered include:  meal planning and preparation, which foods safely boost metabolism and optimize fat loss, and environmental factors that impact the body’s systems. 
After the initial 6 week class, ongoing monthly meetings will be held to provide additional support and guidance. Taught by Tracy Baginski, BS, CCN 

Meditation for Wellness
This is a 6 week class that will introduce patients to several forms of Mindfulness Meditation practices. There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating that meditation reduces the negative effects of stress and increases compassion for ourselves and others and is an additional tool to aid in creating health and wellness. Taught by Kathleen Engles, PA-C
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness practice is ideal for cultivating greater awareness of the unity of mind and body, as well as of the ways the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can undermine emotional, physical, and spiritual health. MBSR was developed in 1979 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at UMASS Medical School. This is a manualized, evidence-based, 8-week program. MBSR is highly participatory and deeply engaging experiential learning.  Taught by Dr. Tom Best and Gayle Cordes, LPC, LISAC 
*Will resume in early Fall

HeartMath is a collection of tools and strategies especially designed to lower stress and increase emotional and physical resilience. HeartMath interventions help to establish a new physiological baseline - a measurable change in heart rate variability (HRV) that you can both see (on a computer screen) and experience. You will learn to sustain this change in the midst of your challenging daily lives. As a result of using HeartMath interventions you may experience better sleep, more energy, improved mood, less stress, less anxiety, more joy, greater mental clarity, improved intuition, improved concentration, more optimism, improved performance and greater overall well-being. These factors naturally enhance physical and mental health. Taught by Tracey Emmons, RN

Stress Management 101                                                     In this 6 week series, we will learn how our bodies react to stress, both short lived and chronic. We'll start by learning to identify the numerous sources of stress in our lives; both physical and psychological by taking a stress inventory. This will be followed by experiential sessions of proven stress management techniques and tools. Armed with this information, you will formulate your own unique plan for stress management. It’s important to understand that you can’t entirely eliminate all the stress from your life, but you can learn to immunize yourself against its effects! Taught by Kathy Engles, PA-C