5 Keys to Health Insurance and Navigating the new Reform

Today we have a guest blogger, Carl Horne

Company photoWelcome Carl!

He has been working in insurance for 8 years with Healthmarkets. Their focus
has always been on helping families responsible for their own benefits, and the micro business. They broker with most of the highest rated Insurers and give you personal assistance in finding what best fits your needs for your, Health, Life, Supplemental and Disability insurance.

5 Keys to Health Insurance and Navigating the new Reform:

1) Review your health coverage:

Whether your plan is grandfathered(enrolled prior to March 23 2010) or
ACA compliant, talk to a licensed agent to understand your benefits.
The Affordable Care Act, has mandated many new benefits so it’s best to
know what is covered by your Grandfathered plan vs ACA plan.

2) Use Preventative Care:
Part of the ACA mandates are coverage for preventative care. Everything
from Immunizations, Cholesterol and Blood pressure screenings, to
cancer screenings and colonoscopies are covered 100% regardless of your
deductible. Make sure and talk to your doctor about recommended
screenings and you can consult with your agent to make sure it is

3) Plan for out of Pocket Expenses:
Higher deductible plans and large out of pocket maximums have left many
unable to pay their medical bills.
With the high cost of insurance these plans are more attractive because
the premiums are lower. Unfortunately you are at
greater financial risk. A relatively inexpensive way to help is to look
into Supplemental benefits that will pay you if you have
an Accident, Hospital stay, or Critical Illness, and help offset your
financial exposure.

4) Understand How You Use Insurance
Many of my clients are self employed, healthy and use primarily
Holistic Healthcare.
Although it is counter intuitive, many of these benefits are not
covered well by insurance. If it is covered, you will
likely be paying for a much more expensive plan. I have typically found
that the higher premium you pay is more than
the cost of paying for benefits like, acupuncture, chiropractic, and
massage therapy out of pocket.
You may consider an HSA plan. These plans have higher deductibles, and
you pay out of pocket for everything except
preventative until you reach your deductible. After your deductible is
met the plan pays and protects you form the major medical bills.

With these plans you can set up a Health Savings Account with your
bank. The funds in this account can be used for all your out of
pocket medical expenses. The advantage is the amount that you fund your
HSA account is a tax write off.(up to the IRS limit). These funds of
course roll over year after year.

5) Better Protection
Pre existing conditions can no longer increase your rate or deny you
You can also no longer be dropped from coverage for medical reasons, or
have reductions in your plan benefits.

For more information please feel free to contact me

Carl Horne
Licensed Insurance Agent 0F46503

2107 N. First St Suite 350 ■ San Jose, CA 95131

P 415-341-0178 ■ C 415-845-9659 ■ F 408-794-2285

carl.horne@HealthMarkets.com ■



Ergonomic desks for improved lifestyle

Are you sitting at a computer more than 6-8 hours a day for work?

I have many clients who come once a week for bodywork in order to compensate for the effects that sitting at a desk is having on their bodies.  These aren’t inactive people either.  Most of them are exercising regularly when they aren’t sitting at a computer all day. Still, their bodies are suffering from the long term effects of sitting for such long stints of time each day.

It manifests as frozen shoulders, neck pain, chronic back pain, migraines, sciatica and major hip imbalances along with mental and emotional stress. I realized that unless people change the way they work, I can only help them temporarily.

So what is a more viable solution?

The idea of a standing desk is great, but standing all day is not that great for you either. It’s a drastic change from sitting and has it’s own implications.  It’s more ideal to be able to sit and stand interchangeably.  There are many automatic desks out there that allow you to sit and/or stand at the same desk with a remote control.

I started looking for a local company that provided such a solution and found Ergo Depot in Potrero Hill.

I took a client of mine who was a great candidate for a desk like this to Ergo Depot and they were incredibly helpful.  She purchased one of the mobile desks (and one of their ergonomic chairs) and has since had significant improvements to her back and hip problems.

Check out this video and start thinking progressively about investing in changing the way you work for a more healthy lifestyle.

I will have a sample desk from Ergo Depot in my studio for you to test drive starting next week.

Bon Voyage, Adeola

Our near and dear, Adeola will no longer be with the SF Wellness Collective, as she recently moved to Seattle.  We will miss Adeola and her great contributions to the SF Wellness Collective and our blog.

Adeola, we wish you the very best in Seattle and hope to have you as a guest blogger on occasion.

Getting to the heart of the QL

Case study:

I recently had a client coming to see me once a month for the past 6 weeks with a problem in her low back and hips. I could see clearly that her QL (quadratis lumborum), erector spinae were completely burnt out from being in a constant state of contraction and in addition, her glute med’s weren’t working at all. I knew I could help with the first phase of healing by releasing and relaxing the Ql’s, erector spinae and corresponding trigger points in the piriformis and psoas.

I also knew that unless she either changes what she does everyday (which happened to be sitting at a desk all day long) or she learned exercises that would re-train her muscles out of their habit, meaning learning to consciously relax muscles that are in constant contraction while learning to fire muscles that no longer know how to fire, she would never get lasting results from my work.

As suspected, each time she came in, she felt better for a week or so after, but we always went back to square one. After 2 times of this, I started recommending that she see Cassidy at The Body Gallery. Cassidy retrains your body from the inside out how to get back in balance and the results are lasting! I can speed up the process by encouraging and reminding your muscles that they should be relaxed and also encourage nerve passageways to fire again through trigger point therapy. This is how Cassidy and I work so effectively together.  She has seen Cassidy just two times now and is already noticing changes in her body and the reduced pain is lasting longer.  

I know it’s much more exciting to think that laying on a massage table with an amazing bodyworker can correct  all the crazy things we expect from our body on daily basis rather than having to do some work from the inside out for lasting effects, but it’s simply dillusional….sorry!

Educational moment: One of the most common rebutles when I tell a client a certain muscle is weak and proceed to find that the same muscle is incredibly tight, is “How can it be so tight if it’s weak and I’m not using it?” This article is a great explanation of how a muscle like the QL can actually be weak and tight at the same time. It’s also a great explanation as to the work that Cassidy and I do are so complementary to each other and essential to the whole healing process.

Quadratis Lumborum:



“The quadratus lumborum, or QL, is a common source of lower back pain. Because the QL connects the pelvis to the spine and is therefore capable of extending the lower back when contracting bilaterally, the two QLs pick up the slack, as it were, when the lower fibers of the erector spinae are weak or inhibited (as they often are in the case of habitual seated computer use and/or the use of a lower back support in a chair). Given their comparable mechanical disadvantage, constant contraction while seated can overuse the QLs, resulting in muscle fatigue. A constantly contracted QL, like any other muscle, will experience decreased blood flow, and, in time, adhesions in the muscle and fascia may develop, the end point of which is muscle spasm.

The experience of “productive pain” or pleasure by a patient upon palpation of the QL is indicative of such a condition.

Hip abduction is performed primarily by the hip abductors (glut medius and minimus). When the glut med/min are weak or inhibited, the TFL or QL will compensate by becoming the prime mover. The most impaired movement pattern of hip abduction is when the QL initiates the movement, which results in hip hiking during swing phase of gait. Hip hiking places excessive side-bending compressive stresses on the lumbar segments. Thus, a tight QL may be another hidden cause of low back pain (Janda 1987).

When the hip adductors are tight or hypertonic, their antagonist (gluteus medius) may experience reciprocal inhibition. The gluteus medius will become weak and inhibited. This in turn may cause hypertonicity of ipsilateral QL. Chronic hypertonicity of QL tends to cause low back pain due to its ability to create compressive stress on lumbar segment.

Current studies show that application of heat or ice, massage, and estim will not leave long-term benefits. Careful assessment of muscular imbalances and movement impairments by a therapist is recommended in order to address the underlying issues mentioned (you need Cassidy for this).

While stretching and strengthening the QL are indicated for unilateral lower back pain, heat or ice applications as well as massage should be considered as part of any comprehensive rehabilitation regimen”  (You need Jennifer for this).





Photo Credit:



Sleeping Beauty? or Sleep-deprived Beast?

Who doesn’t love to Sleep? With all the amazing benefits that sleep brings us, it seems crazy that most of us choose to deprive ourselves of something so simple and yummy…


If you routinely lose sleep or choose to sleep less than needed, the sleep loss adds up. The total sleep lost is called your sleep debt. For example, if you lose 2 hours of sleep each night, you’ll have a sleep debt of 14 hours after a week.

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being

Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.

Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning. Whether you’re learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.


Children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.

Physical Health

Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity. For example, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. Sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity in other age groups as well.

Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.


Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility.

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

Daytime Performance and Safety

Getting enough quality sleep at the right times helps you function well throughout the day. People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.

After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Problem Sleepiness?
Sleep deficiency can cause you to feel very tired during the day. You may not feel refreshed and alert when you wake up. Sleep deficiency also can interfere with work, school, driving, and social functioning.

How sleepy you feel during the day can help you figure out whether you’re having symptoms of problem sleepiness. You might be sleep deficient if you often feel like you could doze off while:

Sitting and reading or watching TV
Sitting still in a public place, such as a movie theater, meeting, or classroom
Riding in a car for an hour without stopping
Sitting and talking to someone
Sitting quietly after lunch
Sitting in traffic for a few minutes



Sleep deficiency can cause problems with learning, focusing, and reacting. You may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, remembering things, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. You may take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.
The signs and symptoms of sleep deficiency may differ between children and adults. Children who are sleep deficient might be overly active and have problems paying attention. They also might misbehave, and their school performance can suffer.

You may not notice how sleep deficiency affects your daily routine. A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right times is vital for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

Strategies for Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep often is the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their schedules. Making time to sleep will help you protect your health and well-being now and in the future.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.

Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep.


The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active.
Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).
Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.

Napping during the day may provide a boost in alertness and performance. However, if you have trouble falling asleep at night, limit naps or take them earlier in the afternoon. Adults should nap for no more than 20 minutes.

Napping in preschool-aged children is normal and promotes healthy growth and development.

-National Heart Blood and Lung Institute

Massage VS. Bodywork

What is the difference between Massage and Bodywork?

I recently had a new client come to me while she was visiting San Francisco from New York City. She had some serious issues going on in her hips and low back due to slight scoliosis. She had been to many massage therapists in NYC and complained that they didn’t do much for lasting relief from her pain., nor did they even recognize that she had scoliosis…

I noticed her scoliosis very quickly and I worked specifically on the areas that were bothering her, as well as the areas I knew were contributing to the problem. I found the trigger points that were referring to other areas of her body and focused on them until they released. I knew she needed work in her psoas but sensed she had never had work done in that area before. The psoas is a very intimate and vulnerable area of the body that is not the most comfortable to have worked on…but once you do and once you feel the results of it’s affects, you only want more! She was all for it!

She felt amazing after our session and was concerned about going back to NYC and not finding someone who could help her in the same way. My advice? … Skip the search for massage therapists and search only for “bodyworkers”. Once you find a bodyworker that sounds compelling, ask them if they do psoas work…that’s how you will know if they are truely a “bodyworker”. True bodyworkers are very familiar, comfortable and experienced in working with the psoas as a gateway to so many other profound issues.

I’m not suggesting that the only attribute that makes someone a “bodyworker” is psoas work, nor am I suggesting that everyone needs psoas work, but I am suggesting that there is a significant difference between massage therapy and bodywork. If you are looking for resolve to an acute or chronic injury due to work or an exercise related problem, you don’t waste time and money on finding the right massage therapist. You will spend much less time and energy if you focus on finding a great bodyworker!

I hope this is helpful for those in search of alternative healing through massage therapy.