How can Myofascial Release help you?

Is tension holding you back?
Feel better with Stellar Strength and live an active life.
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How can Myofascial Release help you?

What is Fascia?

Fascia is best described as a three dimensional web that runs throughout your entire body. Fascia covers and interpenetrates every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein. It also surrounds all of your internal organs including the heart, lungs brain and spinal cord. Think of the segments of an orange, this best illustrates how your fascial system works and separates everything.

Trauma, environmental stress, repetitive motions, inflammation and injury can all impact how tight and restricted your fascia becomes. Any abnormal tightness binds down your body, making it unable to function the way it was designed to with extremely limited ranges of motion. This creates imbalances, postural compensations, limited range of motion and pain patterns that are seemingly unexplainable. Restricted fascia does NOT show up in typical medical tests.

A high percentage of people experiencing these symptoms may be experiencing fascial restrictions or adhesions. If not released, the fascia continues constrict eventually affecting other parts of the body.

John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (JFBMFR) is a soft tissue mobilization technique designed to eliminate tension and restrictions causing pain or trauma within the fascial system.  It is a hands-on approach done by a qualified JFBMFR therapist by using gentle, sustained, specific pressure. Stellar Strength offers this highly skilled method to clients.

Some of the problems John F. Barnes Myofascial Release helps:

  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Neck pain
  • Jaw pain (TMJ)
  • Sports injuries
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Scoliosis
  • Sciatica
  • Migraines
  • Scar Tissue
  • Knee pain
  • IT Band issues
Stellar Strength will design an in-home program specifically for you.  Reduce stress while increasing flexibility and range of motion. Eliminate tension and stiffness while balancing your body from the inside out. Call to set up a session.
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Blending VS. Juicing

I’m sure you have all heard about how popular juicing and blending are and how great they for you. You might not know exactly how to get started. I didn’t at first, and I found it extremely intimidating.

I’m here to break down the difference between the two and try and remove any fears you may have about starting something new.

The most important thing to note is, you cannot mess this up. So don’t worry that you will put too much or too little of something in and ruin a concoction.

There are two ways to go about this, one is what I call “Blending”, it’s really just tossing a bunch of high quality veggies or roots and a little fruit into a blender, adding a bit of purified water and turning it on. You want to make sure you have a good blender for this. I have a Vitamix, which I love. You would be completely fine with a NutriBullet or less expensive blender, just make sure it is powerful enough to pulverize whatever you want to add. Blending retains the fiber of the vegetables and there is zero waste, since you are blending the whole fruit, roots or leaves and then drinking it. It does tend to keep you fuller longer. Something important to know; please make sure you blend for a while, and add enough water. Otherwise, you will have little bits of kale floating around because you didn’t blend them up enough. I hate the texture of this, you might not.

The second option is “Juicing”. You really do want to have a high quality machine to do this. I purchased an Omega juicer that I love. I can juice and save it for a few days in the refrigerator and it’s still good. Juicing allows you to get nutrients from a great deal of veggies, roots and citrus all at one time without too much fiber. I feel healthier, much more energetic and happier when I juice. Personally, I prefer juicing because my body reacts better to it. Some people don’t like the pulpy “waste” juicing creates, but this isnt an issue for me because I feed my dogs raw and I give them everything that isn’t used.

Many times I have been in clients homes and they tell me they just don’t think they can do it; it’s too confusing, it’s too time consuming. I have stopped what we were doing and taken them to their kitchen and made a blended smoothie right there. Proving you don’t need a lot of ingredients and it truly is pretty simple.

Some veggies you might want to begin with to blend or juice are, kale, spinach, celery, romaine, beets, parsley, ginger and carrots. The harder fruits are better for juicing, apple, pear, etc. The softer ones are better for blending, avocado, mango, etc. The list goes on and on. I try and keep the sweet stuff to a minimum because I don’t want to drink too much sugar. I don’t use a lot of fruit in my juices or blends, but you can. You can use a few veggies or a lot. They all provide something different nutritionally.

The combination I juiced today was kale, celery, carrot, parsley and spinach. I am drinking it as I type. Let me know how it goes for you, and what your favorite combinations are. I can also add some more detailed recipes, if requested. Some books I recommend to get started are “The Juicing Bible,” by Pat Crocker; and “Juice,” by the founders of Pressed Juicery.

Happy Juicing.


My newest addiction, Avocado Caprese Toast

Avocado Caprese Toast

I am always tweaking things and trying to come up with the healthiest versions of food I love. This is a simple, incredible lunch I created last week with healthy ingredients I had on hand. I got so many positive responses, I wanted to share it here for reference. Let me know what you think or how you have changed it to suit your tastes more.




One small Baguette sliced lengthwise and toasted

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, as much as you like or you can omit for a vegan version

One half of a ripe Avocado, smashed

A few sliced Organic Grape Tomatoes

A few fresh Basil leaves

Your favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle

Fresh cracked Black Pepper and Celtic Sea Salt

I toasted the baguette under a broiler first, then put the cheese on and allowed that to get a bit warm and melted.

I smashed the avocado, put the tomatoes and basil on top of it. I drizzled a bit of extra virgin olive oil on top and salt and pepper.

What’s so great about the Grand Canyon? (You can do anything you set your mind to)

I’ve hiked a lot of amazing places in my life and consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to have done so. Last year was a big birthday year for me. Ugh. So we wanted to do something different. Something “Bucket Listy”. My Birthday is in the winter. My husband had never been to Sedona so we decided to start there and then head to the Grand Canyon and stay at the famous El Tovar Lodge for a few nights. Of course the whole trip was about hiking and great food.

I knew the first time I saw the GC I was going to be emotional because that’s just how I am. I knew it was going to be huge, I knew it was going to be incredible..I just had the proportions all wrong. When I finally got to the edge at Mather Point and we stopped and looked. Not only did it take my breath away, it took my ability to communicate away. I remember being glad I had huge sunglasses on because I wouldn’t talk, breathe and had tears in my eyes. What a geek huh!

It’s truly magnificent. I know everyone says this but you have no idea how massive it is until you’re standing on the edge of it. There are so many layers and areas and everywhere you look it goes on forever. The South Rim is the most popular and easiest access point so it’s the most crowded. 5.5 million people visit every year. Lucky for us, few people are dumb enough to want to go when it’s freezing out.

It had snowed a lot before we got there and we were worried that our hopes of hiking were over due to dangerous conditions. We had bought some cheapie crampons in Sedona and had already used them there.

I knew it was going to be difficult because most great hiking is, but the issue with the GC is that its completely opposite of every other hike you almost ever do, unless you’re a huge canyon hiking expert. Which living in the Midwest right now, I wasn’t. The GC is the opposite of every other hike. Usually you use all of your energy trying to get to the top and when you do you’re exhausted and happy and have your lovely friend named Gravity to help you get down the mountain. Oh no, not here, here you go down at a pretty good incline the whole way and then have to get out. It’s an insane amount of vertical height you have to cover if you’re not used to it.

We decided to start with the Bright Angel Trail because it’s a popular trail and is well maintained. Thank god we had the crampons otherwise our hike would have been about three minutes long and we would have been like the other 99% of people that visit and not go into the Canyon. It was 9 degrees when we started hiking January 3. It was silent, and there were very, very, very, few people. I remember how quiet it was and kept saying to my husband, “Listen to how quiet it is!!” Which I know completely defeats the whole silence part, but I had to know he was hearing or not hearing the same thing I was.

What amazed me the most was how much bigger it is when you are in it. The white band of sandstone that’s clearly visible at the top of the canyon when you look at it from the rim looks tiny! It’s at least 400 feet tall in “real life”. It’s so amazing walking next to it then under it as you descend further into the canyon.

We only made it to the 3 Mile Resthouse the first trip, but we had to use the crampons the entire time. As we came back up to the rim, I knew I had accomplished something incredible. I did something I didn’t think I could. I conquered a fear, and now was addicted. That first time it took us 5 hours to go 6 miles.

We celebrated at El Tovar for dinner and exhausted went back to the room. Neither of us really slept because the hotel is so old and haunty and ghosts love me, but it was still such a great trip.

You have to go IN to the canyon to really appreciate the vastness. You have to be able to stand under the rock layers to experience how tall they are. Even if you are out of shape, you can at least make it to the first tunnel on Bright Angel or to Ooh Ahh point on the South Kaibab.

That was in January 2015, and we’ve now been to Sedona and the Grand Canyon four times within 13 months. I know we are incredibly fortunate to go from never having the opportunity to visit to getting the chance to go that often.

In March 2015 we went and hiked to Plateau Point, a 12 mile hike and only added an hour to out original time. In September 2015 we went back and hiked down past Indian Gardens to the Bright Angel Creek and to the corkscrew. You have to be smart in the Grand Canyon. It’s not very forgiving. It gets extremely hot. You must be prepared, you can have a terrible outcome if you are not.

In February 2016 we returned and did what every single sign tells you not to. We hiked to the Colorado River and back in a day. We descended South Kaibab very early in the morning and went as fast as we could, sometimes running. We stopped briefly at Phantom Ranch, long enough to get a lemonade and a patch proving I made it there. After a brief rest we started up Bright Angel Trail. The whole trip that day was 17 miles, we hiked for almost 9 hours. It was amazing.

The entire point of me sharing this story is to push yourself to do things you don’t think you can. Even when confronted with something so vast and overwhelming, if you work for it; you can achieve it. You can always start small. Each journey is different in some way.

Transcendental Meditation

Close-up of white pebbles stack over blue sea

I’ve decided I’m horrible at meditating. I know all about the benefits, but up until now I haven’t been able to just do it. I know I have plenty of time to do so.

I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) a few years ago hoping it would help digestive problems I was having along with relieving some stress. Nothing works if you don’t do it, so I obviously can’t blame anyone but me.

Last night I signed up for a refresher course. Today I started practicing what I already know.

TM really is amazing, you can’t mess it up, you can’t do it wrong and you can’t break it. It also has incredible benefits. It relieves stress,helps you work with more clarity, it allows for better academic performance, it lowers blood pressure, it helps lower your risk of heart disease, and it makes you smarter.

Today while I was meditating I tried to quiet myself and noticed at first my breath was pretty shallow, almost like it was painful or I was really nervous about messing this up. Slowly, I relaxed and my breath got deeper and I could feel I was utilizing more of my lung capacity. I could feel things shift and I started paying attention to my heart. I could feel it more than I could hear it, and I started thinking about all of the amazing things my heart does for me. I tried to pay attention to see if I could feel blood moving in my body.

A thought occurred to me while I was doing this. Why do we only focus on the outside of our bodies and completely ignore the inside? Afterall, there would be no outside if the inside doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s as if they were completely separate entities. We all know we are supposed to eat healthy and exercise, although so many people don’t even do this. But do any of us really think about how much is happening inside of us just so we can walk around every day. It’s incredibly amazing.

We don’t ever think about the incredible amount of communication that is constantly at work inside of us. We should think of our internal communication inside more like fiberoptics, if part of the line is kinked; the signal gets lost.

I think if we all just started and tried to sit down for 5 minutes closed our eyes and paid attention to how we breathe it would be such a great start. Try it, you might surprise yourself.

Are you ready for your best golf season yet?

I have yet to meet a golfer that isn’t interested in improving their game. I have an incredible tool that can help you immeasurably, and I’m almost positive you haven’t even heard of it.

Ki-Hara is a unique method of flexibility and strength training that I use to help golfers improve on an already challenging game. As a Master Trainer, I am able to eliminate pain, increase range of motion and increase strength. By also utilizing John F. Barnes Myofascial Release I am able to increase these gains by working directly with restricted fascia. I am also able to diagnose and correct muscular imbalances and substitutions. Some of which are caused by scar tissue and dense fascia. Unless addressed and corrected, your body will permanently remain in this damaged position.

In golf there are an incredible amount of muscular and joint rotations that you need your body to be able to easily get into in order for you to get the most torque and control in your swing.

To be a successful golfer you need to have upper chest and shoulder flexibility. Your arm must be able to cross enough in front of your body to allow for a proper backswing. The less your arm is able to cross in front of your body the less power and control you will have on the swing. In addition to chest flexibility you need to have enough upper back strength and thoracic flexibility to be able to complete and support this movement. You also need the strength to generate enough force and power to drive the ball as far as possible.

Hip flexor mobility is extremely important in life and even more so in a golf game. I have worked with an incredible amount of people that have extremely tight and restricted hip flexors. These muscles not only allow your body to rotate, they also connect your upper body to your lower body. You need to be able to rotate both halves of the body independently of one another. If you can’t, you run the risk of injuring your low back or knees because those areas will be forced to take the torque your hip flexors are incapable of.

Another important aspect of golf that Ki-Hara can help with is putting. It is important for your upper body and shoulders to work in small movements with complete control. Your shoulders need to move in an independent manner, while your torso stays in a fixed and stable position.

Being able to eliminate accumulated dense fascia through private sessions of Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching and JFB MFR will free your restrictions, help muscles develop properly and allow for the true bio-mechanical efficiency. It will allow your bones to have proper joint rotation and alignment. Therefore creating your best golf game yet.

Estelle Harford is a nationally recognized Ki-Hara Master Trainer and John F Barnes Myofascial Release Therapist. Please call to set up an appointment at 630-730-1410. ,