Importance of Core Stability & Strength

Maintaining a strong core is important at any age; balance, posture and back health have been linked to core strength.  Your core is the vital “foundation” of all your body’s movements, whether you are walking, carrying a heavy bag or playing a sport. 

Most people think of the core as a nice six-pack, or strong toned abs, but the truth is that the abdominal muscles are a very small part of the core.  The abs have very limited and specific action, and what experts refer to as the “core” actually consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso.  When these muscles contract, they stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle and create a solid base of support.  When this happens, we are able to generate powerful movements of the extremities.

The core muscle group includes all of the muscles that are located in your torso that keep your body stable and balanced.


These muscles help control movements, transfer energy, shift body weight and move in any direction.  A strong core distributes the stresses of weight-bearing and protects the back.   It takes many different muscles working together to keep your body well-aligned during different daily activities.

It’s easy to assume that when we are moving, our extremities are doing most of the work; the opposite is true; most of the movement starts at the center and moves outward.  A solid and stable core will help ensure that your movements are strong and pain free.

I’m guilty of thinking that our extremities do most of the work.  I’m a very active person; biking, hiking, running and swimming.  I twisted my hips towards the end of my race season and I refused to stop and rest and pull out of my races.  But after my race season was over, I had no choice but to rest and take it easy and let my body heal and realign my hips.

After a few months I started training again, but my legs felt so weak.  I focused on strengthening my legs because my way of thinking was the body part that doesn’t stop during a triathlon are the legs.  Because I was swimming so much more than the previous years, I assumed my core was being strengthened through swimming.   I became a stronger runner and swimmer last season, but to my surprise I struggled with biking.  I thought maybe it was because I was focusing too much on the running and swimming and I neglected biking, but the more I biked, the harder it was.   I did everything I could think of to change things on my bike, I even contemplated buying a new bike.  But I realized I was struggling on the spin bike, stationary and recombent bike too.  I felt not just frustrated, but defeated.

I want to be better at biking.  But almost everything I researched went on about the legs and very little about the core.  I was speaking with my co-worker who is a physical therapist, the first thing he said was I needed to focus on stabilizing and strengthening my core.  He said my legs aren’t the problem, it’s my core.  After a brief and simple conversation, it suddenly all made sense.  Because the muscles of the trunk and torso stabilize the spine from the pelvis to the neck and shoulder, they allow the transfer of power to the arms and legs.  All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out, and never from the limbs alone.  Before any powerful, rapid muscle contractions can occur in the extremities, the spine must be solid and stable and the more stable the core, the most powerful the extremities can contract.   

Finally understanding the importance of both stability and strength of the core has lead me to do further research and the reason why I decide to put this article together. 

Building a strong core takes more than doing crunches and sit-ups.   It is important to find the right balance between developing core stability and core strength.  In doing so, you work both the deep internal muscles and the superficial muscles.  They train the muscles in your pelvis; lower back, hips and abdomen to work together in harmony.

A great exercise to start with that focuses on both stability and strength is the plank.


It is not as difficult as it looks.  You can do this, and so can I.  You will do this, and so will I.

Stabilizing and strengthening our core muscles will not only improve our balance, stability and posture, but it will also improve our functional activities such as our everyday simple tasks of household chores, carrying grocery bags and tying our shoes.  It will also alleviate back pain and discomfort as well as improve athletic performance of all levels.

I hope this has intrigued you enough to want to make an improvement in your everyday life.  Please feel free to contact me if you need help getting started or if you need more advanced core strengthening and stability exercises.  I will be more than happy to help you get started.

Contributor, writer and information gathered by Sonia Petriello

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Why You Should Drink Water Before & After Your Massage


Drinking water in general is a good idea, as the body benefits from proper hydration, and consuming water will help the kidneys and other organs process the various substances which move through the human body on a regular basis. Water is important because it makes up about 60 percent of your body.  According to, water is used for a variety of functions in the body, such as moistening tissues and protecting internal organs, dissolving nutrients to be absorbed by the body, lubricating joints and regulating body temperature. In addition to the functions listed above, water helps the kidneys flush out waste products as well as help in oxygen transport to the cells of the body.

The human body needs water on a daily basis, and the amount depends on the body composition of the individual as well as the activity level. According to, water is lost daily through perspiration, breathing, urine and during bowel movements. Proper body function requires replenishment of the water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.

Why does your massage therapist always tell you to drink plenty of water?

Massage can be dehydrating.  The manipulation of the muscles dehydrates them and moves around the fluid, in the interstitial spaces between the muscles.  During a good massage, the muscles are stimulated, blood is circulated throughout the whole body and water, salt and other materials are released.  Just like when you exercise, you lose water and electrolytes.  You feel squishy as a sponge, but you need to wet those cells.

It’s not just important to drink water to lubricate the muscles and the organs, but the Fascia as well.  Fascia is a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing a muscle or other organ.  Think of the fascia as a pantyhose for the muscles and organs.  The example I love to give my clients is to envision a package of raw chicken breasts.  When you open the package, everything is wet, moist and sometimes you see a clear sheath on the breast.  Take the chicken and put it on a plate and leave it there for about a day.  It completely dries up and it when you hold the chicken breast in your hand, it almost feels like it is constricted, tight. That’s what is most definitely happening to your muscles when you don’t drink enough water and most definitely why you are experiencing a muscle spasm, tightness, cramping or discomfort.

Drinking water before a massage will make it easier for the massage therapist to perform deep work by hydrating the muscles so they are easier to manipulate.  Drinking water before a very deep massage treatment will also help to alleviate any soreness you may have after the massage.

There are primary reasons for people to drink water after a massage.  The first has to do with substances released by the muscles as the massage therapist manipulates them, and the second has to do with ensuring that the muscles of the body are properly hydrated.

Drinking water after a massage helps the body flush out any accumulated materials in the muscles which were released during the massage.  Massage stimulates circulation in the body while expressing water, salt and other minerals from the muscles, and circulation is designed to carry away waste materials generated by cells.  By providing the body with plenty of water, massage clients can help sweep away these waste materials; otherwise, they may build up, causing muscle aches and soreness after a massage.

Other reasons why you should drink water:

  • Helps to maintain the balance of body fluids
  • Can help to control calories
  • Helps to energize muscles
  • Helps keep the skin looking good, younger
  • Helps in digestion and constipation
  • Improves the Immune System
  • Relieves Fatigue
  • Can help minimize the frequency of headaches and migraines.

Drinking beverages where “water” is a main ingredient does not count.  If you use the excuse that you hate drinking water because it is so boring and there is no flavor, then add the flavor.  There are so many ways to make your water tasty by adding slices of cucumbers, lemons, limes, strawberries, orange slices, raspberries, watermelon,  just to name a few.   Your water will never be boring.  Drinking water can only do your body good, so drink up!!!


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Valentine’s Day Massage Special


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Let us help you!

Here are just a few things that Abhaya Wellness can help you with.

Let us massage away your pains and discomforts.


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Meaning of Abhaya


Abhaya in Sanskrit means fearless, or no fear rich in the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and culture.  The Abhaya Mudra (hand gesture) symbolizes protection, peace and the dispelling of fear.  The gesture is made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, arm bent and palm facing outward.

The gesture is an ancient one, demonstrating that the hand is empty of weapons and thus indicating friendship and peace.  To western eyes, it looks like the gesture meaning “stop.”  In both cases, the gesture implies fearlessness before a potential enemy.

In Buddhism, the gesture is a symbol of the fearlessness-and thus the spiritual power-of the Buddha.  According to Buddhist tradition, the historical Buddha made this gesture immediately after gaining enlightenment.


Fear is the greatest resistance in one’s life showing no discrimination from one moment t the next.  No matter how much you desire an outcome, if you have fear towards the journey, the outcome, or anything in between you are almost sure not to achieve it.

A state of fear even has great potential to lead you down a path you never imagined.

“Where there is no fear there is not love, and where there is love, there is no fear. “

Be fearless in every moment!




nancy lanasa/abhaya yoga center/ wikepedia

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Wishing Everyone a Happy & Healthy Holiday Season!!!


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Feel Well Gift Certificates

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Prevent Low Back Pain While Snow Shoveling

How to Prevent Low Back Pain When Snow Shoveling and Snowblowing

Did you know in some parts of the United States the average snowfall approaches 10 feet?  That is a lot of snow to shovel.  I’m thankful that I live in New Jersey and the average snowfall is less than a foot.
Regardless of how much or how little snow we see, we still have to shovel and snow blow it.

Every winter, I see more clients with lower back pain due to improper body mechanics when it comes to snow shoveling and snow blowing.  For the most part the lower back pain and discomfort is due to intense muscle tightness, fatigue and strain than anything else, but you can rupture or herniate a disc in your low back, especially if you have a history of low back pain and disc herniation.  Some of these injuries result from excessive stress to spinal structures by slip and fall accidents.

The basic concept is this:  As you sleep, your discs take in water and actually expand.  Early morning, you wake up and see a snow covered driveway, walkway and sidewalk and you are in a rush to shovel or snow blow.  It’s cold outside; you are rushing and pushing yourself in a way that your body is not use to.  Your discs are filled with water and you bend and twist the wrong way causing a rupture or a disc herniation and you are now in tremendous pain.  For those of you that have suffered low back pain on and off in the past, this feeling is all too familiar to you and then the anger and frustration kicks in and you continue to push yourself until the job is done and now you can’t move at all.

A study published by Brad Coffiner at Cornell University’s ergonomic department indicated “…when handling heavy snow with a shovel, the L5-S1 disc has been identified as the weakest link in the body segment chain.  The most severe injuries and pain are likely to occur in the back region.”

So now what?  What can you do to prevent this pain, discomfort and inconvenience?  Aside from booking a massage immediately after a snow storm to melt away the snow shoveling aches,  you can follow proper snow shoveling and snow blowing techniques.

  1.  Stretch your body before heading outside into the cold.
  2. Shovel frequently if possible.  This will help eliminate some muscle soreness and also prevent injury.
  3. Select a Proper shovel.  Snow is heavy enough.  Do not add more weight by using a heavy shovel.  The lighter the shovel, the better.
  4. Proper Technique!!!
  • Push the snow if you can.  Pushing the snow is easier than lifting it.   pushing snow
  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart to maintain balance.  Try to keep the shovel close to your body.  Bend at the knees- bend at the hips.  Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow.  Lift with your legs, not your back.  Shovel small amounts of snow and dump the snow in front of you.  If you need to move the snow to the side, move your feet, do not twist.Proper-Snow-Shoveling1
  • The picture below shows how most of us shovel snow.  This is what we           “SHOULD NOT DO”Unproper-Snow-Shoveling

5. Pace yourself!  Snow shoveling is strenuous work.  Take frequent breaks to stretch your back and extremities.

6. Anytime you feel slight pain or discomfort…STOP!  Take a moment before continuing.  This most definitely is your body speaking to you and letting you know you are pushing yourself too much and you need to slow down.  It is also reminding you that you are most definitely using the wrong body mechanics.  So take a moment to regroup.

7. Stay Hydrated!

8. Snowblowers:  If a snowblower is not used correctly, you can strain or injure your back.  Snowblowers are designed to remove the snow at a particular rate of speed.  Pushing or forcing the equipment to go faster is defeating its purpose to do the work for you.

Even when following the proper techniques, you may experience some fatigue and muscle soreness.  This is a great time to book a Feel Well Bodyworks Snow Storm Special with Sonia.  Limited appointments are available, so hurry up and book your massage!

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Feel Well Bodyworks Holiday Specials

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Why You Should Invest In Yourself!

header_homeExperts estimate that upwards of 90% of disease is stress related.  Perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress.  Massage can help to manage and reduce stress. 

Incorporating massage as part of your regular wellness routine can help maintain physical, mental and emotional well being.  The physical changes massage brings to your body can have a positive effect in many areas of your life. 

Besides increasing relaxation and decreasing anxiety, massage lowers your blood pressure, increases circulation, and improves recovery from injury.  It reduces fatigue and can increase your concentration. 

Massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen.  It has proven to help with the following conditions:

  • chronic and acute pain & discomfort
  • migraine, tension, & sinus headaches
  • back pain, tightness & discomfort
  • helps prepare for and recover from strenuous workouts
  • reduces muscle spasms, cramping, scar issue
  • increase joint flexibility
  • arthritis, osteoporosis
  • fibromyalgia 

Abhaya Wellness customizes your therapy sessions to meet your massage & bodywork needs.  We are dedicated in healing and balancing your body, mind & spirit. 

We dedicate the full treatment time to you.  Let us make a difference in your life.                                                                                  

Invest in yourself!


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