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Category Archives: massage

What can massage do for you?

massage-has-had-a-positive-effect-on-every-medical-condition-weve-looked-atMassages are often sold as a purely indulgent treat that you get when you visit a spa or go on vacation, but there’s so much more to massage than just a feel good treat. Did you know that the symptoms of many health problems can be reduced and even eliminated with regular massage?

Here are a few conditions that massage can work really well on; a few you probably know and some that may surprise you!

Stress

It’s no surprise that a regular dose of massage therapy is good for your stress levels, it works by helping to lower your blood pressure, improve your quality of sleep, and by reducing your stress levels, it’s also thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease. In 2008 the journal Psycho-oncology published a study which came to the conclusion “…a significant reduction in cortisol (the main stress hormone) could be safely achieved through massage, with associated improvement in psychological well-being.”

Lower Back Pain

This is such a common problem, often caused by bad posture at work, so no wonder many employers are drafting in massage therapists to help. Poor posture and sitting for too long can cause a lot of lower back problems, as can simply getting older. Get your massage therapist on the case and you can hopefully wave goodbye to a sore back.

Sports Injuries

Fitness and sport are great for your health but they can sometimes lead to injuries and overworked muscles. A regular massage can help to heal any wear and tear on your muscles and tendons, and can also help you manage the pain from a chronic or acute sports injury. Having well looked-after muscles may also help prevent future injuries – one more reason to book those regular sessions.

Joint Stiffness

Massage can be a relief for people dealing with the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other joint problems. Research published in 2013 in the Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice journal said that people with rheumatoid arthritis reported relief from pain and stiffness after four once-a-week moderate-pressure massages, topped up with self-massage at home in between treatments. Massage can also help with your range of motion and flexibility, which can relieve pain in your shoulders, knees, and hips.

Circulation

There are a whole range of health problems that can be caused by bad circulation, so it figures that boosting your circulation will be a bonus for your whole body. Regular massage helps to get the blood moving, getting essential nutrients to where they are needed in your tissues and vital organs much faster. The squeezing and pulling actions involved in a good massage also help to flush lactic acid out of your muscles and improve the circulation of lymph – the fluid that carries metabolic waste away from your muscles and internal organs.

Migraine symptoms

Nobody really knows what causes migraines, and there isn’t a cure, but if you’re a migraine sufferer you’ll be pleased to hear that studies have shown that massage can help reduce the frequency of attacks, and lessen the severity of the symptoms. Some migraines, especially those triggered by stress, are especially receptive to massage treatment.

Allergies

A massage helps to stimulate lymph flow around your body, which boosts your immune system and can help to reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Sometimes a therapist might be able to tell just from your lymph nodes if you are an allergy sufferer as they can feel tender or swollen.

Did any of those surprise you? Of course, you don’t need to make an excuse for wanting a massage, but if you are dealing with any of these health issues, it’s good to know that your regular massage habit is helping.

How Often Should You Get a Massage?

Every day! Well, maybe that’s not practical, even though it would be nice. This is one of the most common questions clients ask about massage therapy, and it really all depends on WHY you get massages. Do you get massages for health benefits? Or, to help you relax and handle the stress of everyday life? Most likely it’s a combination of the two, so let’s look at some of the most common reasons to get regular massages:

Relaxation & Stress Relief

One of the very best reasons to get a massage is for relaxation. Relaxation massage helps to support your body, including blood circulation and flexibility of joints. Regular massage can help prevent pain, muscle tension, and stress points from building up and causing problems. Why wait until you have a problem to get a massage? Massage is perfect for preventing issues with your tissues. Relaxation massage is usually recommended at least once per month, or as often as you want!

There may be times in your life where you experience higher levels of stress and more muscle tension than normal. It is especially important to practice good self-care during these times. When we “don’t have time” for a massage, is usually when we need one the most. Make yourself a priority even during stressful times, your health is worth it.

If you are in a high-stress job or you work in an environment where you stay in a certain position for a long period of time (at a computer for example), you may begin to develop tight or “knotted” muscles. This will frequently occur in your shoulders, arms, and back. All of this increased muscle tension will make movement harder and can cause a great deal of pain. Regular massage can help to keep you loosened up and will help to prevent pain and stiffness.

Living with high levels of stress for a prolonged amount of time increases the risk of contracting heart disease and other diseases. It has been estimated that 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. The good news is, massage can help! Just knowing your massage is coming up in a few days can help to relieve stress, and a massage every 2-4 weeks will help with stress related tension.

Sports Recovery

Are you a weekend warrior, or do you just like to stay in shape? Either way, massage can help with sports performance and recovery. Many athletes and physically active people receive sports massage because it enhances their performance, prevents injury, and speeds up their muscles’ recovery. Competitive sports can put a lot of stress on a person’s muscles! Research conducted at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University in Ontario shows that massage reduces inflammation and stimulates the growth of new mitochondria, the energy-producing units in the cells, after strenuous exercise. This means that massage can help relieve pain, build muscles and help with muscle recovery too! For these benefits it is recommended that you get a massage up to three times a week or at least three times a month.

Chronic Health Conditions

People with ongoing health issues often find massage very helpful to alleviate symptoms. Chronic health problems that greatly benefit from massage therapy include back pain, joint pain, and localized inflammation. If you get therapy for specific issues, the frequency of getting massage therapy varies with the type of condition you have and how severe it is. Relief from pain can usually be achieved with 2-4 massage sessions per month. Your massage therapist will work with you to help you get on the best schedule for your body.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women can greatly benefit from massage therapy!  Prenatal massage and is popular among expectant mothers, who often experience a lot of aches and pains as their pregnancy progresses. Many women suffer from back pain, hip & sciatic pain, headaches, and tired legs & feet. But you don’t have to, a certified massage therapist can help to relieve those discomforts.

Going to your massage therapist once or twice a month can help with the symptoms caused by pregnancy, and it can even help you sleep better.  Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor and your massage therapist to ensure that you don’t have any pregnancy related conditions that would contraindicate massage therapy for you. Most women experiencing a healthy pregnancy can and should enjoy regular massage sessions.

If you have any questions about massage or if you are wondering if massage is for you, give me a call or send me a message. I would love to connect with you.

Spring Break Massage Special

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Spring Break Special

Panchakarma: Deep Transformation

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Panchakarma: Deep Transformation

I had the great pleasure and honor of facilitating a three day Panchakarma last week. It was for a woman who was looking for a deeper spiritual connection, some clarity of vision for the future, weight loss, and relief from anxiety.

Panchakarma is a transformative process that has been practiced in the Ayurvedic tradition for over a thousand years. The word translates to five actions. These are five cleansing actions to remove toxins, known as ama, from the body. In Ayurveda, anything that enters into the body through the five senses is considered food and needs to be digested. We all know that some foods are easier to digest than others. Likewise, some things that we may experience by watching or listening or feeling may also be easier or harder to digest. A Panchakarma is recommended yearly to help facilitate the cleansing actions of the body and mind. This opens up the channels of the body for greater energy flow and communication within the body/mind.

There were a few steps for my client to take at home before the Panchakarma even began. Once she arrived on the first day, we began with yoga and meditation. This was followed by several treatments including a steam sauna, body brushing, four handed massage, and shirodhara (a warm stream of oil continuously pouring onto the forehead). Each day was similar. I prepared her food and beverages. The conversation was light on the first day but by the last day we were discussing the big stuff. The stuff that matters and needs to be released. She left at the end of the third day feeling lighter, clearer, and more connected to her body and Source.

I gave this client recommendations to continue the process at home and I am happy to know that she is following through on them with great success. I give her a lot of credit. On one hand this seems like a luxurious experience, which it is in many ways, but on the other hand, there is a lot of deep work happening. This process isn’t for the timid or superficial. This is for those of us wanting to dig deep, let go, and move forward with purpose. A Panchakarma is a container which holds the possibility of transformation. I am so grateful to be a witness to such feats of bravery.

Easy Ayurveda to Stay Cool This Summer

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courtesy of Tess Welsh

courtesy of Tess Welsh

Welcome to summer. For many of us this means fun in the sun, vacations, BBQs, and lots of time outdoors. All of this can equal a fun, carefree couple of months. To make sure that we stay well in the extra heat, we can turn to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda. Lifestyle choices can have a tremendous effect on the way our physical body responds to stress, and the sizzling days of summer can put an extra load of stress on our system. Keeping regular sleep routines is a start. Exercising early in the day or later in the evening is also beneficial during the hot days. Finding balance in our work schedule to allow time for leisure is key to enjoying all the season has to offer.

We need to hydrate inside and out. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water will keep the body systems flowing. Limit ice if possible, room temp is best on the belly. Mint is a great herb to put in a pitcher of water along with some peeled, sliced cucumbers. This is a very refreshing combination. Just as important as hydrating inside, is the need to hydrate our skin. Coconut oil is an excellent choice for a daily self massage. It even contains a small amount of natural sunscreen (although not enough to protect you if you are sitting in the sun for any length of time). Another way to hydrate from the outside is to put some rosewater in a spray bottle and spritz your face, neck and chest for a beautiful smelling, cooling result that also has anti-aging properties. Eating plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables will cool you down at meal times. Enjoy berries, melons, cucumbers, mangos, tomatoes and many others that you will find at your local market or growing in your backyard. Watercress is in season and is making it’s way to be the next super veggie. Try it in you next salad or soup.

If you would like to know more about Ayurveda, I am available for consultations in person, over the phone or through Skype. A consultation consists of getting to know your unique body type, where you may be experiencing imbalances and what Ayurvedic practices may help for you to find more balance in your body and in life. Ayurvedic practices may include nutritional information, life style suggestions, herbal recommendations and/or specific bodywork. Just fill out the contact form below and I will get back to you ASAP.

the guru within

I had the honor of giving one of my teachers a massage the other day. She is a beautiful, mature woman who is a shining example of someone living their truth. Although she probably teaches a great yoga class, I have never been to a class of hers. She has been to plenty of mine. I learn something from her every time we meet. During her session, we chatted about family and yoga. We discussed wellness and the practice of Ayurveda. As the conversation got deeper, we started to focus on the fact that we all already have infinite knowledge. That we have the ability to tap into everything there is to know. And that even in this lifetime, most of what we learn is a relearning or a remembering.

I ran a couple of yoga workshops this year called Honoring the Master Within. It was this same idea. That we don’t need to look for answers outside of ourselves. That we don’t need to find an external guru. We are the guru! The more comfortable we feel with our guru, the easier it is to ask questions and pay attention to the answers. How do we get more comfortable with our inner guru? Silence. Stillness. Meditation. It’s simple but not easy. Sometimes we feel as if our mind is going a million miles a minute. If we can see these thoughts as a storm in the sky, a passing whirlwind, and focus on what is behind the storm. The ever-present sky. Always there in the background. Unchanging. That is the big mind, or no-mind. This is where the answers are. This is our birthright.

Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

Buddha, Kamakura, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Balancing tip-commit to 5 minutes of meditation a day for 28 days. Pick a time that could work for you on most days. Pick a spot that feels comfortable. Make it happen. Once you are sitting, just focus on your breath. Maybe focus more specifically on the opening of the nostrils. Bring your awareness to the cooling feeling of the inhale, and then the warmth of the exhale. If you find yourself lost in thought, just gently bring yourself back to the breath. It’s ok if you spend the whole time trying to get back to the breath. You are building a muscle. Let me know what happens!

asking for help

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These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activities and events. Many of which have given me cause to reflect on what is happening in my life. I celebrated a birthday, Mother’s Day, and my 16 year sobriety anniversary within two weeks. I am so grateful to be where I am today and I have been enjoying all of the mayhem that goes along with juggling family and career. Mixed in with the feeling of gratitude was some uneasiness. I’m sure many of you know the feeling and have heard the voice. The one that says, “Who am I to be thinking of expanding my business?, Who would want to learn from me?, What makes me think I have that much to offer?” This voice sucks. I hear it less and less as the years go by, but every once in a while I find myself caught up in self-doubt. Luckily, I have acquired some tools over the years for just this very situation. As I sat in my morning meditation the other day, I asked the Universe to show me if I was ready. I asked that my ego step aside and I become a channel for something greater than me. With that, I got up and got ready for the day while continuing to beat myself up. (It’s funny-or crazy-how quickly I can vacillate from one extreme to the other.)

My morning was unusually smooth, everyone off to work and school without a hitch. I arrived to work feeling less capable than normal but wanting to find clues that I was on the right path. I had three massages scheduled. All of them were new clients. As I talked with the first woman before her session, she revealed that she was struggling with some emotional issues and that she would be open to any suggestions that I may have. I stepped out of the room to let her undress and thought to myself, “I don’t know what to tell her.” Just then, I passed a regular client in the hall who had a session the week before. She said, “Thank you so much for the visualization exercise you gave me last week. It really helped. Every time I feel pain, I think of what you said and within minutes the pain is gone.” Then she gave me a hug and walked into a yoga class. My first clue. I was on the right path. I can help the woman who is in the treatment room waiting for me. That client left with a renewed hope and willingness to continue to make time for wellness. My next client came in for stress relief and floated out, stating that she thought my “hands had eyes because they stopped at every area in need.” My second clue. I do have something offer. My final client of the day is very much on edge. While I am talking to her before her session, she sternly stops the conversation and says, “With all do respect, I just need a massage.” Thankfully, I was beginning to feel better and her attitude didn’t bother me at all. Shortly after putting my hands on her, she began to release. She cried like a baby and hugged me three times before she booked another appointment. My third and final clue. I thanked the Universe for providing encouragement and I stated out loud, “OK, I get it, I’m moving in the right direction!”

My point in sharing this is to offer some hope and tools in case you experience similar negative self talk. I think a lot of people feel this from time to time. Please know that it is ok to ask for help from a friend, a professional, or whatever your idea is of a Higher Power. I have always received the help and support I needed when I have had the courage to ask. It hasn’t always been what I wanted, but it has been exactly what I needed.

Balancing Tip: Since I am still obsessed with my new juicer, I am going to share my current favorite morning juice. 1 large cucumber, 1 large carrot, a handful of leaves (romaine, spinach, or other green leaf), 1 granny smith apple, 1/2 lemon, about an inch of ginger. I have been pouring it over ice thanks to a tip from the writer of babeandablender.com (Thank you!). Super delicious!

sending angels

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Last week a new client came into work for a special we were offering. It was a massage with 15 minutes of Reiki. Heaven! During the session, I got the sense that there were angels present. As I tuned into the energy of the angels, I was able to receive a message intended for the client. They wanted her to know that the person she sent them to needed to ask for help before they would be able to do anything. So here I am again, in this odd situation of relaying information that I can’t be sure is for real or not. “Did you pray for angels to be sent to someone?” I asked tentatively.

“How the hell do you know that?” was her reply.

Feeling relieved, I told her the message that was given to me. She was amazed. She told me that she saw something online that morning that allowed the user to send angels to someone in need. Her daughter had been suffering from depression so she thought the angels couldn’t hurt. I advised her to explain to her daughter that if she asked for assistance from the angels, they would be happy to oblige. Both the client and the angels left feeling positive from the exchange and ready to help the daughter.

The client returned today for another session. She couldn’t wait to tell me about her daughter. She said, “You were right! She doesn’t believe in angels and won’t let them help!” She told me about her frustration over the conversation with her daughter. We agreed that she, herself, could ask the angels to help her to deal with her disappointment. The client was interested in learning more information that I might have about her. There wasn’t more. She received what was necessary and that was it.

Sometimes I struggle with not being able to give intuitive information on demand. I recently met with a woman in the intuitive arts to ask for some guidance so that I could be more open to receiving information. Her response was, “This isn’t a circus act. You are a healer. You give people what they need. Not everyone needs an intuitive reading. Sometimes people just need a massage. You are so open that you are able to see the difference.” I am so appreciative of this and have taken refuge in her words more than once.

Nutritional tip #9-cook with herbs. Herbs were intimidating for me at first, but we can take baby steps by incorporating them slowly. Think of herbs as nature’s pharmacy. Add dandelion to your salad for gentle liver detox. Cilantro is a natural metal chelator, meaning it will bind to the metals that have accumulated in our bodies and help to excrete the toxin safely. Fennel is a good choice to saute with vegetables when feeling bloated or gassy. Spices like cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar and nutmeg nourishes the kidneys. Have fun and experiment!

My friend, Jim

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I first met Jim almost two years ago. He was a referral from a friend. My friend misquoted my fee by half the price I generally charge, but I was happy to have a gig. I was just finishing up school and we were broke. At least I would be able to get take out pizza for the kids that night. I didn’t realize what an impact Jim would have on my life.

Jim is in his eighties. He has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for over 30 years. When we first met, there were days he was able to walk with the help of a walker. Other days he would sit on the seat of the walker and his wife, Ann, would push him. It took quite a bit of effort to begin to understand what he was saying most of the time. Like many Parkinson’s patients in the later stages of the disease, his muscles were and still are very rigid and he lacks control of movement. Beyond all of this, his eyes are a beautiful sparkly blue, his smile is infectious and he is quite witty. Jim looks forward to my visits and I have grown fond of them as well.

My first scheduled appointment with Jim was for a Reiki treatment. He was unable to lay on his back on the massage table because he has trouble breathing while in a supine position. It took some time for him to position himself, with the help of Ann and I, on the massage table, but once he did, he would fall asleep in no time. He enjoyed the Reiki treatment but Ann thought that massage would be of greater benefit to him. Jim became my first regular massage client (still at the misquoted rate). Every Friday I would go to Jim’s house with my massage table and music. He would ask about the musical selection and marvel over the fact that I had so much variety on something smaller than a cell phone. I would spend an hour massaging the back of his head, his shoulders and back, and the back of his legs. Honestly, this was really difficult for me. For the first few months, I would take a deep breath, reach as far down into myself as I could and pull out all of the compassion I could find. This allowed me, on good days, to look beyond the physical structure in front of me and pour all the love I had into this man. I was able to look past the aged skin, the jerky movements, the body odor, and the excessive drooling. There were sessions that I needed to distract myself, though. I would read the spines of the books on a nearby shelf: Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. For some reason I loved that these three books were in a row. I often have visions of big open spaces when I work on Jim. I am sure that he feels trapped inside his body and I wonder if he sees these open spaces too. I wonder if he uses these visions as a way to cope.

His wife, Ann, is a lovely woman. She is a retired school teacher, her children are grown, and she now devotes her life to taking care of Jim. She has been his advocate with doctors and hospitals for years now. She is exhausted. I give her a massage every once in a while. She likes to chat about my children and current events. We banter about politics. Ann called me a couple of months ago to say that Jim was in the hospital in a coma. The doctors suggested Hospice. She wouldn’t hear of it and somehow Jim came out of the coma. I saw him last Friday for the first time since then. He is in a nursing home. I no longer need to bring my table, he can’t get out of bed. There are no signs that he even knows who I am or what I am doing. I think it was nice for Ann to see someone touching him with love, respect and compassion. It was no longer hard for me. Having Jim as a client has allowed me to grow as a human being. As I was getting ready to leave last week, Ann asked, ” If Jim is still alive next Friday, will you come and give him a massage?” I gave her a hug and assured her that I would be there. We cried together for a few minutes.

I am pretty sure Jim will be making his transition soon. I know it will be much better for him at that time. I am truely grateful and honored to have worked for and become friends with Jim and Ann. They have unknowingly given me much more than I gave them.

“I apologize for my fat legs.”

During a massage earlier this week, my client apologized for her fat legs! I wanted to say, “Are you kidding me?” I feel so bad for people who feel the need to ask for forgiveness for their body. I suggested that she try to think of all the things her legs do for her on a daily basis and to begin to look at them with a feeling of appreciation. Through the course of the massage, we talked a little about how she put the extra weight on and how she is beginning to try to lose it. A combination of stress, entering menopause, and a medication that had excessive weight gain as a side effect, all contributed to her present situation. Because of the stress she was under, her blood pressure started to rise. She was put on a medication to control it. Each month when she returned to the doctor, she would say that she was concerned about the fact that she was packing on the pounds. The doctor ignored it for a while and then one visit he finally said to her, “Maybe you should have your stomach stapled.” BASTARD! She soon found another doctor and switched medications. She is left with high stress levels, fluctuating hormone levels, and a lot of weight to lose.

I explained to her that she needed to find ways to control the stress. Once the stress levels come down, losing weight is much easier. Stress is the leading cause of all disease. The good news is that there are many effective ways to help us control it. Part of the problem is that most of the solutions take more time and effort than taking a pill and most people feel they are too busy to do what is right for their body. I am not saying that this is the case with everyone, but I see a great deal of people with stress related issues who choose to stay right where they are and have a long line of excuses as to why this is the appropriate choice for them. Some of our options include:

  • yoga and/or meditation practice
  • tai chi
  • any excercise
  • taking time in nature
  • developing a spiritual practice
  • laughing
  • eating well
  • learning to let go of what we can’t control
  • simplifying life
  • getting organized

Most of these are easier said than done and although the list may look simple, it certainly isn’t easy. Many of the tools require effort and commitment to begin to see positive results. Once those results are felt, we wonder what took us so long.

My client left that evening feeling a little more relaxed and holding a schedule of classes that focus on stress relief. I really hope I see her around the studio soon.

Nutritional tip #6-try kale (a couple of times). This link from mindbodygreen takes you to an article that explains why kale is so good for you and provides some preparation options. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4072/Why-Kale-Is-the-Koolest-Vegetable.html

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