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All Things Massage and Wellness

Benefits of Regular Stretching

While many people may associate stretching with their workouts, loosening up before or cooling down after, it’s actually a very beneficial practice to get into every single day regardless of your workout routine. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, every hour or two throughout your day, or winding down before bed, taking a few minutes to stretch and release the tension in your muscles can help you to move and feel better.

Stretching Improves Local Blood Circulation

When you stretch, you’re opening up areas of tension that may have contributed to decreased circulation of blood and lymph to certain areas of the body. Opening these areas helps oxygen and nutrients to get to every cell as needed, leaving your body functioning better overall.

Stretching Can Boost Energy

Getting your blood flowing, through exercise or simply moving and stretching your body after sitting for a while, can give you the perfect little pick-me-up when you’ve hit your mid-day energy lull. Feeling sluggish? Take a few minutes to stretch your arms while at your desk. If you have room, stand for a moment and stretch for just 5 minutes.

Stretching Can Improve Posture

Allowing your body to move and your muscle to elongate can help you to become more body-aware and help to prevent your body from becoming too comfortable and accustomed to poor postural habits. This means you’ll be more aware as you fall into those bad postures and unconsciously bring yourself back up to a better position.

Stretching Can Improve Athletic Performance

When performing dynamic stretching before a workout – a type which includes movement along with your stretches as opposed to static stretching, the kind you simply hold - can improve your performance. It warms up your muscles for the upcoming activity, helping to prevent injury.

Stretching Can Increase Your Range of Motion

When your muscles are tight, it prevents you from getting the full range of motion in your joints. For example, if your hips and legs are tense, it may mean you can’t move your hips as smoothly or as much as you need to. When you stretch regularly, you’re keeping those muscles around the joints loose, allowing them to move as they should.

It’s important to note that when you add stretching into your daily life, be sure to listen to your body. Don’t force a stretch past where it feels comfortable; you don’t want to injure yourself. Also, to get into the habit of daily stretching, try to stretch at the same time every day. You may find that a few minutes in the morning to loosen up after lying down all night is a great start to the day. If you have to stand or sit in a single position most of the day, getting up and stretching every hour or two may be just what you need. And a few minutes of stretching before bed to get rid of the day’s tension and relax is always a great end to the day.

 

Cupping, What is it, and Why Should You Try it?

Cupping is a traditional Chinese therapy that’s been used for thousands of years, but it gained even more popularity in 2016 when everyone noticed that Michael Phelps had large perfectly round discolorations on his back while competing in the Olympics. Many people before that had never heard, or never been exposed to this type of bodywork. During a cupping session, the therapist may use cups made of glass, silicone, or plastic. The vacuum pressure is created with either a manual pump, electronic pump, or even fire. Every therapist is different in how they approach cupping and will adjust treatment to the needs of their client. Some prefer stationary cupping which means leaving each cup in place for several minutes. Others prefer to keep the cups moving to get a broader effect and reduce the likelihood of marks being left on the skin. And still others prefer a combination of both stationary and moving cupping.

Cupping can be used to decrease swelling by stimulating lymphatic flow and increasing superficial blood circulation. It creates negative pressure instead of positive pressure; so instead of pushing into those tight tissues in an attempt to separate and realign fibers, those tissues are being pulled apart. This offers a far less intense feeling of pressure and discomfort than a typical “deep” massage, but with similar effects. There are also many health claims in the world of cupping that say cupping can help get rid of cellulite, cleanse your body of toxins, help with fertility, and even help with wrinkles when used on the face. It is hard to confirm these claims as there hasn’t been much reliable research on the subject. Cupping is also difficult to run an experiment on, because it would be difficult to have a true control group. This would help to see the effects on those who have received treatment versus those who think they have received the treatment. When something has gained such popularity it’s hard to get down to the root of what it really does or can achieve.

Now that we’ve gotten the history of cupping and the claims made, let’s get down to why you should try it. Cupping is great for several reasons:

  • It gets the blood flowing.
  • It can help target a specific area of need.
  • Those who struggle with the pressure of a normal massage may like the alternative of cupping because although it’s still pressure, it’s felt in a different way.
  • Countless individuals (including me!) swear to the benefits of this therapy because we’ve seen the results over and over in ourselves and others.

Whether you are wanting to try cupping for the health benefits you feel it will bring you, or because you just want to see what all the hype is about, let’s talk about your goals and what you’re comfortable with when you book your next session. You may be pleasantly surprised with how much you enjoy it!     

 

Clothed Massage is an Option

Have you wanted to get the relaxing, pain relieving benefits of a massage while staying fully dressed? You’re truly not alone. Getting a massage can be an extremely vulnerable experience. You’re already trusting the care of your body to a stranger, and then add getting undressed to the scenario and that can make for quite an uncomfortable situation for some people. Whether it’s a matter of modesty, previous trauma that makes the situation uncomfortable for you, or any other reason, many people simply don’t want to undress, and will often miss out on an amazing, beneficial experience because of it. What would you say though, if I told you that you don’t have to undress to get the benefits of massage? Here are the modalities you need to look into if staying dressed is a concern for you.

Chair massage

Focusing primarily on the neck, shoulders, back, and arms, this type of massage can be performed fully clothed and seated. It’s also a great introduction to massage for those who haven’t experienced one yet and perfect for those who don’t have enough time for a full body massage. If it’s a matter of slowly building trust with your massage therapist, this a great way to start.

Thai massage

Allowing you to wear comfortable clothes and avoid undressing, this type of massage involves a comfortable mat on the floor, lots of gentle assisted stretching, rocking, and compression. It’s like a yoga session without the work.

Sports Massage

This practice is fantastic for athletes, but not exclusive to them. Performed fully clothed before or after an event, sports massage can improve flexibility and performance as well as help prevent injuries. It involves stretching along with focused massage and mobilizations for specific areas of the body involved in your training or regular day-to-day activities.

While these are the three most common massage modalities that allow you to stay clothed during your session, they aren’t the only ones and you don’t have to get a specific type of bodywork to stay clothed. If you’re just looking for a relaxing massage but still don’t want to undress, we're happy to accommodate and you can get a traditional table massage while still clothed; just wear something that’s comfortable and easy to move in. Keep in mind that in this situation the clothing does slightly change the massage and the benefits may not be as powerful since we can’t quite use oil or lotion and the traditional strokes that allow for a wholly therapeutic massage, but you will most definitely get the relaxation and work you need regardless.

If your modesty has been holding you back from getting the pain relief and relaxation you desire, try a clothed massage. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

 

Geriatric Massage

There’s no doubt that as we age our bodies change. We become more susceptible to illnesses, lose bone and muscle mass, and generally become more frail. And while we can’t exactly stop the aging process, there is a way to help your body as you navigate the waters of aging; massage therapy. Geriatric massage is a type of massage therapy specifically tailored to address issues that commonly affect the elderly.

While people of all ages can enjoy a standard massage, finding someone trained in geriatric massage can ensure their ability to address some of your unique needs. For example, there should be extensive discussions between you and your massage therapist about any medications, medical conditions, or areas of concern to ensure that your appointment is the most helpful. Any time you return for an appointment be sure to update us of any changes. Generally, geriatric massage should be light and gentle, aiming to improve movement, decrease joint pain, increase local circulation in specific areas where you may have some deficiencies, and improve mood.

Most deep pressure techniques, and those meant to penetrate down into the muscle tissue, are avoided as they can cause more harm than good. We don’t want to leave you bruise, achy, or not feeling well after what should be a wonderful experience. Be sure to speak up if you ever feel like the pressure is too much. There also tends to be a loss of sensation as we age, and sometimes that means your brain doesn’t interpret the pressure quite as strongly as it really is, leading you to feel like you can handle more than is really safe for your body. This doesn’t apply to everyone, by any means, but if you notice that we’re not using as deep of pressure as you’d prefer, it may be our way of protecting your body. We may do this to adjust for medications you’re on as well, such as blood thinners which can make you bruise much more easily.

Another important aspect of geriatric massage is the simple act of touch. Beyond all the physiological benefits, massage has been shown to improve mood and boost feeling of well-being, especially in those who are experiencing a form of touch deprivation. As we age, through life changes and medical needs, we often don’t receive healthy forms of touch as often as we used to. Massage can make up for some of that by providing a safe, comforting form of touch; something every single person innately needs.

So, if you or someone you know could benefit from this specialized form of care, book an appointment or get in touch and we’ll discuss any special needs you may have.

 

How Muscle Imbalances Can Lead to Pain and Injury

            A muscle imbalance is simply when one muscle or muscle group is stronger than another. For example, your right arm may be stronger than your left, or your biceps are stronger than your triceps. It’s typically not much of a problem; we’re rather asymmetrical beings in general anyway, but muscle imbalances in some areas can play a role in creating problems within the body leading to injuries and pain.

One problem that can occur is that your weaker muscles tire out before the stronger muscles. If those weaker muscles tire out during a workout or strenuous activity, the stronger muscles will work even harder to pick up the slack. This can put undue stress on them, causing overuse and resulting in injuries and pain.

For example, the quads and hamstrings are a common source of imbalance in people. The quads lie on the front of the thigh and the hamstrings on the back. When the quads become much stronger than the hamstrings, the most common imbalance of these two, this puts you at a much higher risk of knee injuries, like an ACL tear.

When we speak of balance, it’s not necessarily that each muscle or muscle group needs to be able to handle the exact same load weight, but rather handle them at the proper ratio. Some muscles are meant to be stronger than others, and that’s what truly creates the intricate balance of the body. Like in the example above with quads and hamstrings, the quads are supposed to be stronger than the hamstrings, but the ratio should be about 4:3, so for every 4 pounds the quads can lift, the hamstrings can lift 3.

You don’t have to know and workout like crazy to get the perfect ratio for every single muscle group and pairing of the body to keep balanced. Simply working in all motions and being aware of your body can give you a clear indication when something is off. Sticking with the quad/hamstring example, if you’ve torn your hamstring a time or two, that might be a good indication that you’ve got an imbalance and should strengthen your hamstrings more. It would also be a good idea to ensure that when you’re working out, you’re not just sticking with forward and backward movements, but rather moving in all directions with every joint; ensuring that you’re strengthening in all planes. Move forward, backward, out to the side and toward the middle, rotate in toward the body and away from it.

While muscle imbalances are common, and depending on your daily activities, may be unavoidable, taking the time to bring your awareness to how your body is feeling and operating can clearly show you where you might need to alter your movements to bring balance back.

Lomi Lomi

what it is and why you should try it

 Lomi lomi, also known as “loving hands” massage, is a Hawaiian ritualistic therapy that involves an intuitive, flowing, free-form technique. While you may think of almost all massage as flowing strokes, lomi lomi takes that to an entirely new level. There is extensive training that practitioners go through to learn the technique as the energy, style, and technique are powerful. In the words of Nancy S. Kahalewai, lomi lomi is infused with “mana, the power and vitality permeating these islands”.

A lomi lomi appointment generally begins with a quiet space between you and your massage therapist. During this, we’ll bring the focus of energy onto you and your healing needs through conversation and reflection. One of the most wonderful things about lomi lomi, is the intuition that is allowed to lead the therapist, meaning no two sessions are going to be alike. In general though, lomi lomi is performs with long, free flowing, fluid strokes using the hands and arms. These may be very slow to relax and bring peace, or faster and more invigorating if needed. The goal is to rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit, removing any energy blockages and opening the energetic pathways of the body. We may incorporate meditation or visualizations and in the very traditional forms performed by many practitioners in Hawaii, medicinal plants and other techniques may be used also. What makes lomi lomi truly special is the intense connection of mind and body throughout a session.

There are a few things to consider that are unique to this type of bodywork. First, understand that many lomi lomi practitioners don’t time their massages in the way you normally see with other forms of massage. Instead, most lomi lomi sessions are a 90-minute minimum, with some going over 2 hours. This allows you to have a much deeper connection and more beneficial experience. Also, the coverings and draping are minimalistic for this technique. While we always respect your modesty and will keep private areas covered, we do only use small covering to allow for the most fluid strokes possible, so you can feel the amazing energy of a single, uninterrupted stroke literally from head to toe.

 While lomi lomi may be considerably different than other massages you’ve had, it’s definitely worth experiencing the incredible connection created between body, mind, and spirit.

 

Massage and Diabetes

Did you know that diabetes affects almost 10% of the population? It’s a frustrating condition for many people that can completely alter their day-to-day activities. Every bite of food and any physical activity has to be taken into account.

For a general overview, diabetes affects insulin in the body. Insulin is what regulates blood sugar levels so our cells function properly. There are two primary forms, simply called Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed in childhood as the result of the body’s inability to produce insulin. These patients require supplemental insulin. Type 2 on the other hand, can develop at any age and is the result of the body not effectively using insulin. They don’t require supplemental insulin, but rather can control their blood sugar levels with proper diet and exercise. However, if not controlled, Type 2 can turn into Type 1. There are also many complications that are associated with diabetes, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, nerve damage, and depression to name a few.

While Diabetes can restrict a lot in life, getting a massage shouldn’t be one of those things. Generally speaking, it is perfectly safe to receive a massage as a diabetic. However, open communication is essential! It’s not only important to tell your massage therapist that you are diabetic, but also about how it’s being managed, and what your recent health is like. It’s also important to note that massage can alter your blood glucose level considerably, and it may take a few sessions to get a clear idea of how your body responds to the massage. This will help you moving forward with regular sessions, so you know when you should eat or take your insulin in relation to when you receive your massage.

If you’re dealing with diabetic neuropathy (damage to the small nerves of the hands and feet), you’ll want to be really clear with your massage therapist about exactly what your current symptoms are, as this varies from person to person. You’ll also want to keep communicating during the session so your therapist can adjust the pressure and techniques accordingly.            

Massage therapy can do wonders to help with some of the symptoms and side effects of diabetes. Whether you’re dealing with neuropathy, circulation issues, depression, or just want to relax, massage may help. Just make sure you keep an open line of communication with your therapist and keep them updated with any changes that happen along the way. This will not only keep you safe, but it will make your experience as enjoyable as possible.

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes

http://www.diabetes.org/

https://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/diabetes

https://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/3747/navigating-the-path-to-wellness-with-massage-therapy

 

Massage During Cancer Treatments

A cancer diagnosis is a hard pill to swallow, to say the least. The realization of how much your life will change, the fear of the unknown, and the well-known side effects of treatment are just a few of the thoughts that may cross your mind. While there may be a weight on your shoulder, I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing that massage therapy can help you cope with the some of the symptoms of cancer as well as the side effects of the treatments. In fact, there are many cancer treatment centers that offer massage therapy as a complement to their treatment plans.

While there are numerous side effects to chemotherapy, some of the most well-known include nausea and vomiting, fatigue, neuropathy, pain, and of course hair loss. These side effects can make it difficult to achieve any normalcy in the day-to-day while going through treatment. While massage can’t help with the hair loss, it has been shown to help reduce pain, nausea, fatigue, and neuropathy. While it may not make them go away completely, the relief is noticeable for most cancer patients and the benefits are amazing.

Another benefit you may not have considered is the stress relief. Getting news that you have cancer is a blow no one ever wants to face. The stress that comes with that burden, the treatments, and life upheaval can often be overwhelming. Massage therapy is known for stress reduction. Of course, you get the muscle relaxation so many people think of with massage, but your brain actually receives a lot of benefit as well. You see, receiving massage naturally boosts serotonin and dopamine, both of which help to regulate mood and emotions.

An often-overlooked side effect of cancer diagnosis and treatment, is touch deprivation. Touch is such an important part of our lives, and when a person experiences little to no touch from other people, they can experience touch deprivation, which in and of itself can have a number of negative side effects including increased anxiety and depression, increased pain levels, and loss of motivation and optimism, just to name a few. Cancer patients often experience touch deprivation for many reasons. If you have a compromised immune system due to treatment, you may stear clear of others or isolate yourself from loved ones in order to stay healthy. You may be experiencing depression, and isolating yourself more than you normally would. Sometimes it’s the stigma around cancer patients and your vulnerability or fragility during that time. Whatever the case may be, massage therapy gives you the positive touch you need during treatment to help prevent touch deprivation and the side effects of it.

While the benefits of massage therapy for cancer patients are amazing, there are a few things that are important for you to know. It’s important to get an experienced massage therapist who is trained to work with cancer patients. Increased sanitization and safety measures are needed to ensure you're not being put at risk when your immune system has been compromised by treatment. We’ll also consider the flexibility that may be needed with scheduling as it will vary depending on your treatment schedule and types of medications. The specific side effects and risks of each medication will be considered and your massage treatment plan adjusted accordingly as well. Finally, communication is of upmost importance. With every appointment, communication about new medications, symptoms, or any issues you’re experiencing is important as well as telling us during the appointment about any pain or discomfort.

Cancer is difficult to deal with and the fight against it can be just as bad as the disease itself. Let us help make your battle a little easier and make you as comfortable as possible by including massage therapy in your treatment plan.

 

Plantar Fasciitis: What It Is & What You Can Do About It

Have your ever gotten out of bed first thing in the morning only to feel a sharp pain in your foot when taking your first steps. Sometimes that pain lingers for a while but then goes away after you’ve walked for a bit. If you’ve experienced this scenario, you may have been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is when the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot (plantar fascia), connecting your heel bone to your toes, is inflamed. The pain from plantar fasciitis usually occurs early in the morning with your first steps and trails off as the day progresses, but it can show up when you’ve been standing or sitting for a long period.

Generally plantar fasciitis will cause a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel but can spread through the arch of the foot and toward the toes. Plantar fasciitis is the result of tension and stress on your plantar fascia causing small tears within the tissue. It’s important to note that in many cases of plantar fasciitis, the cause is unknown. Those who are between the ages of 40-60 are at higher risk of experiencing plantar fasciitis, along with those who participate in exercises such as long-distance running, ballistic jumping activities, ballet dancing, and aerobic dance. You may also be at a higher risk if you are flat-footed, have a high arch, walk with an abnormal gait, if you’re overweight, and if you are on your feet for extended periods of time.

Plantar Fasciitis is generally treated with rest, ice, massage, and stretching the toes up, and exercises to strengthen the bottom of the foot. You may want to talk to your doctor about over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain medications that may help as you begin treatment. You may also be able to pair yourself with a physical therapist that can put together exercises for you to perform to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and to strengthen your foot and lower leg muscles. It may be recommended that you wear a night splint created to stretch your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep, or custom-made arch supports or orthotics, which will help dissipate the pressure placed on your feet with each step. If you have poor results from said treatments, you may need to increase your treatment program. More serious treatments include steroid injections into the area to decrease inflammation, extracorporeal shock wave therapy which is where soundwaves are directed at the area of heel pain to help with healing, and finally surgery, which is rarely needed and used when the pain is severe and all other treatments have failed. While these treatments have been proven to work, they have their downfalls as well. Multiple steroid injections can weaken the plantar fascia resulting in it rupturing, extracorporeal shockwave therapy may cause bruising, swelling, pain, numbness, and tingling, and surgery can result in the weakening of the arch in your foot.

While many have heard of the term plantar fasciitis, few have heard the term plantar fasciosis. Plantar fasciosis is kind of an umbrella term used for any kind of issue derived from the plantar fascia. However, it’s often used to describe the degeneration of the abductor hallucis (the muscle that moves your big toe out toward midline) due to circulation issues. As opposed to inflammation of the area, plantar fasciosis results in death of the plantar fascia because the tissue isn’t receiving enough blood, and therefore not enough oxygen and nutrients. Since the abductor hallucis is meant to keep the big toe straight and move it toward the midline, if you’re constantly wearing shoes with a narrow toe box, pushing the toes together, or tend to walk on the inside of your foot, this may very well be the cause. Essentially what’s happening is the abductor hallucis is stretched beyond its normal capacity over time and that tightness of the muscle puts pressure on the underlying blood vessel that supplies the plantar fascia, effectively cutting off the blood supply and causing deterioration and tissue death of part of the plantar fascia.

The really interesting thing about this is that the exercise and treatment protocols that help plantar fasciitis may not help plantar fasciosis at all, and in some cases may even make it worse. Plantar fasciitis is often helped with rest, ice, and stretching the toes up and out to the side. But if plantar fasciosis is the real problem, these are the opposite of what will help. Instead, for plantar fasciosis, flexion of the toes, abduction of the big toe, and heat are more likely to address the real issue.

When experiencing any pain within the foot and heel area, it is imperative that you see your doctor as soon as possible so they can properly diagnose and get you on the right treatment plan before more damage can be done. It is also important to make sure that you are wearing shoes that support the natural alignment of your foot.

 

Reflexology: What it is & Why you Should try it

You may have heard of Reflexology or seen some crazy looking charts with internal organs drawn all over the feet and hands, thinking “what’s that all about?” Well, let me explain...

Reflexology is a type of bodywork that involves applying different amounts of pressure to specific points on the feet and hands, and sometimes the ears. The theory basis for reflexology is that there are certain “reflex areas” on the feet, hands, and ears that are connected to specific organs and body parts energetically. The reasoning behind the treatment, is that applying pressure in these areas can promote the natural healing process of the associated organ or body area. For example, the tips of the toes reflect the head, around the ball of the foot - the heart and chest, the arch of the foot - the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and the heel - low back and intestines.

You may find a Registered Certified Reflexologist who only performs Reflexology sessions, or a massage therapist who is equally trained in the technique and combines it with their massage sessions.

Many people seek reflexology for stress related conditions, tension headaches, migraines, digestive issues, arthritis, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, menstrual disorders, and chronic pain. When attending a session with a reflexologist, you will be expected to fill out information about your health history that will help them customize your treatment. It is important to be honest when filling out any information pertaining to your health when having any service performed. Your reflexologist may use tools such as balls, rods, and dowels in addition to their hands. Always make sure to communicate with your reflexologist if there are any points in the service that you feel uncomfortable. Don’t worry if you’re ticklish, the amount of pressure that is applied during your session should be enough to prevent a giggle spell.

Reflexology can be a wonderful first step or addition to a care plan in addressing a slew of conditions. So, what are you waiting for? Book your Reflexology session now!

https://www.mumabroadlife.com/all-about-reflexology/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/reflexology-what-you-need-to-know-89995

https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-reflexology

 

Sciatica: Is it Piriformis Syndrome or Your Lower Back?

When seeking answers for low back, hip, and leg pain, you may have heard the term Sciatica. This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body) is irritated or inflamed,          causing pain, tingling, and/or numbness felt along part or all of the nerve path; most often starting in the low back or the buttock and traveling down the outer leg, even all the way down to the foot in some cases.

This irritation of the Sciatic nerve is actually quite common, and is often attributed to one of two causes, Piriformis Syndrome or a spinal abnormality in the low back; with a pretty even 50/50 split between the two.

Piriformis syndrome is when your piriformis muscle, a small muscle located deep in the buttock that starts at the lower spine and connects to the upper surface of the thighbone, irritates your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs directly under this muscle, and in some people, it actually runs right through the muscle itself.

The upper portion of the nerve, as it comes out of the spinal cord, is also prone to irritation from the spine. This could be due to stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or a disc issue such as a herniated or bulging disc. Any of these spinal conditions could result in pressure on the Sciatic nerve creating that pain and irritation felt in the hip and leg.

When it comes to treating your Sciatica, the key is for your healthcare provider to understand the cause of it, because treatment plans will differ tremendously. While imaging tests may help, most often you’ll start with simple mobilizations, stretches, and exercises to see what exactly helps your pain or makes it worse. Then a treatment plan will be developed which may include things such as hot or cold therapies, massage therapy, low back and hip stretches, low back and hip exercises, spinal mobilizations, posture and movement re-education, pain medications, and even injections or other more invasive forms of treatment.

While differentiating and diagnosing sciatica and piriformis syndrome may be difficult, paying close attention to the what you feel and being honest with your healthcare providers can make all the difference in the world.

 

The 6 Types of Headaches and What to do for each

At some point in our lives, we all experience a headache. There are some people who get headaches quite frequently, and others who very rarely experience one. If you find that you’re getting headaches on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth your time to find out why and what you can do about it. Did you know there are different types of headaches, and different causes and treatments for each? Let’s look at each.

Tension headaches

This type is quite common and it's likely that you've experienced this at one point or another. Tension headaches are often felt as a dull pain throughout the head, especially through the forehead, behind the eyes, at the base of the neck, and even in the jaw and cheeks. Tension headaches usually last from 30 minutes to several hours and you should be able to proceed with your daily life, albeit with some adjustments. Tension headaches are often attributed to a decrease in blood flow to the head due to increased muscular tension and restriction through the neck, head, face, and jaw; usually triggered by stress, anxiety, dehydration, lack of movement, poor sleep, abnormal posture, and eye strain. Some gentle to moderate pressure massage along with stretching and mobilizations will often ease the tension and give you relief. If you can’t get in for a massage right then, you can massage the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and face yourself, or have a friend or family member help. Light exercise and stretching can also help, along with over the counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. If you find that you’re experiencing tension headaches often, regular massage sessions can help to decrease the frequency.

Migraines

While many people claim to experience frequent migraines, these are often confused with severe tension headaches. The true differentiating factor is the neurological symptoms associated specifically with a migraine. While tension headaches, especially when severe, can be debilitating and very painful, they come without the neurological symptoms associated with a migraine. A migraine not only causes severe pain in the head, neck, and face, but is often accompanied by an abnormal sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, along with nausea and vomiting. About a third of migraine sufferers experience an aura (visual and sensory disturbance) prior to an incident which can last anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. Auras include seeing zig-zag lines, flickering lights, spots, or partial loss of vision. Migraines can last a few hours to a few days, and are three times more likely to develop in females than males due to a possible connection with hormone fluctuations. The frequency of a migraine can be anywhere from several times a week to once a year. Triggers of a migraine can range from stress, dehydration, sleep disruption, and even certain foods. Some people find relief with over the counter medications, while others may require prescription level drugs. For many, a dark, quiet room and a few hours of sleep is often the only way to find relief. If you find that you’re having frequent migraines, a visit with your doctor may be necessary. While regular massages have been shown to decrease the frequency of migraines, a massage to the head and neck is not advised while you’re experiencing a migraine. Instead, if you want to get a massage while you have an active migraine, the massage will be focused on your legs, feet, arms, and hands to counter the abnormal blood flow causing the migraine.

Cluster Headaches

This type is defined as severe, recurrent headaches that are experienced as an intense burning or piercing pain on one side of the head and behind or around one eye. Other symptoms associated with cluster headaches are eyes watering, swollen eyelids, runny nose, and restlessness or agitation. There is generally no warning and it may feel like the headache attacks out of nowhere, peaks within 10-15 minutes, and then is gone within 2-3 hours. Unlike many other types of headaches, cluster headaches are the only one that is far more prevalent in men than in women. Most of the time these attacks occur quickly and in clusters, anywhere from 3-8 times a day over a period of several weeks. What causes cluster headaches is unclear, however they seem to be triggered by smoking, alcohol consumption, strong smells, and may be linked to a genetic predisposition or previous head trauma. Over the counter and prescription medications are often the go-to treatment, but regular massage may also help prevent the frequency of these attacks.

Exertional Headaches

These headaches are triggered by sudden, strenuous, physical exercise like running, jumping, weightlifting, and even sudden severe bouts of coughing or sneezing. These are generally over almost as quickly as they come on, however they can last for several hours or even a few days. Exertional headaches are felt as a throbbing pain through the head and tend to be present in those with a family history of migraines. These headaches are usually extinguished with rest, over the counter medications, and massage. However, taking plenty of time to warm up prior to exercise will often help to prevent these headaches.

Sinus Headaches

This type of headache is common and occurs due to inflammation of the sinus cavities of the head. The pain is often felt in the forehead, around and behind the eyes, and along the cheeks. Because of the location of the pain, many people may confuse a tension and sinus headache, but they are quite different. Sinus headaches specifically will often be accompanied by congestion or a runny nose, along with tenderness over the sinus cavities, just above and below the eyes. Over the counter anti-inflammatories are a common treatment, as are massage therapy and steam treatments. If a sinus headache persists, especially with congestion and significant tenderness, you may need to see your doctor to rule out an infection or other condition.

Cervicogenic Headaches

This term encompasses any headache caused by an abnormality of the neck. Oftentimes this is due to some ligament laxity or misalignment of the cervical (neck) vertebrae causing pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that travel to the head. These are often felt along one side of the head and follow a pretty distinct pattern from the base of the skull, wrapping over the top of the head, and ending just above or behind the eye. These seem to be more common in those who have a history of whiplash or other neck injuries, and are often triggered by abnormal posture. Massage and retraction exercises can allow the proper movement of the vertebrae, reducing the pressure on those nerves and blood vessels, and alleviating the pain.

While those who suffer from headaches are surely appreciative of medications, there are many who would like to find a way other than medicine to correct their issue. There is an answer that may seem easier than expected, massage therapy. Not only does massage seem to have a direct impact on the muscular tension associated with many of these types of headaches, but it also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system; the part that calms us. This portion of the nervous system is responsible for regulating our breathing, slowing our heart rate, returning our blood pressure to normal, decreasing muscular tension, and overall keeping the body relatively stress-free. By keeping us and our nervous system calm, headaches can often be avoided.

While medications are sometimes necessary, wouldn’t a massage be so much nicer? And it seems that massage acts not only as a treatment, but as a preventative form of therapy, stopping many of these headaches from even starting.

 

The Glutes: Are They The Cause of Your Pain?

Even if you're not someone well-versed in anatomy, you’ve probably heard the term glutes, or heard of your gluteal muscles. These are the muscles that make up the majority of your buttock; and while it may seem odd to think much about this area other than how it looks in your favorite jeans, there is actually an important connection from these muscles to many other aspects of the body. They can correlate to a number of pain and movement issues that can arise through the back, hips, and legs, so taking care of this area is crucial.

There are actually three muscles that comprise the glutes, each with its own unique characteristics.

The gluteus maximus is probably the most well-known, and is the largest and most superficial of the three. It is a powerful extensor of the hip, meaning it helps you run, climb, and stand yourself up from sitting. It’s also responsible for rotating the hip outward (external rotation) as well as stabilizing through the hip joint and even down into the knee.

The gluteus medius is much smaller and lies directly below (deep to) the maximus. Different fibers within the muscle are responsible for a variety of movements including moving the leg out to the side (abduction), as well rotating the hip in (internal rotation) and out (external rotation). While its movement capabilities are obviously very important, perhaps one of the most crucial elements to the gluteus medius is its stabilization of the pelvis. Strength within this muscle allows for the pelvis to stay aligned and stable during single-leg weight bearing movements, such as standing on one foot, climbing stairs, and even just walking and running.

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three and lies beneath the other two. It’s responsible for moving the hip outward (abduction) and rotating the hip in (internal rotation). The minimus works along with the medius to help stabilize the pelvis during those single-leg weight bearing movements as well.

While you may not put much thought into these muscles when you hit the gym other than maybe throwing in some half-hearted squats here and there, weakness within this group of muscles can actually be the root cause of many back, hip, and leg complaints. For example, did you know that a significant number of people don’t activate their glutes properly when performing certain exercises, like the squat? This is generally connected to those with poor core stability, pre-existing low back pain, and something we call inhibited glutes; which is when the glutes are unable to properly engage due to the position they adopt when the ideal neutral pelvic posture becomes compromised. So, why is it important to activate your glutes when doing squats, abduction, and rotation exercises, or any movement that requires participation from that muscle group? When you don’t activate your glutes during your squat, your hamstrings fire first extending to the hip. Next, your lower back must take over. And finally your glutes come in to help complete the squat. If your glutes are inhibited, that leaves your lower back to take on the stress of a movement it isn’t meant to handle (the gluteus maximus is meant to be the prime mover in this exercise). This added stress  can result in low back pain. So, the next time your lower back is hurting, you should evaluate your training form. The same can be said with just getting up and down from a chair over and over again. Are you activating your glutes or relying on your back to do much of the work?

Runners often suffer from knee pain which is often considered just a hazard of running, right? But did you know that many people have inhibited or weak gluteus medius muscles? When these muscles become weak, they are not active enough to endure the stress they will receive for a long period of time. When you’re enduring a long run, your muscles are supposed to switch into low-load levels so that they can maintain the position and endure the activity. This weakness of the gluteus medius can result in other muscles having to take over the job of pelvic stabilization, leading to tight IT bands, knee pain, and even abnormal tracking of the patella (knee cap).

            This is just a small example of how strength within each of these muscles plays a role in activity. But it’s not just strength within the muscles that can have an effect. Abnormal tightness or adhesions from injury can also lead to issues. Massage of the gluteal muscles helps to relax them, ease undue tension, and potentially take pressure off nerves and associated connective tissue. This means that not only are your glutes, low back, hips, and legs going to feel better than ever, but massage may even help to prevent muscle strain, pain, and damage as well. Massage therapy can also improve your range of motion, strength, and circulation, reversing that inhibition and improving overall athletic performance.  This will require a well-rounded massage which includes not only your glutes, but your lower back, and upper legs as well.

Your gluteal muscles have a bigger job than many give them credit for and when they aren’t working properly, they have a bigger affect than you would expect. While that may seem intimidating, don’t fret. Massage can help!

 

The Real Difference Between Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage

There is quite a bit of misinformation and confusion around the terms deep tissue massage and Swedish massage. While you may think you know the difference between these two common massage techniques, you may be surprised by the reality of it. When you come to a massage therapist and request a deep tissue massage or Swedish massage, what you think you’re requesting and what your therapist is trained to know, may be very different. So, before we get into this I want you to clear your mind of any negative thoughts towards either one of these techniques, and open your mind to balance the information.

Keep in mind that anytime you have a session with a massage therapist there should be a discussion of your desired results and goals for the visit as well as an understanding that you help to define the techniques and pressure used during your session. Never hesitate to let your massage therapist know if you have any discomfort or pain during the session so that they can adjust their techniques and pressure accordingly.

Every massage therapist is different, but there are four common movements in Swedish massage. Effleurage is a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue. Petrissage is the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage. Friction involves movement in opposing directions that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other or separate. Tapotement is a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand. These combined with stretching and/or mobilization of joints is generally what you can expect during a typical Swedish massage. All of these Swedish techniques can be done with light or heavy pressure; it’s generally just a broad pressure.

Deep tissue massage is used when there are specific areas that may need a little more attention due to soreness, stiffness, or injury. Deep tissue massage involves more focused pressure and pinpoint techniques and mobilizations. While your therapist may apply deeper pressure at certain times, that’s not the defining difference between these two common techniques. Swedish massage is meant to relax the body and mind, while deep tissue massage is focused on relieving tension and helping with muscular injuries in specific areas.

The key here is knowing the difference between what pressure is helping during your session, and what pressure is uncomfortable and may end up doing more harm than good. Again, in any session there should be an understanding between you and your therapist as to what pressure will work best, and you should inform your therapist if you feel the pressure is too much or too little, so they can adjust their technique accordingly. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up.

Remember, everyone’s body is different, which results in the needs of their sessions to be different. There are those that don’t feel as if they’ve had a good massage if the pressure during the massage was ‘light’ leaving them somewhat sore. Others prefer massages that simply relax them without any other goals. What you need from your session is what you need. Getting a Swedish massage doesn’t necessarily mean light pressure, and a deep tissue massage isn’t necessarily going to leave you in pain. No session, no matter what it’s called, should be painful. There is a clear difference between something being uncomfortable, so you may tense slightly at first but then can breathe through it pretty easily, and that which is painful, so you're unable to breathe and relax through it, causing more harm than good.

Don’t feel like you must stick it out in a massage that is causing you more than a little discomfort because you feel that you won’t reap the benefits without it. Know your body and know the signals your body is sending to inform you of what feels uncomfortable and what is detrimental. If you can’t relax through it, or your muscles are tensing you may need to ask your massage therapist to lighten their pressure. Also remember that light pressure done by a massage therapist that is educated on your needs and the proper way to administer them can be just as effective as deep pressure. If your massage therapist is going lighter, and you feel you would like a little more depth into the stroke, inform them.

 The main point that I want you to take from this is that your session is your session. Your massage therapist wants to provide you with a service that you are happy with, and for you to return to achieve your wellness goals. An open line of communication with your massage therapist before, during, and after will help them to make sure that you received what you needed out of the session and that you are walking out of there better than you walked in. Make sure that you are giving your massage therapist the opportunity to adjust the treatment where needed to fit you, as well as letting them know what your body responded to best. Massages should not only be helpful, they should also be enjoyable.

 

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: How Massage Can Help

The nerves and blood vessels that supply the arm run from the neck and through a few narrow channels that can sometimes become even more narrow, resulting in compression of those structures. This can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild tingling and numbness to poor circulation throughout the arm and into the hand and fingers. This is what’s known as    Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). There are two primary types of compression:

Costoclavicular is the result of the space between the collar bone and first rib becoming narrower.

Compression by the scalenes, 3 small muscles within the side of the neck, can occur as tension builds in the area.

While Thoracic Outlet Syndrome can be caused by sudden trauma, it’s more often caused by repetitive actions and postures. Those who have jobs or habits that require movement of the arm up and forward over and over again are more likely to develop TOS, experiencing the telltale symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, swelling, and coldness in the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers.

Treatments vary depending on the area and intensity. Most patients will be prescribed physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and in severe cases where less invasive treatments aren’t successful, surgery may be necessary to take the pressure off the nerves and blood vessels.

Massage therapy is an excellent addition to most treatment plans for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The compression caused by the scalenes can be decreased by relieving those muscles of tension through direct massage. If the compression is costoclavicular, massage can also help to increase the space between the collar bone and the first rib. Along with stretching and some strategic mobilizations, mild cases of TOS can often be handled well by a knowledgeable massage therapist. You may also notice that we’ll massage throughout the entire neck, shoulders, back, and arms in order to alleviate any associated tension, decrease problematic holding patterns, and otherwise treat contributing issues within those areas.

It’s important to remember to communicate throughout the session with your massage therapist. We’ll need to know if certain movements or pressure in specific areas either relieves your symptoms or makes them worse as we go. That information is how we make adjustments for your comfort (we don’t want you to be in pain during treatment), and it also provides important clues as to how to best treat your specific type of TOS.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, or already have a diagnosis, ask your doctor if massage therapy might be the solution to your symptoms.

 

Tips to Ease Neck Pain

Neck pain is common and there’s a variety of things that can cause it. You may have just slept wrong and tried to turn your head a certain way only to feel some pretty sharp pain; then you’re stuck walking around all day barely able to turn to the side. You may have been hunched over at your desk all day, or done some exercise that didn’t quite agree with you. Whatever the cause, it’s no fun. Of course, a massage session here will help, but there are some things you can do in the meantime to ease that pain.

            Stretching

Neck pain is frequently the result of tension within the muscles. When the muscles are tight, they bear down on blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to areas, resulting in even more pain, like those nasty tension headaches that can come along for a ride. Stretching can help loosen that tension and improve blood flow, overall decreasing your pain levels. Slowly tilt your head forward, back, and side to side, until you feel a good stretch in each position. Hold it for several seconds and breathe deep. Release and keep moving through the motions and stretching. Listen to your body and find the places where the stretch really seems to be the most effective.

Heat & Cold Therapy

Heat can help to improve blood flow and relax the muscles, while applying cold can decrease inflammation. You can use whatever feels right, but alternating between the two will often help even more. Apply your heating pad for 5 minutes, then a cold pack for 2 or 3 minutes. One round may be all you need for very mild symptoms, but if the pain is persistent, keep alternating between the two for up to 20 minutes, ending with cold to make sure any inflammation is taken care of.

            Self-massage

You can use your fingertips, knuckles, self-massage tools like a Thera Cane, or even just a tennis or golf ball; anything that will provide direct pressure into the muscles. Start gently working throughout the neck and shoulders to warm up the tissues, and slowly work into deeper pressure as it feels right. Don’t be afraid of slight discomfort, but stop if you experience any sharp pains.

            Get a different pillow

If you’re experiencing neck pain frequently, try switching up your pillow to see if it may be the cause. No one size fits all here. You need to find what works best for your body. And don’t forget that those pillows need fluffed and replaced on a regular basis to keep the proper support.

Of course, you can always come get a massage when you’ve got any sort of pain like this, but I know that’s not always possible and I still want you to feel amazing as much as you can. So, use these tips the next time your neck starts bothering you, and book your next massage to keep you feeling great too!

 

What is Neuromuscular Therapy?

            With all the different types of massage techniques there are, it can be confusing and overwhelming when you see yet another term on the long list of modalities available. Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) is one of those that a lot of people tend to have questions about. It sounds interesting, but most people outside the industry might not know what it really is. So, let’s look at what it entails and determine if it’s right for you.

Most people who are experiencing pain or who have an injury will benefit from neuromuscular therapy. As massage therapists, we tend to talk about nerve compressions, ischemia (loss of blood flow), trigger points (highly irritable areas that transfer pain elsewhere), and postural imbalances that are causing you pain. Neuromuscular therapy can help relieve all of these things, but even if you don’t know the cause of your pain, it still may be a great type of therapy for you. Whether you’re dealing with an injury like a muscle tear, some muscular imbalance, or dealing with generalized pain in an area, neuromuscular therapy may be a good treatment option. NMT can help to relieve your pain, increase your flexibility and range of motion, and restore muscle strength.

When you’re receiving a neuromuscular session, you’re not going to experience those long flowing strokes that are so often associated with massage. Instead, you’ll notice we’re applying pressure into an area and holding for some time. We may use fingers, knuckles, or elbows to achieve that deep, sustained pressure, depending on the area. We hold this pressure to allow the body to respond; there may be a slow or immediate feeling of release, or even a small twitching sensation. While the direct pressure into these areas may be a little uncomfortable at first, that should quickly ease, and it’s important to keep the lines of communication open throughout your session. We don’t want you to be in pain, so if you feel like the pressure is ever too much, please let us know immediately. We’d rather take our time and go a little slower and be a bit gentler than to have you in more pain. The purpose is to get you out of pain, and while you may have a slight discomfort here and there, we don’t want to cause you any more discomfort than is necessary.

If you’re still on the fence about whether you want to try neuromuscular therapy, feel free to reach out anytime and talk with us. We’d love to help you determine if this is the right kind of treatment for your specific situation.

 

What is Neuropathy & Can Massage Help?

Neuropathy refers to any condition that causes a dysfunction of the nerves, typically caused by some sort of damage, such as that associated with decreased circulation, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or localized trauma. Most often, the area affected will have sensations of tingling, numbness, shooting pains, weakness, and/or a heavy feeling. While neuropathy can happen anywhere, you’ll usually hear this term interchanged with one that is actually a bit more specific; peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy refers specifically to neuropathy that affects the hands and feet, which may or may not move its way up toward the trunk.

While there are many causes, the overall pathology remains the same; the nerves controlling sensation and movement of the area are damaged in some way and aren’t sending the “correct” signals up to the brain or out to the associated muscles. And because these nerve functions are so complex, people with neuropathy may experience either sensory or motor function losses and abnormalities, or both, depending on exactly where and to what extent the damage exists within the nerve itself. Some will have just numbness, while others may experience significant pain or weakness. Some may experience all the possible symptoms and others may only have one or two. The combination and severity of symptoms is often unique to each patient and the underlying condition that’s causing the neuropathy in the first place.

If you find that you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you can get control of this condition, the better. The damage to these nerves may or may not be permanent, so taking the necessary steps to address the symptoms as well as the root cause can help to heal the existing trauma as well as prevent further damage.                                     

Treatments for peripheral neuropathy can range from exercise to prescription medication, as well as the use of devices like a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit. There is also another commonly recommended treatment that you may not have thought of - massage therapy.

Massage has been shown time and again to help relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, and there are a few reasons for this.

#1: Massage helps to loosen the muscles and other soft tissue restrictions that may be putting pressure on those affected nerves.

#2: Massage releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones which act as a natural pain killer.

#3: Massage increases superficial blood flow, which may help to counter the poor circulation often causing peripheral neuropathy. This blood flow can also help the damaged nerves to heal as fresh oxygen and nutrients are brought into the area that may have been lacking.

#4: The direct application of massage at various pressures stimulates the diverse nerves in the area, to promote healing and proper function.

 Before you jump onto that massage table, there are a few important things to consider. Communication with your massage therapist is crucial. As your therapist, I need to be aware of exactly what symptoms you’re experiencing associated with neuropathy as well as what the underlying cause is, what treatments you’re doing, and the effects of those treatments, all so that I can best formulate a session plan. Then throughout the session, you’ll also need to be sure you’re communicating very clearly on how the pressure feels to you, and any sensations that you feel. Massage therapists tend to go a bit lighter in pressure on areas affected by neuropathy due to the decrease in sensation. Basically, in healthy areas you would feel that the pressure was too much before it got to the point of being capable of causing damage to the tissues. But due to the decreased sensation in neuropathic areas, you won’t be able to give that kind of feedback as accurately, so as your therapist, I have to be much more careful. Speak up throughout if you feel the pressure isn’t right, if you experience an increase or decrease in symptoms, an area is especially numb or a particular movement causes pain. This informs me of what my next steps should be throughout your massage.

Neuropathy can be uncomfortable, and at times scary, but there are numerous treatment options. It’s important that you keep an open mind and get to know the treatments that are available to you.

 

What to Expect in a Hot Stone Massage

           

As the temperatures outside get cooler you may find that your body is craving warmth. Why not try out a hot stone massage? If you've never had one, and you’re not quite sure what to expect, well you’re reading the perfect thing.

A hot stone massage is very similar to most standard massages, with one major exception. Well obviously it’s even more amazing, but the reason for that is In a hot stone massage your therapist will use smooth heated stones to perform the massage techniques, not just their hands and forearms. It's kind of like being massaged by someone with intensely warm hands. But the great thing about the use of these stones, is that they allow the heat to penetrate much deeper into the muscle. This not only feels amazing, but also gives you the added benefit of a much deeper sense of relaxation and tension relief, both physically and emotionally.

It’s important to note that while hot stone massage can be very appealing to a variety of people, this technique isn’t for everyone. There are some additional contraindications specific to hot stone massage, including systemic inflammatory conditions, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and any other condition or medication that inhibits your senses. The ability to give proper feedback on temperature is crucial, and any impairment in that ability makes a hot stone massage ill-advised.

While communication is always important in any massage, it’s especially important during a hot stone massage because of the heat factor. Let your therapist know if the stones are too hot or if you would like them to be a bit warmer. Oftentimes, if they feel a bit too warm to you, your therapist can either set them aside to cool for a minute, or they may simply move them slightly faster during the massage strokes so the temperature feels better to you. As the stones cool, leaving enough warmth to still feel wonderful, but cool enough to stay in one place for a while without burning, your therapist may choose to place them in strategic places, like in your hands, on your low back, under your neck, or on your stomach. The heat along with the slight weight of the stone can often provide an intense feeling of relief for the area.

While it may be cold outside, you can find one of the best ways to warm up and feel great at the same time with a hot stone massage.

 

What you Should and Shouldn’t do After a Massage

Whether you get regular massages to help with an injury, loosen your muscles after a training session, ease the pain of an injury or medical condition you’re experiencing, or just as pure relaxation, we want you to get the most out of your massage. There are ways to maximize the benefits of your massage, and there are ways that can have the opposite effect you’re going for. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you get the most out of your massage.

Do Drink water to rehydrate

Because we manually increase lymphatic flow, massage can have a diuretic effect on the body, causing you to lose a little water. Drinking plenty of water before and after a massage will ensure that you stay hydrated and continue to feel great after your appointment.

Do Take a nap

There is no doubt that after your session your muscles will be relaxed, and your mind clear due to the feel-good hormones that your body releases. Try to schedule your massage appointment at a time in your day where you can enjoy the benefits of relaxing and refueling your body through a much-needed nap. Not only will you enjoy some great sleep, but you’ll also give your body time to reset.

Do Eat

Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, giving you that amazing feeling of relaxation, and aiding digestion at the same time. You’ll more than likely be a little hungry when you leave your appointment so refuel your body with a light snack or well-balanced meal.

Do Use heat therapy

We do our best to relax your muscles during a massage, and the addition of before, during, and after your massage will act to increase that relaxation effect, leaving you feeling even more amazing. This can also help dissipate some of the muscle soreness that can be associated with more rigorous techniques and injury rehabilitation.

Don’t Drink alcohol

As I have mentioned before, massage has a diuretic affect. Since alcohol also has a diuretic effect, it’s important to avoid it for a bit after your massage. If you’re going to anyway, don’t overdo it, and be sure to drink some extra water to keep yourself from becoming too dehydrated.

Don’t Exercise

While many would think this is the perfect time to go exercise because the muscles are loosened, take this time and enjoy the benefits of your massage. Let your body heal and enjoy a rest day. Yoga and light stretching are perfectly fine if you really need to move your body after a massage, just keep in mind that you don’t want to overdo it.

Don’t Stress

Massage helps relieve stress from your day to day life. Enjoy the benefits of your massage by putting on some relaxing music, and just kick back and relax. Try to stay away from working, watching the news, or anything else that will bring your stress levels back up. Make today about YOU.

While it may sometimes be difficult to schedule your appointment at a time where you can have the rest of the day to yourself, it does help to increase the amazing effects of that massage. Just remember that it’s your body and it’s your massage; don’t you deserve to get the most out of it?

 

What’s With all the Tape?

Have you ever been at the gym or watched an athletic event and seen someone covered in strange patterns of tape? Maybe along their shoulder or calf? Have you ever wondered what the purpose of the tape was, or exactly why they were using tape instead of a brace? Here’s what you need to know about the method behind this tape, what it does, and how it’s useful.

 In the past, when someone was physically injured, it was common to restrict movement as a way to allow the area to heal. Throw a brace on it so you’re not moving it so much or at all and let it recover, right? But through numerous studies and a better understanding of injuries and the healing process, the practice has changed. For some injuries, that movement restriction is still very important, but for many, full restriction is actually counter-productive; decreasing circulation to the area and causing a weakness of the associated muscles. Instead, controlled, stabilized movement and bracing are far better. We’ve seen this with the changes in recommendations surrounding slings and bracing for the last decade or more. And this is where all that tape comes in.

A Japanese chiropractor named Dr. Kenzo Kase wanted to dig deeper to find a method that supported movement while keeping the muscles safe. He created the first elastic therapeutic tape called Kinesio Tape in 1979 and the methods of use for it. There are now numerous versions of this same type of tape under a variety of brand names and methodologies, but they’re all based on the same concepts.

This type, unlike traditional athletic tape, is very elastic, stretching and retracting to gently lift the layer of skin and connective tissue so that blood and lymph can move more feely in and around the muscle and other tissues, allowing the healing process to take place more efficiently. There are numerous, very specific applications for a variety of muscular dysfunctions and injuries so it’s important that you have someone well trained and qualified to apply the tape correctly so as to best support your specific issue. Some applications help to stabilize a joint, such as those you may see wrapping around a shoulder, knee, or ankle, while still allowing safe movement. Others can help to take the pressure off of an area that seems to be restricted in some way. Some are thought to stimulate or inhibit muscular contraction. And yet others can help to increase lymphatic flow, decreasing swelling in an area. The specific application used on your body will depend on the type of injury and goals for treatment.

One of the great things about this tape is that due to the components, it can stay in place for days at a time, even through sweating, showering, and daily activities. For some, one application is all it takes to stabilize and allow healing to take place. Others may require numerous applications over time. It all depends on the exact injury and how your body responds and heals. It’s important that you pay close attention to how you feel before and after the tape application and how your movements are affected, and relay this information to your massage therapist. We can adjust the tape however you need to best suit your body.

 

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome: What You Can Do About It

If you ever experience pain, tingling, or numbness in your hand and fingers, specifically the thumb, index, and middle fingers, then you may want to get checked for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. CTS is a fairly common problem resulting from pressure on the median nerve by the transverse carpal ligament, a broad band of tissue that wraps around the wrist. This compression is most often the result of repetitive movements of the wrist and fingers such as typing, assembly line work, sewing, etc. It also seems to show up alongside other conditions such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and is even a common side effect of pregnancy.

While we most often associate this pain, tingling, or numbness in the wrist and hand as an obvious sign of compression of the median nerve in the wrist, i.e. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, it’s important to also rule out other possible causes, including nerve compression at the neck, shoulder, or upper arm. You see, this median nerve is a branch of a much larger nerve coming from the spinal cord. So, while passing around and through the numerous structures on the way to the fingers, it can become compressed at any point, resulting in the same symptoms as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is why it’s so important to get a proper diagnosis so the real cause of the symptoms can be treated effectively.

Once CTS has been diagnosed, there are a number of movement and position modifications that can help take pressure off the nerve and ease your symptoms.

  • Use a splint to keep the wrist in a neutral position
  • Use a support under the wrist when typing or using a mouse to keep the wrist neutral
  • Don’t overextend or flex the wrist frequently
  • Rearrange your space if needed to decrease the need for wrist flexion or extension
  • Loosen your grip when grasping items
  • Take frequent breaks throughout any task using the hand and wrist to stretch and move in different directions

Swelling is a big culprit in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The pressure on the nerve creates inflammation, resulting in swelling that only adds to that pressure. Because of this, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, or even steroid shots in severe cases, to reduce the swelling. Oftentimes, just getting the swelling under control can take enough pressure off the nerve to let the healing process take place and ease the symptoms greatly. If these modifications and medications aren’t quite doing the trick, the next step is often a recommendation for physical therapy to begin a regimen of exercises and stretches that can help. If this still doesn’t resolve the issue, the next step is often surgery. This can be done with an open incision or endoscopically, but either way, the most common surgical procedure involves cutting that transverse carpal ligament to allow more room for the median nerve to pass through without pressure.

While Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a fairly common condition, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer with it. Use these tips to ease any current discomfort and hopefully prevent any more!