Massage affects many aspects of our health. Whether you decide to define each one, or just enjoy how you feel when you get one, is entirely up to you.
For those of you who like research, here is some information about specific benefits to your body.
Relaxation Response. We all know that massage helps with relaxation, but how does that appear in the body? Obviously, muscles relax, breathing and heart rate slow down, and stress decreases. This can manifest is so many ways, including heart health, hormone balance, improved sleep and energy.
Mechanical Response can be defined as very specific physical reactions by your body to the touch and flow of massage. I.e., blood and lymph flow are improved, nerves and connective tissues are released, allowing the body to function more efficiently and with less effort.
When muscles contract, often they pinch on nerves, causing pain and discomfort. When the muscles are released, they allow the nerves to operate properly, sending signals to and from the brain, and improving organ and muscle function.
Releasing superficial layers of muscles have a benefit all on their own, but as the therapist releases deeper layers, not only does the body achieve better alignment and balance, but the muscles are able to stay relaxed for a longer period of time.
There is a lot of knee pain out there. And even more loss of range of motion (ROM) in the knees. There IS hope, however, in massage. Knee pain is simply a manifestation of dysfunctional posture, coming from the hips (pelvis), which is also known as the core of your body. When the hips are tipped forward, back, or twisted, it has a direct impact on your knees. As the femur comes from the hip to connect to the knee joint, if it's coming at the correct angle, no problem. But from a tipped pelvis, the femur is then coming toward the knee joint at a posturally incorrect angle. This causes the bones in the knee joint to be crooked, causing wear and tear on the cartilage. Which, as many people know, wears away until the knee is bone on bone and hurts like the devil. That is usually when knee replacements happen.
The goal then, is to get the skeleton back into correct postural alignment. Some people upon hearing the word posture, thinks, "I've got to go to the chiropractor!" That's another blog for another day, but suffice it to say here that bones only do what muscles tell them to do and that the reason your pelvis is tipped or crooked, unless you've been involved in a major accident, is on account of muscles that have become chronically tight and contracted, pulling the pelvis one way or another.
The article that I'm adding here is about knees, not the pelvis. However, as you will see when you read it, the knee joints is positively affected by working which muscles? Oh yeah, the quadriceps and hamstrings. Those muscles attach to what? The Pelvis? And if the pelvis is tipped, it negatively affects those large leg muscles which pull on the knee and voila, there you have it! Pain and ROM issues. So, in the study, when the therapists released the quadriceps and hamstrings, the pain in the knees was relieved.
It's also good to note that not a lot of pressure or pain was applied to the area to get the relief the client needed. Another one of those mis-understandings that clients have when they come to me. Many think that "no pain, no gain", when the opposite is quite true. The more pain during a massage, the less effective it will be. Click here for the article on massage and knee pain.
I just read an article about neck pain, lack of range of motion and massage. It was very interesting and you can read the entire article here.
The study was based on clients with chronic neck pain. They were trying to determine how many/often massages it would take to relieve the pain. The studies that were conducted included shorter massages (30 min) and a typical 60 min massage.
The conclusion was, that longer massages, more frequently, were more beneficial to long term relief, than shorter, more frequent massage.
Of course, time and money are typically an issue for a lot of people. So, sometimes having 60 min massages 3x's / week is not feasible.
What I advise my clients is this: The massages I give are cumulative. And you can heal. If my clients come in more often at the beginning of their treatment, soon they won't have to come in as often, because the muscles will stay relaxed for longer periods of time after each massage. Thus, fixing the problem of time and money, because as you continue your treatment, your sessions will become further apart.
The method of massage I use is to release muscle fibers layer by layer, rather than going in deep all at once. What this does, is to allow the muscle to relax slowly and completely, without pain. Unlike deep tissue, which typically results in bruised muscle and an unpleasant, painful experience on the table.
As the deeper layers of muscle release, it will take longer for that muscle to tighten to that point again. Thus, the longer periods of time between massages.
I've seen it work time after time. It's amazing, really, how effective it is.
Joints and muscles get stiff and sore when it's cold outside. They get stiff and sore when we are sedentary. It's easy to become sedentary when it's so cold and miserable outside.
Not only will massage get your blood moving and warm up your muscles from the inside out, but at my clinic you will lay on a heated table that will warm you from the outside in.
So in addition to helping with all the other malady's you've heard about, headaches, joint pain, anxiety, anxiety, general malaise, massage is also great for warming you up!! And warming up those muscles will ease the aches and pains in them.
You're probably STILL doing too much. After the holidays, it's time to clean up. And, if you live where there is snow (as I do), then there's the shoveling and moving of all that heavy white stuff, sprinkling the salt or snow melt. And even possibly, slipping on the stuff, which causes those tight muscles yet again!
Getting a massage is more than just a luxury. It's keeping up with the tension and stress we all deal with.
You've had a great massage and feel amazing! You leave the office, get in your car, and go back to your day. Then you think . . . I want to feel this way all the time! What can I do to keep myself from getting back to where I was before the massage?Good question. If you neglected to ask your practitioner what you can do, first of all, schedule another massage! Regular massage is like going to the dentist. Or getting tires rotated on your car. These are maintenance activities we do without blinking an eye. So, we eat every day, brush our teeth every day and go to the dentist regularly to keep our teeth clean from eating all the time. We use our muscles every day, sometimes to excess, or we don't use them enough. (Sedentary people sometimes have more problems than active ones with tight, sore, muscles. Topic for future blog post.)
Drink water. You do not need to drink an excessive amount. Just drink some. It will hydrate you and you will feel better.
Notice how your body feels after your massage and for a couple days afterward. Notice when it starts to tighten up again. Pay attention to what you are doing that causes it to do that. The sooner you get another massage after you feel it tightening up, the more healing can take place. When you get those muscles to relax more often, they will then stay relaxed for longer periods of time between massages. Maybe after your first massage your body starts to tighten up in two days. After your second massage, it might take a week before it starts to get tight. After the third one, perhaps you can go two weeks, and so on. Your muscles have memory and they will remember the relaxed feeling and reward you with longer periods of feeling good. Just be sure to keep a regular schedule, and listen to your body to keep up on it.
Now is a good time to start a better eating program and move your body a little more. Don't go all out if you haven't exercised before. Just started moving around, go for a walk three times a week. Your body will respond well to movement.
The holidays are over, and we are well into the new year. Many people have set their "resolutions" and started implementing them by now. Many others have their "resolutions" and have broken them by now.
Which one are you?
There are as many reasons resolutions are made as there are people who make them. Oftentimes, it's a result of indulgences and the busyness of the holidays that take over, taking us far away from our health, fitness and wellness goals. So, by the time the end of December rolls around, we feel flat, listless and sick.
I don't know what percentage of resolutions revolve around fitness and health, but I guess it's pretty high. As people struggle to achieve their highly unrealistic goals of diet, exercise, and other healthy habits all at once, it's easy to get discouraged and give up.
There is one healthy habit that is often overlooked. That of massage. Massage gives so many benefits other than relaxation. My clients have better range of motion, less pain, easier movement, fewer to no headaches, and more. These results support the health goals so many people make at the new year. Better rest, ability to exercise without pain and with easier movement, to name just a few.
And a massage is an EASY goal to achieve. It hardly takes any effort at ALL. And if it supports your OTHER goals, why NOT set a weekly or monthly massage as YOUR new year resolution? There is one resolution that you will definitely achieve and feel so good about.
Ahh, the holidays. It's the end of the year. Again. Time to look back and reflect on what we've accomplished over the past 12 months. Yes? No?
Oh yeah. Who has time for reflection? When there is so MUCH to DO?! Who created these holidays anyway? And why do they have to be so close together?
Whatever your situation, whatever your thoughts, most of us have some sort of stress, that doubles, triples, or more, during the last couple months of the year. Every year. No matter how hard we try to simplify this year, things come up. And keep coming up and don't stop until the middle of January. Am I right?
We need stress. If we didn't have stress, we probably wouldn't get anything done. We definitely wouldn't have any muscles or strength. Stress on our body is what makes it strong. We typically refer to stress on our muscles as exercise. So, we need to have stress, or opposition in all things. But what do we do when the stress, or opposition, become negative stress? As it often does throughout the holiday season.
Even those of us who think we have it covered, under control, will typically have more negative stress than they realize.
Negative stress manifests itself in a variety of ways. Insomnia, sleeping too much, headaches, fatigue, body aches, joint pain, irritability, moodiness, anger, increased or decreased appetite, etc.
If you, or someone you love, suffers from these symptoms, it could be a sign of negative stress.
During the holidays, even if we are looking forward to certain events, i.e., family gatherings, company parties, singing in the choir, attending Christmas performances/services, buying and giving gifts, preparing meals, playing in the snow, many of these things bring on negative stress, even though they can be, and usually are, enjoyable.
But what to do? There are many things that can be done to alleviate, manage negative stress, depending on your preferences and hobbies. There are definitely a few tried and true stress relieving activities, that will help anyone.
1. Exercise. When I refer to exercise in this regard, I am not suggesting a marathon. Quite the contrary. Moderate, easy, move around a lot at a slow pace, exercise is the key here. You want your body to relax, to rejuvenate, to revive. Rather than beating it to death, creating even more negative stress, it's time to let go and unwind. A casual walk (don't get too fatigued). A 20 minute session of easy yoga. An enjoyable bike ride. A short hike, up an easy path. Mix these up several times a week, and you will be amazed at how much better you feel. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well.
2. Connect with a trusted, true friend or family member. Someone you can be yourself with, laugh with, completely relax with. Go to lunch, a movie, on a walk (any of the above activities), or just have a cup of hot chocolate and relax together for 20 minutes. It's amazing how connecting wth someone will bring down your stress levels.
3. Get a massage. There are a plethora of studies out there that support the idea that massage therapy reduces stress. I like to think of it this way. We eat every day., putting our teeth at risk of cavities and decay. Thus, we brush our teeth every day to ward off the disease. We also see (or should see) our dentist every 6 months for the same reason.
So, we use our muscles every day. We stress our muscles every day. We should exercise every day, stretch, rejuvenate, to release that stress and prevent injury. (That would be brushing our teeth to prevent cavities). And getting a regular massage is like seeing the dentist every 6 months. A massage should happen more often than that since our muscles get tight so quickly, and our stress levels are so high.
Good things to think about. So, go out, go for a walk, move, call a friend, and get a massage.
Fibromyalgia, an economically burdensome condition, is no fun. At. All. It’s a mystery, albeit extremely painful issue for a lot of people. From personal experience, massage helps FM symptoms tremendously. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Research has reported that up to 90% of individuals with FM have used at least one form of complementary and alternative treatments to manage their symptoms. Massage therapy, as one of these treatments, has been widely used for FM. It can improve pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance.
Massage therapy, used consistently for five weeks, has been shown to have beneficial immediate effects on improving pain, anxiety, and depression caused by FM.
Massage is extremely therapeutic in helping a FM sufferer to calm down and relax, reducing emotional stress, which in turn reduces physical, muscular stress. Be sure to tell your therapist that you have FM, and work with them to ensure a comfortable pressure. Deep, painful massage, is not recommended for clients with FM. Keep it light, soothing and therapeutic.
Massage Essentials focuses primarily on relieving, quickly and permanently, chronic pain and tension, which is typically a result of dysfunctional posture and lack of movement.
Chiropractor comes to mind when talking about posture, but when you learn that bones only do what muscles tell them to do, it makes sense to see a massage therapist first. Tight muscles pull bones out of alignment. Chiropractors, (or your best friend), can move the bones back into place, but what happens if the muscles aren’t released and remain tight? Hmmm. Yep. They pull the bones right back out of place.
On the other hand, if you release tight, angry muscles, what will happen to the bones? They happily slip right back into place with a “sigh.” So that the muscles don’t tighten up again, it’s important to get them to release all the way. Usually this takes more than one hour massage session. Once all the layers of that specific muscle are released, the muscle will happily do it’s assigned job, staying nice and relaxed, unless it’s body decides to stop moving, has a trauma, or doesn’t keep up with keeping it relaxed on a regular basis, i.e., regular massage therapy.
I came across actual research about massage therapy and its beneficial effect on pain and pain management. You can read about it here, or you can read my thoughts below.
Over the 12 years I have practiced massage therapy, I have seen first hand, the incredible results my clients have received, who suffer from chronic pain and tension and range of motion problems. Massage Essentials focuses on relieving, quickly and permanently, chronic pain and tension, thereby improving, not only the physicality of the person, but other aspects of their wellness, such as social, mental, emotional and spiritual. Chronic pain absolutely affects a person’s daily activities, family life and work in all areas mentioned above.
“Massage Therapy for Pain. There has been a rise in the use of complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) therapies due to the high prevalence of pain, unsatisfactory results from conventional pain treatment, and the need to address the whole patient.”
“Conclusion. Based on the evidence, massage therapy, compared to no treatment, should be strongly recommended as a pain management option.”
(Citations taken from this website.)
So, what are you waiting for?
We pride ourselves on our knowledge and expertise to achieve immediate and longer lasting results than a typical Swedish or Deep Tissue Massage but with little to no pain during your session. Your experience will be as enjoyable as a relaxing massage with deep tissue results.