Change Your Life
Change Your Life
This would probably be my favorite topic when an active person is thinking about getting a massage. As a kick-boxer, yoga enthusiast, biker, and walker, I am very motivated to feel good enough to always be able to do these activities. One way obviously, to make sure this happens is to DO these activities on a consistent basis. Another important way is to get massage or bodywork treatments regularly, to help my body heal from these activities, to rejuvenate my muscles, ligaments and joints, and to relax my mind and psyche so that I’m ready to go again.
One thing that I’ve learned in my studies since I’ve become an LMT, is that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. This is a cliche however, a lot of people either 1) don’t believe it, 2) have never experienced it, or 3) don’t care about it.
Here are several reasons why massage will enhance your exercise performance.
Reason # 1: It literally strengthens your muscles so that they are strong. Strong muscles perform better than weak muscles do.
When muscles become rigid, tonic and tight, they can get to the point where they are unable to take in oxygen and nutrition that is being distributed by the bloodstream. When this happens, it would be like you or me not ever taking a break from work, not sleeping, eating or drinking, just going and going, hour after hour, day after day. You think, “Well, I would just collapse after a while,” and so we would. Similarly, muscles get to a point where, if they never get a chance to wind down, relax, “eat” or “drink” (receive nutrition and oxygen), they get extremely fatigued. When this happens, they start to hurt. This is the body’s way of sending a red flag that something needs to be done.
And so you think, “Well, I sleep every night, they get their rest then.” Unfortunately, just because you’re relaxed and sleeping, doesn’t mean your muscles are, too. When a muscle is overworked, from constant use, or improper use, it can get to the point where it is always “on”. Meaning that those muscles have forgotten how to “let go”. They are always in a “ready to go” mode, because they perceive that their services will be called upon at any moment, and they don’t have the luxury to relax, because they might not be ready. Thus, they are tight and contracted all the time and become stiff, painful and rigid.
When the muscles release and then have access to the oxygen and nutrients that the bloodstream provides, it’s like giving them food, water and a great night’s sleep. It rejuvenates them, lightens and lengthens them, and gives them more strength than before. They are now rested, strong and ready to go.
Reason #2: Improves muscle flexibility to increase performance during exercise.
What do exercisers rely on? Strong, pliable, flexible muscles to perform for them when they are doing their exercise or activity of choice. Doesn’t matter what the exercise is, it can be anything from swimming to golfing, biking to karate. Relaxed, rested and nutrient dense muscles will, and do, perform better than contracted, fatigued and exhausted muscles do.
When you get a good massage, the tight and rigid muscle fibers are released. When that happens, the muscles actually become longer. Instead of being tight and contracted, they are able to relax back into their natural resting length. This obviously helps to increase flexibility when the muscle starts at a longer length to begin with.
Reason #3: Massage helps soothe stiff, painful, rigid muscles.
Oftentimes the best way, and sometimes the only way, to get those muscles to remember how to relax is to manually manipulate them (massage them) to release those contracted fibers. It can be painful to do this, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many therapists who can, and do, release muscles without pain to the client.
The right therapist can release your stiff, painful muscles and you will feel the results immediately.
Reason #4: It helps with post workout recovery.
You do not want to have a massage too close to the start of your workout. Your workout will simply tighten up all the releasing that has been done and negate the positive effects of the massage. A massage a couple of days before a big race, competition or activity, however, can definitely improve performance in a big way.
After a large competition or race, however, a massage can be very effective. Your muscles will love the attention, you’ll be able to relax into the massage, heal faster, recover faster and feel so much better.
Reason #5: It helps with mental acuity, positive thinking, and all those hormones that are released when you take care of yourself.
Just as regular exercise releases “feel good” hormones, massage does the same thing. Whenever you manipulate, exercise, or use your muscles, those hormones are released. This can and does improve mental acuity, positive thinking, and feel good brain activity. It’s a really great way to balance the stress you’ve put your muscles through by giving them a great workout. You don’t have to get a massage after every workout, of course, but a regular session will keep your muscles and you happy and balanced. In more ways than one, as described in this post.
Not only will you feel better mentally and emotionally, but you will have the desire to exercise more and take better care of yourself. What more could you ask for?
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.
How is your neck?
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.
It's cold outside...
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.
Massage & Fibromyalgia
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 or Chiro?
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.
Pain Free? We do that!
Most people don’t like pain very much. This is the main reason people end up on my table for a massage. Since I have experienced my share (and more) of pain in my life, I have spent years researching it and why in the world we have it when it seems like we have done nothing to cause it.
It is certainly a mystery. I have figured out, through much study and personal experience mind you, a huge reason, if not the MAIN reason, for most of the mysterious aches, pain and tension we experience on a daily, and sometimes an hourly basis. Those pains that just will NOT go away no matter how much exercise, sleep, rest, chiropractic visits, or essentials oils we slather on ourselves or (add anything you’ve tried here).
Many people believe that no pain is no gain. But come on! You’re getting a massage because you're IN pain. Why, oh why, would you want to suffer more pain to get rid of pain? It doesn’t make sense. The entire time my clients are on my table, they are comfortable, relaxed and feel like something good is happening to their muscles. And it is.
I am committed to using all my experience and the many methods and therapies I have learned, to achieve my goal of creating a comfortable, enjoyable experience for every one of my clients, yet achieving deep tissue, or structural results, (these therapies can be extremely painful, BTW), that will last much longer than the painful ones.
This therapy is something you want to experience for yourself. Because that’s truly the only way to find out. Each of my clients is unique and I work with each one to be sure their experience is pain free and relaxing, with long lasting results.
Come check it out.
Hi, my name is Loraine. Do you wake up tired, achy and stiff from a restless, sleepless night? Do painful muscles keep you from doing what you want to do? Do you want your "old" self-back? I can help. I will remove layers of tension, stress and anxiety, so you can function and feel better than ever. You will feel results in your very first session with little to no pain or discomfort. Come see me soon! I would love to meet you and help you truly let go of it all.