October 8, 2013
The short answer is, yes, of course–you need a massage. Who doesn’t? You deal with deadlines, long lines, short tempers, and your dog’s distemper. We’re all at the receiving end of things we would rather not deal with. Massage can be the valve that eases the pressure.
Massage therapy is useful for many conditions, in addition to relaxation and stress relief. See your doctor for a diagnosis first, and then consult your massage therapist.
Relax Your Sore Jaw
Does your jaw make a popping or cracking sound when you chew? Do you clench your jaws without even knowing it? If so, then you may have temperomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).
Many people are surprised this is something massage therapy can help. However, TMD is a biomechanical problem. It’s muscle that’s doing all that clenching; spasm in those muscles can throw off the proper function of the jaw joints, causing pain and sometimes headaches. Trauma to the mouth or tooth loss can also be contributing factors. Many people experience a popping or clicking in their jaws, but if it isn’t painful, it isn’t considered pathological.
People suffering from TMD find it difficult to open their mouths very wide and activities like brushing their teeth or chewing meat may be too painful. There is a lot you can do to help yourself if you do have TMD. Your massage therapist can show you exercises to relax your jaw, as well as bring down local pain and general stress that lead to all that jaw muscle tension. In these treatments, therapists often work on the muscles inside the mouth. Using a sterile protective glove, therapists will work to release those troublesome trigger points.
Bonus tip. If you suspect you have TMD, check with your dentist. He or she can diagnose the problem and may have more solutions to ease the jaw pain. Jaw-clenching can also damage teeth. If you wake with sore jaws or aching teeth, you may be clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep.
Ease Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome
An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from several variations of spastic colon, a condition that often alternates between constipation and diarrhea. If you develop bloating, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel habits, or if your stool has an unusual appearance, your first stop is to see your doctor to explore these symptoms. Your doctor may want a sample to check for parasites or blood in your stool and may order a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy to rule out serious possibilities. Often the cause is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a benign disorganization in the peristaltic movements of the colon.
The bowels are so nerve-rich that some people refer to the colon as the body’s “second brain.” Its actions are very sensitive to your mental state, so stress management–and massage–are key. As with many other conditions, the less stress you feel, the less pain you feel. Massage releases the power of your body’s inner pharmacy: endorphins. When you receive massage, your autonomic nervous system is affected so pain signals are slowed or stopped. In short, massage calms things down.
After you have a diagnosis, speak with your therapist about your condition. You may benefit from a soothing abdominal massage to aid your digestion. Consider massage as part of a program to reduce IBS symptoms, as well as eliminating certain foods that cause sensitivities. Many IBS sufferers try elimination diets or consult a nutritionist to aid their digestion and figure out which foods make their symptoms worse.
Bonus tip. Until just a few years ago, it was thought that a diagnosis of IBS indicated a greater likelihood of colon cancer in the patient’s future. Happily, more recent research indicates that is not so.
Alleviate That Pain In The Neck
In adults, neck pain–clinically known as torticollis–often comes on suddenly as the muscles in one side of your neck become so short that your head is drawn down to one side. Massage therapists are great at lengthening short, tight muscles. After an evaluation of the range of motion in your neck, your therapist will use gentle massage techniques to gradually slow the nerve firing in the painful area. As the tension eases, the therapist may use trigger-point release techniques and various ways of stretching the muscle to regain balance and normalize the muscular function in your neck. Follow-up exercises will keep that tissue supple and healthy.
Several times a summer I will amaze a client suffering torticollis by asking if they slept the night before under the cool breeze of a fan blowing directly over their body. Fast asleep in one position too long, a shortened neck muscle is chilled and painful trigger points result.
Get your therapist on speed dial before next summer’s heat waves hit or prevent the pain by not allowing the air conditioner or fan to blow directly on you all night.
Bonus tip. Torticollis limits your neck’s range of motion so you can’t check your blind spots while driving. For everyone’s safety, please let someone else drive you to your appointment.
Get Rid Of Tennis Elbow
You don’t have to play tennis to get this nasty dysfunction: lateral epicondylitis. People who do a lot of work on a keyboard frequently get it, too. It’s a form of tendonitis (an inflammation of a tendon at the outside of the elbow).
If you feel pain at your elbow, speak to your therapist. He or she will help you identify the pain by palpating gently the painful area and may perform range of motion tests or ask you to move your arm in certain ways as he or she resists those motions.
Tennis elbow is a common condition that can be persistent if not treated. Treatment may require general massage above and below the affected joint and specific friction-based techniques. Your therapist will instruct you in the use of ice packs to ease the pain and will reevaluate your progress with each office visit to monitor and document changes.
With tennis elbow it is important for you to take a break from whatever activities make the pain worse. You will also be asked to do some homework with remedial exercises to strengthen the tendon and the surrounding muscle.
Bonus tip. You may feel pain on the inside of the elbow. This is a similar problem affecting a different tendon and arises from a different motion. It’s called golfer’s elbow (or medial epicondylitis). Assessment and progress of treatment is similar to tennis elbow.
Quiet Your Headaches
There are several different kinds of headaches, each with different causes. For instance, there are migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches. If you suspect any of the above, see your doctor and then see your massage therapist. People often make their own diagnosis and assume any very painful headache is a migraine. It’s possible, but not necessarily so. Tension or sinus headaches can be exquisitely torturous, too, but the kind of headache you have is not determined by its intensity but by its likely cause.
Migraines affect 23 million Americans a year, typically afflicting women more than men. These headaches are sometimes preceded by a warning phase where you see haloes, auras, or wavy lines around lights. This type of headache is very debilitating. The sufferer will want to retreat to a quiet, dark room.
Migraines have a hormonal basis and may recur even if you eliminate known triggers. Still, it’s best to be aware of these potential triggers. Migraines are often linked to bodily reactions to aspartame, caffeine, cheese, citrus, ice cream, monosodium glutomate, or red wine, and the pain occurs on one side of the head.
Let your doctor make the diagnosis and, if appropriate, let your massage therapist ease the pain.
Bonus tip. Many people with migraines find it helpful during the early stages of the headache to plunge their hands and forearms into ice water. This reroutes blood to the extremities and can abort a headache. Some headache sufferers also use biofeedback therapy to stop migraines before they build to full force.
If you wake with headache pain, contact your doctor’s office since this type of head pain may signal the need for medical intervention.
Many people experience headaches only occasionally and often the hidden cause is dehydration. You may just need to drink more water.
Get A Massage For The Joy Of It
Our nervous systems are wired for the flight or fight response. Stress was eased in the old days by the exercise humans got when they successfully eluded hungry bears. However, in modern times, stress and worry tend to hang around.
As long as we’ve been on this planet, massage has been a joyful thing to receive. Our brains and bodies are wired to enjoy it.
Poke an animal with a stick and muscle contracts. In other words, stress makes muscle shorten. Massage–softening and lengthening muscle–counteracts that compressive stress.
Despite these bodily woes, not every massage has to be a treatment of a problem. Massage just feels good and you don’t have to have a problem per se to benefit from it. Some people wait for the stress or pain to build up before they come in for massage, fearing they won’t get as much out of the experience otherwise. Don’t wait for it to build up.
Whether you are receiving massage in a spa or in a clinic, many of the massage manipulations you receive are based on spurring the body’s natural relaxation response. Muscle tension eases. You’re horizontal and you don’t have to do anything but enjoy an hour’s vacation from the mundane routines that propel us in our overstimulated society. Relax. Let go. And go get a massage.
Bonus tip. Book several massage appointments right now, creating an opportunity for you to tune out, drop out, and bliss out on a regular basis. You deserve no less.
October 1, 2013
Few jobs out there are not only financially rewarding, but personally rewarding as well. One of these such jobs is one we’ll discuss in this article. It’s one that you could learn to do as a hobby to have your friends and/or significant others love you, or you could do it to make lucrative income from it.
Either way, when you know how to be a massage therapist, good things happen.
You see, there’s a slew of benefits that come with learning how to give massages. You give people all kinds of gifts, including:
-Help people recover from (or prepare for) strenuous workouts. This is an amazing gift to share – one that people very much appreciate.
Improve the condition of the skin. Being that skin is our largest organ, you can only imagine the benefits that occur from this.
Enhance joint flexibility.
Lessens depression and anxiety – This alone is well worth giving a massage. How nice is it to do something natural versus taking commonly prescribed pills?
Improve circulation – massages help flow oxygen and nutrients in through your tissues and vital organs.
Relieves migraine pain – again, fantastic for not having to deal with commonly prescribed medication.
Promotes new tissue generation (including lessening scar tissue and stretch marks). Tell this to any woman and see how quickly she wants her massage.
As you can see, there are tons of benefits in learning how to be a massage therapist – or even just learning how to do it for your loved ones.
September 17, 2013
A recent study validates the benefits of massage on arthritis.
A new study conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine and published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Journal supports what bodywork therapists have known for years: Massage can help alleviate the painful and debilitating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
For the study, 42 adults suffering from RA in the upper limbs were randomly divided into two groups. Both groups received massage therapy once a week for four weeks and were taught self-massage techniques to be performed daily. But one group received light pressure massage and the other, moderate pressure. At the end of the four weeks, the group that had received moderate pressure reported reduced pain and increased flexibility and strength in affected areas: wrists, elbows and shoulders. Both groups noticed decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“As patients with rheumatoid arthritis work with their doctors to determine the best treatment options, we recommend discussing routine massage therapy,” says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., who led the study. “In addition to physical activity such as yoga, moderate pressure massage therapy, along with self-massage techniques, can help manage the pain and stress that results from various forms of arthritis.”
The study was performed with support from the Massage Envy chain, which also partnered with the Arthritis Foundation (AF) in 2011 to help raise funds and awareness for the organization, and is sponsoring the Foundation’s 250 Arthritis Walk events taking place now through November in 130 cities around the country.
“Walking is a proven way to keep joints healthy and gain support in your community,” says Cindy McDaniel, vice president of consumer health, Arthritis Foundation. “We hope that families across the nation will join us as we raise funds to find a cure.”
The AF reports that one in every five adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. are afflicted with some form of arthritis, and it is the nation’s leading cause of disability. To learn more, visit the Foundation’s website at arthritis.org.
Source: Day Spa Magazine
August 20, 2013
Complementary care such as massage therapy has been shown to address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Meditation and stretching are two more tools that can be used to address PTSD, new research indicates.
More than 7 million adults nationwide are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a typical year, according to a press release from the Endocrine Society, which published the new research. “The mental health condition, triggered by a traumatic event, can cause flashbacks, anxiety and other symptoms.”
PTSD patients have high levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and unusually low levels of cortisol – two hormones used to regulate the body’s response to stress. Although levels of the stress hormone cortisol typically rise in response to pressure, PTSD patients have abnormally low levels of cortisol and benefit when these levels increase.
Meditation and stretching can normalize stress hormone levels, according to the study, which found cortisol levels responded favorably in subjects who participated in mind-body exercises for an eight week-period.
“Mind-body exercise offers a low-cost approach that could be used as a complement to traditional psychotherapy or drug treatments,” said the study’s lead author, Sang H. Kim, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health. “These self-directed practices give PTSD patients control over their own treatment and have few side effects.”
Source: Massage Magazine
August 6, 2013
With the common stressors in daily life, complaints of tension and migraine headaches are not uncommon.
This month’s Massage Therapy Foundation review shares findings from two studies that suggest massage can provide relief for people suffering from headache pain. The authors of these articles report that episodic tension type headaches impact up to 42% of the population and migraines impact approximately 10%.
Traditionally, tension headaches and migraines have been treated with medications – so much, the term, “medication overuse headache” (MOH) has evolved. MOH refers to headaches that persist despite the regular use of drugs for treatment. Needing an alternative effective treatment for the debilitating pain of headaches, the authors of these articles suggest massage therapy presents a potentially reasonable alternative.
The first study, “Changes in Psychological Parameters in Patients with Tension-type Headache Following Massage Therapy: A Pilot Study” by Moraska and Chandler, evaluated a structured massage therapy program, focusing on myofascial trigger points and psychological measures associated with tension-type headaches. Moraska and Chandler noted that there seems to be a cycle of physical pain, decreased productivity and a psychological impact of tension headaches that contribute to stress, anxiety and depression. This theoretical assumption warranted the use of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, the Perceived Stress Scale and the Daily Stress Inventory to measure participants’ outcomes.
Eighteen participants between the ages of 21-65 years were recruited through flyers placed in doctor’s offices and advertisements in local newspapers. All of the enrolled participants had episodic or chronic tension headaches. Exclusion criteria included anyone taking anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medications. The 2004 International Headache Society guidelines for episodic or chronic tension-type headaches (TTH) were used in determining the inclusion criteria. An episodic TTH is defined as one that occurs 15 days or less per month. A chronic one occurs 15 or more days in a month. Two participants did not complete participation in the study; one due to a motor vehicle accident and the other because of insufficient headache diaries.
The study was designed to have four 3-week phases: baseline (one 3-week period), massage (two 3-week periods) and follow-up (one 3-week period). In the baseline phase of the study, participants kept a headache diary to assure that they met the guidelines. Guidelines included each headache lasting at least four hours or longer and less than one migraine headache per month. The massage sessions were two 45 minute sessions per week over the two 3-week periods for a total of 12 massages in six weeks. During the week, there was at least a 48 hour span between the massages. Moraska and Chandler reported, “Massage was directed toward soft tissues of the cervical and cranial regions with an emphasis on reducing myofascial trigger point (MTrP) activity.” (p.88)
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the six participating massage therapists and remained with that same massage therapist throughout their participation in the study. The therapists were experienced practitioners and received training for the study’s massage protocol. In addition, conversation was limited during sessions and the participant’s headache history was not discussed with the massage therapist. Study measures were completed by the participants at the start of the study, at 3-week intervals and at the end of the study. Additionally, the Daily Stress Inventory was administered over 7-day periods during baseline and the final week of massage. Psychological measures were administered on days other than when massage was provided in effort to avoid the massage session having influence on the outcomes of those measures.
Moraska and Chandler reported a significant reduction in stress, anxiety and depression for the participants after six weeks of massage, but not at three weeks. Additionally, the frequency, intensity and duration of the participants’ headaches were reduced following the 12 massage sessions. Since the authors linked TTH pain with an increase in stress, anxiety and depression, a decrease in the pain through massage treatment may have impacted psychological outcomes. Study limitations include small sample size and a lack of a comparison group, resulting in limited power of results. Though this study clearly has some limitations, findings warrant further examination in a larger sample with a control group. It should also be noted the massage therapists who participated did receive specialized training beyond what a typical massage therapist might have.
The second study was “Reduction of Current Migraine Headache Pain Following Neck Massage and Spinal Manipulation” by Noudeh, Vatankhah and Baradaran. This study focused on reducing the pain intensity of the participants with acute onset migraine headaches. The authors recruited 10 male patients between the ages of 18 and 65 with acute onset of a migraine headache as defined by the International Headache Society diagnostic criteria for Massage Without Aura (MWO) and Massage With Aura (MWA). Potential participants who had secondary cause for the migraine, were not able to complete the data tools, or could not receive massage/manipulation due to skeletal disorders were excluded from the study.
Participants’ pain was assessed using the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) with the numerical value of 1 indicating no headache pain and 10 indicating the worst pain possible. The VAS was administered prior to the massage/manipulation intervention. The two-step treatment protocol lasted no more than five minutes. First, massage techniques were applied to the trapezius and supraspinatus muscles, as well as the posterior and lateral neck muscles. Next, skeletal manipulation of the cervical and upper thoracic spine was done. The VAS was administered again after the massage/manipulation session. The authors also asked the participants about possible side effects following the session and their satisfaction with the physical intervention. The participants remained at the clinic (i.e. study site) for an hour after the intervention to assure that the headache did not recur; if it did, an analgesic was offered. Two participants did not remain in the clinic for this period of time; they chose to leave because they said they needed to sleep.
The authors report that 8 out of 10 participants had at least a 50% reduction in their pain level immediately following the massage/manipulation. However within the hour wait period following, three participants did request oral analgesics and one participant was treated with intravenous therapy and intramuscular medication though the authors state that there was no recurrence of the headache for any of the participants. Limitations of this study include the lack of a control group and no way to determine if it was the massage, manipulation or the combination of the two that was responsible for the participants’ reduced pain.
Though different in nature, these two studies provide preliminary evidence that massage can be effectively used to treat individuals who suffer from tension and migraine headaches. These studies findings warrant further examination in larger samples to determine if findings can be replicated to support conclusive findings and dosage recommendations.
The convergent data reported in these two studies contribute to the field of massage, providing supportive evidence for the use of massage for a prevalent condition that affects a significant portion of the general population. Since headaches, both acute/chronic TTH and migraines are common, many massage therapists are likely to have clients with these painful and sometimes debilitating conditions. Knowing how massage may impact the pain and the psychological outcomes associated with headaches can be helpful in determining treatment options and providing the best possible care for clients.
To learn more about the effects of massage therapy for conditions such as headaches, migraines and more, you can review the Massage Therapy Foundation article archives, read accepted MTF Research Grant abstracts, or search Pub Med for massage therapy studies.
Source: Massage Today
August 23, 2012
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August 22, 2012
Need a massage in less than five minutes? Ok, how about four? Always keeping our time constraints in mind, Massage.com’s Shaun Benzies offers relaxation technique exercises perfect for that office self-face massage.
Relax! “Forget the oil. All you need is your own touch and to monitor your breathing. Every self-massage technique should start with a few deep breathes. Breathe in through your nose, hold and then exhale through your mouth,” Benzies states.
Warm Up: Rub your hands together and have the friction generate some heat. Place the palms of your hands on your face, fingers up. Feel the warmth from your hands as you take a few more deep breathes. Move your fingers up to the middle of your forehead so they interlock in the center. Slowly trace each hand down your jaw line to meet in the middle of your chin. Repeat two to three times,” Benzies adds.
Jaw Tension:“An amazing amount of tension builds up within the jaw during a work day, so to relieve this tension, start by slacking your jaw, letting the bottom jaw hang loose. Perform small circles using your index and middle fingers, starting at the joint and working towards your chin. Repeat a few times. Hold your lower jaw in both hands (palms under your chin, fingers at the joint) and pull slightly forward to reduce the pressure on the joint. Hold for 30 seconds,” Benzies suggests.
Sinus Pressure:“Air-conditioned offices often cause a person to feel ‘stuffed up’, so relieving sinus pressure should be part of any self-facial massage. Place both index fingers above the bridge of your nose and one thumb on each side of your nostrils. Perform short strokes with your thumbs along your cheek bones away from your nose to relieve any sinus pressure.”
Between the Eyes & Temples:“Massaging the area right between the eyes is thought to affect the body’s natural circadian rhythms (sleep cycle), so pinch this area for about 30 seconds with mild pressure, breathing deeply throughout. Do the same thing for your temples. Apply minimal pressure and simply hold these points. You will quickly feel why pressure applied here is often used to treat headaches.”
Courtesy of Shecky’s DIY Massages You Can Do At Your Desk. Image Credit: thehairstyler.com
August 21, 2012
What is it?
This component of numerous meditation traditions slows the walking process with the intention of bringing into awareness its most basic parts—lifting the foot, swinging it, placing it down—in order to bring a greater consciousness to daily life. When we break down the motion of walking, we realize how each action is a collection of sub-actions, and how the mind and body work together to create movement. “This is not walking for transportation, it’s walking as a tool for developing mindfulness in the present moment,” says John LeMunyon, L.M.T., co-owner of Heartwood Yoga in Birmingham, Ala., and a meditator for 30-plus years. You can practice walking meditation by itself, or combine it with one of the seated styles on the preceding pages. Used as an interlude, the walking technique is a good way to embody the insights gained during seated practice and to heighten their relevance in your daily life. Walking meditation shows clearly the Buddhist precept that “all action is preceded by intention,” says LeMunyon. “There’s always an intention; and when we are present to the moment, there is always a choice. It’s at the level of intention that we make our choices of how skillfully we want to live our lives.”
What’s it good for?
When you find yourself feeling restless or agitated, a physical practice like walking is a great way to quiet your mind and find grounding in your body. It can also help ease your transition from sitting meditation to the motion of “real life,” and vice versa.
How long does it take?
To begin, try walking for about 15 steps in two directions, about five minutes total. Or try interspersing this with five minutes of seated meditation.
How do I do it?
1. Find a private indoor or outdoor place with level ground and at least 20 feet of space to move.
2. Stand in a relaxed position with your feet parallel, shoulders loose, arms draped at your sides or clasped lightly in front of or behind you. Focus your eyes softly on the ground about 6 to 8 feet ahead (looking right at your feet can be distracting).
3. Breathe in as you lift your right heel. Pause and breathe out, leaving your toes resting on the ground.
4. Breathe in again as you slowly swing your right foot forward. Place the heel of your right foot on the ground as you exhale and roll the rest of the foot down, transferring your weight so it’s balanced between both feet. Pause for a full breath.
5. Repeat the entire sequence with your left foot, again matching each movement with an inhalation or exhalation, alternating for 15 steps. The goal is to keep your mind fully focused on your bodily sensations; it may help to think or softly say, “Lift, pause, swing, place, transfer, pause,” as you perform these movements.
6. When you’ve completed your paces in one direction, come to a stop with your feet parallel and pause for a few breaths. Then turn slowly, using the same movement pattern and matching each movement with an inhalation or exhalation. Pause again, facing the path you just walked. End by retracing your steps back to where you started.
August 20, 2012
A lightweight, aromatic oil for bath, body and scalp. Contains organic sunflower oil, organic green coffee seed oil, vitamin E and an uplifting blend of essences including lavender, ylang ylang and sweet orange.
- Leaves skin feeling soft, supple and conditioned.
- Exhilarating, energizing aroma uplifts the senses.
- After shower or bath–apply a few drops of Energizing Composition™ to damp skin to seal in moisture.
- Add to running water for an energizing bath.
- Use for an energizing scalp and body massage.
August 16, 2012
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Ayurvedic oil massage helps strengthen and balance your whole body, improves circulation and vitality, and rejuvenates your skin.
This massage uses sesame oil, and it is recommended as part of any daily routine because it rejuvenates and revitalizes the physiology.
It produces a youthful influence for the skin and helps to balance.
1. Start with cold-pressed sesame oil, available from your health food store. Ideally, the oil should be “cured” before using (by heating slowly to the boiling temperature of water, 212 degrees F, and cooling). The oil should be warmed each time you use it.
2. Use the open part of your hand (rather than your fingertips) to massage your entire body. In general, use circular motions over rounded areas (joints, head) and straight strokes over straight areas (neck, long bones). Apply moderate pressure over most of your body and light pressure over your abdomen and heart.
3. Start with your head. Pour a small amount of oil on your hands and vigorously massage it into your scalp. With the flat part of your hands, use circular strokes to cover your whole head. Spend more time massaging your head than other parts of your body.
4. Next, massage your face and outer ears, remembering to apply a small amount of oil as you move from one part of your body to the next. Massage this area more gently.
5. Massage the front and back of your neck and the upper part of your spine. At this point you may want to cover the rest of your body with a thin layer of oil to give maximum time for the oil to soak in.
6. Vigorously massage your arms, using a circular motion on your shoulders and elbows and long, back-and-forth strokes on your upper arms and forearms.
7. Now massage your chest and stomach. Use a very gentle, circular motion over your heart and abdomen. You can start in the lower right part of your abdomen and move clockwise, ending up at the lower left part. This gently massages your intestines.
8. Massage your back and spine. You may have trouble reaching your entire back.
9. Massage your legs, vigorously, making circular motions over your hips, knees, and ankles. Use long, straight strokes over your thighs and calves.
10. Finally, massage the bottoms of your feet. As with your head, this important area of your body deserves more time. Use the palm of your hand to massage your soles vigorously.
11. Follow your oil massage with a warm bath or shower, using a mild soap.