October 8, 2013

Do You Need A Massage?

Filed under: massage — Jennifer @ 8:25 am

Summer Specials

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.

Source: MassageTherapy.Com

September 17, 2013

Spa Wellness: Rubbing Out Arthritis

Filed under: massage — Jennifer @ 8:40 am


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

Meditation, Stretching Alleviate PTSD

Filed under: massage — Jennifer @ 8:11 am


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 13, 2013

Massage and Fitness Offer Diverse Paths To Better Health

Filed under: massage — Jennifer @ 8:05 am


Blending massage therapy and fitness can be a wonderful way to take your wellness to a whole new level. After all, massage and fitness both aim to increase health, but they tackle the issue from different angles. Therefore, massage and fitness can complement one another and serve to further well-being by working together.

Before you can fully understand the harmony between massage therapy and fitness, it may help to look at each one individually and focus on the ways in which massage and fitness approach better health from different angles. Let’s begin with fitness, which is a word that can encompass so many concepts, from lifting weights and running miles to the ability to carry heavy items and move with grace and ease.

Fitness approaches the achievement of better overall health from an action-oriented angle. In other words, if you wish to boost your well-being through fitness, then you typically will need to get active in order to do so. For example, you may wish to improve your health by reducing the amount of fat around your waist. In this very common scenario, fitness might mean a combination of cardio sessions and a slight reduction in daily caloric intake.

Another example of the action-based nature of fitness might be the person who wants to have stronger muscles and bones. In this case, fitness might take the form of weight-bearing exercises, as well as a slight increase in one’s daily intake of calories, especially protein. Of course, these are only examples, and it is important to remember that fitness takes on a variety of forms, depending on the individual and his or her goals, as well as his or her biological variables.

As we turn our focus toward massage and begin to look at the ways in which massage aims to create better health, we will see that, unlike fitness, massage is a more passive path to wellness. This should not be too difficult to understand, as most massage sessions take place with the client relaxing on a massage table while the massage therapist performs techniques designed to help meet the client’s needs.

One example might be the client who comes in with aching muscles due to the active fitness regime she has undertaken in an effort to lose weight and improve her health. With massage, this person will be able to rest and relax while the massage therapist uses healthy touch to help relieve and heal those muscular aches and pains.

Here, you can really see the complementary nature of massage and fitness at work, for the massage session should help the client get back to—and stick with—her fitness regime, as the massage promotes muscle recovery between fitness sessions.

Another important point to remember is that both massage and fitness can contribute not only to physically better health, but also to greater mental and emotional well-being. Many times, people will feel less stressed and have more mental clarity following a fitness session, and massage can have similar effects as well.

Source:  Massage Magazine

August 6, 2012

Different Massage Types

Filed under: Facts and Tips — Rizzieri School of Massage @ 3:37 pm

We were recently asked, “what different types of massage are there? What are the most popular?”

Here are a few of the most popular:

  • Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.
  • Deep-tissue massage. This massage technique uses slower, more forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
  • Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage but is geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
  • Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on trigger points, or sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

June 11, 2012

Massage Soothes Sore Muscles

Filed under: Facts and Tips,massage — Jennifer @ 7:27 am

Exercise makes muscles sore, but research suggests that massage can help ease that pain, while also helping muscles heal faster.  After research subjects performed a session of difficult exercise, they received Swedish massage on only one leg.  Researches biopsied muscles in each leg and found that massage activated genes that decrease inflammation and promote energy gerneration within cells, resulting in muscles that hurt less and grow quicker.

The study was published in February in Science Translational Medicine.  So, the next time you have a tough bout of exercise, conduct your own clinical trial and get a massage!

March 27, 2012

Massage May Be Serious Medicine

Filed under: News / Events — Jennifer @ 8:33 am

Experts have reviewed the study  Science Translational Medicine for WebMD and say it is one of the first to document how human muscle cells respond to massage, a popular therapy that has struggled to gain respect as serious medicine. It echoes a 2008 study in rabbits, which found that rubbed muscle tissue recovered more strength after exercise than muscle tissue that was simply rested, with less swelling and inflammation.

As encouraging as these findings are, however, there’s still a lot the study isn’t able to say. Priscilla Clarkson, PhD, who studies post-exercise muscle soreness, cautions that the study didn’t look at whether massage actually improved pain.

“If a massage gives you temporary respite from the pain, by all means, try it.  However, these molecular changes may have no effect – or may need to be elicited many times to have a lasting effect.” Clarkson, who is distinguished professor of kinesiology at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

What’s also not known is whether massage may still be helpful if a person gets a rubdown hours or days after a hard workout instead of just mites.  Still scientists who say they were once wary that massage had any real benefits, beyond relaxation, say they are starting to come around.

“I went into all this truly skeptical”, says Mark H. Rapaport MD, chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral services at Emory University in Atlanta. “I’ve changed.  I think there is something there.  We saw a profound biological changes associated with it.” says Rapaport, referring to a 2010 study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, which found that Swedish Massage boosted immune function and decreased stress hormones compared by a placebo.”

“There’s a real consistency between their results, and our results,” Rapaport says, “I was amazed at how positive their results were based on a really brief intervention.”

What are your thoughts on massage as pain management?

February 28, 2012

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Filed under: News / Events — Jennifer @ 8:07 am

With a history of 2000 to 3000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has formed a unique system to diagnose and cure illness.  The TCM approach is fundamentally different from that of Western medicine.  In TCM, the understanding of the human body is based on the holistic understanding of the universe as described in Daoism.

The clinical diagnosis and treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine are mainly based on the yin-yang and five elements theories.  These theories apply the phenomena and laws of nature to the study of the physiological activities and pathological changes of the human body and its interrelationships.  The typical therapies include acupuncture, herbal medicine, and qigong exercises.

With acupuncture, treatment is accomplished by stimulating certain areas of the external body.  Herbal medicine acts on zang-fu organs internally while qigong tries to restore the orderly information flow inside the network through the regulation of Qi.

These therapies appear very different in approach yet they all share the same underlying sets of assumptions and insights in the nature of the human body and its place in the universe.  Some scientists describe the treatment of disease through herbal medicine, acupuncture, and qigong as an “information therapy”.