Massage 101 for Newbies

Nice quick run through for any newbies left out there 😉

Orchid Bloom Spa

We LOVE massage and immerse ourselves in it each day.  Many of our customers have been with us for years and have a deep appreciation for all that massage therapy can do for them.  But what if you are new to massage?  Maybe you’re a bit nervous or unsure of what to expect.

Don’t worry!  Massage is all about relaxation and relieving any stress that you have cooped up in your body.  When your mind is working like a steam engine, hauling around stressful cargo that you can’t seem to unload, you’re not functioning at your optimum level.  You may have trouble focusing or even sleeping.  Here are some tips for your first trip to the spa:

  1. Arrive as relaxed as you can be.  Make sure you arrive ahead of your appointment time so that you do not feel rushed. Listen to peaceful music on your way to the spa so that your…

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Holding your head high

Could this be where your headaches are coming from?

Posture Ponderings

How’s your posture right now?

Stone Massage Health Benefits

Our own miss Michael gives the best Hot Stone Massage I’ve ever had! Just had me one yesterday 😀

5 Things Your MT Reeeealy Wants You To Know

Sometimes we get in such a routine that we just assume someone else understands how something works. That some things are “a given”. Many times, though, this is not the case. With that in mind I wanted to share the following things that us as massage therapists may have mistakenly just assumed you knew, and hopefully now that you do know can receive a better massage experience.

1. We’re not miracle workers – When your MT says you need more frequent massage, or a series of massage sessions, they’re not just saying that to fill their schedules. It took you lord knows how long to get into the postural pickle and muscle mess you’re in. Hours, days, even years of abuse on your body have now caught up to you. We can help, but if it took you a long time to get that knot all cranky it may take us a few sessions to get it happy again.

2. Communicate with us – As awesome as it would be, we’re not mind readers. Also, EVERY body is different. What “medium” pressure is to one person may be feather light to the next. You may be chilly on the table but person before you may have been overheated. Please, please, PLEASE tell us if you’re uncomfortable, need more or less pressure, or could use an extra blanket. We promise we’ll do anything we can to make you happy on our table…but we can’t help if we don’t know.

3. Most of us are self employed – I say this because we’d like people to understand that if you decide to flake on your appointment and your MT is self-employed, that’s an hour of work that they showed up to do and are now not getting paid for. That being said, it’s only fair if an MT decides to have a cancellation policy and charges something for a missed appointment. If you get paid an hourly wage, go to work, and there’s nothing to do when you get there but you have to stay at work, you still get paid for your time there wether you’re playing solitaire or not…because you were there to do the work and are compensated for that availability. We made ourselves available for an appointment…if you don’t show up, that appointment (and our pay and livelihood) could have gone to someone else who values our time as much as their own.

4. Tipping – Is tipping our primary source of income? No. Is tipping appreciated? Sure. Personally, my tips go into a box that funds all my kids’ activities. Golf equipment, after school programs, instruments, soccer equipment, sports registration fees (man my monsters are getting expensive :p ), summer camps, school trips (holy cow!), school fund raisers and whatever else they get involved in…it comes out of my tip fund. So do I appreciate tips? Heck yes I do! Many of us use tips for these types of things, or for things to take care of ourselves (like massages for ourselves or a nice pedi).

5. NO Hanky-Panky! – Unfortunately, even in this day and age, there are still “happy ending” services available out there if you know where to look. Let me just say one thing about this: Those types of places make it VERY clear when you’re there that “sensual massage” is an option. They’re not shy about it! So if you go to a licensed and certified massage therapist and don’t get offered anything like that, you can bet your patooty that not only do they not offer it but they’ll also be VERY offended and will probably report you to the police if you ask. We are alternative care professionals…not hookers.

Hope these little insights improve your overall massage experiences. 🙂

For the Mamas – Pre- and Post- Natal Massage

20130822-202909.jpgEveryone’s heard of prenatal massage, but not many know the importance of postnatal massage or the benefits and contraindications of either. With that in mind I thought it would be good to do a quick run through of each.

Prenatal Massage Contraindications (circumstances that would prevent you from receiving massage) – First off, massage is typically not recommended in the first trimester of pregnancy. The reason for this is simply because this time is the greatest risk of miscarriage and we don’t want to disrupt the body during this delicate time. Additionally if mom has suffered a prior miscarriage, preeclampsia (high blood pressure with pregnancy), or has any other medical concerns regarding the pregnancy we require a doctor’s approval before treating you. The chances of massage causing any symptoms or issues is minimal, but even a minute risk is not worth the chance when littles are concerned.

Prenatal Massage Benefits – Obviously, mom goes through a lot of changes while carrying baby. Between expanding, stretching and hormones mama just deserves a little pampering. I mean for pity sakes your growing a PERSON! That’s hard work!! And with all those body adjustments comes plenty of muscle tension and stress that needs to be addressed too. Massage can help with each of these needs to help make pregnancy easier for mama, which in turn makes it easier for baby.

Postnatal Massage Contraindications – In the case of c-sections or complications a minimum of 6 weeks of recovery and a doctor’s ok is necessary. If delivery was fine, 3-4 weeks of recovery is a good wait time.

Postnatal Massage Benefits – I recommend at least one postnatal appointment to my clients for two reasons:
1. To give mom a much needed break after many sleepless nights of newborn needs
2. To check that the body is realigning as it should after the pregnancy. At the end of pregnancy the pelvis really tilts forward. If the pelvis doesn’t shift back into proper position this can lead to low back problems, sciatic issues and SI joint problems (all of which can be painful). Also the “girls” tend to swell and get considerably heavier once engorged with milk, causing the upper back and shoulders to tense up to carry the weight (and let’s all admit there’s no good posture when it comes to nursing). Again, massage is very helpful during this time to help realign the body and ease any new mama discomfort.

Not that I’m partial, but I truly believe massage can make the whole baby growing process go much easier. But once your beautiful bundle of joy arrives don’t forget that you can’t care for others if you don’t care for yourself.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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Giving Yourself A Break From Negativity

Good advice. Negativity can have many adverse effects. Be happy 🙂

Becoming “Immune” To Medications

Before I start, I want to again say that I am not a doctor. I do not pretend to be trained in prescriptions or medical diagnosis. The things I discuss here are based on my observations as a Licensed Massage Therapist, personal experience and conversations with fellow colleagues in the alternative care realm. Now, here’s my theory on this gem of a subject 🙂

For some, a medication can seem to loose it’s effectiveness over time. Many assume they’re “becoming immune” or “getting used to” the medication. Then what happens? Your doctor either changes your medication or increases your dose to give you some relief.

What if what’s really occurring is a form of chemical addiction? When someone is addicted to a chemical their brain creates a sensation or need to force you to give the brain more of that chemical it’s addicted to, yes? So the medication reduces the problem…but once the brain is addicted it creates the problem again so you keep giving the brain the chemical in the medication it craves.

For example:
Sleeping pills – You can’s sleep so you start taking sleeping pills. Take them for long enough and the brain stops creating it’s own sleepy chemicals (like melatonin), creating a need for you to take more sleeping pills in order to get sleepy.

Nasal spray – Your nose is plugged so you give it a squirt. Squirt to often and the brain creates more mucous and inflames the sinus tissue, creating a need for more spray so you can breathe.

Pain Medication – Now here’s a hum dinger few have thought of: You’re in pain so the doc man gives you something with…let’s say an opioid (derived from opium) like Percocet (since we all know that’s addictive, right?). Brain LOVES opioids after awhile. Now what do you think the brain would need to create for you to take more pain medication?? That’s right…MORE PAIN! Bum deal huh!

The point in my little rant here is this: If you’re looking for a bandaid for your chronic condition – go for the pharmaceuticals. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve just had a tooth pulled, broke a bone, have the flu or some other right-now-type-problem then take those suckers! They’ll do their job for those acute issues.

But if you’ve got a chronic pain, frequent headaches, constant constipation, depression, sciatica or other ain’t-going-nowhere-soon-type-problem then consider finding someone who will look for the cause rather than just treat the symptom with a magic blue pill.

I’m not gonna lie; it may take some time, and you may have to actually participate in your own healing (like loose a few pounds, stretch every day, meditate or change your diet). The up side is that you’ll actually be treating the problem instead of throwing a little dirt on it and hoping it goes away. It won’t, and if I’m correct in my logical deduction, it will come back as an angry Hulked-out chemically addicted pain in the butt an elephant gun can’t kill. Doesn’t sound fun at all now does it?

Want to start looking for the real cause of your problem? Here’s a few places to start. I know first hand these people will do everything they can to find the root of your problem and get you feeling better.
Body Harmony Massage – Meridian, ID – Specializes in pain management/chronic pain conditions
Vitality Acupuncture – Meridian, ID – Acupuncture for a variety of body & wellness issues
Boise Integrated Chiropractic – Boise, ID – Chiro who combines many other forms of treatment
Back 2 Life Chiropractic – Meridian, ID – Chiro with in-house x-rays and long term treatment plans
Guaranteed Healing – distance Chakra/Energy Healing (don’t knock it ’till you try it!)

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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(Image from nytimes.com)

10 Common Habits That Cause Back Pain, Part 2: Poor Posture

Back Pain Part 2

White Oak Family Wellness

spinal curves The human spine illustrated with “neutral” curves

This is part 2 of a 10 part series about common causes of back pain and what you can do about them. Click part 1 for the first post which was about sitting too much.

For part 2 we are going to discuss your:

Poor Posture

That’s right, when your mom told you to sit up straight, she knew what she was talking about. Poor posture can play a large role in aches and pains as well as your psychological well-being (depression and decreased energy as indicated in this study). Many people don’t realize the damage that they are doing with their slouched sitting,  slumped forward shoulders and forward head posture.

On a musculoskeletal level, sitting in a slouched posture greatly decreases the activity of two of your most important spinal stabilizers (the multifidus and the internal oblique muscles). On the other…

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10 Things Massage Can Help You Achieve in 2014

Massage can help a body in so many ways, and it’s recently dawned on me that many of the benefits are linked to a lot of New Years Resolutions.

Through receiving massage and becoming aware of your body and how it functions, you can enjoy physical and emotional benefits to help you reach your goals. Here are some examples:

1. Stress Less
Massage, primarily Swedish Massage, is well known as a relaxation technique. It relaxes the nervous system, slows breathing, and can even give you the physical and emotional sensation of sleeping even if you stay awake. Once your body is in a relaxed state, stress levels naturally decrease. After your massage you may feel groggy, which is normal and will fade once you get moving again. However, even after the grogginess wears off your body is energetically in a more relaxed state and mentally you can feel more aware and less sensitive to your daily stressors.

Be sure to actively participate in your relaxation if that is your goal for the massage session. Inform your therapist that you want to relax, close your eyes, tune out the world, breath slowly and deeply into your stomach, and feel your body release all your stress tension. Once the therapist is done with an area, forget about it. Forget you even have an arm or leg once it’s been worked on. Just let it be numb for awhile. Fall asleep if that’s what your body tells you is needed. Just be.

2. Work Out More
Muscle soreness can be in part due to muscle waste, like lactic acid, remaining in the muscle tissue. Tight muscles are constantly in flexion, so are constantly producing this muscle waste. They are also literally squeezing out their own blood supply, which prevents blood from flushing out these toxins for your body to process and remove.

Massage relaxes muscle tissue, which increases blood circulation in the area. By doing so, the muscle waste is flushed out by the blood. Once this waste is removed that work-out soreness is greatly reduced as the lactic acid is not longer built up. Not sore = better and more effective workouts!

3. Take Better Care of Yourself
Many people have very little idea of how their body moves or where pain starts. When we ask some clients “What time of day does your pain start?” or “What movement causes you pain?” we often get a blank stare. They only know they have pain. There where or why is a foreign idea.

Touch through massage brings an awareness to an area. Your therapist may find areas of pain or tension you were not even aware of and so didn’t know needed treated. May times these areas are interconnected. Once you become aware of what starts and sets off your pain you can take preventative measures. You’ll know what you can and can’t do, and when to get treatment before the pain actually starts.

4. Address Cellulite
Cellulite is basically fatty tissue that us protruding through your fascia, the tissue that connects your skin to the muscles underneath. When this happens the fatty tissue pushes the skin out, and the areas where the fascia is connecting skin to muscle won’t stretch as far as the spaces under the skin. This causes the skin to pucker where the fascia is pulling on the underside of the skin.

A Cellulite Massage is a specialized technique that stretches the fascia and levels out the fatty tissue, reducing that “cottage cheese” appearance by smoothing out the area. The fatty tissue should still be addressed with exercise and a healthy diet, but it’ll be a lot easier to see the results of your sweat-fest when the area doesn’t look so lumpy.

5. Be More Active
If you have pain, being active can be…well, painful. Massage can release muscle tension and trigger points, strip adhesions and scar tissue, correct postural deviations, improve blood flow, release pain-relieving chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, and so much more.

Pain is many times a vicious cycle. You have pain so you’re less active, but not exercising causes more pain. Massage can help to reduce the pain to allow you to be more active and get some exercise, which in turn will continue to reduce a lot of pain.

6. Be Happier
Those with chronic pain know it can take an emotional toll as well. You’re in pain, which sucks. You can’t do the things you want to do, which sucks. The pain seems to either not be getting better or is getting worse, which sucks!

Reducing your pain and being able to go back to doing some of the things you’ve had to give up can do wonders for a person’s overall well being. And when you’re happy, your brain releases more happy chemicals that can also help reduce pain!

7. Better Rest/More Energy
Stress and pain are two major causes of people loosing quality winks. As we touched on earlier, massage can help with both of these which can go a long way towards a better night’s rest and more energy the next day.

Additionally, once the initial “massage drunk” wears off, may people feel an increase in energy and focus after receiving massage. They’re not as distracted by pain or stress, and they’re full of all those happy chemicals flowing through their bloodstream. Many people report having more energy for several hours, days and even weeks after their massage.

8. More patience
Admit it. When you’re tired, stressed, sore or in pain you’re not exactly Mother Teresa. Reducing these stressors can go a long way to helping you get through traffic, your co-workers, kids and daily life.

Additionally, we’ve become a quick-fix society with our health as well. It’s become preferred to take the magic pill or latest fad diet than get to the root of the problem. Massage can make you more aware of what’s really needed, and you can physically feel the difference it can make long term instead of settling for the quick cure.

9. Open mindedness
Alternative medicine, although becoming more popular and widely accepted, is still…well…”alternative”. Many will still continue to dismiss us alternative care providers as “witch-doctors” and “rip-offs”. Never-mind that what we now call “alternative” has been around longer than modern medicine.

Once you’ve seen the effectiveness of massage you may consider trying other forms of alternative care, like acupuncture or chiropractic. Maybe after that you’ll try energy work. Once you’re willing to be more open minded about things with less judgement in your eyes you might just realize there’s a wealth of knowledge and possibilities for you to discover.

10. Better Self-Image
Massage can help you get past body issues. We professionals do not hold judgement on any body shape, type, more or hair follicle. Many clients realize after being accepted by their massage therapist that they were making a bigger deal out of their body issues than what is actually there.

So you see, massage is much more than a glorified lotion application. I’ll admit massage cannot do all the work for you; but through massage, self care and self discovery it is certainly a viable tool to help you on your journey to what you might wish to accomplish.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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(Image from nytimes.com)