Tag Archives: wellness

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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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)

Acupuncture Treatment – My Experience

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I often get asked by my clients about other forms of alternative care that I’ve tried and believe in. Of those, acupuncture is probably the one I get asked about the most. Does it hurt? Does it work? What can it do? How big are the needles? Considering this I figured it would be beneficial to my dear blog followers to do a rundown of my experience with acupuncture.

First off, I’ve seen two acupuncturists in my life who are both here in the Treasure Valley. I personally love them both, but I now see Heather Bergstrom at Vitality Acupuncture. She’s frickin’ fabulous! I pretty much see her for anything I can’t treat myself. She’s treated me for low energy, acne, sinus congestion, muscle pain, nightmares, being cold all the time and lord knows what else. Basically she starts with “So what’s new?” and I ramble off some seemingly random stuff like “Oh ya know I’ve been cold alot, my face seem to be breaking out lately and I don’t have as much energy as I’d like.”. Then she takes my pulse in several places, looks at my tongue (acupuncturists seem to be a little obsessed with them) and brings it all together under one or two issues (for that list it was blood deficiency and low iron apparently) and we go from there.

As far as the actual needles part? No, they don’t hurt. They’re itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny needles. I would describe the sensation as the prick of the needle for a split second, then something between an electric tingle and a muscle spasm when she finds the point, then nothing. I couldn’t even tell you where the last needle was once she heads to the next one. Then she puts a nice toasty heat lamp on me and leaves the room while I enjoy myself a nice nap. After around 20-30 minutes she comes back in, removes the needles and I’m feeling all clear headed and chipper. Easy-peasy!

Oh by the way…Get the needle in the middle of your forehead. I don’t know what that guy does, but I’m putty and get a really deep and restful nap when she puts a needle in that spot. I call it the mind eraser point…it’s my favorite πŸ™‚

Anywho, if you want to give it a try or want more information I refer all my clients to her. Check out her website at http://www.vitalityacupunctureclinic.com and browse around, then give her a call and try it out. No need to be scared, I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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Tibetan Healing Sounds

I found this exceptionally relaxing to listen to during my nightly hot bath and thought I’d share it with everyone. I use this time to release the stresses and negative energy of the day. I soak in warm water with Epsom salts, breathe deeply and slowly, and listen to music or sometimes read. It helps me relax and sleep better πŸ™‚

Zen Flash

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If You’re Sick Stay Home

20131002-182225.jpgWith the cold and flu season kicking off I feel compelled to give this advice. All the crappy symptoms you’re feeling are your body’s response to an infection. Your fever is to burn it out, your sore throat is your immune system killing off infected cells, and your grogginess is because your body is literally waging war on your tiny invader.

It takes alot of energy to wage a war. GO TO SLEEP! Let’s face it, are you really all that productive (or friendly?!) when you’re trying to power through a cold? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to get over it faster so you can be fully present at work instead of distracted by your currently miserable body? Of course it would.

Rest is key here folks. Go home and sleep it off for a day or two.

And a little tid-bit from the rest of us…we love you, but we don’t want your cooties. Get that business contained in a hazmat suit and stop spreading that particular love around. Also…NO massage while you have symptoms! For one, we don’t want it. For two, massage increases blood flow which could actually spread your infection. Please just call us to cancel asap and go to bed. We’ll understand πŸ™‚

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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Your Perspective Sets Your Reality

20131017-191538.jpgYou’ve heard of “the power of positive imaging”, right? The whole idea of visualizing what you want or acting happy will make you happy?

Don’t dismiss this as wishful thinking folks. There’s some legitimacy to the idea.

Let’s start on the flip side to prove my point. Everyone knows at least one person who is constantly negative about everything. “The Frowner” (picture Jeff Dunham’s “Walter” character here 😦 ). Say you take The Frowner to a restaurant with you. The Frowner will immediately start complaining about the decor, the service, the location, whatever. They’ll finish up their little rant with “and the food’s probably gonna stink too”. They are “glass half empty” people…because that’s the perspective they choose to take on just about everything. They LOOK for the negative! Even if you took this person to the finest place in town they still wouldn’t be happy. Why? Because negativity is the perspective they choose to take on life. You know this guy…and you avoid this guy.

Now lets think about that one person in our lives who’s always smiling. Let’s call them “Sunshine” (like those ever-smiling yellow happy faces πŸ™‚ ) and take them out to dinner. Sunshine notices every cute nuance in the decor, the waitresses nice shoes, the flavor of the food and OMG look at the DESERT MENU! Everything makes Sunshine smile and get all gitty about silly little things that don’t even get noticed my most others. You cannot rain on Sunshine’s parade…they’ll just look up and wait patiently for their rainbow. They’ve chosen the “bright side” perspective in life. By doing so they are surrounded by things that make them happy regardless of the dung pile they may or may not be standing in…and people flock to their side to enjoy the light that emanates from Sunshine.

Who would you rather be? Your reality is set by your perspective. If you see the good, the world IS good! Am I saying if you choose the positive perspective you’ll win the lottery? No. What I’m saying is if you choose the positive perspective the simple things like a hug will make you feel like you just did.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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5 Ways to Stress Less this Thanksgiving

thanksgivingTurkey day is on it’s way and though the holidays are a time of celebrating family and friends, sometimes it can be a time of stress and utter frustration. The trick here is to acknowledge what it is that causes your stress and address it before it becomes a problem. Here’s a few tips to point you in the right direction:

1. You are allowed to say “No”. – Not every request has to be granted. You don’t have to visit every family member’s dinner every year. You don’t need to make the requested ham and turkey or two different kinds of stuffing. Realize that if you become the “yes man” everything you do will end up being sub-par because you’ve stretched yourself to thin. Decide what’s a priority and what you can legitimately handle, then stick to it. “No” is not a dirty word and you should not feel guilty about using it when necessary.

2. Delegate. – My family did a pot-luck Thanksgiving for years and it worked out great. Whoever’s hosting makes the turkey and a couple other easy things. Everyone else gets assigned the fixin’s. Less stress for the hostess (since getting my house clean and ready for company is usually stress enough) and everyone gets to share their signature dish. Win-win situation.

3. Prep in advance. – Do not wait until the week of to go grocery shopping! The crowds alone will immediately make you want to kick yourself. Let alone the inevitability that the store will always be out of some critical ingredient you need by then. Plan your menu and shop 2-3 weeks early. Also, if you can find any make-ahead recipes (I make my mashed potatoes in advance and freeze them) they are a huge time and stress saver.

4. Accept that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. – Families are diverse…and to some degree every one is dysfunctional in their own special way. That being said, they will not all be happy all the time and that’s ok. Grandma will hate the gravy, your sister will pick a petty fight, your uncle will hate your stuffing or your husband will buy the wrong wine. Regardless, you’ve done your best, you’ve spent quality time with the people you love, and you’re thankful for another year with those closest to you. That, my dears, equals a successful Thanksgiving…no matter how the turkey turns out πŸ™‚

5. Schedule a massage for right after everyone’s gone. Have it already booked. I know this sounds like a shameless plug, but hear me out. If you went through the entire week of Thanksgiving KNOWING there was a massage waiting for you at the end…wouldn’t things stress you out a little less knowing you had a prize waiting for you afterwards? It’s like a kid who braves the doctor knowing they’ll get a sucker and a sticker afterward! And don’t you think after coordinating the family feast you earned a little relaxing “me time”? I think yes!

And a little extra bit of advice: Don’t get so caught up in the stress of the holiday season that you forget the whole point. This is the time of year when we make a little extra effort to show our love and appreciation for friends and family. It’s not about gifts and food and marketing…it’s about celebrating what we already have and being thankful for it all.

Jennifer Parker, Body Harmony Massage
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