Common Health Problems: What Can Massage Do For YOU?

Massages are often sold as a purely indulgent treat that you get when you visit a spa or go on vacation, but there’s so much more to massage than just a feel good treat. Did you know that the symptoms of many health problems can be reduced and even eliminated with regular massage?

Here are a few conditions that massage can work really well on; a few you probably know and some that may surprise you!

Stress
It’s no surprise that a regular dose of massage therapy is good for your stress levels, it works by helping to lower your blood pressure, improve your quality of sleep, and by reducing your stress levels, it’s also thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease. In 2008 the journal Psycho-oncology published a study which came to the conclusion “…a significant reduction in cortisol (the main stress hormone) could be safely achieved through massage, with associated improvement in psychological well-being.”

Lower Back Pain
This is such a common problem, often caused by bad posture at work, so no wonder many employers are drafting in massage therapists to help. Poor posture and sitting for too long can cause a lot of lower back problems, as can simply getting older. Get your massage therapist on the case and you can hopefully wave goodbye to a sore back.

Sports Injuries
Fitness and sport are great for your health but they can sometimes lead to injuries and overworked muscles. A regular massage can help to heal any wear and tear on your muscles and tendons, and can also help you manage the pain from a chronic or acute sports injury. Having well looked-after muscles may also help prevent future injuries – one more reason to book those regular sessions.

Joint Stiffness
Massage can be a blessed relief for people dealing with the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other joint problems. Research published in 2013 in the Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice journal said that people with rheumatoid arthritis reported some relief from pain and stiffness after four once-a-week moderate-pressure massages, topped up with self-massage at home in between treatments. Massage can also help with your range of motion and flexibility, which can relieve pain in your shoulders, knees, and hips.

Circulation
There are a whole range of health problems that can be caused by bad circulation, so it figures that boosting your circulation will be a bonus for your whole body. Regular massage helps to get the blood moving, getting essential nutrients to where they are needed in your tissues and vital organs much faster. The squeezing and pulling actions involved in a good massage also help to flush lactic acid out of your muscles and improve the circulation of lymph – the fluid that carries metabolic waste away from your muscles and internal organs.

Migraine symptoms
Nobody really knows what causes migraines, and there isn’t a cure, but if you’re a migraine sufferer you’ll be pleased to hear that studies have shown that massage can help reduce the frequency of attacks, and lessen the severity of the symptoms. Some migraines, especially those triggered by stress, are especially receptive to massage treatment.

Skin Cancer
Of course, we wouldn’t tell you that massage cures cancer; it can’t. But in some cases your massage therapist can notice abnormalities in your skin that you can’t see or just haven’t picked up on, and alert you to them. Regular massage can also be good for your skin as it gets the circulation going and the nourishing oils used in a treatment help to keep skin feeling soft.

Allergies
A massage helps to stimulate lymph flow around your body, which boosts your immune system and can help to reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Sometimes a therapist might be able to tell just from your lymph nodes if you are an allergy sufferer as they can feel tender or swollen.

Did any of those surprise you? Of course, you don’t need to make an excuse for wanting a massage, but if you are dealing with any of these health issues, it’s good to know that your regular massage habit is helping.

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

Massage As A Back-Pain Killer

A regular massage is often considered to be a treat, rather than a necessity. Most people believe that having a massage is good for aches and pains, or can help if they’ve overdone the exercise. Not everybody realises that massage therapy is also a powerful painkiller that can even be used to help people with back problems to reduce the amount of medication they must take.

Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain and if you’re one of the 31 million Americans who suffers with back pain at some point in their life, you’ll know how miserable it can be. If you are dealing with chronic back pain – which is pain that’s lasted more than three months and less than six – it can impact on your daily life, and stop you doing things you want to do. You could be reliant on drugs to keep you mobile or help you sleep.

The vicious pain cycle

If you can no longer exercise pain-free, you might end up in a vicious cycle of inactivity which makes your pain worse, which stops you being active. Or you could just increase your meds but that just masks the problem. Also, some strong pain meds contain painkillers opioids like codeine which can lose their power over time as you build up a tolerance to their effects. They can also have unwanted side effects.

What you need is a way to manage your back pain that is effective but doesn’t have the side effects. Wouldn’t you know it, research has shown that regular massage along with your prescribed medication and any other advice from your healthcare supplier can be so powerful that you might be able to decrease the number of painkillers you need to manage your back pain and start to live a more active life.

How massage can help beat back pain

A massage session doesn’t just relax you, it can help to promote tissue repair, improve the blood circulation and does wonders for your stress levels and mood. Recent research showed that regular massage therapy combined with exercise helped people suffering from chronic back pain to feel less anxious about their condition too. The study, which took place at a pain management clinic in Western New York, involved sixty chronic low back pain patients who were split into two groups. One group received regular massage therapy, twice a week for four weeks, along with their regular treatment, and one group only carried on with their prescribed treatments.

The participants all recorded their own pain levels before and after having massage therapy on a scale of one to ten. There was a significant difference between the pre-and post-treatment pain rating in the group that had regular massage, but the control group who carried on as normal reported no changes to their pain levels.
If you suffer with back pain and want to try something different – book that massage session now.

Photo by Olenka Kotyk on Unsplash

What kind of massage should YOU get? Different types of massage.

What’s the Best Massage for You?
Sometimes it can be confusing – you know you’re stressed and everybody tells you that you need a good massage, but what type of massage should you get? There are so many options available, how do you know which one will suit you?

That’s where I come in – if you’re not sure, just call or drop in for a chat and we can help you find the perfect technique and style for your needs. If it’s your first massage, too, we can put you at ease and make sure you know exactly what to expect.

In the meantime, here’s the lowdown on some of the different types of massage and what they can do for you.

Swedish Massage 
This is one of the most popular massages – it’s sometimes called the ‘relaxation massage’ which is a clue; it’s absolutely great for getting rid of stress and anxiety. It’s also a good one to try if you’re new to massage as it doesn’t work too deeply into your muscles and the techniques used are all designed to relax and de-stress.

So what can you expect? Well, we use long, flowing strokes all over your body, combined with kneading, tapping and circular motions. We’ll also use oils or lotions to make the massage smoother, and feel great for you. If you’ve got tight muscles, aches and pains, we can increase the pressure where you need it more. Swedish massage is helpful if you’re experiencing pain from conditions like sciatica and arthritis, and it can also give your circulation a boost as all the techniques are designed to help get blood pumping around your body.

Deep Tissue Massage
This is more of a remedial massage than a relaxing one; ideal for anyone who does a lot of sport or has very tight muscles. It can feel uncomfortable as your therapist will work deeply into your muscles and connective tissues to release any tension in them. It can feel slightly painful although people tend to describe it as a ‘good hurt’ – and you may feel a bit of soreness afterwards, especially if it’s your first deep tissue massage. Most people agree that it’s worth it as you’ll feel amazing afterwards!

Acupressure Massage 
This type of massage is invigorating and relaxing at the same time. You’ll experience rhythmic movements along with focused pressure on acupuncture points. Not only does it it remove the pain, but it balances your whole body. Stretches are also used to improve range of motion after muscle tension is released.

Hot Stone Massage 
This is a supremely relaxing massage where the therapist uses specially designed warmed stones to increase its effects. This one is designed for pure relaxation and is an indulgent treatment that’s also great for first-timers. While you’re enjoying your massage, we carefully place the smooth, heated stones on different areas of your body. Sometimes they are also used as part of the massage to help get deeper into any troublesome areas; the heat from the stones helps loosen the muscles even more. This one will leave you feeling calm and relaxed.

Thai Massage 
Thai massages can be like a mini-workout so they are best for people who have had massages in the past but want to try something different! Thai massage is an incredibly effective, energizing treatment where your therapist will use techniques like deep stretching, acupressure and yoga style positions to give you a really intense massage. Thai massage is really good for you if you have a lot of muscle tension, posture problems, or headaches caused by bad posture. It can feel a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt. Always tell your therapist if the pressure is too much, or if you’d like more.

Reflexology
Reflexology is so much more than just a foot massage. It’s based on a holistic therapy which teaches that there are pressure points on your feet which correspond to different areas of your body, and if there’s something out of balance in your body, working on the area of your foot that relates to it can help to relieve the symptoms. It’s also very calming. When you have a reflexology treatment, your therapist will work on these different pressure points, paying attention to any where she feels a blockage. Even if you normally squirm when your feet are touched, the specific techniques and pressure we use are really relaxing and most people say they find reflexology enjoyable.

Shiatsu 
Shiatsu is another type of massage that is carried out fully clothed, but using quite intense techniques designed to deeply relax you, and improve your wellbeing. Your massage therapist will use her fingers and thumbs, and occasionally knees and feet, to apply pressure where it’s needed. You’ll usually lie on a mat on the floor or a specially designed bench. Although it’s quite an intense massage, you shouldn’t feel pain or soreness afterwards.

With so many different massages to try, why not try them all?

In my office you’ll experience a combination of Swedish, Deep Tissue and Acupressure. If you’d like to experience hot stones, just ask. It is quite divine.

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Self Care Tips for Getting Better Faster

We all get sick, and you will get better much faster by taking care of you and resting!

A few tips: Ask for help from your spouse and child if they are old enough. Have some easy meals in the cabinet or freezer in case you’re not up to cooking (healthy canned soup, frozen veggies, and quick rice are great). Eliminate what you can from your work load. Many things, such as housework can wait!

As far as going to your job it’s much better to call in for a day or two then to try to do too much and end up being sick for longer. You’ll be a lot more productive if you can just stay home and get well! If that’s not an option, just take care of your most important tasks and then go home.

I also use aromatherapy oils in the diffuser by my bed. My favorites are DoTerra On Guard and Breathe. I feel like they help to support my immune system. Epson salt baths are very good for sore muscles and achy muscles when you’re sick. Let your kids watch movies, or do whatever it takes to get your rest.

I find that when I do get sick, it’s when I have let some of my self-care slide such as being overly busy, skipping healthy food choices, not getting regular massage/acupuncture/chiropractic and not getting enough sleep. It is very tempting to just try to push through and carry on with your regular schedule even when you’re sick. We all want to do it all and accomplish our goals, but by resting and taking care of yourself you’ll be back at it faster and healthier and stronger!

Photo by Israel Egío on Unsplash

The Neuroscience of Gratitude

Every year instead of a new years resolution, I focus on improving an area of my life. This year my goal was to be more grateful. I was truly inspired to do this after reading the book The Gratitude Effect by John Demartini.  I love love love how he reframes life. And it’s right in line with the buddhist tenant that the people in our life are a mirror of ourselves. In short it’s like this…if someone upsets us, ask yourself how do I do the same to others. Or if we admire someone, we are actually admiring an aspect of ourselves. It’s about dropping the victim mentality and bringing in GRATITUDE for every situation.

“Positive Vibes aren’t just for hippies” ~Ocean Robbins

I love science AND research! I found an article by Ocean Robbins on the science of gratitude. The quotes below are from his article.

“Participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group. They reported fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.” (research by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D.)

“Another study on gratitude was conducted with adults having congenital and adult-onset neuromuscular disorders (NMDs), with the majority having post-polio syndrome (PPS). Compared to those who were not jotting down their blessings nightly, participants in the gratitude group reported more hours of sleep each night, and feeling more refreshed upon awakening. The gratitude group also reported more satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more optimism about the upcoming week, and felt considerably more connected with others than did participants in the control group.”

“Philip Watkins, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Washington University, found that clinically depressed individuals showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls.”

In my experience, the patients with the best outlook on life are the ones more likely to find how to minimize whatever issue they are dealing with.

So I’ve been working on this practice for the past few months. If I dedicate my first minutes of the day to a 10 min meditation on gratitude, I actually have the energy to do a quick workout before my day starts! It’s better to start somewhere, even if it’s 5-10 min here or there.

Read it for yourself!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/having-gratitude-_b_1073105.html