You finally took the time to schedule yourself a massage. Now you’re feeling all mellow, and your aches and pains have eased. Maybe you’re kind of dreading heading out into the “real world” again. What can you do to keep that post-massage zen going just a little bit longer?
If possible, schedule your massage on a day when you can take it easy afterwards, or at least give yourself an hour or so to enjoy the zen. Heading right back to work or running home to do house or yard work is definitely a good way to let that tension seep right back into your muscles. Just as you allowed yourself the opportunity for relaxation, you owe yourself the chance to enjoy that relaxation for a little while afterwards.
Get yourself in the zone before the massage even starts. Tone down your music, avoid stressful phone calls, maybe drink a little herbal tea. Arrive a little early so that you don’t feel rushed. Make sure before you shut off your car you either turn off your radio, turn it down, or set it to something that relaxes you. Take a little time to make sure you’re fully back in your head before getting on the road!
Stretch out the relaxed feeling even longer with a nice soak in the tub or hot tub, or warming shower. Use a favorite essential oil in the tub or a natural soap in the shower. Epsom salts are a great additive to continue easing tight muscles, especially if you’ve had a lot of deep tissue work during your appointment.
If you have the time to take another few minutes to yourself, you can take your mind back to the twilight state, that sort of not asleep, not awake sensation you may experience during a massage. This is a great starting point for some reflective or centering and grounding meditation.
Plan a trip to your favorite bookstore, or take a book to a cozy cafe and read with a cup of tea. Go to a museum or for a quiet walk in nature. Just pick a favorite short (or long) activity that makes you happy or soothes your soul!
Essentially, just about anything that makes you happy, relaxes you, and keeps those positive hormones flowing. That means if going home to energetic children or cooking dinner for your family is what makes you happy, go for it! You might discover it’s pretty easy to find ways to stretch out the positive vibes from your massage appointment!
Is there any time of year more obsessed with health habits than the New Year? Even spring bikini season panic doesn’t reach this level of hype. Everywhere you go, someone is trying to get you to try a class, a supplement, a shake, a piece of equipment, a diet, a lifestyle… and it can be exhausting trying to figure out what’s real and what’s a load of hooey. It’s perfectly normal to look forward to a fresh start in January (or not!), but here’s a little guidance on whether to put money down on that hot new habit after the holidays.
If whatever you’re thinking of trying *SWEARS* you’ll get the desired result in no time at all—you can be pretty sure you’re entering into scam territory. The human body is based on homeostasis. It can change, and it does, but most of those changes occur over time. There’s a reason why most things that cause fast changes in the body (like surgery and drugs) require a physician to administer them; they can be dangerous if not used carefully. If you’ve been out of shape for five years, don’t expect to get back in shape in five weeks. That’s just not how the body works.
There are diets that can help you lose weight. There are exercise routines that can help you gain muscle and strength. There are massages that can help you relax and manage your stress levels. (Might want to get on that one soon!) But if someone is selling One Amazing Thing that will evaporate your fat, increase your happiness, straighten your posture, whiten your teeth, cure your cancer, and send your sex drive through the roof? You can be pretty sure it’s not worth your money. Don’t pay a Magical Thinking Tax for exaggerated claims.
Conspiracies can be fun to read about, but if the main selling point is that “doctors hate it” or “Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about this,” it’s probably not the best addition to your life. Why? Because you and your physician (and your dentist, your massage therapist, your counselor, your personal trainer, your nutritionist…) are part of your health and wellness team. If any one of them refuses to be a team player, they’re not doing what’s best for you.
When the Magic Cure’s only big selling point is how much someone else hates it… definitely not cool. If you haven’t heard much else about said Magic Cure, it’s probably not because your health team is trying desperately to hide it from you. It’s much more likely that it just doesn’t work at all. I recommend researching it further, or asking those members of your wellness team what their thoughts on it REALLY are.
If yes, then this is something worth looking into, whether it’s a gym membership, a cookbook of heart-healthy meals, or a habit tracking app. Ultimately, we try things out and see how they work for us over the long haul. Not everything will be a perfect fit, but at least we can weed out some of the resolutionist marketing malarkey and move forward with our best efforts into the new year.
Heyy! I did another drawing of a muscle! Actually, I did it some time ago, and then kept forgetting to write a post to go with it. Here we have what a few clients have referred to as their “nemesis”—the levator scapula.
You might be able to figure out what it does by its name… namely, it elevates the scapula (shoulder blade). If you ask someone where their scapula is, and they *shrug* and say “I don’t know”—they’re using their levator scapula!
I see a fair number of agitated levator scapulae (plural!) in stressed out people, and in particular during the frigid cold weather we’ve had this winter in Maine. When we’re stressed or cold, we have a tendency to shrug our shoulders up around our ears out of tension or an attempt to stay warm. As you can imagine, the levator scapula wasn’t really designed to hold our shoulder blades up ALL. THE. TIME. So, like any muscle getting over used, it can get stuck that way, leaving your neck feeling tight and painful.
The levator scapula also contributes to your ability to flex your head towards your shoulder, as well as rotating your head from left to right. This means that quite often that “crick in your neck” that makes it hard to turn your head, is probably the result of an angry levator scapula. You might feel it as a muscle spasm that runs from the side of your neck, where it attaches to the transverse processes (“sticky-outy” parts) of your cervical (neck) vertebrae, all the way down to the upper inside edge of your shoulder blade. Sometimes there’s a good “knot” right at the curve where your neck and shoulder meet.
You can often do a little self-care at home to ease the muscle “crick” or spasm, especially since this is a muscle you can reach on your own. You can try a little liniment or a product like Biofreeze® to temporarily relieve the spasm. Heat from a rice bag or heating pad may also help. You can massage the muscle a little bit on your own, however I recommend keeping your pressure relatively light, since you are getting into an area where there are a lot of nerves and large blood vessels present.
The good news is, this is one of my favorite muscles to work on. It’s so often the cause of pain for my clients, that it’s quite gratifying to grab hold of that cranky little muscle and teach it how to relax again. It’s even more gratifying to see that client leave the office being able to move their head and neck with no pain!
I like to apply a little heat with a hot stone massage tool to get it warmed up and improve the circulation to the muscle. Once it’s good and warmed up, I will typically work on both ends of the muscle where it attaches to the bones of your shoulder blade and neck, as well as any “knots” along the length of the muscle itself. With a little bit of time and patience, we can convince the muscle to soften and lengthen again, and remind it how it’s supposed to contract and relax, not just contract!
Even more good news! If you wake up in the morning with that “crick” in your neck that just won’t go away, but you don’t think massage is in your budget, I can still help you! When you call or book online, just choose the “30 Minute Back & Neck Express” special, which is only $25. Or just talk to me about what you can afford, and sometimes just a few minutes in my massage chair can get things loosened up and significantly reduce your pain! Feel free to contact me to talk about your neck pain!
The American Massage Therapy Association publishes all kinds of great research in regards to the health benefits of massage therapy. Check out the following collection of links to different research information!
2. Get better sleep – Research indicates that massage can improve sleep in those with lower back pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia, pain and other health conditions.
3. Boost mental health and wellness – Research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (all associated with mental health) may be directly affected with massage therapy.
4. Manage pain – Pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and impede recovery from illness or injury. Research shows massage can help low-back pain, headaches, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and more.
5. Increase range of motion – Elite and recreational athletes alike can benefit from massage therapy. Massage can help reduce muscle tension, improve exercise performance and prevent injuries.
Your time in my office is all about you, so if you’d like to talk go right ahead. It’s important to remember, however, that this is a time for you to relax and enjoy the experience. While I don’t discourage talking, I do encourage you to relax, let your mind float free and enter a state of massage bliss.
In many instances, people who are nervous may start off talking to ease their anxiety, and as the massage progresses, enter quiet states of relaxation. For others, it may be the only time you feel you have to get things off your mind, and if you need to vent, I’m okay with that!
The important thing to know is that there are times when you need to speak up. If I’m doing anything to make you uncomfortable or painful, you should let me know immediately. You should also let me know if you get too warm or too cold, if the room is too bright, or if I need to change the pressure (lighter or deeper). If something is not working for you during your massage – speak up! It’s all about you!
Short answer: Yes, please.
Long Answer: Yes, please.
Massage is great, I’m not going to argue with you there. But it’s not always a great idea.
As cold and flu season hits, it’s important that you know when it may be necessary to cancel your appointment.
It’s strange to think about it this way, but receiving massage is an active task, it is not entirely rest. Massage causes change in the body, and your body has to work to maintain stability. Getting a massage when you are sick takes attention away from infection-fighting. That’s no good.
Sure, it sounds like a warm squishy massage table would be fantastic. But the moment you put your already-stuffy head into that face cradle, you’ll realize the error of your ways. Gravity and pressure are not your friend here. Even if I do a great face massage to drain your sinuses, you’ll likely feel worse when you get off the table.
Since most of the common winter viruses are contagious even before symptoms show up, I could pass the cooties along to more clients before I even know it’s happening.
Further, when I get sick, I have to cancel clients and take a few days off work. I work for myself, with no paid sick days to compensate for lost wages. Sure, as a growing small business, I am building a fund for these situations. However, I would much rather use that fund for a vacation or a fancy new massage chair. So I’m gonna try to stay germ-free this winter.
So it’s a deal. You’ll cancel so as not to infect me and my massage room, and I’ll do the same for you. We’ll keep each other safe.
There is often some gray area here, especially if you are in the recovery phase of a virus or bacterial infection. If you’re unsure about your situation, please call me before your appointment and we can make a decision together. Also, if you’re sick don’t worry about a cancellation fee, I won’t charge you for helping keep germs at bay!
Be Well, Stay Well!
I just scheduled a massage, do I need to get naked?
No. Absolutely not.
What I’ll often say to a client is, “Undress to your level of comfort.” Maybe that’s a little bit too vague. Plus, if you’ve never had a massage before, you probably have no idea what that even means. Do I even know what that means? Maybe?! Anyway, here’s what you need to know about clothing during your massage:
First, no matter what, you’ll always be covered (draped) with a sheet and a blanket. You’ll never be left feeling exposed. When I work on your arm, I hold the sheet by your arm pit, roll it back out of the way, and tuck it under you so that it’s secure.
For your legs, I uncover one leg at a time and tuck the sheet under your other leg, or I may pull the sheet under your leg and up along your hip, tucking you in tightly so that we can do leg or hip stretches without you feeling exposed or drafty.
When I work on the full back, I fold the sheet and blanket down to your hips. If you’re wearing underwear or pants, I’ll tuck the sheet around the waistband, to help protect your clothes from the lotion or oil. If at any time you’re cold or uncomfortable, just let me know. I have extra sheets and blankets available!
So, where does this whole “your level of comfort” come in? It means that if you do not feel comfortable removing a particular article of clothing, that is perfectly fine. If you’re wearing a bra, I’ll work around it. If you’re wearing a tank top or shorts or long johns, I’ll work through them. If your feet get cold and you want to leave your socks on, no worries! If you want to keep all of your clothes on, that’s okay, too!
There are plenty of massage techniques that can be administered over clothing. If we reach a point where I feel I can’t effectively treat your issue through the clothing you’ve chosen to wear, I’ll let you know and we’ll figure out another approach.
The most important thing to remember is, whatever you choose to wear (or not wear) during your massage, it’s okay with me, and I’m not judging you. Your massage is all about you and it’s important that you feel comfortable and relaxed. For some people that means leaving some clothing on. For others, it means taking it all off. There is no right or wrong,
Enjoy your next massage!