Sure, it feels great to pop in and see a massage therapist every now and then. It’s a great way to pamper yourself and relieve stress during a particularly crazy time. Self-compassion and the idea of splurging on yourself for once, otherwise known as “Treat Yo-Self,” means that it’s actually really great for you to spend a little time on self-care.
However, have you considered regular, monthly massage appointments? Besides having one day set aside each month, to treat yourself with a relaxing spa session, you will actually start to see some physiological effects of regular massages as well.
Here are a few short-term, and long-term ways you may start to notice your monthly self-care trip is benefiting your health.
After Three Months of Routine Visits to Your Massage Therapist:
Lowered Anxiety and Stress Levels: Even after your first massage, you will start to notice that you feel more relaxed, which can be a major plus if you suffer from stress and anxiety. When our bodies experience stress, we tend to tense up our muscles, which leaves our bodies feeling fatigued and sore.
Just one massage helps loosen up these muscles, increase blood flow, and lower stress and anxiety. Breast cancer patients have even reported feeling less depressed and less angry when they incorporated regular massage into their schedule.
Reduced Chronic Back Pain: If you are suffering from the debilitating problems associated with chronic back pain, you know how much it can cut into your daily routine and leave you feeling frustrated, in addition to the pain you’re already experiencing.
A study found that after 10 weeks of regular massage, people experiencing chronic back pain felt less discomfort, and even needed fewer painkillers to manage their symptoms. Cut down on the number of trips to your medicine cabinet with regular trips to see your massage therapist.
Help with Insomnia: Massages increase your serotonin levels, which aides in your ability to fall asleep, and stay asleep. You may find yourself relying on sleeping pills to get some shuteye, which nobody wants to have to take.
Unlike other sleep aids which can be harmful or addictive, you’ll experience no negative side effects from a massage, and you’ll find yourself able to fall asleep a little easier - especially after an evening massage.
After Six Months of Monthly Massage, You’ll Feel:
For Patients with Diabetes: If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, regular massage could impact your blood glucose levels. Especially when massages happen at the injection or site of absorption for insulin, there have been marked improvements observed in lowered blood glucose levels.
Additionally, regular, increased blood flow as a result of your monthly massages can help with neuropathy symptoms that accompany diabetes, such as nerve pain. Make regular visits to your massage therapist to see improvements in your blood sugar levels, and feel like you’re getting seriously pampered, all at the same time.
Reduced Fibromyalgia Symptoms: Even after your first massage, if you experience the pain of fibromyalgia, you will notice decreased pain, but with regular massage, you will start to notice the following benefits as well:
There was also an uptick in confidence as well. If your child is particularly squirmy, regular massage may help them pay attention to what they need to be doing in the classroom, and at home.
What You’ll Feel After Twelve Months of Regular Monthly Massage:
Continued Improvements for Patients with Diabetes: After 12 months, regular massages, especially at the insulin injection or absorption site, can help Type 2 patients not only see lowered blood glucose levels as seen after six months of massages, but actually close to normal blood glucose levels. Additionally, you may also notice a reduction in the amount of inflammation you are experiencing as well.
Lowered Blood Pressure: A high blood pressure can leave you at risk for stroke and other major health complications, but it’s actually been proven that the relaxation or regular massage lowers your blood pressure. You can help keep your blood pressure in check, all while enjoying the rejuvenating benefits of massage, with regular sessions with a skilled massage therapist.
Additional Health Benefits: Other ways that regular massage can help improve your overall health? With improved blood flow comes improved immunity, making you less likely to pick up to cold that might be floating around your office, or at your kids’ school.
Are you training for a race, or spending a lot of time at the gym or in a pilates class? After an extended period of regular massages, you may also begin to notice an increased range of motion.
Because you are repeatedly reminding your muscles to relax and repeatedly releasing tension, you may find yourself feeling a little bendier in your yoga classes. Tense muscles make it much harder to find your full range of motion, and happy, relaxed muscles support an increased range of motion.
It’s not just one day a month to splurge on sixty to ninety minutes of pampering. Regular, monthly massages will leave you feeling healthier and happier, and truly make a difference in your overall well-being.
Our hands are our most under appreciated tool. It's amazing how much they do. It's also amazing how relaxing a simple hand massage can be! This is great for couples to build emotional connection. Also great for parents of teenagers. This can really help you stay connected with them.
Some interesting facts about hands. Each hand contains:
*30 named arteries
*Your thumb alone contains 9 individual muscles and 3 major nerves. The movements of the thumb are so complex that there are six different terms which describe it’s movements.
*Almost 90 per cent of women and 80 per cent of men in the age group 75-79 years have x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in their hands
The hand is one of the most overworked and underappreciated parts of the human body. Including the hand as part of your regular self-care routing can have some measurable benefits.
One of the primary benefits of massage is increasing blood flow to certain areas of the body. Not only does this remove metabolic waste from muscle activity but it brings fresh oxygenated blood to the muscles. In the hand, this is especially important for people who work at a computer. The repetitive motion of the mouse and keyboard and create fatigue and strain in the soft tissue of the hand and fingers. This is especially true for people who suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome. Regular treatment of the hand (or feet), along with other forms of treatment like medication, can greatly abate the pain and suffering from this ailment. Massage is also effective at stopping a Raynaud’s attack once it starts.
2. Increased Range Of MotionMuscles and soft tissue can shorten with repetitive use. This can come from working at a computer, working with tools, or playing an instrument. This shortening can create scar tissue with can cause compression on the nerves of the hand and wrist (carpal tunnel). It can also create a condition known as “trigger finger”.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, in 2006, 46 million Americans—nearly one in five adults—were suffering from some form of arthritis. Regular hand and wrist massage can reduce pain and improve your grip strength. Even people who don’t have arthritis can benefit from hand massage. People who work at jobs that require repetitive use of the hands and wrist, find that regular massage can help reduce or eliminate pain and reduced range of motion.
Increased Range Of Motion
Muscles and soft tissue can shorten with repetitive use. This can come from working at a computer, working with tools, or playing an instrument. This shortening can create scar tissue with can cause compression on the nerves of the hand and wrist (carpal tunnel). It can also create a condition known as “trigger finger”.
How to Give a Hand Massage
1. Clasp your fingers together and rub the heels of your palms together in a circular motion. This will be the blood flowing through the hand and help warm it up.
2. With your hands still clasped, take one thumb and massage the area just below your other thumb in a circular motion moving outward to the center of the palm.
3. Unclasp your fingers and use your right thumb and index finger to gently knead your palms, wrists, and the webbing between your fingers on your left hand then lightly pull each finger for 1-2 seconds at a time.
4. Repeat step 3 using your left hand to massage your right hand.
When we are injured, our soft tissue heals it lays down a fibrous connective tissue called scar tissue. The good, bad and ugly of scar tissue is it’s ability to stick to everything……everything! Not only the soft tissue it’s intended to knit back together. It sticks to skin, fascia, old injury sites, surgical sites, organs, nerves and blood vessels. It is not uncommon for scar tissue to constrict nerve pathways, restrict circulatory or lymphatic flow, and reduce range of motion. Also due to the reduction of circulation, it can trap metabolic debris within the injury site creating more pain and dysfunction. If the scar tissue is left untreated it can create adhesions to the healthy tissue around it, creating an additional layer of dysfunction.
The more superficial fascia and soft tissue respond well to almost all therapies (heat, manual therapy, etc). The deep fascia does not. In order to restore function, the dehydrated scar tissue needs to be rehydrated, separated from the surrounding structures and realigned with the muscle fibers. This is especially important in the deep postural muscles. Manual therapy (like massage) can elicit changes, cupping therapy has been shown to be effective up to 4 inches deep! When the tissue is separated, hydration floods the tissue and beneficial blood flow is increased. This allows the body to bring fresh oxygenated blood to the soft tissue and remove any biproducts of metabolic activity. When the tissue layers are separated, the manual therapist can now go in and help realign the fibers and improve function. The most benefits are seen within the first 18 months of healing but cupping therapy is still very effective for more mature scars.
Myofascial cupping is a soft tissue therapy that encourages healing by creating a negative pressure or suction on the skin using plastic or glass cups that pull up underlying tissues, blood, and other fluids close to the surface of the skin.
While many assume that cupping originated in China with traditional Chinese medicine, the earliest records of cupping date back to Egypt in 1550 BC, where it was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus. Egyptians are believed to have introduced it to the Greeks around 400 BC. The earliest recorded use of cupping in Asian medical systems dates back to a Taoist alchemist and herbalist who lived from 281 to 341 AD. Eventually, cupping was spread to the Americas and to Europe. Cupping has increased in popularity and is used as an integrative therapy in modern medicine. Myofascial cupping is often incorporated into other manual therapy techniques such as massage therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and other injury rehabilitation techniques.
A myofascial cupping treatment uses a combination of massage strokes and negative pressure to lift, separate, and stretch underlying soft tissues. Cupping is typically applied on the neck, shoulders, back, sacrum, hip, abdomen, thigh, calves, and upper arms. Areas of musculoskeletal tension or congestion are located using massage techniques, and cups may be applied on an affected area and moved over the surface in a gliding motion, or possibly put on a fascial adhesion or trigger point for a short time to reduce or eliminate it. I will be using silicone cups. These methods avoid the danger of using heat and fire to depressurize the cups. Cupping procedures may leave light to dark red marks on the skin that disappear in 5 to 10 days.
Myofascial cupping can help treat soft tissue conditions and musculoskeletal tension, pain, and common sporting injuries. It can also create relaxation by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Ouch! What did I do to my knee?
If you’re experiencing knee pain, you’re not alone. Most Americans will have knee pain sometime in their life, whether from an accident, overuse, or general wear and tear as they age. Besides being uncomfortable, it’s often debilitating and holds you back from doing the activities you enjoy most. That’s why it’s important to seek prompt treatment.
There’s as many different types of treatment for knee pain as there are types of knee pain, and in many cases the best treatment is surgery. It’s ironic, however, that while surgery is meant to cure the cause of your knee pain, recovery from the procedure will itself be painful. So what do you do with the pain that comes from fixing your pain?
For many people the answer is massage therapy. This is an all-natural and proven method of pain management that more and more knee surgery patients are seeking. And when you see the benefits, it’s no wonder why.
Let’s look closer at why knee pain happens and how massage therapy can aid your recovery and help you get back on your knees, er, feet, and doing your normal activities again.
What’s wrong with my knees?As part of your legs, your knees are pretty important. Without them you can’t walk or run, kneel to pet a cute dog, kick a ball with the kids, climb into bed after a long day, or embarrass your friends with your dance moves. So when they start giving you pain, it can be debilitating and frustrating.
Pain is your knees’ way of communicating that they are injured. Knee injuries may come from an isolated event like an accident that tears a ligament or breaks a bone, or as a result of wear and tear if you play a sport a lot or participate in other frequent, repetitive physical activities. Wear and tear may also be a result of age. It’s just a fact of life that our bodies weaken over time and our tissues become more fragile.
Additionally, some medical conditions may also cause knee pain and affect mobility. The most common of these are:
Fixing the knee painSo now you’re at the doctor and you have a diagnoses. What comes next? Treatment. The cause and severity of your knee pain will determine the treatment you receive.
Minor strain and injuries will probably just require rest at home. You may be advised to reduce swelling by icing your knee, wrapping it in compression bandages, or keeping it elevated. Minor aches and pains can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication, or your doctor may prescribe something stronger for more intense pain.
Some knee injuries will require some sort of physical therapy. This may be stretching and strengthening exercises you can do on your own at home, or you may be required to see a physical therapist.
The most severe knee injuries will require surgery, but not all knee surgeries are equal. Some are more invasive than others. These require a longer, more arduous recovery. Here’s a few examples of the most common knee surgeries:
You probably already know that a professional massage feels good. Even when it’s just for fun, massage loosens your muscles, leaving your body feeling calm and relaxed. This is exactly what your body needs after undergoing invasive surgery.
Knee surgery requires cutting into the muscles and tendons around your knee joint. This kind of trauma causes painful inflammation and muscle spasms. A deep tissue massage focusing on the quadricep and hamstring muscles in your thigh, however, can relieve the tension that causes spasms and reduce inflammation. Ahhh...
Sound good? Well it is.
Massage in post-operative care is good for you and has benefits beyond just pain relief. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science about the effects of massage therapy on pain, swelling, and range of motion after total knee replacement surgery found massage to be a comparable alternative to physical therapy in post-operative recovery.
Immediately following any operation, your tissues are basically freaking out and it is common to have swelling and inflammation. Massage has long been recognized as an effective treatment for swelling, as it provides counter pressure that forces the body’s fluids back into the blood vessels where it belongs.
For long-term recovery, a massage therapist can help improve alignment and train all the parts of your knee to work together effectively after surgery and prevent future pain. This is especially important in reconstructive or knee replacement surgeries. Physical therapy will help you learn to use and control your newly repaired knee, but no amount of strengthening exercises will help if things are out of alignment. A massage therapist can make sure everything stays in their places as you recover and that each is practiced in its own small movements. This will prevent long-term pain and improve range of motion and overall function so you can go back to regular life.
Massage is also used in scar tissue therapy. After surgery, scar tissue forms at the incision, including in the cut muscles and tendons around the knee. However, this scar tissue can be more rigid than the mobile tissues around it, so it needs to be “remodeled” or worked over and moved around to train it to tolerate the stress and forces endured by the body. A massage therapist has the training to do this for you, further improving knee function after surgery.
It’s not just about pain reliefDon’t get us wrong, pain relief is a great reason in and of itself to receive post-operative massage therapy, but it’s also proven to improve your entire recovery experience. No surgery recovery will be complete unless you can regain a reasonable, if not full, amount of prior mobility and function of your knee. Massage therapy can help you get just that by reducing side effects of surgery and preparing your knee to be a fully working part of your body again so you can go back to chasing your dog, dancing with friends, or kicking your feet up and relaxing with no discomfort..
If knee pain is getting you down, talk to your doctor soon about treatment. And if surgery is the prescribed treatment, ask about implementing the magic of massage therapy into your post-operative plan so you can make the most out of recovery and quickly go back to making the most out of life.
Deep tissue massage is a focused, therapeutic massage that targets muscle knots (also known as "adhesions") and specific problem areas in the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
This type of massage is particularly beneficial for people with chronic pain or lingering injuries that cause limited mobility. It's effective in treating repetitive stress injuries such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome and can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
If you or someone you love is in pain, a deep tissue massage can help relieve the discomfort.
Do you have to be a hard core athlete to get a sports massage? No. The idea behind sports massage is to manipulate the body's soft tissues, and focus on certain muscle groups depending on which sport someone is playing. This type of massage can help with increased blood flow, increased range of motion, and increased flexibility. Designed to prevent and treat injuries, improve flexibility, and enhance athletic performance, sports massage can be used by athletes of all abilities to prepare for or recover from athletic or sports events. Even if you aren't an athlete, sports massage may help muscle pain or restricted range of motion.
How does sports massage differ from a regular massage? In sports massage, the strokes are generally faster than a typical Swedish massage and may also include compression, pressure point therapy, friction, and joint mobilization.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your next massage appointment. This will help you continue to feel relaxed after your massage and make the process of undressing easier prior to your massage.
Wearing many layers with lots of buttons and zippers is probably not the best option. Instead, try your favorite t-shirt with yoga pants or comfortable sweats.
If you are coming straight from work, pack a bag and bring something comfortable to slip into. Struggling back into a suit or uncomfortable shoes after a massage is a quick way to reduce the relaxation benefits of massage.
This can be a hectic time of year for most people. It's easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle. Sometimes it's hard to remember to be fully present. Try this breathing exercise I learned from Dr. Weil. It's called "4:7:8"
1. Exhale completely through your mouth. As you do make a "whooshing" sound.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose and count to 4
3. Hold your breath for a count of 7
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound,
to a count of 8
5. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of 4 breaths.