Click this text to edit. Tell users who you are or what you do.

Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

What is the best massage for relaxation?

June 6, 2018

Recently a friend told me he frequented the massage chairs at the mall. I kind of just stared at him in disbelief.

"Really?" I asked him perplexed about why he chose to get a massage in the middle of a public walking area.

"Yeah, sometimes I just like to relax and you just do the medical stuff, right?" he asked.

Intention. It goes a long way. Often I fail as a practitioner to ask my client the goal for his massage. I think our society today often under estimates the power of relaxation. So many things happen within our body when we simply let go. Whether it be letting go of tension or stressful thoughts that have plagued us for days and will continue to taunt us for days to come. The intention of letting everything go can help us find peace in the simplicity of just being in the moment receiving the massage on the table.

More often than not, when I am uncomfortable I catch myself shallow breathing holding my breath. Sometimes I have to remind myself to just breath. Exhale the negativity and breathe in the tranquility that only I can accept into my life. Breathing helps my muscles begin to release and my mind to calm. The oxygen I breath in helps to improve my circulation and blood flow through out my body.

Long connective massage strokes during a Swedish massage helps to ease the mind and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Snoring, drooling, naps and astrotravel are encouraged. (Although I think I have only had one single solitary client claim to astrotravel during their massage.) Lymph often travels during the long connected strokes helping to remove metabolic waste from the tissues. Often people feel the urge to use the potty after a massage for this reason. Drinking water both before and after your massage encourages excretion and helps you to reap more benefits from your well spent time.

The light to medium pressure of a Swedish massage helps with fibromyalgia and arthritis. The Gateway Control theory says that touch helps close the gates through which pain travels helping to end the pain cycle. This is why massage is frequently being recommended by more and more doctors for chronic pain.

At Fire & Ice Therapeutic Massage, our therapists are experienced in a variety of modalities to aid our clients in healing. Swedish massage is the basic building block of many forms of massage and all of our staff our experienced in helping you reach your deepest point of relaxation. Please feel free to bring your own music, adjust the pressure or refrain from talking or asking questions. Simply tell your therapist, "I just want to relax today." We've got your back.

Listen to Your Mee-Maw

By Dana D'Gaia

September 28th, 2018

Remember when you’d give an ugly look to your Mee Maw and she warned you it would stick like that? Turns out, Mee Maw’s really know what they’re talking about. Ditto about when she told you to stand up straight.

Massage therapists often advise our clients to stretch, ice, and foam roll as part of a regular self care routine. We take it for granted that you will understand why it’s important to do this on a daily or semi daily basis. Unfortunately, most of us forget how little we understood about our own bodies before months of anatomy and physiology education.

The human body is a wonderfully complex, self repairing biological machine, capable of healing its own wounds, climbing mountains, swimming rivers, and running miles over rough terrain. Your body will do all it can to alter and prepare for whatever you need it to do. But like a computer or a child, our bodies only know to do what we tell them, exactly, literally what we tell them.

But I don’t tell my body anything, you might be saying to yourself.

And here’s where Mee Maw was right - every move you make or don’t make during the day and night is speaking to your body. Everything you experience is instructing your body on what it needs to protect you from and what it needs to make you capable of doing.

Inside our bones, muscles, skin, and nerves are different specialized cells that repair, recycle, and create new tissue. When you perform high impact sports, these cells make your bones thicker to protect them from injury. After weight bearing exercises, the stressed muscles grow larger accordingly, because you are telling your body you need them to be stronger. And when you spend most of your time sitting for work, you body stops building new bone and muscle because why waste the energy on something you don’t need?

It works the same way with stretching. When you perform slow, deep stretches, you are telling those muscles, tendons, fascia and skin cells, that you need them to be longer and more flexible.

So what are you telling your body right now?

So many new things coming to Fire & Ice

Here's the BIG NEWS:

October 14th, 2018

Friday we launched our new scheduling and processing software.

Appointments can no longer be booked through Schedulicity.

All appointments must now be book through:

https://login.meevo.com/fireandice/ob?locationId=101942

Can't find an appointment at the time you want?

Join our wait list. Our system will automatically call you when the desired appointment becomes available.

Want incentive for referring friends?

Everytime your friend comes in and uses you as a reference, you will receive $10 in massage points to use on ANY service or upgrade.

Looking for something different?

We have a BRAND NEW SERVICE menu coming soon!

We can't wait to see you!

Stress Fractures

October 23rd, 2018

Dana D'Gaia

In our last newsletter, we looked at some Mee Maw wisdom - about how what you do or don’t do during the day is talking to your body, teaching it how to grow and change. This time, let’s focus on one specific example - posture. Because, of course, when Mee Maw told you to stand up straight, she wasn’t just nit picking you.

In massage school, we’re taught to imagine the body as a tall building that stays upright because of two things - bones and muscles. Without bones, we would be a moving blob on the floor. Without muscles, we would be a completely useless heap of bones of the floor. But with both working together, we can stand, walk, reach out for and carry things.

Any one year old child will tell you that it’s a miracle we can balance all our weight, let along groceries, on two comparably tiny feet. The key to this miracle of balance is balance - muscle to bone, from side to side, front to back, top to bottom, and even diagonally. Our muscles and bones have a set way they are supposed to hold tension against each other. That’s what we call optimal postural alignment, or simply - good posture.

When we use bad posture over a long period of time our bones and muscles are more and more pulled out of balance, out of proper alignment. We begin to feel chronic muscle and joint pain, a gradual loss of mobility and range of motion. Even our organs can be affected.

For instance, when you slump forward, bringing your chest closer to your stomach than it should be, you compress your lungs and diaphragm, making it impossible to take a complete breath, to get rid of carbon dioxide, and bring in all the fresh oxygen your body needs.

Being able to take full breaths can aid relaxation, stress relief, confidence, and clear thinking. But, if the compression gets bad enough, your stomach and esophagus can be affected, leading to indigestion symptoms like acid reflux.

At the same time, the muscles along your back are being pulled and stretched longer than they want to be. When you’re sitting down, this also happens to your glutes and hamstrings. The over-stretching can cause the muscles to tighten up, a reflex to protect themselves from injury. Eventually, the muscles will weaken due to the constant strain, stress, and over-use. As the muscles along the back of the body weaken, using them for good posture becomes even harder.

And that’s how a few weeks/months/years of over work becomes the vicious cycle that leads to chronic back pain, slumped posture, rounded shoulders, and possibly even permanently stooped posture in your elderly years begins.

Lucky for us, we can work to fix this. It begins by paying attention to your posture. Checking in with your body throughout the day. At work, at home, in a restaurant. Over and over again until it becomes a habit.

When you notice your self slumping forward, to one side, or holding your shoulders up to your ears from stress, take a minute. Stretch your neck. Hold yourself upright with a strong back. Relax your shoulders down and take a deep breath. Enjoy the feeling of good posture before going back to work. Doing this over and over again will eventually make adjusting your posture second nature. Along with regular exercise, stretching, and massage, before you know it, you’ll be using better posture all the time. Good luck!

Massage & Anxiety

October 30th, 2018

Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults in a given year. Anxiety is described as a feeling of dread, fear, or apprehension often with no clear justification. Most people experience symptoms of anxiety at one time or another, but for those with a disorder, normal daily life is often interrupted and limited.

A few common anxiety disorders are panic disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), social phobia (Social Anxiety), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While there are varying symptoms with each, many physiological responses overlap with the different disorders. Many people are able to function with symptoms while others are unable cope with them.

Some disorders manifest with physical symptoms like sleeping problems, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, sweating or dry mouth. Others are purely emotional, denoted by excessive, unrealistic worry, feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness. Usually, there’s a combination of physical and emotional symptoms.

Massage may help anxiety

The American Massage Therapy Association has adopted a position statement based on research findings asserting that “massage therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.” It goes on to say that massage may reduce symptoms of anxiety in women in labor, psychiatric patients, cancer patients, patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, children with illnesses, and many more types of clients.

The effects of massage therapy include reduced blood pressure, slowed/regulated breathing, and a slower pulse rate. If increased heart rate and rapid breathing are symptoms of anxiety could massage therapy may have a positive effect. Simply taking time to relax and removing yourself from the busy-ness of daily life can be helpful in handling some kinds of anxiety.

Those with more complicated anxiety issues may benefit from regular massage in conjunction with talk therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Ask questions

If you are unsure about trying massage to help your anxiety, ask questions. Call me and we can talk about your experience with massage and how it may help you. Check in with your health care provider and your therapist or counselor. (Be sure to let me know if they would like more information about massage and anxiety, I can provide that!)

When you’re ready, we’ll schedule an appointment and you can see firsthand how massage may help you!

5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

November 26th, 2018

The holidays are kinda weird. For all the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ jingles, it’s also the toughest for many people. Some people over-commit to family, friends, volunteer tasks and find themselves over scheduled and unable to actually enjoy the season. Some of us dread the inevitable, obligatory socializing and the pressure of being ‘on’. Some of us are grieving. I am going to be real honest- this has been the toughest year yet since I have gone into business for myself. This holiday season- I find myself personally having to make the decision to choose joy and not choose stress, which can be kind of hard for all of us- not just small business owners.

So here are a few less-typical Holiday Survival Tips. Some of them are brilliant. Some of them are not. But maybe you’ll find a nugget in here.

Ditch obligations

Just because you’ve always gone to Aunt Sue’s for Christmas Eve doesn’t mean you always have to. You can stop going.

Say, “I’m starting a new tradition this year, I’m really looking forward to cooking with my kids and having a quiet family night.” Then set up another time to visit Aunt Sue when you’ll actually be able to visit her, instead of just a hug between appetizers while stuffed into a small house with 30 loud relatives.

Reframe obligations

When I hear people complain about all the ‘stuff’ they have to do, I usually say, “Dude. Stop doing it.” The typical reply is, “Oh, but I really like having 37 different types of cookies and seeing all my 3rd cousins!” Cool. I can respect that. But stop looking at (and speaking of) the tasks and events like chores.

This isn’t a martyr contest. Nobody gives a darn that Betty SUV Soccer Mom makes her bundt cake from scratch and you use a mix. Except Betty, and that’s her issue. Do stuff because you want to, because it brings you joy. And quit doing the stuff you don’t want to do. It is okay to say "no."

Stick with the people who warm your soul

Some of us are not close with our families. For many, many people, family relationships are rarely nourishing and often painful. We’ve built friendships that stand in for the sibling and parental relationships that will simply never be fulfilling.

So why feel obligated to spend a holiday with anyone other than those who bring us joy and unconditional love? Create a holiday plan with the people you most enjoy and cherish. or at the very least, an escape plan to unwind with the people who will let you vent after a stressful family interaction. Sounds selfish, right? No. It's okay. It is the true definition of self care during the holidays.

Step back from the gift-giving (and receiving) or just change it dramatically

Do you really want another gift set of perfumey bath gel and body lotion? Do you really want to be giving that to someone else? Blech. Maybe it’s time to reexamine your gift-giving habits. (Although we do have natural soaps, bath bombs, soy candles and gift certificates in our office.) Instead of exchanging gifts with your adult friends and family, can you decide to spend that money having a great dinner together in January?

If you feel really attached to giving a tangible object, can you simplify the process? Find one universal gft, and give it to all your people. A jar of local honey from you favorite apiary, a holiday ornament purchased from a local charity. There was an interesting article we posted to our facebook recently about the minimalist 3 gift Christmas. Some parents are choosing to give their child three gifts like the three wise men instead of putting themselves in stressful situations financially.

Rethink your assumptions

Just because you’ve always done the holidays a certain way, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing that. It’s all a choice. Sometimes you don’t even need to change the pattern, just recognizing that it’s a choice is enough.

What changes have you made to improve your holiday season? Help a sister out and share!

Wishing you a happy, merry, joyous whatever-you-celebrate. I hope you get exactly the holiday you want (and deserve).

8 Non-Traditional Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving

November 19th, 2018

Who says Thanksgiving has to be traditional? Maybe you’re the type of person who thinks out of the box or maybe you’re just tired of the same food, same people, and same thing every year. We’re here to help!

We’ve frolicked through the internets and found the most unique ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. Here are our favorites:

Change it up

Have a potluck, set up a cheese (or chocolate!) fondue, or try your hand at a vegan Thanksgiving spread. You could also have a contest with friends to create a turkey out of random food, like carved canned cranberry or sculpted mashed potatoes.

Reflection

Pass out some index cards. Have everyone write what they are grateful for on one side and their goals for following year on the other. Seal it up in an envelope with their name on it and have them open it the following year. (Mail cards to those who can’t make it.)

Go out to eat

Dinner and dishes shouldn’t be heaped on the host. Let someone else do the cooking and cleaning. Just enjoy the company. Easy peasy.

Invite a (sort-of) stranger

Consider extending your circle to include someone you wouldn’t normally see at Thanksgiving. Maybe a distant relative or friend. Go a little further and invite someone you know from church/library/grocery store who might have nowhere to go.

Travel to a faraway land

If you’re really frisky, start your own tradition and get out of dodge. Plan to go somewhere fun or focus on relaxation and rejuvenation. Or just have a close-to-home vacation in a nearby city or off-season vacation spot. Make sure you plan to get a massage! (Click here if you plan on staying local!)

Build a tree

This one works especially well with kids. Take a big piece of paper and draw a simple tree. Hang it on a wall. On November 1st, and each day after, write on a leaf something you’re grateful for and add it to the tree. By the end of the month, you will have a beautiful tree full of all the things you are thankful for!

Themed Thanksgiving

Plan a themed Thanksgiving dinner. Venture into another culture and see what surfaces. Italian, Middle Eastern, Chinese to name a few.

Cocktail party

Mix it up with a mixology party, play charades, or sing karaoke. Plan to hang out in your sweats or get all dolled up in your formal wear. Anything goes.

As you can see there are no rules. If you feel some rules still apply, don’t you think it’s about time to break a few? The most important thing is spending time with loved ones and doing what makes you happy.

We hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

4 Ways to Celebrate Giving this Holiday Season

December 3rd, 2018

The leftover turkey has been refrigerated. The Black Friday madness is over. And maybe you’ve patronized the webs on Cyber Monday and even remembered Giving Tuesday.

Don’t limit the love to Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving; December 1st this year. It’s a chance for you, your family, community, company, and/or organization to give something more. But there’s no need to limit the giving to one day, we’re in a whole season of giving!

We’ve come up with a list of 4 ways to give - and they cost zero dollars.


1. Give something you already have


Rummage through your cabinets and donate dry goods to a food bank. I know I have quite a few boxes of mac and cheese not far from expiration that I bought thinking we would make those. Ditto for your bookcases. Find some books and share them with a shelter, a school in need, or even a friend collecting stuff for a fundraising yard sale. Mint Hill also has quite a few little libraries, where people can pick up a book and even can goods if they need them. Box up some old coats, hats and gloves and bring them to a homeless shelter or a local school (sometimes the school has to find hats/gloves so kids without them can play outside with their peers). Room at The Inn begins collecting new gloves and hats this time of year. Bring old blankets to an animal rescue, such as the Humane Society, or donate blood through Community Blood Center.


2. Make something


Bake some cookies and deliver to your neighbors or coworkers. If you are particularly gifted in couponing, gather up some free stuff and fill stockings. Donate them to a food bank or other program for holiday giving.


3. Do something


Run an errand for someone. Smile at a stranger. Give a genuine compliment. Spread good news. Volunteer at a children’s hospital, nursing home, or anywhere you think another human being could use a smiling face.


4. Write a letter/make a phone call


Leave a nice note on someone’s windshield. Even if you don’t know them. Call a friend or loved

one you haven’t spoken to in a long time - especially if it’s someone you’re at odds with. Send an email to someone who has greatly impacted your life (and may not know it).


Bonus: And if you have a little money to throw around...

Give a generous tip, whether you’re at the coffee shop, out to eat, or your often-unseen postal worker. Pay someone’s layaway anonymously or their meal in the drive thru line. Sign up for a 5k that gives to a good cause. Donate a toy to our Toys for Tots Drive. Bring some pet food or toys to a local animal shelter. Buy a gift certificate for massage for a person close to you and your family.

Giving doesn’t have to be a huge, elaborate and grand event. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest splash. As a massage therapist, I know that sometimes it’s not the hands-on work that is most helpful to a client. Often it’s just being seen and heard and cared for that makes all the difference in the world.

5 tips for a happier holiday season

December 10th, 2018

Happy holidays! Happy 'getting stressed out, trying to do too many things and please everyone' season. Oh, wait. That's not promising.

Maybe this is the year to mix it up a little and make the holidays a little easier.

Forget perfection

Sometimes gingerbread men will be missing a limb. The tree may have a bald spot. The kugel may not taste exactly like your grandma’s. Know what? None of it matters. Decide what's truly important to you over the holidays, and focus on that.

Enlist help

Once you drop the desire for Norman Rockwell levels of perfection, it gets much easier to ask for help and delegate tasks.

Kids can sign the names and address holiday cards. Wrap gifts in plain brown paper and kids can stay occupied decorating with crayons and ribbon.

Stick to a budget

Much of the holiday stress people feel can be attributed to money woes. Make a list and check it twice, making sure the gifts you choose are within your budget’s reach. And when you're tempted to overspend, remember that things are rarely as meaningful as a kind thought or gesture.

Shop local

Shy away from the average stuff you get at chain stores and Amazon. Visit your local bookstore, bakery and massage office (Hey! That’s me!) to get gifts and gift certificates that really mean something.

Look for a winter farmers’ market where you can buy jars of local honey or handmade ornaments. Keep a stash in your car with some gift bags for last-minute “I can’t believe I forgot to get a gift for my kid’s teacher” type situations.

Bonus: you’re supporting small business at the same time!

Get massage

Taking care of yourself makes you better able to take care of all the people who depend on you! Here's to a wonderful holiday low on stress and filled with fun!

Why your legs need a massage

December 17th, 2018

Often I have clients come in and want everything, but their legs massaged. So here is a case for not neglecting your leggys:

Our legs do a lot for us. We use them all day, every day. Like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some care.

Our legs take us where we want to go. They let us walk around to do what we need to do - even if it’s just to grab a snack from the kitchen.

Some jobs are physical and involve being on your feet a lot. If lifting and moving things are involved you use your legs to lift and haul them around. Job responsibilities can have repetitive actions than can overwork your muscles.

Other jobs are not very physical and involve a lot of sitting. Long periods of time with your legs in the same position causes your leg muscles to shorten, so when you do stand and walk your legs feel tight. Add commuting time in a vehicle and your legs may spend most of the day inactive. Try to include regular times through the day to get up and walk around if you can.

We may run to catch a bus, keep up with a child, or to get out of the rain.

At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family, and our things. We carry laundry and groceries. We shop, cook, clean and put things away. If you have stairs you will make multiple trips up and down every day.

Yard work and home maintenance such as mowing grass, gardening, and digging puts our legs to use.

If you enjoy sports you use your legs to run, jump, and kick. You pedal your bike, kick your legs to swim, and run and kick in soccer. You jump in volleyball and basketball. Depending on where you live you may surf or ski which involves a lot of leg use.

For exercise or fun activities you use your legs for yoga, pilates, or fitness classes. You use your legs for lifting weights, boxing, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance.

Your hip, knee, and ankle joints are all affected by your legs. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving muscle pain decreases the pressure on those joints and you feel better.

Wearing high heels can add to pain in your legs, too. The heels cause your muscles to be used in different ways since they not in their natural positions.

Hip and back pain can start in your legs. If one leg hurts you will change how you walk, stand, and even sit to keep it from hurting. That adjustment will affect your other leg. Your legs attach to your hips, which connects to your back, and as more muscles are out of normal position pain begins to develop there too.

Your legs do a lot for you. Give them some attention with a massage so you can keep doing what you want.

Why your legs need a massage

December 17th, 2018

Often I have clients come in and want everything, but their legs massaged. So here is a case for not neglecting your leggys:

Our legs do a lot for us. We use them all day, every day. Like other parts of our body they can get tired, overused, sore, and in need of some care.

Our legs take us where we want to go. They let us walk around to do what we need to do - even if it’s just to grab a snack from the kitchen.

Some jobs are physical and involve being on your feet a lot. If lifting and moving things are involved you use your legs to lift and haul them around. Job responsibilities can have repetitive actions than can overwork your muscles.

Other jobs are not very physical and involve a lot of sitting. Long periods of time with your legs in the same position causes your leg muscles to shorten, so when you do stand and walk your legs feel tight. Add commuting time in a vehicle and your legs may spend most of the day inactive. Try to include regular times through the day to get up and walk around if you can.

We may run to catch a bus, keep up with a child, or to get out of the rain.

At home we walk around to take care of our place, our family, and our things. We carry laundry and groceries. We shop, cook, clean and put things away. If you have stairs you will make multiple trips up and down every day.

Yard work and home maintenance such as mowing grass, gardening, and digging puts our legs to use.

If you enjoy sports you use your legs to run, jump, and kick. You pedal your bike, kick your legs to swim, and run and kick in soccer. You jump in volleyball and basketball. Depending on where you live you may surf or ski which involves a lot of leg use.

For exercise or fun activities you use your legs for yoga, pilates, or fitness classes. You use your legs for lifting weights, boxing, hiking, climbing, kickboxing, and dance.

Your hip, knee, and ankle joints are all affected by your legs. Joints are under pressure from muscles and bones pulling and twisting on them. Relieving muscle pain decreases the pressure on those joints and you feel better.

Wearing high heels can add to pain in your legs, too. The heels cause your muscles to be used in different ways since they not in their natural positions.

Hip and back pain can start in your legs. If one leg hurts you will change how you walk, stand, and even sit to keep it from hurting. That adjustment will affect your other leg. Your legs attach to your hips, which connects to your back, and as more muscles are out of normal position pain begins to develop there too.

Your legs do a lot for you. Give them some attention with a massage so you can keep doing what you want.

Realistic Ways to Implement Your New Years Resolution

January 6th, 2019

Along with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season that is upon us, this time of year brings the pressure to create resolutions for the new year that’s right around the corner. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” While many are content with their place in life, there are many people who feel they haven’t met their true potential or made it to the goals they have set. Life is inevitably changing around us daily and with that we must adapt to our environment. While you don’t necessarily have to have the usual or common resolutions, making a resolution that fits your goals and needs is the best way to grow for yourself and your loved ones. About 40% of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% keep those resolutions. The biggest key to sticking with it, and keeping your new year’s resolution, is to set realistic goals that you are passionate about and implementing small changes. So instead of trying to dramatically change your behaviors and habits, start with small shifts that you know you will follow through with. Here are a few common resolutions along with tips on how to achieve them to help you gain confidence in the upcoming year.

Spending more time with family:

When looking up the top resolutions, the number one resolution people make is spending more time with family. We live in a busy time. We are always scheduling more commitments in our day than we have time for, while trying to balance our jobs, social lives, and family time. You may look at your schedule and struggle to find any spare time to schedule quality time. Let’s face it, there are many times that we are present with our families without really being “present”. How many times do we beat ourselves up for not taking advantage of those precious moments with our loved ones? Pick the least busy day of your week and mark off an hour of uninterrupted family time. During that hour, place all electronic devices in a basket and really spend quality time with your family. Or, if you don’t already, try to all eat dinner together and catch up with each other’s lives at least a few times a week. You may be surprised at how much you’ve been missing out on with each other.

Exercise more:

Every year most of us make the decision to try to work out more, lose weight, or get in shape. And every year most of us give up by the time February rolls around. The problem usually arises in how we go about trying to implement this change. We promise ourselves to go from a complete couch potato who never works out, to hitting the gym 6 days a week for an hour each time. Instead of doing that, start with small commitments to work out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you go from not working out at all to exercising 6 or 7 days a week, your body may not be able to handle the sudden change, making you more prone to injury, and it’s simply hard to keep that commitment when it’s such a drastic change. Starting off with small steps will help to ensure your success. Who knows, once your body has adjusted to the changes you may begin to enjoy it and then add in more. But you have to start somewhere. Maybe those 2 or 3 days a week, you simply go for a 20-minute walk before or after dinner. Then add another day each week. Then bump it up to 30 minutes. Then maybe add in some strengthening exercises here and there each week. Whatever you can honestly fit into your normal lifestyle, and what will be a relatively easy habit to start, that’s what’s going to ensure you keep that resolution long-term.

Eating healthier:

Generally exercising and eating healthy tend to go hand in hand however they are two separate beasts. Not all people who exercise eat healthy, and not all who eat healthy exercise. When you are used to a junk-filled diet, making a shift to eating healthier may be a struggle. You can’t change eating habits that you have lived with your whole life overnight. Again, start with small changes like replacing sodas with a flavored water, adding a serving of vegetables in at least once a day, or eating 3 servings of fruit a day. These may seem like small changes, but once you begin to make them any additional changes will come much easier. Just like with working out, making some massive change to your habits is difficult to start and even more difficult to keep up. Start small and slowly work your way up to the big overhaul with time.

Building up savings:

While saving money may be easy to some, it may be a true struggle for others. Everyone was raised in different financial situations and different environments, as well as varying mindsets around money in general. Some may not know how to properly budget their money, save, or feel like there’s any way to get started making financial changes. But yet again, small shifts can lead to big changes. Start yourself off with depositing small amounts and slowly increase the amount you are adding to your savings account. Click on this link to see an easy money saving chart that can help you build up your savings in 52 weeks. https://mommysavers.com/52-week-savings-plan-printable-chart/

Quitting bad habits:

The final New Year resolution that is popular, but difficult to achieve is quitting bad habits. Whether it be drinking, smoking, overeating, under-eating, negative self-talk, the list goes on. Many of us have at least one bad habit we could stand to do away with. While they may be hard to break, knowing your triggers and finding something to replace that habit can be the difference between success and failure. When you feel yourself reaching for a cigarette, a drink, a piece of food when you’re not hungry, think of something that can replace it. Go for a walk, try meditation and deep breathing, step outside to clear your mind, or drink a big glass of water. Remove yourself from the temptation that is lying in front of you and replace it with a positive action. Have alternate plans in your mind so that you can combat it immediately. And if you slip up, don’t give up. We are all human, we make mistakes. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, identify what caused you to fall, and continue your journey with the end goal in mind.

These are just a few of the many tips and tricks you can use to help achieve your New Year’s resolutions, but please remember to give yourself grace and understanding if you slip up and remember the goal at hand. Make sure before you sit down to write down your resolution, you think deeply about what resonates with you and plan as to how you are going to accomplish your goal. Track your progress no matter how big or small. This will help when you feel that you haven’t done enough. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. Your opinion is the most important to you.

The What and Whys of Prenatal Massage

January 13th, 2019

Pregnancy can be difficult, physically and emotionally, even in the healthiest of pregnancies. This is a time when a woman’s body is undergoing an enormous amount of stress and change, and a time when self-care is of utmost importance. So why should you get regular massage therapy throughout your pregnancy?

Here’s some of the biggest benefits of prenatal massage:

Decreases anxiety and symptoms of depression

Relieves low back pain

Decreases restless leg symptoms

Improves sleep

Relieves minor swelling

Helps to relax and open the chest, allowing for deep breathing

Relieves round ligament pain

Loosens tight, aching hips

Decrease in Sciatica symptoms

Reduced headaches

Decrease of SI joint pain

While prenatal massage is considered safe through all stages or pregnancy, and for most women during a low risk pregnancy, as with any addition to prenatal care, it’s best to consult with your physician about adding massage into your routine. Some high-risk factors may make massage and other bodywork contraindicated (not advised).

What should you expect during a prenatal massage?

During the first trimester, not much will change in the logistics of your massage appointment. However, once you enter into the second trimester, your positioning will need to be changed. When lying on your back, you’ll having bolstering and pillows under your neck and back to keep you semi-reclined, as well as any bolstering to support your legs and arms if needed. Instead of lying face down, you’ll be able to lie on your side, with bolsters to help support you and keep you comfortable. This side-lying position is not only safe and comfortable, but allows for great access for the therapist to address those painful and tight hips and low back.

Massage therapy can also play a large role in helping you throughout labor. Not only does massage help to manage pain and decrease the need for pain medications, but it also decreases stress hormones which counteract the oxytocin your body produces to progress labor. The more you can decrease those stress hormones, and try to relax during labor, the quicker and easier your body will go through the process.

Once your beautiful bundle arrives, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop taking care of you. Most new moms have their hands full taking care of their new baby, recovering from delivery, and adjusting to a completely new normal. With the stresses and hormonal changes happening right after your baby arrives, you’re going to need some physical and emotional relief. Postpartum massage may very well be the answer. Your body has gone through something tremendous, and needs to find relief for those tired, aching muscles in those precious days, weeks, and months after delivery.

Pregnancy is a beautiful, stressful, amazing, and painful time of life. With all the ups and downs, highs and lows, your self care routine has to come first. Make massage therapy a regular part of that.

Migraines & Massage

January 19th, 2019

Let’s just say it…migraines are awful! They’re a painful, debilitating, and all-too-common problem for many people. It’s estimated that up to 13% of the US population suffers from migraines. While many people seek over-the-counter or prescription drugs to ease their pain and prevent migraines, you may want to consider adding massage into your regular routine instead. Research has shown that massage can improve headache pain and decrease the frequency of migraines.

But what exactly is a migraine and how can massage help?

Migraines are typically felt as a severe pain in the head accompanied by light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and visual disturbances. For many years, migraines were believed to be vascular in nature. It was thought that the blood vessels in the head and neck would spasm or dilate excessively causing significant decreases and/or increases in blood flow, resulting in migraine symptoms. However, in recent years, studies have shown that migraines are much more likely neurological in nature.

Now that we understand there is a major neurological component to migraines, it’s easier to understand how massage can benefit those who suffer from this debilitating condition. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, the part that calms us. This portion of the nervous system is responsible for regulating our breathing, slowing our heartrate, returning our blood pressure to normal, and overall keeping the body relatively stress-free. By keeping us and our nervous system calm, migraines can often be avoided. In a 2006 study¹, weekly massage sessions were shown to decrease migraine frequency and improve sleep quality. A gentle, yet focused massage to the back, neck, shoulders, scalp, and face seems to be the most effective in helping those who suffer from migraines.

While massage during a migraine may seem out of the question, as most people experience intense touch sensitivity and aversion, when massage is performed only on the feet or hands, symptoms can decrease. This is thought to be due to the calming effect on the entire nervous system, thereby decreasing the abnormal neurological signals that are being perceived.

So before your next migraine hits, schedule regular massage appointments and let us help keep them at bay.

References: ¹ A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Lawler SP1, Cameron LD. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827629

6 Types of Migraines and Headaches

January 26th, 2019

At some point in our lives, we all experience a headache. There are some people who get headaches quite frequently, and others who very rarely experience one. If you find that you’re getting headaches on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth your time to find out why and what you can do about it. Did you know there are different types of headaches, and different causes and treatments for each? Let’s look at each.


Tension headaches

This type is quite common and it’s likely that you’ve experienced this at one point or another. Tension headaches are often felt as a dull pain throughout the head, especially through the forehead, behind the eyes, at the base of the neck, and even in the jaw and cheeks. Tension headaches usually last from 30 minutes to several hours and you should be able to proceed with your daily life, albeit with some adjustments. Tension headaches are often attributed to a decrease in blood flow to the head due to increased muscular tension and restriction through the neck, head, face, and jaw; usually triggered by stress, anxiety, dehydration, lack of movement, poor sleep, abnormal posture, and eye strain. Some gentle to moderate pressure massage along with stretching and mobilizations will often ease the tension and give you relief. If you can’t get in for a massage right then, you can massage the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and face yourself, or have a friend or family member help. Light exercise and stretching can also help, along with over the counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. If you find that you’re experiencing tension headaches often, regular massage sessions can help to decrease the frequency.


Migraines

While many people claim to experience frequent migraines, these are often confused with severe tension headaches. The true differentiating factor is the neurological symptoms associated specifically with a migraine. While tension headaches, especially when severe, can be debilitating and very painful, they come without the neurological symptoms associated with a migraine. A migraine not only causes severe pain in the head, neck, and face, but is often accompanied by an abnormal sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, along with nausea and vomiting. About a third of migraine sufferers experience an aura (visual and sensory disturbance) prior to an incident which can last anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. Auras include seeing zig-zag lines, flickering lights, spots, or partial loss of vision. Migraines can last a few hours to a few days, and are three times more likely to develop in females than males due to a possible connection with hormone fluctuations. The frequency of a migraine can be anywhere from several times a week to once a year. Triggers of a migraine can range from stress, dehydration, sleep disruption, and even certain foods. Some people find relief with over the counter medications, while others may require prescription level drugs. For many, a dark, quiet room and a few hours of sleep is often the only way to find relief. If you find that you’re having frequent migraines, a visit with your doctor may be necessary. While regular massages have been shown to decrease the frequency of migraines, a massage to the head and neck is not advised while you’re experiencing a migraine. Instead, if you want to get a massage while you have an active migraine, the massage will be focused on your legs, feet, arms, and hands to counter the abnormal blood flow causing the migraine.


Cluster Headaches

This type is defined as severe, recurrent headaches that are experienced as an intense burning or piercing pain on one side of the head and behind or around one eye. Other symptoms associated with cluster headaches are eyes watering, swollen eyelids, runny nose, and restlessness or agitation. There is generally no warning and it may feel like the headache attacks out of nowhere, peaks within 10-15 minutes, and then is gone within 2-3 hours. Unlike many other types of headaches, cluster headaches are the only one that is far more prevalent in men than in women. Most of the time these attacks occur quickly and in clusters, anywhere from 3-8 times a day over a period of several weeks. What causes cluster headaches is unclear, however they seem to be triggered by smoking, alcohol consumption, strong smells, and may be linked to a genetic predisposition or previous head trauma. Over the counter and prescription medications are often the go-to treatment, but regular massage may also help prevent the frequency of these attacks.


Exertional Headaches

These headaches are triggered by sudden, strenuous, physical exercise like running, jumping, weightlifting, and even sudden severe bouts of coughing or sneezing. These are generally over almost as quickly as they come on, however they can last for several hours or even a few days. Exertional headaches are felt as a throbbing pain through the head and tend to be present in those with a family history of migraines. These headaches are usually extinguished with rest, over the counter medications, and massage. However, taking plenty of time to warm up prior to exercise will often help to prevent these headaches.


Sinus Headaches

This type of headache is common and occurs due to inflammation of the sinus cavities of the head. The pain is often felt in the forehead, around and behind the eyes, and along the cheeks. Because of the location of the pain, many people may confuse a tension and sinus headache, but they are quite different. Sinus headaches specifically will often be accompanied by congestion or a runny nose, along with tenderness over the sinus cavities, just above and below the eyes. Over the counter anti-inflammatories are a common treatment, as are massage therapy and steam treatments. If a sinus headache persists, especially with congestion and significant tenderness, you may need to see your doctor to rule out an infection or other condition.


Cervicogenic Headaches

This term encompasses any headache caused by an abnormality of the neck. Oftentimes this is due to some ligament laxity or misalignment of the cervical (neck) vertebrae causing pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that travel to the head. These are often felt along one side of the head and follow a pretty distinct pattern from the base of the skull, wrapping over the top of the head, and ending just above or behind the eye. These seem to be more common in those who have a history of whiplash or other neck injuries, and are often triggered by abnormal posture. Massage and retraction exercises can allow the proper movement of the vertebrae, reducing the pressure on those nerves and blood vessels, and alleviating the pain.


While those who suffer from headaches are surely appreciative of medications, there are many who would like to find a way other than medicine to correct their issue. There is an answer that may seem easier than expected, massage therapy. Not only does massage seem to have a direct impact on the muscular tension associated with many of these types of headaches, but it also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system; the part that calms us. This portion of the nervous system is responsible for regulating our breathing, slowing our heartrate, returning our blood pressure to normal, decreasing muscular tension, and overall keeping the body relatively stress-free. By keeping us and our nervous system calm, headaches can often be avoided.

While medications are sometimes necessary, wouldn’t a massage be so much nicer? And it seems that massage acts not only as a treatment, but as a preventative form of therapy, stopping many of these headaches from even starting.

5 Conditions You Maybe Surprised Massage May Help

February 3rd, 2019

While many consider massage therapy to be a luxury or simply for relaxation purposes, you might be surprised to know that massage has many more benefits beyond that. Massage therapy has been shown to improve a wide variety of medical conditions, and here’s 5 that you may be surprised by.

#1: Digestive Disorders

Most clients don’t think to tell their massage therapist about digestive problems, but you may very well want to at your next session. First, many digestive issues are related to stress. When we experience stress, whether minor or severe, our body goes into what is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. This is the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system that gets us ready to handle whatever threat we face. Generally speaking, the sympathetic nervous system redirects resources away from body functions that aren’t of the utmost importance – digestion being one of them. If we’re confronted by an angry bear, whether that be an actual bear or a beast of a boss at work, our body needs every bit of energy and focus on our muscles, eyesight, hearing, heart rate, etc. We have to be ready for a battle, right? And digestion gets shut down because it’s not vital in that circumstance. So if you’re regularly experiencing stress, your digestion is constantly taking a hit.

Regular massage therapy sessions can calm that sympathetic nervous system, and stimulate the opposing force, the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls our “rest and digest” response. That’s actually what it’s often referred to as, because our body is no longer stressed and can now rest and digestion can pick back up. When we calm the nervous system and the entire body, we get a more efficient function of the digestive tract.

Along with a general massage, therapists are trained to perform massage of the abdomen, specifically along the path of the colon. This is meant to “wake up” the colon and get things moving as they should. Massage to this area promotes peristalsis, the squeezing action of the colon that moves things along.

So next time your tummy is filling a little sluggish, don’t hesitate to bring it up at your massage appointment. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and we can help!

#2: Insomnia

Whether it’s just every once in a while or a chronic problem, many people suffer from insomnia, or the inability to sleep. It’s a frustrating condition and can affect every other part of your life, from mood to productivity and even your relationships. Many people turn to over-the-counter or prescription medications to fall asleep, but those can often have some pretty rough side effects and may leave you feeling groggy the next morning.

For some, insomnia is just part of how their brain is wired and for others it’s related to stress or pain. But no matter the cause, massage has been shown again and again to improve sleep; both the act of going to sleep as well as the quality of sleep. That “rest and digest” portion of the nervous system needs to be regularly stimulated in order for your body to shut down the way it’s intended so you can get a good night’s sleep. And the pain relief that can come from an experienced massage therapist is unlike any other and will only improve your sleep more.

So, if you’re finding that you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, try adding regular massage sessions into your routine and you’ll only reap the benefits.

#3: TMJ Disorder

If your jaw clicks, pops, locks, or hurts, you might have Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder. For many, the cause can be related to clenching or grinding your teeth, even if you’re not aware you do it. But did you know that you don’t just have to live with it? Massage therapy can help to ease that pain.

Imagine you held a squat for an hour. Your hips and legs would be hurting for days, right? Well the same happens to your TM joint if you’re regularly clenching the muscles that control it. Those muscles need to rest and recover from that overwork, just like any other muscular injury. Massage specifically applied throughout the jaw, as well as to the neck and head, can greatly reduce the pain in the muscles along with the associated joint pain. When you come in for your next massage session, you can also be shown some self-care techniques to prevent it from recurring.

#4: Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is an often-misunderstood condition, but generally speaking is a disorder causing widespread muscular pain. While many people who suffer from Fibromyalgia may avoid massage because of their fear of touch being painful, a gentle massage can actually be extremely beneficial. Your massage will always be tailored to your tolerance, so if that means the pressure needs to be very light, that’s what will happen. And if it’s a good day for you, and you want a little more pressure, that’s just fine too.

In addition to the widespread muscular pain, those with Fibromyalgia may also struggle with headaches, sleeplessness, and depression; all of which have been shown to improve with massage therapy. A 2014 study¹ concluded that “massage therapy, with a duration of more than 5 weeks, had beneficial immediate effects on improving pain, anxiety, and depression in patients with Fibromyalgia.”

#5: High Blood Pressure

While it’s often assumed that you have to take medications for high blood pressure, massage may be a better option for many people, especially those who are on the threshold (pre-hypertensive). A 2013 study² concluded that massage is a safe and effective treatment for high blood pressure, stating that those in the study who received regular massage showed a significantly lower blood pressure than those in the control group.

Again, massage stimulates that “rest and digest” portion of the nervous system, lowering blood pressure while you’re receiving the massage, and keeping it lower even after you return to your daily activities. Talk with your doctor to see if massage might be a positive addition to your current treatment plan.

References:

¹ Massage therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Li YH, Wang FY, Feng CQ, Yang XF, Sun YH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24586677

² Durability of Effect of Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure. Mahshid Givi

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3733180/

What to Expect From A Hot Stone Massage

February 9th, 2019

As the temperatures outside get cooler (again) you may find that your body is craving warmth. Why not try out a hot stone massage? If you’ve never had one, and you’re not quite sure what to expect, well you’re reading the perfect thing.

A hot stone massage is very similar to most standard massages, with one major exception. Well obviously it’s even more amazing, but the reason for that is In a hot stone massage your therapist will use smooth heated stones to perform the massage techniques, not just their hands and forearms. It’s kind of like being massaged by someone with intensely warm hands. But the great thing about the use of these stones, is that they allow the heat to penetrate much deeper into the muscle. This not only feels amazing, but also gives you the added benefit of a much deeper sense of relaxation and tension relief, both physically and emotionally.

It’s important to note that while hot stone massage can be very appealing to a variety of people, this technique isn’t for everyone. There are some additional contraindications specific to hot stone massage, including systemic inflammatory conditions, neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and any other condition or medication that inhibits your senses. The ability to give proper feedback on temperature is crucial, and any impairment in that ability makes a hot stone massage ill-advised.

While communication is always important in any massage, it’s especially important during a hot stone massage because of the heat factor. Let your therapist know if the stones are too hot or if you would like them to be a bit warmer. Oftentimes, if they feel a bit too warm to you, your therapist can either set them aside to cool for a minute, or they may simply move them slightly faster during the massage strokes so the temperature feels better to you. As the stones cool, leaving enough warmth to still feel wonderful, but cool enough to stay in one place for a while without burning, your therapist may choose to place them in strategic places, like in your hands, on your low back, under your neck, or on your stomach. The heat along with the slight weight of the stone can often provide an intense feeling of relief for the area.

While it may be cold outside, you can find one of the best ways to warm up and feel great at the same time with a hot stone massage. Book yours today!