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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:

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.


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.

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.

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.


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.


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

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

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!

Myths About Muscle Soreness

February 24th, 2019

If you’ve ever done any activity out of the ordinary, you know what it’s like to be sore after. If you’ve done squats, you know walking up and down steps is like torture the day after. Or have your arms shaking after an intense workout. Whether you’re still working toward that New Year’s resolution of getting into shape, or just pushing yourself a bit past your normal, it’s important to be aware that there are many misconceptions about muscle soreness.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the result of microscopic tears in the muscles and surrounding connective tissues, causing inflammation. This term is used frequently when it comes to both cardio workouts as well as strength training, but knowing the facts about it is important when deciding what is true and what isn’t. Let’s disperse some myths associated with DOMS so you can know what to expect after your gym session.

DOMS is caused by the build up of lactic acid in your muscles:


When working out, your body naturally forms energy through breaking down molecules. As a result of this process your body’s cells become more acidic which causes the “burn” you feel when you are getting a good workout. The myth that lactic acid causes this is false because lactate serves as a buffer to slow down the rate that the cells become acidic. The lactate naturally clears from the muscles within 15-30 minutes after your workout. A study in Clinics in Sports Medicine concluded that DOMS is the result of microtrauma in the muscles and surrounding connective tissues which causes inflammation. The act of lowering a dumbbell after a bicep curl, is more likely to cause this microtrauma as opposed to lifting a dumbbell during a bicep curl due to the higher load being placed on your muscles.

It’s not a good workout unless you’re sore the next day:


Most of us feel that we didn’t get a good workout if we aren’t in pain the next day because that’s what we’re told; no pain no gain, right?. Wrong! While muscle soreness from a great workout can last from 24-72 hours after a workout, there are many factors that affect how different individuals experience DOMS even if they come from a similar background or are similarly trained. A good workout, whether cardiovascular in nature or strength training, may or may not result in DOMS, depending on the individual, other recent activities, diet, hydration, and number of other factors. While this muscle soreness isn’t something to necessarily avoid, muscle failure after a workout means you’ve probably pushed too far, and next time it would be a good idea to ease up a bit.

The more in shape you are, the less you will experience DOMS:


You may find that the more in shape you are the more your body will get used to an activity and you may not experience much DOMS. But that’s often the case when you’re doing the same kinds of workouts each time, without recruiting under-utilized muscles for new activities and movements. Those muscles are simply stronger and more capable of handling the load you’re putting on them. That’s why it’s suggested to change your workout routine regularly in order to challenge yourself. What many people don’t know is that there is another factor that weighs in on this, pun intended; your genetics. Some may be known as no-responders, low-responders and high-responders in the way of soreness. For those who are more sensitive to muscle soreness this may not be exciting news. Regardless, it’s a good idea to test where you fall on the scale of pain by tracking how your body responds to changes in your workouts.

Muscle damage is bad:


This microtrauma to the muscles during activities is normal. When muscles repair themselves, they become larger and stronger in order to prepare themselves for heavier loads in the future. In this a little pain does result in a little gain. While DOMS isn’t necessarily a desirable outcome, there’s not much reason for concern unless the pain is very sharp, specific to a particular movement, and doesn’t go away in just a day or two; a sign that there’s possibly an injury present as opposed to general muscle soreness.

Pre and post workout stretching can prevent DOMS:


You’ve heard it time and time again that it is important to stretch before and after your workout in order to protect your muscles, but the question is, does this really work? According to Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on the effects of stretching before or after exercise on the development of DOMS, stretching in healthy adults before and after exercise did not reduce the effects of DOMS. Static stretching performed before a workout however, was shown to decrease your strength during the workout.

When trying anything new in the world of exercising it’s always advisable to proceed slowly and with caution in order to allow your body to adjust to the new movements. Don’t jump right into an excessive routine because you think you’ll get faster results. That’s simply not how the body works. Doing that means you’re more likely to injure yourself and burn out in the process.

How Sleep Affects Muscle Growth

March 4th, 2019

It seems no matter the time of year, we’re all bombarded with tips on eating right and working out; advice on everything from what you need to eat to lose weight, how many times a day you need to eat, the perfect time to work out, or what exercises you need to do to gain muscle. But one thing you will rarely hear about is how important sleep is to almost every aspect of your health. Sleep is vital for physical and mental recovery, but did you know it also plays a major role in your muscle growth? Yes, one of the most important parts of gaining muscle has nothing to do with the gym or your diet. And remember, muscle growth isn’t just about bulking up, but rather building strong, healthy muscles, regardless of size.

When training, your muscles will develop microscopic tears. In order to repair these tears, you must have proper nutrition as well as proper sleep. While you’re dreaming, your body enters repair mode where HGH, or human growth hormone, floods your blood stream. In addition to helping the body to repair, HGH also helps your body use the amino acids that are in the proteins you eat; one of the most vital components for muscle growth. To increase HGH release, it’s recommended to eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of a resistance training session. Then, in order to aide your body in repairing your muscles after that resistance training, you should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep. Non-training days, you can do a bit more or less, but be careful not to get too much sleep anytime, as that can reset your body’s natural clock, affecting the next night’s sleep.

Another bonus you are missing out on when you aren’t getting enough sleep is maximum replenishment of muscle glycogen. When you’re sleeping, glucose transitions from the blood to get stored in your muscles as muscle glycogen. This is actually the preferred location of glucose because it produces more energy than blood glucose.

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of sleep in aiding the recovery of your muscles, it’s important to understand the results of not getting enough sleep. In a study conducted in 2011 it was shown that those who received less than 8.5 hours of sleep showed 60% less muscle mass. Poor sleep can also result in poor performance. When you don’t get enough sleep, your energy levels drop and your mood suffers. Not only is it physically harder to perform, but your emotional mindset can directly affect your performance as well.

While it may seem like you just can’t miss that next episode of that great Netflix show you’ve been binge watching, or scrolling through social media for far too long right before bed, remember that your physical and mental health are on the line. Getting a good night’s sleep is not only going to keep your energy levels up so you can perform well the next day, but it intensifies the results you’ll see from all that hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym. And who doesn’t want to see results faster? 

Sciatica: Is It Piriformis Syndrome or Your Lower Back?

March 11th, 2019

When seeking answers for low back, hip, and leg pain, you may have heard the term Sciatica. This condition occurs when the sciatic nerve (the largest nerve in the body) is irritated or inflamed, causing pain, tingling, and/or numbness felt along part or all of the nerve path; most often starting in the low back or the buttock and traveling down the outer leg, even all the way down to the foot in some cases.

This irritation of the Sciatic nerve is actually quite common, and is often attributed to one of two causes, Piriformis Syndrome or a spinal abnormality in the low back; with a pretty even 50/50 split between the two.

Piriformis syndrome is when your piriformis muscle, a small muscle located deep in the buttock that starts at the lower spine and connects to the upper surface of the thighbone, irritates your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs directly under this muscle, and in some people, it actually runs right through the muscle itself.

The upper portion of the nerve, as it comes out of the spinal cord, is also prone to irritation from the spine. This could be due to stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or a disc issue such as a herniated or bulging disc. Any of these spinal conditions could result in pressure on the Sciatic nerve creating that pain and irritation felt in the hip and leg.

When it comes to treating your Sciatica, the key is for your healthcare provider to understand the cause of it, because treatment plans will differ tremendously. While imaging tests may help, most often you’ll start with simple mobilizations, stretches, and exercises to see what exactly helps your pain or makes it worse. Then a treatment plan will be developed which may include things such as hot or cold therapies, massage therapy, low back and hip stretches, low back and hip exercises, spinal mobilizations, posture and movement re-education, pain medications, and even injections or other more invasive forms of treatment.

While differentiating and diagnosing sciatica and piriformis syndrome may be difficult, paying close attention to the what you feel and being honest with your healthcare providers can make all the difference in the world.

How To Communicate With Your Massage Therapist

March 17th, 2019

Communication seems like an easy thing to master, but for most of us, proves to be a very difficult concept to implement at times. Everyone has different backgrounds, experiences, and lifestyles that affect the way we speak and how we interpret the words of others. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re communicating properly with your massage therapist. Without proper communication, we often don’t know your real wants and needs for each session, as well as your overall goals for treatment.

While massage therapists may not be doctors, we are licensed professionals who are passionate about the field. Our goal isn’t only your satisfaction with the experience, but also your wellbeing, during and after treatment. Your first visit for a massage, you’ll be asked to fill out an intake form which will ask a series of questions about your health history, current complaints, and goals for treatment. Make sure you are 100% honest on this form, because your answers may affect your visit. If you are on certain medications or have been diagnosed with some medical conditions, I may need to adjust the pressure or techniques to best suit your body. Don’t worry, what you write on the intake form isn’t set in stone. If anything changes from the information you originally filled out, let me know so we can adjust each and every session after to be the best for you.

Life is always changing. There may be times you walk into the office in pain and other days you have no complaints at all. There may be times you’re stressed to the max and others where life is going pretty smoothly. You don’t have to divulge every part of your personal life, but it is important to let me know if you have any changes in your stress levels, or in your body and overall health that may affect the treatment plan for you. If you aren’t sure if something falls under that category, don’t hesitate to ask. You owe it to yourself to make sure you are maintaining an honest conversation to ensure you aren’t putting your body into any potential danger.

The communication shouldn’t end after the intake. It’s imperative that you communicate throughout your entire visit. If you have questions about how far to undress, how you’ll be covered during the massage, if you need the room or table to be a bit warmer or cooler, prefer a change in music, or anything else, speak up. If you like to talk throughout or prefer some peace and quiet, want to just relax or need some more focused, deeper work, let me know. You’re spending your time and money and my goal is to make sure you enjoy your experience. Communicate your wants and needs and give me the chance to adjust anything in the session to your liking.

One thing people struggle with is whether it is okay to ask questions about what their therapist is doing. The answer is yes. If you are wondering the purpose of a technique being performed, ask away. It’s important to know and understand the potential effects and benefits. If you don’t like the pressure or a particular technique, it’s important that you speak up as well. I can’t read your mind. The only way I’ll know if I need to change something is if you tell me.

The key to a great client/therapist relationship begins with an open line of communication and trust. If you haven’t been open and honest so far, it’s not too late to open that conversation up. Just remember to listen to suggestions as well. My goal is to keep you happy, healthy, and coming back. Help me help you!

It's Okay if you Didn't Shave

March 24th, 2019

Let’s face it, getting a massage takes a lot of vulnerability. You are letting your therapist see parts of your body that you don’t allow most people to see. Your stretch marks, scars, cellulite, and birthmarks are exposed and you’re trusting us to respect your boundaries and treat you with the utmost honor and respect.

While some people have an unlimited supply of self-confidence that allows them to feel comfortable in most any situation, some put themselves under a microscope critiquing every inch of their body. We often forget that each mark is a memory or a lesson. Your stretch marks may mark an incredible journey of the time you welcomed a child into the world, the time you chose a healthier lifestyle and released extra pounds you had, or the time that you decided to enjoy life and be happy with who you were instead of obsessively counting calories or limiting yourself. Your scars may be from an accident that taught you how precious life was, or the time you refused to listen to your mom when you were 5 and learned a valuable life lesson. Your cellulite shows that your skin isn’t absolutely perfect, just like all those people using photo shop and filters to fool the world. Your birthmarks show you live, that you are uniquely made and there is no other like you. But there’s another common concern a lot of clients have, particularly women.

Picture this: You’ve been waiting for this day for quite some time…an hour of relaxation away from the stress of daily life. Nothing can stop your excitement. You are finally taking time for you and putting yourself first, even if just for an hour. You rush into your appointment. Traffic was bad, and while you planned to be early, life happened and early didn’t. You greet your therapist, catch up for a minute, then begin to get ready for the hour you look forward to each month. You’re getting ready to get on the table when you suddenly realize you forgot to shave this morning. You had so much on your mind getting the kids ready while they’re fighting like it’s their day job, rushing to get dinner in the crockpot before heading out the door, and thinking of all the things you had to do today. You search everywhere for a quick solution as if you would find a razor paired with shaving cream and a nice tub. You panic. What will my therapist think? Your mind races…”I always make sure I’m massage ready. Maybe I should cancel so they don’t think I’m barbaric. I’m a walking hazard ready to prick at the first touch. Is it too late to reschedule? Great, now the whole massage I’m going to have to make jokes about how I was aiming to help them exfoliate with my leg hair, or how I made a movement called no shave January. What will they think of me?”

Now while this scenario may be very extreme, let’s face it, some of you at some point have been in this boat. But I want to tell you a little secret…your massage therapist doesn’t care if you shaved or not! They know you live busy lives and have more to worry about than making sure you shave right before your appointment. They know that realistically you’re lucky if you have time to shave, and that your time is very limited. When they massage you, they aren’t thinking in their head about how horrible of a person you are because you failed to shave, they’re thinking about how you’re exhausted from your on-the-go schedule. They aren’t thinking you are lazy, they are noticing that you are more tense in your shoulders than normal. They notice that you’re favoring one arm over the other. You shaving your legs is the last thing on your massage therapist’s mind. Don’t allow your fear of their opinion about your leg hair take away from that special time you take for yourself. They know that you live, and you not shaving shows that you give so much of yourself for everyone else that you don’t take much time for yourself. Plus, a lot of massage clients are men with hairy legs, arms, and backs. If that doesn’t bother your massage therapist, your prickly legs sure won’t either. I promise!

Kick back, relax, and enjoy your massage. Let us take care of you. This is your time! Enjoy it!

Demystifying Bulging & Herniated Disc

March 27th, 2019

You’ve probably heard the terms bulging disc or herniated disc at some point, whether it involved you or someone you knew. While those words can strike fear in a lot of people, it’s important to understand what they really mean, and remove the scary presumptions we have about them, as well know what’s “normal” and what’s not when it comes to our discs.

Within the spine you have numerous structures, but the two we’re focusing on here are your vertebrae (the individual bones of the spine), and the discs (the cartilage ‘cushion’ in between each of those vertebrae). These discs act as shock absorbers that allow your spine to move in different directions and deal with regular impact without damaging the other spinal structures.

So, what is a bulging disc and what is a herniated disc?

A bulging disc occurs when the entire disc bulges out of its normal space. Think of it like this; if you were to put a chunk of playdough between two plates and squeeze them together evenly, the playdough would act as a cushion, with the full weight being distributed throughout the entirety of that playdough. But if you squeeze those plates together on one side only, you’d see the playdough protrude, or bulge, out the side that has the largest opening, right? This is essentially what’s happening with a bulging disc. Most of us have posture and movement habits that put an uneven pressure on those discs on a regular basis; that’s perfectly normal. And while that itself is not quite enough to cause any major issues, over time this can create weakness in ligaments and other stabilizing structure, allowing more of that disc to protrude out.

A herniated disc is a bit different. For simplicity’s sake, let’s compare your disc to a jelly donut. You’ve got this tough outside portion that holds in the filling. That’s pretty much how your disc is made; a tough cartilage “donut” filled with a softer gelatinous component. That tough outside keeps the jelly from leaking out. Now imagine that with wear and tear over time and a lot of uneven pressure applied on that donut, the outer layer starts to stretch and thin, allowing some of that jelly to push out. This is essentially what’s happening in a herniated disc. The outer portion thins and allows part of the inner structure of the disc to push out of the normal disc space.

While this may all sound a little scary, I mean, discs coming out of their normal space, AAAAHHH…studies have shown that many people with bulging and herniated discs have absolutely no pain associated with them. The discs themselves have no nerve ending where you could even tell there’s a “problem”. The only time you’d even recognize that there may be something going on would be if you started to experience pain, and that only happens when the disc puts pressure on a nerve. And while that’s absolutely possible, it’s just as possible to live a normal pain-free existence with a bulging or herniated disc for years.

In fact, these bulging and herniated discs tend to happen as a completely normal part of aging. While some bulging and herniated discs can be caused by poor posture and movement patterns or injury to the spine, most cases are just what happens as we get older. Again, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a painful or even noticeable condition, but if it does, patients can experience pain, numbness, and tingling within the low back, hip, and down the leg as well as a loss of range of motion. While not the only way to feel this, one of the most common and obvious is if you’ve ever “thrown your back out”. If you’ve felt this, you’ve likely irritated one of these disc issues you may not have even known you had. That sudden inability to stand up straight after bending forward along with pain or tingling, are classic signs of a sudden nerve compression due to a bulging or herniated disc. Rest and extension exercises are some of the best quick fixes to get you standing up again at least, but it’s still important to seek out treatment.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, whether it’s that sudden unmistakable type, or the slow, only occasional bout of symptoms, it’s important to seek proper imaging and testing from your doctor and/or physical therapist to get you on the right track for therapy. This is not something to put off. The sooner you can manage this, the better the results of treatment.

The key to treatment is to take the pressure off of the nerve, since that’s what’s causing the pain. To do this, physical therapy is often recommended to not only learn movements and positioning patterns to take that pressure off ASAP, but also to teach you new ways of moving that can prevent that nerve pressure from being applied by the disc again.

While these terms may sound like a dreadful diagnosis, many people never experience pain or recover from short periods of pain with the right treatment protocols. Others, with more severe symptoms, require more invasive treatments like nerve blocks and surgery. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s important to get under a doctor or physical therapist’s care as soon as possible to correct the issue and prevent any worsening. 

What is Neuropathy and How Can Massage Help?

April 10th, 2019

Neuropathy refers to any condition that causes a dysfunction of the nerves, typically caused by some sort of damage, such as that associated with decreased circulation, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, or localized trauma. Most often, the area affected will have sensations of tingling, numbness, shooting pains, weakness, and/or a heavy feeling. While neuropathy can happen anywhere, you’ll usually hear this term interchanged with one that is actually a bit more specific; peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy refers specifically to neuropathy that affects the hands and feet, which may or may not move its way up toward the trunk.

While there are many causes, the overall pathology remains the same; the nerves controlling sensation and movement of the area are damaged in some way and aren’t sending the “correct” signals up to the brain or out to the associated muscles. And because these nerve functions are so complex, people with neuropathy may experience either sensory or motor function losses and abnormalities, or both, depending on exactly where and to what extent the damage exists within the nerve itself. Some will have just numbness, while others may experience significant pain or weakness. Some may experience all the possible symptoms and others may only have one or two. The combination and severity of symptoms is often unique to each patient and the underlying condition that’s causing the neuropathy in the first place.

If you find that you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you can get control of this condition, the better. The damage to these nerves may or may not be permanent, so taking the necessary steps to address the symptoms as well as the root cause can help to heal the existing trauma as well as prevent further damage.

Treatments for peripheral neuropathy can range from exercise to prescription medication, as well as the use of devices like a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit. There is also another commonly recommended treatment that you may not have thought of – massage therapy.

Massage has been shown time and again to help relieve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, and there are a few reasons for this.

#1: Massage helps to loosen the muscles and other soft tissue restrictions that may be putting pressure on those affected nerves.

#2: Massage releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones which act as a natural pain killer.

#3: Massage increases superficial blood flow, which may help to counter the poor circulation often causing peripheral neuropathy. This blood flow can also help the damaged nerves to heal as fresh oxygen and nutrients are brought into the area that may have been lacking.

#4: The direct application of massage at various pressures stimulates the diverse nerves in the area, to promote healing and proper function.

Before you jump onto that massage table, there are a few important things to consider. Communication with your massage therapist is crucial. As your therapist, I need to be aware of exactly what symptoms you’re experiencing associated with neuropathy as well as what the underlying cause is, what treatments you’re doing, and the effects of those treatments, all so that I can best formulate a session plan. Then throughout the session, you’ll also need to be sure you’re communicating very clearly on how the pressure feels to you, and any sensations that you feel. Massage therapists tend to go a bit lighter in pressure on areas affected by neuropathy due to the decrease in sensation. Basically, in healthy areas you would feel that the pressure was too much before it got to the point of being capable of causing damage to the tissues. But due to the decreased sensation in neuropathic areas, you won’t be able to give that kind of feedback as accurately, so as your therapist, I have to be much more careful. Speak up throughout if you feel the pressure isn’t right, if you experience an increase or decrease in symptoms, an area is especially numb or a particular movement causes pain. This informs me of what my next steps should be throughout your massage.

Neuropathy can be uncomfortable, and at times scary, but there are numerous treatment options. It’s important that you keep an open mind and get to know the treatments that are available to you.  

How Stress Affects Our Bodies

April 13th, 2019

We all wear many hats in our busy lives. Whether you work or stay home, have children or don’t, own a business or work for someone else, if you’re human, you have stress. Period. It’s an unavoidable part of life. And while you may feel the emotional weight of all that stress, the anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts most often associated with it, stress can also take a huge toll on your body.

When you’re stressed, your central nervous system (CNS) goes into what is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. Your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, your eyes dilate, your heart beats faster and your blood pressure increases, your muscles tense and your digestion stops to allow blood to be redistributed to those muscles needed to fight or run for your life. When the perceived threat is gone the CNS will usually act to ease the mind and body, a state often referred to as “rest and digest” because the body calms and functions return to normal. However, chronic, or long-term stress means that signal may not be sent for quite some time, so your body is staying in that state of stress for far too long.

Maybe you really don’t like your job, and the minute you wake up in the morning you’re already dreading the work day. As you get yourself ready and out the door, the impending day is hanging over you like a dark cloud. Then traffic is rough and you’re on high alert to avoid an accident. Then your day is spent dealing with difficult coworkers, bosses, or customers. When the work day finally ends, you’re exhausted. Not just because of a long day, but because your body has been in this hyper-attentive, stressed state since you opened your eyes.

Whatever your stress looks like, the physiological toll of it can be immense. The associated muscular tension can lead to widespread pain, headaches, and even make you more prone to injury. The regular increases in blood pressure can put strain on your heart and blood vessels leading to an increased risk of hypertension and even heart attack and stroke. The changes in digestion that occur during this fight or flight response can lead to nausea, constipation, acid reflux, and even increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Clearly the affects stress has on your body go deeper than the eyes can see. If you truly want to tackle this worthy opponent, you need to take it one step at a time and realize different techniques work for different people, so take the time to figure out what works best for you. Here’s a few tips to get you started:

Exercise & Movement – When your body gets moving and your blood gets pumping, it releases all kinds of feel-good hormones that ease mental and physiological stress. You don’t have to hit the gym for two hours to get the benefit. Even just a brief walk or a few minutes of stretching can make a big difference for your mind and body.

Yoga – Don’t worry, you don’t have to have the perfect poses to get the benefits of yoga. The slow, controlled movements and breathing exercises will help you to relax and focus your mind which will help reduce stress levels.

Meditation – You don’t need to be a master of mindfulness to meditate or to see the benefits of it. Whether you take just 2 minutes or an entire hour is up to you. Regardless, taking the time to close your eyes, breathe slowly, and allow your mind to focus on something other than the things you usually stress about, will ease a lot of that mental and physical stress.

Journal – Journaling has been shown over and over again to be highly beneficial in combatting stress. Whether you’re unable to speak your mind, or you just feel overwhelmed, getting it all out in a journal of some sort can allow you to take control of those stressful thoughts and move forward.

Do something for you – As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of yourself, not just others. That may be 10 minutes a day or an hour or two every week. Whatever you can fit into your schedule, start taking some time to devote solely to something you enjoy. Go for a walk, read a book, dance around to your favorite music, or get a massage!

While life is inevitably stressful, you don’t have to let that stress take control of your life or lead you to some mental or physical issues. You only get one body in this life. Take care of it! 

The Glutes: Are They The Cause Of Your Pain?

April 17th, 2019

Even if you’re not someone well-versed in anatomy, you’ve probably heard the term glutes, or heard of your gluteal muscles. These are the muscles that make up the majority of your buttock; and while it may seem odd to think much about this area other than how it looks in your favorite jeans, there is actually an important connection from these muscles to many other aspects of the body. They can correlate to a number of pain and movement issues that can arise through the back, hips, and legs, so taking care of this area is crucial.

There are actually three muscles that comprise the glutes, each with its own unique characteristics.

The gluteus maximus is probably the most well-known, and is the largest and most superficial of the three. It is a powerful extensor of the hip, meaning it helps you run, climb, and stand yourself up from sitting. It’s also responsible for rotating the hip outward (external rotation) as well as stabilizing through the hip joint and even down into the knee.

The gluteus medius is much smaller and lies directly below (deep to) the maximus. Different fibers within the muscle are responsible for a variety of movements including moving the leg out to the side (abduction), as well rotating the hip in (internal rotation) and out (external rotation). While its movement capabilities are obviously very important, perhaps one of the most crucial elements to the gluteus medius is its stabilization of the pelvis. Strength within this muscle allows for the pelvis to stay aligned and stable during single-leg weight bearing movements, such as standing on one foot, climbing stairs, and even just walking and running.

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three and lies beneath the other two. It’s responsible for moving the hip outward (abduction) and rotating the hip in (internal rotation). The minimus works along with the medius to help stabilize the pelvis during those single-leg weight bearing movements as well.

While you may not put much thought into these muscles when you hit the gym other than maybe throwing in some half-hearted squats here and there, weakness within this group of muscles can actually be the root cause of many back, hip, and leg complaints. For example, did you know that a significant number of people don’t activate their glutes properly when performing certain exercises, like the squat? This is generally connected to those with poor core stability, pre-existing low back pain, and something we call inhibited glutes; which is when the glutes are unable to properly engage due to the position they adopt when the ideal neutral pelvic posture becomes compromised. So, why is it important to activate your glutes when doing squats, abduction, and rotation exercises, or any movement that requires participation from that muscle group? When you don’t activate your glutes during your squat, your hamstrings fire first extending to the hip. Next, your lower back must take over. And finally your glutes come in to help complete the squat. If your glutes are inhibited, that leaves your lower back to take on the stress of a movement it isn’t meant to handle (the gluteus maximus is meant to be the prime mover in this exercise). This added stress can result in low back pain. So, the next time your lower back is hurting, you should evaluate your training form. The same can be said with just getting up and down from a chair over and over again. Are you activating your glutes or relying on your back to do much of the work?

Runners often suffer from knee pain which is often considered just a hazard of running, right? But did you know that many people have inhibited or weak gluteus medius muscles? When these muscles become weak, they are not active enough to endure the stress they will receive for a long period of time. When you’re enduring a long run, your muscles are supposed to switch into low-load levels so that they can maintain the position and endure the activity. This weakness of the gluteus medius can result in other muscles having to take over the job of pelvic stabilization, leading to tight IT bands, knee pain, and even abnormal tracking of the patella (knee cap).

This is just a small example of how strength within each of these muscles plays a role in activity. But it’s not just strength within the muscles that can have an effect. Abnormal tightness or adhesions from injury can also lead to issues. Massage of the gluteal muscles helps to relax them, ease undue tension, and potentially take pressure off nerves and associated connective tissue. This means that not only are your glutes, low back, hips, and legs going to feel better than ever, but massage may even help to prevent muscle strain, pain, and damage as well. Massage therapy can also improve your range of motion, strength, and circulation, reversing that inhibition and improving overall athletic performance. This will require a well-rounded massage which includes not only your glutes, but your lower back, and upper legs as well.

Your gluteal muscles have a bigger job than many give them credit for and when they aren’t working properly, they have a bigger affect than you would expect. While that may seem intimidating, don’t fret. Massage can help! 

Why Women Are More Prone to Non-Contact ACL Injuries

April 23rd, 2019

Sports and injuries have gone hand in hand for as long as sports have been around; but injuries aren’t only reserved for athletes. Physical activity of any kind can be hazardous if you’re not mindful. Let’s face it, if you are physically active or participate in any sport you are very likely to experience some type of injury whether it be a small strain or something more serious. For example, activities that involve changing directions quickly, jumping, and planting your feet can put a lot of stress on the knee; and young athletes are at an especially high risk specifically for ACL injury.

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is one of the key ligaments that helps to stabilize the knee joint, connecting the femur to the tibia. It stabilizes the knee during rotation and prevents the tibia from moving too far forward in relation to the femur during those sudden stops, twists, and landing when jumping. But this ligament, just like any other structure of the body, can only take so much stress before it gives out.

According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, about 150,000 ACL injuries occur every year. Out of these, only 30% are due to contact, like a football tackle or car accident; and recent studies reveal that young female athletes are 4 to 6 times more likely to suffer a serious non-contact ACL injury. While there’s some debate as to the exact cause, there are some factors that singularly, or in combination with each other, greatly increase the risk. One is a narrow intercondylar notch. This is the groove in the femur through which the ACL travels. The intercondylar notch tends to be smaller in women, making injury more possible. Another risk factor is the fact that women tend to have a wider pelvis than men, causing the bottom of the femurs to go in toward the midline at more of an angle. This causes women to be more likely to push their knees toward each other, especially when squatting or landing from a jump. One factor that puts all athletes at risk of an ACL injury is landing flat footed instead of on the balls of their feet. This doesn’t allow the force to be absorbed in the feet and calves, which leaves the knees in proper position, and instead can lead to a buckling of the knees, putting far more force on the ligaments of the joint than they can potentially handle.

As with most things, training properly can help reduce the risk of injury. There are a few ways that you can reduce the risk of an ACL tear. Proper, and equalized strength training of the legs and hips, proper neuromuscular (balance and speed) training, and proper coaching on jumping and landing are all things that can help the athlete to use correct form and take correct precautions when competing.

While being physically active and involved in sports is beneficial in many ways for people of all ages, training in the proper form and function of your activities can greatly reduce your risk of injury.

4 Steps to Wellbeing on a Budget

April 24th, 2019

No matter what your past lifestyle was or the people you are surrounded by, when you decide to take a healthier approach to life the first thing you will often hear is “being healthy is expensive”. Most of the time you believe them, get discouraged, and continue living life the same way because you can’t afford to make that commitment. When knowing where to look and what steps to take, being healthy isn’t as difficult as others may make it out to be. Here are 4 ways to stay on budget when making those healthy lifestyle changes.

#1: Cut food cost:

It is very sad that when going to the store and comparing prices, the junk foods tend to be less expensive than salads, but there are some ways around that price difference. Go to your local famers’ market. When shopping at your local farmers market, you aren’t just supporting local, but you’re also cutting the middle man out of the equation. When buying produce directly from the farmer who harvested it, you’re not paying the additional cost to ship, label, package, or store. You are simply paying for the product. Buying foods that are in season is another important aspect when shopping, be it a farmer’s market or grocery store. When buying produce that isn’t in season, you’re undoubtedly paying much more, because there are so many extra costs to get it to your local supermarket from faraway places that still have the environment to grow it. It is important to note that a true farmers market should only carry items that are in season for the area it’s located. If there is an item of produce you can’t live without, buy it in bulk while it’s in season and look up steps on how to freeze it properly. You would be surprised at the items you can freeze while maintaining freshness.

#2 Exercise at home:

Maybe you don’t have $30-$100 to shell out for a monthly gym bill when you may only work out 3 times a week or may struggle to make it at all due to your schedule. If that’s the case for you, there are ways around having to bite the bullet and spend that money. Buy at home exercise equipment. Whether resistance bands, a yoga mat, an elliptical, stationary bike, home workout tapes, or weights, the initial investment offsets the recurring payments you’d fork over for a gym membership. Plus you get the added bonus of foregoing the drive to and from, as well as working your exercise commitment completely around your schedule instead of normal business hours.

#3 Take advantage of our membership program:

We offer a great deal where you pay a flat fee for making the commitment to receiving regular massages every month or week. It’ll save you money in the long run and keep your body feeling and moving as it should, possibly preventing some unnecessary doctor bills in the process.

#4 Find time to do something for yourself:

The most imperative part of being well is taking care of yourself. You can’t properly take care of all those who depend on you if you yourself aren’t okay. Take some time to do something you will genuinely enjoy on a regular basis. Get a massage, take a walk with your dog, go hiking, take a nice hot bath, meditate, do yoga, buy yourself flowers, or take yourself out to coffee. Truly ask yourself what would make you happy in that moment and go for it.

A journey into wellness is exactly what you make it. For some people, change is difficult, and they may need to work into it a little at a time. Others can decide to change and start right away. However you choose to approach your journey, there is no right or wrong way. You carve your path. 

How Your Lower Back and Hip Pain Maybe Connected

April 27th, 2019

The body is intricately designed with nerve endings and connective tissues that intertwine to form a beautiful structure capable of everything from minute movements, to birthing a child, to surviving in some of the harshest conditions on earth. But with these capabilities comes vulnerability, so it’s no surprise that we experience pain from time to time at the very least. What you may not realize is that sometimes the pain you feel isn’t necessarily caused by something in the area you feel it. For example, when you have an injury to your hips or pelvis, it can often cause back pain. Due to the proximity of the complex joints of the pelvis to your spine, your body can also interpret your hip/pelvis problem as back pain and your back problem as hip/pelvic pain.

The lumbar region of the spine (lower back) houses all of the nerves that supply feeling and motor control to the entire lower body; from the low back itself to the hips, knees, and down to the tips of your toes. While this area can sustain a lot of abuse, due to the immense amount of movement it is capable of and the stress that our daily lives can put on it, it is also the most susceptible to injury. Here’s a few reasons you may have this hip/back pain connection.

A pinched nerve root at the lumbar spine due to a bulging or herniated disc may result in significant sharp pain along a nerve like the sciatic nerve which runs from the middle of the low back all the way down the back and side of the leg to the foot. Sometimes this pain stops at the buttock and at other times it may shoot all the way down to the toes.

Your posture may also have an effect. This isn’t to say that you need to immediately “fix” your posture as that may not be necessary. What I’m referencing is more so when you begin to exhibit an abnormal-to-you posture, like suddenly sitting all day when you’re used to walking, or crossing your legs a lot when you haven’t before. These seemingly subtle changes may actually result in some significant shifts in the joints of the pelvis and spine, causing pain. If you haven’t had a major shift in how you sit, stand, or walk throughout your day, it may be that your posture has changed due to your pain rather than the other way around. The new posture you’ve adapted may be your body’s way of compensating for an injury or otherwise protecting itself from further damage.

While there is much to this connection between the low back and hips, far more than I can include in this single post, just know that there is an intricate balance between the many structures of this area. Depending on the real problem, you may need massage, exercise, rest, stretching, or it may be best to see your physician. To help you determine what’s really going on and how to move forward, make an appointment and let’s figure it out together so you can get back to doing what you enjoy. 

What You Need to Know About the Rotator Cuff

May 4th, 2019

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles whose job is to keep the head of your upper-arm bone (humerus) in your shoulder socket. It also aids in the raising, lowering, and rotating of your arm, keeping the shoulder stable and safe throughout these movements. There are 4 muscles that make up your rotator cuff; supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. The supraspinatus holds the humerus in place and keeps the upper arm stable as well as helps to lift the arm out to the side. The infraspinatus is the main muscle that allows your shoulder to extend and rotate outward. The teres minor is the smallest of the rotator cuff muscles and is there to help with that outward rotation. The subscapularis holds your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade and helps to lower your arm back down, and rotate the arm inward.

You’ve probably heard of someone tearing their rotator cuff, or you may have even suffered this injury yourself. As you can see, with 4 different muscles and a variety of intricate movements and stabilizations involved, it can seem easy to do. While we sometimes think of tearing a muscle as a singular traumatic event, like trying to catch something heavy or a sudden burst of movement, more often these injuries occur as a result of overuse. Jobs and even just normal daily activities can result in a rotator cuff tear. Oftentimes a form of tendonitis occurs first; this is simply inflammation of the associated tendon due to overuse, but that inflammation can lead to weakness in the tissues, making you more prone to a tear.

Risk factors of rotator cuff injuries vary widely because the types of rotator cuff injuries vary so much. Those who are at higher risk of injuring their rotator cuff include athletes who participate in sports that use repetitive arm motions such as golfers, pitchers, volleyball players, swimmers, and tennis players. If your work involves repetitive movements of the shoulder such as a painter, construction worker, or carpenter, you are more likely to injure your rotator cuff as well. Believe it or not, genetics may also have a determination on your likelihood of injuring your rotator cuff, with some families having several occurrences as opposed to others. While this may be attributed to a commonality in learned movement patterns, it’s possible to have a predisposition to muscle weakness or thinning of the muscle tissue. Those who have arthritis in their shoulder have a higher risk of a rotator cuff injury due to the stiffness and weakness of the joint. And finally, as you may have guessed, age has an impact on your risk of rotator cuff injury as well. Those over the age of 60 are highly likely to develop degenerative rotator cuff injuries because of wear and tear over time.

The treatment for rotator cuff injuries depends on the severity of the tear or injury and the muscle that is torn. A partial tear will generally consist of physical therapy but may also include anti-inflammatory medication to help with swelling. Strengthening the shoulder muscles and movement not only helps to heal the partial tear but may also help prevent future tears. It is important to note that if there is no improvement in the tear, the doctor may try other forms of treatment. For a complete rotator cuff tear, also known as a full-thickness tear, surgery is often required to reattach the tendon(s) and clean out any possible bone spurs. Physical therapy after surgery is required to promote success from the surgery and help regain shoulder function. The severity of an acute rotator cuff tear will be the deciding factor in the treatment of said tear. If it is less severe, the tear may be healed with physical therapy alone. If the tear is more severe, treatment may include surgery. It is important to know that time is of the essence when dealing with an acute rotator cuff tear because when missed for a period, the muscle-tendon unit can retract, making the treatment difficult. When it comes to degenerative rotator cuff tears it will also depend on the severity of the tear to determine treatment. Some tears can be corrected with modifying activity, medications, and physical therapy. The more severe tears may need surgical attention. It is important to note that at any point of the treatment your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories and pain medications, or even cortisone steroid shots to help with inflammation.

When dealing with a rotator cuff tear there are some activities that must be limited in order to ensure the healing process. Resting your shoulder for a period, especially right after injury, is beneficial. Depending on the severity of the tear, your doctor may want you to temporarily use a sling to keep your shoulder still and further protect it for much of your day. While rest can be important, too much rest is counterproductive. Your doctor may recommend massage and physical therapy to help control inflammation, combat excess scarring, and strengthen the affected muscles as well as those assisting muscles that will need to step up for the time being. Modifying your activity will also be necessary. Basically, if it causes your shoulder to hurt, stop what you’re doing. This is not something you want to push through. That will only lead to a more significant tear, especially early after the injury; the kind physical therapy, massage, and activity modifications can’t help, only surgery can. It is possible to injure your shoulder to the point of losing much of the normal function, so please listen to your doctor and physical therapist on the correct course of action.

Even if you have numerous risk factors or even have a history of rotator cuff injury, there are several ways that you can prevent an injury to your rotator cuff. To start, make sure that you are stretching your shoulders before any vigorous activity. It’s also important to take breaks from shoulder-heavy repetitive actions, to stretch, allow full range of motion to activate the other shoulder stabilizing muscles, and even apply some ice or heat for a few minutes. Prevention also has a lot to do with strengthening the muscles. Essentially, weak muscles are more likely to tear, so keeping your shoulder strong is crucial. To strengthen your rotator cuff, you must do low resistance (lower weight) and high repetitions. Because the rotator cuff muscles are small, you will want to be in full control of the movements and keep them very slow and focused. You can work alongside a physical therapist or a qualified personal trainer to develop a strengthening plan.

While this is a lot of information to take in, rotator cuff injuries are among the most common problems of the shoulder. Knowing the possibilities, types of injuries, and preventative measures you can take, may reduce your risks in the future.

Cupping: What it is and Why you should try it

May 11th, 2019

Cupping is a traditional Chinese therapy that’s been used for thousands of years, but it gained even more popularity in 2016 when everyone noticed that Michael Phelps had large perfectly round discolorations on his back while competing in the Olympics. Many people before that had never heard, or never been exposed to this type of bodywork. During a cupping session, the therapist may use cups made of glass, silicone, or plastic. The vacuum pressure is created with either a manual pump, electronic pump, or even fire. Every therapist is different in how they approach cupping and will adjust treatment to the needs of their client. Some prefer stationary cupping which means leaving each cup in place for several minutes. Others prefer to keep the cups moving to get a broader effect and reduce the likelihood of marks being left on the skin. And still others prefer a combination of both stationary and moving cupping.

Cupping can be used to decrease swelling by stimulating lymphatic flow and increasing superficial blood circulation. It creates negative pressure instead of positive pressure; so instead of pushing into those tight tissues in an attempt to separate and realign fibers, those tissues are being pulled apart. This offers a far less intense feeling of pressure and discomfort than a typical “deep” massage, but with similar effects. There are also many health claims in the world of cupping that say cupping can help get rid of cellulite, cleanse your body of toxins, help with fertility, and even help with wrinkles when used on the face. It is hard to confirm these claims as there hasn’t been much reliable research on the subject. Cupping is also difficult to run an experiment on, because it would be difficult to have a true control group. This would help to see the effects on those who have received treatment versus those who think they have received the treatment. When something has gained such popularity it’s hard to get down to the root of what it really does or can achieve.

Now that we’ve gotten the history of cupping and the claims made, let’s get down to why you should try it. Cupping is great for several reasons:

It gets the blood flowing.

It can help target a specific area of need.

Those who struggle with the pressure of a normal massage may like the alternative of cupping because although it’s still pressure, it’s felt in a different way.

Countless individuals (including me!) swear to the benefits of this therapy because we’ve seen the results over and over in ourselves and others.

Whether you are wanting to try cupping for the health benefits you feel it will bring you, or because you just want to see what all the hype is about, let’s talk about your goals and what you’re comfortable with when you book your next session. You may be pleasantly surprised with how much you enjoy it!

Swedish versus Deep Tissue

May 17th, 2019

There is quite a bit of misinformation and confusion around the terms deep tissue massage and Swedish massage. While you may think you know the difference between these two common massage techniques, you may be surprised by the reality of it. When you come to a massage therapist and request a deep tissue massage or Swedish massage, what you think you’re requesting and what your therapist is trained to know, may be very different. So, before we get into this I want you to clear your mind of any negative thoughts towards either one of these techniques, and open your mind to balance the information.

Keep in mind that anytime you have a session with a massage therapist there should be a discussion of your desired results and goals for the visit as well as an understanding that you help to define the techniques and pressure used during your session. Never hesitate to let your massage therapist know if you have any discomfort or pain during the session so that they can adjust their techniques and pressure accordingly.

Every massage therapist is different, but there are four common movements in Swedish massage. Effleurage is a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue. Petrissage is the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage. Friction involves movement in opposing directions that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other or separate. Tapotement is a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand. These combined with stretching and/or mobilization of joints is generally what you can expect during a typical Swedish massage. All of these Swedish techniques can be done with light or heavy pressure; it’s generally just a broad pressure.

Deep tissue massage is used when there are specific areas that may need a little more attention due to soreness, stiffness, or injury. Deep tissue massage involves more focused pressure and pinpoint techniques and mobilizations. While your therapist may apply deeper pressure at certain times, that’s not the defining difference between these two common techniques. Swedish massage is meant to relax the body and mind, while deep tissue massage is focused on relieving tension and helping with muscular injuries in specific areas.

The key here is knowing the difference between what pressure is helping during your session, and what pressure is uncomfortable and may end up doing more harm than good. Again, in any session there should be an understanding between you and your therapist as to what pressure will work best, and you should inform your therapist if you feel the pressure is too much or too little, so they can adjust their technique accordingly. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up.

Remember, everyone’s body is different, which results in the needs of their sessions to be different. There are those that don’t feel as if they’ve had a good massage if the pressure during the massage was ‘light’ leaving them somewhat sore. Others prefer massages that simply relax them without any other goals. What you need from your session is what you need. Getting a Swedish massage doesn’t necessarily mean light pressure, and a deep tissue massage isn’t necessarily going to leave you in pain. No session, no matter what it’s called, should be painful. There is a clear difference between something being uncomfortable, so you may tense slightly at first but then can breathe through it pretty easily, and that which is painful, so you’re unable to breathe and relax through it, causing more harm than good.

Don’t feel like you must stick it out in a massage that is causing you more than a little discomfort because you feel that you won’t reap the benefits without it. Know your body and know the signals your body is sending to inform you of what feels uncomfortable and what is detrimental. If you can’t relax through it, or your muscles are tensing you may need to ask your massage therapist to lighten their pressure. Also remember that light pressure done by a massage therapist that is educated on your needs and the proper way to administer them can be just as effective as deep pressure. If your massage therapist is going lighter, and you feel you would like a little more depth into the stroke, inform them.

The main point that I want you to take from this is that your session is your session. Your massage therapist wants to provide you with a service that you are happy with, and for you to return to achieve your wellness goals. An open line of communication with your massage therapist before, during, and after will help them to make sure that you received what you needed out of the session and that you are walking out of there better than you walked in. Make sure that you are giving your massage therapist the opportunity to adjust the treatment where needed to fit you, as well as letting them know what your body responded to best. Massages should not only be helpful, they should also be enjoyable.

Acute Versus Chronic Inflammation

May 20th, 2019

Inflammation is a physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection. Inflammation is now a buzz word that you hear almost daily, but knowing what it really means and the signs to look for will be very helpful in better understanding and combatting it. There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic.

Acute inflammation is that which begins rather quickly, intensifies, and then resolves in a relatively short period of time. Symptoms of acute inflammation include pain in the affected area, redness, immobility, swelling, and heat (feeling warm to the touch). These signs can apply to acute inflammation near the surface of the skin, which is obviously more noticeable, or deep within the body, resulting in less obvious signs. Some diseases and conditions that cause acute inflammation include acute bronchitis, physical trauma (like a cut or injured joint), high-intensity exercise, and tonsillitis.

Chronic inflammation is a long-term inflammation that can last many months and, in some cases, even years. Chronic inflammation can be the result of an autoimmune disorder, being exposed to an irritant for a long period of time, or acute inflammation that isn’t resolved. A few conditions and diseases that are based in chronic inflammation are asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease. Chronic inflammation is the most dangerous because the affected tissues cannot heal, and may be permanently damaged.

Depending on the type of inflammation and the cause, the pain related to the inflammation will differ. Some will feel serious pain, stiffness, or discomfort, and it could be a constant or only occasional irritant. There are many ways to treat inflammation, but it varies depending on the cause. For a joint or muscular injury, physical therapy and massage therapy are often recommended, as are over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Naproxen, Ibuprofen, and Aspirin, which are steroid free treatments. You also have medications that include steroids such as a creams and ointments for skin conditions, inhalers that help with asthma, and even herbal supplements such as turmeric and ginger that may help to reduce mild forms of inflammation throughout the body.

There are certain foods that are thought to help reduce inflammation such as olive oil, tomatoes, walnuts and almonds, leafy greens like spinach and kale, fatty fish, and fruits like blueberries and oranges. There are also foods that some suggest to avoid if you struggle with inflammation such as fried foods, white breads and pastries that have refined carbohydrates, highly processed meats, sugary drinks, and margarine.

If you are in tune with your body you can often tell when something is different. Whether you notice swelling, pain in your joints, stiffness, or any other sign, listen to your body. Try adjusting your diet to see if the presence of certain foods reduces the inflammation, or the absence of a certain food causes the discomfort. Seek out physical therapy, massage therapy, and of course, talk with your doctor to determine what the best course of action is for your specific inflammatory issues.