Get the Most From Your Next Massage

* Before the session, give your massage therapist accurate health information and share your expectations.

* Your massage therapist will probably use oils, lotions or powders to decrease friction on your skin. If you have allergies, tell your massage therapist.

* Music might be played during your massage session. If you find music distracting, let your massage therapist know your preferences. The same goes for talking during your session.

* Report any discomfort you experience during the massage session, whether it’s physical or has something to do with the environment.

* Provide your massage therapist feedback during the massage concerning pressure and speed of hand movement, for example.

* Discuss any apprehensions you have about massage therapy with your massage therapist. Remember, your massage therapist is a professional who is dedicated to the profession.

* Remember, too, the therapeutic benefits of massage are cumulative, so the more often you get a massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond.

Source: Parts of this article were excerpted from mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Spring 2010.

Hey Athletes…

Off-Season / Maintenance

Maintenance is often the key to athletic success. To ensure that you will be ready for your next activity or event, whether it is days or months away, a personal strategy can be devised. Deep tissue is one therapy that will release the knots and patterns that may inhibit your performance. The Off-Season is a great time to work towards normalizing repetitively used and stressed muscles and other  tissues.

Sports maintenance massage is performed when an athlete has reduced his or her training schedule, is not competing, or during the athlete’s off-season. A sports maintenance massage works with an athlete’s strength, flexibility, coordination, biomechanics, posture, stress patterns, scar tissue, and existing injuries.

Sometimes, athletes do not perform to their maximum potential during their season due to recurring injury. Additionally, they may not have made enough time for massage therapy, appropriate rest/recovery periods, and exercises for proper rehabilitation during the season; and most athletes do not want to miss any training because of injuries, so they return to action before their injuries have sufficiently healed. This is why sports maintenance massage is so important and why it is ideally received when the athlete is not competing or during the off-season.

With consistent sports maintenance massage therapy,  the therapist and athlete can work together to achieve the greatest changes for the athlete and support a higher level of athletic performance.

National Massage Therapy Awareness Week: October 24-30, 2010

Discover why everyone should make massage therapy a part of their health and wellness routine.

A soothing massage can help you unwind, but that’s not all. Explore the possible health benefits and risks of massage therapy, plus what to expect.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Massage is no longer available only through luxury spas and upscale health clubs. Today, massage therapy is offered in businesses, clinics, hospitals and even airports. If you’ve never tried massage, learn about the possible health benefits of massage and what to expect during a massage therapy session.

What is massage?

Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage therapists typically use their hands and fingers for massage but may also use their forearms, elbows and even feet. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure techniques.

There are many different types of massage, including these common types:

  • Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.
  • Deep-tissue massage. This massage technique uses slower, more forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
  • Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage but is geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
  • Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on trigger points, or sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

Benefits of massage

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.

Studies have found massage helpful for:

  • Stress relief
  • Managing anxiety and depression
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Blood pressure control
  • Infant growth
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Boosting immunity
  • Cancer treatment

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often involves caring, comfort, a sense of empowerment and creating deep connections with their massage therapist.

Despite its benefits, massage isn’t meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you’re trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.

Use massage as another health care tool

Brush aside any thoughts that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself. To the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being, whether you have a specific health condition or are just looking for another stress reliever. You can even learn how to do self-massage or to engage in massage with a partner.

Risks of massage

Massage is generally safe as long as it’s done by a trained massage therapist. But massage isn’t appropriate for everyone. Discuss massage with your doctor first in cases of:

  • Unexplained pain or other symptoms
  • Burns or open wounds
  • Cancer
  • Blood clots
  • Fractures
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Pregnancy

Some forms of massage can leave you feeling a bit sore the next day. But massage shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable. If any part of your massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, speak up right away. Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage.

In rare circumstances, massage can cause:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Temporary paralysis
  • Allergic reactions to massage oils or lotions

What you can expect during a massage

You don’t need any special preparation for massage. Before a massage therapy session starts, your massage therapist should ask you about any symptoms, your medical history and what you’re hoping to get out of massage. Your massage therapist should explain the kind of massage and techniques he or she will use.

In a typical massage therapy session, you undress. Undress only to the point that you’re comfortable. You generally lie on a table and cover yourself with a sheet. You can also have a massage while sitting in a chair, fully clothed. Your massage therapist should perform an evaluation through touch to locate painful or tense areas and to determine how much pressure to apply.

If you want, your massage therapist may use oil or lotion to reduce friction on your skin. Tell your massage therapist if you might be allergic to any ingredients.

A massage session may last from 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of massage and how much time you have. No matter what kind of massage you choose, you should feel calm and relaxed during and after your massage. Pain that’s more significant than momentary discomfort could indicate that something is wrong. If a massage therapist is pushing too hard, ask for lighter pressure. Occasionally you may have a sensitive spot in a muscle that feels like a knot. It’s likely to be uncomfortable while your massage therapist works it out. But if it becomes painful, speak up.

Finding a massage therapist

Massage can be performed by several types of health care professionals, such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist or massage therapist. Ask your doctor or someone else you trust for a recommendation. Most states regulate massage therapists through licensing, registration or certification requirements.

Don’t be afraid to ask a potential massage therapist such questions as:

  • Are you licensed, certified or registered?
  • What is your training and experience?
  • What’s the cost?

The Power of Touch for Pain Relief: Basic Facts

Article from:

Massage is well known for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. And, a growing body of research also shows that massage therapy is effective for relieving and managing chronic and acute pain, a significant national health problem. According to the National Institute for Health, more than one-third of all Americans will suffer from chronic pain at some point in their lives, and approximately 14 percent of all employees take time off from work due to pain. Increasingly, massage therapists are being incorporated into pain management programs of hospitals and health care organizations. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has suggested massage therapy as one means to manage pain without use of pharmaceuticals.

According to a recent American Hospital Association survey about their use of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies, among the 1,007 hospitals responding, nearly 82 percent of the hospitals offering CAM therapies included massage therapy among their health care offerings — with more than 70 percent utilizing massage therapy for pain management and relief. In a recent consumer survey commissioned by AMTA, 91 percent of respondents agreed that massage can be effective in reducing pain, and nearly half of those polled (47 percent) have had a massage specifically for the purpose of relieving pain.

Consider recent clinical research on the efficacy of massage for pain relief:

  • Massage therapy is more effective for chronic back pain than other complementary therapies.
  • Massage therapy promotes relaxation and alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in cancer patients.
  • Massage therapy reduces post-traumatic headaches better than cold pack treatments.
  • A pilot study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that massage, as part of hospital-based surgery treatment, reduces pain and muscle spasms in patients who have undergone heart bypass surgery.
  • Massage stimulates the brain to produce endorphins.

How does massage relieve pain?

  • A simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause.
  • Focuses on the entire body system and its relationship to soft tissue – not solely on the site of pain.

Benefits of massage for pain relief

  • Helps patients become more aware of their bodies and the sources of pain.
  • Better familiarizes patients with the pain they experience.
  • Has an impact on the patient by virtue of human touch.
  • Improves confidence by encouraging patients to effectively cope with their pain.

-October 2003

My Final Post

13652_181810187945_753527945_3070427_8300321_nIn June of 2006 I graduated from massage school and at the age of 34 embarked on a new career.  Having received both the distinguished title of being an Honors grad and the Honora Wolfe award for Community Service my quarterly emotional breakdowns were more than justified.  I worked my butt off in school, some of my classmates may have described me as being competitive.  To those folks I say, ‘you’re damn right’.  I was competitive, I wanted to be the best.  As far as I’m concerned when your job is to relieve suffering and increase the health of another you better always strive to be the best.  Although my confidence and validation of credentials certainly didn’t prevent me from having an ‘Oh Shit’ moment.  I remember it well, ‘Oh shit, I just spent $13,000 on a career that I’m not even sure I’m going to like. I hope I like it’.  But with everything I do, I jumped in wholeheartedly and never looked back.

I’m joyful to say that the last 4 years and 2.5 months in private practice has been one of the most fulfilling chapters of my life.  I was blessed with a loyal clientele that challenged me every day to be there for them, to be strong and to communicate with their bodies through my hands.  Thank you to all who allowed me to share my skills with you.

You have consistently moved me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to learn how to become a better practitioner.  You supported me through my training for Ironman – holy crap, how the heck did I give massage after a 6 hour workout? – and helped me smile every moment of that 14+ hour day.  You gave to me when I was raising money to travel to India to touch the lives of Tibetan Refugees who have suffered tremendous sorrow.  And most recently, you have helped me spread the word to fire victims that they have a safe place to come for relief of their pain through massage.   You have told me that I feel like family to you, you have shared your deepest pain with me and you have allowed me to grow as a person.  The list is endless and so is the gratitude that I hold in my heart.

But before I sign off from this chapter I wanted to leave you with my Top 5 unsolicited pieces of advice.  This is for each and every one of you to practice each and every day.

1) Be Positive
The day before I left for India – scared out of my wits and equally as excited, by the way – a client said to me ‘There is no good or bad, only experience’.  There is a lessen in everything and an opportunity for growth, embrace the challenges and celebrate the joys.  And through it all always look to the positive.

2) Be Aware of your Posture
You wonder why your butt is tight.  You wonder why your low back hurts.  You wonder why your neck is sore and you want me to fix it in one hour.  Here’s a tip, be in tune with your scaffolding, is it sagging?  Are your ears lined up with the tops of your shoulders or is your face falling into your computer screen?  Be aware of how you hold your body and strengthen up to hold yourself effortlessly.  Don’t rely on physical compensation to get the job down.  I can promise you that if you are not addressing your posture now, you will pay for it later in a painful way.

3) Listen to your Body
It talks to you, I recommend you keep your ears open and I also recommend that you talk back to it.  Find out what it’s telling you, find out what it needs.   The body has wisdom far beyond what any of us could ever comprehend, it does talk and you should listen.

4) Become a Compadre of Pain
As Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville 100 once said, “Make friends with pain and you’ll never be alone”.   Recognizing and experiencing pain is an opportunity to learn.  Pain is not always bad, make friends with it and understand more about what it is telling you.

5) Get Massage
I have seen lives change and grow for the better because of massage.  You are receiving it now, stay consistent and give back to your body.  Before you leave your massage, make sure your next one is scheduled.  Do not use this change as an excuse to fall of the wagon, or table in this case.

As I pass the torch this morning to the new owner of Massage Boulder, I say congratulations Maia and congratulations clients for you are in good hands. I wish smooth transitions for all.

Be Well-