When you hear the word ‘diet’ what comes to mind?
Which massage should you choose? There are many types of people in the world and with that, many opinions and preferences for…everything! Massage therapy is not immune to the preference of the individual. That is one of the things that makes it such a beautiful experience.
Massage is like pizza! There are lots of kinds and some are very simple, some are cheap; others are expensive or have many ingredients…but it all tastes good. Variety is the spice of life…but options, without firsthand experience, can be confusing. So, here is a little run down on the three most popular types of massage that I use.
This is the most well known massage modality for a reason! It is a massage that anyone can enjoy. It is made up of long flowing strokes with some light kneading and sometimes tapping (there are specific massage terms for these things, but for the sake of the reader I will avoid using them). This massage can lower your heart rate and cortisol levels, reducing feelings of stress. Because it is not deep muscle work, it can be used on pretty much everyone: from young children to athletes, and even some cancer patients. It is a very calming and relaxing massage.
Deep Tissue Massage
This modality is commonly misunderstood…even among MT’s. Many therapists were not thoroughly trained on this modality, or it is difficult for them. It takes true knowledge of skeletal and muscular anatomy, as well as, perceptive touch and experience to apply deep tissue in the correct way. You should never have bruising or extended soreness (longer than a couple of days) after a deep tissue massage.
When performed correctly, this is one of the most effective treatments for muscular tightness and soreness. I have found it to have longer lasting effects and bring more self-body awareness for postural correction than lighter pressured massage. It uses slow and methodical strokes that work to “loosen” muscle fibers by going along the length of a muscle or working across the muscle.
Deep tissue, when performed correctly, will vary in pressure used from person to person; as each individual has varying muscle tone, tension, faschia, lymph and fat storage.
Trigger Point Release
Some people call this Sports Massage or Medical Massage, but both of those are separate modalities that often incorporate TPR. This modality is fantastic for people who have all the “knots” and want them gone! It is very focused work. The therapist holds direct pressure, (the amount of pressure used is dependent on the individual) on the top of, or at an angle to, the muscle adhesions in the area that is bothering the client. It can be very intense, but focusing on breathing deeply can really help you to relax until the tension in the adhesion melts away.
These are the top three massage modalities that I use in my practice. If my massage was a pizza, it would be supreme!
I like to use a little bit of everything. I don’t like working within a box too much unless a client is very specific with their wants. I typically use all of these modalities (and others) in each massage that I do.
A deeper knowledge of various massage modalities allows you to choose with more confidence. Enjoy!
Exercise to Energize, Rest to Restore! How many times do you hear people say, “I’m just so tired all of the time…”? And, that’s after 3 cups of coffee?
Or, how many people work with that high energy, let’s get the job done, oh wait, squirrel…
As a yoga teacher I preach BALANCE. A time to energize and exert, and then bring it down — rest and restore.
The cycle of exerting energy and restoring energy is incredible important to our bodies – our nervous system. But, our sedentary lifestyles blur the cycle – we never really physically exert, not fully, and then we never really rest to restore energy.
I see this all the time at the studio, many of us are working like crazy as well as working at home and on top of that we are maxing out a high impact sweaty workout three to four times a week.
It’s easy to get addicted to the ‘high’ that a good, rigorous Vinyasa Flow class, and never ever step into a Restorative Yoga class.
Restorative Yoga is a class that is slow with dim lights and soft music and incredible stretches that are supported with bolsters and blocks and blankets. The whole class is designed to drop you into a ‘rest and digest’ state. These days, there are so many places online that you can stream a yoga class like this. Just a few props is all that you need. ( my personal favorites are the Manduka blocks and mat…..and the wonderfully supportive Max Deluxe bolsters. ) So, take a few moments at the end of your very busy day and drape your body over the bolster and breathe. You do not even have to take a full hour class….but I promise….you will WANT to.
What makes a Well Being? There is a lot of talk about Wellness. But, for me, the question is really, what makes a Well Being?
• Nutritional Balance
• Work/play Balance
• Exercise/Rest Balance
• Contemplations/Inspiration Balance
• Energetically Balance
• Financially Balance
So, the obvious in all is BALANCE!
Each of these elements of Well Being are segregated – people, places and activities. And, those that teach each element of Well Being, teach just one piece, and often don’t even recognize it’s a small part of the whole.
People can get stuck! Even in trying to be WELL, you can get off balance! A hyper-focus on one aspect of wellness can completely dismantle all the work and investment, because of not tending to the other areas.
We are not simply bodies…nor are we simply minds.
We are mind-body energetic beings. Energy has to flow within us, around us. And, we require BALANCE!
Nutrition Matters! We all know nutrition matters, but how many of us really take the time to plan and manage for quality, nutritious foods – EVERYDAY!
In our “look good at any cost” society, many are starving from the lack of vital nutrients. Lose that extra winter weight at any cost, its the same. Or, in our hectic, over-charged lifestyles, drive through the fast food line everyday—for sure the wrong type of calories.
Our lifestyle becomes part of a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I just can’t keep the weight off…” “It doesn’t matter what I eat, I never lose any weight…” Before you know it, we come to the conclusion we are “just fat” in our desire to eat like a “regular person”.
The problem? A “regular person” in our society eats the wrong things. Without any real thought or intention, we are just eating a sludge of preprocessed foods filled with sugar, salt and fats – all designed to get us to eat them!
There are so many incredible foods that taste good AND don’t have a ton of calories. There are so many recipes that offer fantastic nutritional choices, BUT don’t require lots of salt and sugar to taste good.
Take this quick, fun test:
1. How often do you go to the grocery store? 2x per week, 1x per week, 1x every two weeks, less than that
2. How often do you eat out? 2x per day, 1x per day, 4x per week, 2x per week…
Now, divvy up the cart from your last grocery store run.
3. What percentage of food was from the fresh fruit and vegetable isle? <10%, 10-20%, 20-50%, More than 50%
4. From the fresh meat counter?
5. From the frozen dinner isle?
6. From the sugar and carbs isle (colas and other drinks)?
This work requires a fearless inventory of your habits. Don’t sell yourself short. If you don’t cook, or don’t have time to cook, take the time to seek healthy alternatives. There are plenty of options out there.
And please don’t forget that food is a pleasure. Ease up on some of your crazy restrictions and balance them out with alternative ways to enjoy your life. A nice fruit smoothie for dessert as opposed to that pint of Hagen Daz…(I know….I know) You can still have the ice cream….just save it for a special occasion.
Enjoy your life!!
Massage Anxiety is normal. Each of us have physical imperfections that make us self-conscious, even in the best of situations. But then, when asked to lie on a table naked for a stranger, well that will really cause the anxiety to come out!
It wasn’t until I became a Massage Therapist that I learned the proper way to receive a massage, in order to get the full value. As I look back on my behavior on the table as a customer, I realize all of the mistakes I had made. It didn’t ruin the experience, but I had made things harder for my therapist to achieve the goal of the massage. My need to be in control of the moment kept me from reaching a deeply relaxed state.
Here are my tips for getting the most out of your massage:
- Wear what makes YOU comfortable! In most massage practices in the U.S., you will be covered by a sheet or a large towel. The less clothing you’re wearing, the easier it is for the therapist to work; as they will have more options for techniques to use. But, a good therapist can give a quality massage to a fully clothed person. Most people wear their underwear or nothing. For your first massage you should be focusing on learning how to let yourself relax to the therapist’s touch. So, with that in mind, wear what will make you feel the most at ease.
- Relax!!!! It’s harder said than done, at first. Focus on your breathing and try to “let go”. The optimal state of your body during a massage is what I call “rag doll”. You’re not a person that can move around and be “helpful”. You’re a rag doll! You’re floppy. If I pick your arm up, I want it to be heavy and loose. If I shake your leg, I want to see it jiggle. If I am holding your wrist, I want your fingers to have a natural relaxed curl. This can be a hard physical state for your mind to let you get to, as most people are concerned with being polite and helpful. But it is totally unnecessary, and even gets in the way of your therapist, if you try to “help”.
- Let go of your body anxieties. Your therapist is a trained professional and has seen ALL types of bodies. A couple of basic courtesies: shower the day of the massage, and if you have an active skin infection, rash, or fungal infection, wait until it has been cleared by a doctor to receive massage. That’s really it!
- Protecting your “Privates”! Your private parts are just that, Private. Your therapist will not expose or touch your genitals or breasts. Now, let’s clarify a bit. Your glutes (butt/hip muscles) are a very typical area of tension that is worked during your massage. A trained therapist will work this area by draping the upper leg and tucking the sheet so that only the muscle groups being worked on are exposed, without exposing your genitalia/gluteal crease. However, if there is any part of your body you are uncomfortable with someone touching, just tell your therapist.
- Injuries/sensitivities/medications. Before you begin your massage, let your therapist know if you have had any surgeries, injuries, medications or sensitivities like allergies, or even ticklishness! For instance, knowing that my client has had spinal surgery affects the amount of pressure that I will give to them in that area. If my client has a nut allergy, then I need to use a special lotion for their massage. If my client has an injured shoulder, I will not be stretching that shoulder as far. And if my client has very ticklish feet, then I probably won’t even touch their feet so that they can remain relaxed.
- Communication. This is your massage! If you are not enjoying a technique or the pressure that is used, then it is your job as the client to let your therapist know. Mind-reading is a skill that most of us don’t have, so please use your voice and let your therapist know if something doesn’t feel right. There are modalities of massage that are more intense and use a deeper pressure, but your massage should never be painful.
To sum it all up: undress to your comfort level, breathe deeply and let go, don’t worry about how you look and don’t worry that your therapist will see anything they shouldn’t. Let your therapist in on your medical history and remember to communicate.
Now get out there and get a massage!
Massage Anxiety? Afraid to even try a Professional Massage? When I received my first massage, I was very nervous. Yet, I quickly learned the benefits of a professional massage are so incredible, it’s worth it to let go of the anxiety.
First, know your fears are common. I remember a flood of questions in my mind. Am I supposed to lay naked on the table? Where exactly are they going to touch me? Are they going to see my butt? What if I can’t relax? What if my armpits stink? Are they going to see my mole?…The big one?!
Really! These were just a few of the concerns I had before the massage started.
But once it began, it felt so nice! I wondered what I had been so anxious about. Amazing!
Then my anxiety began to rise again. The therapist tried to move my arms–I moved them for her. Just trying to be extra helpful, I told myself. But, I held them so tight, because I wasn’t sure if my armpits were smelly. I held up each finger during the hand massage. I lifted and turned my head for her as she did my neck massage. I held my legs as still as possible so they wouldn’t be wobbling around. And I tried very hard to not be ticklish when she got to my feet, which ended with me almost kicking her in the face! All of which defeated the purpose of relaxing and receiving the benefits of a massage.
Yet, it was still great. After my massage, I felt energized! Having someone focus on making my body feel relaxed was a very unique and enjoyable experience. It was no longer scary, and I felt that I had done my part to be helpful.
With all that said, try not to be nervous! Everyone has had body anxiety at some point. If you think about it, your massage therapist would not have chosen this profession if they were uncomfortable with the differences in people’s bodies.
So, I kept going. Over time, I realized how therapeutic a massage is — both mentally and physically. But, it wasn’t until I GAVE my first massage that I realized the proper way to receive a massage…