Don’t let the healthy habits you worked all summer to establish be lost with the onset of cooler months and shorter days. Remember these four food myths to feel healthy all year long.
Source: This article was excerpted from Massage Therapy Journal® Fall 2010.
Along with colorful foliage and cooler weather, fall also brings along less daylight which can cause feelings of loss of energy or lust for life also known as burnout. Avoid the feelings of anxiety and exhaustation by dealing with your stress in a way that is conducive to healthy living.
The tricky thing about burnout is that it doesn’t announce itself, but instead sneaks up on you. The good news, however, according to a recent article in Psychology Today, is that experiencing burnout doesn’t have to affect your happiness.
Learn to say no, and mean it. Don’t commit to any events or new activities. Of course there are going to be things you need to attend to, and events and activities you’ll want to engage in, but resist the urge to say yes to something when no is a possible answer.
Shut down your devices. It’s easy to get caught in the endless cycle of electronic devices that keep you constantly connected to friends and family, as well as the outside world. Take half a day, or a full day, to step away from your phone and computer and allow yourself to re-charge
Slow down. One of the best ways to slow down and relax is by engaging in a massage therapy treatment plan. Massage has been known to reduce anxiety and depression. Commit one hour to massage therapy during you burnout erasure program and learn what kind of benefits massage may have for you.
Get out there. Make sure you’re spending time with people you care about, and try to socialize outside of your professional group of friends, too.
Enlist a support system. Most people think of a therapeutic setting when they hear “support group,” but that doesn’t have to be the case. Finding people you can talk to about your feelings will help reduce stress and feelings of isolation, two common results of burnout.
You probably aren’t going to see immediate results, so don’t add to your frustration by expecting the problem to be solved quickly. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight, and you can’t solve burnout overnight, either. What you can do is use the strategies above to get a handle on burnout before it sneaks up on you.
Source: This article was excerpted from Massage Therapy Journal® Fall 2011
Massage therapy may be more effective in dealing with low-back pain than other more traditional medical intervention as new research suggests.
The study comprised 401 patients aged 20 to 65 years old with nonspecific chronic low-back pain and compared the effectiveness of either relaxation or structural massage versus usual care, including medication and physical therapy. Participants were asked about their abilities to perform daily activities and then randomly assigned to receive one to three treatments.
One group received full-body relaxation massage, often called Swedish massage, and another received focused deep tissue massage, where specific pain-related tissues, ligaments and joints are targeted. The third group received therapies including pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or physical therapy. Those receiving massage were given a one-hour massage once a week for 10 weeks.
After 10 weeks, the researchers again surveyed the participants about their symptoms and mobility, and again at six months and one year. The two groups of patients receiving massage therapy reported their back pain was significantly improved or gone altogether.
Although previous studies on massage therapy and low-back pain have concentrated primarily on effectiveness of deep tissue massage, researchers are hopeful about the success of relaxation massage modalities offering significant benefits. Two reasons are that relaxation massage is oftentimes more widely available and cost-effective.
Source: This article was excerpted from Massage Therapy Journal® Fall 2011.
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.
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:
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.
While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage helpful for:
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.
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:
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:
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 or wear loosefitting clothing. 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’s 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.
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:
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.
Creating Healthy Habits
As we head into spring, renewing our commitment to health can be particularly poignant—especially after a long winter cooped up indoors. Read on for some habits you can easily incorporate into your health regimen.
Eat breakfast. Busy schedules, early morning appointments, any number of things can conspire against your eating a healthy breakfast. But the often-heard saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day isn’t without merit.
The American Dietetic Association reports that breakfast is the first chance your body has to replenish the glucose levels that are essential to brain function and energy. Skipping breakfast can lead to feeling tired and irritable. Another benefit is weight management. Eating a healthy breakfast can keep you from binge eating later in the day. Try to make healthy choices, such as whole-grain cereals or fresh fruit.
Protect your skin. As the weather warms, more and more people start spending time outdoors—getting flower beds ready for planting, for example, or relaxing on the porch. Being outdoors is great, but you should make sure you’re taking care of your skin. The message has never been that the sun is the enemy. After all, sunlight is a major source of Vitamin D. But, you need to take precautions and protect your skin.
First, always wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. If you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time, wear a hat and other protective clothing. When possible, avoid the midday sun, doing the work you need to do outside before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.
Good dental hygiene. Your teeth do more than help you chew food. Today, physicians are finding that oral health impacts a person’s general well-being, with Dr. Michael Roizen, author of RealAge, suggesting that flossing your teeth everyday adds as much as 6.4 years to your life.
One fact that gives credence to this idea is that your teeth have a blood supply that comes from the heart. Some researchers now believe that the bacteria that cause dental plague can enter the bloodstream and may be associated with the plague that causes inflammation in blood vessels, leading to heart disease. Good oral hygiene should be seen as an integral part of your overall health regimen.
Source: This article was from excerpted from mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Spring 2011.
HOW MASSAGE CAN HELP RELIEVE ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
David Lies, a massage therapist in Wichita, Kansas, remembers his honeymoon well: The lush, nascent flowers and trees of early May in Eureka Springs, Arkansas; time relaxing with his new wife, Linda; the rustic honeymoon cottage—and his allergies, triggered by the colorful blooms around him. “I used to say that I was allergic to everything under the sun,” Lies says.
Lies discovered an unexpected ally in his allergy battle: The honeymoon cottage’s landlord, who was also a massage therapist. “He offered to give my wife and me massages,” says Lies, who finally said yes when his swollen eyes, nonstop sneezing and coughing fits started to put a damper on his honeymoon.
Lies remembers the horrible pain as the therapist dug his elbow into his back along the muscles and trigger points long contracted from coughing, sneezing and related stress. Just as he was about to cry uncle, the therapist removed his elbow—or so Lies thought as he thanked him. His wife, who was watching the session, laughed. “He hasn’t moved his elbow at all,” she told Lies. The muscles had simply finally relaxed.
After the massage, Lies made it through the week with just a few sniffles, his first nondrug-induced relief in years. He returned to Wichita inspired, enrolling in massage school and eventually opening A Servant’s Hands, a full-service massage therapy clinic with a special interest in allergies.
RELAXING THE SYMPTOMS
Many Americans rely primarily on conventional treatments, including antihistamines and steroids, both of which can have some adverse side effects. Massage therapists, however, can help relieve some allergy symptoms by reducing stress, increasing circulation, releasing muscle tension and reprogramming the body’s panic reaction, which can exacerbate symptoms.
“It’s not to take away from the biological, inflammatory component of the disorder,” says Rosalind Wright, MD, a pulmonist on staff at the Harvard Medical School. “But if you use complementary modalities, including massage therapy, you could optimize the results.”
Few studies researching massage therapy and allergy relief exist, but we do know massage helps with stress, as shown in the 1992 Touch Research Institute study where 30-minute body massages on depressed adolescents decreased saliva cortisol levels. And stress definitely impacts allergies. A 2008 Harvard Medical School study co-authored by Wright showed that mothers-to-be who expose their unborn children to stress may increase these kids’ vulnerability to allergies and asthma.
So, just getting clients to relax may help their allergies. “Most experienced massage therapists know the immediate relief from sinus congestion that can result from just lying face down,” Lies says. This position gives you a chance to work on the upper back and shoulders, where many sinus trigger points are located.
Source: Parts of this article were excerpted from Clare La Plante’s piece in mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Summer 2009. Subscribe to read the entire article.
Exercise is a great way to keep your physical body in shape, as well as keep you generally feeling good. As we transition into cooler months, exercise and hitting the gym sometimes sink to the bottom of the list. Use these tips to keep moving this fall!
MONDAY IS A MUST. You might not feel like getting up Monday morning or winding down the first day of the week with a workout, but always exercising on Monday sets the psychological tone for the week.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE SCALE. Get out of the habit of motivating yourself to exercise strictly for weight loss. Yes, exercise can help you shed a few pounds, but the benefits go far deeper. Also, if you don’t lose weight easily, telling yourself exercise is useless becomes too convenient.
GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT. You don’t have to run marathons to give yourself a pat on the back (though if you are running marathons, that’s great). If you lace up your shoes and go for a 20-minute walk, don’t beat yourself up because it wasn’t an hour-long effort. Let yourself feel good about the small achievements.
FREQUENCY IS KEY. Yes, give yourself credit, but don’t rest on your laurels. Going for a walk twice a month isn’t enough. Make a commitment to lace up those shoes at least five times a week.
THE SPICE OF LIFE. If you’re easily bored with exercise, give yourself a variety of options. Perhaps join a gym where you can work out three times a week, as well as invest in some yoga or Pilates DVDs you can do at home.
Source: Parts of this article were excerpted from the mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Summer 2010 “Living Well” article.
It’s interesting to see how many people are shy when it comes to telling the massage therapist very important things. So here’s a list of some things to keep in mind and use your voice when you are receiving a massage.
Important things to communicate to the therapist:
1) If it hurts. – Frequently, people will just grin and bear the pain. Sometimes the therapist might not be able to tell that it’s painful. So it’s important to communicate that information to the therapist. The goal really isn’t pain, occasionally it might be, but only temporarily and certainly not intolerable.
2) If you are uncomfortable being undraped – Most massage therapists, if they have been doing massage for a while, get totally anesthetized to nudity or partial nudity. For most therapists, it’s just skin, fat or muscle tissue. So if you feel like you are exposed, it’s up to you to communicate that to the therapist. If they are professional, then they will make sure you are draped and understand your concerns.
3) Temperature – Being cold on the table is not relaxing. Most massage therapists have blankets they can use to make sure are completely comfortable.
4) If you need to go to the bathroom – Again, because of our western-be-polite sort of society, people will hold having to go the bathroom. Believe me, massage therapists want you to go. And they will usually have a robe or some kind of way to make sure you can easily go to the bathroom and then come back to enjoy the rest of the massage.
5) If you don’t want to chat – From time to time, therapists will chat with their clients during the massage, if you don’t want to chat, that’s totally ok, just let the therapist know. The massage therapist will understand.
Those are some of the major ones. Massage therapists are really there for you. It’s your experience. So speak up, if something is bugging you, let them know. It’s ok. It’s also ok to let them know when they are doing something right as well.