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5 reasons of how massage can help you to reconnect

I’m serious about the idea that massage can help you to reconnect with yourself. I believe massage can help you be more aware of what’s going on with you, your body AND your mind. We always think about massage for relaxation, pain relief and soothing tight muscles but what does that really mean? Surely when we book a massage we are searching for that feeling of normality again; feeling at peace, energised and pain free. We seek many different therapies to help us with many kinds of trauma from the emotional to the physical but there’s something about the physical side of massage that works for so many people on different levels. Here’s my 5 reasons of how I think massage can make the re-connection with yourself:

  1. Massage is essentially about touch – it goes back to nature and nurture with the first touch we experience as babies from our parents giving us the sense of love and security from a very young age. Touch is one of the strongest sensations one can experience which is why massage has been practiced for hundreds of years before it was even considered to be a therapy.
  2. The first thing you do when you knock a limb or when you pick up a fallen child is rub the sore area – it’s automatic and we don’t think about it, just do it. Like massage, just rubbing a sore area immediately feels a lot better. Imagine how you’d feel then after a full body massage!
  3. After a massage, you usually feel more relaxed – you may have had the week from hell or a really stressful day. That massage has just made you realise what is feels like to be calm and relaxed once again. I meet some clients who are not aware of just how stressed they are. Massage can have a profound effect on them and even make them feel quite emotional after. It’s fine to let that emotion out and not bottle it up.
  4. I have other clients who can not articulate very easily where their pain is. They can point to a general area but it’s up to me to try and pinpoint their pain and find where it’s coming from. Now, there are some pains that are referred so that aside, I have found that after a few sessions of massage, these clients can now begin to accurately describe where the pain is coming from. They can also feel when the issue is coming back and are more likely to re-book a massage as a preventive action rather than let the issue get worse again.
  5. I see many of my clients walking tall out of my treatment room. Yes, from a postural point of view, once tight muscles have been loosened, the chest opens up, shoulders are relaxed down and you can look straighter but what if your issue isn’t physical? What if you are upset, stressed, getting over an illness, worried about a relative or friend and you’re having trouble sleeping? For many of the above reasons, massage does work on the emotions and mind as much as the physical body. I’ve seen the same change in posture from clients who are racked with stress and worry; it opens the body up and raises the head – a lightness enters the face.

Massage reconnects through the body; allows it to feel again, allows the mind to focus on what’s important and what is not and the sensation of touch gives the body a sense of how it actually feels. When I see someone ‘feel’ again for the first time after a massage, I know I’ve done my job well.

 

When do you relax?

deathtostock_creative-community8Busy-ness is the big ‘thing’ these days. People carry over-packed diaries like trophies. ‘I’m SO busy at work’. ‘How do you have time to do that?’. ‘I’m too busy to read / watch TV / exercise or do anything fun!’. I’m guilty of uttering all of the above at some point.

Too much ‘being busy’ is probably making you tired, bad-tempered and unable to focus as well as causing you stress and anxiety. 

When do you relax? Relaxation is a word we hear often but don’t often know what it means. Here are some definitions for you:

  1. the state of being free from tension or anxiety
  2. a way to rest and enjoy yourself
  3. recreation or rest, especially after a period of work
  4. the loss of tension in part of the body, especially in a muscle when it ceases to contract
  5. something that you do to stop feeling worried, nervous etc

More importantly, what does relaxation mean to you?

If you’re not a hot bath and good book kind of person, the beauty of this is that you can make your own definition of relaxation. It’s your job to figure out what you enjoy doing; what makes you smile and what makes you feel like you’re a hundred miles away from work and the house chores. Have you thought about meditation? This doesn’t have to be for long – even a 10 minute meditation can leave you feeling cleared headed and calm again. There’s lots of free resources out there to help.

Then make time for your relaxation. You have a diary – no reason why you can’t schedule in your hobby, yoga class, massage. time to read a book or whatever it is that you want to do to relax. On a girls weekend away earlier this year, we all realised how lovely it was being away from the usual routine; a break from the routine.

Taking care of yourself is important. Self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to care for people who depend on you. Good luck in finding what chills you out and make it happen!

3 things massage can help you with right now

new-leaflet-collageWe know massage will make us move better and feel less tense, but not everyone can take time for regular appointments. Massage can be used as a preventative care and it can have some instantly gratifying results. These are 3 common ailments that massage can help:

Headachestension headaches, often called stress headaches, are the most common headaches amongst adults. Pain or pressure in your forehead or top or sides of your head? This could be a tension headache. It’s especially likely if you’ve been sitting hunched over a desk, been sat in the car for a few hours, or hunched up because your cold. Massage could help ease that tension in your neck and shoulders that could be causing this headache. Regular massages could keep them at bay.

Lower back pain – this kind of pain affects most of us at some point in our lives and unfortunately is an increasing reason for time off sick from work. It’s the sort of pain that can affect quality of life and cause stress and further upset especially when the suffer has tried to find a cure but nothing seems to work. Read this article for further information on nonspecific lower back pain. Massage has been found to help with back pain when the cause is muscular tension. It’s worth trying if you’ve not tried it before. With persistent problems it’s always best to see your GP though.

Irritability – have you been so moody that you’ve got on your own nerves as well as everyone elses? Massage is great for stress relief. A good relaxation massage in the confines of a warm, dimly lit room with soft music playing is enough to send anyone into a deep sense of relaxation. To have 60 minutes of blissful you-time! So next time you nearly bite some’s head off, book a massage!

Frozen Shoulder – how massage can help

Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder or frozen shoulder, as it’s more commonly known is a painful condition causing significant restriction of movement of the shoulder – hence being described as ‘frozen’. There are a number of theories as to what causes this condition but it is thought that through musculoskeletal issues, postural dysfunction, injury to the shoulder and even systemic diseases such as diabetes and an over-active thyroid can contribute towards this problem. Ultimately the joint capsule of the shoulder is affected with a build up of scar tissue causing the pain and stiffness. Symptoms typically have 3 phases:

  • ACUTE Phase one – the ‘freezing’/ painful phase. Can last 2-9 months. The first symptom is usually pain. Stiffness and limitation of movement then also gradually build up. The pain is typically worse at night and when you lie on the affected side. Can affect both shoulders but commonly the non-dominant only.
  • SUBACUTE Phase two – the ‘frozen’ / stiff (or adhesive) phase. The pain usually eases but the stiffness and limited movement remains and can get worse. Rotation of the shoulder is most affected and there can be pain at the end ranges of movement. This typically lasts 4-12 months.
  • CHRONIC Phase three – the ‘thawing’ / recovery phase. This typically lasts between 1-3 years. The pain and stiffness gradually go and the sufferer less likely to be affected at night but full range of movement is not always regained.

The frustration of this condition apart from the pain and stiffness is that normal everyday activities are disrupted like getting dressed, putting on a seat belt or even reaching behind you. According to Patient.co.uk, about 3% of adults can get this condition affecting people aged 40-65 and more common in women. If you’re suffering from similar symptoms, first thing is to get your GP to have a look at it. You may be referred for a shoulder x-ray or MRI scan. Once diagnosed, what are your treatment options?

  • Discussing your options with you GP, they may prescribe painkillers such as paracetamol or anti-inflammatories.
  • Physiotherapy – your GP may be able to refer you to an NHS physio who can give you exercises designed to keep the shoulder from stiffening up. If this is your option then it is important to do the exercises as prescribed to get the most from your treatment.
  • Steroid injection – this would be put directly into the joint capsule which can help alleviate many of the symptoms but it’s not a cure and the symptoms may gradually come back.
  • Surgery – this is an option if other treatments haven’t worked and has a good success rate but not in all cases.

How can massage help?

Arm pain conceptSeeing a GP and physiotherapist would be the first options to try to get correctly diagnosed and advised on exercises. The treatment of frozen shoulder goes through stages of good progress and then plateaus and the same would be said of trying massage therapy once diagnosis has been achieved. There are a number of muscles in the shoulder joint which may have got tight so the goal of the therapist would be to reduce hypertonicity (tightness) of certain muscles, improve blood circulation to the affected area, try to improve range of movement and treat trigger points, taking care with the positioning of the client on the couch so as not to aggravate the condition. During the acute phase of the condition, very little or gentle passive movement of the shoulder would be applied.

The therapist would also look at treating the unaffected shoulder, neck and chest area as this may be overcompensating for the under-use of the affected shoulder. In the subacute phase, heat can also be applied to the area. The therapist would help the client with their awareness of their posture when doing simple tasks like getting dressed and driving so as not to put the rest of the body under strain. Massage therapy once a week for 4-6 weeks could help alleviate the symptoms of frozen shoulder but the client would need a self-care plan of exercises from a physiotherapist to reduce the symptoms as much as possible.

Sources: Patient.co.uk, Clinical Massage Therapy, 2000 Rattray F. & Ludwig L

 

What is the correct etiquette in massage?

Dollarphotoclub tips trayFor the client, this can be a confusing situation especially if you’re not used to having treatments. Common concerns are usually about tipping, how much clothing to take off and talking during the treatment.  These are my opinions on what is the correct etiquette in massage but others may have a different view:

  • Do I have to make small talk? – It’s up to you as the paying client. There are training bodies that teach their therapists to speak only when spoken to in the therapy room but if I feel there’s a slightly awkward feeling from the client then I do make chit chat. This tends to immediately relax the client as I’ve made that choice for them. However, if you don’t want to chat then that’s entirely your choice and feel free to tell your therapist. If they’re good, they’ll understand. Obviously if you’re having remedial massage then the therapist will have to ask you for feedback on pressure etc so please do speak up in those moments! I generally take my cue from the client – if they talk then so do I.
  • Do I have to get naked? – NO! You may need to strip down to your underwear but you do not have to remove your underpants. I know some therapists who have asked their male and female clients to remove their underpants if they are working in the gluteal area (buttocks) which is fine if you feel comfortable doing that. I let my female clients keep their bras on if this is more comfortable for them. If you are asked to remove all of your underwear by a therapist and you don’t want to, then don’t. Likewise, don’t assume you need to remove every stitch of clothing when asked to get underdressed – ask your therapist if they haven’t told you, especially with regards to your underwear. If you want to remove your underwear then ask your therapist. Whatever you’re wearing, or not, on the couch, the only area of your body that’s being worked on will be uncovered. Finally, if you want privacy to undress, then ask your therapist to leave the room. Don’t feel bad about asking. I usually hold up my towel while my client is undressing and then just drape it over them as they lie on the couch. For, me this saves time which can be spent on the treatment.
  • Should I tip my therapist? – It’s entirely up to you if you want to reward a good therapist if you’ve not only had a good treatment but good service and aftercare advice too. I get tips fairly regularly, which is always much appreciated but don’t feel you have to do it all the time.
  • I’m embarrassed about my body – therapists see all shapes and sizes and from my experience, I don’t notice and judge anyone on their ‘imperfections’. I’ve had lots of women say they’re embarrassed that they haven’t shaved their legs. So what? We’re all the same underneath!

The key thing to remember is that any good therapist will have a consultation with you before your first massage to go through your health and lifestyle as well as the basics like your name and address. Use that time to ask any questions if you’re not sure about anything to do with your treatment. Or call your therapist beforehand to discuss your concerns.Tip Money