Massage and Migraines

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 me help keep them at bay.

¹ A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Lawler SP1, Cameron LD.


5 Conditions You May be Surprised Can Benefit from Massage

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 massage 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


Does Deep Tissue Have to Hurt?

To give a short answer, no, deep tissue massage does not have to hurt. There’s a common misconception that massage, especially Deep Tissue, has to be painful in order to be effective, but this is completely false.

First, you have to break down what Deep Tissue is, and honestly, it’s a debated topic, even amongst Massage Therapists. Deep Tissue Massage is typically considered any technique that is meant to affect the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. And while some people assume that means applying deep pressure, that’s actually not the case at all. In fact, some very light touch techniques can be used to still affect those deep layers.

When faced with the decision of Swedish or Deep Tissue Massage, it’s not about pressure, it’s about the results you hope to achieve. Swedish Massage is generally long fluid strokes, using whatever pressure makes you comfortable, with a focus on relaxing the body; while Deep Tissue Massage combines a number of more direct manual techniques, using whatever pressure you’re comfortable with, to relieve pain and tension on a deeper level within the body. Cupping is an amazing technique to use in a Deep Tissue session and I would be more than happy to have a conversation with you about that if you have any questions! In almost every massage at my studio, the Warm Bamboo is used. Now these amazing tools feel so great (if you know…. you know!). What not everyone realizes though it that they are also helping be to get into those deeper tissues without the client necessarily feeling like a deeper pressure is being used.

The most important aspect of your massage is communication. You need to let me know what results you’re looking for from the massage, and speak up at any time throughout about your pressure tolerance. I can give a deep Swedish Massage and a light Deep Tissue, or any combination thereof. It’s all about what you want.

Now, sometimes, especially with Deep Tissue Massage, there might be some discomfort as certain tender areas are addressed, and that’s normal. The thing to keep in mind, is that it should never go beyond a “good hurt”, the kind where it’s uncomfortable, but you can breathe through it easily, the muscles can stay relaxed, and it’s got a hint of relief mixed in with the hurt. That’s perfectly fine. But if the pressure exceeds that “good hurt” and goes into true pain, where you make funny faces, hold your breath, or feel like you need to tense up your muscles, that means we’re doing more harm than good. I cannot work on muscles that are working against me and that is why if this is happening then you will not get the results you’re looking for.

The entire point of your massage, whether Swedish, Deep Tissue, or any other modality out there, is to relax the body and release any built up tension in the muscles. If you’re clenching or tensing up your muscles in response to something I’m doing, we’re defeating the purpose of your massage and I need to back off the pressure. So please, no matter what, speak up if the pressure is ever too much, or too little for that matter. Massage, whatever the type, does not need to hurt to be effective.


Am I Supposed to Talk During My Massage?

It’s a common question that massage therapists hear all the time; “Can I talk during the massage?” Some clients are worried about talking too much or too little. They want to be friendly but not ruin the whole experience. But what do I, as your Massage Therapist say?

It’s up to you!

If you want to talk, go for it. If you want to be completely silent, go for it. If you want to talk a little, but not the entire time, that’s fine too. What a lot of clients tend to forget, is it’s your time. Whether you’re getting a 15 minute chair massage or a two hour full body massage, how much conversation there is, is completely up to you.

Many clients find it comforting to talk for the first few minutes of a massage, especially their first few sessions as we’re getting to know each other and build the trust that is really important to a great therapeutic relationship. Then as they get more comfortable, the conversations get shorter and shorter, and sometimes go away completely. For some clients, a large part of the relief they get from their massages is the ability to vent and get everything off their chest to someone they can trust, so they spend the entire massage chatting. Others prefer to meditate, sleep, or simply veg out.

What you need to understand, is that as your Massage Therapist, my job is to facilitate your healing, in whatever way you need me to, within my skill set or scope of practice. For some that means silence, for others it means talking, or anywhere in between.



Go for it, but please be aware, that sometimes you may not get the full benefits of your massage if you’re talking the entire time. What I mean by this, is that calm breathing and a calm state of mind greatly emphasizes the benefits of the massage. So even if you prefer to talk, I may, at times, ask you to take some deep breaths to calm your body so it can better receive the work I’m doing.



Please understand that I may occasionally check in about my pressure, certain areas of concern, and things like that. I’ll do my best to keep quiet and not disturb your experience in any way, but I also want to ensure you get the most of your massage; and that means checking that everything I’m doing is what your body needs and you’re comfortable with it. Even though you may like to stay quiet, don’t hesitate to speak up and let me know if anything is uncomfortable. While your tissues and your body language may give clues as to a pain response, I’m still in the dark as to what exactly you’re feeling, so please let me know if I need to lighten my pressure, increase it, move to a different area, or anything else you feel is necessary. This is your massage and I want it to be perfect for you. The only way that can happen is if there is at least a little bit of communication throughout the session; more so if you prefer clinical or therapeutic techniques.

No matter how much or how little you prefer to talk during your massage, it is completely up to you. Please don’t ever feel obligated to talk unless I’m asking you a question, and don’t be afraid to speak up either.


4 Common Causes of Muscle Cramps and How to Stop Them

At some point in your life you’ve probably had muscle cramps; when a muscle that normally only does what you tell it to do, suddenly gets a mind of its own and decides to contract, even when you tell it to calm down. They can hit during a workout or just when you move a certain way, or they may even wake you up in the middle of the night.

Muscle cramps are very common, and while usually harmless, they can be extremely painful, and can signal that something else is wrong within your body. While cramping can occur in any muscle, the lower legs and feet tend to be the most common.

So if you’re suffering with muscle cramps, check out these 4 common causes and how to remedy the situation.


Our bodies require a very delicate balance of minerals to be kept. As we sweat and our bodies continue basic functions, this delicate balance can be thrown off if we’re not regularly replenishing those minerals. And while potassium is often the most vilified when it comes to muscle cramps, sodium, calcium, and magnesium also play an important role. Many people assume that if they’re having muscle cramps it means they’re deficient in one or more of these minerals, but too much may also result in cramping. Each plays an important role in muscle function and too much or too little of any of them can disrupt normal function, resulting in those irritating cramps.

You may need to change your diet, or increase or decrease your supplements. It’s important to speak with your doctor about what changes you can make to get your body back into balance.


Along with that delicate mineral balance, hydration is just as important. In order for those minute, yet oh-so-important, cellular functions to happen correctly, cells need to be hydrated; keeping the proper balance of water and minerals. Muscle cramps are especially common in athletes and physical laborers, particularly in extreme heat conditions when our bodies require much more water. So if you’re experiencing regular cramping, increasing your water intake may be a simple solution.


For many athletes, weekend warriors, or just exercise enthusiasts, overusing any muscle can be a big cause of muscle cramping. Whether this is chronic overuse or a sudden change in intensity of your exercise routine, the nervous system is usually to blame here. When you’re really pushing yourself during a workout, your nerves can become overexcited and it can be difficult to calm them down. This is just another reason to take the time after every workout to cool down, stretch, and let, not only your muscles, but your nervous system calm back down into a resting state. But if those deep cool downs aren’t cutting it, you may want to try backing off your workouts and see if your body adjusts. And if you still want to increase your intensity, just do it slowly.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, too little movement can be just as detrimental and result in muscle cramps. Again, your nervous system is probably to blame here and it’s simply a malfunction of the nerves. A little stimulation to them can often solve this problem. If your job keeps you sitting all the time, try taking a 5-10 minute break every hour and just walk around the office.

If you notice here, it’s all about balance. Your body requires a delicate balance to be kept of water and minerals, movement and rest. If you’re experiencing muscle cramps, what changes can you make to get your body back into balance?


Frozen Shoulder- what it is and how massage can help

Frozen shoulder, also called Adhesive Capsulitis, is a condition characterized by thick bands of tissue (adhesions) forming around the shoulder joint. This can result in severe stiffness, loss of range of motion, and pain in the joint.

The most noticeable effect is the inability to move the shoulder, either on your own or with assistance. This isn’t just a pain in the shoulder that makes you hesitate or resist movement, but an actual inability to move the joint. About 2%-3% of the population experiences frozen shoulder at some point, with most being between the age of 40 and 60. While the cause of frozen shoulder is not quite understood, we do know that it often accompanies other conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s Disease. An injury to the shoulder and subsequent immobility can also put you at an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder. This is one reason, after a shoulder injury or surgery, passive and active range of motion exercises are recommended as part of rehabilitation.

There are typically 3 stages to frozen shoulder.


This is the early stage, typically characterized by an increase in pain and stiffness over a period of several weeks to months. As the pain increases, range of motion decreases.


This stage generally lasts somewhere around 6 months, and while the pain typically decreases, the stiffness and loss of range of motion only worsens. Even the most routine daily activities, like brushing your hair or reaching into a cabinet can be extremely difficult, if not impossible with the affected shoulder.


Frozen shoulder doesn’t last permanently. Most people who experience frozen shoulder have a seemingly spontaneous recovery.The thawing stage is the slow progression back to normal range of motion and strength. It can last from 6 months to 2 years.

How can massage therapy help?

Along with the treatments, stretches, and exercises your doctor and physical therapist recommend, your massage therapist can apply a variety of techniques to help speed up your recovery. With manual massage, especially cupping and specific passive and active movements, we can break down those adhesions and help the “thawing” process.

Also, there’s something often referred to as pseudo-frozen shoulder. What this is, is an unconscious muscle guarding that mimics true frozen shoulder. There may be an underlying condition or injury within the shoulder that, instead of adhesions limiting your range, your nervous system reacts to movement in a protective manner, tightening the muscles around the shoulder to limit range of motion, even without you realizing it’s happening. Some studies suggest that even if you are experiencing true frozen shoulder, much of the loss of mobility may be attributed to muscle guarding instead of solely the fault of the adhesions. Part of your massage sessions will include guidance and relaxation techniques to retrain your nervous system to calm and allow the shoulder to move as much as possible. Cups will be integral to retraining your nervous system, and while there may be some discomfort with the cups during your session for this particular treatment, it will surly shorten your recovery time!

So before you just suffer through with a frozen shoulder, book an appointment for a massage and see the difference it makes.


7 Easy Self-Care Tips, to keep you feeling great between massages

While massage therapy can have benefits that last days or weeks at a time, that doesn’t mean you can neglect your body every day in between appointments. To help the effects of your massage last longer and simply to feel better, you’ll need to practice some self-care. Massage therapy is not a luxury, nor is it selfish to receive. Daily self-care is no different.

So here’s 7 easy self-care tips you can start using today to get you through until your next massage appointment.


#1: Take breaks

Whether you’re working at a desk all day, standing in one spot, or doing hard manual labor, your body needs a break. Ideally, you’d want to take about 10 minutes for every hour of work, but I know not every work environment accommodates that sort of schedule, so take a break as often as possible. And I mean a real break. Don’t grab lunch at your desk while you keep working, or go from a computer screen to your phone screen scrolling through social media. A real break, one that’s going to benefit your body and mind, is one in which you do the opposite of your work. So if you sit at a desk all day, take a break by going outside for a 10 minute walk on nice days, or at least walk around the office and chat with coworkers about things that aren’t work related. If your job is more physically assertive, take a break by sitting back, kicking up your feet and closing your eyes for a few minutes. Whatever it is you do, give your mind and body a true rest from those tasks, or you won’t feel like you’ve had a break at all.

#2: Stretch

During that break, or even while you’re working, move your body and stretch! Focus on the areas that tend to bother you at the end of the day, even if they’re not hurting right at the moment. Incorporating some small stretches throughout the day will often prevent that pain you may be feeling by the time you’re ready to clock out.

#3: Self-Massage

Back massagers, foot baths, Thera Canes, and more…while there’s all kinds of specific tools designed to help you reach those hard to massage areas, a tennis ball can be just as good. You can use it for just about any area with only your bodyweight as leverage to get pressure. For example, try lying on your back on the floor, with the tennis ball placed under your back (if this is too much pressure, try leaning against a wall instead). You can use your feet to rock yourself left and right, up and down, letting the ball find different areas of tension. When you find a good spot, try to relax and breathe into it until that tension melts away.

While these tools don’t replace the skilled hands of a trained Massage Therapist, they can help to relieve the daily tension that can build up between appointments.

#4: Get Outside

Fresh air does a body good, and this is actually backed up by science. Research suggests that spending time outdoors helps you to clear your mind, improve your focus, and just feel happier. So whether it’s taking a break during work or making a day of it on a weekend, spend time outdoors.

#5: Meditate / Breathe

Meditation has been shown time and again to help reduce stress and ease tension in the body, but I know it seems like a daunting task for many. Meditation isn’t just about clearing your mind completely (that’s impossible for most of us), but is instead about focusing your mind on something. Some prefer guided meditation to keep them focused, and others enjoy just some quiet time breathing. Find what works for you. There’s no right or wrong about it. To start, try taking just 5 minutes somewhere quiet to breathe. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your body. What sensations do you feel? Focus on slowly relaxing each and every muscle from the top of your head all the way down to your toes. Making even a short exercise like this a normal part of your daily activities not only helps you relax, but it builds your body awareness – your ability to perceive where you are in space, and to recognize the sensations of your own body. This can, in turn help you recognize when your body is close to injury and prevent you from pushing too hard, or help you to isolate a problem area you may need work on.

#6: Turn up the music

Music is good for the soul and can help to take your mind off daily stresses. Studies have shown that playing music causes dopamine, a feel-good chemical, to be released into the brain. This is the same chemical that’s released when we eat chocolate and fall in love. It’s pretty powerful stuff! So while you’re driving to and from work, crank up the tunes and rock out. If you can’t stand the music they play at work (if any), bring your own and put in some headphones. It’ll help you to concentrate and feel good all day.

#7: Get plenty of sleep

Sleep is absolutely crucial to keeping your body in tip-top shape. If your sleep is suffering, everything else will suffer as well. Most adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night, but many people are far below that. Everyone’s needs are different, so you may be perfectly fine with less than that, or you may need more. The best way to determine this is to go without an alarm clock for at least 1 week and go to bed at the same time every night. This allows your body to fall into a rhythm of what it really needs instead of what it’s been forced to do for so long. You’ll soon see just how much sleep your body requires when you allow it to wake naturally.

And no, sleeping in on the weekends doesn’t make up for a week of lost sleep. Sleep deprivation (those who get less than the recommended 7 hours) can result in a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a decreased immune system. Not to mention the smaller side effects like loss of concentration, decreased productivity, and irritability. So if you want to feel good throughout your time between massage appointments, make sure you’re getting enough sleep.


Massage & Depression

Depression is an all-too-common struggle for people all over the globe. According to the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that 350 million people suffer from depression. While there are many treatment options, one you may not have thought of is massage therapy. Massage can decrease muscle tension and ease some of the daily physical stress you may put on your body, but it can also go beyond just making you feel good.

A study from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine¹ found that massage decreases the stress hormone cortisol by an average of 31%. There has been a long-standing association between high cortisol or impaired regulation of cortisol levels and anxiety and depression. Decreasing cortisol and aiding the continued regulation of this hormone can potentially ease some of the symptoms of depression.

This same study also concluded that massage increases the levels of two very important feel-good neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, by 28% and 31% respectively. Both of these neurotransmitters play an important role in mood regulation.

Along with these measurable changes within the body, there are also benefits that aren’t so measurable. One of the biggest is the mind-body connection that is enhanced when massage therapy becomes a regular part of your self-care routine. When the brain and nervous system can take the time to calm down, receive plenty of oxygen during the deep breathing a massage can induce, and relish in the sensations associated with the massage – the way the pressure feels as the hands move from one muscle group to another; the pull of a good stretch; the release as a muscle finally lets go – all of these stimulate the brain to perceive the sensations of the body differently, and in a more positive way.

Massage therapy also creates a safe space for positive touch. Touch is a necessary part of being the social creatures we are as humans. A lack of touch can actually have very harsh effects on us, physically and emotionally, but many people have experienced touch in a very negative way, and avoid it as much as possible. However, taking 60 or 90 minutes once a week or once a month to allow yourself to receive positive, safe touch that you may otherwise not receive, can help ease those feelings of discomfort, loneliness, and depression. One study² found that massage therapy supported significant improvement of the psychological and physical well-being of sexual abuse survivors.

So while massage may not be a cure for depression, and it’s not a substitute for medications or therapy, it can play a major role as part of a holistic approach to the treatment of depression.

¹ Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy.
Field T1, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C.

² Body-oriented therapy in recovery from child sexual abuse: an efficacy study.
Price C1.


Massage and Cancer

A cancer diagnosis is scary. There’s no other way to say it. And the treatments can sometimes be as scary as the disease itself. Chemo, radiation, and surgeries can have intense side effects, some that last a lifetime.

Many cancer patients experience

  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • poor sleep

One aide in this incredibly difficult situation that many don’t think of, is massage therapy. While massage will not have an effect on the cancer itself, it can help to ease many of the problems associated with the treatments, such as those listed above.

Many people wonder if massage is safe for cancer patients and the answer is a resounding YES! In fact, special training in oncology massage prepares therapists to work with cancer patients at any stage. The Society for Oncology Massage (S4OM) defines oncology massage as “the modification of existing massage therapy techniques in order to safely work with complications of cancer and cancer treatment.” Light, relaxing massage is safe for people at all stages of cancer. In fact, massage has been shown to decrease nausea, fatigue, and pain, and improve anxiety, depression, and sleep. And while massage is considered safe, it is still important to seek out a massage therapist with oncology massage training to ensure they understand treatment protocols and contraindications that may be present depending on your specific case. As of now, I am not train in oncology massage, but I hope one day to be able to offer this to clients.

One concern that many people present with is ‘can massage spread cancer?’. The answer is no. Metastasis (spreading of cancer cells) is a complex process that requires changes in cellular DNA, and is not influenced by the increased lymphatic flow that may occur during a massage.

So if you or someone you know is battling this horrible disease, massage therapy may be the answer to many of the unpleasant side effects of the disease and the treatments.


Massage and Chronic Pain

Millions of people throughout the world battle chronic pain. While many think of it as just some mild achyness or soreness somewhere that comes and goes on a regular basis, those who live with it every day know it is far more than that. The pain can be debilitating and can take a toll on many other aspects of life.

People can experience a widespread pain that can affect numerous areas of the body, such as that associated with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Others may experience chronic pain more specifically isolated to an area, due to an injury or surgery.

No matter the cause, this persistent pain over months and years can affect so much more than just the physical body. Depression and chronic fatigue can often accompany the pain. Knowing that certain everyday activities are going to hurt has a major impact on a person’s mood. And the not knowing is just as powerful. Some days you may be able to go about your normal activities without much pain, and others are unbearable. Sometimes during those days with little to no pain, you’re still constantly thinking in the back of your mind “I’m going to pay for this tomorrow”.

That’s no way to live!

But unfortunately, the medical community still struggles with how to handle chronic pain. Other than surgical repairs to injuries, pain medications, injections, and the like, many chronic pain sufferers are left exasperated and defeated.

Did you know that massage therapy and other complementary forms of healthcare are becoming more and more prominent in the fight against chronic pain. For some, the idea of a person massaging their sore body is wonderful, and for other it’s terrifying. They don’t want to experience any more pain than they do already. But have no fear. Your massage is tailored to your needs completely. If that means doing the lightest form of pressure possible, that’s what you’ll get. If you want those sore areas “worked out”, that can be done too. Communication is key. If you want more or less pressure, let me know. If a certain area is too painful to touch that day, that’s fine too. It’s all about what you need, what you want, and what is best for you in the long run.

Massage therapy isn’t just a relaxation method for those suffering with chronic pain; there are actually numerous benefits that can possibly help to ease your pain, both short-term and long-term. Beyond the initial relaxing of the body and calming of the mind during a massage, the act of physical touch has been shown time and again in research to have amazing benefits. Stretches and range of motion exercises can help to ease stiffness in the joints and improve movement. Healthy, safe touch causes your body to release several hormones (oxytocin) and neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins) that dull the pain and make you feel better. At the same time, your nervous system is being stimulated in a way that can “reset” things, so to speak. You’re basically re-training your nerves in how to perceive touch and pain – something that is theorized to be at the heart of chronic pain.

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, or know someone who is, let’s see if massage therapy would be a good addition to your current treatment plan.


Think You Need to Stretch Your Back? Maybe Not….

When your back is hurting, it’s common practice to stretch it. That usually means bending forward at the hips and allowing the low back muscles to stretch a bit. This can also help to stretch out the hamstrings, calves, and with the right arm position, the shoulders and upper back as well. But what if this sort of stretching is actually doing more harm than good?

Many people who experience low back pain don’t necessarily need to stretch it. Sometimes the muscles in the lower back are already too stretched and need to be strengthened instead. While doing that traditional low back stretch probably isn’t going to hurt you, it may actually be the opposite of what you need to help your low back pain. If you notice that you round your back, especially when sitting for long periods, many of the low back muscles are being put into a stretched position that entire time, effectively making them weak. Along with those weak muscles, come weak ligaments and fascia within the spine (the connective tissue that holds your vertebrae together).

When all of these components are weakened due to this chronic rounding of the low back, it puts abnormal pressure on the discs of the lumbar spine. This, in turn, can lead to bulging and herniated discs which put pressure on nerves, causing significant pain.

While the traditional low back stretch isn’t singularly going to cause a low back or disc problem, it can exacerbate an existing problem. So if you’re experiencing low back pain, why not try doing the opposite action. Instead, stretch your abs and shorten the muscles of your low back.

This can mean something as simple as lying on your stomach and propping yourself up on your elbows while watching TV in the evenings, or starting to implement regular back exercises into your routine.

Here’s 4 simple ways to strengthen your back and reduce your back pain.

*if you experience any sharp pain during these, stop immediately*


Standing Back Stretch:
Stand with your feet together and reach your arms overhead until your palms touch. Reach your arms back as far as you can while arching your low back.


Press Ups / Back Extensions:
Lie flat on your stomach with your hands directly under your shoulders. Push your chest off the floor and look forward or up, keeping your hips flat on the floor. Try to use as little arm strength as possible and instead, focus on allowing your low back to do the work. Hold for 15-30 seconds, lower your chest, and repeat 10 times.

Lie flat on your stomach with your hands directly under your shoulders. Push your entire body off the ground until you’re in a push-up position. Tighten your abs and old this steady for 20-30 seconds. Be sure your head, back, hips, and legs are all in a straight line. Lower your entire body to the ground and repeat 5 times.

Alternating Bird Dog Pose:
Start with both hands and both knees on the ground. Reach and raise your right arm and left leg up until both are in a straight line with your body. Hold for 5-10 seconds and return to the starting position. Reach and raise your left arm and right leg up until both are in a straight line with your body. Hold for 5-10 seconds and return to your starting position. Repeat on both sides 10 times.


The Science Behind Post-workout Massage

While many people think of massage as just a feel-good sort of luxury, there are actually numerous health benefits, one of the many being post-workout recovery. Massage therapy has long been used as a recovery method for athletes, but there was little science to support it. While many athletes have known for years that massage can help to reduce soreness after an intense workout, science is suggesting there’s much more to it than just making us feel better.

Over the last several years, as more studies have been done in the field of massage, the reasons are becoming more and more clear.

Muscle damage from exercise isn’t just relayed to us through pain, but also through subtle clues that may be hard to detect for many people. Through certain testing, researchers were looking to see when an athlete’s muscles were truly ready to return to activity, and how massage affected that. So, in a 2015 study¹ they wanted to see if massage could increase post-workout strength and body awareness (proprioception). To do this they focused their testing on the gastrocnemius (the large muscle of the calf). Each participant ran up and down a 5 story building twenty times. Following this, half the subjects received a 15-minute massage to the lower legs and the other half did not. What they found was that the subjects who received massage had more strength and improved proprioception and muscular architecture. While massage isn’t going to replace lifting weights, the return of strength and the expression of strength and technique is increased when massage is applied directly following an intense workout; all of this to say, that means you’ll not only feel better quicker, but you can also get back into the action much sooner.

Another study² gives a bit more explanation to this as they discovered that massage decreased the activity of a protein called NF-kB, which causes exercise-related inflammation, and increased the activity of a protein called PGC-1alpha, which spurs the production of new mitochondria. What does all that mean? Basically, that on a cellular level, massage is decreasing inflammation and increasing cellular repair after exercise. Again, suggesting that massage doesn’t just make you feel better after a workout, but truly helps your body repair itself much faster.

Notice that none of this had to do with lactic acid! In fact, these and other studies have shown that massage does not “flush out” lactic acid at all; a misguided reason often given for post-workout massage. Instead, the reason you feel better is because massage is causing structural and cellular changes to the muscles, speeding recovery and rehabilitation.

So, if you love to push yourself at the gym, be sure a schedule your next massage right after to get the most benefit!


¹ Effects of Massage on Muscular Strength and Proprioception After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Shin, Mal-Soon; Sung, Yun-Hee.

² Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Justin D. Crane, Daniel I. Ogborn, Colleen Cupido, Simon Melov, Alan Hubbard, Jacqueline M. Bourgeois, and Mark A. Tarnopolsky.


Massage Etiquette- 9 questions you may be too embarrassed to ask

There seems to be a lot of unspoken etiquette involved when receiving a massage. For those who’ve had numerous massages, this may be well understood. However, for those who haven’t received massage regularly, you may feel a bit intimidated or overwhelmed by all the questions running through your head about it all.

So, instead of leaving these to be ‘unspoken’ etiquette, let’s rip back the curtain and talk about some of the questions you may have, but you’re just too embarrassed to ask.

What if I fall asleep?

Great! Most people arrive for their massage having been stressed, in pain, sleep-deprived, or otherwise unable to deeply relax for a while. It’s no surprise that many massage clients tend to fall asleep. Some may sleep through most of the session, while others only doze off a little here and there throughout. No matter what you do, this is the time to take care of yourself, so don’t try to fight what your body needs. If you drool, snore, pass gas, twitch, talk, or do anything else in your sleep, I won’t think twice about it. I promise that you will not be the first or last client to do any of that! And honestly, it won’t phase me at all!  A large reason for your appointment is to get you to relax, so why shouldn’t you sleep if you want to?

What if I forgot to shave?

I promise, I really don’t care! For many women, the idea of having someone massage your legs when you haven’t shaved in a while can be a bit embarrassing, but there’s nothing to be worried about. As a Massage Therapist, I massage both men and women, hairy to clean-shaven, and everything in between. There’s no need to be concerned about whether you shaved that morning or not. My focus is on your muscles, not on your hair.

What if I don’t want you to touch a certain area?

Whether an area is too painful to touch, you’re ticklish, or otherwise just don’t want anyone touching you in a certain area, that’s perfectly fine. A typical full body massage would include your scalp, face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, hips, legs, and feet. Some people don’t want their hair messed up since they’ll need to return to work or go out; others are too ticklish on their feet. Whatever your reasoning, it’s your body and the session is all about your needs. If you don’t want any specific area massaged, all you have to do is tell me.

How much do I really have to take off?

The quick answer is, it’s completely up to you. Yes, to have the most effective full body massage, you’ll need to remove most or all of your clothing, but it’s your time and it’s your body. While a standard full body session is best done with no clothes, if that makes you uncomfortable, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. If keeping your underpants on makes you more comfortable, then by all means do so! We won’t be able to get you into a relaxed state if you’re worried about something like that (or anything really). There are ways to work with a client fully clothed, and that is a possibility, but please understand, that regardless of how much or how little you take off, you will always be covered in a modest fashion.

Should I tip?

Every therapist and establishment may have a different opinion on this, but the simple answer is, if you want to, sure. Tips are never expected but always appreciated. Just as tipping isn’t set in stone, neither is the amount. Do what you feel is best for the service you’re getting…period.

Should I talk to you?

This is, yet again, completely up to you. If you want to talk during the session, feel free. If you prefer silence, that’s fine too. There may need to be some communication in the massage to determine if the pressure is comfortable or answer some questions about any injury or pain you may be having. Other than that, I will follow your lead when it comes to conversation.

What if I get an erection?

This is a fear for many men concerning massage therapy. Physiologically, it is not uncommon for men to get an erection during a completely non-sexual massage; it is simply a matter of the parasympathetic nervous system relaxing the body and blood flow going where it may. Draping (the covering of the body with linens and blankets) is done in a way that usually prevents your therapist from even noticing such a thing. As long as there is no intent behind it or action upon it, it is a normal physiological response of the body that will be ignored.

What if I have to go to the bathroom?

There’s nothing that will snap you out of a deep relaxation like the sudden urge to use the restroom. While it’s always advised to go before your massage session to prevent this, sometimes bodily functions don’t cooperate on our schedule. If you need to go, simply speak up and I will step out so you can get dressed and go to the restroom. Once you’re back on the table, we’ll resume right where we left off.

What if I don’t like what you’re doing?

Tell me! If the pressure is too much, too little, you’re ticklish, or something just doesn’t feel right for any reason, speak up. I can change technique, pressure, or end the session completely if you’d like.

I hope this answers some of your questions and if you ever have any others, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Thai Massage: the technique and benefits

If you’ve been looking for something different from the typical massage experience, Thai massage may be perfect for you. It’s unlike most traditional western forms of massage but just as relaxing and beneficial, if not more so.

So what makes it so different?

Unlike common modalities of massage like Swedish and Deep Tissue, Thai massage doesn’t require you to undress and climb under linens on a massage table. In fact, Thai is usually performed fully clothed on a mat on the floor, but the techniques can be altered to work on a table if you prefer. There also isn’t any use of oils or lotions since it doesn’t include any of the kneading or gliding of a Swedish or Deep Tissue massage. Instead, Thai massage mostly employs stretching, rocking, pulling, and compression.

What Does It Feel Like?

Some people refer to it as a passive form of yoga, and some practitioners prefer to call the practice ‘Thai Yoga Massage’ since you’ll be stretched and placed into all sorts of positions to stretch muscles you didn’t even know needed stretched. Instead of just using my hands and forearms, I’ll also incorporate the use of my knees and feet to move you through a series of motions and stretches similar to a yoga sequence.

While traditional Thai massage, as performed in Thailand, can be somewhat rough and abrupt in application, westernized versions have been modified to be much more gentle so you shouldn’t feel pain at any point in your session. Just like with any other massage modality, be sure to speak up if the pressure needs to be adjusted for your comfort level.

What Are The Benefits?

Just like with most other forms of massage, Thai massage can increase lymphatic flow, improve sleep, decrease pain, and improve range of motion and flexibility. However, what separates Thai massage from other modalities is that this passive range of motion is extremely beneficial for those suffering from arthritis and other conditions that may leave the joints painful and stiff.

What To Expect?

  • Sessions can range from 1-2 hours depending on your needs.
  • Because this modality is performed fully clothed, be sure to wear something loose and comfortable, similar to what you would normally exercise in.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal right before. A light meal or snack is alright, but remember you’ll be stretched in many ways, often putting some pressure on your stomach.
  • Remember to speak up if you ever feel uncomfortable or experience pain.



The What and Why of Prenatal Massage

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, some Massage Therapists will not massage a pregnant woman (especially in the first trimester). Even for 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. Of course, we will work together to find the most comfortable combination of these things for each individual and for each visit. 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.


4 Reasons You Should Take a Break

I know you’re busy. You rush through your days and probably right now have numerous browsers open or are only halfway reading this because you have so much on your mind. That’s life in the world we live in. But did you know that taking a break is far more beneficial than just a few minutes of downtime?

Whether it’s a 10 minute break in the middle of your workday or a full week away, taking breaks has numerous benefits. Here’s 4 of the best…

Increases productivity

One of the reasons many people refuse to take breaks is that they think they’ll get more done without them, but the opposite is true. You’re less focused and make more mistakes the longer you continue to work without a break.

Alejandro Lleras, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, states:

“…Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”

Prevents burnout

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of burnout. You dread your daily tasks, you’ve lost your passion for the work, and you can even start experiencing adverse physical effects like regular headaches and stomach upset. When the mind and body get a chance to completely let go and turn “off” for a while, they can recover and come back even stronger. You wouldn’t work out for hours at a time, every day for weeks without taking any breaks, right? You’d injure yourself or at the very least your body would start to rebel against you. Your mind is the same way. It needs that downtime to keep from injuring itself and slowing down.

Manage stress better

When you allow your body and mind to take regular breaks, they’re better able to handle the stresses you may throw at them. And while a 10 or 20 minute break to do anything but work is still beneficial, it’s even more pronounced when you can take a nap, or even better, get a massage! Studies have shown that taking a 20-minute nap in the afternoon actually provides more rest than sleeping an extra 20 minutes in the morning!

Personal time

We often get so occupied taking care of others that we neglect ourselves; but as the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You need that personal time, whether it’s a half hour on your lunch break to take a walk, a massage after work, or even just few minutes to sneak in the closet and enjoy a cookie or glass of wine while they kids watch a cartoon, that time is for you and you alone. It does incredible things for the mind and the soul when you can focus just on yourself.

Now, I know you may be thinking “easier said than done!”. It’s true. I know from personal experience. Trust me when I say that this is not mindless advice but tried and true information from yours truly! Start small if you have to and make your way to up to longer times if needed. What better way to make sure you follow through than to make a massage appointment?!


What is Chair Massage?

Chair massage was introduced in the 1980s, and while it had a slow start, it has since become a staple in the massage profession. You’re now able to stop and get a quick 10 or 15 minute chair massage at a health fair, your local mall, or even the airport. And now you’ll also find therapists performing chair massage in the corporate world. More and more employers are seeing the benefits of regular massage, even a quick chair massage, for their employees and are implementing it as part of their employee benefits program.

For those of you who may not be familiar with what a chair massage entails, here’s the basic rundown…

You’ll remain fully clothed and have a seat on an ergonomic chair that positions you in such a way that the massage therapist can easily work on your entire back, neck, shoulders, and arms. Many people like the fact that they don’t have to get undressed for this type of massage, whether they’re just in a hurry or have trouble undressing.

There are just a couple drawbacks though to chair massage. It may not be quite as effective of a traditional table massage due to the hinderance of clothing, and the pressure may not be as deep as you want with the leverage restrictions of a seated position, but the good news is that many of the benefits are the same as a traditional table style massage.

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Relief of muscles aches
  • Headache relief
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Increased productivity (in the workplace)

Think about bringing this up with your boss if you’re an employee. If you’re the boss, show your employees that you understand their needs! Sometimes the business will pay the Massage Therapist and sometimes each individual pays for their own session. There a many options! Please feel ever so free to reach out with questions! Can you think of anything better in the middle of a work day?!


What to Expect During Your First Massage

            For many, massage therapy isn’t really on the radar as part of routine healthcare. It may have just been something that was part of a spa gift certificate the family got mom for Mother’s Day or a splurge before a big event, like a wedding. But the massage industry has only grown over the last several years, and with it, a new public acceptance of massage therapy as part of a healthcare and self-care protocol. While it may seem a little intimidating to get your first massage, let me put you at ease by filling you in on all the details of what to expect.

You’ll want to arrive ten to fifteen minutes early to your first appointment. You’ll fill out some brief paper work which will ask about your current medications, recent injuries etc, to help me understand your needs, and plan your session. We will go over anything that needs further explanation to gauge the pressure you might want, the areas of focus, the areas to avoid, and any medical issues that may affect your experience.

One thing most people wonder about is how far to get undressed. The main thing to remember here is that your comfort is always the main goal! Most people either undress to their underpants, or undress completely. It is always your choice though, and if you decide to keep a bra or pants or anything else that makes you feel comfortable, I am happy to work around anything. I will say that the more clothing or jewelry I have to work around, the less I feel you are getting the full experience. That being said, it’s worth repeating that your comfort is the main goal so make the decision that is right for you! In certain cases, for example low back pain. I might suggest extra work and even cupping (I’m happy to go into that with you if you’re interested) on the gluteal muscles. This would mean not having underpants on. You are in charge of that decision and can absolutely opt out. It could be the case that you are not comfortable with it for your session today but next time you come in you’ve changed your mind. No problem!

Now would be a good time to talk about draping! You may be asking yourself how you will be covered during your massage. I uncover the body part that’s getting worked on and cover it back up when I’m done. Your groin and, in the case of women the breasts, will remain covered at all times. I know it can be intimidating to think that only a sheet and blanket will be separating you from a stranger. Your modesty and comfort are extremely important to me. If for any reason, you feel uncomfortable at all, don’t be afraid to communicate your concerns. This is your time and your service, so your comfort level is of utmost important.

Along with your comfort comes the discussion of pressure. If at any point in the massage you need more or less pressure, please let me know! I can’t read your mind, so it’s important for you to speak up if you need anything changed at all. This also goes for anything with the technique. The important thing to remember is that this is your time and it needs to be what you want. Whether that’s concerning the pressure, the music, the feel of the cream or oil being used, or anything else; let me know how we can make the experience great for you.

It’s normal in the beginning, especially during your first massage, to be a little tense, but try to allow yourself to truly be present and enjoy. Once your session is over, I’ll give you privacy to let you come back to your senses and re-dress. Before you jump up off the table though, take a moment to breathe and soak in the feelings you’re experiencing; the looseness in your muscles, your calmed mind, and just the peace and quiet. You deserve it.


Chronic Pain vs Acute Pain

Pain is something everyone is well acquainted with. It doesn’t discriminate. No matter who you are, what your ethnicity, or the amount of money you have in your bank account; at some point in your life you will experience pain. The problem is when you experience pain more frequently than normal, and it gets in the way of your daily activities or your quality of life.

You hear terms such as chronic pain and acute pain, but what do they really mean, and when should you be concerned?

Acute pain is a severe or sudden pain that resolves within a few hours, days, or weeks. You might feel acute pain when you have an injury, are sick, or have surgery. Generally, with acute pain, you can pinpoint the location of the pain, and you are aware of the cause of the pain. So, for example you stub your toe, sprain your ankle, cut yourself with a knife while slicing something, or pull a muscle. Acute pain’s job is to inform you of an injury to further protect you. Acute pain is brought on by the damaging of the tissue in the affected area. Acute pain is a protection mechanism for your body. It alarms you of the pain in hopes that you will react to reduce the exposure to whatever the guilty party is. Whether it be that you touched a hot stove, or ran into something sharp, it’s there to tell you something isn’t right!

Chronic pain on the other hand, is persistent, lasting for several months, or longer, and is a health condition in its own category. Chronic pain is any pain lasting beyond the expected healing period, typically 6 months or longer. With chronic pain, you may know the source, maybe you were hurt and have healed but the affected area still causes you pain and sometimes even intensifies. So, you sprained your ankle 6 months ago, but still have constant pain despite efforts to heal. Chronic pain may even come along without any injury at all, leaving you wondering the cause. There are times when you can’t identify the cause of the pain such as conditions like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome.

When deciding on what type of pain you have and when to be concerned, there are a few things you will want to look at. First, you’ll want to take into consideration the injury. If it’s something like a sprain or a pulled muscle, it’s always best to see a professional so that you can be aware of important information such as movements to avoid, and exercises and treatments that will help you to heal. While everyone’s body is different, you will also want to inquire about the healing period, and when you should be back to normal. This will give you an idea of how to gauge your healing and pain. Once you have addressed these issues, it may be a waiting game. If you are healing from an injury and bounce back within the allotted time, that’s great. If you are past the healing period, give yourself some wiggle room before you get concerned because again, everyone’s body is different you will still want to listen closely to your body and ask your chosen professional. If you are well past the healing period and still have pain, or have no obvious injury, you will want to be see by a professional who can give you the necessary care, and guidance.

While pain is something that we all will run into at some point in our lives it is very important that we are aware of the specifics, so we can treat our bodies with care. Don’t overlook signs of a serious problem but realize pain can be caused by several things that aren’t always immediately concerning. Being aware of the difference between acute and chronic pain may be what saves you a large doctor bill or helps to diagnose a serious issue.


The Importance of Movement

Everyone has heard the phrase that an object in motion stays in motion. As much as most of us would like to believe that this isn’t true, unfortunately it is. But why is it so hard for us to accept? All too often we stay indoors in a sitting position if life will allow us. We’ll go out of our way to put off daily chores, and errands in a second just to avoid the extra effort that it calls for. How did we get this way? We live in a time that everything is readily available. Before, we would have to make our clothes, raise and harvest our own food, build our own homes; that used to be the norm. The more we evolved as a society, the less we had to exert ourselves physically, and the lazier we got. We can have food, clothing, household supplies, and even groceries brought to our doorstep. Why would we go through all the pains to acquire these things on our own? Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many physical jobs out there that require long hours on your feet whether serving customers or manual labor, so when you get home, you just want to rest. But what about those who work office jobs and sit for most of their day? While those jobs are just as exhausting mentally, which can sometimes be just as bad, still physically, it’s taking a bigger toll on our bodies without us even realizing it.

“Excessive sitting is now linked with diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression,” says James, Levine, M.D., Ph.D., the director of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Arizona State University. It is estimated that the current generation of children will die earlier than their parents, which may be linked to their sedentary lifestyle per Dr. Levine. Dr. Levine also stated that “People who are physically active at work become more productive, about 11 to 15 percent more productive”.

When you’re active your body releases ‘feel good’ hormones. That’s why even when you struggled to get out of the bed for your morning workout, you felt energized afterwards. When you feel better about yourself, you tend to have a more positive and productive day.

Have you ever woken up from an extra-long night’s sleep sore, and needing more rest than before you laid down in the first place? It’s because while our bodies need rest to recover from the previous day’s activities, there is a point where too much sleep and not enough movement in your muscles can both begin to cause more issues than they do benefits. People should get on average 7-9 hours of sleep daily. For some, 7 hours is perfect, while others need that full 9 hours. You need to listen to your body to see which is right for you. For example, when I get 9 hours of sleep, I feel exhausted when I wake up. However, when I get 7 hours of sleep, after initially getting out of bed, I feel rested and ready for the day. If you oversleep, which is sleeping more than our body requires wherever on the scale you fall, you can be in danger of increased inflammation, increased pain, depression, higher risk of heart disease, the list goes on. There will be times that you will sleep more than ‘normal’ and that may be what your body needs at the time, but just remember to find a balance between sleeping too much and truly resting.

The same goes for your movements throughout the day. While you may have to sit or stand still for long periods of time for your job, be sure to counter that with regular breaks that involve as much full-body movement as possible, as well as good exercise and stretching routines, and a generally active lifestyle on your off-hours. This will help to keep your heart healthy, your body strong, stop your joints from stiffening, and overall lead to a healthier body.

Our bodies are amazing specimens that can do wonderful things, but to be at their peak performance, we must take care of them. By taking care of them, we must keep them moving, whether that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the store, or walking to the nearest store instead of driving. These few steps will have your body thanking you in the future.


Listening to Your Body

The human body to me is such an amazing thing. Not only can it create life, but it can fight off sickness, adapt to its environment, and be molded and formed into what we choose for it. But the most amazing part about the human body to me, is that if you are in tune with your body, it will speak to you. Your body will tell you what it wants or needs and what it doesn’t want or need. Your body will talk to you in many ways, you just have to be sure you’re listening to it.

Did you know that sometimes hunger can be your body’s way of telling you that you’re dehydrated? Your body can also indicate dehydration and sleep deprivation through headaches. Your body is requesting fluid. Have you ever craved chocolate? That can be a sign of a Magnesium deficiency. A craving for refined carbs such as pasta and bread can mean a Nitrogen deficiency. Have you ever noticed a difference in your body when you eat a certain food? Maybe your stomach hurts, you get gassy, or have stomach cramps? Sometimes you may break out in a rash, or your lips may swell when your body is reacting to something it doesn’t like. Have you ever noticed that after you ate a certain meal your stomach didn’t hurt for a change? The key is to listen. If you notice something different about your body, retrace your food for the day, maybe even keep a journal if your stomach issues have been serious. Slowly eliminate foods that maybe are in your everyday routine to figure out which may be the culprit.

Another way you need to listen to your body is when it comes to exercise. If you frequently work out and notice that your endurance is decreasing, your body may be telling you it’s time to take a rest. That may involve a simple rest day, a change-up in your routine, or a re-evaluation of your fitness goals. Yes, exercise is amazing for your body, and necessary for your health, but overdoing it will not help you to achieve your goals.

Yet another is simply to pay attention throughout your day. Are you regularly waking up with a specific pain? Change the way you’re sleeping. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort with particular activities or movements, slow down and pay attention. Alter your movement in a way that is more comfortable. Your body is trying to tell you something. It knows what it is capable of and when it’s at its breaking point…you better listen. Listen or your body will speak louder, and maybe in ways that are less than desirable.

If you need help in deciphering some of the things your body may be trying to tell you, especially when it comes to those pesky aches and pains, book an appointment and we can address those. Your body will speak to you as loudly or as softly as needed. You must listen to it! This is the most valuable conversation you will have in your life.


Acute vs Chronic Inflammation

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 combating 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.


Swedish vs. Deep Tissue

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.

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. 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 me to lighten the 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 I’m going lighter, and you feel you would like a little more depth into the stroke, let me know.

The main point that I want you to take from this is that your session is your session. I want 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 me before, during, and after will help to make sure that you received what you needed out of the session and that you are walking out of the studio better than you walked in.  Massages should not only be helpful, they should also be enjoyable.


How Your Lower Back Pain & Hip Pain May Be Connected

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 climbing a rock wall. 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.


Relief for PTSD Found in Massage Therapy

Life is such a peculiar thing. We experience moments of joy, beauty, happiness, strength, sadness, pain, and fear just to name a few. We never know when our lives can change whether it be for the better or for the worse. Within that there are people who have survived some of the most traumatizing situations, some on a literal battlefield some on a very different kind of battlefield. Years ago, PTSD wasn’t recognized or really understood. People went about their days putting on a brave face while dealing with something internally on their own, because that is what they were taught to do. Showing that you were struggling was considered a sign of weakness. What we didn’t know then was that being open and honest about your struggles is the complete opposite. Being able to open up to another about an experience that you have went through, that caused you harm, pain, or fear is one of the hardest things a person can do. Opening yourself up to show your vulnerabilities and fears takes a lot of guts and shouldn’t be looked upon lightly. According to the National Center for PTSD, 7.7 million people in the United States alone suffer from PTSD, and that is just the cases that are reported. PTSD can impact one’s life causing them anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts. It’s almost like being in a jail where the worst moments of your life continue to be replayed repeatedly and you have no control over the television.

There have been many recent studies that show how massage therapy can help those diagnosed with PTSD tremendously. The stress relieving factors involved with massage therapy can help to decrease anxiety and depression as well as helping to improve personal mood and decrease irritability. Another benefit of massage therapy when helping to treat PTSD is the reduction in physical pain, and tension. Many of those dealing with PTSD who report dissociation may experience a better sense of self. It is still very early in the studying stage due to the small sample groups involved which make it difficult to foresee the impact on a larger scale, but results so far are very promising.

While these benefits are wonderful, it is always important to talk to your health provider before seeking treatment. If you, or anyone you know is dealing with symptoms of PTSD it is always best to seek help. You aren’t alone, and you shouldn’t go through this alone.


It’s Okay if You Didn’t Shave…… Really

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 me 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…I, as your Massage Therapist, don’t care if you shaved or not! I know you live a busy life and have more to worry about than making sure you shave right before your appointment. I know that realistically you’re lucky if you have time to shave, and that your time is limited and precious. When I massage you, I’m not thinking about how horrible of a person you are because you failed to shave (or choose not to shave), I’m thinking about the body on my table and how I can best make it feel amazing. I’m thinking about how your shoulders are more tense than normal, or that you’re favoring one arm over the other. Your hair is the last thing on my mind. Unless we are cupping (which we should be ::wink wink:: in which case I’m just thinking about how adjust the amount of oil we will need). Don’t allow your fear of my opinion about your leg hair take away from that special time you take for yourself. Heck, passing gas is a totally normal thing while on the massage table! Everyone has hair and we all pass gas. I’m a Massage Therapist because I love the human body and the people who live inside of them. That means taking care of all it, hair, toots, and all! I 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 have hairy legs, arms, and backs. If that doesn’t bother your me as your Massage Therapist, your prickly legs sure won’t either. I promise!

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


How to Communicate with Your Massage Therapist

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 studio 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!


The 6 Major Types of Headache and How They Can be Treated

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 heart rate, 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.


Sciatica: Is it Piriformis Syndrome or Your Low Back?

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 Sleep Affects Muscle Growth

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?


Myths About Muscle Soreness

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 workout 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 a 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.


Why you Shouldn’t Foam Roll your IT band

Foam rolling for recovery is something you see quite frequently when at the gym and is often promoted in workout videos, blogs, and magazines. Almost as soon as someone completes an intense lifting session or workout, it’s not out of the ordinary to see them run over to their foam roller in an attempt to prevent soreness the next day. While foam rolling certainly does have its benefits such as shortening the recovery time and increased range of motion, there are a few things you need to be cautious of before pulling that foam roller out.

If you’ve seen anyone using a foam roller, you’ve likely seen them turn to their side and start rolling the outside of their thigh, the iliotibial (IT) band. That wouldn’t be an issue were the IT band muscle tissue. However, the IT band isn’t muscle, but rather a very tough, thick tendon that runs from a few hip muscles down to the knee.

The point of rolling your muscles is to loosen those that are tight so they can relax; breaking down the tension, for lack of a better term. Because your IT band doesn’t contract and doesn’t respond to pressure in the same way as muscle tissue, regular rolling doesn’t really have much benefit and can actually cause damage and inflammation to the area. What about stretching it? A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy suggest that the IT band with enough stretching may be able to increase its length up to 2.75%. While lengthening the IT band may sound enticing, it may defeat the purpose of it. Increasing the length of the IT band can lower its ability to keep your lower body working properly and keep your body safe.

Many people blame the IT band for hip, thigh, and knee pain, and while that may be somewhat justified, the IT band isn’t usually the initial culprit, but a victim itself. The structures that are often to blame are in fact the muscles that attach at the top of the IT band; the two primary being the gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae (TFL). These muscles work together to perform hip abduction, hip extension, and external rotation; think moving your hip out to the side and back slightly while rotating the foot out. IT band issues are often a muscular imbalance involving these two. Due to a weakened gluteus medius, the TFL must compensate, taking over almost entirely for that hip abduction and extension, and overall stabilization of the hip during movement. The reason is that not many of us regularly work our hips in those actions, but rather only work in a single plane; hip flexion and hip extension. That outward movement, especially in complex forms, isn’t performed on a regular basis, resulting in a weakening of the associated muscles. If the gluteus medius is weak, the TFL is forced to compensate, putting all that work on this relatively small muscle which attaches to the top of that IT band. Due to all that extra work, it pulls significantly more on the IT band, causing a feeling of tightness and possible strain and inflammation to the area. In some cases, this can even begin to cause abnormal knee tracking leading to knee pain and potentially more significant knee problems.

To test if this weakness is the potential culprit for your IT band issue, lay on your side with your legs straight, so you’re in a perfect line. Now lift your top leg up and back, and rotate your toes to point out slightly as well. You may find that it’s hard for you to balance in this position. If you fall toward your back, twist your upper body forward to compensate, or otherwise can’t hold this position while keeping your upper body completely neutral, that’s a good indication that your gluteus medius is weak, and may very well be the cause of this IT band tightness.

How do you strengthen that gluteus medius to correct this? Do that exact motion as an exercise regularly. Lay on your side with your legs straight, then lift that top leg up and back, and rotate the hip out slightly. Come back to neutral and do it again. Repeat several times each day, and be sure you’re working both hips so you’re not creating more imbalance; even if your IT band issue is only on one side.

While I’m not saying to throw out your foam roller, let’s reserve it just for your muscles and leave that poor IT band alone.


3 Stretches to Loosen Your Hips in Less Than 5 Minutes

Many people struggle with tight hips, sometimes resulting in low back and leg pain, whether we make that connection or not. It may happen for you only occasionally or very frequently. You may think that it takes 30 minutes of stretching to loosen them up, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Here are 3 stretches you can do in 5 minutes to loosen those tight hips up when you are in a pinch. Remember, you should feel a slight pull and stretch within the muscles you’re focused on, but it shouldn’t feel painful. 

1. Pigeon Pose (With Modified Pigeon Pose): Sit with your left knee bent and your right leg stretched out behind you. Bring your left heel in toward your right hip. If your hips are more open, inch your right foot farther across your body and away from you. You’ll want to be sure your right hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins to open up toward the ceiling, draw your left foot back in toward your body.  

 Hold this pose for 30 seconds with your hands resting on the ground or on your left thigh.

If the stretch feels comfortable, like you can take it a bit farther without strain, you can lower your upper body towards the floor to get a deeper stretch. If it doesn’t quite feel ready, continue to hold the stretch wherever you feel most comfortable.

 Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds. Switch to the other leg with your right knee bent and left leg out behind you, and repeat.

2. Hamstring Stretch: Stand with your legs extended a foot or so past shoulder width apart, with toes facing out. Slowly extend your hands toward your left leg leaning into the stretch. Try to keep your back straight if possible. While you may feel a slight stretching in the low back, you want to be sure you’re feeling the stretch primarily in the back of the thigh and in the buttock.

Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds. Switch to the other leg and repeat.

3. Quadriceps stretch: Stretching your quads while in a prone (face down) position helps to stabilize your pelvis, minimizing rocking and maximizing the stretch. Lay flat on your stomach, pull your body up on your hands and knees with your back aligned with your thighs in a position like a modified push up. Bend your knee as far as you are able using your hand to hold your foot in place, and if comfortable, pull the foot closer to the buttock. This opening of the abdomen, chest, and shoulder, along with the resistance and bending of the knee, helps to stretch the entirety of the quadriceps, from top to bottom.

 Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds, Switch to the other leg and repeat.

These quick stretches can give you some instant relief when you’re feeling that tightness in your hips and low back, but remember, it’s not a quick permanent fix. You’ll need to do these at least a few times a day during periods of excessive tightness, as well as consider what daily activities are leading you to remain tight in these areas and modifying that behavior to prevent that feeling.


Demystifying Bulging and Herniated Disc

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?  

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. 

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. 


Can Massage Help High Blood Pressure

Did you know that one in three adults in America have high blood pressure, or hypertensionWhile the majority of those diagnosed with high blood pressure are 65 years or older, those under 65 are not immuneThere are certain behaviors that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, and being overweightWhile blood pressure normally increases in stressful situations, chronic stress seems to be even more of a contributing factor to developing high blood pressure. Depending on the severity of your hypertension, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and/or prescribe medication to lower it. Even if you’re prescribed medication, lifestyle changes are still recommended to get the most benefit and get your body in control of your blood pressure instead of solely relying on the medication to do so. 

The obvious first course of action is to take any of those high risk, contributing factors out of the picture. If you smoke, find a plan to help you work on quitting. If you drink excessively, work on decreasing your alcohol intake. Look for ways to increase your exercise habits and aim to eat healthier when possible. While these changes can take time to implement, small steps are better than no steps. If you stress yourself out in the process of making these changes it will defeat the purpose, so get help from your doctor and other medical providers when necessary to make these changes easier for long-term success. 

The next line of defense that you can take is one that many wouldn’t expect. Massage! A study conducted at the Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine in Liverpool, United Kingdom showed a significant decrease in blood pressure following massage. The study also showed a decrease in muscular tension and heart rate as a result of massage therapy. Another study published in the Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies also asserts that hypertension and its associated symptoms were reduced with massage therapy. The subjects in this study were provided with 10 30-minute massage sessions over the course of five weeks. The subjects, all of whom suffered from hypertension, experienced reduced blood pressure, reduced feelings of depression, less hostile behavior, and reduced levels of cortisol in their urine and salivary samples. They concluded from this study that massage for hypertension may be beneficial to reduce blood pressure and lessen the symptoms associated with high blood pressure.  

Regardless of how you and your doctor are working to treat your high blood pressure, adding regular massage therapy into your routine may be the answer. Before trying any form of treatment, you’ll need to consult with your doctor to take the proper channels to track your progress and ensure your body is handling any changes well. 


¹ Delaney, J.P., Leong, K.S., Watkins, A., and Brodie, D.2002Wirral Metropolitan College Department of Medicine: The effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy for people with hypertension 

² Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., Theakston, H., Hossain, Z., and Burman, I., 2000, Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies 


How Sitting can Damage Your Health

The key to a healthy lifestyle is making healthy food choices and staying active, right? While that seems like an easy goal to achieve, we all know that life gets in the way. If you work at a job that doesn’t allow you to get enough movement or your schedule doesn’t make time for working out, living an active lifestyle can be difficult. You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking, but just how does sitting affect your health? 

There are a few issues that immediately come to mind and, if you keep up with any health news, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, such as a decrease in metabolism and increased risk of obesity; but there are other health issues associated with prolonged inactivity that you need to be aware of as well 

When you sit for long periods, your blood pumps slower, and your muscles tend to burn less fat (which also depends on your normal activity level, by the way). This can increase the risk of fatty acids building up in your cardiovascular system. Prolonged periods of sitting can also affect your body’s ability to respond to insulin, increasing your chances of developing diabetes. Excess insulin production encourages abnormal cell growth, which may be linked to an increased risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. Sitting for longer periods of time can also lead to poor circulation, specifically in the legs, which can result in swelling, varicose veins, and even blood clots. 

While all those side effects may not be immediately noticeable, there are some more obvious benefits you’ll see if you change up your habits and get moving more. For example, the first thing we often want to do after eating a nice meal is sit down and relax; but sitting down directly after eating can slow down digestion and lead to bloating, heartburn, and constipation. Getting your blood pumping after a meal, even with just a casual walk, can improve digestion and prevent many common complaints associated with it. 

The more you sit the less blood flow and oxygen you get to your brain, which you need for the release of mood enhancing chemicals as well as, of course, cognitive function. In other words, get up and move every once in a while, to get a mood boost as well as to keep your mind sharp. 

Let’s not forget what we often work with in the massage industry, the direct muscular effects of sitting for prolonged periods; like shoulder, neck, and jaw tightness which can lead to headaches, nerve impingements, and any number of other pain complaints. Your back, legs, and hips are greatly affected by that stationary position as well. 

While at first glance the effects of sitting seem to be very minute, when you look at the bigger picture there is a lot to consider. This isn’t to make you terrified to sit, or to make you think that if you have a job that keeps you in a static position that you’re guaranteed to have problems. Instead, I hope you’ll take this information and keep in mind ways to get more activity into your daily life wherever possible. You don’t need to be walking and running all day every day to be healthy. Let’s face it, sedentary jobs are far more common at this point in time. But there are ways to get more activity throughout your day and stay healthy without changing jobs or rearranging your entire schedule. 

1) Park your car further away from the entrance: This will give you a few extra steps which will be useful if you sit most of the day. 

 2) Take the stairs instead of the elevator: Get your heart rate up and those feel-good endorphins pumping while climbing the stairs.  

 3) Deliver messages directly instead of emailing your co-workers: Interacting directly with your co-workers will not only give you the mental benefits of socializing, but it will also help you to step away from your desk a little more frequently.  Pandemic life throws a curve ball in this idea. But if you are working from your home laptop, why not switch up rooms with each call? Try standing at the kitchen counter for a meeting or two and do a few jumping jacks in beteen.

 4) Set a timer for every half hour to hour and a halfHave a timer that you can set to go off every 30-90 minutes; whatever is best for your type of work and schedule. You don’t have to go run a 5k when it goes off, just get up, stretch, walk a lap or two around the office/home, go outside for a few minutes, or anything else to just take a break from your work and move your body a bit. Just 5 or 10 minutes can have a major impact. These types of breaks not only get your heart working and break up those periods of sitting, but studies have shown you’re actually more productive in your work as well. 

No matter what your job entails, if it leaves you sedentary for long periods, find ways to get moving! Just implementing a few of these practices can get your body moving more and decrease the risks associated with prolonged sitting. 


What is Neuropathy & Can Massage Help?

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 traumaMost 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 considerCommunication 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 your Body

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 lifeAnd 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 youHere’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 yogaThe 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. Need to say something to someone, but not sure what good it would do? Write them a letter in your journal. 

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?

Even if you’re not someone well-versed in anatomy, you’ve probably heard the term glutes, or heard of your gluteal musclesThese 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 gluteproperly 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 gluteswhich 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 wellMassage therapy can also improve your range of motionstrength, 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! 


What You Need to Know about the Rotator Cuff

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.


Plantar Fasciitis: What It Is & What You Can Do About It

Have your ever gotten out of bed first thing in the morning only to feel a sharp pain in your foot when taking your first steps. Sometimes that pain lingers for a while but then goes away after you’ve walked for a bit. If you’ve experienced this scenario, you may have been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is when the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot (plantar fascia), connecting your heel bone to your toes, is inflamed. The pain from plantar fasciitis usually occurs early in the morning with your first steps and trails off as the day progresses, but it can show up when you’ve been standing or sitting for a long period.

Generally plantar fasciitis will cause a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel but can spread through the arch of the foot and toward the toes. Plantar fasciitis is the result of tension and stress on your plantar fascia causing small tears within the tissue. It’s important to note that in many cases of plantar fasciitis, the cause is unknown. Those who are between the ages of 40-60 are at higher risk of experiencing plantar fasciitis, along with those who participate in exercises such as long-distance running, ballistic jumping activities, ballet dancing, and aerobic dance. You may also be at a higher risk if you are flat-footed, have a high arch, walk with an abnormal gait, if you’re overweight, and if you are on your feet for extended periods of time.

Plantar Fasciitis is generally treated with rest, ice, massage, and stretching the toes up, and exercises to strengthen the bottom of the foot. You may want to talk to your doctor about over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain medications that may help as you begin treatment. You may also be able to pair yourself with a physical therapist that can put together exercises for you to perform to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and to strengthen your foot and lower leg muscles. It may be recommended that you wear a night splint created to stretch your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep, or custom-made arch supports or orthotics, which will help dissipate the pressure placed on your feet with each step. If you have poor results from said treatments, you may need to increase your treatment program. More serious treatments include steroid injections into the area to decrease inflammation, extracorporeal shock wave therapy which is where soundwaves are directed at the area of heel pain to help with healing, and finally surgery, which is rarely needed and used when the pain is severe and all other treatments have failed. While these treatments have been proven to work, they have their downfalls as well. Multiple steroid injections can weaken the plantar fascia resulting in it rupturing, extracorporeal shockwave therapy may cause bruising, swelling, pain, numbness, and tingling, and surgery can result in the weakening of the arch in your foot.

While many have heard of the term plantar fasciitis, few have heard the term plantar fasciosis. Plantar fasciosis is kind of an umbrella term used for any kind of issue derived from the plantar fascia. However, it’s often used to describe the degeneration of the abductor hallucis (the muscle that moves your big toe out toward midline) due to circulation issues. As opposed to inflammation of the area, plantar fasciosis results in death of the plantar fascia because the tissue isn’t receiving enough blood, and therefore not enough oxygen and nutrients. Since the abductor hallucis is meant to keep the big toe straight and move it toward the midline, if you’re constantly wearing shoes with a narrow toe box, pushing the toes together, or tend to walk on the inside of your foot, this may very well be the cause. Essentially what’s happening is the abductor hallucis is stretched beyond its normal capacity over time and that tightness of the muscle puts pressure on the underlying blood vessel that supplies the plantar fascia, effectively cutting off the blood supply and causing deterioration and tissue death of part of the plantar fascia.

The really interesting thing about this is that the exercise and treatment protocols that help plantar fasciitis may not help plantar fasciosis at all, and in some cases may even make it worse. Plantar fasciitis is often helped with rest, ice, and stretching the toes up and out to the side. But if plantar fasciosis is the real problem, these are the opposite of what will help. Instead, for plantar fasciosis, flexion of the toes, abduction of the big toe, and heat are more likely to address the real issue.

When experiencing any pain within the foot and heel area, it is imperative that you see your doctor as soon as possible so they can properly diagnose and get you on the right treatment plan before more damage can be done. It is also important to make sure that you are wearing shoes that support the natural alignment of your foot.


Massage and Diabetes

Did you know that diabetes affects almost 10% of the population? It’s a frustrating condition for many people that can completely alter their day-to-day activities. Every bite of food and any physical activity has to be taken into account.

For a general overview, diabetes affects insulin in the body. Insulin is what regulates blood sugar levels so our cells function properly. There are two primary forms, simply called Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is generally diagnosed in childhood as the result of the body’s inability to produce insulin. These patients require supplemental insulin. Type 2 on the other hand, can develop at any age and is the result of the body not effectively using insulin. They don’t require supplemental insulin, but rather can control their blood sugar levels with proper diet and exercise. However, if not controlled, Type 2 can turn into Type 1. There are also many complications that are associated with diabetes, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, nerve damage, and depression to name a few.

While Diabetes can restrict a lot in life, getting a massage shouldn’t be one of those things. Generally speaking, it is perfectly safe to receive a massage as a diabetic. However, open communication is essential! It’s not only important to tell me as your Massage Therapist that you are diabetic, but also about how it’s being managed, and what your recent health is like. It’s also important to note that massage can alter your blood glucose level considerably, and it may take a few sessions to get a clear idea of how your body responds to the massage. This will help you moving forward with regular sessions, so you know when you should eat or take your insulin in relation to when you receive your massage.

If you’re dealing with diabetic neuropathy (damage to the small nerves of the hands and feet), you’ll want to be really clear with me about exactly what your current symptoms are, as this varies from person to person. You’ll also want to keep communicating during the session so I can adjust the pressure and techniques accordingly.

Massage therapy can do wonders to help with some of the symptoms and side effects of diabetes. Whether you’re dealing with neuropathy, circulation issues, depression, or just want to relax, massage may help. Just make sure you keep an open line of communication with me while you are on the table and keep me updated with any changes that happen along the way. This will not only keep you safe, but it will make your experience as enjoyable as possible.


The Terms we Use in the Massage Industry & Why

Massage Therapists have worked and struggled for years to educate the public on the reality of the profession; not just about the benefits of the therapy, but also to disassociate the industry from those who use the legitimacy of the profession to hide illicit activities. Television and movies haven’t helped over the years, often acting to perpetuate this unfortunate association. In an effort to combat this, there are certain terms we use as Massage Therapists, to maintain professionalism and separate ourselves from those not-so-professional individuals and businesses.

While we don’t expect the general public to always use the correct terminology, it’s important that we, as professionals do, so keep an ear out for these things when you’re looking for a legitimate massage professional.

Throughout much of Europe, the terms masseuse and masseur are most often used to refer to the person performing the massage, but in most other parts of the world, including the US and Canada, those terms may have a negative connotation, so the term Massage Therapist is most appropriate. Depending on the area you visit, different forms of this may be used to reflect the specific licensing or certification of the profession in that region. So, you may hear things like licensed massage therapist (LMT), certified massage practitioner (CMP), or registered massage therapist (RMT). I am a certified massage therapist (CMT) because that is how Indiana chose to label Massage Therapist here. All of these let you know that the individual holds that particular title with their local licensing/certification boards or associations due to their training and capabilities.

You may also notice that we call our ‘work surface’ a massage ‘table’ instead of a ‘bed’. This again, is to disassociate from any unprofessional activities. The same can be said for why we often use the term ‘linens’ instead of ‘sheets’, and call our massage businesses things like a massage ‘practice’, ‘office’, ‘spa’, or almost anything other than ‘parlor’. I prefer the word ‘studio’ for my work space.

Now, you may wonder if this really matters, but I’m here to tell you, absolutely! You see, the problem isn’t just that some people use this industry to hide illegal and unprofessional acts, making our profession look bad, but those types of facilities are very often a hub for human trafficking. The women involved are usually not willing participants, but rather have been trafficked, sold, and forced into the work. While we want to disassociate ourselves from the act itself, it’s even more important that we all fight this form of modern-day slavery.

Don’t worry if you didn’t know the meaning behind some of these terms before now. We know that many people outside the profession have no idea the connotation behind some of the terminology, nor the horrible things hiding behind the doors of those ‘parlors’. That’s why we work to educate our clients and the general public. For those of you who have never had a professional massage, there is more to a massage therapist than what you may have seen on TV. And for those who have been, thank you for supporting our industry.


The Perks of Oxytocin

There’s this amazing little chemical in the brain called oxytocin, which is often referred to as the “love hormone”.  You may have heard of this, as it’s been widely studied and there’s all kinds of information out there on it involving a variety of topics. While it does have a lot to do with all things love, there is so much more to oxytocin and the benefits of it than meets the eye. From familial and romantic bonds to basic social interactions, it plays a role in our emotions and even sometimes our actions. Here’s how… 

Oxytocin plays a part in reproduction from the time of conception. It stimulates the uterine muscles to contract and triggers labor. It increases the production of prostaglandins which hurries labor along and increases contractions even more. When a woman is struggling to start labor naturally the doctor may induce her labor with synthetic oxytocin also known as (pitocin). Once the baby is delivered, and the baby attempts to feed from the mother’s breast, it’s oxytocin that triggers the release of milk. This hormone is also released when the mother snuggles with the child, holds, and even just looks at the child. It plays a vital role in the bond that happens between mother and baby.  

It’s not just limited to the bond between mother and child, though; It also plays a large role in the bond between partners. A study¹ from 2012 found that couples who were in the beginning of their relationships had significantly higher levels of oxytocin than singles who were unattached. These levels stayed continuously high for at least 6 months, heightened by mental, emotional, and physical connection. 

Beyond these kinds of strong bonds, oxytocin also affects social behaviors. Another study² found that oxytocin also influences aggression, social memory and support, trust, while down regulating stress responses, including anxiety. This means that oxytocin, and synthetic forms of it may actually be beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety and social problems, helping them to remain calm in stressful situations. Want to know an easy way to get an oxytocin fix without taking any kind of medication? Get a massage! Did you know that touch, especially prolonged, calming and therapeutic forms, can cause the release of oxytocin, allowing the body and mind to fully relax and find a reprieve from any stress? So how about booking your next appointment and start reaping those benefits for yourself! 


¹ Neumann, I. (2007, April 03). Oxytocin: The Neuropeptide of Love Reveals Some of Its Secrets. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from 

² Schneiderman, I., Zagoory-Sharon, O., Leckman, J., & Feldman, R. (2012, August). Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment: Relations to couples’ interactive reciprocity. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from 


How to Ease Sore Muscles Without a Foam Roller

Foam rollers have been quite the craze for a while now. You see them in just about every store that carries some sort of workout equipment. But there are a lot of people who can’t handle that kind of pressure or simply don’t like to use them. Fortunately, there are several other ways you can ease your sore muscles that don’t require a foam roller. Here are a few you can keep in mind the next time your workout’s gotten the best of you and you don’t have a foam roller.  

Try a tennis ball

Tennis balls are good for more than just playing tennis. You can use a tennis ball in a similar way that you would use a foam roller; it’s just smaller and more pin-pointed pressure. You place the tennis ball in the area your muscles need the most TLC, and rest your weight on it; as little or as much weight as you want. This can be done on the floor or in a chair. Use your body to roll the tennis ball around in the areas you’d like to target. As you work through those areas, you’ll feel the tension start to melt away and that soreness begin to ease. 

Hit the sauna after your workout

I get it, the last thing you likely think about after an intense, sweaty workout is placing yourself in an extremely warm room to sweat even more. However, you may want to rethink that. The truth is, the heat from the sauna stimulates blood flow bringing more oxygen to those tired muscles and triggering them to regenerate quicker. Don’t overdo it though. Around 15 minutes is plenty and be sure to drink even more water than you normally would after a workout. 

Try a contrast shower

By rotating between very hot water and very cold water, you’re essentially creating an external pump. When you cool the muscles off, the blood goes away from the muscles, and when that hot water hits, the blood comes back. When doing this, turn the cold water as cold as you can handle it and the hot as warm as you can handle it (of course you’ll want to avoid anything that can burn your skin). Each extreme should be held for 20-30 seconds at a time and repeated for 10 rounds before you continue on with your normal shower routine.  

Book a cupping session

Massage therapy and many other types of bodywork can do wonders for sore muscles. Cupping, a type of bodywork you can get at Massage by Maple, uses  plastic (for static), or silicone (for moving) cups to create negative pressure on the skin and underlying tissues, can be a great way to ease that soreness without the digging and pressure most commonly associated with using a foam roller and other sore muscle fixes. The suction created in the cup actually pulls the muscle fibers and connective tissue up, allowing them to slowly release any built-up tension without any pain or discomfort. 

While many may swear by their foam rollers, they aren’t for everyone. The truth is, it’s far from the only solution to easing sore muscles. So, which will you be trying next? 


Why Post-Workout Muscle Soreness is Different for Everyone

If you’re pretty active, you’ve likely had post workout muscle soreness at some point. But did you know that you can do the same workout as a friend and present with entirely different experiences post-workout? Maybe they can barely walk up the stairs while you don’t even struggle the next day? Your first thought may be that you didn’t push yourself hard enough or that it’s simply a matter of who is in better shape. However, it’s important to note that post-workout soreness is different for everyone, regardless of fitness level. Here’s why… 

Delayed onset muscle soreness, commonly referred to as DOMS, is caused by micro-tears in the muscles that occur when you put stress on them. This causes soreness about 24 to 48 hours after the workout. The soreness comes from your body producing inflammation.  Once the micro-tears are repaired the muscles are stronger but technically you’ve “injured” the muscle to gain that strength. So that soreness is a natural part of the process as your body recovers and gains strength. So, what determines the amount of DOMS you experience from a workout and why the soreness may be different? A few things.  

How often you work out

This is easily a given but when you don’t work out very often it’s easier to get sore after a workout, even when your trainer friend may have called it “light”. Your muscles eventually get used to the movements when you perform an activity more often reducing the amount of DOMS over time. The same can be said for working out too much. If your workout partner has already been at the gym doing some pretty intense exercise for an hour before your workout, then the activities you complete could possibly push their body over the threshold and cause them to experience DOMS. Everyone’s body is different so your training sweet spot might be different than others. Don’t try to match up with someone else. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to developing the right workout for each person.  

The type of exercise you do

Whether you’re running or lifting weights, your muscles are getting those micro-tears. However, your soreness is determined by the type of exercise you’re doing. Eccentric movements (when the muscle lengthens) cause more muscle damage than concentric movement (when the muscle shortens). For example, the downward motion of a squat, the lowering of a shoulder press, lowering the body during a crunch; all of these are eccentric movements. They’re part of any kind of workout, and actually quite beneficial to strengthening, but the intensity and concentration on these particular movements can increase the soreness you feel later. 

Hormone levels

Did you know that estrogen helps decrease inflammation? That means women with higher levels of estrogen tend to have less muscle soreness than those with lower levels of estrogen. This will also vary with monthly cycles, hormone replacement, and life stages. This is why women in general will often experience less muscle soreness than men.  

This is far from an exhaustive list, but just with these few examples you can see that your soreness really does depend on several factors. Start being a little easier on yourself when comparing your body to others’. Just because you have a different level of muscle soreness doesn’t mean you’re more out-of-shape, did an exercise wrong, or didn’t push yourself enough. Everyone’s body is different which means different levels of DOMS for each of us. Keep moving. 


Effects of Positive and Negative Self-talk

Most people have an internal monologue, a voice inside that says all sorts of things we wouldn’t utter outside of the safety of our brains. And this self-talk, as it’s often referred to as, can actually play a profound role in our overall well being. So, let’s look at the effects of positive and negative self-talk and what you can do to make sure all those internal thoughts aren’t wreaking havoc to your mental, emotional, and physical health. 

We’ll start with negative self-talk. Now, before we get into it, I want to make a very important distinction. Just because self-talk calls you out a little bit doesn’t mean it’s negative. It’s important that we have somebody to keep us in check when we’re not putting our all into achieving our goals or when we’re not taking care of our bodies correctly; and sometimes the best person for that is ourselves. Wanting to better yourself isn’t a negative; it’s when those thoughts that are constructive turn destructive that problems can arise. For example, speaking to yourself in absolutes like “I always mess things up”, or “I’ll never be good at ____” Maybe there’s a little bit of “I shouldn’t go for that promotion, I’ll never get it”, or “They’ll always see me as a failure”. At this point you’ve taken all truth from the scenario and are basing your life decisions or judging them off of your own opinions which are largely influenced by your fears, and sometimes your past failures. That’s why negative self-talk is extremely toxic. It takes away your ability to see your potential, try anything new, or gain confidence in anything. It can give you a false opinion of what everyone around you may think about you, and truly paralyze you mentally. It can affect your relationships with others, often leaving you feeling alone or misunderstood. All of this emotional and mental stress can quickly lead to negative physical consequences too; from weight gain to high blood pressure and more. If negative self-talk is this powerful, let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum and see the power of positive self-talk. 

Positive self-talk isn’t just affirmations and feel-good mantras. Yes, at times it is uplifting and encouraging. It may sound like “I am capable of doing anything I put my mind to” or “I am beautiful just the way I am”. However, sometimes positive self-talk may sound like “I’m going to ask for that promotion today because I know I bring more to the table” or “I’m going to sign up for that 5k because I am strong and I can finish it”. Positive self-talk doesn’t just help you to feel better emotionally, it also can change your outlook on life and open you up to opportunities you never would have went for before because you never thought they were possible. If you think positive you will likely do positive and if something happens and things don’t go your way you’re not devastated because there’s a positive outlook in the result. It’s about rewiring your brain to see the positive, to push yourself with a strong sense of purpose behind everything. It also helps to ease stress and the physical side effects of it; so it’s not just about the emotional and mental impact, but your physical health as well. 

Now, your self-talk is likely wired to your personality. So, if you’re naturally an optimist then you likely have more positive self-talk than negative. If you’re naturally a pessimist, then you likely have more negative self-talk. That’s not to say it doesn’t cross over, but it’s important to know where it originates so you can adjust accordingly and start being more conscious of those thoughts and where they come from. 

We are living in tumultuous times. There is so much uncertainty and division right now. If there’s one thing you need, it’s you in your own corner, fighting for you. So, what are a few ways you can turn your negative self-talk into positive self-talk? 


How Self-Care Affects the Immune System

Self-care is something you hear about almost daily now; people asking you about what you do for self-care or wildly encouraging you to take part in self-care activities. While self-care is definitely important for many reasons there is one that often trumps the others, especially now. Self-care, believe it or not, is crucial for the health of your immune system. 

To understand how self-care benefits your immune system, let’s first look at what suppresses the immune system. Our immune systems are affected by several things, both environmental and internal. Lack of sleep, anxiety, low vitamin D, certain medications, a lack of nutrient-dense foods, a high (bad) fat diet, and lack of exercise all can have a part in suppressing your immune system. What does that have to do with self-care? A lot actually. 

While the pampering aspect of self-care is nice, the bubble baths and trips to the beach, the whole idea behind self-care is that you’re making sure you take time out of your day on a regular basis, to take care of you. That doesn’t always have to involve some lavish experience. Self-care can be taking a nap when you have an extra-long day. It can mean choosing a salad over the greasy burger you really want because you know you haven’t made the best food choices lately and your body needs a few extra veggies. Self-care is saying no to an event you would normally say yes to just because you felt guilty. Self-care is taking a walk outside to catch a little bit of sun as the seasons change. Self-care is also waking up early in the morning so you can get a workout in because you know your body needs it and your stress levels are better when your body gets more movement. It can be pushing through your to-do list when all you want to do is relax, because you know you need to get it done and not getting it done means you’re going to be stressed out until it gets done.  

Increased stress levels, lack of sleep, vitamin deficiencies, overwhelm, and lack of movement can all increase cortisol levels. Cortisol is an important hormone that is released in response to stress, and while it can be beneficial in small amounts, maintaining high levels of cortisol chronically can suppress the immune system and lead to widespread inflammation. This not only increases your chances of catching common infections, but also puts you at risk for developing autoimmune conditions.  

Regular self-care practices can decrease these cortisol levels, giving your body a break from this inflammatory response and leading to a healthier, more balanced immune system. So, while self-care can definitely involve a nice mani and pedi, treating yourself to an outfit you’ve been wanting, or a spa day, it’s also taking care of your body’s needs that all-too-often get overlooked in the hustle of day to day life. It’s getting enough sleep, and eating fruits and vegetables as often as possible to keep your nutrients up. It’s getting fresh air and sunlight as often as possible, moving your body as often as you can, and knowing when you have too much on your plate so you don’t overwork and exhaust yourself. All of these things help your immune system to stay strong and protect you. What have you done lately to take care of yourself and keep your immune system strong?


Relaxation is a Part of Therapy

Anyone who has had a massage likely equates massage therapy to relaxation. Most consider it an added bonus; however, the relaxation aspect is actually an important part of the session. Whether you’re getting a massage for the sole purpose of relaxing, or the main goal for your massage session is therapeutic, you can benefit from all the relaxation aspects. 

Tense muscles equal pain and restricted movement

We live in a stressful world, so much so that we often don’t realize how tense our muscles are. For example, take a moment while you’re reading this and check your posture. There is a high possibility that your shoulders are tense. What about your neck muscles? Arms? Back? We’ve learned to live with the tension in our bodies and don’t realize how it affects our muscles long term. 

Tense muscles during your massage are counterproductive 

If you’re tense during your massage, your muscles are fighting against me as your Massage Therapist. This could cause soreness the next day and defeat the original purpose of your appointment which, of course is to remove or decrease pain and muscle soreness, not cause it.  

Feel good hormones last longer than your appointment

When you receive a massage the cortisol or stress hormone in your body decreases while your endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine (aka all the feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters) increase. These don’t just go away when you leave the office; they stick with you for a while after, allowing you to be more relaxed for hours or days to follow! 

Who says therapeutic, or clinical style massage have to be mundane?

Yes, it’s extremely important for me as your Massage Therapist to do what I rightfully intend to do which is heal and bring you some relief. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the relaxation aspect of it at all. You can have both! Getting a therapeutic, or clinical massage with the added bonus of relaxation is like getting double the benefits. 

Relaxation alone is beneficial

It’s also okay to get a massage for the sole purpose of relaxing. Those feel-good hormones, the stress relief, the time away from the day-to-day responsibilities of life, some self-care time; all of these are powerful enough on their own to be a reason to book an appointment. Your physical and mental health should be a top priority, and relaxation is an essential part of that. 

Relaxation is part of therapy. So, lie back, relax, and let me do the job I love doing! 


Maple is a gifted Massage Therapist, both in her skill and in her peaceful manner. She brings a serene presence to her massage, evoking care and trust, creating an atmosphere in which I can fully relax.

– Lecia B.


Sciatica: What it is & How Massage can Help

The sciatic nerve branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Sciatica is a condition that occurs when this nerve, which happens to be the largest nerve in the body, is irritated or inflamed, causing pain, tingling, and/or numbness. These sensations are felt along part or all of the nerve path and most often starts in the low back or the buttock and travels down the outer leg, sometimes all the way down to the foot.  

Sciatica is quite common, though many may not know it’s what they’re dealing with. There are two primary causes of sciatica; Piriformis Syndrome and spinal abnormalities in the low back. 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, presses onto and irritates the sciatic nerve. Due to the location of the nerve as it runs directly under this piriformis muscle (and in some people, it actually runs right through the muscle itself) sciatica is quite common to develop. The upper portion of the nerve, as it comes out of the spinal cord, is also prone to irritation from components of 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 root, creating that pain and irritation felt in the hip and leg. 

No matter the cause of your sciatica, massage therapy and bodywork can help relieve the pain. One of the ways massage therapy does that is by going in and soothing tense muscles that are causing irritation to the sciatic nerve. That may mean direct massage through the hips and low back as well as stretching and movement therapies. Massage therapy can also decrease inflammation in the area, easing the swelling of the nerve and thereby decreasing symptoms.  

If you’re struggling with sciatica, you know it’s literally a pain in the butt. Finding the cause is the first step in finding a solution. The next step is booking a massage.  


How Gratitude Affects the Mind and Body

This time of year is a favorite for many. It’s a time where everyone is reflecting on the events of the year and how grateful they are for their health, life, family, and friends. This year the holidays look different for me, just like they do for almost everyone. I find though, that when we have something to miss or when we feel cheated, it can be the very best time to reflect on what we have right now, and how often, the things we miss will come back even if they’re different by then. With this year being universally the toughest for many with COVID-19 and everything that came along with it, you might find it hard to be all that grateful. But did you know that gratitude goes deeper than just a feeling? It truly affects how the mind and body function!

While we often look at gratitude as simply a feeling we get when we think of our friends, family, and everything going right in our life, a study has found that it is much more than that. Gratitude is actually a complex emotion that involves social interactions, bonding, and even moral judgement and empathy. This means that gratitude isn’t just a “thank you”, it’s an important part of human interaction which enables us to build connections. This is likely because gratitude requires us to humble ourselves a bit and say thank you, which doesn’t come naturally for everyone. You open yourself up when showing gratitude, leaving room for others to see a side of you they may not see often, which in turn, leaves them with positive emotion. This forms connection. Connection with others, no matter how big or small, can help fill a void in your life. Let’s face it, we’re in a time where we’re extremely cut off from the outside world physically, and that leads to emotion disconnect as well. But that social connection, real connection with people, is important to keep you mentally grounded at a time you may feel isolated.

Did you know that feeling and expressing gratitude works from the inside out? Being grateful doesn’t just affect our mental health, it also affects our physical health. When you’re grateful, it can turn your negative thoughts into positive ones, which can improve your sleep, enhance your mood, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, decrease inflammation in the body, and ease muscle tension. Being in a positive mood as a result of your gratitude often gives you incentive to make healthier choices, engage more with others, and practice habits that nourish your body inside and out.

While it may feel like this year has not given us much to be grateful for, there’s always something positive we can find, no matter the circumstances; something we can show gratitude for to keep ourselves mentally and physically in order. So, what’s something you’re grateful for today?


Massage and Autism

According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 160 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. One of the most prevalent challenges associated with ASD is sensory processing disorder. This is a condition whereby people have difficulty receiving and responding to information coming in through the senses, oftentimes being overly sensitive, even associating loud noises or gentle touch as overwhelming or even painful. However, research has shown that touch can help people with autism overcome or better manage sensory processing disorders and help lead to a more normal life. While this is an amazing development there are a few things to be aware of, whether you have ASD or are bringing in a family member who does.

The effects and benefits of massage are extremely individualized, especially in those with ASD. To some, massage can bring significant discomfort, while others appreciate the act. Each session with a client with ASD is customized so you or your loved one can get the most benefit. This may mean working a very limited area to introduce this form of touch, like only a short session on the hands or feet first, and slowly increasing the time and area each session. It may also mean that we cut any session short so as not to overstimulate. Many people with ASD have a hard time with full 60- or 90-minute sessions at first, but may often work their way up to that. The goal is to produce positive sensory input and aid in balancing the brain’s processing areas that are affected by the disorder. For some, applying slow, sustained, deep pressure to joints and the surrounding tissue can deliver intense relief of some symptoms and reduce mal-adaptive and self-stimulating behaviors. For those with repetitive and ritualistic movements, muscle soreness may be common and often adds to the sensory difficulty, but isn’t often recognized for what it is. Massage can help to relieve much of that soreness at the same time, effectively doubling the benefit.

We can adjust the approach to each individual but it is imperative that we know as much information as possible when going into the treatment and that you communicate clearly throughout. If communication isn’t possible with the client, I always want a guardian present to be able to interpret for me and direct what adjustments need to be made.

While there is so much to learn about Autism and how massage and other therapies may help, one thing that is known, is that touch can help them manage some of their frustrations. If you have more questions, please reach out and we can discuss your individual needs!


Massage for PMS

Let’s face it, some of the most dreaded letters for women might just be PMS. It’s uncomfortable, painful, and brings on a rollercoaster of emotions. For some women, PMS symptoms are far worse than for others. One thing I think we can all agree on is if we could take a magic pill to make it all go away, we would in a heartbeat. While there may not be a magical pill that can get rid of all the symptoms of PMS, there may be another solution you may not have considered. Massage therapy has been proven to relieve the symptoms of PMS. Here’s how…

While the number one correlation you may see to massage therapy and PMS relief would be the relaxation and mood boost you would normally get from a professional massage, there are many more benefits. Massage can help to ease cramps and headaches as well as that painful lower back and overall achiness that many women experience. Personally, I get a terrible headache the day before I start and all I want is a head massage! Massage also helps improve lymph flow, effectively decreasing bloating and water retention, and adding in aromatherapy may increase the mood stabilizing benefits of your massage even more. Why not try something new, like cupping? If you’re anything like me you’ll try anything to find relief! what have you got to loose?

During your period, the last thing you may want is to be touched. Just know it’s perfectly normal to get a massage on your period. The only extra thing to consider is, due to the increase in lymph flow as well as simply laying down for a long period of time, the flow of your cycle may increase during your massage. It’s no biggie! Just plan on wearing something more absorbent than you normally would.

If you have a difficult time with low back pain as well as all over achiness, you may want to seek the use of heated tools like hot towels and warm bamboo during your massage. While these are always a part of the massage I give you, feel free to ask for extra (just let me know a bit before your appointment so I can be prepared!). The heat loosens up your muscles, relaxing your body and releasing the tension, opening your body up for the best massage. It also just adds even more of a comforting, relaxing experience to your massage; something you can definitely use a bit more of.

If you track your cycle, you may want to plan on having your massage at a certain time each month. As I mentioned, my main issue is headache and I like to try and plan for a massage the day before I start to get that extra relief from the brain fog and pain that I know will be happening on that day! Whether you have periods that cause you to stay in bed, or periods that are more easily manageable, getting a massage to help ease those pesky PMS symptoms may be a great solution. Besides, who wouldn’t want to feel better emotionally and physically while being pampered for an hour, especially during that not-so-fun time of the month?


Rocking, Tapping, Nerve Strokes and Vibration

There are numerous techniques you may experience during a massage session. Rocking, tapping, nerve strokes and vibration are terms you may have already heard, or may hear. While you may think of a massage as only a series of long strokes or kneading motions, there’s a few techniques you may experience and wonder why on earth I am doing them them. So, here’s a few common techniques and why they’re done.

Rocking is a wonderfully simple technique that is just what it sounds like; rocking the body back and forth. Don’t worry, it’s not like you’ll be held like a baby and rocked in a chair. I will gently rock the body side to side ever so slightly, often on the hips, legs, and back. This gives me a sense of how tense you are and signal your body to let go of tension you may not even realize you’re holding.

Tapping, also referred to as percussion or tapotement, is when I repeatedly tap an area of the body, most often with the edges of the hands, a cupped hand,  or fingertips. It’s most often used to signal the nervous system to let go of tension, and ease sore and tired muscles. While typically performed very gently, so as to not be jarring to you as a client, some faster and more heavy tapping techniques may be performed to stimulate the muscles of an area that need to ‘wake up’, so to speak, to create some balance. Think, the karate chop movement. Regardless of the purpose, this technique, like any other massage technique, shouldn’t be painful.

Nerve strokes are extremely light, quick strokes, often performed with just the fingertips, either directly on the skin or over the linens. This technique is used to stimulate the nerves of an area, while maintaining the relaxed results already achieved. There is generally no specific pattern and the strokes are switched up frequently due to the benefits of connecting the mind with the nerves that are being stimulated. While it’s beneficial to most any client, this particular technique is especially beneficial to those who’ve experienced nerve damage or a stroke. You may recall from your last session this being done at the very end as a sort of relaxation ending.

Vibration massage has very similar benefits to nerve strokes in that it stimulates the nerves and is greatly beneficial to those who’ve suffered nerve damage or a stroke but is great for every body. I will use my whole hand or part of my hand, like fingertips down the spine, and keep continuous contact with your skin moving so quickly back and forth that it creates a vibrating sensation through the skin and into the underlying tissues.

Each of these techniques differ in the neurological effect they have on the body. Rocking and tapping both are used to relax the muscles and signal the body to let go of tension, while nerve strokes and vibration are both used to stimulate the nerves and heighten the awareness of the muscles and movements.

Whether you just want to relax, are looking for recovery from an injury, you need to prepare for something physically demanding, or relieve soreness these techniques will be worked into in your massage session.


The Mysterious World of Fascia

You may have heard the term fascia thrown around, especially if you’re familiar with bodywork or fitness jargon. But what exactly is fascia? Fascia is simply a type of connective tissue, and it’s actually quite complex; not so much because of what it is, but rather the enormous job that it has within the body. Fascia weaves in and out of every single part of your body, binding muscle fibers and muscle groups (called myofascia), wrapping around bones, nerves, and blood vessels, essentially holding everything in place as it should be. The amazing thing about it, is that fascia is strong yet flexible, in the sense that it acts as a mild shock absorber for the structures it encompasses, and is constantly changing length and shape to accommodate the necessary movements of all these structures. So, with this intricate work, what happens if something goes wrong?

Well, fascia is just like any other tissue in that once it’s damaged it can heal, but that often leaves a scar of sorts. Essentially, the new tissue that is laid down in the healing process is not quite as elastic as the original version. That’s not such a big deal usually, but with repeated damage to particular areas over time, that loss of elasticity can lead to pain and restrictions in movement. No need to worry though, this can be corrected. Just like other forms of scar tissue can be softened, allowing range of motion to be restored and pain to improve, the same can be done for fascial restrictions.

Massage therapy, particularly paired with cupping, is a great way to start relieving your symptoms. Cupping performs the opposite action that massage does in that it uses suction, or negative pressure instead of pressure to loosen up fascia that has become stiffened and create space for circulation around the tissue which helps promote that loosened state. Some people are hesitant to try cupping. I find however that almost everyone who tries it, requests it at each session thereafter. The client does not miss out on massage when getting cupping at my studio because I always pair it with massage! I urge you to try cupping if you have not, and if you don’t care for it we will simply stop and continue your session as normal.

Cupping can help soreness and pain immensely and be done almost anywhere on the body from face to feet (seriously!). During your session, you may find that I work areas of the body not directly over the particular areas you complain of. Because of the interwoven connectedness of fascia, oftentimes the source of a restriction is not where the symptoms present. Together, you and I can work to discover the potential outer lying issues, as well as any holding and compensation patterns. We may also discuss exercises, stretches, and other forms of bodywork that can help, depending on your specific needs.

The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body. If a movement or exercise doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. When your muscles are telling you they need a rest give it to them. Introducing massage and cupping as a part of your regular health care can help prevent the problem from getting too overwhelming.


Massage by Maple is MUST if you enjoy pampering yourself and feeling good! She listens to what you need and/or want, then uses her skills and techniques to deliver the best massage you could ask for. Her studio is a perfect balance of ambiance and relaxation, and I’m SO thankful I came across her! She’s just wonderful and deserves 5 stars, 2 thumbs up, and all the good stuff!

-Keely N.


Massage is for Everybody

There’s no denying we’re in a difficult time. Not only are we dealing with a silent, invisible enemy, but we’re also seeing division among people on an extreme scale. My goal is to educate the public on the inclusivity of massage and bodywork; everybody can benefit from massage, and every person is welcome on my massage table…always. 

For quite some time, massage has been seen as a luxury. A luxury, seen by many, as mainly reserved for a specific race, with a specific income, in a specific area of town. I’m here to tell you that massage is inclusive of every demographic known to mankind. The only prerequisite necessary is the desire to find healing, peace, and relaxation. Massage isn’t just a luxury, it’s health care. It doesn’t look at the clothes you wear, the car you drive, or where you grew up. It doesn’t care what you believe as long as you have the willingness and open mind to receive care. Work in an office all day at a desk and you’re experiencing neck pain? Book your appointment. Work outside building houses or working on landscaping and have back issues? Book your appointment. Work in retail with a high amount of stress? Book your appointment. Work in a factory all day doing manual labor? Book an appointment. Are you a stay at home parent who just needs a minute of relaxation after another full day? Book your appointment.  

Although to some it may seem obvious to some, to others, the idea of coming into an establishment and being physically and emotionally vulnerable to a complete stranger can be worrisome. So, I want to state very clearly that no matter what your race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, income bracket, job title, or body type, massage therapy is for you. I strive to make our space as welcoming and inclusive as possible for everyone, so please don’t hesitate to make an appointment, speak openly with me, and receive the bodywork you so desperately need. Your body speaks, and I listen. Whatever has been holding you back, put it aside and come on in. 


Cupping. What It Is And Why You Should Try It

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 at my studio, I’ll use cups made of silicone, and/or plastic. The approach of your treatment will be adjusted to your needs and preferences. 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. During the Bellanina treatment (or upon request in a general massage session) facial cups are used, which do not leave any marks.

Cupping is in fact a type of massage. It 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 reduce cellulite, cleanse your body of negative “chi” (I am happy to go further into this Traditional Chinese thought if you would like to at your appointment), helps to diffuse illness like colds and even help with wrinkles when used on the face (facial cupping is relaxing and not at all painful, many fall asleep during this portion of their session!). 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. So I urge you to try it out and make a decision for yourself

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.
  • Its relaxing! I mentioned people falling asleep during facial cupping but many regulars fall asleep during cupping of other areas, like the back, as well.

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!


How Stress Affects Your Immune System

Stress is almost unavoidable, right? It’s just part of life. Whether you have a demanding job, a family to take care of, a lot of social obligations, a home to keep up with, or anything else in the everyday tasks of life, we’re all exposed to a ton of stress. We know stress isn’t good for us, but did you know it even affects your immune system? That’s because your brain and immune system are always communicating with each other.  

Stress can be defined as a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work and other areas. When you’re stressed out, your body goes into “fight or flight” and releases stress hormones. That’s great when you’re in a life or death situation, it gives you adrenaline to protect yourself. There is such a thing as good stress, the kind that does protect you physically, or even the smaller forms, like when you’re nervous for a job interview, test, or sports event; that boost of energy can allow you to do things you never thought possible. These types of stress are good because we can use them to our benefit, and they’re only for a short period of time.  

Stress becomes harmful when it’s chronic. Your immune system is the first line of defense in protecting your body from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. Your organs, tissues, and cells all work together to fight harmful substances and protect you from getting sick. Stress can create chronic inflammation that harms these tissues, and at the same time suppresses the immune cells needed to fight infection. When your you’re in this ‘fight or flight’ mode, your body secretes the stress hormone cortisol. Normally it’s not a big deal when small bursts of stress are experienced. But chronically high levels of cortisol can suppress the immune system as well. This puts your body at higher risk for infection, disease, and acute illnesses. It also can slow down your body’s process of healing wounds, and cause an exacerbation of any underlying illness.  

When you’re stressed for long periods of time, your body’s ability to fight off infections and potential dangers is highly diminished. Incorporating self-care can help to reduce your stress and allow your immune system to perform at its best. Self-care is a term we hear a lot these days and is sometimes thought of as frivolous. The long term effects though, show us that its actually the smart way to go about life. Obviously I am a HUGE proponent of regular massage. The now and then massage is better than nothing but keeping it part of your regular monthly self-care is the best was to help to reduce your stress and allow your immune system to perform at its best. Honestly though, you do you! There are so many great ways to partake in self-care, keep it up! Your immune system will thank you and you’ll be much more productive in all areas of your life!


Chronic Sleep Deprivation: How it Affects Your Health

Chronic sleep deprivation is defined as getting less than the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep each night for an extended period of time. It isn’t just associated with new parents trying to survive that first year with a baby; anyone getting less than the necessary sleep on a regular basis is suffering from chronic sleep deprivation. Between all of our to-do’s, stress, lifestyle choices, and sleep disorders, this is a common problem to fall into. For some it just seems like a way of life and you may even feel like it’s not a big deal. You’re coping and still working your way through each day. But did you know that chronic sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your body, often in ways you may not even realize are connected. 

When you sleep, pathways form between nerve cells in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve learned. When you’re dealing with chronic sleep deprivation, your brain is exhausted and can’t perform its normal duties as well. This means that not only is your concentration and cognitive function affected while you’re awake, but your ability to learn new things by forming those new neural connections and creating new memories while you sleep, is also undermined. 

When you’re sleep deprived, it can also affect your mood, decision-making ability, and overall mental health. If chronic sleep deprivation persists long enough, you can begin experiencing a short temper, extreme irritability, impulsive behavior, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and even hallucinations and suicidal thoughts.  

When you sleep, your body produces cytokines, protective and infection fighting proteins. These proteins give your immune system a boost, providing reinforcements to defend the body from all kinds of viruses and bacteria. If you’re experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, your body isn’t able to build up its protection and fend off potential invaders.  Long-term sleep deprivation can cause a lowered immune system, or an overactive one, leading to symptoms associated with some autoimmune conditions. 

Finally, chronic sleep deprivation also seems to affect your waistline as well. What does sleep and weight have to do with another you ask? Well, sleep affects leptin and ghrelin which control feelings of hunger and being full. Leptin is in charge of telling your brain you’ve had enough to eat and ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. When you’re not getting enough sleep, leptin is reduced and ghrelin is raised. So, you’ll eat more whether you need to or not. And simply put, when you’re tired, you’re less likely to exercise. So, if you don’t get enough sleep for a long period of time, the increased calories along with the decrease in activity are sure to pack on the pounds. It’s not just about weight though. Sleep deprivation causes your body to release more insulin after you eat, promoting fat storage and increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes.  

Getting sleep may be difficult, or you may simply have a lot on your plate, but the physical effects that sleep deprivation aren’t something to take lightly. Whether you perform a brain dump, meditate, take a hot shower, or turn off that show you’ve been binge watching, set a bedtime and do your best to get a good night’s sleep every single day. If you don’t make sleep a priority now you’ll regret it later.  


Massage and Anxiety


Let’s face it, life can be stressful especially with all of the craziness that 2020 has thrown at us! There are to-do lists, deadlines to meet, people to take care of, plus COVID-19 and political unrest, the list goes on and on. While some may handle the pressure just fine, many people struggle with overwhelming day to day challenges, leading to sometimes crippling anxiety. It’s a serious issue and it’s important to know what you’re dealing with, possible solutions, and preventative actions you can take. Here’s some information to help you navigate the muddy waters of anxiety.

Anxiety is felt as an overwhelming sense of apprehension, fear, and dread, often marked by physical signs, like tension, sweating, increased pulse rate, and difficulty breathing calmly. It will often build up and intensify over time, and can result in irritability, muscle tension, and difficulty sleeping and relating to other people. For some, it’s a consistent feeling that can escalate into panic attacks; episodes of intense anxiety and panic that can cause heart palpitations and hyperventilation.

While there’s numerous treatment and methods for managing daily anxiety as well as anxiety attacks, one you may not have considered is massage. It’s not going to eradicate all forms of anxiety, so you never feel anxious again, but it has been shown time and again in studies to have a major impact and greatly improve the symptoms of those who regularly experience anxiety. Getting regular massages can help to lower your heart rate, decrease blood pressure, improve concentration, release muscle tension, improve your quality of sleep, and regulate the release of certain ‘feel-good’ hormones to calm the body and mind.

There are also several ways you can manage your anxiety on a daily basis. I want to make clear that I understand, most people living with anxiety know these things and are either working towards them (because they are all more easily said than done!) or have decided that certain tactics are not for them. This is simply a list of ideas that may help those who are actively looking for ideas to deal with anxiety. Anxiety is different for each individual and what helps one person may not help another.

 Be more active

When you increase your heart rate and work your muscles, your body releases the same feel good hormone you receive when getting a massage, helping you to feel better emotionally and physically.

 Cut back on your caffeine intake

Did you know that caffeine can increase anxiousness in those who struggle with anxiety and sometimes even cause anxiety in those who don’t? High levels of caffeine can even increase your chances of having a panic attack.

 Find your trigger

Try keeping a journal. When dealing with anxiety, you’ll see that some days you struggle more than others. Not only is journaling therapeutic in itself, but you may be able to look at what could have caused your anxiety to increase from day to day. Maybe foods, people, situations; find patterns and adjust to see if you can avoid those triggers.


While you may not have a lot of time in your day to meditate, even taking 5 minutes will help. The deep breaths will help lower your heart rate and having as few moments to get a handle on the day is always helpful.

 Get more sleep

When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, your brain sends signals to your body that something is wrong, resulting in higher levels of anxiety and feelings of stress. Prioritizing your sleep will help make sure your body doesn’t feel like it’s under attack.

 Seek professional help

Having someone to talk to about what you’re going through and being able to unrestrictedly express your thoughts, can make a world of difference.


Anxiety can interrupt so many parts of your life. I would LoVe to help you control it as much as possible. Pair massage with these tips and let’s work together to lessen your anxiety!


Is Text Neck Really a Big Deal?

Let’s face it, when was the last time you were in a restaurant and everyone around was paying attention to those at the table as opposed to looking down at their phones? I’m sure you can’t quite recall. We often stay on our phones now more that we have real, direct interaction with others, whether it’s for work or entertainment. With this, you may have heard the term ‘text neck’ which is often used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long.

There are some scary articles and photos about this issue. Some people state that this regular posture of looking down can increase the weight your neck is supporting anywhere from 27 to 60 pounds, putting some serious stress on all the structures of the neck and shoulders. Some articles state that you can change the actual state of your spine from text neck, losing the natural curvature of the neck and potentially causing disc, vertebral, and nerve issues. The truth is, our bodies are made to adapt to postural changes and are far more resilient than we often give them credit for.

Now, just because our bodies are made to adapt doesn’t mean we should force them to, and it doesn’t mean that text neck isn’t still a potential problem to worry about. Any kind of prolonged abnormal posture or repetitive motion can eventually take its toll on the body, but there’s been a lot of fear mongering on this topic that isn’t necessary. Instead of making you paranoid about the physical effects of your device usage, like people weren’t staring down at books and newspapers for hours on end before we had them, take stock of how you’re feeling. If you notice tension or pain in your neck, shoulders, jaws, or even symptoms of nerve issues, like numbness or a pins and needles feeling down your arm, then this is definitely something to pay attention to and make some serious adjustments. If you’re not having any symptoms of a problem – no pain or other negative feelings around the upper body and head – then be mindful of your usage, but don’t think you need to completely change your habits.

While less screen time would probably do you some good, you can’t expect to go cold turkey, especially if a big chunk of that usage is work related. Instead, try to make small adjustments and increase as you can and need to, to help your neck stay healthy. Take a break every 30 minutes to move and stretch your neck, head, and arms. Raise your phone, computer, or tablet to eye level instead of looking down at them. Keep your posture in check throughout, ensuring your spine is comfortable and in a neutral position.

You shouldn’t live in fear of text neck, just be mindful of how your body feels throughout, just like you should with any daily activity. Being aware of your body and posture while using any device can help reduce the risk of injury and pain.


Benefits of Regular Stretching

While many people may associate stretching with their workouts, loosening up before or cooling down after, it’s actually a very beneficial practice to get into every single day regardless of your workout routine. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, every hour or two throughout your day, or winding down before bed, taking a few minutes to stretch and release the tension in your muscles can help you to move and feel better.

Stretching Improves Local Blood Circulation

When you stretch, you’re opening up areas of tension that may have contributed to decreased circulation of blood and lymph to certain areas of the body. Opening these areas helps oxygen and nutrients to get to every cell as needed, leaving your body functioning better overall.

Stretching Can Boost Energy

Getting your blood flowing, through exercise or simply moving and stretching your body after sitting for a while, can give you the perfect little pick-me-up when you’ve hit your mid-day energy lull. Feeling sluggish? Take a few minutes to stretch your arms while at your desk. If you have room, stand for a moment and stretch for just 5 minutes.

Stretching Can Improve Posture

Allowing your body to move and your muscle to elongate can help you to become more body-aware and help to prevent your body from becoming too comfortable and accustomed to poor postural habits. This means you’ll be more aware as you fall into those bad postures and unconsciously bring yourself back up to a better position.

Stretching Can Improve Athletic Performance

When performing dynamic stretching before a workout – a type which includes movement along with your stretches as opposed to static stretching, the kind you simply hold – can improve your performance. It warms up your muscles for the upcoming activity, helping to prevent injury.

Stretching Can Increase Your Range of Motion

When your muscles are tight, it prevents you from getting the full range of motion in your joints. For example, if your hips and legs are tense, it may mean you can’t move your hips as smoothly or as much as you need to. When you stretch regularly, you’re keeping those muscles around the joints loose, allowing them to move as they should.

It’s important to note that when you add stretching into your daily life, be sure to listen to your body. Don’t force a stretch past where it feels comfortable; you don’t want to injure yourself. Also, to get into the habit of daily stretching, try to stretch at the same time every day. You may find that a few minutes in the morning to loosen up after lying down all night is a great start to the day. If you have to stand or sit in a single position most of the day, getting up and stretching every hour or two may be just what you need. And a few minutes of stretching before bed to get rid of the day’s tension and relax is always a great end to the day.


Geriatric Massage

There’s no doubt that as we age our bodies change. We become more susceptible to illnesses, lose bone and muscle mass, and generally become more frail. And while we can’t exactly stop the aging process, there is a way to help your body as you navigate the waters of aging; massage therapy. Geriatric massage is a type of massage therapy specifically tailored to address issues that commonly affect the elderly.

While people of all ages can enjoy a standard massage, finding someone trained in geriatric massage can ensure their ability to address some of your unique needs. Generally, geriatric massage should be light and gentle, aiming to improve movement, decrease joint pain, increase local circulation in specific areas where you may have some deficiencies, and improve mood.

Most deep pressure techniques, and those meant to penetrate down into the muscle tissue, are avoided as they can cause more harm than good. These could leave the client bruised, achy, or not feeling well after what should be a wonderful experience. There also tends to be a loss of sensation as we age, and sometimes that means the brain doesn’t interpret the pressure quite as strongly as it really is, leading the client to feel like they can handle more than is really safe for their body.

Another important aspect of geriatric massage is the simple act of touch. Beyond all the physiological benefits, gentle, compassionate massage has been shown to improve mood and boost feeling of well-being, especially in those who are experiencing a form of touch deprivation. As we age, through life changes and medical needs, we often don’t receive healthy forms of touch as often as we used to. Massage can make up for some of that by providing a safe, comforting form of touch; something every single person innately needs.

So, if you or someone you know could benefit from this specialized form of care, book an appointment or get in touch and we’ll discuss any special needs you may have.


My experience with Massage by Maple is second-to-none. Maple is professional, but always warm and personal. She listens to my needs and tailors the massage to just what I need.

Every time I get a massage by Maple I feel like I’m the only person in the world. She devotes her complete attention to the massage, the energy in the room is focused, relaxed, and peaceful.

Maple is hands-down the best massage I’ve ever had, I will see her as regularly as I can forever-

– Kelley D.


have been going to Maple for regular massages now for around two years, and I’m so grateful to have found her! I always leave her table feeling so relaxed and balanced, with any tension I’ve been holding on to just melting away! I also very much enjoyed the additional add-on service of cupping that she provides, as it enhances the experience in such a fantastic way. Maple is very knowledgeable about her profession, does her best to ensure you are comfortable and satisfied with every experience and service. I highly recommend her for anyone looking for an all around great massage therapist in or around the Bloomington area!

-Nadia C.


So much more than just a massage, with the perfect lighting, the incense, and aromatic oils, relaxing music and nature sounds and of course Maple’s knowledge conveyed through her gentle touch, it is a truly immersive experience for both mind and body!!

-Tim G.


The Myth of “Good” Posture

How many times have you been told in your life to stand up straight, drop your shoulders, or if you don’t stand up straight, you’ll pay for it later? From the time we’re small, we’re often told the “right” way to stand and sit. But what if I told you that everything you’ve heard about having good posture isn’t necessarily true?

First of all, what is good posture, anyway? I have recently taken an interest in the practice of Tai Chi. My background in dance put me at a disadvantage because my go-to body alignment when I focus on it is more ballet-like which is in opposition to the alignment used in Tai Chi. Most people would describe posture or body alignment as having your back straight with your spine in perfect alignment, the shoulders back, and the head neutral. There are even postural analysis charts and testing to determine if someone is in perfect alignment. But here’s the thing…perfect posture doesn’t really exist. My posture is probably going to be slightly different than yours and different from your neighbors, your coworkers, or your spouse. Our bodies are unique, our lifestyles are unique, and our posture and alignment is going to be just as unique. This is why it’s often uncomfortable, or even painful to hold “perfect posture” if we’re not used to it. That’s because you’re putting your body into an abnormal position. Instead of thinking of perfect posture as some sort of perfect line you’re supposed to keep your body in, think of it more in terms of positioning the body in a way that allows body parts, like muscles, ligaments, etc. to function to their full capacity, and without creating some sort of pain or injury. The optimal position of your body depends on your body’s needs and what it has become accustomed to.

Our bodies adapt according to our lifestyle. If, for most of your life, you’ve maintained the posture that’s commonly considered ‘correct’, then that’s how your body will naturally hold as you go about your life. If, however, you’ve lived much of your life bending forward, your posture may look ‘bad’, but you have no ill effects of it; no pain, no loss of function, etc. Perfect alignment is almost impossible to achieve at all times for most people, and for many, it may actually cause problems to constantly force yourself into that position. Again, our bodies and our lifestyles are so unique to one another. My spine’s normal may be different than your spine’s normal. This isn’t to say that pain is normal, or that you shouldn’t strive to make sure you are doing the most you can for your spine health, but it just doesn’t make sense to compare apples to oranges. Finding what your body’s ultimate posture is, is key to your spine health. It’s important to note that movement is key in maintaining your body’s spine health because sitting in the same position for long periods of time can be stressful on the spine, no matter how ‘good’ your holding posture is.

This doesn’t mean we should sit in awkward positions and throw the entire idea of alignments out the window. But the important thing isn’t necessarily how you stand or sit throughout the day, but rather the strength of the muscles that support the spine. The stronger those muscles, the ‘safer’ the spine remains even in seemingly abnormal positions.

You’ll hear many professionals make the claim that your poor posture is causing your back pain, neck pain, or whatever else you complain of; but for many, the natural posture our body feels most comfortable in may very well be preventing our pain from worsening or appearing at all. Anytime we discuss posture, it’s important to determine if your posture is causing your pain, or if your pain is causing your posture. Is your back hurting because you round forward, or are you rounding forward in an instinctual way of protecting your back?

So, don’t buy into the hype of perfect posture, and the thousands of types of money-making devices and tools that promise to give you that perfect pose. If you’re not hurting from the way you sit and stand now, it may very well not be necessary to mess with it. If you are experiencing pain, it’s best to talk with a professional about what’s really happening and what really needs to be done about it.


What You Should & Shouldn’t Do After a Massage

Whether you get regular massages to help with an injury, loosen your muscles after a training session, ease the pain of an injury or medical condition you’re experiencing, or just as pure relaxation, I want you to get the most out of your massage. There are ways to maximize the benefits of your massage, and there are ways that can have the opposite effect you’re going for. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you get the most out of your massage.
* Do Drink water to re-hydrate
Because massage manually increases lymphatic flow, it can have a diuretic effect on the body, causing you to lose a little water. Drinking plenty of water before and after a massage will ensure that you stay hydrated and continue to feel great after your appointment.
* Do Take a nap
There is no doubt that after your session your muscles will be relaxed, and your mind clear due to the feel-good hormones that your body releases. Try to schedule your massage appointment at a time in your day where you can enjoy the benefits of relaxing and refueling your body through a much-needed nap. Not only will you enjoy some great sleep, but you’ll also give your body time to reset.
* Do Eat
Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, giving you that amazing feeling of relaxation, and aiding digestion at the same time. You’ll more than likely be a little hungry when you leave your appointment so refuel your body with a light snack or well-balanced meal.
* Do Use heat therapy
I do my best to relax your muscles during a massage, and the addition of before, during, and after your massage will act to increase that relaxation effect, leaving you feeling even more amazing. This can also help dissipate some of the muscle soreness that can be associated with more rigorous techniques and injury rehabilitation.
* Don’t drink alcohol
As I have mentioned before, massage has a diuretic affect. Since alcohol also has a diuretic effect, it’s important to avoid it for a bit after your massage. If you’re going to anyway, don’t overdo it, and be sure to drink some extra water to keep yourself from becoming too dehydrated.
* Don’t Exercise
While many would think this is the perfect time to go exercise because the muscles are loosened, take this time and enjoy the benefits of your massage. Let your body heal and enjoy a rest day. Yoga and light stretching are perfectly fine if you really need to move your body after a massage, just keep in mind that you don’t want to overdo it.
* Don’t Stress
Massage helps relieve stress from your day to day life. Enjoy the benefits of your massage by putting on some relaxing music, and just kick back and relax. Try to stay away from working, watching the news, or anything else that will bring your stress levels back up.
* Make today about YOU.
While it may sometimes be difficult to schedule your appointment at a time where you can have the rest of the day to yourself, it does help to increase the amazing effects of that massage. Just remember that it’s your body and it’s your massage; don’t you deserve to get the most out of it?

Are You Touch Deprived?

There are 5 basic human senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Touch is the first sense we develop. It is also the most vital to our well-being. There are several sensations of touch we experience such as pressure, temperature, vibration, and pain. Just take a second to think. How often do you reach out to touch someone? How often does someone reach out to touch you? Did you know that you may be touch deprived? Touch deprivation is a real issue, with real symptoms, as well as real solutions.
We live in a time where our lives are incredibly busy and mostly dominated by electronics. While social media has reconnected family and friends who are far apart, it has also distanced us somewhat from those around us. Everything is at our fingertips. You can now have groceries or a full meal delivered to your door. If you do go out to a restaurant and look around you will more than likely see most people at the table on their phone. We rarely truly connect with those right before our eyes, and as a result we lack the social and physical aspect of touching the ones we love. We also live in a time where we have never been more aware or protective of our bodies and physical space. While it’s important to protect our physical boundaries and keep ourselves safe, we cannot go to the opposite extreme and deprive ourselves of experiencing the vital sense of touch.
The amount of physical contact we have on a daily basis, believe it or not, depends on the area in which we live. For example, in a study conducted by psychologist Sidney Jourard, he observed conversations of friends all over the world. In England the friends didn’t touch at all. In the US, the friends touched two times when excited. In France, the friends touched 110 times per hour. In Puerto Rico, they touched 180 times. While it is important to respect another’s personal space and choice whether they prefer touch or not, not receiving the right amount of touch may be affecting us more than we think.
One of the more surprising effects of touch deprivation includes aggression. In a study conducted by Tiffany Field, the founder of the Touch Research Institute, they compared French and American adolescents. The American adolescents who spent less time touching displayed more aggressive verbal and physical behavior than the French adolescents. After introducing massage therapy to the American adolescents, their empathy increased and the level of their violent behavior decreased. Body image issues may also be a result of touch deprivation. A study conducted on women who suffered from bulimia and anorexia found that those with greater touch deprivation in their childhood and current life, had more body image issues potentially leading to their eating disorders.
There are receptors underneath our skin that, when stimulated by touch, can help reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels and blood pressure. When those receptors aren’t being stimulated regularly, it can result in higher stress levels, causing us to struggle to unwind when we’re overwhelmed. Loneliness is one of the more obvious signs of touch deprivation, and for good reason. If you aren’t touched regularly enough throughout the day, you may feel alone, even if you are surrounded by loved ones. Do you take long hot showers, or multiple hot showers in a day? Do you cling to a pillow in your sleep? These can be signs of loneliness. It is also important to note that when someone feels lonely due to touch deprivation, it isn’t uncommon for them to withdraw from others socially. Depression is closely connected to the loneliness aspect of touch deprivation. Those who suffer from this “skin hunger” are more likely to suffer from alexithymia, a condition that prevents people from being able to interpret their emotions. While these are important signs of touch deprivation, they are just a few of the many.
There are ways you can incorporate more touch into your everyday life. Of course, it’s always important to remember to respect others’ boundaries if you know that they prefer not to be touched.
  • Greet your coworkers daily with a handshake. While it’s often habit to say hello to those we cross paths with daily, we rarely ever have physical contact with them. Something as simple as a handshake can provide you both with a small, but much-needed form of physical contact as well as strengthen bonds and build trust.
  • Give some sort of physical touch to your significant other each time you leave or arrive home. Whether it be a sweet kiss, a warm hug, or even a firm squeeze of the hand, this strengthens your connection and makes you happier.
  • Find 15 minutes in your day to snuggle your kids. Keep in mind that touching is vital to the physical, mental, and emotional development of children. Some days you may be able to get that 15 solid minutes in, no problem. On those other days when your schedule is crazy, break it up to get 5 minutes in the morning, 5 in the afternoon, and 5 before bed. Find time to have them hop in your lap when they need your help with something, give them a comforting hug that last a little longer than usual, hold their hand, or massage their back as they drift off to sleep. This will strengthen your bond, deepen their sense of security, and reaffirm your love for them, giving you both a great dose of physical touch for the day.
  • Get a pet. Studies have shown those with pets tend to be happier and have less feelings of loneliness. While there’s many reasons behind that, part of it is the physical touch of another being. If you’re unable to have a pet for any reason, try volunteering at your local animal shelter to get that touch as well as help out some animals in need.
You may have a small social circle, aren’t close to your loved ones, feel uncomfortable touching those who are in your life, or you’ve had a bad experience with touch and avoid it; so if those tips aren’t really applicable in your life, or you know you need a bit more touch than that, there are other ways to get that safe, physical touch you need; massage therapy and other forms of professional bodywork. Not only does massage therapy have a slew of benefits, but it also involves a very safe, professional touch that can provide that much-needed form of physical contact. Whether you choose Swedish, Deep Tissue, Thai massage, cupping, warm bamboo, facial massage or any of the many other forms of massage and bodywork, you get to choose how you incorporate touch into your life to get the most benefit.
We all come from different walks of life, but one thing we all have in common is our undeniable need for touch, for our mental and physical health. How will you incorporate touch into your life today?

TMJ Dysfunction

“Can you work on my jaw, I tend to store my tension and stress there. Is that weird?”
Nope! Many clients come in with jaw tension, you are not alone…
Pain, stiffness, grinding, clicking, or locking of your jaw are most often clear signs of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) Dysfunction. This is a common condition, affecting over 10 million people! The severity of the condition varies greatly, with some people experiencing only mild symptoms on occasion, while others suffer a great deal daily. And if you notice your symptoms getting worse, now’s the time to start taking care of it. That grinding, clicking, pain, and locking are all signs that the joint isn’t moving and functioning properly, meaning damage is being done, and without intervention that damage may very well be irreparable.
What causes this kind of dysfunction? Most often, it’s due to clenching of the jaw and/or grinding of the teeth. Tightening the muscles around the jaw is a common reaction to stress. This can happen as our bodies try to recover from a busy day as we sleep, or throughout the day as we deal with even mild stressors.
Conventional care that most people talk about is usually limited to night guards, devices worn through the night to prevent grinding of the teeth. However, the problem with these is that they often don’t address the overall problem. A night guard protects the teeth so they don’t wear down so much over time, and/or helps to realign the jaw to prevent an abnormal position of the joint as you sleep. But none of this addresses the clenching, the tightening of the muscles in that area that are at the root of the problem.
One thing that may help…you guessed it, massage therapy. Studies have shown that massage therapy can help with the symptoms and pain associated with TMJ Dysfunction. The focus of this type of massage is on releasing the muscle tension and restrictions throughout the musculature of the jaw, face, neck, chest, and upper shoulders. That clenching of the jaw doesn’t just affect the TM joint, but rather the muscles controlling that area are positioned throughout the head, neck, and shoulders. It’s important to work them all to address the problem and prevent others. If you have any form of TMJ Dysfunction, you’ve probably felt the neck tension and headaches that can come along with it.
¹Pierson, Melissa Joan. “Changes in Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Symptoms Following Massage Therapy: A Case Report.” International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: Research, Education, & Practice,

Tips to Get the Most from Your Massage

For many, massage therapy is considered a very important part of their health care; and as such, needs to be taken seriously. While a massage will surely feel amazing, there’s a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most benefit from those sessions.
Timing, Timing, Timing
Try to schedule your massage when you can take the time after to really soak in the benefits and enjoy that after-massage feeling. While you may think that squeezing it into a busy week will make a crazy week better, if you’re rushing back to work, or anywhere else, it can be difficult to enjoy the stress relief you’re meant to after your session. While it’s definitely beneficial to just go home and nap and relax all day after a massage, that may not always be possible. So, at the very least, schedule out some extra time after your session, even for just an additional hour or so, to do something relaxing; go for lunch, spend some time at the park, catch up with a friend, or whatever can keep you feeling great for longer.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
The last thing you want when you’re getting off of the massage table is to try to squeeze into your favorite night on the town jeans, or uncomfortable high heels. Your muscles are feeling great, your mind is clear, and your body is adjusting to this wonderful new relaxed feeling. Bring super comfy clothes so you don’t feel restricted for the rest of your day. If you’re headed straight home afterwards, bring your pajamas! There’s no judgement here.
Eat Something Light
Eating a light snack before your massage can help you feel your best after, but it’s important to not eat a large meal. Deep pressure will usually feel amazing on your back, but not so much if you have a full stomach getting that pressure too. Save the larger meal for after your massage, when you’re likely to be more hungry anyway.
To get the most from any massage, it’s important for you to communicate honestly with me. If you’re tender in an area, have pain, or if anything has changed since our last session, please let me know. My job is to help you find relief. That last thing I want is for you to be uncomfortable or just not enjoying the work.
Massage therapy is health care. So, help me help you get the most out of your session.

“Massage by Maple is now my favorite place to get massages. She listens to what you want, what you need, and adjusts accordingly. She has helped my headaches and backaches, and because of her, massage is now part of my routine self care. I recommend her to everyone. I am even trying to get my grandma to try it out. Maple has experience working with the elderly and disabled and would be able to bring comfort to my grandmother.

  • Tory C.


Massage by Maple provided me with a very relaxing and comfortable experience in a very peaceful space! Maple communicated well with me and is very professional. I would recommend Maple to anyone looking for a great massage!

  • Sarah M.