How Often Should You Get a Massage?

Every day! Well, maybe that’s not practical, even though it would be nice. This is one of the most common questions clients ask about massage therapy, and it really all depends on WHY you get massages. Do you get massages for health benefits? Or, to help you relax and handle the stress of everyday life? Most likely it’s a combination of the two, so let’s look at some of the most common reasons to get regular massages:

Relaxation & Stress Relief

One of the very best reasons to get a massage is for relaxation. Relaxation massage helps to support your body, including blood circulation and flexibility of joints. Regular massage can help prevent pain, muscle tension, and stress points from building up and causing problems. Why wait until you have a problem to get a massage? Massage is perfect for preventing issues with your tissues. Relaxation massage is usually recommended at least once per month, or as often as you want!

There may be times in your life where you experience higher levels of stress and more muscle tension than normal. It is especially important to practice good self-care during these times. When we “don’t have time” for a massage, is usually when we need one the most. Make yourself a priority even during stressful times, your health is worth it.

If you are in a high-stress job or you work in an environment where you stay in a certain position for a long period of time (at a computer for example), you may begin to develop tight or “knotted” muscles. This will frequently occur in your shoulders, arms, and back. All of this increased muscle tension will make movement harder and can cause a great deal of pain. Regular massage can help to keep you loosened up and will help to prevent pain and stiffness.

Living with high levels of stress for a prolonged amount of time increases the risk of contracting heart disease and other diseases. It has been estimated that 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. The good news is, massage can help! Just knowing your massage is coming up in a few days can help to relieve stress, and a massage every 2-4 weeks will help with stress related tension.

Sports Recovery

Are you a weekend warrior, or do you just like to stay in shape? Either way, massage can help with sports performance and recovery. Many athletes and physically active people receive sports massage because it enhances their performance, prevents injury, and speeds up their muscles’ recovery. Competitive sports can put a lot of stress on a person’s muscles! Research conducted at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University in Ontario shows that massage reduces inflammation and stimulates the growth of new mitochondria, the energy-producing units in the cells, after strenuous exercise. This means that massage can help relieve pain, build muscles and help with muscle recovery too! For these benefits it is recommended that you get a massage up to three times a week or at least three times a month.

Chronic Health Conditions

People with ongoing health issues often find massage very helpful to alleviate symptoms. Chronic health problems that greatly benefit from massage therapy include back pain, joint pain, and localized inflammation. If you get therapy for specific issues, the frequency of getting massage therapy varies with the type of condition you have and how severe it is. Relief from pain can usually be achieved with 2-4 massage sessions per month. Your massage therapist will work with you to help you get on the best schedule for your body.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women can greatly benefit from massage therapy!  Prenatal massage and is popular among expectant mothers, who often experience a lot of aches and pains as their pregnancy progresses. Many women suffer from back pain, hip & sciatic pain, headaches, and tired legs & feet. But you don’t have to, a certified massage therapist can help to relieve those discomforts.

Going to your massage therapist once or twice a month can help with the symptoms caused by pregnancy, and it can even help you sleep better.  Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor and your massage therapist to ensure that you don’t have any pregnancy related conditions that would contraindicate massage therapy for you. Most women experiencing a healthy pregnancy can and should enjoy regular massage sessions.

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Improve your health with breath

Breath. Such a simple thing. It’s essential to life, but yet how often do we think about it? It ebbs and flows throughout our days and we barely give it a second thought. September is Healthy Lung Month and we’re going to look at some ways our breath improves our health – including some techniques you can utilize today.

Deep breathing can reduce anxiety

Implementing a deep breathing technique when anxiety strikes can make the difference between a full on attack and an unwelcome blip in your day. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate, improves circulation and promotes clearer thinking.

You can use your breath to calm down

Let’s face it, when tempers flair it seems almost impossible to think about anything other than the current situation that set you off. Practicing simple breathing techniques can encourage calmness and help reverse the physical symptoms of anger.

TECHNIQUE for Anxiety and Calm

  • Isolate yourself from everyone for 15 minutes
  • Inhale slowly for the count of 4
  • Exhale slowly for the count of 8
  • Notice the space in between the inhalation and exhalation
  • Repeat until you begin to calm down

Take breathing even deeper with pranayama

Pranayama is the practice of using the breath to soothe an active mind. If practiced right, pranayama can bring harmony between mind, body and spirit. It boosts your ability to be mentally and spiritually strong. There are very specific breathwork techniques that are outside the scope of this article, but we recommend reading up and finding a good teacher.

Use with meditation

Breathwork can be a fantastic addition to your mindfulness or meditation practice. It can allow us to open our hearts and our minds. It has been said that it can move stuck energy as well.

TECHNIQUE for Pranayama and Meditation

  • Quiet your body and mind
  • Observe your breath as it is
  • Slow your breathing to a calm steady level
  • Concentrate on the air that moves in and out of your lungs
  • Focus on how your body feels and moves as you inhale and exhale

Much like massage, there is no doubt that breathing can encourage relaxation and healthy habits. It keeps the body/mind functioning and curbs stress. Your muscles naturally relax and you can go about your day a little easier.

Breathing may seem insignificant. It happens naturally, so we may not think about breathing all that much, but maybe it’s time we should.

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A simple way to jumpstart your health and fitness journey

If you google “women’s health and fitness” we are willing to bet your search would turn up millions (and millions) of results. Some are legit health articles with real research to back up their claims, while others are trying to sell fitness garments, sports bras, and gear.

If you’re new to the health and fitness world it’s overwhelming. Where does a newbie start? Is it the gear? Is it the food? Or is it the exercise? September 27th is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day and we are going to walk you through some easy tips for getting started on your wellness journey.

Move some.

First and foremost, it’s important to move. Stretch, walk, run, or hike – it doesn’t matter, just get out of the normal groove of work and couch surfing. Start with five minutes a day and stay consistent. Do this for about a week. When five minutes feels so easy it’s ridiculous to not do more, bump up your time or go a small distance further. The aim here is stirring up the boring routine and get that body moving.

Get the right gear.

Most people start with the gear. They go out and buy fancy trackers, hats, clothes, gloves, etc. Sure, it’s fun to buy stuff, but some people are dropping a small fortune on new digs and falling off the wagon a few days in. Why is that? Gear shouldn’t be the motivator. Sport/smart watches are merely tools to help you in your new chapter. The motivation needs to come from within. Get moving, see what you enjoy and then get the gear to match your new activity.

Eat well.

Once movement becomes a routine, you’ll find a natural progression into healthy eating. Fitness habits support good health habits and visa versa. It’s important to start small. Remove junk foods from your home (workplace, purse, vehicle, etc) that aren’t your favorites to avoid mindless eating. Swap out an unhealthy choice for a healthy one every time you grocery shop. Reduce your portions if you feel you’re eating too much and increase the amount of (small) meals if you feel you’re not eating enough throughout the day. Plan and prep your meals around your schedule one day a week and try to curb those impulse take-out orders.

Sleep well.

Sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. When you sleep your body goes into repair and restore mode. It aids digestion, stress levels, moods, and often times our patience with basic daily tasks. Oh and your memory! (Almost forgot that.) If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, find a time that you can start winding down every night. For example, have a cup of tea at 8PM each night to jumpstart your “getting ready for bed” process. Over time your body will recognize that tea as a trigger and start winding down as soon as you smell that cup of chamomile.

Have fun.

This is huge. No one wants to do things that make them unhappy. Don’t force yourself to run if you hate running. Walk or cycle instead. Or try yoga. Or massage.  Find activities that you love and it’ll be that much easier to keep up with.

You know what’s best for you.

Do what feels right. Take care of yourself. Seek guidance from a medical professional if you need it. Speak to a nutritionist, a personal trainer or your own doctor. Educate yourself on what it takes to achieve the goals and results you are after. No one can do this for you. It’s your journey, so take that step – one little bit at a time.

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The Exercise with Your Child Challenge

Physical activity is good for our bodies. There is no question about that. The benefits of a good workout are countless. When we break a good sweat, we reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease. Our bones and muscles get stronger. We gain mental clarity and relieve stress. But I’m curious, how much are we setting an example for our children?

Whether you exercise or not, your children witness your actions daily. This leaves an impression on them that could impact how they live their lives down the road. Seeing you leave for the gym or take to the streets for a good run is great but what happens when you include them?

August 6-12th, we are celebrating “Exercise with Your Child Week” and we want to challenge you to one full week of exercise with your kiddo. Don’t worry if you don’t have a child, you could always reach out to borrow a friend’s, neighbor’s or take someone who needs a break from “the norm.”

Physical activity is awesome. Here’s why:

Combat health issues.

Conditions and diseases are drastically reduced with frequent workouts. Couple that with weight loss or preventing excess gain, and it’s all around a good idea. Starting your child on the right foot can lead to healthy lifelong habits.

You just feel better.

Exercise is a natural mood elevator. It boosts your mood – not only from the happy chemicals that have been stirred up, but the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a good burn. (Bonus: Going for a run or walk also makes an awesome attitude reset. When a child is in a funk, going for a run is a fantastic way to shake it off. And if that doesn’t seem to work, you could always loop the block one more time. That usually inspires a better mood!)

Sleep more soundly.

Right up there with massage, physical activity can be you (and your child’s) ticket to a quality good night’s sleep.

Relationship building.

Truthfully, working out together is a bonding experience. It opens the door to curious conversation, heart to heart chats, and the opportunity to grow as an athlete together.

By committing to working out with your child for one week, you are making a commitment to your health and your child’s health. Don’t worry if you haven’t worked out before. When your child sees your ability to try something new, learn, adapt and push through, you become a role model. It doesn’t have to be pretty and you don’t have to have a degree in health or physical education. You just need a desire to learn and want to spend time with a loved one. So go out there and try something new and bring along your child. We hope your new routine sticks for longer than a week.

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The Reboot for your Mind and Body

Do you feel stretched in a hundred different directions?

Obligations, deadlines, appointments, meetings, work, housework, sports, everything. More often than not, it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week for all that needs to be done. We’re on constant high alert. We’re always moving.

All this chaos can be hard on your body and mind.

When this happens, we tend to be less mindful of our eating. Or chasing sleep like it’s a lively kitten. Or we get snippy with loved ones and coworkers.

The effects of this day to day stress are cumulative for most of us. Stiff joints get stiffer. Cranky shoulders get crankier, then one rogue golf swing or one heavy laundry basket makes it worse.

Massage is the mini-vacation you probably need.

Without the sand in your shoes and having to pull your computer out of your backpack.

Massage therapy is a reboot. It’s the control-alt-delete for your body and mind.

A massage resets your thoughts, slows your pulse, regulates your breathing, and recharges your mind.

Spend some time on my massage table, taking care of you. You can schedule online right here.

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8 Health Benefits of Owning a Cat

Everyone knows that pet ownership comes with a boatload of responsibility, but what you might not know is owning a pet provides healthy perks as well. June is Adopt-A-Cat month and we are going to look at ways a cat can improve your life.

Reduce stress and anxiety

Cuddling with a feline friend can release soothing, happy chemicals in your body and distract you from any worries you might have. Since cats are relatively low maintenance and usually have a short attention span, quality time with your cat is powerful. Even a few short minutes can reduce your stress and anxiety in a big way.

Boosts your mood

Who doesn’t love the spunkiness a cat brings to the table (or in some cases ON the table)? If the cuddles don’t lift your spirits, their playfulness certainly will. Cats are pretty simple. They are able to take the most unexpected item (a plastic cap, a feather) and make it a source of entertainment for hours.

Increase sociability

Owning and connecting with a cat is a great conversation starter. No matter what type of function or event you are attending, pet ownership can be a way to bond with other people.

Decrease loneliness

Having a feline companion can help relieve feelings of loneliness. Especially if you live alone, being greeted by a cat is much more desirable than coming home to an empty house.

Reduce allergies and boosts immunity

Exposure to pet fur and dander can result in an increased resistance to allergies. Owning a cat reduces the risk of depression while also promoting socialization, playfulness, and laughter – which all works to help your immune system function better.

Reduce medical expenses

The calming presence of a cat can lend itself to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and ultimately reduced medical expenses. More and more stories are surfacing about how a cat sensed their owner was about to have a seizure and able to alert them before the episode.

Recover from trauma or grief

Difficult times or mourning is hard on its. When someone talks to their pet, coupled with petting, can help them work through what’s ailing them. It might seem weird to talk to a pet, but it’s much easier to talk to someone that will listen and isn’t capable of judgement like humans are.

Promotes relaxation

Much like massage, owning a cat promotes relaxation. A simple snuggle with your cat can trigger feelings of happiness and love. This can also lead to better sleep habits and quality rest.

You might be questioning if you’re cut out for cats. It doesn’t matter if you’ve always fancied yourself as a dog lover, the companionship (and health benefits!) you experience by owning a cat is hard to compete with. If you think you have room for a feline friend in your life, check out a local shelter to see if you connect with a pet that’ll bring you much happiness and love.

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7 Ways to Indulge in Procrastination

In many ways “procrastination” is a naughty word. To some it implies laziness, being unmotivated, distracted, unfocused and countless other trigger words. It means that we aren’t getting the things done and we are failing as contributing adults.

Now maybe that’s an exaggeration, but maybe it’s not.  The point is we heap a bunch of responsibilities and pressure on ourselves. There is always a deadline and there is always the next thing to complete.

But where is the real procrastination?

More often than not we are procrastinating on our self-care and the things that really matter. This National Procrastination Week (March 5-11) we are all about the holiday that is devoted to putting things off and delaying those oh-so-important tasks.

The focus for this holiday isn’t inactivity, but in being active in getting a mental and emotional break which will lead to decreased stress and anxiety. And as massage therapists, we are all about that.

Here are a few ways you can indulge in procrastination. (Don’t worry, all that other stuff will still be there when you’re done.)

Read

Ahhh, a good book – there’s nothing like it. No matter the genre, reading is the quickest escape route into another land. Once you pass through that portal there’s no turning back. And if business or finance books are more your speed, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes the escape is in learning something new. Grab your library card or pay your local athenaeum a visit. Many great reads await you.

Create

Is there a hobby or enjoyable activity you’ve been putting off?  Now is a good time to pick it up. Bake your favorite cookies. Cook a meal that reminds you of someone special. Knit a scarf. Write in a journal. Paint a canvas, an end table, or a masterpiece. Whatever your “thing” is lose yourself in it.

Clean

Raise your hand if you procrastinate on doing dishes and laundry. (*raises hand*) While some find household chores relaxing, others can’t stand them or just never seem to have the time for them. Cleaning has become a “hurry up and get it over with” activity. Slow down a little and do the dishes by hand. Even if you don’t find it relaxing, you’ll walk away with a little more gratitude for the modern-day luxuries.   

Exercise

In some instances, exercise has become another chore. We do it because we know we need to and it will keep us fit and healthy. Sometimes we don’t see the benefit until it’s over and working out becomes another task we must complete. Try approaching exercise in a new way. Find something you enjoy doing. Something you can look forward to. Try yoga or meditation (for those with busy minds, keep a notebook nearby to jot down fleeting thoughts) or go for a walk on a new trail or in a different neighborhood. Just get out there and move.

Drink

Drink coffee. Drink tea. Drink margaritas. Get dressed up for a night on the town or dress down for a night in. Fly solo or invite a friend. For some, socializing recharges their batteries while others find energy in solitude. Do what suits you and I promise you’ll feel refreshed.

Nap

Find the nearest hammock, couch or shade. Sleep is essential and we don’t get nearly enough. The benefits of sleep range from improved memory, sparked creativity, improved athletic performance and weight loss to lower anxiety and depression levels. Granted getting a good night’s sleep won’t prevent you from all disease, but quality sleep is a key factor in a healthy lifestyle.

Massage

It’s no surprise that our favorite way to indulge in procrastination is through massage. We would start and finish our day with a massage if we could. The mental and physical break in a treatment room cannot be beat. And if you’re still feeling the need to be productive, multitask by scheduling a massage and nap while you are there!

In case you didn’t pick up on it, procrastination week is also about changing habits. It’s about incorporating enjoyable activities in our busy, stressed out lives. It’s about finding some peace while being productive and keeping things in balance. Being riddled with daily stress and anxiety serves no one. Especially you.

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