Archive for March, 2011

“I Think I Just Threw a Clot!”

medical monitor

Blood clots are serious business. It’s important to know the symptoms and risk factors of blot clots. However, it’s estimated that 30-50% of people who suffer blood clots have no prior symptoms. They have serious complications if they are not treated: if they dislodge they could cause a pulmonary embolism.

I did a little research on WebMD.com, one of my favorite medical information sites, and found the following list of symptoms of blood clots:

Symptoms occur in the affected leg when a clot obstructs blood flow and causes inflammation. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Swelling Gradual onset of pain
  • Redness
  • Warmth to the touch
  • Worsening leg pain when bending the foot
  • Leg cramps, especially at night
  • Bluish or whitish discoloration of skin

However, almost 30%-50% of individuals with deep vein thrombosis do not experience symptoms from the condition.

via Deep Vein Thrombosis Blood Clot in the Leg, DVT.

That last sentence is a key piece of information. For 1/3 to 1/2 of all people who have a blood clot there are no outward symptoms. That’s pretty scary.  Because of this, I also wanted to include some risk factors that may lead to deep vein thrombosis.

First of all, what causes the formation of a blood clot in a blood vessel:

Three factors may lead to formation of a clot inside a blood vessel.

  • Damage to the inside of a blood vessel due to trauma or other conditions
  • Changes in normal blood flow, including unusual turbulence, or partial or complete blockage of blood flow
  • Hypercoagulability, a rare state in which the blood is more likely than usual to clot

Any component that contributes to one or more of these three criteria can cause deep vein thrombosis. The more common risk factors are as follows:

  • Prolonged sitting, such as during a long plane or car ride
  • Prolonged bed rest or immobility, such as after injury or during illness (such as stroke)
  • Recent surgery, particularly orthopedic, gynecologic, or heart surgery
  • Recent trauma to the lower body, such as fractures of the bones of the hip, thigh, or lower leg
  • Obesity
  • Heart attack or heart failure
  • Recent childbirth
  • Being at very high altitude, greater than 14,000 feet
  • Use of estrogen replacement (hormone therapy, or HT) or birth control pills
  • Cancer
  • Rare inherited genetic changes in certain blood clotting factors
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a medical condition in which blood clotting occurs inappropriately, usually caused by overwhelming infection or organ failure
  • Certain heart or respiratory conditions
  • Advanced age

If an individual has one deep vein thrombosis, they are more likely to have a second deep vein thrombosis.

via Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clot in the Leg, DVT). (my emphasis)

This is important for massage therapists, as massage effects the circulation in the legs when strokes are used on the tissue. Massage could even dislodge a blood clot in the legs if deep, vigorous strokes are used. Be aware of your own body, any trauma to the legs and take note of any DVT symptoms in your legs immediately.

Let your massage therapist know if you have any of the symptoms of DVT or if you’re at risk given the factors listed above.  See your physician immediately if you have any symptoms of a blood clot.

Photo from user hamma at sxc.hu

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7 Tips to Make Your Next Massage Super-Fantastic-Fabulous

slippers

A lot of what makes that fantastic, super-wonderful, sleepy/happy/noodle-like massage feeling has to do with your massage therapist. If you have a great massage therapist, and great communication with your therapist, you’re going to have a fabulous massage.

But not everything that makes that massage so wonderful has to do with your therapist. Some basic tips and suggestions can take your next massage from great to “out of this world!”

(If you want to discuss or try some of these next time you’re in for a massage in Louisville or Nashville, let me know!)

Tip One: Bring your Pajamas

I suggest this for all clients coming after work, or just before a vacation.  Bring your pajamas and your slippers.  Or, bring your lounge clothes.  Don’t bother putting the pantyhose and fancy shoes or ties back on, bring comfy clothes and put your work clothes in a bag.  Go home in clothes your body relaxes in.  That will improve your next massage 100%!

Tip Two: Back into your Parking Spot

Instead of having to crane your neck around just after that great massage, back into your parking space, or get into a spot that you can drive forward from. It’s a simple tip, but it makes a difference.

Tip Three: Get There Early

Another easy tip is to leave five minutes early for your massage. Make sure you have a few minutes just to sit in the waiting room and look forward to your massage.  Rushing in right on time, or worse, five minutes late not only shorts your time with your massage therapist, it keeps you from getting on the table in the right frame of mind.

Tip Four: Pay and Schedule Before the Session

Nothing brings you back into the real world and out of that beatific post-massage stupor as much as getting out your calendar to schedule your next appointment. It reminds you of everything you have to do, and creeps you back into reality far too quickly. Take a minute or two before your session to go ahead and get your payment ready and schedule your next session. It’ll keep you in La-La-Land a little longer. And that’s the point, right?

Tip Five: Take Care in Scheduling Your Massage

The top factors in scheduling a massage are your schedule, your budget and your massage therapist’s schedule. Getting all three of those factors to the sweet spot of the perfect massage time can be a challenge. Schedule at a time when you’ll be able to relax. Don’t try to schedule the evening before you’re going out of town. Most likely you’ll be rushing around to get everything together just before heading out.

Avoid scheduling right before a big deadline. If you can, schedule just after the deadline. Try not to schedule just before a stressful meeting or a big presentation. “Massage brain” can leave you a little tongue-tied and sometimes a bit addled. And that doesn’t take into account the crazy hair that can occur!

Tip Six: Get Your Errands Done Beforehand

I know it’s tempting to head out to errands after a massage, but resist. Even grocery shopping, toting the groceries out into the car and then into the house can be a strain on your body. Having a long To-Do list after a massage can keep you from staying relaxed after your session.

It’s better to leave your schedule open after a massage, go home to relax and continue the good vibe after the session. Make it an evening or afternoon you can keep for yourself.

Tip Seven: Be Open to Relaxing on the Table

One of the things that makes the biggest difference in the way you feel after a massage is your mental state while receiving the massage. Go to your massage with an open mind. If you have a hard time relaxing on the table, ask your massage therapist to do something you find extremely relaxing (e.g. working on the feet or the scalp).

If your mind keeps wandering, just breathe on the table, and let each exhale sink you deeper into the table. Focus on what the massage therapist is working on if focusing on your breath isn’t helping relax you. Above all, just try to enjoy the massage and let your body and mind relax. Sometimes anticipating a fabulous massage makes it that much better – just getting your mind ready for the relaxation you’ll have on the table.

So there you have it: 7 tips to make your next massage a hundred times better.

And if you’re looking for a great massage therapist in Louisville, well, you’ve got my number: 502-265-6710.

photo credit: sxc.hu user thea0221

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Feet of Steel – Strengthen and Stretch Daily

Two feet against a sky

For my athletes, marathoners and runners, I’ve got a great link with some well-described stretches and strengthening exercises to prevent injury and keep your feet and ankles strong.  I’ve only listed two here, but click through to see the full list with illustrations.

THE MONOPOLY GAME:

Put 10 small objects on the floor–like marbles or Monopoly pieces–and place a small cup nearby. Using your toes, pick up the pieces one at a time and put them in the cup. Do two sets of 10 with each foot. Compete with your spouse or kids to see who can do 10 in the fastest time. “That’s just so you don’t get bored,” Schneider says. “Strengthening your feet can be only so exciting.”

PLANTAR STRETCH:

Sit down barefoot and cross your right leg so that your ankle rests on your left thigh. Hold your toes and bend them back toward your shin, stretching the plantar fascia. A study showed that people suffering from plantar fasciitis had a 77 percent chance of returning to full activity within three to six months after performing this stretch. Researchers suggest that you do the stretch 10 times at least three times a day (once or twice a day doesn’t produce as strong of an effect).

via Runner’s World.com Helps You Build Stronger Feet and Ankles.

Photo credit sxc.hu user thesaint.

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You’ve Got Fruit on Your Face!

strawberries in a cup

I think I might rather eat the Fruit Toner rather than put it on my face, but either way, it’s a natural way to clean your face and tone your skin.  See the link at the end for all 4 natural skin cleansers.

Yogurt Cleanser

* 2 ounces yogurt or kefir
* 2 tablespoons raw honey
* Flesh of one-half avocado
* 1 to 2 ounces peeled and sliced green apple
* 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
* 1 to 2 teaspoons olive or jojoba oil

Blend. Massage into face. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat if necessary.

Fruit Toner

Juice equal amounts of strawberries, apples, oranges and cherries. Apply regularly for a soft and radiant skin.

via Home-Care Recipes for Healthy Skin.

If you’ve got a powerful blender, you could probably just blend the Fruit Toner rather than go through the trouble of juicing.

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Runners Knee: Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Runner against sunset

As the weather gets warmer, the runners and cyclist start their training. One of the most common injuries among runners and cyclists is IT Band Syndrome.  The article below explains IT Band Syndrome and describes some massage techniques that can be used to relieve the symptoms of it. Follow the link to view the full article.

Iliotibial band friction syndrome is recognized as one of the most common lower-extremity injuries in athletes, especially in long-distance runners and cyclists. Casually referred to as runner’s knee, massage therapists are likely to encounter this inflammatory condition.

Also known simply as iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, physiologists debate the actual pathology involved. While some understand this overuse injury to be associated with excessive friction between the ITB tract and the lateral femoral epicondyle, others suspect that ITB syndrome is a consequence of impaired hip musculature. Whether or not tightened hip muscles or localized friction are behind ITB syndrome, several bodywork techniques can help resolve this problem.

via A Summary of Iliotibial Band Syndrome for Bodyworkers.

If you’re training up for marathons this spring, or just getting more active in the nice weather, be sure to add massage to your self-care routine to ease the aches and pains of training and to reduce injuries.  Louisville massage office appointments available March 22-26.  I work on many athletes and lots of runners and cyclists, so come on in!

Photo from flickr.com CCL joshjanssen

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The Dilemma: Heat or Ice for Injuries and Aches

Blue ice cubes

Right after an injury, our first instinct is to touch or hold the area.  After that, we start trying to figure out how to treat it.  In the case of muscle or tissue injury, one of the most basic questions is whether to use ice or heat on the injured area.

This article (see link at the bottom of the quote) walks you through determining if the injury has inflammation (meaning heat cannot be used and ice would be the preferable treatment) or not.  A quick quote from the article:

First determine whether your muscles have bruising or inflammation. If the muscle fibers are stretched too far, then your body responds in positive manner when the blood flow is increased.

If the inflammation is severe, it makes blood to become congested and restricts the oxygenated blood from reaching the muscles.

You must know whether it is to use ice or heat. Ice can be used more frequently than heat because of the risks associated with heat. Heat causes pain or burning if used incorrectly.

Don’t dare to keep ice or heat directly on your skin.  Always use a protective barrier.

via Ice and Heat Therapy for Your Muscles.

She discusses the benefits of ice therapy and heat therapy in the article as well.

To be safe, stick with ice for any initial trauma until you know whether or not there is any inflammation.  Check out her full article if you’ve got an injury and want to know if ice or heat would be a better course of treatment.  As always, check with your doctor or physician when you’ve injured yourself and need professional advice or consultation.

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Louisville Massage Dates for March: Tues 22nd – Sat 26th

Got stress? Got aches? I’ve got relief: come in for a massage!

I’m back in Louisville for massage therapy in 11 days. Let the countdown begin. I’ve still got a good assortment of massages in Saint Matthews open. I’ll be in town for massage March 22 – 26 and will be working evenings and on Saturday for all you working folk. Book online at http://massagebyheather.clickbook.net, call or email me at heather@massagebyheather.com.

Here’s how it looks today:
Tues Mar 22 at 1, 2:30,4 and 5:30 (times vary based on session length and when you want to start)
Wed March 23 – FULL – no appts
Thurs March 24 at 10, 11:30/12, 1/1:30, 4:30, 5:30/6
Fri March 25 at 11:30/12 and 5:30
Sat March 26 at 11 or 4

Call, email or book online today.  Your body will thank you for it.

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Soothing Facial Massage for Insomnia

Getting some good ZZZs this week with the acupressure video from earlier this week?  Time for part two of the video posts for National Sleep Awareness week.

We use the face constantly, whether we’re communicating with other people all day, or whether we’re sitting in front of a computer screen.  Your face is a primary means of communicating with others, and at the end of a long day, you may not feel how much tension you’re holding in your face.

Here’s a single tip that will make a huge difference in how relaxed your face feels.  Unglue your tongue from the roof of the mouth, where it usually sits, and let the tip of your tongue just rest loosely behind your upper teeth.  Can you feel the difference in the tension in your face?  For me it makes a huge difference.

One thing that contributes to insomnia and sleeping issues is stress.  We carry a lot of stress in our faces, whether we are aware of it or not.  So, take a minute to view this video and melt away the tension in your face.  Very often, relaxing the face will allow the rest of the body to release tension. Sweet dreams.

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Massage for Insomnia: You’re Only 9 Acupressure Points from a Good Night’s Sleep

Trouble sleeping? Instead of flopping around the bed, watching the minutes click back as you try to sleep, try some of these acupressure points.

In honor of National Sleep Awareness week this week, I’ve done a little research and put together two videos for you. The first shows acupressure points to assist with insomnia, and the second a very relaxing face massage you can do on yourself.

I culled these points from research online and from using the book Acupressure’s Potent Points, one of my favorite books about acupressure. It’s not a dense, theoretical account of acupressure, but it’s a quick reference guide with pictures and the purpose of points included for different problems and symptoms.

Use these acupressure techniques while in bed, as a way to relax and prepare you for sleep.  The feet points outlined below especially help with insomnia.

Here’s the video to use, but for more information on the specific points see below:

Bladder 10 – At the nape of the neck 1-2 inches out from the spine between the spine and the thick ropey muscles on either side (trapezius/paraspinalis muscles):

Location of UB 10

Gall Bladder 20 – Great point for insomnia and anxiety/nervousness late at night. Put your fingers in the hairline, sweep out laterally 2-3 inches, until your fingers fall into the small hollows at the base of the skull:

Location of GB 20

Governing Vessel 16 – Run your fingers up the spine until they rest in the hollow where the spine and skull intersect, an inch or two up into the scalp.  GV 16 is in that divot:

Location of GV 16

Heart 7 – On the ulnar (pinky) side of the inner forearm of the wrist crease where the ulna connects into the wrist. This point is excellent for emotional issues, sleep issues, anxiety and worry:

Location of Ht 7

Pericardium 6 – Two and a half finger-widths down from the wrist crease in the center of the inside of the forearm. This point, also used commonly for nausea, is effective in lessening anxiety, worry and fear:

Location of Pe 6

Kidney 6 – Find the inside of your ankle with your thumb, then drop your thumb to just below the ankle bone. This is a very common acupoint used for sleep issues and insomnia:

Kidney 6 Location

Bladder 62 – On the outside of the ankle find the outside “bump” that makes up the ankle.  Go toward the ground so that your fingers rest on the hollow directly below the “bump” you were just on.  Excellent point for night-time worries and anxiety as well as insomnia:

UB 62 Location

These last two points are held together at the same time.  Together, they are very calming and quiet the mind.

Governing vessel 24.5 – The third-eye point, this point is just between your eyebrows, in the middle of the two.  You will feel a small notch or divot under your finger as you find this point.  Hold in tandem with CV 17 below for 1 – 2 minutes:

Location of GV 24.5 Conception vessel 17 – This point is about 3-4 fingers up from the bottom of the breastbone, at the same level as the nipples and directly in the center of the chest and sternum.  Hold together with GV 24.5 for 1 – 2 minutes.

Location of CV 17

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Sweet Dreams: National Sleep Awareness Week

Sleeping Woman

Sweet dreams are made of this: National Sleep Awareness Week is March 7 – 11. I’ll be posting videos this week of massage tips for insomnia, so check back later in the week.  Before we get started with acupressure points to help you fall asleep tomorrow, I’d like to give you some basic information about insomnia.

What is Insomnia

Insomnia is typically defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep/wakefulness.  There are two broad types of insomnia, primary and secondary.  Primary insomnia is a sleep disorder that is not associated or caused by another condition or health issue.  Secondary insomnia is caused by another health disorder or condition, medication, or some other cause.  In these cases, secondary insomnia is a symptom of another disorder or condition.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

A common misconception is that insomnia simply an inability to fall asleep.  While that is the primary symptom in some cases, it is extremely common to have trouble staying asleep through the night.  Early wakefulness, or waking in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back asleep is a common experience of insomnia. For some people, falling asleep isn’t the problem, it’s staying asleep that challenges them.

Insomnia causes memory and attention problems, sleepiness during the day, feeling tired or fatigued during the day, and interferes with the daily lives of sufferers.

What are some of the causes of insomnia?

I did a little research online about insomnia and there hundreds of causes.  In cases of acute and/or secondary insomnia, causes can include (among many others)

  • medication
  • significant life-change or stress
  • pain/discomfort
  • sleep apnea
  • obesity
  • hormonal changes (i.e. menopause or pregnancy)
  • acid reflux
  • hyperthyroidism
  • depression
  • fibromyalgia
  • restless leg syndrome

In addition, primary insomnia can be caused by long-term emotional distress:

  • worry/anxiety
  • chronic stress and other psychological issues

How can massage help insomnia?

Massage turns muscles into jelly.  In my massage office in Louisville and in Nashville I have clients who can barely form a sentence after a great massage, let alone perform complex tasks. That sleepiness and relaxed sensation after a really good massage feels (to me) very close to the state of relaxation we experience as we fall asleep and start to dream. In fact for many people, including myself, the massage table is the location of some of the most restful naps of all.

Because massage can relax you and turn you into pudding, it can reduce the physical effects of stress, making it easier to fall and stay asleep. I often have clients who report sleeping long and hard the night after a massage – and staying asleep through the night.

Here’s evidence from a study on back pain where massage clients reported better sleep:

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapists because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain, conducted in January 2000 by the Touch Research Institute in conjunction with the University of Miami School of Medicine and Iris Burman of Miami’s Educating Hands School of Massage demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.(3)

from Insomnia, Seratonin and Massage

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