Archive for April, 2011

Abdominal Lymph Drainage Part 2

Last week we covered a great technique called Lymphatic Breathing that helps pull fluid from the legs and trunk. This week, we continue that same routine, and move to performing some light lymphatic manipulation of the abdomen, using light pressure on the belly to affect the fluid in the torso and legs.

I’ve found this technique to be a wonderful way to reduce feeling “full” or “heavy” in the torso. It’s also helped, in conjunction with the breathing we showed in part 1 (Reduce the Bloat! Abdominal Lymphatic Massage), reduce swelling in my ankles, legs and feet. It improves digestions, softens the bowels and clients tend to report that it eases stomach issues as well.

Lymphatic work is very light in terms of pressure.  Also, I can’t overstate the importance of the lymphatic breathing in part 1 – it is CRITICAL to pulling fluid up out of the legs and torso.

This technique has the same contraindications of as the previous lymphatic drainage, so look back to this entry before you try this on yourself.  If you are pregnant, you can perform the lymphatic breathing technique, but do not perform these abdominal manipulation techniques.

As always, those seeking massage in Louisville can try these techniques out on the table before trying them on one’s self. Just let me know you’re interested in the abdomen work in your next session and you’ll be able to see how it feels.


Dr. Love Raps on Qi Gong

It’s not technically massage related, but I also happen to love qi gong, and it is my blog after all, so I give you: Dr. Love Raps – “This is Why I Do Qi Gong.”


Reduce the Bloat! Lymphatic Drainage for the Abdomen and Legs


You know that runny nose you get, the fever you get with an infection or the heat and redness at an injury site? All of these are reactions of the immune system, and more specifically the lymphatic system.

My lymphatic drainage massage for the head and ears are popular views on my YouTube Channel (MassageByHeatherW) and I wanted to introduce you to lymphatic massage on the abdomen and trunk.

Bloating, edema or swelling in the abdomen, a feeling of fullness or constriction all signal an overabundance of lymphatic fluid in the trunk and abdomen. This technique can help reduce that swelling and fullness and will also pull fluid up from the legs and feet if you experience swelling there.

It’s All About the Breathing. Seriously.

The most important piece of this self-massage routine is covered in the first video: lymphatic breathing.  It’s a very specific kind of inhalation and exhalation designed to use the movement of the diaphragm and lungs to encourage drainage of lymph from the trunk and legs back up into the main thoracic lymphatic duct and the subclavian vein at the neck area.

There’s a simple rule for it: Belly First.  On the inhalation and exhalation the belly goes first. When breathing in, breath into the belly first, and expand the abdomen as much as you can, then pull air upward into the chest, filling the upper thoracic area.  Once you’ve finished inhaling, exhale from the belly first.  Release air from deep in the lungs and feel your belly fall until it’s empty, then release air from the upper chest/ribcage.

Remember, Belly First on inhale and on exhale.

This method of breathing is incredibly successful in reducing edema, swelling and fluid retention in the trunk and abdomen. It seems too good to be true, but it’s as effective, if not more effective at pulling fluid from the trunk than what we’ll cover in the second video, which will be manipulation of abdominal area.

Contraindications for Lymphatic Drainage Massage

As with all lymphatic drainage massage, there are contraindications. While it is a light form of massage, it is very powerful and can have a broad effect on the body. Note that if you are pregnant, you can safely perform the lymphatic breathing routine (this first video), but should do perform the routine in the second video where there is manipulation of and pressing down on the abdomen.

While it doesn’t feel invasive or deep, LDM can have a profound effect on the body because of its function within the immune system and its use of the circulatory system. If you have any of these conditions or problems, consult your physician before performing this on yourself:

  1. Fever, acute infection, early onset inlammatory disease. You need to wait until the acute phase is over and the fever is broken.
  2. Circulatory system problems, especially thrombosis. If there is any risk of embolism of phlebitis, do not use LDM and see your physician immediately
  3. Cardiac issues such as heart disease, acute angina pectoris or coronary thrombosis (heart attack). Using LDM increases the fluid load on the heart, and compromised cardiac systems should not be subjected to LDM.
  4. Active bleeding, internal or external.
  5. Active malignant cancers, undiagnosed lumps, or tumors whose origins have not been determined by your physician.
  6. High risk pregnancy or late term pregnancy with complications

Contraindications specific to the abdominal routine are abdominal aneurism or thrombosis/phlebitis.

As always, massage in Louisville in Saint Matthews and in Nashville in Brentwood available if you’d like to try these techniques out in your next session.

Photo credit user: EdwinP

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Massage “Fore” Golfers

golf club and ball

With better weather come the golfers – warming up their game from weeks or months off during the winter months, and coaxing the body into returning to the great form they had as they left off last year. Golf looks deceptively simple, but the mechanics of the swing, coupled with the physicality of walking long distances during each round impact the body, in some ways, negatively.

The biomechanics of the golf swing involve the whole body, from the stance of the feet, up through the balance of the knees, the stability and movement of the pelvis and platform for the swivel that occurs during the swing, up to the shoulders and the wrists and hands propelling the club down at a fast speed to set the ball in motion. As such, the body’s entire system of soft tissue (from ligaments and tendons to muscles and fascia) are affected. These soft tissues bear the brunt of the force of such a fast, but short-duration movement.

Injuries are common in golf as in many other sports, but in the case of golf specifically, there are common injury patterns and areas that massage can help with:

Not only can injuries surface from weak muscles, but poor technique and mechanics can wreak havoc on the golfer. The swing, requiring great rotation and compression, asks for the entire body’s cooperation, if not heeded, disaster can strike. Fortunately for veteran golfers like former PGA member Jerry Impellittiere, there is a way to fight back.

“I went for massage initially because I had very tight muscles which were affecting my game,” recalls the 53-year-old Impellittiere, who lives in Palm City, Fla., and plays golf almost every day, as well as takes part in tournaments like the recent Senior PGA. “The deep- tissue massage I got two to three times a week worked right away, elongating my muscles and really helping with my flexibility.” Impellittiere, who has been swinging his clubs since age 10 and been a pro for the past 30 years, adds, “I would recommend massage for all golfers, as they suffer from so many different injuries which can be relieved by this means.”

via Massage Helping Move Golfers “Fore”ward || Massage Therapy Articles.

The issues most common with golfers involve the neck, shoulders and the rotator cuff structure, the elbow (thus golfer’s elbow), and the lower back/glutes. The lower back issues can sometimes present as sciatica-like symptoms, or as pain in the lower lumbar area that is concentrated on one side.

Because golfers have a swing that is either right- or left-handed, one side of the muscles attaching the pelvis to the spine become tight, and sometimes refer pain down into the hips/glutes/legs.

When I massage golfers, I focus a lot of attention on the lower back and hips with deep tissue, neuromuscular therapy, myofascial release and some passive stretching. I also suggest clients work with physical therapists, personal trainers, or sports pros who specialize in golf to get an individualized set of stretches and strengthening exercises to improve their game and reduce their pain/discomfort level.

For more information, see the great link above (Massage Helping Move Golfers “Fore”ward) for more on golf, its effects on the body and how massage can assist golfers. Or, come see me for a massage in Louisville or Nashville and experience it first hand.

Photo credit: CCL user chispita 666

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Upcoming Louisville Massage Openings

relaxed feet

In two weeks you can have a spot on my massage table in Louisville. We can work out some stress in your neck and back, get rid of the tension headache you’ve been carrying around for a few days, or help out with the lower back hitch you got from working in the lawn during those nice days this past weekend.

I’d love to see some new clients, so if you’re an existing client who received some “Thank you” gift cards, please hand them out and make sure your friends and family call to get an appointment the week of April 25th.  I’m taking appointments Tues., April 26 through Sat., April 3o.

Here’s what I have open (although this can change with new bookings and changes in scheduled appointments. Check online for the most recent set of openings for massage in Louisville here:

Tues April 26 at 1:30 PM
Wed April 27 at 10, 11:30/12 and 4 PM
Thurs April 28 at 11:30/12, 2 and 5:30 PM
Fri April 29 at 10, 11:30/12, and 3:30

So, give me a call at 502-265-6710, email me at or check and book online at Online Bookings for your April massage in Louisville.

And if you’re an existing client, get ready for your next Louisville massage.

Photo credit CCL user jenny downing


Doctors’ New Advice for Joint Pain: Move It!

Swimmer in Pool

It’s official. Doctors now advise movement and strengthening exercises as treatment for the aching and sore joints of osteoarthritis rather than suggesting a reduction in activity and encouraging patients to keep off their feet to heal.

Aching and sore joints used to be treated by rest and reducing movement. (You know the joke: Patient: Doctor it hurts when I do X. Doctor: Then don’t do X.) Through more and more research, physicians have begun to understand that a careful approach of movement, stretching and strengthening delivers better results over the long term. From the Wall Street Journal:

The new treatment approach comes as osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease once considered a problem of old age, has begun showing up in more middle-aged and young adults as a result of obesity and sports injuries. Studies have shown that weight loss, combined with exercises aimed at improving joint function and building up muscles that support the joints, can significantly improve patients’ health and quality of life compared with medication alone.

via Doctors’ New Advice for Joint Pain: Get Moving –

While NSAIDs and over the counter medications treat general inflammation and do help with the pain of osteoarthritis, they are not necessarily a long-term solution due to their side-effects. The current suggestion by doctors includes education and exercise regimens to help patients strengthen and stabilize the tissues and support structures around a joint.  More from WSJ:

Self-management programs typically involve classes that instruct people on the best exercises for strengthening muscles that support the joints and for enhancing flexibility to keep joints from regularly seizing up. As important, patients are taught which exercises not to do to avoid exacerbating the problem. Even mild exercise can be painful for osteoarthritis patients. But with time, doctors say, the benefits accumulate as reduced pain and greater mobility.

Another fact I learned from the article is that osteoarthritis arising from injuries can happen as few as 10 years after an injury.  That means people injuring themselves in their teens or early 20s might have early onset osteoarthritis by 25 or 30. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles coupled weight issues and obesity means joints have to work harder and support more weight when in motion, another factor contributing to the increase in osteoarthritis.

Coupled with an alarming Men’s Health article: The Scariest Thing You’ll Do All Day, this information puts movement and exercise at the top of the list of things to add to your day. For myself, I’m glad I have a job that requires movement and standing throughout the day after reading those two pieces.

I highly recommend reading the Wall Street Journal link if you have osteoarthritis (or think you do) or if you have family members with arthritis issues. Pass it along. And while you’re at it, get up and move around for a quick break.

Photo credit: creative commons, user jayhem

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Do It Yourself Sugar Scrub

Brown sugar crystals

Help your skin recover from the winter’s dry spell by using homemade skin care scrubs. It’s as simple as taking some sugar and adding some oil. Exfoliating with scrubs will loosen up the dry surface skin so it can easily wash away in the shower, leaving healthy, soft skin on the surface.

In the recipes below they call for olive oil, but you can use any light, natural oil (almond or coconut oils are always good on the skin) to make your own scrub. If you’d rather have a scented scrub, just add a drop or two of your favorite essential oils.

I’m a big fan of lavendar and clary sage, so I add a drop of each when I’m making my own skin care products. You could add orange or lemongrass essential oil for a citrus scent, or patchouli or clove oil for a stronger, exotic scent.

Organic Homemade Sugar Scrub Recipes

Basic Sugar Scrub Recipe
1/2 cup of natural sugar
Enough virgin olive oil to moisten sugar.
Gently massage the sugar scrub onto the skin before showering. Then shower as usual.

Soothing Aloe Vera Sugar Scrub Recipe
White cane sugar
Enough vegetable glycerin to moisten sugar
Several drops of Aloe Vera Oil
Natural coloring if desired.
Spread mixture gently onto your skin and massage gently for one minute then leave in place for three to four minutes. Rise with warm water.

Sensitive Skin Sugar Scrub
Sugar scrubs are very gentle but if you have ultra sensitive skin you may enjoy a brown sugar scrub. Here is a recipe to get you started.

Almond Brown Sugar Scrub for Sensitive Skin
1 Cup natural brown sugar
1/2 cup sweetened almond oil
1 tsp of vitamin E
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp of honey.
Mix ingredients together and apply to the skin. Massage gently for one minute and rinse with warm water.

To make your own personalized sugar scrub, vary the ingredients to suit your preferences. Experiment with a selection of your favorite essential oils and vary the type of basic oil you use. Choose from peanut oil, sesame oil, corn oil, virgin olive oil according to your personal taste. Add natural coloring if you desire. It’s easy and fun to create the perfect natural sugar scrub that you will enjoy using often.

via Homemade sugar scrub – 3 quick homemade sugar scrub recipes.



Good Weather + Gardening = Ouch! Gardener’s Massage Tips

Spring’s finally here: the weather improves and we want to get out and work in the yard! After this past winter, I couldn’t wait to spend some time cleaning up the garden beds, spreading mulch, and clearing out the yard.

The only problem is the day after all that work, my body let me know I should have been more careful. I have some massage and stretching tricks up my sleeve that I use to repair myself and want to share the same with you.

So, here’s your video for the week – in two parts.  The first has hand and arm self-massage tricks.

This second video has a great low back stretch/opener for use after hauling lots of bags of dirt and mulch, a good stretch for hamstrings and pecs.

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Fuzzy Fascia: The Kudzu of the Body

***Warning: The video below includes images from an anatomy cadaver class. If cadaver photos or video bothers you, please do not watch the link below. However, if you’re like me and fascinated by tissue in general, you’re gonna love this!***

Ever wonder what fascia looks like in the tissue? I mean actually inside the body?

I talk about fascia all the time with my clients. Fascia is the saran wrap that holds us all together. It surrounds every muscle, every bone, every ligament, every organ, and every blood vessel. It channels motion and force through the tissues of the body to aid or impinge movement. Its presence in the tissues of the body is pervasive, and its effect is as well.

Some researchers and bodyworkers think it’s as important if not more important than muscles the part it plays in pain and dysfunction.

I often describe it as the shiny, partially translucent film you’ll see when you’re working with a whole chicken. It attaches the skin to the muscle, and the muscles to one another and to the bones. But in this video, you’ll see what it looks like in the human body itself:

Pretty cool, huh?

Each night, as we sleep, fascia grows tiny tendrils. Movement melts the fascial growth and keeps muscles sliding freely where needed, but if you’re not stretching about as you wake, or if your lifestyle is very sedentary, these tendrils don’t break up.  This causes some of that stiffness you feel in the morning. The stiffness and immobility we attribute to age may be due to lack of stretching and movement more than any other factor.

So, get up, and move it! Get rid of the fuzz and start your day with movement and stretching!

Please note: Although the title of the post refers to kudzu, in no way is fascia a bad thing in the body – it is critical to the function of the body and to movement and stability.  Fascia is a good thing. We just want to make sure we’re moving enough to keep the fascia loose and gliding where needed.