Archive for June, 2011

Lessons from the Table

young plants

If you had told me eight years ago I would have anything other than a completely professional, non-personal relationship with my clients I would have called you crazy. I can remember an instructor at Cumberland Institute saying, “You fall in love with all of your clients a little bit.” I can also remember thinking, “Not me. These are business clients, not friends.”

But the truth fell somewhere in between. My clients became my friends over time. After eight years of massage, and after seeing some clients over a hundred times, I began to realize that it was true: I did love my clients. When someone shares their stories and vulnerability with you, there is a deep sense of compassion that develops. It’s a professional hazard, I suppose, to feel drawn in to the stories and challenges of my clients.

As I prepare to leave Nashville and look back on my time here as a massage therapist, I am struck by the wisdom you have all shared with me. Your stories, tall tales, sorrows, and dreams have given me a perspective on life that I think few share. While I work, I listen, and you taught me many lessons I cherish. I want to share what you’ve taught me.

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Massage Practice Update: No, I’m Not a Slacker

packing boxes

Hi everyone! I just wanted to apologize for the lack of blog posts, videos and ezine updates in the last few weeks. We’re currently in the process of moving, (packers are in the kitchen as I type) and I haven’t been able to post or video as much as I would like. I will be back in the swing of things in about two weeks. Thank you for your patience (and wish me luck)!

Photo credit: flickr.com CCL user: Betsssssy

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Put Away the Ambien and Get Into the Hammock

Hammock

Did you need another excuse to spend a lazy day in the hammock this summer? If you did, I’ve got the research study for you. A study out recently showed that adults who napped in a bed that rocked back and forth fell asleep faster and fell asleep deeper than the adults who slept in stationary beds:

The gentle rocking motion makes people fall asleep faster, and they sleep deeper. Those changes in brain activity may inspire new ways to help insomniacs, the researchers say.Neuroscientists at the University of Geneva rigged up a bed so it would sway gently from side to side every four seconds, considerably slower than the pendulum on a cuckoo clock. “This rocking is very gentle, very smooth, oscillating every four seconds,” Sophie Schwartz, a professor of neurology who led the study, told Shots. “It’s not like rocking like you would see some mothers rocking their babies, it’s more gentle.”

via Why Hammocks Make Sleep Easier, Deeper : Shots – Health Blog : NPR.

What’s interesting to me is that the rocking motion was so slow – a four second period. That’s considerably slower than my hammock, and reminds me more of drifting down the beach in a raft, another very easy way to fall asleep. If you click through to the blog article, you’ll find that the surprise for the researchers was the type of sleep and the quality of the sleep state that the rocking naps created. This might be promising for those with insomnia, but also those with brain injuries such as stroke which use these types of sleep periods to heal and restore the brain.

I’d love to see a study done on people sleeping during a massage when the client is gently rocked or moved in a slow fashion as described above.  Massage itself is relaxing, but perhaps part of that sleepiness that happens during a massage has to do with the slow, rocking movement of receiving a massage. I often have clients waken at the end of a session after sleeping for a good portion of the massage. And I have to confess, many of my best naps were on my massage therapists’ tables.

If you don’t have a hammock, or don’t like the heat, call your massage therapist for some gentle rocking and relaxation.

Photo Credit from Flickr.com CCL user: rosemilkinabottle

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Find Out When a Migraine’s Going to Strike

woman holding head

Did you need another reminder about why listening to your body is important? I just found a fantastic article on the Wall Street Journal’s website about migraines. It highlights the pre-migraine symptoms (called the premonitory stage of migraines) that clue people in to the fact that they are about to get a migraine. Migraines are painful and very debilitating, but taking a little time to become aware of the common “hints” that you may be about to experience one puts you more in touch with your body, and allows you to make changes to your schedule or plans that might prevent the migraine from hitting.

The WSJ.com describes the cues that come before a migraine as follows:

Yet, a few hours or days before the dreaded headache sets in, subtle symptoms emerge: Some people feel unusually fatigued, cranky or anxious. Some have yawning jags. Others have food cravings or excessive thirst.If migraine sufferers can learn to identify their particular warning signs, they may be able to head off the headache pain with medication or lifestyle changes before it begins, experts say.

via Stopping a Migraine Before It Starts – WSJ.com.

I work  with many clients who experience migraines and for many, the “hints” become very apparent. But the full list of all the things that could be considered pre-cursors is wide ranging.  From the same article:

Warning Signs

Premonitory symptoms that can occur days before a migraine:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Food cravings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yawning
  • Increased urination
  • Muscle stiffness

Triggers

Over 100 have been identified, among the most common:

  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Aged cheese
  • Red wine
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Weather changes

Treatments

The list keeps growing and there are no cures:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Triptans
  • Beta blockers
  • Antiseizure drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Botox
  • Acupuncture, massage, biofeedback

Obviously, I would add massage to the list of treatments because many times stress is a major trigger for migraines, and massage is a wonderful stress-reducer.  I wanted to share this article with you because it really helped me understand more about how listening to your body can be a wonderful exercise, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be all about listening to your muscles. Noticing patterns between activities, emotional states, behaviors and physiological changes gives you more power to treat issues and problems before they become full-blown medical issues. It can also assist your primary care physician as you work on diagnosing problems.  If you’d like to know more about listening to your body, you can try this exercise here: BodyScan – Find Where It Hurts

Photo credit flickr.com CCL user: SashaW

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One Hour of Exercise a Week Can Reduce Low Back & Shoulder/Neck Pain

arm with weight

The most common complaints I see clients come in the door with are neck/shoulder pain and low back pain.  Hands down, they probably account for 90% or more of my appointments. I just found a short article/extract that looked at the effect of amount physical exercise and body mass index (an indicator of obesity) on the occurance of chronic pain over a 13 year study of 30,000 participants.

You can figure out they’ll say there is a correlation between weight and pain, but what I didn’t expect was the percentage.  The risk of low back of neck/shoulder pain increases 20% for those participants who fell in the “obese” category. Even more astounding – read the last sentence there:

For both females and males, hours of physical exercise per week were linearly and inversely associated with risk of chronic pain in the low back and neck/shoulders. Obese women and men had an approximately 20% increased risk of chronic pain in both the low back and the neck/shoulders. Exercising for 1 or more hours per week compensated, to some extent, for the adverse effect of high body mass index on risk of chronic pain.

via Physical Exercise, Body Mass Index, and Risk of Chronic Pain in the Low Back and Neck/Shoulders « Neck Solutions Blog.

Did you catch that?  ONE (1) hour of exercise per week compensated to some extent for the negative effect that being overweight had on the body. Have I talked you into exercising yet? Because I’m a professional nag, and I’m telling you – it’s not only good for your body, but it’s GREAT for your brain.

Now get off your duff and move it!

Click through to the link for the full extract. And once you start exercising, you may need massage to soothe sore muscles, so give me a call if you need a massage in Louisville.

Photo credit: flickr.com CCL user: tableatny

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