Swayback

Do you have a swayback? This is an excessive curvature of the lumbar spine, your low back. Commonly folks are told to fix swayback by tucking the pelvis, such as in pilates and yoga, which is actually not a good solution. Particularly for your hips. A better solution to fixing a swayback is shown in this short video buy Esther Gokhale, which she calls the rib anchor.

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August Special

It is definitely nice to get the occasional tuneup massage, but even better is regular massage. Some of the benefits include managing stress and anxiety, tackling headaches, boosting immunity, improving sleep, and managing soreness and injuries from exercise.

For the August special, you can take $25 off a package of 5 massages. If you are usually the tuneup kind of person, then this August special is a great opportunity to try regular massage!

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July Special

Summer is the time that I spend the most with friends. There are backyard bbqs, walks, hikes, and camping trips. With that in mind, I think this is the perfect July special. If you and a friend scheduled a massage in July, mention each other and mention this July special, then you will each receive $15 of your massage!

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Placebo

I was just reading a very interesting post from BrainPickings.org on the placebo effect. It was about a story, by Jo Marchant, in a book that I now have on hold at the library, called Nothing: Surprising Insights Everywhere from Zero to Oblivion. The post is definitely worth reading yourself but here are some of the parts I found most interesting.

Some new research shows that folks don’t need to be tricked into believing they are taking a real drug when given a placebo for the placebo effect to work. A person can be given something that they know is not a real drug at all and the placebo effect can still work.

Optimists tend to recover from illness and surgery better than realists. Most of us realize that stress and anxiety negatively effect our health so this may not be too surprising. But being optimistic doesn’t just help to reduce stress, it helps the body main to and repair itself. And it isn’t just about how you view the world, but also how you view yourself.

“High “self-enhancers” — people who see themselves in a more positive light than others see them — have lower cardiovascular responses to stress and recover faster, as well as lower baseline cortisol levels.”

We are social animals, and loneliness has it’s own ill consequences. Marchant quotes psychologist John Cacioppo:

“Being lonely increases the risk of everything from heart attacks to dementia, depression and death, whereas people who are satisfied with their social lives sleep
better, age more slowly and respond better to vaccines. The effect is so strong that curing loneliness is as good for your health as giving up smoking.”

Interestingly, a way to counter loneliness is with solitude in the form of meditation. The time to invest to get this benefit is as little as an hour every other day, or three days a week.

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Massage Philosophy

I have a confession to make. Before beginning massage school six years ago, the only type of massage I ever received was Swedish relaxation massage. I would see deep tissue massage offered on the list of services and would think to myself, “Swedish massage already feels really great, why would I need to go deeper?” Deep tissue massage was intimidating to me, so I avoided it.

It has been 6 years since I became a massage therapist, and my massage philosophy has grown quite a lot. I prefer a massage to focus on deeper physical issues, but my favorite aspects of receiving massage are still the most relaxing and nurturing: feet, hands, neck, and scalp massage. The massages I give are typically deep tissue and targeted towards injury recovery and pain relief, but I believe incorporating nurturing and relaxing modalities is important, too. This is not to say that I have abandoned my original, basic massage philosophy that I had upon entering school. Now, I believe that Swedish massage is great for preparing tense tissues and your mind for deeper work. It’s painful and even counter-productive to simply “dive into cold tissue” without preparing the muscles to relax. I like to take the time to ease in to my client’s muscles, and I am rewarded with more effective treatments and my clients feel better, long lasting results.

Before I went to massage school I received massage regularly. As a client in the waiting room, I would see other clients come out of their sessions, blissfully happy and relaxed, and interestingly, the massage therapists looked happy as well! It dawned on me that it must be gratifying to have a profession where satisfaction is derived from making other people feel happy, too. This was the initial reason I pursued massage therapy as a profession, and is the reason I continually look for new ways to increase my knowledge and skill. I enjoy reading about interesting new techniques and current massage research. I have a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the muscles of the body and what they do, and I am fascinated with body-wide connections and movements. This knowledge and curiosity provides me with a “mental map” of the human body, and goes beyond the traditional anatomical structure and function topics found in textbooks. With this specialized mental map, I can discern shifts and distortions in tissue connections just by looking at my client’s posture. This allows me to design a plan of action specific to each client’s needs and concerns.

Receiving regular massage is only part of the equation, the other part is how my clients take care of themselves between massage sessions. I spend a lot of time researching self-care techniques for clients and encourage self-care guidelines so they may extend their healing in between massages.

I still believe, at its core, massage therapy is intended to be relaxing and relieve stress. I enjoy providing a knowledgeable, individualized massage that integrates healing of deeper tissues and nurturing relaxation techniques. I want my clients leave my office with a more balanced sense of wellbeing.

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Trigger Point Guidelines

These trigger point guidelines for self massage are from my favorite book on the subject, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair and Amber Davies. I like it because it’s comprehensive, there are some trigger point books out there that are specific to an area of the body, for example the shoulder. It is also written as a self care guide for people who are not massage therapist, so it is a good resource for anyone who wants to be able to take care of their own trigger points.

Here are the trigger point guidelines:
1) Use a tool as possible to save your hands. For instance, these theracanes are great tools.
2) Use short, repeated strokes and not static pressure.
3) Massage strokes in one direction only.
4) Massage strokes should be done slowly.
5) Aim for a pain level of about 7 out of 10.
6) 6-12 strokes per trigger point.
6) Work on trigger points 3-6 times a day.
7) If no relief, may be on the wrong spot.

Some clarification about the trigger point guidelines might help. You can imagine trigger points being very tiny knows, about the size of a pea, located in a tight band of muscle. Part of there irritation stems from the fact that they are trapping old metabolic waste inside. This is due to lack of blood flow in the area. So the short, repeated, one directional massage strokes are acting as a squeegee and pushing that waste out and encouraging fresh blood flow.

You will also notice that the trigger point guidelines are very specific about the number of massage strokes, and how many times per day you should work on them. This is because you want to work on them with regularity, but not overwork them either.

For help locating trigger points, use this trigger point finder that I added to my website the other day. There is also a great Trigger Point App by Real Bodywork for the iPhone. Of course, the book referenced above would be the most detailed source.

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Interactive Trigger Point Chart

Just added a new page to my site, called Trigger Point Finder. The trigger point finder is an embedded application of an interactive trigger point chart, which allows you to hunt down specific trigger points. For more details about what it is and how to use it, just click on the trigger point finder page about.

Many of you will already have a good idea of what a trigger point is, since I often talk about them during massages. However, you can expect another post in a day or two with the details of what trigger points are.

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Camping for a week resets your clock.

Saw this article from the BBC about how camping for a week resets your clock. If a week of road tripping counts than I guess I have done this before, but I think it would be interesting to pick a really beautiful spot like Mount Rainier and stay put for a week. And do lots and lots of hiking of course. According to the article, not only is electric light disruptive to our sleep patterns but also a lack of sunlight. It is a good, quick read.

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