Hello Beautiful Souls,
Most of us suffer from daily aches in the body and maybe even chronic pain. We try to deal with it or do some stretching to ease the pain, but did you know that leaving the source of those problems to get worse, can really affect our health? Massage therapy is often seen as a luxury, but the reality is that we absolutely need it for our health and well-being. Being a Neuromuscular Massage Therapist, I make it my mission to help others address their issues caused from everyday life all the way up to damage caused by serious accidents. The dis-ease that can affect the body on a daily basis is largely counteracted with massage and good self care routines. So today, I will do just that by giving you some self massage tips to keep you going until you can have a professional therapist work on you.
Touch is vital to our health. Babies will die if they are not held and touched, and as adults, it raises the serotonin levels and relaxes your nervous system. Many people ignore the messages their own body tells them on a daily basis, little cues we tend to push away or brush off because we are “busy” or have to “get work done”. It is of course important for you to complete your tasks at your job and make sure your family is taken care of or the long list of other life things we all deal with everyday. Well, there is actually a term we have for ignoring the pains in your body until it builds up into a big problem like major pain or headaches or discomfort that won’t be ignored any longer. We call that sensory motor amnesia. This means little pains in the body from your daily repetitive actions, that you may ignore, eventually your brain turns your ability to feel these pains off so that it’s not a distraction for you to get through your day. This doesn’t mean that the pain goes away, it just lays dormant until it builds up into a bigger problem. This also stems from a lack of movement, as in never doing any exercise. Your muscles will forget how to work properly if you don’t use them. It also happens after an injury where you’ve had to decrease mobility and then you may have to do rehabilitation to help correct the problem.
Here is a good article explaining what (SMA) is in a bit more detail. https://www.bettermovement.org/blog/2008/sensory-motor-amnesia#:~:text=Sensory%20Motor%20Amnesia%20(%E2%80%9CSMA%E2%80%9D,t%20sense%20or%20control%20them.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Thomas Hanna’s book -Somatics: Reawakening The Mind's Control Of Movement, Flexibility, And Health.
Having a professional massage done 1 or 2x a month is ideal. Many places will do a monthly membership and give benefits to being a regular. (Just in case you don’t know it is customary, but never expected, to leave gratuity for your therapist.) is this an expense that most will say is too much money, yes, that is a common excuse. However I pose this thought. Can you put a price on your health? Well, it seems most will. I also ask you this. How much money did you spend on specialty coffee and ordering food for delivery or going out to eat in any given month? If you don’t know the exact amount, then it’s probably quite a bit more than you really think. Here is an example. The cost of an average 50min swedish massage is $70. At a brand name coffee company you’ll pay around $5 for a latte and about $3 for a muffin, for a total of $8, plus mabe you tip as well. Not that much right? It’s a treat. However maybe you do this as a routine 3x a week, maybe you left late for work and ordered this to pick up. That totals up to $24 a week. Now say you did that for a whole month, that’s $96 you’ve spent on your treats, not including a tip which will put you over $100 a month. So perhaps you manage your trips to the specialty coffee shop to 3x a month and you book a massage with the money you now saved. This is just a rough example, but it’s also money people tend to not think about. I don’t know anyone who budgets their coffee shop trips. If you really want or need something, there is a way to make it happen, you just have to put in a little more effort and plan accordingly. Also most massage therapy schools have clinic workshops, where the students must work on the general public and receive feedback. This is a heavily discounted massage. You may be weary of having a student work on you, but they must pass their body exam, meaning they know their pattern for a full body massage, before they work in the clinic. That one trip to receive a massage every month will make a huge difference in how you feel.
Here are just some of the benefits of receiving massage:
- Improved range of motion in your joints
- Decreased tension in the muscular system
- Lowers stress and can ease anxiety
- Can improve overall mobility
- Improves circulation
- Can decrease blood pressure
- Improved athletic performance
- Decreases swelling in the body by helping the lymphatic system
- Can help improve your sleeping cycle.
- Can decrease pain in the body, (given the situation of what’s causing the pain, results will vary greatly)
Many spas, and or mobile massage therapists will also incorporate, upon request, stomach work (which is amazing for your overall intestinal health), aromatherapy, heat or ice treatments, and energy work. Not to mention other modalities they may be trained in.
A note on stomach work: Most people have never had it. There are many reasons for this, you may not know it can be part of your massage. The bigger reason that I’ve experienced with my clients is that they are uncomfortable with having the work done. This is either because it’s a sensitive area to be touched, as in being ticklish or they are embarrassed to have their stomach worked on due to personal insecurities, and it also can bring up mental trust issues or feelings of vulnerability. Please know that your therapist does proper draping, so only your stomach is exposed and there is no judgment about your body, for any reason, going through our minds. We are a tool to help your body feel better and help it heal itself.
So here are some tips for self care at home. Check in with how you are feeling in your body right now. Then do some of these exercises and check in again with yourself and see if you notice any improvements.
*Stretch 10min in the morning and evening. Yin yoga would be easy and gentle to do.
*Use a foot roller daily for a few minutes. I like wooden tools but anything that’s lightly textured will work well. On hot days when your feet are swollen, freeze a water bottle and roll your feet over it for a few minutes.
* Do the Alphabet (ABC’s) with your feet before you get out of bed every day. Trace the letters of the alphabet with your feet. What this is doing is Plantarflexion, Dorsiflexion, Inversion and Eversion, stretches for the muscles and rotation of the ankle joint.
*For your hands, use a stress ball for flexion exercises, but also use a strong rubber band on your fingertips to strengthen your extensors.
*Use a foam roller, find one that fits you for size and purpose. Use this a few times a week. They are especially great for your iliotibial band (IT band).
*Do face massage for 3min, do gentle counter clockwise motions around your eyes, rub your scalp, and gently pull your hair at the roots, massage your jaw muscles and open and close your mouth.
*Lightly do patting up and down your body. Shake your body out.
*Overall just give yourself physical touch. Take extra care when applying your lotion. Use light touch, start in your feet and move all your strokes toward your heart.
I know currently most spas are still shut down due to quarantine regulations and social distancing. I myself have been out of work since March. This is just a reminder to take good care of yourself in the meantime and try regular massage whenever possible. Remember to get enough rest, drinking water is vitally important, and maintain healthy eating habits.
Be well on your journey.
A little background info:
I’ve been a Massage Therapist since 2006. In that time I learned Swedish, and Deep tissue, that included some prenatal massage as well. This includes learning spa services like body wraps and hot stone massage. I took extra classes for color and crystal and aroma therapies, more time in a prenatal course, Myofascial release and PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) classes. I went back to school again in 2011 to revamp my knowledge where I then also learned Eastern modalities incorporating Shiatsu and Thai massage into my practice. Then following that course taking the advanced Neuromuscular program which is Trigger Point Therapy (knots in muscle that refer pain elsewhere in the body) and I’ve been doing that since 2013. I took an extra course in Lymphatic drainage and I’ve also traveled to Thailand to improve my knowledge in Thai massage. I have well over 2000 hrs in just schooling. I have an athletic background in Martial Arts with 25yrs of experience and proficiency in 7 styles. With that, I understand how injuries can affect the body. I wanted to do something to help athletes recover and help people feel better in their daily life, so I trained to become a Massage Therapist.
** Massage Therapists are not Doctors. We can not diagnose your conditions. If you suspect you have a serious issue going on in your body, please see your Doctor first before you seek the aid of a MT. It is also very important to tell your MT if you are pregnant, are currently on any medications, or have any allergies. Please refrain from alcohol consumption before your massage. **