Tag Archives: pain management

Simple Shoulder Exercise for Less Pain

Got nagging pain in between your shoulder blades from working on the computer, texting, or doing yard work? Sure, massage can help, but we don’t always have a massage therapist handy when we need one!

I discovered this exercise this past week and I’m amazed by the pain relief after practicing just a few minutes:

You can read her article here: How to Get Great Shoulders!

So next time you have shoulder pain and your massage is too far away, try “The Quasimodo.” Don’t have a scheduled massage? Book one here.

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What is Ashiatsu?

Known as the “Deepest Most Luxurious Massage on the Planet,” Ashiatsu is a  profoundly relaxing massage that can be modified for light pressure to very deep. Basically, it’s a massage performed smoothly with my feet while overhead parallel wooden bars provide balance as I work.

You use your feet!?

Yes!  No worries though! I clean my feet before and after every massage and I take care to keep my feet smooth and soft.

So…you’re walking on people?…

I actually leave one foot on the massage table for balance and stability, while using the other foot to massage. By shifting my weight from one foot to the other I can easily adjust the amount of pressure to your comfort. Ashiatsu is not a “No Pain, No Gain” massage — your safety and well-being are my top concern.

Should I get an Ashiatsu Massage? 

Are you looking to relax or relieve stress? The slow, flowing strokes of an Ashiatsu massage make for a deeply relaxing experience.

Do you like firm pressure? The foot provides a more comfortable pressure, as opposed to pointy thumbs and elbows. Barefoot massage allows me to provide a deeper pressure than is possible using my hands.

Are you looking to relieve muscles aches and pains? The broad, consistent pressure of Ashiatsu is the perfect match for sore muscles.

Ashiatsu isn’t the right massage for everybody. And in some cases, massage altogether may not be right for you.  If you have any concerns, please discuss them with your therapist prior to scheduling a massage.

Some reasons you should not receive Ashiatsu:

  • You are pregnant or trying to conceive. (You’ll want to contact a prenatal massage therapist instead.)
  • You have had any type of implants in the last 9 months
  • You have osteoporosis or fragile bones
  • You are on blood thinning medication (including high doses of aspirin)
  • You are in cancer treatment or recovery (See more about oncology massage here.)

Again, if you have any concerns about whether Ashiatsu is right for you, please discuss them with your massage therapist. In most cases, even if you can not receive Ashiatsu, massage may be modified so it is appropriate for you.

 

 

The Importance of Touch

What have you touched today? Your alarm clock, a toothbrush, a doorknob?

We touch countless objects everyday. Can you remember the last time you touched another person? Was it today? Last week?

Do you feel anxious even thinking about touching someone? We aren’t a high touch society.  We don’t touch strangers and we may even feel weird touching our friends and family. Touch is often associated with sexuality. Maybe you worry about sending the wrong message.

Are we missing out by shying away from touch?

Why touch?

Touch can speak volumes when words fail us. We humans can communicate surprisingly well through touch. In one study, participants were able to communicate anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness, and sadness rather well.

Touch can help us feel more connected to others. It decreases stress, helps build trust, and improves our overall well being.

It is the best way to comfort someone.

Tips for touch

I’m not suggesting that you go out and hug a bunch of strangers. Context matters and some people don’t like to be touched. You may want to ask permission, but you know your relationships the best. Here are some ways you can reap the benefits of touch.

  • Hold hands with a loved one, give them a hug, or give them a hand massage. You can’t touch someone without being touched. Research suggests that the person giving a massage or a hug experiences the same reduction in stress as the person being touched.
  • Touch yourself.  You may be surprised how much you do this already. If you bang your knee, your first reaction is probably to rub it. If you have a headache, you probably massage your forehead. So go ahead, and give yourself a hug.
  • Cuddle up with your pet. Yep, petting your cat can decrease your stress.
  • Get a professional massage. We massage therapists are masters at communication through touch. Massage has a reputation for digging into to your muscles and “breaking up knots.” Sounds pretty aggressive, but massage is wonderful at comforting, soothing anxiety, and easing stress. Words fail to describe how great a professional massage is at telling your body it’s okay to relax and just be. You’ll just have to try it for yourself.

So don’t be afraid to reach out and touch someone!

5 Tips for Neck and Shoulder Care Between Massage Appointments

People with neck and shoulder issues often have their pain return before their next massage appointment. Work, play, and children all make demands on your body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while working on the computer, doing yard work, folding laundry, or any of the other million things you do.

What can you do between professional massage appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are some ideas.

Take a Break

Doing the same thing, like sitting at a desk, for long periods of time is hard on your body.  Try taking frequent, short breaks. It’s great if you can you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you’re chained to the desk, you can rock out a little Deskercise to stay loose (and entertain your co-workers).

Get the kids into it

Have a short yoga break together! There are plenty of videos made especially for kids, and they’re great for you too.

Heat it

Just 10-15 minutes of heat on your shoulders can make a huge difference in how your tissue moves and feels. You don’t need a fancy heating pad, you can DIY that. If you’re not the DIY type, I have some awesome microwaveable heat packs in the office that are perfect for this.


Self-massage

Give yourself a massage!  Just grab a tennis ball or a red rubber ball and check out these techniques.


Choose the right pillow

You spend about a third of your time in bed, be sure it’s cozy for your neck. Trust me, it makes a big difference. The right pillow at night can help you all day.


Little changes done consistently can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment!

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Got Pain from Sitting at a Desk?

Got Pain from Sitting at a Desk-

“Don’t your hands hurt?” I get asked this pretty often. But they don’t. Not really. If they start to hurt, I change how I’m doing things.

You want to know when my hands (and my neck, and my back) really hurt?  When I had a desk job. 8-hour days working at a computer, hunching, doing mostly data entry. Being so “busy” I worked through breaks and ignored my pain. Until it got really bad. Learn from my mistakes. Pain is your body’s way of saying “pay attention.”

Change it up

As much as you can, change up the way you do things. Stand up while you’re talking on the phone. Get a headset for your phone, so your neck isn’t in a weird position all the time. Raise your computer monitor (or set it on top of some phone books) so you don’t have to hunch over to see it. Starting to use my mouse left-handed made a huge difference for me. Sure it was difficult at first, but it gets easier if you keep it up.

Move your body

Get up and take a walk around the office. Do some neck stretches while you’re talking on the phone.

I remember feeling really silly, but I started doing yoga at my desk. At first, I would wait until the person across the hall from me got up to make copies. But then I didn’t really care. I would rather feel silly than be in pain! Or, get your coworkers involved. Take your “coffee” break together and do yoga instead.

Here are some of my favorite yoga videos to get you started. They come from YogaDownload.com*. The site offers several free 20 minute classes, classes you can  download for a few bucks, or monthly and yearly subscriptions. I love the variety and the convenience of being able to “take yoga anywhere.”

Case of the Mondays: This free class is a series of standing and seated yoga poses. What I really love about this one is that they demonstrate doing yoga in office attire.

Neck and Shoulder Relief: This class is free as well. You can do the entire sequence while sitting at your desk.

Therapeutic Yoga for Wrists, Shoulders and Neck: This is my current favorite class. It’s very thorough and all done while sitting.

Remember to put yourself first

What you do is hard work. It may seem easy, but sitting at a desk all day is difficult. On top of that, your job is probably stressful. Take care of yourself first.

Take frequent breaks, move your body, and get regular massage.

Your body will thank you!

*The links to yogadownload classes are affiliate links. Be assured, I only recommend products and services I actually use and value.

 

 

How Often Should I Get a Massage?

That depends on the reason you are getting massage. Are you pampering yourself? That’s awesome! Get a massage however often you feel like it!

Lots of people think massage is just a luxury, but is it more than pampering? Massage research can be tricky. One type of well-respected research is double-blinded, meaning that neither the participants or providers know who is receiving the experimental treatment and who is receiving the control (no treatment or a placebo treatment.) Massage does not lend itself to this type of experiment. Research on massage is in its early stages and often shows mixed results. But research suggests that massage can help with things like stress and pain management, anxiety, and depression. It’s no substitute for medical care, and it’s always a good idea to discuss complementary treatments for any medical condition with your doctor.  Massage can be a great complement to conventional medical treatments.

Are you using massage to help improve your health? Stress and pain are serious things that can affect the quality of your life. I don’t know about you, but stress and pain make me cranky. Anything I can do to relieve them makes me happier so I can enjoy life and generally be a nicer person to be around. Getting a massage on a regular basis can help. Sure, one massage is great, but I know from experience that it won’t make my stress or that pain in my shoulders developed from years of hunching over a computer magically disappear for good.  Just because the results are short-term doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it. You brush your teeth twice a day, right? I find getting massage on a more regular schedule (for me, that’s at least twice a month) beneficial.

Whatever you decide: once a week, once a month, once a quarter. You deserve it! If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?

4 Great Reasons to Add Aromatherapy to Your Next Massage

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils (aromatic substances distilled from plants). Essential oils are commonly blended into massage oil or used in room diffusers. Here are a few reasons to add aromatherapy to your next massage:

  1. Massage can reduce stress, help with anxiety and depression, alleviate pain, and enhance the quality of sleep. All good things. Aromatherapy is often used to help with these same things. Some  research suggests that aromatherapy may enhance the positive effects of massage.
  2. They smell good. ‘Nuff said.
  3. The aroma can affect your mood.  There is a direct connection between the scent receptors in your nose and the part of the brain that controls your emotional responses. I know whenever I smell Bergamot (which gives Earl Grey tea its lovely aroma) it calms me.
  4. You know how your nose gets all stuffy when you get a massage? A drop of Eucalyptus or Peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball placed under the face cradle can help with that!

Pain Management: A Tale of Two Injuries

This is a story of two similar injuries and how I dealt with them. Please note this is informational only, as with any health problem you should talk to your doctor to see what is best for you.

After about a year at my desk job, the workload increased dramatically. More work to get done, in the same amount of time.  My wrists and forearms starting hurting. Just a little at first. I would try to rest after work, but it just kept getting worse. I put off seeing the doctor until I was in constant pain and my arms felt weak and shaky. It was diagnosed as tendonitis and they gave me wrist splints and sent me to physical therapy. It helped some, but I was still doing the same job, the same way. Months later, I was still in pain. They had an expert come to my office to help make my workspace more ergonomic. And one of the doctors recommended I start massaging my own hands (which eventually led me to massage school).  It was a long road, but I eventually recovered.

I’ve learned that if your body starts talking to you, you’d better listen or it will start screaming. Over the summer, the back of my right hand started to hurt. Instead of ignoring it and plowing ahead:

  • I observed what was going on with my body and changed how I was working  (I moved my computer mouse to the left side) so I could rest my hand. This was probably the most important step, just noticing what was happening and doing something about it.
  • I saw my doctor and followed her advice: rest, ice, and ibuprofen.
  • And I started a regular routine of stretching and self massage- I was in massage school at the time, so I had learned that what techniques might help. Luckily, I had only injured one hand!

Take care of yourself and be well.