Below are informative articles about massage and wellbeing. I include these articles into my monthly newsletters. I hope you appreciate and enjoy this information as much as I do. Thank you - Anna
March: Stretch Out
April: Invest in Your Health
We all have bad daily habits we don't even notice until something starts to hurt. These bad habits are the root cause of many painful conditions. To help prevent pain, however, we can turn these bad habits into good habits that can be worked into our daily routine. Here is some general advice that can apply to almost every part of daily living.
Don't Slouch. Slouching puts strain on your neck and can give you a headache. Your head weighs roughly 10 pounds-about as much as a bowling ball. Your spine is designed to balance that bowling ball when you're in an upright posture. If you slouch, your muscles have to do more work to hold your head up, which makes your muscles tight and angry.
Sit Up Straight. Sit in a chair with your hands on your hips. Slouch. Feel how your hips roll back (if you're wearing jeans, you'll be sitting on your pockets). Now sit up straight by moving your pelvis forward and centering your weight over your pelvis and off your buttocks.
Sleep on Your Back or Side. Sleeping on your stomach makes you twist your neck and body in order to breathe. This twisted position is terrible for your spine, especially for prolonged periods during sleep. Check your pillow and make sure it has a thickness that will support your neck in a position neutral to the rest of your spine. Try a memory-foam contour pillow, especially if you are a side sleeper.
Bend with a Straight Spine. Bending over with a curved back puts pressure on your disc material and strains the spine. The pressure created during incorrect bending can cause the discs to bulge and put pressure on spinal nerves. Your back was not made to lower and raise your body-that's what your buttocks, hips, and knees are for.
Stand with your knees shoulder-width apart and pretend you are going to lift a 50-pound box off the floor. If you are bending your knees and hips and using your legs to lower and raise your body weight, you are lifting correctly. Now, use the same technique to pick your shoes up off the floor. Think about a squatting movement when you need to lean forward, too-such as while washing your face in the sink. Let your hips and knees do the work.
Take Regular Stretch Breaks. The muscles in your arms and hands get tight when you grip or pull. The muscles in your neck and shoulders get tight when you reach forward or away from your body. Give these muscles a break with a simple stretch.
It only takes 10 seconds to lengthen the tight tissue, which will take pressure off your joints and prevent chronic conditions like tendinitis and bursitis. Watch for opportunities to work in a brief stretch.
Undo Yourself. Evaluate the position of your body during your daily activities and make sure you "undo" that position during the day. There is no way to teach a stretch for every single activity you do, but if you take the time to reverse the position of the joint and stretch in the opposite direction, you will lengthen tight tissue and reduce repetitive strain on joints.
Tips to Save Your BodyReplacing bad habits with good ones takes time and thought, but the effort is well worth it. Here are some helpful tips to keep you on track.
-- If you keep waking up on your stomach, wear a pair of gym shorts to bed and put a golf ball in each pocket. When you roll onto your stomach, the golf balls will wake you up and you can return to your back or side.
-- When unloading the dishwasher and getting laundry out of the machine, pose like a tennis player waiting for a serve. The knees are over your toes (but not beyond the toes), buttocks are backward, and shoulders are forward.
-- Don't try to carve out 30 minutes daily for a stretching routine. If you stretch regularly throughout the day, you will be more effective at keeping tissue loose. Remember, it only takes 10 seconds to stretch a muscle-so find those seconds during your day and make the most of them.
-- Think about stretching the same way you think about hydration. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink water; by then you're already dehydrated. If you wait until something hurts before you stretch, you could develop chronic tension that can lead to everything from a headache to tendinitis.
A daily stretching routine will help prevent future issues and address current ones. Don't wait until it's a problem. Start stretching today and, little by little, your body will thank you.
Kelli Crosby is the author of How to Think Like a Physical Therapist in Your Everyday Life. She graduated in 1999 from the University of North Florida and completed her specialty certification in orthopedic manipulative therapy in 2006.
"Invest for the long term" is great financial advice, but it's also great healthcare advice. Never is investing for the long term more important than when you are making day-to-day decisions about your health. There are short-term gains from taking care of your health, to be sure, but the long-term benefits are not to be underestimated.
You already know the value of bodywork. For all the short-term stress and pain relief you get from massage today, there are lasting rewards you'll thank yourself for down the road. Massage therapy as a preventive measure and part of an ongoing care regimen can mean fewer visits to the doctor, as well as fewer co-pays, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications. Ultimately, it means a healthier and happier you.
An Excellent Value As you plan the family budget, ponder how massage therapy impacts your ability to make good decisions, cope with extra responsibilities, stay on an even keel emotionally and spiritually, and maintain harmonious relationships with coworkers, family, and friends.
Research supports the value of massage. Massage provides many benefits, including improved concentration, energy, circulation, and self-esteem, as well as reduced stress, fatigue, and pain. It's helpful with more acute health conditions, also. If you, or a loved one, are already dealing with a health condition, massage is an even more important part of your healthcare planning.
-- Alzheimer's patients exhibit reduced irritability, pacing, and restlessness after neck and shoulder massage.
-- Deep-tissue massage is effective in treating arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis.
-- Fibromyalgia patients receiving massage have fewer sleep problems and less anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, and stiffness.
-- Massage during labor appears to help block pain, reduce stress and anxiety, and relax muscles. Some medical professionals say massage shortens labor.
-- Massage can reduce sports-related soreness and improve circulation, and is beneficial in reducing symptoms associated with arthritis, asthma, burns, high blood pressure, and premenstrual syndrome.
-- Oncology patients show less anxiety, depression, fatigue, nausea, and pain following massage therapy.
-- Preterm babies receiving massage therapy gain more weight and have shorter hospital stays.
-- Massage therapy is effective in reducing post-surgical pain and can even reduce the time required for post-operative hospital stays.
You may be trimming some extras out of your budget, as many Americans are. When weighing what goes and what stays, consider what an excellent value massage is, especially in relation to things that may be less valuable, but still cost you plenty. The price of massage has remained stable in recent years, while the cost of movies, dining out, and sports events have risen. Which of these activities has the power to improve your health and which has a better return on investment?
Get Creative There are many ways to keep massage in your life if you use your imagination. While vacations are definitely needed right now by just about everybody, more and more Americans are staying closer to home and taking "staycations." How about planning a healthy, home-based vacation and including massage as part of your relaxation?
When it comes to gift-giving occasions, why not give and ask for massage gift certificates? Massage makes a wonderful replacement for flowers that wilt, sweaters that don't fit, or another box of fattening candy. Some folks buy spa packages or put together their own outings with a massage, a museum excursion, or lunch at a favorite restaurant. Mothers, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers are enjoying spas together and massage is a key part of the package. These events create bonding experiences that launch new traditions and reinforce a healthy lifestyle.
Gift certificates for chair massage at airports are an option for weary travelers, as is chair massage at malls for package-laden shoppers. If you are an employer, consider gifting your staff with on-site chair massage, which has been shown to reduce stress and improve performance. Just think of it as the ultimate pat on the back for staff and one that pays you back.
Maintain Well-Being You may be tempted to trim your wellness budget when economic times are tough. Yet, a recent national consumer survey showed most massage-minded Americans are still committed to maintaining the health benefits they experience with massage. It only makes sense. The better you feel, the better job you can do of caring for yourself and your loved ones. Massage therapy will also help families under stress create healthier households, and more focused and relaxed moms and dads. Children are sensitive and often pick up on tension in a household; parents who are taking care of themselves are more likely to provide a sense of calm to their kids. This goes for caregivers of aging parents, too.
Now, more than ever, massage should play a role in reducing your stress and strengthening your health. When people feel their best, they are more able to face the challenges difficult times present. With greater health and peace of mind, you can face difficulties with poise, clarity of purpose, and strengthened emotional reserves.
Truly, massage is more than a luxury--it's a vital part of self-care that has a positive ripple effect on you as you work, play, and care for others. Investing in your health is one investment that's sure to pay off.
August Newsletter Article
Gifting Massage - Gift certificates are a great way to share massages with the people in your life. Looking for the perfect birthday present? Purchase an hour gift certificate for them with your favorite massage therapist. Giving someone a gift certificate allows the recipient to experience massage without financially committing to something that they might not be sure about. After the initial visit, it is up to them to evaluate whether the experience makes them want to pay for another one.
Outline the Benefits - Most people are aware that massage is effective at relieving stress and promoting relaxation, but there are myriad benefits you can highlight depending on your audience. For those who suffer from low-back pain, a study by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle has shown that massage is more effective than medication at reducing pain. Some massage therapists provide specialized sport massage, something that might appeal to your golfing buddy who needs to loosen up his swing and increase his range of motion.
In addition to helping people reduce pain or cope with physical injuries, the supportive touch of a massage therapist can be a powerful positive encounter during times of emotional distress. If someone in your life is dealing with grief or loss, you might recommend massage as a way for them to relax and be tended to without having to actively share their feelings, a welcome relief for many people.
Here are just some of the positives that massage and bodywork can provide. You can tailor your "pitch" to your audience by focusing on those specific to their situation:
--Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
--Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow--the body's natural defense system.
--Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
--Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
--Improve the condition of the body's largest organ--the skin.
--Increase joint flexibility.
--Lessen depression and anxiety.
--Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
--Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
--Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
--Reduce spasms and cramping.
--Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
--Release endorphins--amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
--Relieve migraine pain.
Take Baby Steps - If the person you are trying to introduce is intrigued by massage but reluctant to dive in headfirst, there are several ways to encourage them to stick a toe in the water. Many massage therapists offer chair massage in smaller time increments than a typical one-hour appointment. This is an ideal way for a person to experience the benefits of touch without having to worry about undressing or being overwhelmed by a full session.
Consider inviting your "recruit" to meet your massage therapist before your next session. Most therapists would be happy to give a potential client a brief tour and talk with them about the process of receiving a massage. For many people, being able to put a face to the person who is going to be touching them will calm some of their fears of the unknown.
For those who need more specific information about massage, you can direct them to Massagetherapy.com, a public education site provided by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP). On the site they will find an introduction to massage and its benefits, information on what to expect from a session, and a glossary of terms and techniques to help them understand massage lingo. There is also an archive of articles from Massage Bodywork magazine to help the potential client answer any questions they might have before taking the plunge.
Be a Billboard - Friends and family are more likely to follow your lead if you show them that you enjoy, and benefit from, receiving massage. If you have a regular routine and are feeling good, when you recommend bodywork to others it will be more influential. Whether it's increased range of motion, a sunnier disposition, or an improvement in posture, what you've gotten out of massage will be the best advertisement you can show them.
If, after all of your encouragement, they are still reluctant, you need to respect their feelings. Not everyone is ready for the hands-on experience of massage therapy, and some may even have some serious personal issues about touch. If you allow them to come to massage and bodywork on their own terms, they are more likely to be open to the safe, comforting, professional touch that the massage therapist provides.