Massage Therapy & Stress
Protecting your health against too much stress isn't selfish, it's a necessity.
Over time, too much stress can take a toll on your health and may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.
We all know that getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and healthy eating habits are all good ways to help manage your stress and reduce the risk of negative health effects.
The great news is that massage therapy can help with all of those strategies and also get right to the root of stress in your nervous system.
Massage therapy stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system's "relaxation response", which is the balancing opposite of the "fight or flight" response triggered by stress.
Decreased adrenaline, lower blood pressure, and slower respiration are just a few of the positive effects from activating the relaxation response.
As the body, mind, and nervous system deepen their relaxed state, the increased benefits include a reduction in cortisol, lower blood sugar, and an increase digestive enzymes and bowel function.
No wonder why massage therapy can be a helpful treatment for so many health conditions!
Massage for Seasonal Affective Disorder
☀️ It's a great afternoon to get out and soak up some fresh air and feel-good sunshine! Everyone can feel a little down from time to time during these long dreary days of winter, but did you know that one in five Americans are impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder? Trudging through winter can leave many people feeling depressed, lethargic, and struggling to keep up.
Happy lights, extra sleep time, regular exercise, spring garden planning -- What do you do to keep your spirits and your energy level up during this time of year? We'd love for you to share your strategies for winter well-being in the comments below👇
When you get back in from your afternoon walk, keep that positive momentum going and book a massage! Studies show that regular massages can improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to improved outlook, better sleep, and more energy 😌
Massage Therapy for Breast Cancer
Myths About Massage & Cancer
Fact: There is no evidence that massage can cause an existing cancer to spread, and it can be safe even while undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments.(1)
Research has indicated that massage eases pain, increases feelings of relaxation, and provides numerous benefits for breast cancer patients from diagnosis to recovery.(2) Many doctors encourage their patients to seek therapeutic massage to help reduce symptoms and side effects of treatments, improve coping, and enhance quality of life during a very stressful time.
Let us set the record straight on what benefits massage therapy can offer for breast cancer patients and review the cautions and contraindications of massage during cancer treatment. We'll also go over some important things to discuss with your massage therapist and what to expect during your massage if you are recovering from breast cancer.
Massage Benefits for Breast Cancer Recovery
Studies have shown that massage can offer both physical and emotional benefits for women and men with breast cancer, including:
The "Relaxation Response"
Relaxation seems like such a simple thing, but it is perhaps the greatest benefit of massage for cancer recovery. Massage therapy stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system's "relaxation response", the opposite of "fight or flight". The benefits from activating the relaxation response include decreased adrenaline, lower blood pressure, slower respiration, relaxation of the diaphragm, and reduction in cortisol.(11) Additional biological benefits are decrease muscle contractions, lower blood sugar, and increase digestive enzymes and bowel function. Touch also allows the release of emotions and feelings such as fear, helplessness, anger, guilt, and loneliness. Massage helps people feel connected, safe, and nurtured. Massage therapy just feels good, which can be a huge respite during a trying time.
Massage Therapy Precautions for Cancer
While there are many benefits to receiving massage during cancer treatment, there are a few important considerations. It's important to let your massage therapist know about your diagnosis, treatment, and any symptoms you may have. While it's typically not required to have a physician's release to get a massage, let your doctor know that you are interested in including massage therapy as part of your treatment plan. This ensures your physician is aware and they may also provide your massage therapist with any needed or helpful information.
Some of the important points to consider when receiving a massage during breast cancer treatment are:
Getting a Massage During Breast Cancer
Now that you have learned the facts about the benefits of massage therapy and the important precautions for breast cancer, you likely still have a few questions.
What kind of a massage should I get if I have breast cancer?
Your massage will likely be a combination of techniques, including Swedish massage, myofascial release, and manual lymph drainage, and may even incorporate reflexology, acupressure, CST, reiki, aromatherapy, and other relaxing techniques.
How long of a massage should I receive?
This really depends on how you are feeling and how much you can tolerate. It is important not to be too aggressive and overload your system. Typically, a 60 minute massage is sufficient time for full-body Swedish style relaxation massage. However, studies have shown measurable and lasting biological effects in as little as 15 minutes of massage! (12)
When should I receive massage?
Massage therapy can be beneficial during every stage of your journey with breast cancer. Before surgery, massage can help reduce anxiety, and can help prepare your body by softening muscles and connective tissue, and relieving tension. Massage can help alleviate many of the side effects during chemo and radiation, and many patients find it helpful to receive massage a couple days before their next treatment. Healing from surgery or reconstructive surgery can be a painful and sometimes lengthy process. Massage therapy can help by improving range of motion and tissue elasticity, and reducing lymphedema. The positive experience of touch can also help people reconnect with their bodies and improve body image during and after breast cancer treatment.
Finding a Massage Therapist
It's important to find reputable, licensed massage therapist with the proper education and qualifications. Do your research, read reviews, and ask your health care providers to recommend massage therapists who work with cancer patients. Once you find a massage therapist, ask them lots of questions about their experience and skills.
Our team of professional massage therapists take the time to do a thorough intake and discuss any concerns or questions you may have. Before each visit, your massage therapist will work with you to make a fully customized treatment plan to meet your specific needs and preferences for that visit. During your massage, they will check periodically to make sure you are comfortable. If you need any modifications, such as elevating the table back so you can sit upright to help cope with nausea, your massage therapist will be happy to help. Always remember to let your therapist know right away if you experience any pain or discomfort during your massage. After your massage, be sure to give feedback so your massage therapist knows what techniques work best for you. Your massage therapist may also have helpful suggestions for relaxation and tension relief between massage appointments.
If you have questions about massage therapy and breast cancer, we would love to help you! Feel free to reach out to us anytime by phone, email, or in the comments below. You can also book your massage online, or give us a call (608) 769-5882.
Gemütlichkeit is a German word that is something we all know but is a challenge to precisely translate. It comes from the root Gemüt, which means "heart, mind, feeling”. It’s that cozy goodness that fills you up when you’re surrounded by loved ones. Warmth and good cheer. Comfort and peace of mind. A state of well-being that springs from a sense of belonging and community acceptance. It's what happens when we take care of ourselves, and each other, mind-body-spirit.
At a time when so much is separating and keeping us apart, we can still spread the vibe of well-being and social acceptance. We have a few ideas to inspire you to cultivate a generous spirit of gemütlichkeit this Oktober...
Most importantly, you can't rush gemütlichkeit. So we invite you to slow down, relax, and enjoy all the good little things in life 😌
For the safety of our team and our customers, we have suspended our services due to the COVID-19 and will remain closed until it is safe to reopen. We will be reaching out to anyone who has appointments that need to be rescheduled, and our online scheduling will remain open for booking appointments after our break.
Our team will be taking this time to rest and relax with our families, do some deep cleaning around the clinic, and polish up our skills with some continuing education. We will also be keeping in touch through social media, sharing our positive vibes, relaxation and self-care tips, and posting deals on some of our favorite products.
In the meantime, we would be very grateful for your show of support 🙌 for our team!
We are so grateful and inspired to live in such a supportive 💗compassionate community. We are all in this together, even if we have to stay apart for a while. Take care of yourselves, stay rested, relaxed, and healthy. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again soon!
Massage Therapy & Coronavirus
We just wanted to check in with everyone about recent concerns due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and what affect, if any, it may have on your upcoming massage appointments. At this time, receiving massage and bodywork “as normal” is considered a non-issue, but there are a few things we would like you to keep in mind.
Even when there isn’t a pandemic, we are dedicated to your health and safety, as well as our team's. Massage therapists can be vulnerable to catching viruses and infections, and if we get sick we can't do our jobs. We take hygiene seriously everyday, and our team is being as diligent as ever. Our cleaning and sanitizing protocols have always been, and will continue to be, rigorous and thorough.
As massage therapists, we frequently wash our hands, which is the first and foremost protection from spreading infection. We also have extra time built in between every appointment to ensure good hygiene and safety by cleaning not only our treatment tables, massage equipment, and product dispensers between each customer, but also our door handles, light switches, countertops, pens, and anything else we or our clients touch.
While there is no 100 percent guarantee against becoming sick, we can all take simple steps to stay healthy, protect each other, and minimize stress and worry:
Massage doesn't just feel good, it really is good for your health. Studies have indicated that massage therapy can help you relieve stress and maintain a stronger immune system so you are not as susceptible to catching bugs when they do come around.
Keep in mind, however, you should only receive massage therapy when you're healthy. Receiving massage when you are sick can just make you feel even worse, and it puts the massage therapist at risk.
If you're not feeling well, we do ask that you reschedule your massage appointment.
Massage therapists are vulnerable to catching infections and illness from our clients. If you feel like you are coming down with something, it may be best to just stay home and get some rest. Let us know as soon as possible if you are feeling unwell and need to reschedule. Even if it is less than our 24 hour cancellation notice policy, we would much rather waive the cancellation fee in order to keep our team and our customers safe.
We will continue to take guidance from our industry authorities, the Centers for Disease Control, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the La Crosse County Public Health Department. If anything changes, we will be sure to update you.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Our Most Loved Essential Oils of 2018
It's hard to play favorites when it comes to essential oils, we love them all! We couldn't stop at sharing just the top 5, so here are 18 of our top selling essential oils and blends of 2018...
4. Peace & Calming I & II
5. Stress Away
Top 18 Essential Oils of 2018
The Benefits of Massage for Students
1. Lower Levels of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
According to the National College Health Assessment, students are really stressed out these days! The good news is research has shown massage therapy is effective stress relief. Massage therapy has been shown to boost levels of the "feel-good" hormone dopamine, while at the same time lowering levels of the "stress-hormone" cortisol.
2. Better Sleep
Massage therapy has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve sleep. Massage therapy can help you get the sleep you need to stay focused and healthy. Not only has research shown that massage therapy reduces levels of the "stress-hormone" cortisol, massage also increases levels of serotonin, a precursor of melatonin, a neurotransmitter critical for good sleep.
3. Improved Study, Focus, and Attention
Students with ADHD can improve mood and classroom attention and focus with regular massage therapy. Headaches, especially tension headaches, frequently get in the way of study and sleep, with up to 30-50% of young people suffering from regular headaches. Get the relief you need to stay focused--massage offers effective relief for tension headaches.
4. Immune Boosting
In addition to lowering cortisol levels, and increasing our "feel-good" neurotransmitters, massage therapy also improves immune function by increasing our body’s natural "killer T cells” and lymphocytes, which fight off viruses and protect us from infection and disease. Stressed students crammed in close quarters all day is a breeding ground for germs. Give yourself a boost--research shows that even a single session of Swedish Massage produces measurable biologic effects!
5. Stay Active and Fit
"Freshman fifteen", anyone? All of that study and stress can lead to increased levels of cortisol, which can slow metabolism, trigger inflammation, and encourage accumulation of belly fat. In addition to revving your metabolism, massage can also help out with any stiffness or sore muscles after that great workout! Massage therapy has been shown to have major benefits for exercise, including enhanced performance and cardiovascular health. It is also effective for pain management, faster recovery, and prevention of injuries, so that you can keep going. Massage therapy can be a key part of maintaining peak fitness!
Student Discount 15%
Just show us your current Student ID to receive 15% off any of our regular priced services, any day. Students of all ages welcome!
Massage Therapy for Better Sleep
Stress and anxiety, back pain, tension headaches and migraines, and conditions such as fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome can all be reasons a person struggles to get the sleep they need. The resulting lack of sleep can in turn make these conditions more difficult to manage and may cause symptoms to flare up, and so the cycle of sleeplessness continues....
Break the Cycle of Insomnia with Massage
Research shows that massage therapy is a safe and effective way to relieve pain, reduce fatigue, and improve sleep for a wide range of conditions, including insomnia in children and adolescents, cancer patients, and even those recovering heart surgery.
In addition to the physical relief of pain and tension that massage provides, “Massage helps people spend more time in deep sleep, the restorative stage in which the body barely moves, which reduces the neurotransmitters associated with pain.” says Anne Williams, director of education, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.
Research has also shown that massage therapy reduces levels of the "stress-hormone" cortisol, while at the same time increasing levels of dopamine, the "feel-good" hormone. Massage therapy also directly influences the body’s production of serotonin, which is essential for the production of melatonin, a hormone critical for healthy sleep cycles.
“Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies,” says Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at National Institutes of Health (NIH). “It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health."
Ready for a good night's rest? Book your massage online, or give us a call (608) 769-5882.
Lavender Essential Oil for Better Sleep
Lavender is the first scent that comes to many people's minds at the mention of aromatherapy, and lavender is undoubtedly the most popular of essential oils. Because it is the one of the most versatile essential oils, no home should be without it! Better sleep and less anxiety are just a couple of the many benefits of lavender essential oil.
The Most Versatile Essential Oil: Lavender
Lavender is considered to be an adaptogen, and therefore can assist the body in many different ways when adapting to stress or imbalances. Lavender not only has calming, sedating effects but can also be a booster when energy runs low.
Lavender is comprised of over 100 constituents, including linalool, perillyl alcohol, linalyl acetate, camphor, d-limonene, eucalyptol, tannins, triterpenes, coumarins, cineole, camphor, and flavonoids. Linalyl acetate and linalool have been identified as active constituents that contribute to its calming and sedative properties.
There is a growing body of scientific research supporting the use of lavender for a wide range of conditions. Numerous studies have documented the effectiveness of lavender essential oil and aromatherapy for improving sleep.
5 Ways to Use Lavender Essential Oil for Better Sleep:
Lavender for a Good Night's Rest
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. Most of us already know that inadequate sleep can affect our jobs, our relationships, and our overall health. Finding safe, effective ways to get a good night's rest can be a challenge, but the science is suggesting lavender essential oil may really help.
Clinical studies have found lavender essential oil to be effective in helping people fall asleep faster and experience fewer sleep-related symptoms. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) states that lavender aromatherapy can be effectively used to help promote sleep, and should be considered as a safe alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
A restful sleep in the hospital is often a challenge for patients and may result in the use of medications. A recent study concluded that using lavender aromatherapy resulted in significantly better sleep quality. Lavender aromatherapy is also well tolerated, with no documented drug interactions or contraindications.
In another study, lavender essential oil was shown to reduce depression and insomnia in female nursing students.
Afraid of Getting Your First Massage?
There are many factors that can contribute to a person's fear of getting their first massage. For most people, it is simply just the fear of the unknown... So, how can you get over this fear, so that you can begin to experience all the benefits of massage therapy?
You will feel more relaxed if you know what will happen during Your First Massage with us, especially if this is a new experience for you. Feel free to browse our website for answers to Frequently Asked Questions and more information about all of our Services.
Nervous about a stranger touching you? Meet Our Staff and get to know a little about your therapist ahead of time. We have also put together a list of Tips to Make the Most of Your Massage, and you can even print out and have ready in advance the Forms to Bring to your first appointment.
Afraid you'll just end up playing phone tag if you try to schedule an appointment? Don't worry! We've got super easy online appointment booking, with instant confirmations. Book your appointment now!
If you are feeling nervous about your first visit, just let us know! We are happy to answer all of your questions and do whatever we can to make you feel comfortable and at ease during your appointment. Just send us a message or give us a call at (608) 769-5882.
Happy Halloween, everybody! We will look forward to seeing you soon ;)
Mysterious Webs Of Fascia
Feeling as stiff and creaky as Frankenstein's monster? You may just be stuck in sticky webs of fascia….
What Is Fascia?
Fascia is a connective tissue that forms a mysterious internal netting that looks very much like spider webs. Your fascia is made of dense, sticky protein fibers that weave continuously throughout the entire body, wrapping around and supporting your all of your cells, muscles, muscle fibers, bones, and even your organs.
Healthy fascia is normally supple, stretchy, and flexible, allowing it to slide and glide across muscles and around joints. Fascia can get stiff and sticky when you don’t move around enough, but it can also get twisted and bound up when you move too much, do a lot of repetitive motion, or become injured.
Signs that your fascia may be stuck can include feeling stiff and creaky, popping joints, areas of sensitivity and tightness, chronic pain, reduced range of motion, and feeling like you are trapped in a “straightjacket”.
Tricks For Getting Fascia Unstuck
There’s a saying that "motion is the lotion" for sticky fascia. Gentle exercise, stretching, and staying well hydrated can help keep your fascia healthy, and many people find relief using self-massage, tennis balls, and foam rollers. However, sometimes it’s a good idea to get some help from the pro’s.
Massage therapists work with a lot of fascia everyday, and they use many tricks and techniques to keep your muscles and fascia working together. A frequently used and very effective technique used by massage therapists is myofascial release. By applying gentle and sustained pressure to myofascial connective tissues, a skilled therapist can eliminate pain and restore healthy motion.
Myofascial Release & Your Next Massage
Many of you may have probably experienced myofascial release techniques without realizing it. Myofascial release is usually performed directly on skin without oils or lotions, allowing the therapist to accurately detect fascial restrictions and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate release of the fascia.
These techniques can be incorporated into any of our session types. The next time you visit, ask your massage therapist to incorporate some myofascial release techniques to get you unstuck!
A recent study demonstrates the benefits of massage, including significant improvements on measurements for stress, pain, and anxiety, for military veterans--and their partners--upon returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
National Guard personnel and their partners participated in the self-directed program of complimentary therapies, including massage therapy, guided meditation, and relaxation techniques.
Veterans reported significant reductions in pain, tension, anxiety, and irritability after massage. There were also significant improvements in measures for PTSD and depression, as well as self compassion for both veterans and their partners. Veterans' partners also experienced significant overall improvement in levels of stress.
Prenatal massage shares many of the goals of regular massage – to relax tense muscles, ease sore spots, improve circulation and mobility, and just make you feel good. Massage therapy is a safe, healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Prenatal massage can relieve back pain and improve sleep and mood, as well as decrease stress and reduce labor complications.
Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling). In addition, massage for pregnant women reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, helps to relax nervous tension -- which aids in better sleep -- and can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.
The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for many pregnant women, and massage therapy is proven to improve pregnancy outcome and maternal health. As always, it is important to consult with your midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new therapeutic practice.
Prenatal sessions are tailored specifically to the needs of pregnant women and their changing bodies, and therapists who are trained in prenatal massage adjust their techniques accordingly. Prenatal massage is best given while you lie on your side propped up by pillows. Side-laying positioning with supportive, soft cushions is used to alleviate the extra strain on the lower back and pelvic areas when the pressure of massage techniques are applied. Neck and shoulder massage, or lower leg and foot massage are also safe sitting-up options.
Aromatherapy Tip: Use the same oil you studied with when you take the exam!
Improve Memory & Concentration
Rosemary, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Sage
Get that extra edge you need to make the grade, naturally! Numerous studies have been done on essential oils to improve memory and focus, especially for people with ADD and ADHD. Rosemary, sage, peppermint, and eucalyptus are great choices for improving concentration, and all are particularly high in a compound called 1,8-cineole--also known as "eucalyptol". Research has shown that eucalyptol can significantly improve memory and performance on cognitive tasks!
Less Stress, More Calm
Ylang-ylang, Lavender, Citrus, Sandalwood
Lavender is considered to be an adaptogen, and therefore can assist the body in many different ways when adapting to stress or imbalances. Lavender not only has calming, sedating effects but can also be a booster when energy runs low. Linalyl acetate and linalool have been identified as active constituents that contribute to its calming and sedative properties.
While yang-ylang was shown not improve memory, it did significantly increase calmness. Sandalwood is also a very calming, grounding essential oil, even though the most exciting research being done is for its anti-cancer properties!
Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Citrus
There is a growing body of evidence indicating that Mother Nature holds the cure to much of what ails us--and can keep us from getting sick in the first place. Many of these essential oils are high in compounds such as monoterpines, thymol, and limonene. Eucalyptus, which is the primary aromatic compound and active ingredient in Vick's Vapor Rub, is especially high in some of these compounds, and has been found effective in relieving bronchitis and sinus infections.
Lavender, Ylang-ylang, Sandalwood
Many studies have shown the effectiveness of essential oils to help you get a good night's rest. Clinical studies have found lavender essential oil to be effective in helping people fall asleep faster and experience fewer sleep-related symptoms. Learn all about Lavender: The Most Versatile Essential Oil.
Ylang-ylang, sandalwood, and Roman chamomile are also great choices for improving sleep – and, therefore, improving concentration and memory!
Peppermint, Citrus, Rosemary, Sage
Give yourself a little "pep-talk" with some peppermint! Scientific studies have shown the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil to fight burnout and exhaustion. Wake yourself up with the bright, refreshing citrus scents of lemon, grapefruit, and orange! Lime is truly sublime in Young Living's Stress Away essential oil blend....
Touching the Heart with Reiki
The heart chakra is the bridge between the lower and higher chakras, balancing the physical world with the spiritual. The fourth chakra unifies the mind-body-spirit, bringing "wholeness" and integrity to our being. Our ability to heal ourselves and others, is centered in the fourth chakra, our hearts.
Chakras are influenced by (and have influence over) the world around us and the world within us. Colors, sounds, natural elements, relationships, words and thoughts, clothing, foods, everything we interact with everyday has an effect (for better or worse) on the health and function of our chakras.
Sometimes, circumstances can leave us feeling unbalanced. While there are many things influencing our energy systems that we are not able to control, there is much we can do to help bring ourselves (and each other) into a healthy balance.
Reiki (ray-kee) is a healing technique based on the chakras and energy systems of the body. During a reiki session, the therapist facilitates the quality and movement of that energy, balancing the chakras, and activating the natural healing processes. Reiki treats the whole person, creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and well-being.
Another major benefit of reiki and energy work is simply creating time and space with the intention to re-connect with our own mind, body, and emotions. Taking the time to get in touch with ourselves, physically and emotionally, is critical to living a healthy, happy life. Re-connecting with our hearts can open us to tremendous healing.
Some questions to ask yourself and your heart chakra:
Set aside some time to get in tune with your heart, mind, and body. Book a Reiki & Energy Balancing appointment.
Learn more: "Have You Experience the Power of Reiki"
How Massage Benefits The Heart
Massage therapy can relieve muscular stress and tension, help with managing pain, and provides numerous benefits for overall health and well-being on many levels.
A majority of people who get massage report the neck, shoulders, and upper back between the shoulder blades as areas that hold a lot of tension, and it's no surprise. Working at a computer all day, driving our cars, caring for others, and many other daily activities tend to put significant demands on our upper bodies.
Massage therapy physically opens and eases tension and stress held in the chest, ribs, shoulders, and arms. This physical release encourages the "relaxation response" and encourages numerous biological benefits to take effect.
When we are in a hurry or stressed-out, our breathing becomes more shallow, our heart rate and blood pressure rise, and "stress hormones" such as cortisol flood our bloodstream. This constant state of "fight-or-flight" can have damaging effects on our health.
Many recent scientific studies have shown massage therapy can decrease blood pressure and heart rate. In fact, research has shown significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of cortisol after just 10-15 minutes of massage!
Another major benefit of massage and bodywork is the time and opportunity to re-connect with our own mind, body, and emotions. Taking the time to get in touch with ourselves, physically and emotionally, is critical to living a healthy, happy life.
Quite often, that 60 minutes on the massage table may be the only completely uninterrupted "you-time" that you get during the week. No phones, no kids, no other place to be, and no one else needing any of your attention except yourself. Re-connecting with our hearts can open us to tremendous healing.
Given that skin and our sense of touch are closely tied to the "heart chakra", it makes sense that massage and bodywork can have an influence on this energy center.
Our physical heart and blood, as well as the entire circulatory and respiratory systems, work in synchronicity with our heart chakra. Lungs, diaphragm, esophagus, thymus, breasts, ribs, upper back, shoulders, arms, and hands are all tied to this vibrant energy center. All of the "connective" tissue of the body is governed by this chakra. The predominant sense organ and sense related to the heart chakra is, in fact, skin and our sense of touch.
The experience of unconditional love is a powerful energy that sustains us through the most difficult times in our lives. Our ability to heal ourselves and others, is centered in the fourth chakra, our hearts.
Stay "Heart Healthy" With Massage
February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association considers effective stress-management to be key in keeping a healthy heart. In addition to relieving "stress", the scientific research is showing that massage therapy can be a safe, effective way to maintain heart health on numerous levels. Below is just a short list of ways massage therapy can have a positive impact on your health.
1. Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress
Research has shown massage therapy is effective stress relief. Massage therapy can reduce stress significantly on physical and psychological levels including decreased blood pressure and heart rate and improvements in mood and emotional states. Massage is also proven effective relief for anxiety and tension headaches.
2. Massage Can Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Massage has been shown to not only decrease blood pressure and heart rate, but also significantly decrease in the hormone arginine-vasopressin (a major player in regulating blood pressure and water retention). Numerous controlled studies have shown significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the "stress-hormone" cortisol after just 10-15 minutes of massage!
3. Massage Can Reduce Dependence on Medications
In the United States, only about half the people being treated for high blood pressure have actually succeeded in getting it under control. Many people with heart disease or high blood pressure are prescribed medications. Too often, these medications do very little to help, with a long list of undesirable side effects.
In a recent scientific study, researchers studied 236 volunteers who received up to 60 minutes of massage therapy. Average systolic blood pressure fell by more than 10 mg Hg, diastolic pressure reduction of 5.3 mm Hg, and heart rate decreased by 10 beats per minute after just one treatment. That's better a reduction than many prescription medications, without any nasty side-effects. Findings of another recent study indicated that massage also has a lasting and significant effect on blood pressure 72 hours later compared to the control group.
4. Massage Therapy Benefits Cardiac Patients
Recents studies have shown that massage therapy reduces tension, anxiety, and pain in patients awaiting invasive cardiovascular procedures. Massage therapy can also significantly reduce the pain, anxiety, and muscular tension, as well as improve relaxation and satisfaction after cardiac surgery.
5. Doctors & Hospitals Recommend Massage Therapy
In a recent survey, 64% of hospitals reported using massage therapy as part of outpatient care, and 44% use massage therapy as part of inpatient care. Among Consumer Reports readers who used deep tissue massage, usually for back or neck pain, 28% said their doctors had recommended it.
Edited and re-posted from original article published February 2016.
Have You Experienced The Power of Reiki?
Most of us here at Balanced Bodywork practice reiki, or some form of energy and chakra work. Many massage therapists quickly discover that there is more to bodywork than just the physical body. We learn about reiki or other energy work practices, such as healing touch, while we are still in massage school. We bring this awareness of the body's energy systems, and how these energy systems interact with the physical body, into each and every session we provide.
What is Reiki?
First of all, let us begin by learning what reiki is not. Reiki is not a religion, nor is it affiliated with any religion. Many people do consider reiki to be a spiritual practice, and reiki may be practiced by persons of any religion, or none at all.
Reiki (ray-kee) is a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of facilitating the person’s own healing response. Reiki literally means “universal life energy”. It is a Japanese healing technique based on the energy systems of the body and principle that the therapist facilitates the quality and movement of that energy to activate the natural healing processes. Reiki treats the whole person, creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and well-being.
How does Reiki work, and what does it feel like?
Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method that everyone can use. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery. Most commonly, Reiki is offered through light, non-invasive touch with the practitioner's hands placed and held on a series of locations on the head and front and back of the torso, as well as arms, legs, hands, and feet. A complete Reiki session is offered to a fully clothed recipient who is lying on a treatment table or sitting comfortably supported in a chair.
The experience of Reiki is subjective, changeable, sometimes very subtle, and unique to each individual. People often experience heat in the practitioner's hands, but sometimes the practitioner's hands feel refreshingly cool. Other common experiences are subtle pulsations where the practitioner's hands are placed or cascading waves of pulsations throughout the body, sometimes the feeling of bubbles being released. Many people report that they feel as though they have been hovering in a state between waking and unconscious, a deep, sleep-like meditative state. Most people experience Reiki as a very comforting, relaxing experience.
Every reiki practice is grounded in five simple precepts:
Just for today....
Do not worry.
Do not anger.
Be grateful for your many blessings.
Do your work honestly.
Be kind to yourself and others.
Reiki can also be performed on one's self. An integral part of of reiki is learning to become aware of the energy systems and facilitating the flow of universal energy for the healing of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live.
Everyone has their own personal needs and reasons for receiving reiki, and almost everyone leaves their session feeling more comfortable, centered and grounded, and with a greater sense of well-being. We hope that you will give reiki a try, and we are honored to be a part of your healing journey.
Originally published May 2014.
Running out of will-power to stick with your New Year's resolutions? It may be because you have too much stress. Dr. Amit Soon from Mayo Clinic explains the effects of stress on will-power in this excerpt from NPR's Science Friday...
The #1 Killer of Will-Power is......STRESS
As Dr. Amit Sood explains in the NPR Science Friday interview above, when we are stressed-out--which is a lot of the time-- we are more likely to revert to our ingrained habits, much like a "zombie".
Some of Dr. Sood's suggestions for keeping your resolutions stress-free are to keep it simple, specific, and realistic, and to be intentional about setting goals that have real meaning to you. Don't over commit yourself, and find a partner who can help keep you motivated. Dr. Amid Soot also reminds us that often these changes take time.
De-Stress Your New Year's Resolutions With Massage
Most Americans New Year's resolutions focus on taking better care of themselves, and often this includes finding ways to better manage stress and achieve a better balance in our busy lives.
"Anyone who enjoys massage should consider indulging regularly," says Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. “Of course, a single session will do great things for the body, but regular sessions seem to be even more profound.”
There is growing scientific evidence for the many beneficial, stress-relieving effects of a good massage. Massage therapy has been shown to boost the will-power hormone--serotonin. A stress relieving massage or reiki session could be just what you need to strengthen your resolve!
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1. Get Active & Stay Fit
Whether you are a professional athlete or just getting started with a fitness program, massage therapy has been shown to have major benefits for exercise, including enhanced performance and cardiovascular health. Massage therapy is also effective for pain management, faster recovery, and prevention of injuries, so that you can keep going. Massage therapy can be a key part of maintaining peak fitness.
2. Get Better Sleep & Feel More Energized
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. Lack of sleep contributes to many of the chronic diseases--such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation’s health. Inadequate sleep is associated with a number of medical conditions, and can negatively impact a person’s overall health. Massage therapy has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve sleep.
3. Lose Weight--With A Relaxing Massage!
Massage is at least as good as chocolate, but with zero calories. Massage therapy has been shown to boost levels of the "feel-good" hormones serotonin and dopamine, while at the same time lowering levels of the "stress-hormone" cortisol. This boost in beneficial neurotransmitters not only feels good, but it also helps ease stress and decrease appetite. Increased levels of cortisol can slow metabolism, trigger inflammation, and encourage the accumulation of belly fat. In addition to revving your metabolism, massage can also help out with any stiffness or sore muscles after that great workout!
4. Massage Therapy to Reduce Anxiety & Stress
Too much stress is the #1 reason why we lose our will-power and fail to succeed at our goals. Stress takes a toll on your health and quality of life. Massage therapy has been shown to reduce stress significantly on physical and psychological levels including decreased blood pressure and heart rate and improvements in mood and emotional states (who doesn't feel better after a massage?!) Massage can also be effective relief for anxiety and tension headaches.
5. Give Your Immune System a Boost with Massage
Don't let a case of the sniffles slow you down! In addition to lowering cortisol levels, and increasing our "feel-good" neurotransmitters, massage therapy may also improve immune function by increasing our body’s natural "killer T cells” and lymphocytes, which fight off viruses and protect us from infection and disease. Massage therapy is also being researched as a complimentary treatment to promote healthy immune and endocrine function in cancer patients.
Enjoy Greater Health and Overall Wellness with Regular Massage Therapy
Research shows massage therapy can aid in physical, mental, and social well-being, and may also help prevent disease by improving immune function and reducing stress. With such a long list of health benefits, resolve to make massage therapy a part of your wellness plan!
Originally published January 2015
DIY Non-Toxic Vapor Chest Rub
Make your own homemade vapor rub using pure essential oils. Just as effective as Vick's VapoRub, but without toxic ingredients like petroleum jelly.
Recipe for Homemade Vapor Chest Rub
Gently warm and melt your preferred carrier oils, and then add the beeswax (pellets are great, otherwise shave into small pieces). Use a double-boiler, or a canning jar placed in a small pot of water, on very low heat.
As soon as everything is all nicely melted together, remove from the heat and allow it cool down. Once things have cooled down a bit, mix in your favorite essential oils and store in a small glass jar.
This non-toxic version of vapor rub works great applied to the chest and bottoms of feet!
When Is It Not Okay To Get A Massage?
Many health conditions may require gentler forms of massage therapy, or more specialized techniques and treatment plans. In many cases, your massage therapist can come up with a treatment plan that will work for you and your health situation.
It is important for you to fully complete your Health History and keep your massage therapist up to date on your condition. Not all types of massage are appropriate for all conditions.
Be sure to let your massage therapist know if you have:
In some situations, your massage therapist may request your physician's consent or direction.
Massage is absolutely not appropriate if:
Learn more: Cold, Flu, and Massage Therapy
Originally published November 3, 2014.