NiaMassage

Musings from the Massage Chair & Table

Ten Things – (Part 1 of 2) From the Massage Therapist’s Point of View

I came across a hilarious blog named HaHasforHooHas.com, and a post written by Susannah named “Ten Things You’ll Probably Think While Getting a Professional Massage”. I loved it so much, I wanted to post my reply to her (and many of your) concerns. Here’s my response. Now mind you, this is my view on the subject, not on behalf of any other therapist.

1. I hope that I don’t fart. I promise you that as soon as we talk about what your needs are for the massage session, and I leave the room, both of us are thinking the same thing, “I hope that I don’t fart.” It’s a bodily function, and in most cases, when you are relaxed, is no longer in your control. Don’t stress on it. All it means is that your body is working.

2. This music confuses me. Here’s the thing – we listen to ‘massage music’ all day. When I worked at Logan Airport after 9/11, the owner had very few CDs, and one was Enya. Not everyone wants to hear the “Sounds of the Blue Whale” during their sessions, because they think it’s too ethereal. If you don’t like the music, by all means ask me to change it, or you can play your own.

3. Do I have a medical problem? Diagnosing anything is outside of our scope of practice. We may refer you to see your doctor if we see something out of the ordinary. Knots can be stiff, inflexible groups or parts of muscles that may take a little work to get back to feeling better. Just make sure you breathe when you getting it worked on. (Sometimes it can feel a little intense. Taking deep breaths can help to work through it.) Ask questions when you wonder what’s going on. It’s OK!

If you're making faces, the pressure is probably too deep.

If you’re making faces, the pressure is probably too deep.

4. Is this person trying to kill me? Trigger points and knots can feel really intense when they are worked on. As deep as ‘deep tissue massage’ can get, bruises don’t look cute on anyone. Deep pressure is relative; some people want to feel like they were run over by a steamroller. You, not so much. It’s okay, there is more than one way to address sore muscles. Let me know if the pressure is too much. I can’t see your face when you’re on your stomach, making squidgy faces, wondering why I’m trying to kill you.

5. Did I forget to shave my legs?  This should NEVER be a worry, unless you’ve actually cut yourself on your own stubble. Again, growing body hair is a bodily function. Here’s the thing – when you shave your legs, you remove the most superficial barrier of your skin, along with the hair you’re trying to get rid of. This barrier prevents bacteria and other irritants being absorbed into your skin, like a bouncer at a club. Although many therapists use hypo-allergenic, non skin-clogging massage media (Oil, lotion, or cream), some may not, causing more problems such as ingrown hairs and blackheads. Which would you rather have – stubble or blackheads? I’ll take Stubble for $200, Alex.

Now, this is half of Susannah’s list. I’ll be back next week to reply to the rest of her post. Make sure you read the other posts there; you’ll enjoy the posts!

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Reasons for Chair Massage in the Office

 

Although many offices do have some type of Wellness Sessions occurring at the office, many don’t see it as a true benefit to the workplace. Here are 3 quick reasons to have Chair Massage as a part of the workday-

1. It takes the excuse of “I don’t have time” out of the equation. The chair is already there, and you have a few minutes in your day to take care of yourself. It is a matter of priority. Where are you on your Priority List?

Your ears and shoulders should be like exes; they should be aware of each other, but nowhere near each other.

Your ears and shoulders should be like exes; they should be aware of each other, but nowhere near each other.

2. It reduces pain in tension areas of the body that tend to be overused – the head, neck and shoulders. Leaning into your computer screen, peering into your cell phone, poring over paperwork, or even cradling the phone between your neck and shoulders all contribute to sore muscles that can create headaches, eyestrain and afternoon lethargy.
3. It creates a refreshing afternoon break in the day. It’s after lunch, and 5 PM seems like a LONG way away. What do you have to look forward to- Going home? With that last break of the day, getting a quick massage can give you a calorie free quick burst of energy and a well needed (and well-kneaded) stress break! Adding peppermint (essential oil or even candy) to the session can help increase concentration on tasks.

Of course, there are many more reasons – what is your reason to have Chair Massage at your office?

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Just Blog it – Day 11 – Tooting my Own Horn

Chair Massage - Atlanta Pampered Ladies Expo - Photo Credit Moore Memories

Chair Massage – Atlanta Pampered Ladies Expo – Photo Credit Moore Memories

The one thing I love about myself, in regards to massage therapy, is that I love to tell clients and potential clients about things that we hadn’t talked about prior to the massage.

It’s weird, and the looks I get are amazing. I’ll find a knot, or really tight muscles in the lower back, and I’ll ask if they lock their knees when they stand up during the day.

“How did you know?” they ask quizzically. We hadn’t talked about it previously, and you can already see that they’re wondering really, how did I know their back was bothering them.

“Your back is talking about you…behind your back!” I usually reply, which make them laugh. After the session is over, I explain to them as to how I figured it out, and how they can get back into the habit of loosening those muscles and making them more flexible.

Just last week, I was doing a Chair Massage session for Daycare employees, and asked a few of them if they had a headache. A similar quizzical comment came through the face cradle, asking how did I know. Again, I explained to them how I figured it out, and how to take care after the session was over.

The one time I freaked myself out doing this was when I was working at Logan Airport, right after 9/11. I was in my first year of doing massage, and did a foot massage for a client on a layover. He’d been on his feet after refereeing an NBA game the night before. After I prepped to start this massage session, I misted his foot with a lavender and peppermint spray, and began to start working on his foot, when he flinched. My thought process is ticklish people also flinch, but this was different. And when I say he flinched, he jerked his foot so quickly, he kicked the chair.

“You must be a middle child,” I blurted out. We hadn’t had a conversation about family, so this comment was really out of left field for both of us.

He looked at me as if I tapped into an earlier phone call with family, and overheard something I shouldn’t.

“How did you know???”

“As an older sibling, I know what a ‘Punchbuggy’ flinch looks like.”

That was the last time I asked about birth order. That was freaky, even for me.

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Client Question – What Kind of Client is Your Favorite?

Got a Question?

Questions are free – Ask away!

So often, during a conversation, someone will ask me a question where as I am answering I say to myself,’This would make a great blog post!‘ I had just such a situation happen last week at the Atlanta Pampered Ladies’ Expo.

As I was manning my massage chair, waiting for the doors to open, a nearby booth mate asked, “Who is your best type of client?”

My best client is one who has never had a massage before, but have always wanted to get one. They want ask a lot of questions, but they don’t want to feel they are pestering you by asking a lot of questions. I encourage the questions, because I would like you to understand what your body is telling you. As Sy Syms would say, “An educated consumer is my best customer.” (Yes, I’m that old!) I try to relate information in plain English, so that the jargon doesn’t confuse or disinterest the client. (My husband is a computer programmer, so when he uses technical jargon to convey his story, I tend to look like the

Have you ever had someone talk to you, and you looked like this?

Have you ever had someone talk to you, and you looked like this?

RCA/Victor dog.) Now, if the technical jargon doesn’t throw you, I’ll use it. It also helps keep me sharp on my anatomy; what muscles work together to do a specific action and what muscles work against each other. I also try to throw in some humor, because if it’s even a little funny, the message tends to be memorable.

I’ve had all kinds of questions thrown at me, so not too much tends to throw me off my game. If I don’t know, I don’t know, but I’ll do my research. This way, we learn together! So come on, ask those questions, you’ve always wanted to ask!

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Are your feet holding your whole body hostage?

I walked a 5K this past weekend for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta. Now normally, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’ve had breathing issues most of this year, so walking even at a brisk pace was a challenge.

I walked it, in better time than I had the last time (I came in with the truck that picked up the cones at my last 5K). I was so happy that I went shopping to treat myself for a job well done, and was out for hours.

When I got home, hours later, I was tired, but wasn’t as tired as I had been in the past walks. My feet felt fine, but apparently were beginning to throw a serious hissy fit. As I slept, my feet held a meeting with the muscles in my calves.

If you've been on your feet for most of the day, and you haven't taken care of them, be prepared to be taken hostage by them.

If you’ve been on your feet for most of the day, and you haven’t taken care of them, be prepared to be taken hostage by them.

They regaled my calves with stories of abuse and mistreatment, and after all the stories, the calves believed my feet! In solidarity with my feet, my calves began to twitch, ever so slightly, my brain didn’t even notice. My feet were really upset that the brain still didn’t tell me to get up, that they gave an ultimatum – move that leg one more time, and SEE what happens next!

Again, as far as the brain was concerned, it was off the clock. ‘Time for maintenance, please come back later,’ the message replied. As I fell back to sleep, my legs shifted into a more comfortable position, and the feet seized the opportunity to wake me up.

The foot began to curl, as the calf muscles contracted. Just before it fully seized up, I bolted out of bed, and almost stood up on my foot, like I used to when I would get a Charlie horse. Once I calmed down, I took deep breaths, massaged the muscles, and got in that knot before any of the other muscles tried to gang up on me.

Now, as a massage therapist, I should know better. Yes, I see you shaking your head as you read the post. Everyone has a slip now and again.

Here’s how you can do better than I did. If you don’t take care of your feet, no matter how long your to-do list is, your feet will take your whole body hostage.

– After doing an activity, such as a 5K or a run, have a banana. The magnesium in the banana will help feed the muscles the nutrients they need to regulate and repair. Don’t like bananas? Here is a link of magnesium rich foods.

– A cool water bottle rolled under foot will help soothe sore soles. A golf ball will help address knots, but don’t press so hard, the cramp in your foot may just get worse. Apply pressure to your level of comfort only.

– Self massage always helps when you just want to take care of that knot that’s been bothering you. Again, digging into a knot may not be the best idea; bruises look cute on noone.

– Warm ups before and gentle stretching afterwards helps the muscles prepare for and recover from an activity. This is a hotly contested idea, and opinions vary widely. I’d rather let my muscles know that they’re getting ready to work, than to cramp up in the middle of an activity. Check out the last post – Leg Cramps – for some great stretches that you can do for your legs.

– A pre-event massage helps warm the muscles up and prepare them for your upcoming activity, as a post-event massage will help the muscles calm down and recover. If your event has therapists on site, go and check them out. They are there to help you!

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Are you a Hipster for the wrong reason?

As you go through your day, some things you do just out of routine, some just to cope with getting through the day, and others just out of bad habit. If you stand with one knee locked, you just may be a Hipster for all the wrong reasons.

If you are standing to one side, you are having half your body doing all the work of holding you up.

If you are standing to one side, you are having half your body doing all the work of holding you up.

For the most part, your hips are there to help balance the body. (Could you imagine just having one hip?) When the pelvis is tilted to one side or the other, muscles on the opposite side are compressed into a smaller space. It’s the same as you doing the job of everyone on your team, while they are doing nothing at all. You see your team mates, and you are ticked off. That’s what it’s like when you rest your weight to one side of the body, and the other side is just there. Over time, the lower back begins to ache, stiffen, then become a real pain in the butt.

Well, how would you feel? Half of your body is doing all the work of holding you up,  and the other muscles are not doing their job; you’d get irritated, too! Your lower back will all of a sudden look like a pouty 4-year old, arms crossed.  “I’m not gonna work for you anymore!”, It is saying to you. Your backside doesn’t know what to do, so it just clenches to contribute to the job of holding you up. You begin to feel an ache in your backside that doesn’t want to seem to go away.

One great way to help get rid of a knot is to take a tennis ball and put it in a trouser sock (a clean one, preferably), place it near the knot, then massage the ball over the knot. The sock will help you place it where it’s needed, since it won’t just stay on the wall. Foam rollers work great over wide areas of muscle. You can sit on it, and apply pressure to your preference over the roller.

If you slightly bend your knees, not a full bend (you don’t want to look like the last kid picked for dodgeball), and hold your core stomach muscles, then all your muscles will help you hold you up. Now they are going to pitch a fit; they haven’t worked in a while, so they have to get back in the habit of doing their job. Don’t let them off the hook, get in the habit of standing straight. It takes 21 days to create a habit, so just be aware of how you are carrying yourself. Once you get into the habit, you will definitely feel a difference.

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You Really Don’t Have Time?

I hear more often than not “I don’t have time to get a massage, even if you came to my office.” So from what I understand, you are OK with dealing with pain and stiffnness in your:
Neck and Head – Leaning forward toward computer desktop monitors, laptop and smartphone screens contribute to a stiff neck and eyestrain. Taking frequent breaks to have your eyes focus on more 3-D objects approximately 20 feet away can help your eye muscles relax, and not be contracted to focus on flat, 2-D objects closer to your face.

Shoulders– Your ears and your shoulders should be like exes; Aware of each other, but nowhere near one another. Your shoulders should be relaxed, and not rolled forward

Good Door Stretch

Excellent Shoulder Stretch (Image Credit- http://www.Abbotcenter.com)

(slouching posture). If you lean against a wall, your shoulder blades shouldn’t be the only things touching the wall. Stretch your pecs in the doorway, doing a forward lean, to help release the tension in your shoulder blades.

Lower Back – Locking your knees does nothing good for the lower back. It tightens and compresses all the lower back muscles in to one small area. Remember when you sat in the back seat of the car as a child on long road trips, all stuffed and cramped back there? Well, now you know how your lower back feels! Bending your knees slightly, not so bent that you are slouching, will help all muscles responsible work together to help you stand better, be more agile on your feet, and tilt your pelvis to give your lower back muscles more room to move.

High Heels– I know, your legs look GREAT in your favorite pair of stilettos, but being in

High heels look great, but is it worth all the pain in your feet? (Image Credit - webmd.com)

those shoes does more harm than good. You already know about your Achilles tendon shortening, heel pain, hammer toes, and your toes crammed into too small of a toe box contributes to bunions with prolonged use of high heels. What about your overall posture, hip displacement and muscle pain, especially your calves, shins because you’re walking on your tiptoes? Massage would be great to help your muscles in your lower back, thighs and calves feel better and help articulate your ankle to improve mobility.

Backs of Legs/ Sitting all Day – We spend WAY too much time sitting down. Whether it is at the computer, behind the wheel, on the couch, et cetera, we weren’t designed to be sitting all day long. Even if we work out after sitting all day, the detriment will outweigh the benefits. Take breaks and walk around throughout the day if at all possible. Stand when you can, and make sure you slightly bend those knees!

Taking care of yourself, a few minutes each day will do WONDERS for your overall health, stress levels, and your personal well-being. If no one has told you, you are definitely worth all the effort that it takes to take care of yourself. If you don’t, how will you do what you love to do?

If you want to feel better at work, talk with your massage therapist to come up with a
customized stretching regimen so that you feel better throughout the day. If I happen to be YOUR massage therapist, why haven’t you called me yet?

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