“Hands-free” Equals “Pain-free”

Have you gone “hands-free” yet? I must admit I was slow to jump on the I’m-going-to-wear-this-ugly-ear-piece-so-I-can-talk-and-do-stuff bandwagon. Those ear pieces looked so silly! Have you ever thought you were having a conversation with someone in the grocery store only to find out he/she was actually talking on the phone? Yeah, they probably never even noticed I was you were talking! And then my husband bought a head-set for me…

“Hands-free” equals “pain-free”

Peeling potatoes while talking on the phone

Peeling potatoes while talking on the phone

If not pain-free then at least less pain in the neck and shoulders. I speak from experience! Two years ago I drove for 2 hours per day. I spent a lot of time on the phone. After a few months of holding my cell phone up to my hear my neck and shoulders hurt every day. I was in constant pain. Even though I’m a professional massage therapist I couldn’t figure out why my neck hurt so much! I stretched, went to the chiropractor, got regular massage, changed the way I used my shoulders while giving massage, and took pain relievers.

My first week of using the ear-piece was like an epiphany. I noticed a difference in my neck after only a couple of days. My neck was still tight but my shoulders didn’t burn anymore. The second week I felt normal again. Two massages, an adjustment and the ear-piece had me back to myself.

Why it hurts

Holding a phone up to your ear for long periods of time can cause neck and shoulder pain. There isn’t support under your elbow.  The upper traps  (top of shoulder) cramp and burn. I mean burn. It hurts! These shoulder muscles actually attach to the spine in your neck therefore your neck hurts, too.

Headaches?

These same neck and shoulder pains can radiate up your neck to your skull giving you a tension headache. Then you have the trifecta: burning shoulder pain, neck pain and headache. Not fun.

Stop the Cause

Stretching, massage and pain relievers could help these symptoms but if you want the pain to go away you must stop the cause of the pain. Try hands-free. You can buy a head-set wherever you bought your phone. They can be set up to be used in one ear or the other. There are even headphones with microphones built-in if you don’t want to use the bluetooth kind.

Using  a hands-free device allows your neck and shoulder muscles to move. If you are driving you’ll be able to have both hands on the steering wheel and your head straight. (Check your state laws to make sure you can drive and talk on the cell phone at the same time. Some states ban the practice while others allow for hands-free devices.) Your shoulders won’t be shrugged constantly and you can turn your head freely.

I use my headset all the time. If I’m folding laundry I can talk to my sister, friend or husband. It’s another way to multitask while preventing neck/shoulder pain and headaches.

Are you hands-free? Do you use an ear piece or wired headphones with mic?

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

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Headaches. Again.

I work with many people who suffer from headaches but I talk to even more people who get them. Headache. Such a simple word, yet so complicated.  Sometimes a headache is causes from muscle tension. Sometimes a headache is a nasty migraine. Oh, and we can’t forget the dreaded sinus headache. Blah, moan, groan.

Massage Magazine shared a great article about migraine pain and massage therapy. Go ahead, take a look!

Here is a Question and Answer post I wrote about migraines. It has great information from the Mayo Clinic.

Sometimes the things we do with our neck and shoulders can cause headaches.

And sometimes you need someone to take the pain away 🙂

I fight headaches with my bare hands over at The Comfort Zone Massage. Visit sometime 🙂

Massage Mouth

#11 of 31 posts in 31 days 

-Or the language of the massage coma-

One of the things I love about being a Massage Therapist is helping people to feel great.  People say funny, nice and weird  things when they’ve had a fantastic massage session.  Here are some of my favorites in no particular order. 🙂

*(Groan……) It’s not over yet, is it?!

*(Snore…….)

*Don’t ever move away!

*You are my new best friend!

*When you push on my shoulder like that I feel it in my toes!

*You make my muscles feel like mush.

*I don’t think I even remember my own name!

*You’re going to have to pry me off this table.

*I don’t want to get up!

*Sorry, I think I tooted just now.

*Whoa! I put my shirt on backwards!

*I slept through the night after my last massage.  I haven’t done that in two months.

*My fingers don’t tingle at night anymore.

*I’m not sure, but I think you just rocked my world.

*(Snore…….)

*Can we start over?

*I wish I could get a massage every day!

*Who massages you?

*HOW do you know where push??

*How does a girl that small have  such strong hands?!

*Can I take you home?

*(Groan, sigh, smile….)

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

Why Should You Get a Massage This Week?

5th post of 31 posts in 31 days

Why should you get a massage this week?

1.  I have a few openings 🙂

2.  A half-hour massage is like a super-charged power nap.  You get to rest for 30 minutes AND get your neck, shoulders and feet rubbed.

3.  You battled massive, cranky school-shopping crowds in order to save the sales tax.  Let’s face it, even though you saved a bundle, scored some deals, and made it through alive, an hour vacation from people just sounds AWESOME.

4.  You’ve been working in the yard or garden and your legs hurt.

5.  Hot towels nestled atop your shoulder muscles for a bit feels AMAZING.

6.  A ninety minute massage can melt your stress, make you  drool, work out your muscle knots, stretch your muscles, relax your mind, recharge your batteries and renew your spirit.

7.  Massage feels good.  Especially on the scalp.  And neck.

There you have it!  7 good reasons you should get a massage this week.  There are many more reasons, but I need something to write about later 😉

Choose a reason and schedule an appointment.  I’ll be at  The Comfort Zone Massage Therapy  all week!

Progressive Relaxation Exercise

This is post #3 in the 31 posts in 31 days challenge!  

Progressive Relaxation is a fantastic process to learn.  You can use progressive relaxation to reduce stress, pin-point and prevent muscle tension, relieve muscle tension, fight insomnia and help with anxiety.  It is a simple process that requires you to slow down and focus on each different muscle group slowly.  By taking the time to focus and exert control over your muscles, over time you may be able to notice when you are holding tension in certain areas when you are working.  Maybe you shrug and tense your shoulders when you are angry.  You might clench your teeth and jaws while typing a report.  The sooner you notice these things the sooner you can relieve the tension and hopefully prevent or reduce painful symptoms.

I found the following Progressive Relaxation Exercise at Natural Touch Marketing.  I use the exercise myself and I recommend it to my clients.

Lie down or sit in a chair, wherever you are comfortable.  You will tense and hold each body part for about 10 seconds and then release it completely for at least 10 seconds.  Count to yourself silently from one to ten.

1. Clench your right fist, tighten the right arm and hold them tight.  Completely relax them, and then clench again.  Relax.  Now clench and relax your left arm in the same manner.  Now observe how your hands and arms feel.

2. Stretch your right leg out.  Draw the toes of the right foot toward the knee, tighten the whole leg, and hold.  Relax and then stretch and tighten again.  Relax completely.  Now do the left leg.  Now point the toes of the right foot, tense and hold.  Relax.  Left leg next.  Relax completely and observe how your legs feel.

3. Draw together the shoulder blades.  Tense and hold.  Relax completely and tense them again.  Relax.

4. Exhale and pull the abdomen in tightly and hold.  Inhale, and relax completely.  Again exhale and pull the abdomen in tightly and hold.  Inhale and relax.  Now observe how your back, chest and abdomen feel.

5. Tighten the muscles around your eyes and mouth, and hold.  Relax and repeat.  Relax completely.

6. Now breathe and observe your body.  Notice how you feel.  Do you feel differently?

This is great for those times you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.  I also recommend doing this exercise regularly when trying to figure out why a certain muscle group always hurts or becomes tense.  Try it and tell us what you think!

Migraine Q & A

This is day 2 of the “31 posts in 31 days” blogging challenge. 

 Q- I know there are many things out there for headaches, but I’d like to hear what you have to say.  I have recently weened myself off of my Topomax due to the negative findings related to the drug for migraines.  I am having headaches almost everyday but not at all like the migraines before.  What do you recommend I do between massages? 

A- I visited MayoClinic.com to research this question.  I work mainly with tension headaches so I wanted to get accurate information about migraines.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the same things that I recommend for tension headaches are recommended for migraine headaches.


Please consult with a doctor before using or discontinuing any medications.  I am not suggesting anyone stop medications, simply suggesting a few things to do at home to hopefully prevent headaches. 

These tips are taken from the website http://www.mayclinic.com, but they are also things I recommend to people suffering from headaches.

*Muscle Relaxation Exercises- Progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and yoga.  You may also try spending at least a half-hour per day doing something fun!

*Get Enough Sleep- The average adult needs 6-8 hours of sleep each night.  Your body likes to go to bed and wake up at the same times, too.

*Rest and Relax

*Headache Diary- Keeping a headache diary is great way to figure out headache triggers.  You may discover a food trigger or hormone trigger.  Learning these things may make it easier to adjust things to reduce headaches.

*Manual Therapy- Massage Therapy and Chiropractic treatments may help reduce the frequency of migraines.

In between massage sessions, you could practice progressive relaxation techniques (tomorrow’s post!), and self head and neck massage.   If you work at a computer take frequent breaks, adjust your chair and monitor, and move around as much as you can.

Do you suffer from migraines?  Do you have a way to prevent or relieve the pain? Please share in the comments!

PS.  I fight headaches with my bare hands atwww.thecomfortzonemassage.com 🙂 

Relaxation Massage

I have taken a challenge from a fellow blogger to post 31 times in 31 days!  Let’s hope I can make it!  Please, if there is a question or topic you want to know more about e-mail me or ask it in the comments.

I am a full time Licensed Massage Therapist working with different types of people.  I believe that a fantastic relaxation massage is a great foundation to have when addressing common aches and pains, shoulder pain, lower back pain, headaches, and stress relief.  These issues are the issues that are presented to me every day.  How do I begin to help these people?  Relaxation massage.  Almost every one I see has some sort of “problem area” or area of discomfort.  I pay special attention to these areas and utilize many techniques for pain relief.  At the core of it all, though, are my relaxation techniques.  It makes sense to me to relax the whole person, as well as “dig in” to the problem areas.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to have an entire hour (or more) to receive a blissful, relaxing massage, complete with a scalp massage AND some trigger points, friction, and deep kneading on tight shoulders?

The National Institutes of Health has written a nice article about massage therapy.  It is a general description with some positive statements.  Humans have a basic need for touch.  Massage Therapy is a great way to administer and teach healthy, nurturing touch.

Well, how is my first post of the challenge?  Please put post ideas in the comment section!  I can’t wait to see what I write about tomorrow!  (That’s right, I am going to fly by the seat of my pants!  Not too much planning…)

PS.  If it’s been a while since you’ve had a Fantastic Relaxation Massage, visit my website and schedule an appointment!

www.thecomfortzonemassage.com

The Waiting Room Headache

Do you ever get the feeling that you are different?  I stuck out like a sore thumb today!  While sitting in a waiting room, I noticed that almost everyone is reading something.   Several people were reading magazines, two people were reading electronic tablets, and one person had a book.  I, too, had a magazine to read.  But I looked a little different…

I see all these people with their reading material in their laps.   Heads are thrust forward, shoulders are sagging, and backs are all wadded up like an upright fetal position.  Comfy, right?  And then there is me.  I have my magazine held directly in front of my face.  I look like I’m hiding!  You know, hiding in plain sight like on a sitcom.  “You can’t POSSIBLY see me with this magazine covering my face!”  I don’t know if I looked like a fool or not, but I know I looked different from everyone else.

It’s amazing what I notice when surrounded by people.  You see, I am in the business of pain relief, and I have gotten pretty good at spotting pain.   Those people who stared into their laps all day long probably ended the day with a headache.  And neck pain.  And shoulder pain.  Actually holding the reading material in front of your face helps hold your head up.  The neck muscles don’t have to strain or pull on the back of your skull causing eye-gauging pain.  Well, it *might* not be eye-gauging but it could be.  Why risk it?

What did I do different?  I sat with *mostly* good posture while holding the magazine up to my eye level.  I also stood up and walked around a little bit.  Sitting for a long time is hard on the body.  By the time I rode in the car for an hour, sat in a waiting room for three hours, and rode home an hour, I was EXHAUSTED!  And my shoulders hurt a little bit.  But, you can be sure that I walked and moved around frequently.  I just don’t like it when my neck hurts!

The next time you have to wait somewhere and you whip out your phone or magazine try holding it closer to your eye level.  It works, trust me!  But if it’s too late and your neck and shoulder already hurt, please visit my website to see if there is a massage right for you.  You can even schedule an appointment right on the website with the “Schedule Appointment” Button! www.thecomfortzonemassage.com 

A Certain Pain in the Neck

Neck Pain.  A pain in the neck.  Unable to turn the neck one way or the other.  It burns.  It stabs.  It ACHES.  And it just won’t go away!  You know what I’m talking about.  Well, know what I’m talking about because, some days MY neck hurts!  And do you know what?  I don’t like when my neck hurts!  Yes, I stretch.  Yes, I get a massage week (really).   But I like to know WHY my neck hurts.  Or why YOUR neck hurts.  So I investigate.

There are many causes of neck pain in our every day lives.  Driving, talking on the phone, lifting, reading, and a thousand other things can cause neck pain.  But there’s a cause for burning neck pain right under your nose…literally.

I thought for a while that my vigorous work schedule was the cause of my neck pain.  I hurt while giving massage, after giving massage, at home on the computer, and even just sitting to watch TV.  I couldn’t figure it out.  And then…

In an effort to reduce my discomfort one evening while on Facebook  blogging, I put a pillow under my laptop to raise the screen closer to my eyes.  Aha!  It only took me two days to figure out the cause of my pain!  The laptop!  I spend several hours a night with my face buried in the laptop, sometimes working, sometimes just reading stuff.  Well, let me tell you, the lap is no place for a laptop!

When the laptop is directly in your lap your head is tilted down and forward.   (Check right now!)  One or more hours in this position puts a huge strain on ALL of your neck muscles!  And shoulder muscles.  And mid-back muscles.  And lower back muscles.  Should I go on?

So what now?  No laptop on the lap?  All things in moderation, I suppose.  For me, if I have a big work project like working on my website, the laptop and I will be at the kitchen table.  It isn’t perfect, but it is an improvement.  And for the casual internet surfing, webinar, and blogging?  I put one or two pillows between the laptop and my lap.   I’m looking into some kind of tray or portable desk.  I also take breaks, stretch and rotate the neck muscles.   And massage!  I get massage 🙂

The next time you have a burning pain in your neck, try to find what’s causing the pain.  Then find a way to lessen the pain.  Visit my website to see if there is a massage right for you!  www.thecomfortzonemassage.com  

Massage Feels Like…

*If you’ve never had a professional massage before, here is a wonderful description.*

The door opens into a small room.  The room is lamp-lit with a massage table draped with soft linens.  A lavender scent lingers nicely.  This room is quiet, serene, simple, and designed for comfort.   Heat seems to radiate from the table into the body, no shivering in this room!  Soft, soothing music plays.  The songs are almost always unrecognizable but beautiful.  It  is enough to distract but never loud enough to disturb.

Hands with warm lotion or oil begin on the back.  Long massage strokes, one after the other, signal the muscles to relax.

Slow, relaxing massage on the whole back is followed by detailed, specific massage on each shoulder.  Living life creates muscle tension between the shoulder blades that travels up to the neck.  Kneading on each side of the neck and on each shoulder melts this pain away and deeply relaxes the body.  Hot towels rest between the shoulders to enhance the pain relief and deepen total relaxation.

From foot to hip, hip to foot, the legs are worked next.  First one leg then the other, these muscles get kneaded, pushed and pulled.

After turning over one foot is uncovered for massage.  That’s right, a foot massage!  A hot towel wraps and compresses each foot, followed by a luxurious foot and leg massage.

Each arm is then worked and stretched including the shoulders, biceps, forearms and hands.  Special attention is paid to the hands.  Thumbs knead the palms and then each individual finger is rubbed and pulled.

The massage ends with the neck, face and scalp.  Fingers massage each side of the neck from the back, side and front.  Tension is erased from the whole body with the face massage.  Slow circles at the temples are followed by deep circles on the jaws and cheeks.  Eyebrows are traced and compressed along with the sinus area of the cheeks.

Claw hands explore the scalp and hairline creating goosebumps from head to toe.  The scalp is kneaded and scratched both deeply and lightly.  PURE BLISS.  This concludes the massage session.  All you have to do is lie down and breathe.